Taking advantage of the right information when building your DFS lineups is critical. One of the best, and simplest, tools to use is the Las Vegas lines. Vegas has the most money on the hook, so the research they put into setting the lines should be trusted. A lot of the factors that we could consider individually are already built in to their projections. It's always the first thing I look at when starting my DFS research for any sport. I'll be bringing you my thoughts on good and bad DFS plays from the three highest projected games every Saturday.
Lakers @ Warriors Over/under 209, Warriors -16.5
Punt: Wayne Ellington
The highest projected game of the night has me leaning more toward options on the heavy favorite Warriors. Both teams play at a high pace, and neither is known for defense. Steph Curry comes in at the second highest salary tonight, $9800, and I think he's worth the price. In the one game he's played this season, he racked up 24 pts, 5 ast, 10 reb, and 6 steals. That was good for over 50 FD pts and you could argue it wasn't one of his strongest performances (only 2/9 from 3pt range). Going against the league worst (sorry Philly) PG defense, he can easily get to 60 fpts tonight. Klay Thompson is the second best option on the Warriors, and is still at a very attractive price ($6500). He won't put up monster numbers, but should fill the stat sheet and pay off his salary easily. If David Lee is out again, Draymond Green is a great option from this game. He'll play a lot of minutes even in a blowout, and was able to put up a double double in Wednesday's win over the Kings in 34 minutes. He's just $5100 on FanDuel.
Some DFS players avoid games that are predicted to be big blowouts. In a study I did last season, I found that only the highest tier players on the losing side took a big hit to their value. For that reason, I can't justify paying $8800 for Kobe Bryant, despite the fact that the Lakers offense runs pretty exclusively through him, and he is averaging around 40 fpts in his last two games. With the Lakers playing four games in the first five days of the season, I can see Kobe sitting more if the Warriors do get up big early on. The salaries of Jordan Hill and Ed Davis, however are low enough that I think they could be sneaky good ways to save some salary cap tonight. Davis struggled last night against the Clippers, but is still averaging 12 pts, 7 reb, 1 ast, 1 blk, and 1.3 steals per game at $4200. If what I said about Kobe is true, then Wayne Ellington makes for an intriguing super punt play. In the last two games in which he's been active, Ellington has put up 12 and 16 fpts off the bench behind Kobe. If he were to see more than 20 minutes, he could pay off his $3500 salary many times over. I like to target these kind of guys-good bench players on the losing team-in potential blowouts.
Celtics @ Rockets Over/Under 206, Rockets -8.5
Punt: Kostas Papanikolaou
This is a game I'm more interested in watching than targeting heavily for DFS purposes. Boston is a really good defensive team, which is why studs James Harden and Dwight Howard make my avoid list. Both are priced over $9K. For that kind of salary, I'm hoping for 50 fpts at least. So far, in a very limited sample, but against bad defenses, Harden is averaging 41 fpts and Howard is averaging 31 fpts. Harden will probably see a lot of Avery Bradley, and that's a situation best avoided as Bradley is one of the best defenders in the league. Boston is weakest against big men, but you can't get 30 fpts from $9200 of your salary cap on FanDuel. You just can't. I do think Trevor Ariza and Terrence Jones could be nice plays. Jones especially is still only $5800, and he's contributing across the board. His 8 rpg should go up. Ariza is playing heavy minutes and provides a very safe floor at SF. He should get you in the neighborhood of 30 fpts every night and more when he's hitting the 3's at will. Flying under the radar you have Kosta Papanikolaou, whose name makes me happy to be writing this rather than speaking about it. Papanikolaou has come off the Rockets bench to score 19 and 24 fpts in the two games played thus far. At $3900, I like him at SF vs the Boston 2nd team. SF is always tough on FD, and while tonight's huge slate provides plenty of options, it's still a position I like to punt.
For Boston, I can see spending for Rajon Rondo if and only if Patrick Beverley is out tonight. If his hamstring keeps him sidelined, the Rockets would probably go with Isaiah Canaan. I don't play any PG vs Beverley but Rondo could lead the Celtics with a triple double against Canaan. At $8200, even 40 fpts, which he put up in the win over the Knicks Wednesday night, pays off. The other play I really like on the Celtics is Kelly Olynyk at $5000. He's playing the bulk of the minutes at C, and scored 19 pts in the opener. I don't love the matchup with Howard here, but at his price he warrants consideration in a high scoring game. Jeff Green is already contributing across the board and I see him as a safe, not super high upside, play tonight.
Suns @ Jazz Over/Under 204.5, Suns -2
Punt: Alex Len
First, go bet on the Suns -2 right now, please. Having recently rolled over the Lakers and the Spurs (ok, it wasn't quite a roll vs SA), the Suns are the most fun team to watch right now. And that's saying a lot given how much I love watching the aforementioned Warriors. I was among the most disappointed fans when Isaiah Thomas was traded to the Suns. The potent trio of IT2, Goran Dragic, and Eric Bledsoe appeared as if it would doom Thomas' fantasy value. DFS salaries at FD fortunately still reflect that. Of course, it's only been two games, but Thomas is the Suns point guard to roster right now. His stellar drive and scoring are forcing him into a lot more three guard sets, and he is making the most of it, averaging 28 fantasy points and scoring 23 pts in both games. If anyone is the odd man out, so far it's Dragic. At $8000, I can't use him and his 20 fpts/game. Bledsoe is a safe, solid $7500 play tonight and I like him, but don't see him as a must play on a full slate. The rise of the three G set in PHX has edged out Gerald Green. He shouldn't be used. The Suns front court is always confusing. Markieff Morris is the Morris to own, but I see him more as a tournament play. If you want a punt in this high scoring affair, I like Alex Len. Quietly coming off the bench behind a fairly ineffective (fantasy wise) Miles Plumlee, Len has put up 10 and 26 fpts in his two opportunities, most recently the double double vs the Spurs. He will only set you back $3500 on FanDuel.
For the Jazz, another young fun team to watch (I need more TVs, and eyes, for tonight!), there are a bunch of good plays. All the Jazz are reasonably priced on FanDuel and even though I think the Suns win easily, I'm not as smart as Vegas, so expect the Jazz to put up plenty of points too. Derrick Favors is my favorite play at $6600. He seems like a lock to double double in this one, as the Suns aren't a great defensive team, he sees a decently high usage rate, and so far has come through with 34 and 38 fpts. Alec Burks is coming off a shiny new 4yr $42M contract extension. He is seeing more minutes as a starter this year and shooting well to start the season with 15 and 18 pts in his first two games. At $5500, I like him to improve on those numbers tonight. Trey Burke is another young player pushing the pace for the Jazz. Burke contributes in points, asts, and the valuable steal category (2fpts on FD) and remains--so far--one of the cheapest starting PG in DFS at $6100.