Saturday NBA brings one of those "just right" seven game slates which feels very welcome after an amazing and exciting Friday night of basketball. In this re-vamped targets article, we'll look not only at the best games to target, but also the best defensive matchups to exploit. Because who you don't play is just as important to your success as who you do use, I'll also give you a couple of players I'm avoiding tonight. Good luck!
Games to Target
Portland Trail Blazers @ Dallas Mavericks Over/Under 206.5, Mavs -2.5
Both of these teams come into the game fresh and both happen to play at exactly the same pace (using 96.7 possessions per game, 10th in the league). This should be a good game to watch as well as target for DFS. Neither team plays superb defense but there are a couple of spots that stand out as good targets. JJ Barea will likely start again tonight against Damien Lilliard's 29th ranked PG defense and remains a solid value play. LaMarcus Aldridge is a bit high priced given his production following the thumb injury but it's not a bad spot for him. I like Robin Lopez as another value option as well here.
Golden State Warriors @ New York Knicks Over/Under 206, Warriors -12.5
The second, and only other really high scoring game of the night carries a ton of blowout risk. The Warriors are coming off a fast paced, 116 point losing effort against the Hawks last night in which both Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson were outstanding. The Knicks are also coming off a better than expected losing effort against the Nets. I don't expect Carmelo Anthony to play tonight as he has been sitting out the second game of back to back situations recently, and without him, the spread could easily be more in the 20-30 range. As good as the matchups are here, it's really hard to recommend spending up for the GS studs. The Knicks could provide sneaky value just about everywhere if the Warriors starters play limited minutes in a blowout, as they are the sources of the great defensive rankings owned by GS. I wouldn't mind using Langston Galloway or Jason Smith.
Top Matchup Plays
1. Anthony Davis PF, $11,400 (vs Bulls)
I don't need to tell you that Davis is amazing, leading the league in blocks with 2.8 per game, shooting over 55% for nearly 25 ppg, and bringing down over 10 boards a game too. The question with Brow is always, is it worth paying that price tonight? I think the answer is yes tonight. Chicago gives up the 5th most fantasy points to PF this season and is ranked 21st against the position in defensive efficiency (DEff), so the matchup is definitely exploitable. Every case is different, but in back to back situations this year, Davis has performed equally well or better in the second game in all but one (vs Portland). If you somehow missed his game winning 3 pointer from last night, check it out here.
2. Jimmy Butler SG, $8600 (vs Pelicans)
Jimmy Butler's price has come down and he has faded somewhat off the radar of DFSers over the past month as his other worldly early season production has fallen a bit. He finds himself in what should be a close game with New Orleans' 24th ranked DEff to SG. Since missing a game with illness a couple weeks ago, Butler is back to playing 40+ mpg and has scored well over 20 real points in each game. He adds enough rebounds and steals to essentially guarantee a 40 fantasy point floor. Though his usage rate is down since Derrick Rose is back on the court, Butler is still a safe, high upside play today.
3. Al Jefferson C, $8000 (vs 76ers)
Rule #1 in DFS is you have to pick on Philadelphia at least a little bit. While Charlotte is one of the least appealing teams to use, I like this situation for a couple reasons. First, Philadelphia ranks last or near last in every meaningful measure of defense at pretty much every position. They have given up the most fantasy points to C this season. Second, Al Jefferson is now seeming fully healthy and back to pretty much giving you a double double every night. His price tag is still very fair and his usage rate is a healthy 24%. Averaging 17.1 ppg and 8.4 rpg, he's a great bet for a safe 35 fpts tonight. Lastly, Charlotte isn't a great team either, so even though this game has the lowest total of the night and the Hornets are decent favorites, I don't think a blowout is imminent.
4. John Henson PF, $5100 (vs Celtics)
I'm really going out on a limb recommending a Buck as a top play, but such is the state of the Milwaukee rotation and the Boston frontcourt 'defense'. If you're a regular DFSer, you've been deploying Henson for a couple weeks now with fine results. He's not blowing you away, but he's very competently providing about a fpt per minute. Seeing 24-29 mpg while Ersan Ilyasova and Zaza Pachulia have been sidelined is a nice return on the minimal investment. Both those guys are questionable tonight, so be sure to watch the news. Ilyasova played limited minutes with resulting soreness Friday night and Zaza has yet to return fully in practice so I think Henson will be a safe play tonight. Oh, and that Boston defense? Gives up the 2nd most fantasy points to bigs and is ranked 22nd and 30th against PF and C respectively over the last month.
J.J. Barea PG, $4700 (vs Trail Blazers)
When a cheap bargain play is actually a great matchup play, we should all be in. Expect Barea's ownership to reflect that tonight. I mentioned the contextual factors that make Barea a good option tonight, but it's worth pointing out that he doesn't suck. In his three starts, he's scored at least 10 points, 3 rebounds, and 5 assists for an average of 25 fantasy points. No reason that doesn't continue tonight.
Derrick Favors PF $7200 (vs Kings)
Favors is shooting 54% on the season for 15.8 ppg and 8.2 rpg. He adds 1.6 blocks per game and has quietly been one of the most consistent bigs in the game over the past couple months. He finds his way into a lot of my lineups for his relative safety (at least 30 mpg) and fair price, but tonight he gets a nice matchup with the Sacramento frontcourt (gives up the 10th most fpts to PF and the 5th most to C--Favors will spend time at both positions probably).
Robin Lopez C, $5400 (vs Mavericks)
Lopez is still really cheap after returning from a broken hand two games ago. He put up 20 fpts against a tough Jazz frontcourt and notched a double double Thursday vs the Suns. He gets another plus matchup tonight with the 22nd ranked Mavs defense in the highest scoring game of the night. I think he's a sneaky good play in all formats.
Steph Curry PG, $10400 (vs Knicks)
He's amazing and you all know how much I love him but this just isn't a game that the Warriors are going to require his skills. The worst ranked Knicks PG defense is certainly tempting, but GS is likely to be up 20 at the half. In those situations, Curry often provides only around 30 fpts. Not enough to pay up for tonight.
Pau Gasol PF, $9400 (vs Pelicans)
The Pelicans boast the league's 2nd best defensive efficiency to PF over the last month. With Davis doing all that he's doing at the rim, it makes it difficult for opposing bigs to get theirs. Pau Gasol is a great basketball player, but his usage rate is down slightly with Rose back and we're getting more 36-38 fantasy point games from him than I'd like at this price, especially given the tough matchup.
Brandon Knight is a defender I just don't target. Marcus Smart has made for a great value play since moving into the starting lineup, but I'll be fading him tonight. Avery Bradley is a bit safer but I don't think there's a compelling reason to use him tonight.
DeMarcus Cousins C, $11,000 (vs Jazz)
He's easily the best center in the game right now. His numbers are off the charts. A 20 point 11 rebound game is basically the new floor for Cousins. That's entirely possible tonight, but it's worth noting that the Jazz own the best defensive ranking against C since January. Also, at his salary, that 20/11 line needs to be propped up by a bunch of steals or blocks to balance out his risk in terms of his league leading turnovers and personal fouls. I think you can do nearly as well fantasy-wise for a lot less tonight (eg. Jefferson, Kanter, Lopez, or to really save, Tyler Zeller).