• Welcome to yet another Friday edition of Hoop-Ball’s DFS preview. The slate we will be taking a look at is the first round of the playoffs and has 4 games on it. We no longer have to deal with crazy G-League names and random rotations as we generally see teams shorten their benches and run their starters heavy minutes in the playoffs. This is something that we could capitalize off of on the first night before we see a price adjustment.

    I’d like to note how important it is to take a stand on players during playoffs. Every night will have a least a few studs and star players, but it is impossible to get exposure to all of them and remain profitable.  Below are some of my favorite plays, but that does not mean I will not be targeting the other studs on the slate as well. Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant are always in play and the same could be said for the guys from Toronto. Let’s not waste any more time and dive right into Saturday’s targets.

    Point Guard

    Markelle Fultz $3,800– There is some inherent risk involved when it comes to rostering Fultz. His minutes could fluctuate and the matchup against the Heat isn’t the best. With that being said, Fultz is coming off of his first career triple-double and became the youngest player in history to do so. He did it in only 25 minutes in the final regular season game versus the Bucks. If Fultz is going to see similar minutes I am all in. He would stand out as one of the top value plays on the slate and we now know what kind of upside he could offer. We may have to temper expectations slightly as in that game with the Bucks Ben Simmons played limited minutes, allowing Fultz to handle the point more. Still in line to be a fantastic play.

    Rajon Rondo $6,700– To be honest, when doing my initial research for the slate I did not know how I felt about Rondo. He could break the slate anytime and the only thing that generally limits his fantasy production is his playing time. But it is now playoffs and teams tend to shorten their rotations and run their starters for as much as they can handle. This lines up perfectly for Rondo’s playing style and he has been in fantastic form during the Pelicans’ five-game win streak. Makes for a great GPP play.

    Damian Lillard $9,200– The Pelicans and the Blazers are set to have the largest total of the night with 216. We have cheaper spots to turn to at point guard, but if I am spending up I am going to Lillard. We are going to want some exposure to this game and if Rondo starts on Lillard he should have no problem getting his. In four meetings against New Orleans this season Lillard averaged 48.6 DK points per game

    Shooting Guard

    Tyler Johnson $4,300– Johnson has battled his fair share of injury problems in the closing month of the season, but he should be good to go for his normal bench role. There is not a lot I like on the Heat side of the ball, but Johnson is still cheap enough where his average over his last five games (24.9 DK points) gives him 6X value. It may not seem like a lot of value, but in playoffs we do not get as much garbage time as well as tighter rotations and big minutes, making it extremely hard to take fliers on players under $4,000.

    Bradley Beal $7,000– This price is just way too cheap for Beal.  He is averaging 45.4 DK points per game in the four games that the Wizards and Raptors have faced off in during the regular season. Now, John Wall was absent in all of those games, but this game will be competitive and we have seen these two teams have shootouts night after night that they have played each other.

    Small Forward

    Kyle Anderson $4,600– I love targeting Kyle Anderson versus the Warriors. We know the Spurs are going to have to play with their small ball lineup and Anderson should see plenty of minutes trying to cover Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson. Anderson usually flies under the radar in these situations and if game log watchers check his last game versus the Warriors it should continue. That game should be thrown away though because it was on a night that the Warriors had none of their stars.

    Al-Farouq Aminu $4,900– In the only game these teams played since DeMarcus Cousins went down with an Achilles injury, the Pelicans decided to play much smaller. In the past Jusuf Nurkic would be tasked with guarding Boogie, but the Pelicans have shifted Davis to the five forcing Nurkic to pick him up on defense. Davis is much shiftier and quicker than Nurkic and this could get him in trouble early or limit his minutes. This is why I like Aminu. I think the Blazers may try out Aminu on Davis for short stretches and we saw him play 35 minutes and grab a double-double the last time these teams met up.

    Power Forward

    Dario Saric $6,400– Joel Embiid said he does not think he is going to play in Game 1 of the first round. In the past we would immediately plug in Saric knowing Embiid is out, but ever since Embiid has been out we have seen the Sixers use Amir Johnson and Richaun Holmes in a three-way center rotation. Of course Saric gets a lot of time at power forward as well, but we want those rebounds to go to him and only him. I think that this had a lot to do with Saric nursing an elbow injury heading into playoffs. He has had a few days of rest and should be in line for extended minutes during playoffs. The Heat play big as well, so we have to expect the Sixers to combat them with their own. Saric is averaging 37.6 DK points per game in the four games that these teams have met up during the regular season.

    Nikola Mirotic $6,900– Ever since shaving his beard Mirotic has been scorching hot. He was inserted into the starting lineup and given heavy minutes and has yet to look back. In his last five games Mirotic is averaging 49.3 DK points per game and playing 34.0 minutes per game during that span. We are starting to see some of the other Pelicans take some of the offensive workload off of Davis and I cannot see fading Mirotic and Davis. Play one or both.

    Center

    Serge Ibaka $5,100– I think this is a solid spot for Serge. If you throw out last game Ibaka had scored at least 30 or more DK points in six straight. We know the Wizards do not like to play Marcin Gortat a full starter’s run and the Raptors feel the same about Jonas Valacunias. This could force Ibaka to center and even if he is getting his normal allotment at power forward, this is still a little underpriced.

    LaMarcus Aldridge $9,700– Well, I think we know who is going to be taking on the offensive burden for the Spurs this game. Aldridge is averaging almost 50 DK points per game this season versus the Warriors and without Curry this game could stay closer than anticipated. Now, I am not banking on that and to be honest, I’ll fade all of the Warriors star players on the opening night of playoffs.

Fantasy News

  • Gordon Hayward
    SF, Boston Celtics

    According to head coach Brad Stevens, Gordon Hayward (fractured left hand) is likely to return to practice on Sunday.

    Stevens had just said that Hayward should be able to return before Christmas, but if he is practicing already then he could be back a week or two before the holidays potentially. It will be interesting to see how the touches shake out when the Celtics have a fully healthy roster.

    Source: Jay King on Twitter

  • Justise Winslow
    SF, Miami Heat

    Justise Winslow (lower back strain) is still questionable heading into tonight's showdown with the Wizards.

    If Winslow were to miss this one a lot of minutes would trickle down to Kendrick Nunn, Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson. Goran Dragić remains out so Jimmy Butler will be getting plenty of play making opportunities if Winslow joins him on the sidelines.

    Source: Ira Winderman on Twitter

  • Markieff Morris
    PF, Detroit Pistons

    Markieff Morris will miss Friday's matchup vs. the Pacers due to a neck strain.

    Morris has not been a major contributor this season, but his absence will open up more opportunities for Christian Wood to have one of his always impressive big stat lines.

    Source: Rod Beard on Twitter

  • Dion Waiters
    SG, Miami Heat

    Dion Waiters is dealing with an illness that will keep him out of action when the Heat face the Wizards.

    Waiters will join Goran Dragić on the sidelines, leaving plenty of room for Kendrick Nunn, Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson to get more run against the Wizards. Waiters will keep on waiting for his first appearance on the floor this year.

    Source: Ira Winderman on Twitter

  • Damyean Dotson
    SG, New York Knicks

    Damyean Dotson (dislocated left pinky) should be good to go for the Knicks' matchup with the Pacers on Saturday.

    Dotson is no longer on the Knicks' injury report so don't hesitate to have him in your lineup. He is a scoring spark plug at times, and who knows what is about to happen with the Knicks after David Fizdale's firing.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Mike Conley
    PG, Utah Jazz

    Mike Conley is questionable for Saturday's tilt with the Grizzlies as he recovers from a hamstring injury.

    Conley is nearing a return which will likely end whatever boost in production we have been witnessing from Joe Ingles.

    Source: NBA Injury Report

  • Derrick Favors
    PF, New Orleans Pelicans

    Derrick Favors (personal) will remain out on Saturday when the Pelicans face the Mavs.

    With Favors out Jaxson Hayes will have a bigger role to play for the Pelicans, and Kenrich Williams will have some potential to be productive as well.

    Source: Pelicans PR on Twitter

  • Mitchell Robinson
    C, New York Knicks

    Shams Chararnia of the Athletic is reporting that the Knicks have promoted assistant coach Mike Miller to the interim head coach position, where he will replace the fired David Fizdale.

    Best of luck to Miller, as turning things around in New York will be no easy task. The Knicks set the bar awfully low thus far, so at least he has that going for him. As for fantasy, the Knicks remain a mess. Mitchell Robinson is a buy-low candidate, Marcus Morris is a sell-high candidate, Julius Randle is an inefficiency monster with plenty of counting stats, and RJ Barrett puts up numbers but needs to round out his free-throw shooting and turnover numbers. This team has a lot to work out so don't bank your season on any of these guys.

    Source: The Athletic

  • Tristan Thompson
    C, Cleveland Cavaliers

    Tristan Thompson is questionable to take the floor for Friday's game against the Magic due to an illness.

    The illness is making its way through the Cavs' locker room as Kevin Love is already out for this one. If Thompson can take the floor he will be in for a big DFS night with Love out.

  • Kevin Love
    PF, Cleveland Cavaliers

    Kevin Love (illness) will sit out Friday's game vs. the Magic.

    With Kevin Love out Tristan Thompson would be line for a big night, but he is also questionable for this one. That could mean Larry Nance or Ante Zizic emerge with larger roles tonight.

    Source: Josh Robbins on Twitter