We have eight games on tonight’s slate, and as the season winds down, it’s absolutely crucial that you’re in tune with who is playing and who isn’t (check out NBA Headlines Page for updates!). Some teams, like Brooklyn, have simply shut down key players, which opens up a ton of value for productive reserves like Thomas Robinson. Other teams are simply comprised of D leaguers and career backups (Pelicans), and offer value in the form of cheap players that are being forced into big minutes and important roles. This situation creates some extremely chalky plays, but if you’re still playing daily fantasy NBA, it’s important to remember that overthinking things and fading the obvious plays is generally not a winning strategy in cash games.
Let’s get today’s FanDuel picks.
Jose Juan Barea, Dallas Mavericks, $5,900 – At this point, I’m assuming Deron Williams is out until I hear otherwise. Barea has been playing big minutes and has carried Dallas down the stretch. He’s scored no less than 34 fantasy points over his past four games, and despite the presence of Patrick Beverley, I think Barea is an easy play tonight. He should draw the start and play well over 30 minutes in this absolutely crucial matchup between two teams fighting to earn one of the last playoff spots in the West. At $5,900, Barea’s price hasn’t come up enough for me to consider a cash game fade.
Tim Frazier, New Orleans Pelicans, $5,000 – Frazier drew the start for the skeleton crew known as the New Orleans Pelicans, and he’s clearly been their best player (which isn’t saying much). Boston has been very tough on opposing guards this season, but Frazier is contributing in so many ways while playing big minutes that it’s very difficult for me to envision a scenario where he doesn’t exceed value at just $5,000. This is another example of a player that I’m simply not going to overthink. He’s producing over a fantasy point per minute recently and has played 36 and 37 minutes over his past two games. The math tells me he’s a must play today.
James Harden, Houston Rockets, $10,900 – Part of the reason I want to use good value plays at point guard is so I can pay up for Harden at the shooting guard position. He’s the top overall play today, and he has been for a while now, he’s a must play for me. The Rockets absolutely need a win over Dallas tonight, and in what’s likely to be a close game, it’s fair to assume that Harden will keep playing around 42 to 44 minutes. A fantasy stud playing nearly the entire game is not someone I’m interested in fading, especially against a Mavericks team that doesn’t have anyone that can slow him down. I’m giving him a floor of 45 in this matchup with upside over 60. If I’m spending on just one player today, it’s Harden.
Jeremy Lin, Charlotte Hornets, $4,200 – Nicolas Batum sat out yesterday and Lin responded with a big game in a tough matchup against Toronto. If Batum is out again, Lin should start and play big minutes once again. He played 40 last night, and as long as this game remains close, he’ll be in line for a similar workload. If Batum plays, I don’t like Lin as much as he likely won’t see 30 minutes. He’d still be in play in tournaments, but in cash games, I’d look to pay up for Victor Oladipo and find value at other positions.
Maurice Harkless, Portland Trail Blazers, $4,400 – Harkless exploded for 20 points and 16 rebounds last night, and at just $4400, he makes for a very intriguing value play. He’s not going to produce like that often, but he’s seeing 30 minutes per night and returning around 25 fantasy points. That’s terrific production for a $4,400 player at a position that, despite offering plenty of star power, isn’t somewhere I’m really interested in paying. Tonight’s home matchup with the Thunder should be close and high-scoring, and Harkless is simply too cheap relative to his recent production not to give strong consideration in both cash games and tournaments.
Jae Crowder, Boston Celtics, $6,200 – If I’m paying up for a small forward, it will likely be LeBron James. A road matchup with Indiana will likely stay close, and although it’s not a great matchup, James is matchup-proof and will likely have a very productive game. If you want to spend down, Crowder is your best option facing a Pelicans team that is starting the likes of Luke Babbitt on the wings. This game is likely to be a blowout, so there’s the risk that Brad Stevens could view this as an opportunity to cut back on the workload of his starters, but Evan Turner has already been ruled out, so Crowder may have to pick up some of those minutes.
The Celtics are in a dogfight for the three or four seed in the East, and I’m sure getting home court advantage for round one is a priority for them. As such, they need to keep winning games, and we’ve seen time and again this season that games that are supposed to be blowouts end up being close. If this one stays close, Crowder should play big minutes and have a big night against a team that currently can’t defend anyone.
Thomas Robinson, Brooklyn Nets, $6,000 – Both Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young have been shut down for the season, so expect Robinson to start and play big minutes for Brooklyn. The Nets have nothing to play for, but guys like Robinson do. This is his opportunity to showcase himself, so expect him to continue to play hard and post big numbers. He used to be the easiest play of the day when he was priced down, and now that his price has come up, he’s simply just an easy play. Power forward is a thin position, and passing on a $6,000 player with over 40 point upside doesn’t seem like a great plan. His minutes are secure regardless of the game’s outcome, and he should benefit from the fast pace at which Washington plays. He’s a core play for me today, and I’ll be targeting him in cash games and tournaments.
Tobias Harris, Detroit Pistons, $6,400 – The Pistons are looking good for one of the final playoff berths in the East, but they haven’t locked anything up, so they need to keep winning. Harris should continue playing heavy minutes in head coach Stan Van Gundy’s tight rotation, and he draws a favorable matchup against his former team, the Orlando Magic. He’s a safe cash game play as he almost always finishes somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 fantasy points. The most expensive power forward options don’t interest me much today, and given the lack of value, settling for two mid-priced plays feels like the way to go.
Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons, $8,000 – I don’t really love any of the options at center today, but I have to pick one, so I’m going with Drummond. As I mentioned before, the Pistons need to keep winning games so they can secure a playoff berth. The Magic have been one of the worst teams in the league at defending opposing centers recently, so if Drummond is active and engaged, he can put up big numbers tonight. I wouldn’t normally target him at this price, but given the lack of value and my disinterest in the other center options, he gets the nod by default.