Friday’s edition of NBA DFS is back with a tricky slate. We have a full 10 games which is nice, but some of them we need to be careful of. We have a few with low totals, a few with high spreads, and some that just look like bad matchups for one team or the other in general. We have also hit that point in the season where guys are starting to rest or are taking games off with minor injuries to get ready for the playoffs. We have seen some crazy last second news over the past three days that has dramatically changed the landscape of a slate on those nights, so make sure you monitor for that late breaking news. Here are some of the top guys we are looking at for each position.
Kyle Lowry ($8500) – I’m not thrilled with the matchups and options at the high end of the point guard spectrum today, with the possible exception of Kyle Lowry. Lowry plays in a paced up game with a high total against the Portland Trailblazers. The Blazers are bad on defense and play at a high pace. In fact Lowry’s matchup with Damian Lillard is one of the best on the floor in this game. Lillard is more expensive than Lowry and Lowry is a much better defender. Therefore of the two, Lowry has the better chance to outperform. Lowry is playing just shy of 40 minutes in the last few games and has put up 51 or more fantasy points in 3 of his last 4. He hit for 70 fantasy points against Cleveland three back, so he has shown consistency and upside.
D’Angelo Russell ($6300) – Ever since management told Byron Scott to let this kid play, he has been a fantasy stud. He is up to 33 minutes per game over his last six and has five games of 6.2X or better over this stretch. His matchup with Atlanta is not the best or the worst, but the fact that he may be without Kobe, Clarkson, and/or Lou Williams means he should see plenty of court time. Williams is definitely out and both Kobe and Clarkson were injured in the last game and are listed as questionable. That leaves a ton of minutes and a ton of shots available for someone like Russell to pick up. HE has scored no fewer than 22 real life points in any of the last four games and is averaging 27 during this run. The scoring alone provides enough of a floor to look his way as he returned value and upside with his new role.
Ricky Rubio ($6200) – Rubio is a price play that I think makes some sense for a tournament. Russell will draw a lot of the attention of people looking in that $6K range, so Rubio should fly under the radar. I do not often play Rubio, but he is a solid per minute producer of fantasy points when on the floor. He has gone 6X or better in five of his last eight games and reached 5X value in nine of his last thirteen. The total in this Milwaukee game is 213 and with MCW out, he should see some Mayo or Bayless defense. I do not feel great about recommending Rubio, but the numbers do not lie and his have been really good lately.
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Elfrid Payton ($5200) – This is another play that price dictates to me. $5200 is pretty cheap for Payton, especially if Fournier sits again. Payton has played just shy of 30 minutes in his recent games and done so with a floor around 25 and upside close to 35. That might not sound sexy, but it translates into a 5X floor with 7X upside. Orlando plays Phoenix which is one of the best matchups you can have lately for almost every position. I do not love any of the cheap options available, so if I had to save the lowest I feel comfortable going is Elf.
Dwyane Wade ($7200) – I debated Wade vs. Kris Middleton at this price for a long time and ultimately ended up on Wade. Those two and DeRozan are all $100 apart from each other, so I think it is a decision many of us will have to make today. The case for Wade was probably the strongest and it goes like this. He has a great matchup with Philly who is one of the worst teams in the league. Wade has been very good on the tail end of his recent back-to-backs, so he is healthy. He has reached 42 or more fantasy points in 3 of his last 5, which is a return of 6X based on his current price. The cherry on top is that he also had a 49.5 fantasy point day the first time these two met, so he likes the matchup. The blowout factor with Philly is always a concern, but they get Miami at home with the Heat traveling on the tail end of a back-to-back, so enough is going in their favor that I think it can stay close. If so, Wade could have a big day.
Zach LaVine ($5600) – LaVine has benefited from management clearing a path for him to get more minutes. They recently waived Kevin Martin, which gives Lavine a big bump in minutes with his competition no longer in the picture. He has done well with the 32-35 minutes he is now seeing. He has put up over 30 in each of the last 3 games. His 32 point per game average over that stretch puts him right at the 6X threshold as an AVERAGE. This game is a paced up matchup with a high total vs. the Bucks, so he should have no problem matching and even exceeding those recent numbers. At $5600, he is very reasonably priced for a solid floor and a chance for upside.
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Devin Booker ($4500) – In tournaments I can definitely see fading Booker, but if he repeats his effort from yesterday you will be done. I expect his ownership to be through the roof after the spectacle 43 fantasy point performance he just put up last night and his low price here today. Booker had seen less minutes in the five or six games proceeding this outburst, but he was also putting up numbers in the 30s and 40s 7-10 games back when he was seeing closer to the 39 minutes he saw last night. The Suns still have a thin backcourt and Booker seems to be out of the doghouse, so while I would not expect another 45 fantasy points, he really only need 25-30 to be a solid play on the day.
Bojan Bogdanovic ($4400) – Bojan would have been the highest owned punt play at the SG spot if not for Booker’s epic game last night. With Joe Johnson shipped out of town, Bojan has gone 7X in three of the last four games. His 7X games yield about 30 fantasy points which he is capable of doing. With the price bump here it is now more like 6X, but still useful. He has seen 30 minutes or more lately and has not gone under 5X with 30 minutes of court time since well before Christmas. He will also be low owned today with Booker drawing more attention, so there is some merit to looking his way as a salary saver in tournaments. The other guy to consider is Mario Hezonja. He does only have only one good game in four with the role he has filling in for Fournier, so I do not like him over Bojan here.
Lebron James ($9600) – I do not play LeBron that often, but I think he makes for a really solid low owned tournament play today. Giannis is cheaper and playing well, so he will likely draw much of the ownership for cash and rightly so, but that leaves James low owned in a solid spot. He faces an uptempo Washington team that he lit up for 59 fantasy points earlier in the year. Washington has been really bad against opposing small forwards all season long and Otto Porter is not going to be able to stop him here. If LeBron gets close to that last game against them, he will return over 6X value and could be a key piece to a tournament winning team.
Giannis Antetekounmpo ($7700) – The Greek Freak has really stepped his game up in the last few weeks. His minutes are up just shy of 40 and it has led to 6 games of 5.5X or better in his last 8. He has double digit rebounds in 6 of them and double digit scoring in 7, which has translated into 5 double doubles for him as well. He has also added 39 assists in his last five games and is still contributing a few blocks and steals in each one as well. Giannis can fill up a stat sheet and has been doing more playmaking and ball handling with MCW out. In a high total game like this one against the Timberwolves, he could again put up 40-50 fantasy points and be a solid cash and GPP option.
P.J. Tucker ($4600) – A lot of the guys we all have been using for value at small forward are in tough spots today, so Tucker is really the only cheap option I am looking at. His minutes have been huge over the last four games with a minimum of 31 and a high of 43. Tucker can play 30+ minutes and not do anything with them, so it’s more of a GPP play if needed. The lower end of the spectrum at SF is pretty weak if Tucker is the best option we can look towards, which only strengthens my convictions to pay up for a guy like Giannis or Lebron here today.
Editor’s Note (5:20 PM): Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel, Kendall Marshall and Nik Stauskas are all OUT tonight for the Sixers. Philadelphia will start Ish Smith, Robert Covington, Hollis Thompson, Jerami Grant and Carl Landry. Of that group, Landry is the only one who might not see a ton of minutes tonight against Miami and the other four are all viable options on an extremely depleted roster. Grant and Smith are the two biggest beneficiaries as both should see more shot opportunities with Noel (around 8 FGA per game) and Okafor (around 15 FGA per game) out.
Thaddeus Young ($6900) – I have played a lot of Thad Young lately and have been pretty happy with the returns. The $6K range at PF is stocked with solid options today and I think Thad may be one of my favorites. He is in a paced up matchup against a weak Denver interior defense, so he should be able to put up some numbers. He has gone 5X or better in 9 of his last 12 games, so the consistency is there. He has gone 6X or better in 4 of his last 11, including a 38 fantasy point performance against Denver a few weeks back, so he has also flashed his upside. The Nets are desperate for scoring right now and Young is basically the number two option behind Lopez for that. Add in the rebounds and defensive stats he tends to rack up and he looks like one of the top plays at the position with all things being considered.
Aaron Gordon ($6800) – Gordon is a freak athlete in case you missed the dunk contest and did not know. His athleticism is a main reason they traded away Harris to try and free up some minutes for him. He has not disappointed. Gordon is now up over 30 minutes a game and has gone for 5X or better in 10 of his last 11. He has a plum matchup against a putrid Phoenix Suns interior defense and his consistency makes him a great play for cash games. The price rise makes it tough to consider him as a guy with huge upside for a GPP, but no one would be shocked if he put up a nice double double here and was one of the more solid value plays.
Jabari Parker ($6500) – It is not much of a discount to come down to Parker, but he is a tad cheaper than the top two options. Parker has a good matchup in a paced up game vs. the Timberwolves and has flashed some serious upside lately. His minutes are up there, just a tick below the 38 per game. He has gone for 6X or better in 5 of his last 8, so the upside has been consistent and spectacular for the price. That price has now jumped up from the mid $5K range to the mid $6K range, which probably saps some upside. He has still been consistently in the 35-45 fantasy point range, so you still have to like his ability to get you 5-6X in cash.
Julius Randle ($5900) – Randle is starting to see more minutes and rewarding those true believers with some solid fantasy scores. This is especially true today, because the Lakers might need his scoring with Lou Williams out and Clarkson and Kobe Questionable. Randle gets a bump in his per minute averages whenever Kobe does not play, so hopefully we get that same situation here. In his last 24 games, Randle has only failed to reach about 4.5X in 4 of them. That makes him a very consistent performer that will not kill you in cash games. He has flashed 6X upside or better in 5 of those games as well, so he does have some upside about 20% of the time. With the injuries to the Lakers shortening the rotation, I think we see big minutes from Randle and upside at a square price.
Hassan Whiteside ($8300) – Since the Bosh injury, Whiteside has turned into a monster. He only played 23 minutes last game in what turned into a blowout against Phoenix on the front end of the back to back. the 6 games before that he was over 5X in each of them with returns of 40-59 fantasy points. He had double double in those six previous game and just missed a seventh by one point in his last outing. Philadelphia has been one of the worst teams in the league inn terms of points allowed to opposing centers in fantasy, so I expect him to have a good day here. The 76ers allow a lot of rebounds and blocks to opposing centers and Whiteside is one of the best we have in the league in both categories. He’s been on fire lately with some huge games that have won people tournaments, so I’m staying on the bandwagon in a solid matchup for him here.
Brook Lopez ($7400) – Lopez is getting cheaper which makes him even more interesting here. He has returned 5X or better in 5 of his last 7 with 4 of those games being a 6X or better return. With Joe Johnson shipped out and Jarrett Jack hurt, he is easily the centerpiece of that offense. Lopez has seen his usage rate climb to just shy of 30% which is huge for a center in this league. He is a very solid option based on his averages of over 35 minutes, 20+ points, 8+ rebounds, 3 assists, and a steal and a block over the last few weeks. He also has a pretty soft matchup against the Denver interior defense in a paced up game, so I am confident in his ability to reach value and anchor your cash game teams if you need him to.
Alex Len ($5700) – Len has seen a big price jump, but it coincides with his jump in minutes and production. 7 times in the last 10 games he has seen over 20 minutes and he has returned 5X or better in each of those games. He has seen at least 34 minutes in each of the last three and has returned 50, 34, and 32 points in those three games. Orlando is not know for great center defense with Vucevic in the middle and the minutes and production have been slid, steady, and increasing for Len. At $5700 he offers some quality savings from the more expensive options we discussed. While I doubt he is the highest scorer at the position today, he could continue to return solid enough value to help you keep cashing in those 50/50s and double ups.