January 6, 2017, 1:43 pm
This evening we are looking at an eight game slate. I will start by breaking down the matchup with the highest total, followed by the two games that I think have the biggest impact on this slate. I don’t think that we should be taking Vegas totals and spreads as gospel, but it’s a great place to start to see where the points should be scored. At the end of the article I will highlight my favorite plays at each position and price range.
ROCKETS @ MAGIC +5.5 (222.5)
The Rockets, who are on the second leg of a back to back, travel to Orlando tonight for what is projected to be the highest scoring game. The relatively close spread seems to imply that the Magic will compete, as I don’t see the Rockets sitting any of their players tonight.
So far this season we haven’t seen Mike D’Antoni limit his players on back to backs and I don’t expect that to begin tonight. None of the Rockets players are really jumping off the page for me but fading this team against the Magic, who have given up 112 points per game over their last four, might be a mistake.
James Harden will always be one of the most enticing options on any slate and it’s nice whenever you don’t need to pick between him and Russell Westbrook. Although I won’t be jamming him into many lineups, the Beard undoubtedly has the highest ceiling on the slate and makes for a great play any time he takes the court.
Outside of Harden, I am only really looking at Eric Gordon and Montrezl Harrell. Gordon has been taking a pile of shots lately and makes for a very good mid priced option at a position that is usually tough to fill. If this game remains close, he has a great shot at making value.
Montrezl has been alternating starts with Nene since Clint Capela’s injury, seeing around 30 minutes per game in that span. I don’t particularly love the matchup down low for Harrell, but his cheap price tag (especially on Fanduel) and steady minutes makes him a very solid value play with upside.
The Magic are in a pace up game tonight and carry cheap price tags across the board. We saw Elfrid Payton move into the starting lineup last game and I would expect that to continue going forward. Elf had a strong game and is now very interesting as he dominates ball handling duties in the starting lineup as well as receiving a minutes bump. It’s important to note that Elf might draw Pat Beverley’s lock down defense, however, I would not be surprised to see Bev limited on a back to back coming off a wrist injury.
The only other Magic player catching my eye tonight is Nikola Vucevic, and he has me very interested. Vuc has seen his minutes climb back into the 30’s and should have no problem down low against Harrell and Nene. Carrying a very cheap price tag for his upside (especially on Draftkings), Vucevic makes for a great tournament play.
KNICKS @ BUCKS -4.5 (213.5)
The second game of a home-and-home takes place in Milwaukee this evening. Wednesday’s game was close the entire game and I think it’s very likely that this game remains tight as well. I chose this game as one of my most important because I think a lot of people will flock to it expecting players to have similar results. The return of Kristaps Porzingis impacts just about every player in this game, which I will touch on below.
The return of Kristaps Porzingis is very significant for not only the Knicks, but the Bucks as well due to the rim protection he provides. Porzingis commands a lot of minutes and usage, which will come at the expense of some of the Knicks players who flourished in Wednesday’s game. I would approach him slightly cautiously as his minutes could be limited, but I fully intend on using a lot of him tonight. Kristaps is an especially strong play on Draftkings where his salary sits at $7000.
Almost all of the Knicks starters received a sizeable salary increase from last game, taking virtually everyone out of play for me. We saw monster games from both Carmelo Anthony and Joakim Noah, two plays I will be fading completely with the return of Staps. Carmelo might be one of the most maddening players to roster in DFS and I will gladly let others play him at $7900 on both sites.
One player who did not have a large game last time out was Derrick Rose, who actually saw a large price dip on some sites. Rose is not someone I typically play but is certainly interesting on Draftkings where he is priced down to only $6000 in a very fantasy friendly matchup.
Coming off of a buzzer beater victory, the Bucks look to take two in a row from the Knicks. To the surprise of no one, Giannis Antetokounmbo was the hero last game and should be near a lock for another strong showing tonight. The Greek Freak was steady throughout the entire game and faced little resistance when attacking the hoop. Porzingis should add some protection down low for the Knicks, but does not deter me at all from Giannis. He makes for a great cash and tournament play on all sites.
Although I think this will be another great game, there aren’t many other targets on the Bucks for me. Greg Monroe is coming off a massive game but has received such a significant price jump that I would rather bet against him than play him due to his volatile minutes. Jabari Parker should be considered on both sites due to his ceiling and monster minutes. He should come at reduced ownership after a down game and the return of Porzingis to the Knicks front court.
I can’t say enough how much I have enjoyed watching Malcolm Brogdon progress. With Matthew Dellavedova doubtful once again, Brogdon should receive the start at shooting guard and see mid to high 30’s in minutes. Although Draftkings has quickly priced him out of consideration, he remains dirt cheap on Fanduel at $4600 and is one of my favorite plays on the entire slate.
HEAT @ LAKERS -2.5 (212.5)
The injury riddled Heat head into Los Angeles tonight to face a Lakers squad on the second leg of a back to back. This game really interests me as I think it has the potential to be a reasonably high scoring game packed with affordable plays.
The Heat will be without Justise Winslow, Hassan Whiteside, and Josh McRoberts tonight which leaves plenty of front court minutes to go around. On the other side of things, we saw Dion Waiters make his return from a 20 game absence, suddenly making the oft-injured back court seem quite crowded. Waiters is expected to see limited minutes and shouldn’t hurt any guard value for now.
In the absence of Whiteside, I am looking immediately to James Johnson and Willie Reed. Johnson has been playing by far the most impressive basketball of his career and I expect him to have loads of opportunity tonight. I think he is totally fine for both cash games and tournaments. Although Reed‘s minutes are a little volatile, I think playing him is worth the risk due to his low price tag on both sites and the massive upside which he showed two games ago when he scored 22 points with 18 rebounds.
In the back court, I think the trio of heat guards in Goran Dragic, Tyler Johnson, and Josh Richardson all make for great plays in an extremely fantasy friendly matchup. Dragic offers the best price point (especially on Fanduel) of the three and will be the primary ball handler. He can be safely deployed in cash games and tournaments. Johnson and Richardson have flashed very similar upsides and can be worked into your lineup for a little lower cost if you are looking for exposure to the Heat.
After a fast paced game last night against the Trailblazers, the Lakers return home in what should be a pace down game against the Heat. It’s hard to predict what Luke Walton will do with the Lakers minutes, especially after the hockey style line change he pulled shortly into the second half last night. I think we can comfortably take on the minute volatility due to a great matchup and very fair prices on all sites.
For the past few games I have been looking to D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle quite often, I don’t plan on changing that tonight. Russell carries a very fair price tag at just over $6000 on both sites, his steady minutes and shot volume have me buying as much as I can. I think there will be a small window to play him at this price before it enters the mid $7000’s.
It seems as though we are witnessing a true breakout for Julius Randle, whose production has coincidentally spiked with his increased minutes. The Heat defense takes a major hit without Winslow and Whiteside and I’m not quite sure if anyone will be able to contain him tonight. I wouldn’t feel comfortable using Randle in cash games but I think he makes for a great GPP play.
Make sure to keep an eye on the status of Luol Deng, who is questionable, as his absence could lead to another mid to high 30’s minutes game for Julius. If Deng does indeed miss tonight’s game, Brandon Ingram becomes a viable punt. Ingram has shown that he can be incredibly inefficient with big time minutes and I would tread lightly.
Below are my favorite players at each position and price range. Keep in mind that some players may be very attractive on one site but priced out of range on another.
Top Tier – Giannis [DK], Chris Paul – CP3 has recently been upgraded to probable and makes for a fantastic play on all sites
Mid Range – Kyrie Irving [DK], Isaiah Thomas [DK] Goran Dragic, D’Angelo Russell
Value – Malcolm Brogdon [FD], T.J. McConnell [FD] – only if Sergio Rodriguez is ruled out
Top Tier – James Harden, Giannis [FD]
Mid Range – Avery Bradley, Josh Richardson, Sean Kilpatrick [FD]
Top Tier –
Mid Range – Robert Covington, Jae Crowder, Andrew Wiggins [FD]
Value – Brandon Ingram – only if Luol Deng is ruled out
Top Tier – DeMarcus Cousins[DK] – look for Boogie to get back on track at home in what should be a competitive game
Mid Range – Porzingis [DK], Gorgui Dieng, James Johnson, Julius Randle
Top Tier – DeMarcus Cousins [DK]
Mid Range – DeAndre Jordan (my favorite play of the night with CP3 back), Nik Vucevic [DK], Marc Gasol [DK], Embiid[FD]
Value – Willie Reed, Montrezl Harrell [FD]