• Welcome back! It is Friday, December 28 and we are only a few days away from the start of a fresh new year. That means this will be my last DFS article of 2018 and we are looking to end the year with a bang. Don’t forget, tonight we are hosting out weekly “Beat the Expert” contest and we have a total of 100 spots to fill. This time it is slightly different as contestants will be allowed to fill out up to three contest entries. You always hear me talking about making multiple lineups, well now is your chance.

    Click right here to join tonight’s contest, and good luck!

    We have 10 games on the docket tonight, but you will notice a lot of the plays I am targeting are in the same games. So don’t be scared, we are going to let all the other fish play a 10-game slate, while we take advantage of a few good games with players in great spots. Let’s get down to business and jump right in.

    Lonzo Ball vs. Clippers $5,900- Ball is coming off a massive game with barely any price increase.  We already know Rajon Rondo and LeBron James have been ruled out, so he will be the primary ball handler. He will surely be chalky after last night’s game against the Kings. Josh Hart is also in play as a value play. He is only $4,200 and is in a game we will be talking about a lot. He is expected to continue starting with LeBron sitting out.

    Derrick Rose vs. Hawks $7,100- The Hawks play at one of the league’s fastest paces, making this spot worth paying up for Rose. Rose blew up against the Bulls with the help of a little narrative, but With Jeff Teague out of the lineup we know Rose will start and he has been chucking all season long. The floor seems safe for Rose while still offering some upside.

    John Wall vs. Bulls $9,000- The Bulls are terrible against point guards and I don’t see that changing tonight. Wall has been playing with purpose as of late and he is far too underpriced for any matchup, let alone this one. He is the most expensive point guard I would consider other than Russell Westbrook.

    Shooting Guard

    Dennis Schroder vs. Suns $5,300- Schroder is only averaging 20 DK points per game over the last four games, but the shot attempts have been there and the minutes are steady. Schroder has 35 DK point upside in this matchup and even if the game gets out of hand should have no problem seeing time in the fourth quarter. He is going to be low-owned but remains a tournament play. Paul George is currently being listed as a GTD; PG missing this one would only boost Schroder’s value even more.

    Brandon Ingram vs. Clippers $6,300- I mentioned it on the podcast yesterday, as long as LeBron is out everyone on this Lakers team gets a boost. I focus on the three main primary guys being Ball, Ingram and Kyle Kuzma, while utilizing the cheaper options as one-offs. Either way I want some exposure to this team again and Ingram is a solid way. It’s frustrating that his is not small forward eligible and I think I would prefer Ball over him, but he will be lower owned.

    Luka Doncic vs. Pelicans $8,700- I was all over Luka in this spot a few days ago and the small price increase isn’t steering me away. I want Dennis Smith Jr. and Wesley Matthews to both be ruled out and in that case we should see Doncic chucking at least 15 shots while being the primary ball handler. This game is going to have a fast pace and points will be scored. J.J. Barea is in play as well at $5,100, but I don’t think I would play both.

    I mentioned on the podcast playing similarly priced players in spots where you are playing multiple lineups. A great example of this could be sampling swapping out your shooting guard spot with Doncic and Devin Booker in multiple lineups. I like both of these guys and they both possess the upside to break a slate. That being said they are priced fairly and it is going to be a tough decision on which one I will be overweight on.

    Small Forward

    Kyle Kuzma vs. Clippers $7,700- I mentioned it above with Ingram and Ball; these are the three guys I will have exposure to on the Lakers side and it seems foolish to avoid all of them. Kuzma took 24 shots in the first game without LeBron and I don’t see that trending downward anytime soon.

    T.J. Warren vs. Thunder $6,300- I will be all over this game if Paul George is out and will still have some decent exposure regardless. Warren thrives in these fast-paced matchups and even though the Thunder have one of the league’s top defenses, they play at such a fast pace that they still manage to give up enough points.

    Warren is priced more than fair and he is averaging 33 DK points in three games versus the Thunder earlier this season. Kelly Oubre Jr. makes for a solid play as well. His minutes have been steadily rising and he could also be used as a pivot play to Warren.

    Justise Winslow vs. Cavs $5,800- Point-Winslow is a real thing. The problem I always have is jumping on the train at the right time. Last time, I was wrong. It was actually during our “Beat the Expert” contest two weeks ago, but the Heat were playing the Jazz that night and the game got out of hand quickly. Luckily, the Cavs are much worse than the Jazz and Winslow will likely draw Cedi Osman as a defensive matchup.

    Power Forward 

    Blake Griffin vs. Pacers $8,400- I do not love targeting players versus the Pacers, but this price for Blake Griffin made me double take. This is a guy who is dropping at least 40 DK points for the better half of the season thus far. Not a must-play by any means, but this price is the lowest it will be for a while. 

    Tobias Harris vs. Lakers $7,600- This is a fantastic spot for Harris. The pace will be fast, the total should be high and Harris will be drawing matchups for inexperienced smaller forwards. We already know we are targeting some Lakers and Harris is my favorite way to get some correlation on the other side.

    Markieff Morris v. Bulls $4,400– I think we are witnessing some disrespect on Markieff’s price tag. Bulls are terrible against every position defensively and Morris is coming off of a game where he played 36 minutes. Now if we know we are getting those minutes again he is a near lock at this price, but that’s the problem we run into. Still, the matchup is tasty enough to get a shot in a few spots and if he has scored at least 26 DK points over the last three games; we’d take that at $4,400 for decent 6x value.

    Center

    Karl-Anthony Towns vs. Hawks $9,600-This is a great spot for Towns, but we are going to have to pay up for him. If you are getting Towns in a lineup is going to come down to lineup construction. We have some centers who are cheaper and still possess upside, but I will have exposure in lineups I dodge Rose.

    Steven Adams vs. Suns $6,800- I mentioned targeting this game and Paul George’s availability will definitely matter on this slate, but Adams’ role is secure whether we have the news before lock or not. He is averaging just about 40 DK points per game in two meetings against the Suns this season and targeting Deandre Ayton’s defense is a thing we do to make money.

    Dewayne Dedmon vs. Timberwolves $5,500- Well, some may have missed out on the Dedmon explosion, but fear not, this is another great spot for him. The Timberwolves are terrible against opposing centers and Alex Len has already been ruled out, leaving Dedmon to man the center position.

    As always thank you for the continued support and if you have any questions or comments feel free to follow me or shoot me a tweet @mikeapotria. Good luck to everyone competing in tonight’s “Beat the Expert” contest! It is going to be a good one!

Fantasy News

  • Justin Holiday
    SG, Indiana Pacers

    Justin Holiday put up top 150/110 per-game value in 8/9-cat formats in 2019-20 while providing top 90/60 total value due to not missing any games.

    Holiday is on his eighth different NBA roster in only his sixth season but has remained fantasy relevant in each of the last three seasons.
    He played 31-plus minutes in each of the last two seasons with a sub-39.0 field goal percentage being his biggest deterrent. It seems he has fixed that this season with a career-best 44.0 field goal percentage and although playing only 24.9 minute per game, continues to be a cheap source for triples and steal s. With Jeremy Lamb out to start next year, perhaps Holiday can stick around for more than one season.

  • Jeremy Lamb
    SG, Indiana Pacers

    Jeremy Lamb was unable to build off his impressive 2018-19 campaign and posted top 110/95 per-game value in 8/9-cat formats in 2019-20.

    Lamb was hot and cold all season where he would be lights out one night and invisible the next. Maybe he had trouble adjusting to his new team but he also had trouble staying healthy, having to miss 11 games due to various ailments even before tearing his ACL in March. He is expected to miss a good chunk of next season so even though the 28 year old has plenty of time to get his career back on track, he can be ignored in next year's redraft leagues come draft time.

  • Malcolm Brogdon
    PG, Indiana Pacers

    Malcolm Brogdon put up top-75/85 per-game value in 8/9-cat formats in an injury riddled season.

    Brogdon signed a big contract in the offseason and flashed some serious potential with his new team, posting career-highs of 16.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game. His field goal percentage took a big dip however going from 50.6 percent the prior season to 43.9 percent this year. It may be because of the increased responsibility on offense or maybe it was because he could never really get into a rhythm with all the injuries. Brogdon played in 74 percent for the team's games so far this season and had to miss consecutive games on five separate occasions with various back, hip, groin and hamstring injuries. One hopes the injuries aren't all interconnected and he can get back to full health to continue his upward trajectory.

  • Domantas Sabonis
    C, Indiana Pacers

    Domantas Sabonis took his game to another level in 2019-20, registering an across the board improvement, allowing him to emerge as the Pacers' best player in fantasy as a top-50 player in 8/9-cat per game value and a top-30 player in total value in both formats.

    Sabonis proved that his promising game was legit and took it up several notches. He was a double-double machine, recording averages of 18.5 PPG, 12.4 RPG and 5.0 APG on .541 shooting from the field. The second-year big man proved to be an amazing facilitator in the post with his five dimes per night. It is worth noting, however, that he made this jump while Victor Oladipo was injured for most of the season and Malcolm Brogdon dealt with a myriad of injuries.

  • Myles Turner
    C, Indiana Pacers

    Myles Turner took a step backwards in the 2019-20 season fantasy-wise with top-70/60 per-game value in 8/9-cat formats.

    Although Turner missed about two weeks early in the season with an ankle injury, he remained relatively healthy after that. His fantasy production did not meet expectations a season after he put up top-30 value and led the league in shot-blocking. With several new scorers on the team and the emergence of Domantas Sabonis, Turner's usage went down and so did his stats across the board. The only improvement was making 1.4 triples per game compared to 1.0 the prior season but this caused his field goal percentage to dip from 48.7 percent to 45.1. The construct of the team should stay intact for next season so Turner may no longer be a viable third round option.

  • TJ Warren
    SF, Indiana Pacers

    T.J. Warren emerged as the Pacers' leading scorer with 18.7 points per game in 2019-20 and his efficient shooting from the field and the line allowed him to finish in the top-75 in both 8 and 9-cat scoring formats.

    With Victor Oladipo off to a late and slow start to the season as he recovered from injury, Warren took the lead and along with Domantas Sabonis bore the brunt of the scoring load for the Pacers. Warren's 18.7 PPG came on .529 shooting from the field and .812 from the line. He also put up averages of 1.1 treys, 4.0 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 32.5 minutes per game. Warren was also able to stay mostly healthy, allowing him to appear in 61 games.

  • Aaron Holiday
    PG, Indiana Pacers

    Aaron Holiday was called on to step up when the Pacers dealt with injuries to Malcolm Brogdon, allowing him to deliver value ranked 207th in 8-cat and 210 in 9-cat per-game value.

    The second-year guard made some solid strides in 2019-20, even stepping up and into the Pacers' starting lineup. In January, Holiday showed promise as he went on a nine-game streak where he scored in double digits, including a 25-point career-high explosion against the Pelicans. In 23.6 minutes per game, Holiday averaged 9.4 points, 1.4 threes, 2.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game.

  • Doug McDermott
    SF, Indiana Pacers

    Pacers sharpshooter Doug McDermott shot his way to top-250 value in 9-cat in 2019-20, recording averages 10.4 points, 1.9 threes and 2.5 rebounds on .491 shooting from the field and .827 shooting from the line in 20 minutes per game through 62 games.

    McDermott, who has pretty much defined himself as a true one-trick pony across his four-year NBA career. Thanks to the solid play of Justin Holiday off the bench, McDermott was not able to produce a reliable splash, both in real-life and fantasy.

  • Jusuf Nurkic
    C, Portland Trail Blazers

    Blazers coach Terry Stotts described Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins "both looked like the way we remembered them," when talking about them practicing on Saturday.

    If both big men are indeed performing to their pre-injury par, then the Blazers are indeed going to be a team to watch once the season resumes. Nurkic should make for an interesting late-middle round prick for resumption leagues.

    Source: Chris Haynes on Twitter

  • Goga Bitadze
    C, Indiana Pacers

    20-year-old rookie Goga Bitadze logged 49 games for the Pacers in 2019-20 and showed why he's still considered a raw talent, ending the season at 403/399 in 8/9-cat per-game value.

    Bitadze was, for the most part, underwhelming. Aside from his 13-point career-high game vs. the Wizards, his season was mostly filled with non-notable appearances. At just 8.4 minutes per game, the still-work-in-progress big man posted averages of 3.1 points 2.0 rebounds and 0.7 blocks per game on .473 shooting. He still has a promising future, especially if he can translate the 19.2 PPG, 13.2 RPG and 4.3 APG in his six G League games into the NBA.

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