• Every Thursday Will Allen highlights some of the best core plays at each price tier for both Cash Games and GPPs.  Feel free to reach out to Will on Twitter at @MooseBeLoose9 if you have any questions.

    Studs

    James Harden (PG/SG) – Houston Rockets $12,400

    James Harden has reached 63 or more DraftKings points in each of his last four matchups with the Trail Blazers.  With Harden chasing the MVP award and a likely lucrative incentive from Adidas to go get it, we would not expect today to be any different.

    Harden loves to get to the free throw line and faces a Portland team that gives up the third most free throws per game in the league.  Portland is also below average at defending the pick and roll.  He is likely to draw a defensive assignment from Moe Harkless, leaving one of either Damian Lillard or C.J. McCollum with a mismatch against a much taller player that they’ll have a tough time closing out on when Harden hits them for assists.  Harden represents the safest floor along with the largest ceiling on the slate.

    Karl-Anthony Towns (PF/C) – Minnesota Timberwolves $10,900

    When we look at a slate and see a KAT has a date with the Lakers all we can think is “oh baby!”  The Lakers have nobody on their roster who can defend a tall, fast, and floor spacing center like KAT.  Towns has been incredible in fantasy since the all star break and is, in my opinion, making a strong case as the best center in the league right now.

    The Timberwolves carry a healthy 115.5 Vegas team total which, compared to their 105 average points per game for the season, is the largest scoring increase on the slate.   The Lakers’ sixth ranked pace and 30th ranked defensive efficiency are the root of this projected scoring boost.  While I prefer the floor and ceiling Harden provides, Towns does represent an elite way to pay up.

    Midrange

    Ish Smith (PG) – Detroit Pistons $6,100

    With Reggie Jackson likely to rest or come off the bench, that leaves Ish to start with our favorite matchup in the league – Brooklyn.  If you have read our Thursday picks article in past weeks, you already know how much we salivate at the thought of facing the Nets.  Brooklyn is the highest paced team in decades while also being a bottom tier defense and below average in defensive efficiency against every position.  We love any Detroit player who is seeing significant minutes in this matchup.  Ish stands out as the safest of the Pistons.

    Andrew Wiggins (SF) – Minnesota Timberwolves $7,100

    Wiggins has smashed in his recent matchups with the Lakers, averaging over 50 DraftKings points a game against their soft defense.  Along with their fast pace and poor defensive efficiency, the Lakers also give up the second most points in transition and bottom 10 defensive efficiency vs wing players.  The defense has only gotten worse since Lakers fired up the Tank.  On a slate where we really want to pay for James Harden, Wiggins presents an cheaper route to get exposure to the LA defense than Towns.

    Cheapies

    Kris Dunn (PG) – Minnesota Timberwolves $3,900

    Early in the day, we can already begin to start looking at Kris Dunn.  Dunn has had a relatively disappointing rookie season for the NCAA fans who thought he could replace Ricky Rubio this year.  He has been picking it up as of late, however, with fantasy scores of 25.9, 27.8, and 32.9 in his last three.   At a still cheap $3,900 price tag, this is production worth noting.  Dunn, a player whose upside is very dependent on steals, faces a Lakers offense which gives up the 4th most steals in the league at 8.6 per game.  With a 10.5 spread, Dunn can see some extra run should the game turn into a blowout.

    Jamal Crawford (SG) – Los Angeles Clippers $3,900

    With Austin Rivers out for their matchup vs the Suns, Crawford is line for some extra run at backup shooting guard along with increased ball handling duties.   The Suns team ranks 5th in pace and 28th in defense creating a great game environment for Crawford to thrive in.  Crawford is a little scoring dependent, but in a game that should see plenty of scoring, Crawford makes for a fine play in all formats.

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