The playoffs are here, which means we don’t have to worry about any ridiculous late scratches or random days of rest. The good players are going to play, and likely play above their average minutes for the season, and the bench players are mostly going to see their roles reduced. It’s tricky because you have less opportunities for value, but at least you can be confident that the player you’re rostering is going to play significant minutes unless a team like Dallas forgets to show up and gets run out of the gym. We have eight teams to choose from (seven if you forget about Memphis, which you should), and two games with serious blowout potential. I’ll be focusing mostly on the two games I think stay close, Miami-Charlotte and Los-Angeles-Portland. Let’s check out today’s picks for our FanDuel contests.
Chris Paul, Los Angeles Clippers, $9500 – This should be a very good series, and given it’s the playoffs and every game matters, I expect Paul to be at his absolute best. He draws a great matchup with Damian Lillard and the Blazers in what should be a relatively close, high-scoring affair according to Vegas Odds. I’m not particularly intrigued by any of the other point guard options today, so I think Paul is a must today.
Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers, $7500 – Irving is my second-favorite option at the point guard position even though I don’t love targeting the Cavs when all three of Irving, Love, and James are playing. However, this is the playoffs, so I would expect each of them to pick up some additional minutes, especially if the Pistons manage to keep things close. Irving has been playing well, and given the lack of attractive point guard options, I think it makes sense to pair Paul and Irving and value hunt elsewhere.
Jamal Crawford, Los Angeles Clippers, $4300 – Crawford should see plenty of run off the bench, and we need to be taking value where we can find it on a short slate of NBA games. Crawford has a ton of upside relative to his cheap $4300 price tag, and we can be confident that when he’s on the court, he’s going to be putting up shots. He should be popular, but I see no reason to fade him today.
Dwyane Wade, Miami Heat, $7500 – Give me Wade over McCollum at basically the same price today. Wade has been here plenty of times before, has a ton of playoff experience, has won championships, and is likely to see a bump in minutes over his regular season average. I think this is going to be a very close series between Charlotte and Miami, and I expect Wade to have some big games. He’s the top shooting guard option for me today, though I’m not opposed to going to two cheap shooting guard route and gambling a bit on a guy like Jeremy Lin.
LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers, $10500 – It’s the playoffs, so expect James to take over and post some huge lines. He’s the top overall play of the day, and given the relative weakness of the small forward position, I’m going to try to find a way to force him into my lineups. He has triple double upside, and if the Pistons manage to keep things close, we could see a 60+ fantasy point outing from the King.
Joe Johnson, Miami Heat, $5000 – I don’t love this pick, but I do know that Johnson is going to play big minutes in what should be a fairly close game. I can’t really say that about any of the other small forward options. Mo Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu are options as well, but I’m just not as confident in their roles and their minutes. Johnson is not the most exciting option, but at least I know he’s going to be on the court and won’t be involved in a potential blowout like Marcus Morris.
Kevin Love, Cleveland Cavaliers, $7100 – Love has been playing very well, and at $7100, I like his upside relative to his price. I think Cleveland will likely steamroll the Pistons in game one today, but Love should be able to post at least 30 fantasy points before his day is done. In the event the game does stay close, he could have a huge game and absolutely crush value. The Pistons are a good defensive team, but the problem is that they’re completely outmatched in this matchup, and a focused Cavs team should have no trouble moving and scoring the ball against them.
I will say that I do like Blake Griffin in what should be a close game, but his $9100 salary makes it difficult to use him at a position with other viable options.
Ed Davis, Portland Trail Blazers, $4000 – In daily fantasy basketball in the playoffs, the fact that we’re dealing with short slates and no easy value plays, we have to take some chances. I like Ed Davis quite a bit as a cap-saving option with upside. He provides a lot of energy off the bench, and even if he only plays about 20 minutes, he can get you 20 or more fantasy points because of his high per-minute production. To construct a good lineup, you have to take what the slate gives you, and with very limited value options, we need to be using players that can help us roster the day’s top plays and won’t tank our lineups.
Cody Zeller, Charlotte Hornets, $4600 – Center is not a position I want to pay at, and I was hoping Tim Duncan would be cheaper than $5500 so I could use him. However, at $900 cheaper, I like Zeller as a value play. He likely won’t play over 30 minutes, but he should see high 20s, and at $4600 I’ll take it. If I’m paying up for a player, I’d rather pay somewhere else than use Hassan Whiteside, and Andre Drummond isn’t in play for me at all in a potential blowout. As I said earlier, we have to take what the slate gives us, and it’s giving us a decent (I stress decent) value option at the center position that will be in the starting lineup. I’ll take the value and use my salary to spend up on the day’s elite options.