The NBA always has a day-long extravaganza of games on MLK Day, and this Monday is no different. With 11 games on tap there’s a ton of DFS value to mined. From guys you almost must target to potential punt plays, we're here to break down the biggest values to be found. Let's start with a quick look at Vegas' expectations for today’s slate.
Keep in mind…these games run from start times of 12:30pm ET to 10:30pm ET! There are many different partial slates you can play, even if you’re not ready to commit to a full lineup by noon.
(Not all Vegas odds were available at initial publication. I will update when possible!)
Thunder at Knicks (12:30pm ET)
Bulls at Cavs (1pm)
Pistons at Wizards (2pm)
Mavs at Bucks (2pm)
Magic at Hawks (3pm)
Kings at Nets (3:30pm)
Pelicans at Grizzlies (5:30pm)
Heat at Celtics (6pm)
Rockets at Sixers (8pm)
Blazers at Jazz (9pm)
Warriors at Lakers (10:30pm)
Bobby Portis (PF, $5.2k FanDuel … PF/C, $5.9k DraftKings) – Portis is coming off consecutive games with 30.6 and 32.2 DFS points. It’s no coincidence those are the first two games Wendell Carter Jr. has been out with his unfortunate thumb injury. The Bulls are starting Robin Lopez at center but they simply need frontcourt production from Portis, and he draws an excellent matchup vs. the Cavaliers. Two bad teams bludgeoning each other for fantasy owners’ pleasure? Count me in.
Eric Gordon (SG, $5.5k FanDuel … SG/SF, $5.9k DraftKings) – Since his return two games ago, Gordon has returned 6.2x value with an average of 34.3 FanDuel points per game. That’s the most of any player in the past two weeks, and he’s 7th for PTS/$ value for DraftKings in that span. His price stayed flat on DK for Monday’s slate but he actually dipped 400 in FD for unclear reasons. Even if Brandon Knight (knee) returns on Monday, which is iffy, I don’t see that as a big enough hit to Gordon that he wouldn’t be worth $5.5k on FanDuel. He’s coming off a rest day and should play big minutes with big usage (relatively speaking, with Harden on his team), so I’ll have him in plenty of lineups.
DeMarcus Cousins (C, $5.1k FanDuel … PF/C, $5.7k DraftKings) – This is another lean-toward-FanDuel recommendation, with Cousins rising a modest 500 from his price in his long-awaited return. If you missed it, he dropped 30.7 DFS points in that game in just 15 minutes. He’s always been a per-minute monster, so when coach Steve Kerr explicitly says that he “wants to bump up [Cousins’] minutes as we can … but it’ll take some time,” I’m all ears. He should be looking at 16-20 minutes, which is enough against the Lakers’ frontcourt to do serious damage. The Lakers are a top-five matchup for centers, Boogie’s teammates will be looking to feed him, and for me that outweighs concerns about his minute-limit.
Brandon Ingram (SF $6.7k FanDuel … SG/SF $6.9k DraftKings) – Ingram’s price has actually fallen by 800 on FanDuel, compared to a slight rise in DK, which makes him particularly appealing on the former site. He’s not cheap enough to be a ‘bargain bin’ type guy, but he’s in an almost can’t-fail spot on Monday if LeBron James and Rajon Rondo are out again, as expected. Lonzo Ball is out 4-6 week with a nasty ankle sprain and we’ve seen Ingram play PG for stretches already, so he could have the ball in his hands a ton vs. Golden State on Monday. He’s not cheap and the per-minute value has been poor lately, but this should be one of the highest-scoring games of the night, in L.A. on national television, and the sheer opportunity outweighs my apprehensions.
Nikola Mirotic (SF, $6.1k FanDuel … PF/C, $5.9k DraftKings) – Note the very different position eligibility here. I’m not at all sure why Mirotic is considered a SF on FanDuel, but whatever. There are competing elements here. The matchup vs. Memphis is lousy, yes. But the price-point is great for a guy who will almost certainly inherit a starting job and tons of minutes with Anthony Davis (finger) out for 1-2 weeks. This is the lowest price you’ll see him at during that stretch, and his modest playing time lately doesn’t bother me – he was initially on a minute-limit, and then just stuck in an unfavorable reserve role.
Jahlil Okafor (C, $3.5k FanDuel … C, $3.1k DraftKings) – This is a busy slate, so most owners won’t want to blindly roll the dice on a guy like Okafor – he’s more of an Express-league punt. In the minutes that Anthony Davis has been off the court this season, though, he’s had New Orleans’ fourth-highest usage behind only Randle, Holiday and Mirotic. His per-minute production is quite impressive and the Pelicans will need another big guy to throw out there vs. the Grizzlies – Okafor has been a steady if small part of the rotation lately, so I’m betting on him over Cheick Diallo. If you’re not going with Cousins or a guy like Ante Zizic ($4.7k FanDuel … $5.7k DraftKings) and/or are playing Express lineups with fewer games, both Mirotic and Okafor look even more appealing as value-plays.
More pure punt options include Isaiah Briscoe vs. the Hawks’ atrocious defense…Kenneth Faried if he’s cleared to play for Houston in time for Monday’s game (not sure he’ll even be eligible on FD/DK)…Shelvin Mack, who has hit a minimum of 20.2 DFS points in four straight…Zaza Pachulia, since with Andre Drummond probably not playing due to his concussion, somebody has to play center…Shabazz Napier, who hit for 25+ fantasy points in his first game fully healthy from his one-game absence (prior to that it was 22+ in four straight). Good luck and have fun with all these games!