We have a nice eight game slate to play with tonight in NBA DFS. Taking advantage of the highest Vegas lines is a good way to make sure you get exposure to what will be some of the night's highest scoring fantasy players. With injuries positively decimating the Jazz, you'll have an easy time finding value in that game. Atlanta-Portland just misses the cut to be included here, but that's an attractive game to target also, with a 202 over/under and both teams running hot. My two favorite plays are featured here in what might just be the best Gasol Day so far this season.
76ers @ Clippers Over/Under 206, Clippers -19
The 76ers have done a decent job of not getting blown out until the 4th quarter, as we saw last night at the Suns. Vegas clearly thinks that won't be the case tonight with the biggest spread I've seen all year. The Clippers could have this one in the bag by halftime, which makes all their studs a big risk. In a blowout scenario, it's the highest priced players that have the hardest time reaching value. I have no problem using Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan tonight though. The Clippers haven't played since New Year's Eve and don't play again until Monday; it's not like they're desperate to get extra rest for the starters. In fact, the Clippers always seem like the league's most rested team. I won't use Chris Paul tonight as the most expensive PG, simply because he's least likely to meet value in the blowout and there are other options I prefer. While Philadelphia isn't a defensive worry at any position, they are most generous to SG and SF. I always like JJ Redick and Jamal Crawford in high scoring Clippers games. At $5200 and $5400 respectively, they're both automatic for double digit points, and both are approaching 20 ppg regularly. Matt Barnes ($4200) is also in play. His ceiling is around 20 fpts, but he should have no problem reaching it today.
The Clippers are an imposing matchup for any team, but the 76ers have to be feeling a little bleak here. They hung with the Suns until the 4th quarter Friday night, with Tony Wroten leading the losing effort. He's the best play from Philadelphia tonight at $6200. He's shooting well and padding his fantasy totals with 2-3 steals a night since his return from a mild knee sprain. Michael Carter-Williams is simply over priced in my opinion. He's had some ups and downs this season, with recent disappointing games against Utah and Golden State on this brutal road trip. Chris Paul is a defender I don't target unless I have to, and as I said above, there are other PG I like more tonight. As the 76ers continue to figure out what rotations work best, Robert Covington has emerged as a piece I want to see on the floor a whole lot. His salary is up to $5600 as his minutes have been pretty steady in the 29-38 range and he's contributing across the board: 14/6.4/1.7/1/1.7 in the last 10 games. He's a nice cheap way to get safe exposure to this game. Nerlens Noel saw his minutes limited a bit vs Phoenix Friday night and his production followed. If you had to pick a position the Clippers are vulnerable to, it'd be C, but neither Noel nor Sims interest me with so many other good options at C tonight.
Celtics @ Bulls Over/Under 205.5, Bulls -10
Punt: Marcus Smart
The line and the spread on this game came down a point each with the news that Jimmy Butler would miss the game for bereavement. That solves a big problem for me, as I would have had to use him at $9600 in a matchup I don't love. However, it makes Derrick Rose ($7100) a much better play as he will have the ball in his hands even more--his usage is already top 5 at 31.4%. Mike Dunleavy also remains out, so the wing rotation is up in the air. Tony Snell, Aaron Brooks, and Nikola Mirotic figure to see more time. Of these, only Brooks has seen significant playing time and provided good value for the Bulls over the past few weeks. Keep an eye out for more information, but even if Snell gets the start, I'm not interested in using him in any format. The play of the game is Pau Gasol, even before Butler was announced out. Picking on the Boston frontcourt is a winning strategy and when you get to combine that with a player like Gasol, it's nearly a must play. Joakim Noah should also thrive here and his salary ($6900) might fit a little easier into your lineup if, for example, you want James Harden too.
The Celtics are still struggling to find a post-Rondo identity in the backcourt. Avery Bradley, Jameer Nelson, and Evan Turner provide almost no value for DFS. Bradley plays 30 minutes pretty consistently, but his production is all over the place. I suspect he'll be on the high side of his range of outcomes tonight, but I'm not confident enough to use him in cash games. Nelson's minutes are extremely limited and he's not doing anything with them. You should expect about 15-18 fantasy points from Turner, with the occasional big game. The only backcourt play I like, as a total punt, is Marcus Smart. He's alternately started or come off the bench, but has seen at least 27 mpg in five of the last seven games and is averaging 15 fantasy points over that period. The problem is the games in which his minutes have been limited he's scored 4 and 6 fpts. Chicago allows the 5th most fantasy points to PG, and Smart has produced two of his best games of the season in the last two. I'm betting on that trend continuing tonight. The Boston frontcourt situation is also in flux. Tyler Zeller is coming off a 17/10 double double vs Dallas after seeing his minutes dip in the previous two games. When he sees at least 25 minutes, he's a solid play at $5K. Kelly Olynyk is $1000 more than Zeller, and had one of his worst games of the season Friday, with just 2 pts, 4 reb, and 1 ast in 16 minutes off the bench. He's likely to bounce back, but in a potential blowout with other options I like more at C, including teammate Zeller, I'm avoiding Olynyk tonight.
Grizzlies @ Nuggets Over/Under 203, Grizzlies -1
Punt: Jusuf Nurkic
Finally, a non-blowout game! Vegas is giving the Nuggets a lot of home court advantage in this one, as Memphis is the far superior team in terms of both offensive (8th) and defensive (11th) efficiency. Denver ranks 22nd in both measures. With that advantage, and the likelihood that the Grizzlies will play up in pace, I love Marc Gasol and Mike Conley tonight. Gasol is as steady as they come, with about 40 fpts every night. The Denver bigs are a really nice matchup for him. Conley is a terrific PG value tonight at $7500. He is probably the most underrated fantasy PG in the league, with 40-50 fpt upside any night. His usage (24.7), efficiency (21.1), and assist ratio (25.3) are all solid and he is hot lately. The offense runs through Conley and Gasol here, and while Tony Allen and Courtney Lee are great for the team they're not great for DFS. Both are capable of reaching value, but neither provides any real upside even in a good matchup. Zach Randolph's absence has opened up some opportunity for Jon Leuer and Kosta Koufos, but neither has impressed in limited minutes. It's a good matchup, and if you're hell bent on using a Memphis PF because of that, Koufos is the safer of the two based on recent usage trends.
The Nuggets' Ty Lawson ($8900) is always in play, though I rarely opt to target players vs Memphis. Lawson boasts one of the best assist ratio's in the league (34.9% of possessions result in an assist) which is something to note for FanDuel which prioritizes assists in its scoring. Arron Afflalo ($5100) is a cheaper way to take advantage of this close and high scoring game, and is never highly owned. He played 40 minutes in the last game, where he finally got back on track with his scoring (19 points) after a two game slump. If there's any position to target against Memphis, it's SG, as they allow the 5th most fantasy points to opposing SG. I'm continuing to avoid the Nuggets bigs, as neither JJ Hickson nor Timofey Mozgov is reliable enough for cash games, nor possesses enough upside for GPPs. Jusuf Nurkic ($4400) is clearly ready to contribute given the opportunity, but can you trust Brian Shaw to provide it? Nurkic has 35.6 and 28.5 fantasy points in the last two games. Wilson Chandler is in play, but I personally always use him on the wrong nights. But my bias aside, most nights he's a solid mid-range play.