On a three game slate with the NFL Conference Championships kicking off at the same time as the NBA, I suspect NBA DFS volume to be down on FanDuel. For those of you that must have a stake in today's games, I advise you to get in those 3:30 contests. All three of today's games are predicted to be fairly big blowouts. Here's a preview of each matchup and my thoughts on the top picks, reasonable picks, and fades for tonight.
OKC @ ORL over/under 212.5, Thunder -9.5
This is the best game to target. OKC is a top 10 team in pace and defensive efficiency. Orlando is 21st in both categories, and both teams are average in terms of offensive efficiency. Both teams have dealt with key injuries this season, but are running healthy now. In terms of fantasy points allowed, Orlando is a great target for just about every position outside of SG. Load up on the Thunder.
NO @ TOR over/under 203.5, Raptors -8.5
This game has the smallest spread, but the Raptors are still predicted to win by a large margin. Having DeMar DeRozan back is a huge boost to the thriving Raptors, who are 3rd in offensive efficiency on the year. Toronto doesn't play a suffocating defense, which should in theory allow the Pelicans to compete in this high scoring game. The problem is NO is dealing with injuries to key players Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis. Both are questionable right now, so be sure to check back before tip off. I love the Raptors at home today.
UTA @ SA over/under 194.5, Spurs -11.5
The least exciting game of the day, with the lowest total and biggest spread is the one I'm least interested in for DFS. Utah is surprisingly good on defense, particularly against PG and C, but contrary to popular belief in the preseason, playing at the league's 2nd slowest pace. With such a risk of a blowout and the known tendencies toward rest for key players on the Spurs, approach this game with caution.
Top 3 Matchup Plays
Russell Westbrook--PG OKC $10,600
Orlando is the 5th best matchup for PG in terms of defensive efficiency (DEff--a measure of how well a team defends a specific position) and fantasy points allowed. Westbrook is coming off an amazing triple double (17/15/17) against the Warriors Friday night in just 36 minutes. Those kind of games are never out of the question for Westbrook, making him the top play of the day.
Kevin Durant--SF OKC $10,600
In the same game Friday night, Durant added 36 points, 9 reb, and 4 ast in 39 minutes. I have no problem using both guys if you can make it work. Orlando is also a top 10 matchup for SF in DEff and fantasy points allowed to the position. Durant is officially back.
DeMar DeRozan--SG TOR $7500
I could have easily written up Kyle Lowry here too, but it's been so long since I've had a chance to write about one of my favorite players in the league. I'm not missing the chance to do it while his price is still depressed. Since DeRozan is back, he's scored 20 and 25 points, adding a few rebounds and assists for 30 and 31 fantasy points. NO ranks 9th in DEff against SG, and I definitely want some action on the Toronto side of this high scoring game. DeRozan is the best fpt/dollar option.
Kyle Lowry--PG TOR ($9700)
Lowry ran the offense for Toronto beautifully while DeRozan was out and even as his usage rate will necessarily drop with his hot shooting teammate back on the floor, his assists should go up and his consistent ability to grab 2-3 steals a game helps his fantasy floor. The moderately favorable DEff NO has vs PG is largely due to the historically above average defense of Holiday. You have a trade off here if Holiday plays: the game is likely to be more competitive, but Lowry will have a more challenging matchup. I like him either way.
Danny Green--SG SA ($6300)
I won't be targeting this game heavily, but Green can provide some salary relief at the SG position today. Utah is vulnerable to SG, Green plays some of the most consistent minutes in the Spurs rotation, and is a very safe 20-30 fpt/game guy. He's a solid cash game play.
Derrick Favors--PF UTA ($7800)
If there's any place to take advantage of the Spurs it's in the front court and Favors has been great this month. While what could almost be called the big three in Utah (Favors, Enes Kanter, and Rudy Gobert) have all managed to contribute, Favors has been a double double machine. Gobert's price ($6500) is still too high for his new bench role (though I like him best in the event of a blowout), and Kanter is the punt play of the three at $5500.
Tony Parker--PG SA ($5500)
Wow, Parker at $5500 is unbelievable and sad, from a fantasy basketball perspective. It's a terrible matchup, and though it's trending upward, hes' playing fewer than 30 minutes most games. His last outing against Portland was encouraging, but I don't think we see that tonight. I'm avoiding all Spurs PG.
Gordon Hayward--SF UTA ($7300)
As if you would...I mean if you haven't been scorched by Hayward this month you simply aren't playing enough NBA DFS. Use him and he scores nine points, don't use him and he scores 31 points. Hayward isn't on my dead to me list, but he's definitely in time out. Biases aside, Hayward has been fluky lately and the Spurs are great against SF. Especially with Kwahi Leonard back in the lineup, I'm looking elsewhere tonight.