From here on out, every article I write is going to come with the recommendation that you simply do not play if you are unable to check news an adjust lineups from 6:30 PM EST to 7:00 PM EST. This is generally wise advice with respect to daily fantasy NBA, but it is especially important now that the regular season is winding down. Players are dealing with injuries, and teams seem to be taken turns resting key players either for the postseason, or simply because it’s pointless to run their starters into the ground in a lost season. As we’ve seen with players like Thomas Robinson, Willie Reed, and JaMychal Green, players with normally limited roles can put up huge lines when given minutes. If you miss the boat on these players, you have no chance.
All that said, we have a nice nine-game slate with some attractive games. We already have some key injury news, and those who benefit will be discussed below. Remember, everything is subject to change, but as of this writing (around 12:00 PM EST), these are the players I’m looking to target on FanDuel today.
Mario Chalmers, Memphis Grizzlies, $5,300 – One players we know is out tonight is Mike Conley. Mario Chalmers will step into the starting lineup and immediately becomes one of the night’s most attractive value plays. Yes, Boston has been very tough on opposing point guards, but Chalmers is likely going to play around 40 minutes and have the ball in his hands a ton. Chalmers’ assist rate spikes to well over 30% with both Conley and Marc Gasol off the court, and his fantasy production is around a point per minute. Even in a tough matchup, volume and minutes will win out, and Chalmers should reach around 30 or more fantasy points tonight.
Ish Smith, Philadelphia 76ers, $6,800 – Not surprisingly, the production of the remaining Sixers spikes with Jahlil Okafor is off the court. He’s already been ruled out for tonight, so we can feel comfortable locking in some Sixers in a favorable home matchup with the Houston Rockets. Smith does have the toughest matchup of the night against Patrick Beverley, but the Rockets have still been just an average team in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing point guards. With Smith’s per minute production receiving a boost from 0.86 FanDuel points per minute to 1.13 (per nbawowy!), I’ll be locking him in as a core cash game play in what is likely going to be a close, high-scoring matchup between these two teams. The Sixers are double-digit underdogs at home, but the Rockets are pretty bad as well, so I’m not expecting a blowout.
James Harden, Houston Rockets, $11,000 – There are plenty of elite players available tonight, but Harden checks in as my number one play. This is a dream situation for him as tonight’s matchup between the Rockets and Sixers should be played at a very fast pace while featuring little to no defense. I think the Sixers keep this one close, so I’m not at all concerned about Harden missing out on some fourth quarters minutes. He’s playing nearly 40 minutes every night as Houston is jockeying for a postseason spot in the West. They can’t afford to take any chances, so expect Harden to be out there for most of the game. He’s scored at least 55 fantasy points in six of his last 10 games (53 in another), and I think that’s his floor tonight. His ceiling is somewhere around 70.
Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns, $5,700 – Booker isn’t nearly as cheap as he once was, but he still makes for an excellent play tonight. Alex Len and Booker are carrying Phoenix offensively right now, and I love the matchup against the Knicks, who are playing their second leg of a back to back. Arron Afflalo, a supposed tough wing defender, currently holds a defensive rating 111.8, which is worst among Knicks players. Booker is taking a ton of shots, and has the ball in his hands quite a bit, as evidenced by his 19 assists over the past three games. I can’t see him scoring less than 25 fantasy points tonight, and I’m very intrigued by his 40 point upside.
Robert Covington, Philadelphia 76ers, $5,700 – Small forward is loaded with top tier options, but it’s unrealistic to try to roster two $10,000+ players at the position. Covington presents excellent value against a Rockets team that plays terrible defense, is among the worst teams in the league in terms of total fantasy points allowed, and has done a poor job of defending opposing small forwards. Like Ish Smith, Covington sees a significant boost in fantasy production with Jahlil Okafor off the court. Covington has seen big minutes lately, and he’s coming off of three straight 30+ fantasy point performances. I think a fourth is very likely, and it’s important to note that he has a very high ceiling given his ability to knock down three pointers and generate a high number of steals.
LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers, $10,100 – The Cavs are coming off a terrible loss at home to a Memphis team that had one active starter. Cleveland is just one of those teams that should be a lot better than they are based on the level of talent they have, but there’s no on court chemistry between the players. Hopefully that means tonight’s game against the Kings stays close (I think it will) as James is likely in store for a huge game.
The Kings are the number one team to target as they are allowing the most total fantasy points per game. They defend every position poorly, currently ranking fifth-worst against opposing small forwards. Further, they’re one of the fastest-paced teams in the league, so not only do they offer little resistance on the defensive end, they push the pace and create additional possessions. Expect well over 50 fantasy points from James in what should be a close game to the very end. Cleveland can’t afford another bad loss as Toronto is not far behind them in the standings, so expect James to play nearly 40 minutes and post a monster line tonight.
David Lee, Dallas Mavericks, $5,000 – Lee is almost at the point where I’ll start thinking twice about rostering him, but $5,000 is not quite low enough. Over his past six games, he’s finished with less than 20 fantasy points just once (played 14 minutes due to foul trouble and still posted 17.8 fantasy points) while earning 27 or more four times. Dallas is playing their third game in four nights, and they’ve already been making an effort to use Lee to cut down on Zaza Pachulia’s minutes. The Pistons present an average matchup, and given the upside Lee has demonstrated as a member of the Mavericks, he’s a solid play in all game formats tonight.
Tobias Harris, Detroit Pistons, $5,800 – Harris is now a power forward on FanDuel, which is good news because the power forward position is thin. I’m not looking at too many options because everyone feels slightly overpriced. Harris consistently finishes around the 30 fantasy point mark, and his minutes are secure as head coach Stan Van Gundy is running a tight rotation while the Pistons fight for a postseason spot. The power forward position is one of the best to use to attack the Mavericks. Given his extremely low probability of posting a dud, Harris makes for a solid cash game option, but I would look elsewhere in tournaments as he does not have much upside.
Alex Len, Phoenix Suns, $6,600 – Len’s price is on the rise, but he’s nowhere near a level where you can justify fading him. He’s become the focal point of Phoenix’s offense, taking a ton of shots and easily surpassing double digit rebounds every night. He’ll face Robin Lopez and a Knicks team that’s playing their second leg of a road back to back. The Knicks are simply not a good team, and while the Knicks have been much better against power than centers (Len starts at power forward), he’ll still see time at the five in a much more exploitable matchup. Honestly, though, he’s become matchup-proof as he’s put up huge lines against much better teams, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down. At this price, I see no reason to even consider another center in cash games.