We have just four games on today’s slate at FanDuel, as we’ll be ignoring the two early games. Hopefully we can supplement NFL success today with some additional NBA winnings. Despite the short slate, there are a lot of favorable situations to attack, so let’s get right into it.
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder, $11,500 – Westbrook is the clear top option today, and I see no reason to avoid him. He’s taking on a Pacers team that pushes the pace and has been dreadful on the defensive end. Plus, they have no rim protection, so don’t expect Russ to see any resistance when he blows by whomever is guarding him and attacks the basket. He’s a nightly triple-double threat, and even if this game turns into a blowout, which it probably won’t, He’s a near lock for 50 fantasy points. I’m locking those points in and figuring out the rest of my lineup from there.
Jeff Teague, Indiana Pacers, $6600 – Teague has returned over 5x value the past three games and will continue to see a usage spike in the absence of Paul George. While Russell Westbrook is doing everything for his team on the offensive end, his effort, and understandably so, is lacking on defense. Opposing point guards have had a lot of success against the Thunder, and in what projects to be a fast-paced game, Teague should give you another 30+ fantasy points.
Additional Plays: Kyle Lowry
Victor Oladipo, Oklahoma City Thunder, $5700 – Oladipo has exploded in two straight games, and I like him to continue that against the Pacers today. The Pacers are just laughable defensively, and they’re even worse without their best defender, Paul George out. Westbrook is obviously the man, but Oladipo should have no trouble paying off his cheap $5700 price tag at FanDuel. He’s going to be very popular, but his upside relative to his salary is so high that I just can’t justify a fade.
Monta Ellis, Indiana Pacers, $5300 – I don’t really love rostering Ellis, but he’s cheap in a fast-paced game with his team’s primary offensive weapon on the sidelines. He’s so cheap that he should finish between 20 and 25 fantasy points simply by being on the court, and he certainly has upside for more if this happens to be his night. With other possible shooting guard plays up in the air due to teammates being questionable, Ellis is my second favorite play at the position at this time.
Matt Barnes, Sacramento Kings, $4100 – Small forward is your punt position today, as the expensive options are just not very intriguing. Gordon Hayward has posted three straight duds (relative to his salary), Jimmy Butler is a bit too expensive for me with Rajon Rondo back, and recent stud Wilson Chandler has a terrible matchup against the Jazz. Kings head coach Dave Joerger has said he’s seen enough of two big man lineups and he plans on playing small with Cousins at center. We could see Barnes move into the starting lineup, and even if he doesn’t, he’s likely to push for 30 minutes off the bench. I really like him as a salary saver for just $4100 as he should eclipse 20 fantasy points in that amount of court time.
Glenn Robinson III, Indiana Pacers, $3500 – With both Paul George and C.J. Miles out, Robinson is going to draw the start and see major minutes. This is simply a play based on minutes and price as I don’t expect Robinson to have a big game, but given the lack of good options at small forward and my desire to pay up at other positions, I’m perfectly happy punting this spot and trusting that Robinson can get me around 18 to 20 fantasy points.
Additional Plays: Jimmy Butler
Julius Randle, Los Angeles Lakers, $6700 – I can afford best available at the power forward position, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do. The Bulls are playing the second leg of a back to back after a close loss to the Clippers last night, and while there’s no travel involved when you’re playing at Staples two nights in a row, the defensive effort just isn’t the same on the second night. Randle is too quick and too talented for guys like Taj Gibson and Nikola Mirotic to stop him, and given his ability to contribute in multiple ways (he just posted a triple double), I think he has a very safe floor and ceiling despite not playing as many minutes as we would like. He’s the top option at the position and very affordable, so there’s no reason not to lock him in.
Trey Lyles, Utah Jazz, $4000 – With both Derrick Favors and Boris Diaw out, Lyles drew the start against Houston and saw 33 minutes. Favors is certainly out, but I haven’t seen an update on Boris Diaw’s status. I’m less excited about Lyles if Diaw plays because we just haven’t seen consistent minutes when the Jazz have other front court options. If Diaw is out, Lyles has to play, and he’ll draw a terrific matchup against a Nuggets team that will pace up the Jazz and has defended opposing big men very poorly this season. He’s a top value option at a position that is offering little outside of Julius Randle. Be sure to check NBA starting lineups before lineup lock to see if Lyles cracks Utah’s starting five.
DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento Kings, $10,200 – Dave Joerger’s commitment to playing smaller is great news for Cousins as we should see the Kings play a bit faster. Plus, the absence of another big man roaming the paint should result in more rebounds for Cousins. He’s going to dominate Toronto in what’s likely to be a close game. The Raptors don’t have anyone with a prayer of stopping him. Jonas Valanciunas is a poor low post defender who is likely to get bullied by Cousins tonight. Just lock in the top center play and second best play on the slate.
Additional Plays: None