Tuesday’s NBA slate features just four games on the main slate, though you can play an early slate today as well. There are some important injury concerns tonight as Luka Doncic, James Harden, Clint Capela, Dennis Schroder, Tim Hardaway Jr., and Gary Harris are questionable. D’Angelo Russell and Willie Cauley-Stein are both ruled out with an illness. Denver, Golden State, San Antonio and Toronto all benefit from playing against teams that rank poorly in defensive efficiency and highly in fantasy points allowed to their opponents. 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.
Jalen Brunson, Dallas Mavericks at Oklahoma City ($3900 FD, $3600 DK)
If Doncic is out tonight, the very affordable Brunson should be the most popular value play of the night. One of the cheapest, and most proven to be able to fill in for a starter’s injury, Brunson was racking up 30-40 fantasy points in 30-plus minutes just a couple weeks ago.
Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers at Toronto ($4200 FD, $4500 DK)
I’m not rushing to roster players facing the Raptors, a team that ranks second in defensive efficiency and has no above-average fantasy matchups. If you’re stuck needing a cheap PG, however, both Colin Sexton ($5100 FD, $5800 DK) and Garland offer some possibility. Sexton is the more consistent option, naturally, while Garland has three games of his last four over 20 fantasy points. His bad game came in another tough matchup, Boston, but in his favor is an average of about 25 MPG in December.
Damion Lee, Golden State Warriors at San Antonio ($6000 FD, $6200 DK)
The Warriors are without several starters due to an illness ravaging their locker room this week. With Russell and Cauley-Stein already ruled out and Ky Bowman questionable, expect a big game from both Lee and Draymond Green tonight. Lee has two big double-doubles in his last three games and is adding value with multi-steal upside as well. The Spurs are a Top 10 guard matchup, which together with the illnesses make Lee worth the high end of the bargain range.
Patrick McCaw, Toronto Raptors vs. Cleveland ($4300 FD, $4200 DK)
Several Raptors make appealing plays tonight, including Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet and Serge Ibaka, but to save big, it’s got to be McCaw. He’s been starting, and his last two efforts demonstrate his ability to contribute on this team. He’s outplayed Chris Boucher and OG Anunoby in both, and played over 30 minutes in his last three. This is a top guard/wing matchup for fantasy, and I expect McCaw to be in the 25-35-fantasy point range tonight.
Also consider: my bargain crush of late, Delon Wright ($4900 FD, $4600 DK)
Alec Burks, Golden State Warriors at San Antonio ($5600 FD, $5300 DK)
Burks is another Warrior who stands to benefit tonight. He burns me in DFS regularly, and has for years, but like I said above, terrific faster-paced matchup, poor defensive opponent, and minutes, minutes, minutes. We saw his 50-fantasy point upside last week…and since then he’s at least been in the mid-20’s. I see him as a reasonable floor guy with upside in this matchup tonight.
Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets vs. Denver ($4300 FD, $4700 DK)
If Harden misses the game with his toe injury tonight, we could see a throwback Gordon game. Though likely still on a minutes restriction, Gordon, even off the bench, can make a huge impact with his potent scoring potential. In his first game back, he made 4-of-7 three-pointers ending with a total of 20 real points, while adding in a steal, three assists and a rebound. Denver is a tougher matchup, but with a veteran like Gordon, I don’t weight that as much as with some other guys. I expect a competitive and high scoring game between these two teams.
Also consider: Darius Bazley ($3900 FD, $4200 DK)
Isaiah Hartenstein, Houston Rockets vs. Denver ($3500 FD, $5400 DK)
Of course DraftKings has skyrocketed the big man's salary, but he's still minimum on FanDuel. If Capela is out again, expect Hartenstein to be a popular and valuable asset to tonight's lineups. He's scoring very efficiently, racking up the rebounds and capable of multiple assists and blocks. It's a small sample, but he certainly looks like the real deal and it's hard to go wrong with his usage at minimum salary.
Jerami Grant, Denver Nuggets at Houston ($4200 FD, $4600 DK)
The Nuggets should take advantage of a less than full-strength Rockets team that gives up the fifth-most overall fantasy points, while also ranking fifth to PF specifically. Both Grant and Michael Porter Jr. ($3900 FD, $4500 DK)make for decent bargain plays tonight as Paul Millsap remains sidelined. Grant’s peripherals could be a whole lot better, but he has scored an average of 15 points per game over his last four. Porter’s salary has shot up, especially on DraftKings, on the strength of his increased usage and production with Millsap and Harris both out on Sunday. He’s eager to prove himself, so for a stars and scrubs lineup on FanDuel, I’m going with Porter tonight, and using Grant in a cash game lineup.
Marquese Chriss, Golden State Warriors at San Antonio ($4000 FD, $4100 DK)
With Cauley-Stein already ruled out we can expect Eric Paschall ($3700 FD, $3400 DK), who is probable, and Chriss to pick up the slack. Of course, Green is the dream play here, but if you’re looking to save, Chriss is coming off a nice game (nearly 30 fantasy points) and has done well when other bigs missed games, like December 13 when Green was out (12 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, two blocks and a steal vs. Utah).
Mason Plumlee, Denver Nuggets at Houston ($4000 FD, $4400 DK)
Again, the stud starter is the guy you really want, but if you spend up on guards and wings, you might be short on salary for center. Plumlee is a guy I like in favorable matchups for his high floor for the price. He’s not going to absolutely tank your lineups, but you have to know he’s not going to catapult you to the top of the standings either. He has been slightly exceeding his season averages with Millsap out the last two games.