We have 11 games on tonight’s slate, and most of them look favorable for daily fantasy purposes. I’m ignoring a couple of games, Spurs/Pistons and Jazz/Raptors, because there’s no good reason to target players from these low-scoring, slow-paced defensive matchups with so many players in the pool. I’m writing this early in the morning, and as now, no good value plays have emerged. That could change later on in the day, but as of now, I’m going to be very sensitive to pricing. Fortunately, FanDuel is often slow to adjust salaries, so we should be able to identify a strong group of players that we can expect to meet or exceed their value thresholds tonight.
Let’s take a look at today’s picks to see who I’ll be targeting for my NBA lineups.
D’Angelo Russell, Los Angeles Lakers, $5,300 – Russell dropped 39 real points on Brooklyn last night, and he will continue to be a core play until his price sees a dramatic increase. At $5,300, he’s the first player going into my lineups and he’s not coming out of them. His floor/ceiling combination are that of a $7000 player (maybe higher), but you get to roster him for nearly $2,000 less than that. This is the equivalent of finding a brand new movie release in the $5 bargain bin at Walmart, and there is no justification for a fade in cash games tonight. If the fact that he’s criminally underpriced isn’t enough for you, consider also that he’ll be facing a Denver Nuggets team that has allowed the ninth-most fantasy points per game to opposing point guards while playing poor defense in general.
Mike Conley, Memphis Grizzlies, $6,800 – I’m listing a couple of players we can consider value plays today as there are several high-priced point guards that are in play as well. Everyone knows that guys like Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, and John Wall are elite plays, but we can give serious consideration to Conley as well. Conley produces at slightly over a fantasy point per minute with Marc Gasol out, which, assuming an average matchup, already puts him in the range of 30 fantasy points, assuming he continues to play around 30 minutes as he has been. Tonight, he gets one of the best matchups imaginable as the Grizzles host the Kings. Sacramento plays at an extremely fast pace (Memphis is very slow), and has been dreadful against the point guard position this season. I certainly won’t fault anyone for trying to get one of the elite point guards in their lineup today, but I wanted to offer up another option that can save you some cap space and allow for more options at the other positions.
Will Barton, Denver Nuggets, $6,000 – Barton flopped last game when he was one of, if not the highest, owned players a couple nights ago. Let’s focus on the positives, though. He played 34 minutes, which is what we can expect from him going forward while Danilo Gallinari is out of the lineup. His 19 fantasy point outing was brutal, but this matchup against Memphis was tough, and I think this is the absolute worst we can expect from him. I expect a bounce back tonight against the Lakers, a team that bleeds fantasy points to anyone and everyone. Don’t fall for the trap of recency bias. You’re getting the opportunity to roster a high usage player that is capable of huge stat lines for only $6,000 against one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA. I’m locking him into my lineups tonight.
Jordan Clarkson, Los Angeles Lakers, $6,000 – I’m not particularly concerned with whether or not Kobe Bryant plays tonight. Both Russell and Clarkson have been producing with and without them lately, and I don’t expect anything different in a favorable matchup against the Nuggets. Denver is allowing the fourth-most fantasy points per game to opposing shooting guards, and if you take a look at Clarkson’s recent production, aside from a dud at home against Memphis, he’s been terrific. By rostering him, you’re giving yourself exposure to a reasonably priced player that has been routinely returning well over 30 fantasy points per game. On a day where value has to yet to surface, he makes for a solid core play in a balanced lineup.
Matt Barnes, Memphis Grizzlies, $5,200 – Our quest to find solid value continues with Matt Barnes at the small forward position. The Grizzlies are battling injuries as Brandan Wright is out for the foreseeable future, and Tony Allen has been missing time with knee soreness. As of this writing, Allen is listed as questionable. With Memphis missing these key players, Barnes has assumed heavy minutes, and if we can count on him for nearly 40 minutes against Sacramento, he should have no trouble paying off his $5,200 price tag. The Kings are one of the fastest-paced teams in the league, and they play absolutely no defense. This is a great spot to target the normally slow-paced Grizzlies at cheap price tags.
Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder, $10,600 – I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t write up one of the elite options in tonight’s matchup between the Thunder and Clippers. In theory, this is a great game to target, but everyone involved is so expensive that choosing more than one player becomes a bit unrealistic. Point guard is offering better value than small forward, so it makes sense to pay up for Durant. He’s been playing at an extremely high level, and I view him as having the same range of outcomes as Westbrook tonight. He’s eclipsed 50 fantasy points in each of his last three games, nearly hitting 60 in two of them. He was doing whatever he wanted against Golden State, the staggered rotation that Billy Donovan is running should continue to benefit him. He’s been coming out halfway through the first, re-entering near the end of the quarter and playing out the half. This results in less court time with Westbrook, which seems to be very beneficial from a fantasy standpoint.
Jabari Parker, Milwaukee Bucks, $6,000 – Parker has officially broken out, and FanDuel has been slow to adjust his price. I’m targeting him in all game formats tonight as $6,000 is an absolute steal for a player who is taking anywhere between 15 and 20 shots per game (25 last game!) and draws a decent matchup against the Pacers. They’re a middle-of-the-pack team against opposing power forward this season. We won’t see quite the explosion we saw against the Rockets (they are truly, truly awful), but Parker should finish at or above 30 fantasy points, making him another solid midrange play.
Markieff Morris, Washington Wizards, $5,400 – One of the keys to success in daily fantasy NBA is targeting players that are seeing an increase in playing time and production before their price adjusts accordingly. This certainly applies to Morris as he finally entered Washington’s starting lineup last game, playing 37 minutes and posting a huge line against the Sixers. Yes, almost everyone does well against the Sixers, but the Timberwolves aren’t exactly a bastion of defensive prowess, ranking 28th in defensive efficiency. They seem to have done a good job of limiting opposing power forwards, but I’m going to overlook a seemingly (I’m not sold on it) less-than-ideal DvP matchup to target a player that has 35 to 40 point upside. Give Morris a further boost if Nene Hilario is out again as this would serve to solidify his minutes.
Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets, $8,100 – I write Howard up a lot, but it’s hard not to when he’s been so consistent. He draws a terrific matchup against a Pelicans team that has been brutal against opposing centers, is ranked near the bottom of the league in rebounding differential, and is among the worst defensive teams in the NBA. I’ve identified several attractive and affordable plays at the other positions, so paying up at center for a reliable, high-upside play should not pose much of an issue from a lineup construction standpoint. At least in cash games, rolling with the high floor option is almost always going to be the optimal play.