WATCH: 3 IN THE KEY
After a little three-game teaser last night, the NBA season starts to ramp up tonight with a slate of 10 games, getting plenty of the world’s biggest stars back in action. And as if that wasn’t enough, the return of hoops also means the return of daily fantasy hoops. So on that note, here are a few options to consider for your DFS lineups at every position, from every price range.
James Harden @ LAL ($10,900) – With PG and SG eligibility, it’s easy to fit him into your lineup no matter who else you want to target – and why wouldn’t you? After the slow start he had last year contributed to derailing the Rockets’ season, it’s easy to imagine him getting this season started off on a different foot. He and Russell Westbrook are options 1 and 1A in terms of best bets to win the scoring title, and Harden will be able to stuff the stat sheet in more ways than just that with virtually the entire Houston offense flowing through him every time down the floor.
Isaiah Thomas vs. BKN ($7,500) – The glut in Boston’s backcourt should be temporarily cleared up with Marcus Smart slated to miss at least the first couple of games of the year. Thomas is always going to be the primary scoring option in Boston’s guard trio, so even a nominal increase in his minutes and usage rate could provide a little bit of extra value in this first week, especially in a plus matchup against Brooklyn.
Other Options – Russell Westbrook ($11,500), Giannis Antetokounmpo ($8,800), Goran Dragic ($7,000)
Tim Frazier vs. DEN ($4,800) – He started all but one of the Pelicans’ preseason games, and should be in line for well over 30 minutes a game as long as Jrue Holiday is missing from the rotation. There is no real timetable for Holiday’s return, so in the short term Frazier is a low-end starting option who could present value at his price, if not much upside. In his final preseason action he had 10 points, seven assists and seven rebounds, with a 3-pointer in 36 minutes.
Other Options –Emmanuel Mudiay ($6,200), Jeff Teague ($6,000), Ty Lawson ($5,500)
Victor Oladipo @ PHI ($7,100) – The new-look Thunder are unquestionably Westbrook’s team, but other players are going to be required to do some things – he can’t simply score all the points and get all the assists, and Oladipo is going to play a large role in those plans. He was a 35 percent 3-point shooter for Orlando last year on an offense with virtually no one who was capable of creating open looks for anyone. On a fast-paced offense featuring one of the most dynamic playmakers in the league, you have to assume Oladipo will see an increase in volume, and might actually also have an increase in efficiency to go along with it.
Devin Booker @ SAC ($6,500) – Early in the season, we are all just hoping the game Booker displayed over last couple months of last year showed what we’ll be getting from him over the course of his sophomore campaign. He averaged 22-5-3 with a couple of 3s made in March last season, a level of production that – if it continues – means this price has nowhere to go but up, and relatively quickly.
Other Options – DeMar DeRozan ($7,200), Brandon Knight ($6,100)
Eric Gordon @ LAL ($5,000) – With Patrick Beverly slated to miss the beginning of the season with his knee injury, Gordon is in line for starter’s minutes alongside Harden in the Houston backcourt. It is a pairing that suits Gordon’s skill-set well, with Harden’s ability to create off the dribble and get Gordon open looks from the outside. In D’Antoni’s offense, there should be more than enough looks to go around, making him a strong contender to return good value at this price.
Other Options – Zach LaVine ($5,400), Monta Ellis ($5,100)
Paul George vs. DAL ($8,700) – There are reasons to be cautious, mainly revolving around the fact that at least on paper the Pacers have added a few options to their arsenal, especially on the offensive end, which could reduce George’s usage rate. The Mavs play solid defense, but mainly keep scores down with pace, but a slow pace is already baked into George’s price, because Indiana plays the same way. Dallas does not necessarily have the individual wing defenders needed to reduce George’s efficiency, which to me means you should expect the most expensive SF on the board to hit all his averages in this one, making him a solid anchor, especially for cash-game lineups.
Andrew Wiggins @ MEM ($6,500) – The options at this position drop off quickly tonight and it is easy to find flaws with many of these players, so it might make more sense to go looking for upside instead. Wiggins has an ability to fill up the stat sheet in a number of ways, and the Timberwolves should be able to keep opponents on their heels with multiple weapons they can deploy. For a player with 20-point scoring potential and an ability to grab you more than 2 steals and blocks combined on a nightly basis, a few more rebounds than the 3 he averaged last year is all you need for elite-level production.
Other Options – Nicolas Batum ($6,400), Aaron Gordon ($6,300), Danilo Gallinari ($6,200)
Robert Covington vs. OKC ($5,300) – He is expected to be active tonight, but pay attention pre-game if you decide to roster him, because he was struggling with an ankle injury late in the preseason. But just because the 76ers are going to be terrible, it doesn’t mean there won’t be fantasy options here, and Covington could end up being a valuable asset on a day-to-day basis and even for your season-long teams. Early in the year, Nerlens Noel being out will mean more minutes for everyone in the frontcourt, as the team might even slide Covington into the PF slot for stretches.
Other Options –Jae Crowder ($5,400), Justice Winslow ($5,000), Brandon Ingram ($4,300)
Anthony Davis vs. DEN ($10,100) – At one point, we were concerned about an ankle injury keeping him out of the season opener, but then he went and played 37 minutes in a preseason game last Thursday. No, I am not sure why, either. But he did, and he didn’t just play… he put his full arsenal of skills on display with 33 points (including a pair of treys), 13 boards and four assists. The upside is clear when he is healthy and playing, and that happens to be right now – and since we have no idea how long it will last, you might as well take advantage while you can.
Al Horford vs. BKN ($7,000) – The Celtics are one of the fastest-paced teams in the Eastern Conference, so the opportunity to take advantage of volume is going to be there for all these players. But this is also a team that desperately needed an interior presence on defense last year, and someone they could rely on to consistently rebound against any opponent, and Horford brings both of those qualities to the table. They are also a team that had no problem with Jared Sullinger jacking up 3s last year, and Horford has him beat by miles in that department as well. I would not be at all surprised if his price adjusted quickly and stayed that way – I fully expect him to cost more like $8,000 for the rest of the season, making this a chance to take advantage of some value as it presents itself.
Other Options – DeMarcus Cousins ($10,600), Nikola Jokic ($6,900)
Julius Randle vs. HOU ($5,900) –He put up 34 double-doubles last season, and should be in line for more minutes in his second year. If he can also improve his own efficiency, he could end up being a player with double-double upside every single night. And if that’s true every night, it is especially true against the Rockets, who don’t have the big, physical bodies up front that might be able to give Randle trouble in other matchups. He should be a featured part of the Lakers’ gameplan on both ends of the court, giving him plenty of chances to produce above this price point.
Other Options – Myles Turner ($6,200), Serge Ibaka ($6,200), Dario Saric ($4,700)
Karl-Anthony Towns @ MEM ($9,200) – I guess the main question is whether he can actually improve on that rookie season. Averaging 18-10 with a pair of assists and a couple of blocks every game is almost all you can ask from your center – almost. The potential was certainly there for him to score more, as he averaged just 14 shot attempts per game for the year. Post-All-Star break last season, that number went to 16 and his points jumped to 21 a night (without impacting his other totals at all – in fact his rebounding improved slightly as well). If he can bring that kind of efficiency to an even more featured role, even at more than $9,000 he could prove to be a nice value in your lineup in any format contest.
Hassan Whiteside @ ORL ($8,600) – The downside of a matchup with Orlando is all their rebounders – it might make it hard for Whiteside to clean up on the glass. But for all that rebounding, the Magic don’t play a ton of defense down low, and Whiteside should be able to take advantage. If the Magic are also going to try to pound it down low on offense all night, you could see Whiteside come away from the first game of the year with a monster block total, always a nice boost to a center’s usefulness.
Other Options – Brook Lopez ($7,400), Nikola Vucevic ($6,600)
Steven Adams @ PHI ($5,800) – Adams and Kanter are going to cut into each others’ time on the court, which is going to hurt their overall value, but for a Thunder team that is going to rely on backcourt and post play for almost all of their production, they can certainly both still prove useful. Adams does seem to have the higher upside, as the better combination of offensive skills and stout defense, giving him a chance to produce fantasy points in more ways than one and potentially leading to more minutes for Adams as the season progresses.
Other Options – Jonas Valanciunas ($6,500), Enes Kanter ($6,100), Joel Embiid ($5,400)
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is theasquad) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.