As usual, we have a bunch of injury situations to navigate today. Without any clarity at the time of this writing, it’s impossible to set a lineup, or even tell you who will be in my rosters tonight. The two biggest names involved are Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant. Davis is listed as questionable, and Kevin Durant won’t return until Saturday at the earliest. There are other situations to look at as well, and I will address those below with today’s picks. As always, keep up on injury news and make sure you’re able to react to late changes. With that, let’s check out today’s recommended FanDuel plays.
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder, $11,500 – It’s the matchup everyone has been waiting for – Russell Westbrook vs Ish Smith. Smith doesn’t have a prayer against Westbrook, and while I don’t know every player I’ll end up targeting tonight, I do know I’ll be doing everything in my power to roster Westbrook. With Kevin Durant out, Westbrook puts up gaudy numbers nearly every night, and he’s well worth this $11,500 price tag. The Pelicans are currently allowing more points per game to the point guard position than any other team in the league, and that mark is only going to get worse tonight.
Ishmael Smith, New Orleans Pelicans, $5,400 – Smith has become a standard play on the second leg of a back-to-back when Jrue Holiday is forced to sit out. I haven’t seen anything officially ruling Holiday out, but it’s safe to say that he won’t be suiting up tonight. Smith contributes in several categories, and always puts up a big line relative to his price when he draws the start. The Thunder are middle of the pack against opposing point guards, but they’re also playing at the sixth-highest pace in the league. The Pelicans aren’t a slow team either, so we should see an up-and-down game tonight that will have plenty of fantasy goodness.
Additional Plays: Dennis Schroder (only if Teague is out again), Damian Lillard, T.J. McConnell, Rajon Rondo (takes a hit if Collison plays), Aaron Brooks (should start with Rose doubtful), Brandon Knight
Monta Ellis, Indiana Pacers, $6,700 – George Hill has already been ruled out for tonight’s matchup with the Sixers, and Ellis stands to benefit. Both his usage and assist rate increase with Hill off the floor, and that means his per minute fantasy point production increases as well. In a plus matchup with the Sixers, Ellis is an easy play at the shooting guard position against Philadelphia’s gang of terrible defenders. I think he’s a near lock for at least 30 fantasy points with upside for much more given the matchup.
Eric Gordon, New Orleans Pelicans, $6,000 – Gordon is only in play for me if Anthony Davis is out tonight. With Davis out, Gordon sees a significant increase in usage and becomes a high floor, high ceiling daily fantasy play. Oklahoma City plays at a fast pace, and they’re currently giving up the second-most fantasy points per game to opposing shooting guards. That’s no surprise considering the dead weight players that they start at the two. Keep an eye on injury news as we should get some clarity on Davis’s status later on in the day. If he’s out, lock and load Gordon tonight.
Paul George, Indiana Pacers, $9,200 – George is already a usage monster, and with George Hill out, his role will just expand even more. He draws a fantastic matchup with a terrible Sixers team, but given Indiana isn’t a team that really blows anyone out, I think the starters will play their full complement of minutes tonight. George is as safe as it gets at the small forward position, and while it’s probably not feasible to roster both him and Westbrook, he’s still the clear top play at the position, and could be optimal given the value that’s likely to exist at point guard.
Al-Farouq Aminu, Portland Trail Blazers, $5,600 – Small forward is dreadful, and if you’re looking to save at the position, you might want to rethink that strategy. Paul George and Kawhi Leonard are the only options I’m truly comfortable with, but they’re also the most expensive, and rostering both almost certainly eliminates the possibility of using Westbrook. Aminu has had some down games, but they’ve been difficult matchups. Today, he draws a matchup with a Rockets team that’s been awful on the defensive end of the floor. They also fired head coach Kevin McHale this morning, and it’s unlikely that interim coach JB Bickerstaff will be able to fix the defensive woes in less than 12 hours. Aminu contributes across the board, and while he’s not a high ceiling player, he’s a safe cash game play that is very unlikely to hurt your lineup.
Ryan Anderson, New Orleans Pelicans, $5,900 – Like Gordon, Anderson is only in play if Anthony Davis sits out tonight. With Davis out, Anderson will likely play around 35 minutes, and will see a significant bump in usage. With that much court time, Anderson can reasonably be expected to finish with around 25 to 30 fantasy points, and he always has the ability to get hot from beyond the arc. With Davis out, Anderson is a safe play at a power forward position that’s not offering much in the way of value right now.
Jared Sullinger, Boston Celtics, $5,900 – Sullinger would have likely played more at Houston if Boston hadn’t run away with the game late in the third quarter. Before that game, he had been finishing with around 30 fantasy points on a regular basis, and I think he’ll go right back to his productive ways against an extremely soft Dallas frontcourt. The Mavericks are allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to the power forward position. Dirk Nowitzki and Zaza Pachulia are in no way a formidable defensive front court pairing, and Sullinger should score and rebound with easy when he’s on the court with those two.
Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves, $6,800 – Towns shouldn’t be priced this low, but he is, and you should be taking advantage of it. He draws a very favorable matchup with a soft Magic frontcourt that won’t have much of a chance of containing him. Nikola Vucevic is a great offensive player, but he’s not much of a defender. Towns should have no problem asserting himself on the glass and in the paint in what should be an up-tempo, close game with Orlando. He has 40-point upside in most matchups, and he has a great chance of getting there tonight.
Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets, $8,000 – Houston is a mess, but I don’t think the firing of Kevin McHale and their pitiful effort on defense is going to stop Howard from dominating Portland’s weak interior. Portland is giving up the third-most fantasy points per game in the league to opposing centers, as Mason Plumlee and whomever head coach Terry Stotts decides to start at power forward (likely Noah Vonleh again, but Stotts is a troll so we can never be sure) are ill-equipped to contain Howard. Howard should thrive in what should be an up-tempo, close matchup between two teams that are both ranked in the bottom six in terms of defensive efficiency. Hopefully Howard can keep his fouls in check, because if he sees standard playing time, he’s likely going to post a monster line.