This new column covers daily rankings and strategy for Draft.com's DFS games. If you aren’t familiar with DRAFT, it’s an innovative DFS game with a live draft feature -- instead of building within a salary cap, you're participating in snake drafts that typically last 2-5 minutes. The scoring system is identical to FanDuel, and anyone you draft is yours alone -- if you take Giannis Antetokounmpo with your first pick, nobody else in your league can have him.
You’ll draft two guards, two forwards and one center. Leagues are 2, 3, 6, or 10 people and the draft begins when the league is full, usually within minutes. You can find more information at Draft.com or quickly join a contest from anywhere after downloading the app!
Today's slate is eight games that provide options from top stars to high upside values. Let's begin with team-vs.-position matchups -- which teams have been easiest or hardest to rack up DFS value against?
Editor’s Note: With over 15,000 reviews, DRAFT is the highest rated fantasy sports app. For a limited time, DRAFT is giving Rotoworld readers a FREE entry into a real money draft and a Money-Back Guarantee up to $100! Here's the link.
Pace: A few games have significant pace discrepancies: Indiana (22nd) at Golden State (4th), Milwaukee (24th) at LA (6th), Portland (19th) at New Orleans (3rd), and Cleveland (11th) at Miami (26th). Bump up those slower teams a little, especially the two that are on the road. Chicago and Houston play similarly (11th and 14th), as do Denver and Toronto (15th and 11th). Dallas and Sacramento rank 26th and 28th in pace in a game we’ll largely be avoiding tonight for DFS purposes. San Antonio gets a small pace bump from Washington, but this game still gets the lowest overall point total of the night (201.5).
Defensive Efficiency: The Raptors, Warriors, Trail Blazers, Spurs and Rockets are known for their defensive prowess, but at least the Rockets and Warriors are down a few of the usual suspects tonight. Clint Capela will sit (along with James Harden) but the Warriors may be fortunate enough to have Draymond Green back, which would help their depleted roster. On the other side of things, Cleveland, Sacramento, Denver and Chicago rate among the league’s worst in defensive efficiency. The Heat, Rockets, Mavericks and Raptors will have an easier time facing these lax defenses tonight.
Positional Defense (DvP) and Scarcity
G: There are guards a-plenty tonight, and all of them seem to have favorable matchups. Damian Lillard (provided he doesn’t have a baby tonight) and C.J. McCollum stand out as high priorities against a Pelicans backcourt that ranks in the top three in fantasy points allowed to opposing PG and SG. Houston’s Chris Paul and Eric Gordon, as well as Gerald Green, should take advantage of Chicago’s generous backcourt too. Goran Dragic hasn’t played great vs. the Cavs, but they are the third-best fantasy matchup for point guards. Don’t forget Kyle Lowry, either, as he’ll benefit from the faster pace as well as the DvP of Denver’s guards. I’m downgrading Rajon Rondo (who is questionable to play anyway) and Jrue Holiday in a tough matchup with the least generous Trail Blazers.
Advice: You can safely wait on guard tonight. There’s not a huge drop off or difference in projected points for the top 10 guys. Getting two of those top 10 shouldn’t be impossible even in six-person DRAFTs. In a 10-person DRAFT, you’ll have to go guard in rounds 2 and 3 to achieve that though.
F: There are three top forwards, LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Anthony Davis. The Greek Freak gets a top matchup with the Clippers, who rank in the top five in fantasy points to opposing forwards, making him my first pick tonight. James has averaged about six fewer fantasy points than his season average when playing Miami, but it’s still a result of 50-plus fantasy points, so I’m not concerned if he’s my top guy. The mid-range of forwards are fairly projected, with notable downgrades due to positional matchups for Bobby Portis (lessened somewhat by Capela’s absence), LaMarcus Aldridge, and Markieff Morris. There are a bunch of guys in the lower tier (projected 26 fantasy points) that could easily exceed value tonight.
Advice: Get one of the top three then wait till Round 5 to grab your second forward. Someone like Thaddeus Young, Josh Richardson, James Johnson, Wilson Chandler, or Montrezl Harrell will be there with 30-plus upside.
C: Nikola Jokic is the man to target, though DeAndre Jordan isn’t projected too far below him. It’s a 10 fantasy point drop off to Jusef Nurkic, in a good matchup with the Pelicans, then a lot of risks. Kelly Olynyk and Jonas Valanciunas could keep it going but neither gets a good matchup.
Advice: You wouldn’t be wrong to nab a top three center in the first round of a six-person DRAFT if you miss out on the top forwards. I’m really uncomfortable with Myles Turner (see below) or Willie Cauley-Stein, whom you’re likely to panic click too soon. If you miss one of the top guys, focus on maximizing guard and forward and see who’s left in Round 5.
These players have a great chance to outperform their DRAFT projection/ranking.
Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets (35.3 projection): Chris Paul is another Rocket I’m eyeing, but he’s going in the first round. Gordon will be there later and should have almost equal upside with Harden out tonight. Also consider Gerald Green (28.2 projection) a high upside candidate, coming off a great game Sunday. The combination of easy matchups and increased usage with key guys sitting make the Rockets strong late round DRAFT picks.
Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks (35.5 projection): Middleton, and Draymond Green if he plays, are close seconds to the top three forwards. Middleton has regularly been exceeding 40 fantasy points, including the last game when Giannis was back from his sprained ankle. Look for the versatile forward to keep it going in a plus matchup with the Clippers, who aren’t stopping anyone this season.
James Johnson, Miami Heat (26.7 projection): Johnson is heating up lately (pun intended), with an increased floor and a couple of really high end games. He’s a guy you can rely on late, and one of those I referred to above as an exciting 4th or 5th round pick (Al-Farouq Aminu was the other).
These players may not live up to their DRAFT projection or ranking.
Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers (31.9 projection): Turner has been at the bottom of the low end of his very wide fantasy range lately, attempting just eight shots in the last two games and not cracking double-digit rebounds in five of his last six games. If quality defender Draymond Green is back for Golden State tonight, I think Turner comes in low again. The Warriors are the fourth-least generous team in fantasy points to opposing centers, and while strength of opponent isn’t a great predictor of Turner’s fantasy production, I’m not happy to end up with him tonight.
Markieff Morris, Washington Wizards (27.1 projection): You know I hate targeting the Spurs, even this year, when they are by their own standards, terrible, they rank second in the league in D.E. and play at one of the slowest paces (28th). Morris is projected slightly higher than Johnson or Aminu but should be passed over for one of those two if possible. The Spurs previously limited Morris to just five points and three rebounds (13 fantasy points) in 25 minutes. I expect a down night for Morris.
Rajon Rondo, New Orleans Pelicans (30.3 projection): If he plays, I don’t like the matchup for him with Portland’s least generous fantasy defense to point guards. If he plays and Lillard doesn’t, I’ll relent a bit, but overall there are so many safer, higher upside guard plays tonight that I’m fading Rondo and forgetting it.