It’s Saturday and tonight’s NBA slate features four games. The headliner is Philadelphia vs. LA Lakers, but it’s the early games that offer the most DFS value. Cleveland has been a fantasy goldmine this season, offering the second-most fantsy points overall and mostly great positional matchups. Detroit, Oklahoma City and Philly get a bit of a pace bump tonight, and all four games carry fairly high point totals and narrow spreads. Center will be a key position tonight as Steven Adams, Andre Drummond, JaVale McGee, Steven Adams, DeAndre Jordan and Anthony Davis are all questionable. Lauri Markkanen is ruled out. In this column, I generally set $6000 FD/$5000 DK as the bargain threshold, and I try to indicate when I think a position is particularly well-suited--or not--to using the cheap plays given the landscape of the particular slate. Tonight’s slate tips at 7:00 pm EST.
Reggie Jackson, Detroit Pistons vs. Brooklyn ($4600 FD, $4500 DK)
This is not to take anything away from what Derrick Rose is and can continue doing. The Nets are a plus PG matchup (fourth most fantasy points allowed to the position) but Rose is also appropriately and highly priced. Jackson, in his two games back has averaged 21 minutes and 33 fantasy points per game. His minutes may rise slowly but this team simply needs him with all the injuries they’re dealing with. His usage has been off the charts, and he’s scored 36 points on 27 field goal attempts and 10 free throw tries in the two games. Expect more of the same tonight; 30-plus fantasy points for this price is a nice cornerstone.
Also consider: Kris Dunn ($5500 FD, $5800 DK)
Caris LeVert, Brooklyn Nets at Detroit ($4800 both, PG/SF on DK)
LaVert is a guy I’ve rooted for for a while now. He’s been back for nine games in January, with mixed results. A closer look at his game log reveals that he struggled vs. Milwaukee and Toronto, but also that he’s had success in tough matchups like Philadelphia and LA, in which he scored about 30 fantasy points apiece in the last two games. He’s not without some risk, but this is a nice spot for him and I have a hard time imagining him under 20 fpts tonight.
Also consider: Furkan Korkmaz ($4400 FD, $4500 DK)
Taurean Prince, Brooklyn Nets at Detroit ($4700 FD, $5100 DK)
Prince, like LaVert, is coming off two great efforts in tough matchups. He, like LaVert, played well against the Pistons earlier in the season. If you’re only going with one Nets wing, I prefer Prince for his higher minutes and his defense. Plus, he’s actually cheaper on FanDuel.
Josh Okogie, Minnesota Timberwolves ($4200 FD, $3700 DK)
The Timberwolves have been mixing up their wing rotation, so you’ll want to know who the starter is tonight. Whether it’s Okogie or Jarrett Culver ($4900 FD, $4700 DK), there is nice value to be had here. The Thunder are a good team, but this game should be close and high scoring, a great fantasy environment. Okogie has been outplaying Culver lately, though he is equally capable of a dud (as in Wednesday at Chicago). Okogie is the rare player in this price range capable of a 3-4 steal night.
Also consider: Chandler Hutchison ($3900 both)
Thaddeus Young, Chicago Bulls at Cleveland ($4500 FD, $4400 DK)
With Markkanen out, Young becomes the man in Chicago’s frontcourt. At this point in his career, we’re not expecting miracles, but a small double-double isn’t out of the question tonight, and he’s still capable of a steal and block here and there. Luke Kornet ($4400 FD, $4300 DK) is also a possibility; he’s had a couple decent games vs. Cleveland (around 20 fantasy points). However, he’s got a lot more risk unless Young is out or limited on the back-to-back.
Larry Nance, Jr., Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Chicago ($4600 FD, $5300 DK)
Chicago boasts the most fantasy-friendly frontcourt defense in the league. They rank first in fantasy points allowed to PF and C. The way Nance has been playing, even with Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson healthy, I expect him to be a popular play tonight. Can he make it three consecutive double-doubles? I bet yes.
Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Chicago ($5800 FD, $5900 DK)
See Nance, above. Thompson is averaging 40 fantasy points in two games vs. the Bulls this season, and profiles as the safe play at center tonight. This is a set it and forget it for me in cash games.
Dwight Howard, LA Lakers at Philadelphia ($5800 FD, $5200 DK)
I won’t be looking for too much value in this game, but Howard would get another start if McGee remains out, and without Embiid challenging him at the rim, he has a chance at a back-to-back double-double. It’s worth noting that in his last four games, Howard has seven blocks and six steals. Those pad the stat sheet nicely.
Also consider: Thon Maker ($4100 FD, $4200 DK), Cristiano Felicio ($3800 FD, $4100 DK)