Saturday’s NBA slate features seven games. Defense is the theme tonight as nine of the fourteen teams playing rank in the top half of the league in defensive efficiency (DE). One big exception is Washington at Memphis, which features two of the fastest teams in the league, but both are in the bottom 10 in DE (Washington is 30th). There is plenty of injury news to watch out for so be sure to check the latest before lock. 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 7:05 pm EST.
George Hill, Milwaukee Bucks vs. Cleveland ($3700 FD, $3900 DK)
Erik Bledsoe left Friday’s game with a leg injury, which if serious, would result in George Hill getting a serious uptick in usage and minutes in what is the second-best PG matchup in the league.
Ish Smith, Washington Wizards at Memphis ($5800 FD, $5400 DK)
Isaiah Thomas was upgraded to questionable for tonight, so you’ll need to keep an eye on the lineup news from the Wizards, but if IT remains out, keep rolling with Smith as a high-floor, multi-category player in a fantastic matchup (Memphis allows the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing PGs).
Derrick Walton Jr., LA Clippers at Chicago ($3500 FD, $3700 DK)
Another injury watch play here, as both Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams are questionable for tonight’s game as of now. Walton played 30 minutes last night and though his production was ultimately disappointing, 15 fantasy points for the price isn’t awful. We’d hope that if he is out there even close to that much tonight, that he’ll take advantage of a slightly better matchup.
Dillon Brooks, Memphis Grizzlies vs. Washington ($5800 FD, $5100 DK)
Brooks is a standard mid-range play, typically scoring in the double-digits with a smattering of peripherals (and often multiple steals). I highlight him here because this should be a particularly friendly environment as noted above, and he’s got a great shot at hitting the high end of his range while still providing a reasonable floor for the price.
Bruce Brown, Detroit Pistons at Houston ($4000 FD, $3700 DK)
Two game factors here are worth noting; first, that Houston ranks ninth in overall fantasy points allowed and is always a top matchup for SGs (fifth in fantasy points to SG) and second, that the line has moved 2.5 points in Detroit’s favor since opening. It should be one of the higher scoring games with a 226-point total, and the Pistons get the substantial pace bump. It’s a good environment for shooters, and Brown should be good for his standard 20-ish fantasy points tonight.
Norman Powell, Toronto Raptors vs. Brooklyn ($4900 FD, $5300 DK)
Should Fred VanVleet miss tonight’s game, which seems likely, Powell would be in line for another start. He’s been great in the last two; averaging 20 points per game with a few rebounds and a couple steals and assists. Brooklyn should push the pace, so although they’re no longer the defensive pushover they once were, Powell should get his shots up no problem.
Derrick Jones Jr., Miami Heat at Dallas ($4000 FD, $3800 DK)
Miami has ruled out Goran Dragic and Justise Winslow for tonight’s game in Dallas, opening the door for continued value in the form of Jones, Kendrick Nunn, and perhaps also a rebound game for Tyler Herro or Duncan Robinson. The danger is that Jimmy Butler just takes over, but Jones has held his own in the last two games with a full stat sheet and about 30 fantasy points per game.
Jae Crowder, Memphis Grizzlies vs. Washington ($5600 FD, $5200 DK)
The departure of Kawhi Leonard has left a hole in the wing defense of the Raptors, as opposing forwards have succeeded at the ninth-best rate against them. Crowder is averaging about five more fantasy points at home this season, and although he tends to be his best in the most difficult matchups, I can’t ignore him in this great spot. Look for him to make it three value-exceeding games in a row tonight.
P.J. Tucker, Houston Rockets vs. Detroit ($5300 FD, $4700 DK)
I’m sure Tucker is a great guy and all, but man is he one of my least favorite DFS plays. There is no one else who plays this many minutes every single night and produces a wider range of outcomes. Here are my reasons for including him for tonight: he is about six fantasy points better at home, Detroit has been the sixth-best PF matchup this season, and he has two double-doubles in his last three games.
D.J. Wilson, Milwaukee Bucks vs. Cleveland ($3600 FD, $3000 DK)
The Bucks are short on forwards and potentially without Bledsoe tonight in what is still a 13-point spread over the Cavs. The idea is that Wilson gets more playing time in a blowout, and could turn out a 15-20 fantasy point performance in a positive matchup.
Marc Gasol, Toronto Raptors vs. Brooklyn ($5800 FD, $5300 DK)
Gasol is a bit on fire right now, boasting 39-fantasy point games in his last two. Those have come with him not making a free throw and hitting only one three-pointer, which means he’s hustling. In the last two games Gasol has 20 rebounds, 11 assists, five blocks and five steals (combined). I hope the Nets start the less experienced Jarrett Allen over DeAndre Jordan tonight and think Gasol can continue to turn back the clock with another solid game.
Ian Mahinmi, Washington Wizards at Memphis ($4400 FD, $4200 DK)
It’s one thing to be good, it’s another thing to be the only center available for tonight’s most fantasy-friendly matchup. While there are definitely a lot of ways to spend up tonight, Mahinmi has been actually ok since his season debut about a week ago. He has five blocks in the last two games, and though his ceiling isn’t the highest, if you need to save at this position, he will have ample opportunity.