It’s Saturday and the main NBA slate features seven very good games. Pretty much all of them carry high point totals and narrow spreads of less than four points. Philadelphia is the only real defensive powerhouse on the slate and will be without Joel Embiid tonight. Note that Karl-Anthony Towns will also be out tonight. There are plenty of other stars in our sights tonight, so here’s the rundown of the cheaper plays you can rely on around them. 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. DraftKings’ pricing is notably sharper than FanDuel’s tonight, so I tried to provide a couple extra options to consider where it was feasible. Tonight’s slate tips at 7:00 pm EST.
Isaiah Thomas, Washington Wizards vs. Minnesota ($4900 FD, $4800 DK)
Longtime readers of this column will understand how happy I am to be able to include IT2 here again. It didn’t take Thomas long to get back to what he’s known for, a 17-point, 10-assist double-double and an excessive amount of turnovers and personal fouls. On the whole, the assists and steals in addition to the scoring is going to more than pay off his salary tonight as Minnesota continues to be a team point guards fare well against for fantasy.
Jeff Teague, Minnesota Timberwolves at Washington ($5700 FD, $5900 DK)
Going mid-range at PG tonight is a possibility, though Kyrie Irving is going to tempt a lot of DFSers tonight. Teague is one of those high floor, super consistent guards that will occasionally go off for 40-plus fantasy points. I think he has that in his range tonight in a great game environment (both teams are Top 10 in pace, while Washington ranks 28th in defensive efficiency) and PG matchup (ninth-most fantasy points allowed by the Wizards to PGs).
Jordan Poole, Golden State Warriors vs. Charlotte ($3900 FD, $3800 DK)
The loss of Stephon Curry is a huge blow to the Warriors and their fans, but does create some potential value. This situation is a fluid one, and we’re not sure exactly what the best lineup will be for Golden State. Damion Lee ($3900 FD, $3500 DK) and Poole will probably both get a chance to compete. For now, Poole has played over 20 minutes in each of the Warriors’ five games, and he has generally produced, including a 20-point effort vs. the Spurs last night. He’s the cash game option. Lee, off the bench, is much more volatile in terms of both playing time and production, ranging from seven to forty fantasy points in the span of two days last week. He’s the GPP play.
Devonte’ Graham, Charlotte Hornets at Golden State ($5800 both)
Graham is a model of consistency in his second season. Playing 25-30 minutes, scoring over 30 fantasy points in four of five games, and he’s doing so through a combination of double-digit points and an average of eight rebounds and three assists per game. The Warriors are the worst defensive team on the slate, and in fact have given up the overall most fantasy points to their opponents this season. Graham should be in all lineups tonight.
Miles Bridges, Charlotte Hornets at Golden State ($5400 FD, $5600 DK)
Bridges isn’t as high a priority as Graham but still should be considered as the Hornets continue their West Coast road trip against the defensive woes of Golden State. He’s playing a ton of minutes (averaging 33.2 MPG) and although his shooting is a bit inconsistent, he is finding ways to reach fantasy value night in and night out.
Luke Kennard, Detroit Pistons vs. Brooklyn ($4800 FD, $5000 DK)
Kennard is making a repeat appearance here since he’s one guy who’s price isn’t skyrocketing after several nice games. I’m glad he didn’t have a great game against Toronto, since it helped keep his salary down. Brooklyn offers a nice pace bump for the Pistons, while ranking 20th in defensive efficiency and allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to small forwards.
Paul Millsap, Denver Nuggets at Orlando ($5500 FD, $4600 DK)
Millsap is mainly here as one of two better DK bargains. He’s been volatile, and more bad than good to start the season, but flashed his upside earlier in the week. That 23-point game was followed by only 15 minutes, though, so I don’t consider Millsap a safe cash game play. Given that Denver is a road favorite in Orlando and the Magic has been a fantasy-friendly matchup for power forwards, I’m putting him in a tournament lineup.
Anthony Tolliver, Portland Trail Blazers vs. Phoenix ($4100 FD, $3300 DK)
For massive savings, consider Tolliver, who has started the last two games with Zach Collins out and done enough to warrant continued DFS run. In 25 and 28 minutes, he has averaged about 24 fantasy points, filling the stat sheet with a little something in every category. Even if Hassan Whiteside plays tonight (I’m not confident), the Trail Blazers are in need of bigs. Philadelphia is normally a tough matchup, ranking first in defensive efficiency and rebounding rate, but with Embiid out, this gets a whole lot friendlier.
Jonas Valanciunas, Memphis Grizzlies vs. Phoenix ($6000 FD, $6500 DK)
You can’t save super big tonight unless you continue to roll with my favorite super-bargain center, Mason Plumlee. While you can get away with that on smaller slates, I prefer spending more to get more – a higher floor and much higher ceiling – with Valanciunas. He’s still working his way toward 25 MPG, but has three consecutive double-doubles. Here again DraftKings pricing is too sharp, but on FanDuel, he’s almost a steal.
Aron Baynes, Phoenix Suns at Memphis ($5800 FD, $5000 DK)
Baynes has embraced his role in the Suns frontcourt, that’s for sure. Coming off a monster effort Wednesday night in San Francisco, Baynes is the center steal on DraftKings. His 24-12-7-3-1 stat line might not be entirely repeatable, but Memphis is no longer the slow, defensive slog of a matchup it used to be. They’re ranked second in pace this season, and 19th in defensive efficiency.