• The NBA season opened last night with two terrific games that both came down to the wire. However, a dark cloud was cast over the start of the season when Gordon Hayward went down with a horrific injury that resulted in a dislocated left ankle and fractured tibia. We want to send out our well wishes to Hayward on a healthy and speedy recovery.

    Moving onto tonight where we get our first basketball packed night of the season with 11 games where 20 teams will be making their season debuts. The start of the year is probably the craziest time period for basketball DFS. No one really knows what to expect so player prices are all over the map. The start of the year is the best time to get a great bargain but also a time where some players may be priced way above than they should be. But that’s why I’m here – to try and sort through the mess to give you the best buys at each position at various price points. Follow me on Twitter @awalia100 for fantasy updates and news. Let’s dive right in!

    Point Guards

    Damian Lillard ($8,800 DK/FD)- With C.J. McCollum suspended tonight Lillard will handle the ball as much as he can. This sets up Lillard for, at the very least, a high floor against a Phoenix Suns team that likes to get up and down the floor. This game has the highest point total of the night at 219 with the Blazers being favored by 2 points which bodes well for Lillard to have a big game.

    John Wall ($9,800 DK, $10,000 FD)- The third most expensive point guard on DraftKings and the top guard on the FanDuel, and for good reason. Last year Wall was one of the most consistent DFS plays as he averaged 49.4 DraftKings points per contest and had the ability to go off any given night. Tonight he gets the 76ers in a game with one of the higher point totals at 217.5, so Wall is in a good spot to get his season off to a strong start.

    Kyrie Irving ($8,500 DK, $8,200)- Last night Irving finished with 48.8 FanDuel points as he scored 22 points and dished out 10 assists. It looks like Irving will have to do the heavy lifting for the rest of the year, which helps his fantasy outlook. Tonight is a tricky spot though as the Celtics are playing a back to back against a Bucks team that should be good on the defensive side of the ball this year.

    Ricky Rubio ($7,000 DK/FD)- Ricky Rubio will now be running the show in Utah as he tries to keep the Jazz relevant after they lost their lone all-star during the off-season. Rubio was a monster after the all-star break last year as he looked like one of the best point guards in the league. If he can keep up that production he should have no problem having a good game against a Nuggets team tonight that offers little defensive resistance.

    D’Angelo Russell ($6,600 DK)- In Brooklyn, Russell should have plenty of opportunities to prove that he’s a much better player than his first two years in L.A. showed. To be fair, when given the minutes Russell showed he could produce and, based off the preseason, it looks like Kenny Atkinson will give him plenty of room to flaunt his talent. It starts tonight against a Pacers team that may be one of the few teams worse than the Nets.

    Dennis Smith ($4,300 FD)- If you need to go cheap tonight on FanDuel, I highly recommend Dennis Smith. He provides great upside at an affordable price as he will be going up against the Hawks and Dennis Schroder, who hasn’t been a good defensive point guard in his career so far. Despite being a rookie it looks like Rick Carlisle is ready to hand over the keys of the offense to Smith and his low price should mitigate the risk of him struggling in his first NBA game.

    Other good plays- Elfrid Payton ($7,100 DK, $6,500 FD), Jamal Murray ($5,600 DK, $5,300 FD), Marcus Smart ($5,000 DK, $4,500 FD), Dejounte Murray ($4,100 DK, $3,800 FD).

    Shooting Guards

    James Harden ($11,000 DK/FD)- Harden dropped 27, 6 and 10 last night as he led the Rockets to a win against the defending champion Golden State Warriors. The Rockets may be without Chris Paul tonight so The Beard may have to revert back to the James Harden of last year which led to plenty of fantasy outbursts. Despite coming off a game last night the only thing that can cap Harden’s night against a weak team is the risk of a blowout.

    Jimmy Butler ($8,100 DK)- It remains to be seen how Butler fits in with his new team but I think he’s in a good spot tonight against the Spurs who will be without their best defender, Kawhi Leonard. Butler should be the Wolves main ball handler in the half court right out the gate which should give him added fantasy value.

    Bradley Beal ($7,000 DK, $7,300 FD)- Beal really stepped up last year and was a borderline All Star. He will have to continue the strong play this year if the Wizards hope to compete against the Cavs in the East. Beal will be in a good spot to show last year wasn’t a fluke as he goes up against the 76ers in a contest that should feature a lot of scoring.

    Devin Booker ($7,000 DK, $6,800 FD)- Booker enters his third year looking to build on his strong first two years. He gets the Blazers tonight, who will be without starting shooting guard C.J. McCollum, which means Booker will be going up against back-ups. Booker is in a great spot as this game features the highest point total at 219.

    Victor Oladipo ($6,800 DK, $6,100 FD)- Another guard making his debut for his new team in that same Nets game is Victor Oladipo. He didn’t have the year we expected from him last year but I think he should bounce back nice this year on a Pacers team where should be the lead playmaker. Oladipo is going up against a fast paced Brooklyn squad in a battle of bad teams so he should be in for a good game.

    D’Angelo Russell ($6,600 FD) – The same logic applies to his point guard writeup above, only he’s a shooting guard for FanDuel purposes.

    Other good plays: Rodney Hood ($5,800 DK, $4,500 FD), Kent Bazemore ($5,600 DK, $4,900 FD), Avery Bradley ($5,500 DK, $5,300 FD), Jaylen Brown ($3,900 DK, $3,700 FD).

    Small Forwards

    Giannis Antetokounmpo ($10,300 DK)- Another star with a high ceiling is Antetokounmpo, who has made it clear he is gunning for MVP this year. The only weakness in Antetokounmpo’s game has been his jump shot but the good news is the only way he can go is up in that area and he showed off an improved jumper in the preseason. He should get off to a strong start against the Celtics this year.

    Jimmy Butler ($8,700 FD) – Much like D’Angelo Russell, Butler appears here given the difference in his position eligibility.

    Ben Simmons ($7,100 DK)- Good thing DFS rules don’t take field goal and free throw percentage into consideration otherwise Simmons would not be on this list. Everything about Simmons besides his shooting looks great. With Joel Embiid playing limited minutes tonight Simmons should be able to exceed value with his ability to distribute and rebound the ball, especially in what should be a high scoring affair with the Wizards.

    Khris Middleton ($6,400 DK, $7,000 FD)- With Jabari Parker out Middleton will have to be the number two scorer on a Bucks team trying to make a move up in the Eastern Conference. Middleton has been a pretty consistent performer the past few years with his all around play, so while he may not have the most upside he still makes for a solid choice.

    Otto Porter ($5,700 DK, $5,800 FD)- Fresh off getting a max contract this offseason, Porter will look to show he deserves that money this year. Facing off against Philly in what should be an entertaining game tonight, Porter should get minutes at the four and should be able to grab a few more rebounds than he normally does.

    Jayson Tatum ($3,500 FD) – With Hayward going down there will be multiple Celtic wings with increased fantasy value and Tatum is one of them. Tatum dropped 14 and 10 last night and makes for a good cheap play tonight if you want to save up for another position.

    Other good plays: Rudy Gay ($5,500 DK/FD), Taurean Prince ($5,000 DK, $3,400 FD), Joe Ingles ($4,500 DK, $3,800 FD), Kelly Oubre ($3,800 DK, $3,300 FD) and, if T.J. Warren sits, Josh Jackson ($4,900 DK, $4,800 FD).

    Power Forwards

    Anthony Davis ($10,500 DK, $10,800 FD)- Last year in his season debut Anthony Davis went off for 50 points and 15 rebounds. While it may be a little much to expect a performance like that from Davis again tonight it just goes to show you the massive potential he offers every time he takes the floor. Davis is always an in-game injury risk but is more than deserving of the highest price tag among power forwards.

    Giannis Antetokounmpo ($10,300 FD)- Antetokounmpo qualifies as a power forward for those of you playing FanDuel.

    LaMarcus Aldridge ($7,300 DK, $7,100 FD)- The news coming out of Spurs camp has been that Gregg Popovich has tried to implement new strategies to make Aldridge more comfortable in the offense. We’ll get to see those new wrinkles tonight as Aldridge squares off against the Wolves, who have struggled when it comes to interior defense the past couple of years. Aldridge will need to do the heavy lifting with Leonard out so he’s a good play if you don’t want to go after the top players.

    Aaron Gordon ($6,900 DK, $6,300 FD)- Ever since Serge Ibaka was traded last year, Gordon has really taken off. He continued his breakthrough performance in the preseason where he looked like a much improved player. It’s always hard to go by exhibition games but Gordon looks like a much better player whose price tag should rise in the coming weeks and months.

    Jayson Tatum ($4,100 DK)- Tatum, like Giannis, lands in this section of the list thanks to position eligibility.

    Ben Simmons ($5,600 FD)- Yet another player who pops up in multiple spots thanks to his designated position.

    Other good plays: Dario Saric ($5,700 DK, $5,500 FD), Derrick Favors ($5,500 DK, $5,800 FD), Rondae Hollis-Jefferson ($5,000 DK, $5,200 FD), Skal Labissiere ($4,800 DK, $4,100 FD).

    Centers

    DeMarcus Cousins ($10,000 DK, $10,200 FD)- How many touches do I expect Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins to get? All of them. That’s why I’m not worried about the two bigs coexisting on the court and being able to still put up great fantasy numbers. While he faces a good defensive center in Marc Gasol tonight, Cousins is virtually matchup-proof and his ability to distribute the ball gives him a slight bump.

    Karl Anthony-Towns ($9,400 DK, $10,000 FD)- Just like I said earlier with Butler, it remains to be seen how Towns adjusts to the new look Wolves but I think he should be relatively safe and able to build off his strong first two years in the league. Tonight he faces a Spurs team which has been a good defensive team year in and year out, but KAT should still make for a solid play as one of the game’s very best.

    Rudy Gobert ($8,800 DK, $8,100 FD)- Fresh off his breakout 2016-2017 campaign, Gobert should be able to continue his strong play into this year. He gets a fantastic matchup against the Nuggets and Nikola Jokic who, despite being great on offense, struggles on the defensive side.

    Hassan Whiteside ($8,400 DK, $9,200 FD)- Whiteside faces off against the Magic tonight, and they don’t really have anyone to match up with him. Whiteside should be able to dominate against Nikola Vucevic, who’s been a bad defender for years, and Bismack Biyombo, who is too small for him. The only risk attached with Whiteside is his sometimes inconsistent play.

    Dewayne Dedmon ($4,500 DK, $3,600 FD)- If you want to spend down on centers tonight, Dewayne Dedmon makes for a good bet as a cheap play. While he obviously doesn’t have the same upside as the top centers he should be able to return good value as he seems to have the starting center position locked up. As his price suggests, he does comes with risk as it’s not entirely clear what the rotations will be for Atlanta.

    Other good plays: Jusuf Nurkic ($7,500 FD), Myles Turner ($7,700 DK, $7,100 FD), Willie Cauley-Stein ($5,900 DK, $4,700 FD) and if there’s anyone who can make an impact big enough to justify a $7,300 DK or $7,500 FD price tag it’s Joel Embiid.

Fantasy News

  • OG Anunoby - F - Toronto Raptors

    The Raptors are expressing optimism that OG Anunoby will be able to see the floor for their NBA Finals matchup with the Golden State Warriors.

    Anunoby's size and defensive versatility could make for a very valuable weapon against the Warriors' small-ball lineups. That being said, he has been out for nearly a month and a half, and the Raptors' eight man rotation has hit its stride in the crux of this playoff run. It remains to be seen if he will make it back, but in the event that he can, there is no guarantee that he will be able to crack meaningful minutes in Toronto's tight rotation.

    Source: Ryan Wolstat on Twitter

  • Michael Porter Jr. - F - Denver Nuggets

    As a symptom from his back surgeries, Michael Porter Jr. developed drop foot, and will wear to a leg brace to help stabilize it when he makes his professional debut in Summer League according to Mike Singer of the Denver Post.

    Drop foot makes it hard for one to lift the front part of their foot and is a common symptom of back related ailments, of which Porter Jr. has had two surgeries to address over the last year and a half. Porter Jr. remains an unknown commodity with a laundry list of health concerns as an NBA player. There has been some recent success with young guys being able to bounce back in big ways after suffering year-long injuries, but Porter Jr. will remain a mystery until we see him on the court for his inaugural season.

    Source: The Denver Post

  • Jonas Valanciunas - C - Memphis Grizzlies

    Jonas Valanciunas said that he wants to see who the Memphis Grizzlies hire as their next head coach before deciding on his $17.6 million player option.

    Valanciunas saw his role increase in Memphis after being traded from Toronto, and actually played to compete with the Grizz trying to win enough games to convert their, at the time, low-end lottery pick to Boston. Valanciunas made it clear that he doesn't want to return to Memphis if their plans are to pivot to a rebuild and not compete again next year, saying, "I want to know, how we gonna look in 82 games. I don't want to be a tourist. I want to win.". The Hoop Ball favorite will be hard pressed to find a situation that will give him as much run, and fantasy value, as Memphis did, making this a decision fantasy owners everywhere should monitor.

    Source: Dontas Urbonas on Twitter

  • Kawhi Leonard - F - Toronto Raptors

    Kawhi Leonard held Giannis Antetekounmpo to just .353 shooting from the floor with an offensive rating of 89.4 when guarding him in the Eastern Conference Finals.

    This is needed to emphasize just how dominant of a defensive player Leonard really is. For reference, Giannis shot .578 from the floor with an offensive rating of 121 through the regular season. A total swing of nearly 23 percent and 32 less points per 100 possessions is preposterous for any player, especially an MVP caliber offensive juggernaut in Antetokounmpo. Keep these numbers in mind as the debate over Leonard being the league's best player continues to heat up.

    Source: Micha Adams on Twitter

  • Kawhi Leonard - F - Toronto Raptors

    Kawhi Leonard posted a monster line in Saturday's 100-94 Game 6 win, scoring 27 points with 17 rebounds, seven assist, two steals, two blocks and six turnovers.

    Leonard put the Raptors on his back and carried them into their first NBA Finals appearance. After losing the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals the Raptors stormed back to take the next four to seal the series. Kawhi has been simply marvelous for this team and found a way to crank it up another notch, averaging almost 30 points per game this series. He was all over the court this game and dominated the Bucks from inside the paint. A 4th quarter dunk over Giannis Antetokounmpo punctuated this dominance and sent the hometown crowd in a frenzy. The Raptors will try to keep their hot streak going as they face the Warriors in the NBA Finals.

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo - F - Milwaukee Bucks

    While Giannis Antetokounmpo will be eligible for a five-year supermax contract worth over $247 million, ESPN's Malika Andrews is reporting that the 2020 playoff run could swing whether or not Antetokounmpo stays with the Bucks long-term.

    The Bucks have three of their starters and two key bench pieces heading into free agency this summer, so they might have to make some bold choices to keep the necessary parts around while also improving the team on a budget. It's possible that this is the Antetokounmpo camp's way of encouraging Milwaukee to empty the wallet and keep the current group together, but it goes against what Giannis has said publicly about the team and city from day one. The Bucks were eliminated mere hours ago but we're already having this conversation. The NBA news cycle is perpetual.

    Source: ESPN

  • Kyle Lowry - G - Toronto Raptors

    Kyle Lowry posted a solid line in Saturday's Game 6 win scoring 17 points while adding five rebounds, eight assists, three 3-pointers, one steal and only one turnover.

    After a pedestrian series against the 76ers, Lowry stepped it up against the Bucks, averaging almost 20 points per game in the Eastern Conference Finals. He did a great job making smart plays for the Raptors and they will need him to continue to operate at this high level as they head off into the NBA Finals next week.

  • Marc Gasol - C - Toronto Raptors

    Marc Gasol scored six points, all from behind the arc, in Saturday's Game 6 win, adding three rebounds, two assists and a block/steal in 26 minutes.

    Gasol continues to do what the Raptors ask of him though the years of grinding in the paint for Memphis are long gone. He has adjusted his game play and now acts as a facilitator for the rest of the team. Gasol continues to split time in the post with Serge Ibaka (25 minutes, nine points) and will see his minutes fluctuate based on the Raptor's offensive scheme heading into the NBA Finals.

  • Fred VanVleet - G - Toronto Raptors

    Fred VanVleet was a difference maker for the Raptors' series clinching Game 6, scoring 14 points off the bench on 5-for-6 shooting while adding two assists.

    VanVleet played 34 minutes off the bench and continues to be a menace from behind the 3-point line (4-for-5 today). In the past three games he has gone an unbelievable 14-for-17 from behind the arc. The Raptors will continue to rely on his ability to stretch the floor as they head into their first NBA Finals and will square off against the Warriors and their own formidable shooters.

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo - F - Milwaukee Bucks

    Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 21 points in Saturday's Game 6 loss while contributing 11 rebounds, four assists, two steals, three blocks and two turnovers.

    Antetokounmpo did all that was asked of him on both sides of the ball but could not get past the Raptors this series. Giannis continues to operate at an MVP-level but his freethrow woes continue to plague him. He was "Shaq-esque" this series (55%) and shot 5-for-10 in tonight's loss. This is a tough break for Antetokounmpo and the Bucks as they head into the offseason with four of their five starters entering free agency.