I don’t know about the rest of you, but the return of daily fantasy NBA made me feel like a kid on Christmas morning again. Yesterday was fun, but today is the first big slate of games of the 2014-2015 season, and things are already shaping up to be very interesting. We have a Pacers team that is decimated by injuries, forcing Frank Vogel to start four bench players. The best player in fantasy, Kevin Durant, is out for the foreseeable future. Several players are opening the season with suspensions, expanding roles for starters, and opening up opportunities for reserves. Value is everywhere. My job is to steer you toward the correct FanDuel value options, while avoiding the traps.
Russell Westbrook - With Kevin Durant out, the projected starting lineup for the Thunder is Westbrook, Andre Roberson, Perry Jones, Serge Ibaka, and Steven Adams. I think we all know where this is going. Westbrook's usage is extremely high when he plays with Durant, which can only mean it will be through the roof without him. Damian Lillard's defense will not present a challenge. (According to RotoGrinders’ NBA Defense vs. Position tool, Portland was the third worst team defending the point guard position last year.) Westbrook will put up a monster stat line in this fast-paced game with Portland. I expect him to be the top fantasy performer of the evening, and it may not be close. With all of the value that is available tonight, there is no reason not to have Westbrook locked and loaded into each and every one of your lineups. $10,000 is a steep price to pay on FanDuel, but when the evening is giving you value everywhere you look, you take it and put the projected top scorer of the evening into your lineups.
Editor's Note: Rotoworld's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $200,000 Fantasy Basketball league for October 29th's games. It's $25 to join and first prize is $20,000. Starts at 7pm ET on October 29th. Here's the FanDuel link.
Tony Wroten – Anyone who played DFS NBA last season is very familiar with the joy of rostering Tony Wroten when Michael Carter-Williams was forced to miss games. Right away, we are presented with that scenario. Wroten will start, and play heavy minutes against an injury-ravaged Pacers team that does not have a good way of slowing him down. Wroten is all over the place on the court, scoring, rebounding, and dishing out assists. He’s capable of a huge stat line at a very reasonable $5,500 price tag. Fading him is a mistake.
Donald Sloan - Sloan is certainly not a household name, but you don't need to be in the world of NBA DFS. Sloan will start at point guard for the Pacers tonight, and he should be locked into heavy minutes for an Indiana team that is absolutely decimated by injuries. This couldn't be a more perfect setup, as the Pacers will square off with the Sixers, who play at a fast pace, and are terrible defensively. He’s $3,500 on FanDuel, which is as cheap as it gets. Given you can only roster two of the three plays listed at point guard, my advice would be to create multiple lineups with exposure to all three.
Eric Bledsoe - Some of you may be worried about the backcourt trio of Bledsoe, Dragic, and Thomas all stealing productivity from one another. While that may happen some nights, the Suns have made it abundantly clear that Bledsoe is their franchise player. He's been recently signed to a huge contract, and he's going to see heavy minutes as long as he's healthy. My expectation would be that Thomas would eat into Dragic's playing time before Bledsoe's. That said, Bledsoe is underpriced at only $7400 on FanDuel, and his matchup with the Lakers is one that you need to target. Phoenix is a massive 12.5-point favorite, so there are real blowout concerns here. However, it’s much better to have a player on the winning side of a blowout than the losing. Bledsoe is extremely athletic and talented, contributing to fantasy totals in a number of ways. Even in a blowout, he should be able to post a big stat line despite losing a few minutes in the fourth quarter.
Klay Thompson – At only $6,400, Thompson is a solid play facing a Kings team that projects to be just as poor defensively this season as they were last. With the game in Sacramento, I’m not concerned with a blowout. The Warriors should win, but the Kings should keep it a game long enough that the starters play a full complement of minutes. I expect Klay to come out hot, playing with a chip on his shoulder as he tries to earn a max contract that the Warriors seem unwilling to give him. He broke out last season, and he’ll be even better this year. All that said, the most important reason to use him is his price. He’s too cheap relative to what he should do on the court tonight.
C.J. Miles - Miles, like Donald Sloan, is a major beneficiary of Indiana's injury woes. He had a very nice preseason, and should see plenty of open looks facing a Sixers team that had serious problems defending 3-point shooters last season. Priced at only $4400, Miles is a very easy plug and play option tonight at a position that tends to give DFS players fits. He'll play heavy minutes, and will be relied upon to be one of the primary scorers. He should easily pay off his salary, with upside for much more. In NBA DFS, you have to take what you are given, even when you know all of the good players will be doing the same thing. Roster Miles, and win elsewhere.
Draymond Green – David Lee has been ruled out for tonight, meaning Green will slot in as the starting power forward. The Kings bled points to power forwards last season, and with no notable changes to their frontcourt, there’s no reason to expect that to change. Green was an excellent DFS option when given minutes. He contributes in every category, and with the expectation of playing starter minutes, he should easily pay off his modest $5000 price tag.
Jared Sullinger – Sullinger has been a force during the preseason, and his $6600 price tag isn’t reflective of his upside. We’re going to see a lot more clarity with Brad Stevens’s rotations this season. Brandon Bass should be locked into a backup role, and Kris Humphries is no longer in Boston to muddle things. This offense needs to center around Sullinger, and Stevens knows it. He’ll be locked into big minutes, and is capable of posting huge numbers every night. Roster him before his price catches up to his productivity.
Terrence Jones – Jones is an extremely underpriced $5700, and I will absolutely be going back to the well with him tonight. He has extremely high upside relative to his modest price tag, and he’s seeing plenty of looks despite playing with Harden, Ariza, and Howard. Last night wasn’t a fluke because of Howard’s foul trouble (though one can reasonably expect that to be a common theme again this season). Jones produced many times last season with Howard on the court as well. Don’t overthink this play. When a guy is too cheap relative to his expected production, you use him.
Andre Drummond - Drummond is another beneficiary of a suspension, as the Pistons will be without Greg Monroe tonight. This will force Drummond and Josh Smith into heavier minutes. The timing couldn't be better. The Pistons are traveling to Denver to face a Nuggets team that has done absolutely nothing to resolve their issues with defending the paint. Drummond has been a monster in the preseason, and he should have no trouble doing whatever he wants against this team. He's my top center of the day, and his price tag of $8700 is easy to afford with all of the available value.
Roy Hibbert – I will recommend Hibbert with the disclaimer not to use him across the board. It’s hard for me to imagine a scenario where Hibbert doesn’t have a good game considering the Pacers injuries and the matchup with the Sixers, but this is the same Roy Hibbert that managed to have bad game after bad game last season despite plus matchups. That said, it would be a mistake to not have some exposure to him given his cheap $5800 price tag. He does have high upside as he should be relied upon heavily offensively, and he’s an excellent shot blocker. His rebounding leaves a lot to be desired, especially for a 7-footer, but even with lower than expected rebounding totals, he should be a fine play this evening.