• 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

  • Tyler Zeller
    C, Denver Nuggets

    The Nuggets have signed C Tyler Zeller to a training camp roster on Thursday.

    Zeller played all of six games last season with the Hawks and Grizzlies. Zeller will try to latch on as a third-string C for the Nuggets' deep frontcourt. Zeller is off the fantasy radar.

    Source: Chris Dempsey on Twitter

  • Luke Kennard
    SG, Detroit Pistons

    Coach Dwane Casey said that he is not sure if he will start Luke Kennard or have him run a lot of the second-team offense.

    In addition, Casey mentioned that Kennard dealt with some knee tendinitis earlier this summer. Kennard is likely competing with Bruce Brown Jr. for the starting two-guard spot. We'll see how the rotation starts to shape in the preseason, but both players will get minutes either way.

    Source: NBA

  • Blake Griffin
    PF, Detroit Pistons

    Coach Dwane Casey revealed that although the team's training staff is easing him into things, Blake Griffin (knee) is back on the court and playing.

    Coach Casey added that the team expects Griffin to be at 100% with "no lingering effects." It looks like Griffin is progressing nicely in his return and should be all systems go for the start of the season. With Griffin's extensive injury history, the team may manage him more this year. Coming off a career year, he's expected to be an early middle-round selection.

    Source: NBA

  • Victor Oladipo
    SG, Indiana Pacers

    Coach Nate McMillan said that Victor Oladipo (knee) probably wouldn't play on opening night.

    Videos have surfaced this summer of Oladipo doing on-court work, and by all accounts, he is progressing well. Coach McMillan said that Oladipo isn't playing live yet and it would seem he still has hurdles to climb. Even when Oladipo does return, he will likely be facing minute restrictions and frequent days off, at least initially. Jeremy Lamb figures to be the biggest beneficiary of Oladipo's absence.

    Source: NBA

  • Nikola Vucevic
    C, Orlando Magic

    In an interview Wednesday, Magic head coach Steve Clifford said he could see Nikola Vucevic improving across all areas of his game, and echoing his player's belief that he is in his prime.

    One of the areas Clifford thought Vucevic could improve upon was his 3-point shooting percentage, and also seemed to indicate that he could contonue to up his play on defense. He's unquestionably solidified himself as the anchor of this team, and the Magic as a whole are likely eyeing to improve upon their momentum as a rising young playoff team in an Eastern Conference that looks pretty weak after the top four to five teams. Expect Vucevic to produce safe second-round value this season.

    Source: NBA.com

  • Deandre Ayton
    C, Phoenix Suns

    Suns General Manager James Jones said in a recent interview that Deandre Ayton is capable of playing PF if needed.

    One could chalk this up to either Ayton continuing his development in becoming a more dynamic offensive player, or the Suns covering up for the lack of depth on their roster at PF. In reality it's likley a mix of both, and is a positive for Ayton's value heading into this season. If he does end up spending meaningful time at the four, it would not bode well for the value of Dario Saric, who is already barely going at the end of drafts in 9-cat leagues.

    Source: NBA.com

  • DeMarcus Cousins
    C, Los Angeles Lakers

    The Lakers have been granted a $1.75 million Disabled Player Exception for DeMarcus Cousins (torn left ACL).

    This now officially rules DeMarcus Cousins out for the season. The Lakers will now have the ability to go out and acquire a player that will in all likelihood occupy the end of their bench. Because they signed Dwight Howard, using this cap space on a center isn't necessarily as big a priority as it once was when Cousins initially went down.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Mohamed Bamba
    C, Orlando Magic

    Mo Bamba will enter training camp second on the depth chart behind Nikola Vučević.

    Head coach of the Magic, Steve Clifford, told a reporter that he plans on having Bamba as his primary backup center while Khem Birch will be third on the depth chart. The Magic also have Vučević, who was re-signed in the offseason to a four-year, $100M contract. As long as Bamba is backing up Vučević, his fantasy ceiling is capped outside of standard redraft leagues.

    Source: NBA

  • Nerlens Noel
    C, Oklahoma City Thunder

    Brett Dawson of The Athletic believes that Nerlens Noel could see a slight bump in minutes if the Thunder limit Steven Adams' usage.

    Noel is a great per-minute producer of steals and blocks but only appeared in 13.7 minutes per contest last season. Additional playing time would make him more useful in deeper leagues.

    Source: Brett Dawson of The Athletic

  • Joel Embiid
    C, Philadelphia Sixers

    In a video, Joel Embiid announced that he lost about 25 pounds over the summer.

    Embiid is one of the best fantasy players around but has struggled at times with conditioning. The Sixers will gladly accept any improvements from last season's averages of 27.5 points and 13.6 rebounds.

    Source: NBC Sports