With NFL the focus on Sunday and the evening slate of NBA games offering much better tournament prize pools, I’ve chosen to focus solely on the three-game slate for FanDuel starting at 6 PM EST. We may need to be a little creative with some of our players as short slates simply don’t offer the sort of value plays that we typically look for when constructing rosters, but be sure to check the starting lineups pageprior to game time. Fortunately, all three games are targetable from a DFS perspective. I’ve identified the players I’m looking to use tonight, so let’s take a look.
Jameer Nelson, Denver Nuggets, $4500 – Let’s start with an easy one. Emmanuel Mudiay has already been ruled out today, so Nelson will draw the start and once again will see over 30 minutes of action. He draws an extremely favorable matchup against a Pelicans team that is not only allowing the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing point guards, but also rank 29th in defensive efficiency. Only the Lakers are worse in both regards. On a short slate, it’s nearly impossible to pass on high floor and ceiling that Nelson is offering (relative to his price), and expected high ownership is no justification for a fade in any game format.
Jrue Holiday, New Orleans Pelicans, $5300 – My priority whenever I’m constructing rosters for NBA is to identify the players that I feel have the most upside to offer relative to their price. Holiday certainly meets that criteria as he’s tallied over 30 fantasy points in four of his last six games. He reached 28 in another, and after an extremely slow start last time out against Phoenix, managed to salvage his line by reaching 20 in the second half. He should continue coming off the bench, which is fine with me because he’ll see less court time with usage hogs Tyreke Evans and Anthony Davis. I’m not concerned that he won’t see 30 minutes of court time as he’s show several times that he can pay off his price tag in around 25 minutes of action. Fire him up against a Denver team that’s allowing the third-most fantasy points per game to opposing point guards.
DeMar DeRozan, Toronto Raptors, $8000 – While point guard is offering some fairly easy value plays, we don’t have the same luxury at shooting guard. DeRozan is easily the top play having eclipsed 40 fantasy points twice in his past six games while surpassing 38 in three others. While I don’t expect him to see too much of defensive liability Ben McLemore, the Kings have done an especially poor job of defending both shooting guards and small forwards this season, indicating that their wing defense is just bad in general. It shouldn’t be surprising from a team that’s ranked 27th in defensive efficiency. This will also be a pace up game for the Raptors. The Kings rank third in pace, which should give the 25th ranked Raptors a boost.
Will Barton, Denver Nuggets, $5900 – A quick glance at the rest of the shooting guard pool was all I needed to identify our second play. Barton has finished with at least 30 fantasy points in five of his last ten games, collecting less than 26 just twice. He’s also played less than 30 minutes just twice. It doesn’t matter that he doesn’t start as he should see 30 minutes of run against the defensively-inept Pelicans tonight. Fire him up confidently as he’ll likely be the second-highest scoring shooting guard of the evening.
Additional Plays: Kyle Korver
James Johnson, Toronto Raptors, $3700 – Perhaps Dwayne Casey has finally seen the light. Raptors fans have been clamoring for James Johnson to play a significant role, and it would appear they’ve finally gotten their wish. Johnson started last game and played 32 minutes, parlaying that court time into a very solid 25.7 fantasy points. Priced at only $3700, he makes for an easy value play at the small forward position. Facing a Kings team that loves to push the pace and does not love to play defense, Johnson should easily eclipse 20 fantasy points, making him a premier value play this evening.
Danilo Gallinari, $6800, Denver Nuggets – It’s between Rudy Gay and Gallinari for the other small forward spot, and I don’t think the decision is difficult. Gallinari draws a matchup with the woeful Pelicans at home while Gay will have to deal with James Johnson’s tough defense for most of the game. Gallinari’s production has been somewhat up and down recently, but he appears to do well in favorable matchups, which is exactly what he gets tonight. He’s probably not a player I would look to target much on big slates, but when our options are limited, he becomes much more attractive.
Paul Millsap, Atlanta Hawks, $8300 – Anthony Davis has seen a significant drop in production with Tyreke Evans back in the mix, and even on a short slate, I simply can’t recommend a player that’s priced over $10,000 that’s failed to reach 40 fantasy points in four of his last six games. Millsap offers much better value, and although he’s fallen off a bit after a scoring hot start to the season, he’s still a safe source of at least 30 fantasy points with 40-point upside. That’s not the most exciting return on an $8300 investment, but options are limited and it’s still better than what Anthony Davis is offering. The Magic have been a surprisingly solid defensive team, but Millsap fills up every area of the stat sheet, so I’m much less concerned than I would be with a power forward that mostly just scores and rebounds.
Kenneth Faried, Denver Nuggets, $6300 – Interestingly, while Faried’s minutes have been all over the place, his production has been rather consistent. Aside from a dud last time out in Utah, Faried had tallied just under 30 fantasy points in his last six games. I like him again tonight against a Pelicans team that ranks 24th in rebounding differential and has allowed the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing power forwards. Denver players should be at the top of your list of targets today, and Faried is no exception.
Additional Plays: Anthony Davis
DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings, $9900 – There is enough value today that rostering Cousins is easy. He’s the clear top play at a center position that also features good, but not great options Nikola Vucevic and Al Horford. The Raptors have been average against opposing centers, but Cousins is a matchup-proof stud that sports the highest usage rate of any player in the league. He has massive upside in nearly any matchup, and he’s the clear top play at the center position.
Additional Plays: Nikola Vucevic