We have a three-game slate today, and if you want to play, make sure you get your lineups in early as the first game tips off at 3:30 PM EST on FanDuel. Fortunately, New Orleans plays in the first game, so we’ll know the statuses of Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday before rosters lock, so check the lineups closer to the opening tip. The only question mark in the remaining games is Tobias Harris, but it doesn’t sound like he’s going to be able to play tonight. As always, I recommend putting together a few GPP lineups on short slates like today. With so many daily fantasy grinders likely taking the same players, taking a few off the board picks can really set your lineup apart.
Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder, $10,600 – The Magic have struggled against opposing point guards all season, and while they’ve been a bit better over the last three weeks, I think passing on Westbrook would be a mistake today. This game currently has a 211 over/under, with the Thunder favored by nine points. The game should stay close enough that all starters get their full complement of minutes. Expect Westbrook to be active and attacking as always. He has tremendous upside, even at this price, and is a clear top play today.
Elfrid Payton, Orlando Magic, $5,300 – Payton was an inconsistent option at best earlier in the season, but he’s been steadily producing lately, and appears to be making some strides in his offensive game as well. He’s the cheapest point guard that you can reasonably consider using today, and with upside well over 25 fantasy points, I think he makes for a fairly easily play. Keep in mind though, he’s going to be high owned, so if you’re playing GPPs, I would strongly recommend building some lineups without him.
Additional Plays: Kyle Lowry
Tyreke Evans, New Orleans Pelicans, $7,700 – Evans is likely going to see plenty of minutes regardless of the statuses of Jrue Holiday and Anthony Davis. If one or both are out, bump his value up as he’ll be tasked with more scoring and ball-handling responsibilities. He dropped a dud against the Sixers (of all teams) last time out, and he illustrates the importance of never assuming a player is a lock to have a big game, even if the stars are aligning for him to do so. That said, we need to have short memories, and Evans is in another good spot tonight facing a Raptors team that is struggling on the defensive end. I like him more if he starts at point guard again in place of Holiday. The Raptors have been giving up big games to opposing point guards, a trend that’s not likely to change tonight.
Eric Gordon, New Orleans Pelicans, $4,800 – Gordon isn’t a flashy, high-upside play, but if you’re in need of some salary cap relief, it’s never a bad idea to roster a cheap starter that is likely to continue returning around five points per $1000 spent. As with Evans, bump Gordon significantly if at least one of Holiday or Davis is out, and even more if both are out. The Raptors have been solid against opposing shooting guards this season, but this pick is more about opportunity and price. Good value plays are hard to ignore on short slates with few other options.
Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder, $10,600 – Small forward is probably the weakest position today, and I think you need to find a way to get Durant into your lineups. Orlando has struggled against opposing small forwards this season, so I expect them to simply have no answer for one that is matchup-proof anyway. The Thunder are the highest projected scoring team of the day, and if Orlando can just keep this game close enough, and I think they will, Durant should play a full complement of minutes as Oklahoma City is not in a position to risk giving away games that they should easily win. Expect a big game out of Durant.
Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs, $7,800 – Leonard is the only other small forward available that you can roster and feel comfortable with. The big issue here is the blowout potential. While the Spurs have not even remotely resembled the dominant team we’re used to, a big reason for that was the absence of Leonard. He means more to this team than a lot of people realize, and now that he’s back, expect the Spurs to go back to winning many games very comfortably. Even in a blowout, Leonard should do well considering he contributes in every category. If you can fit him in, roster him, otherwise you’ll be stuck taking a gamble on James Johnson.
Additional Plays: James Johnson
Channing Frye, Orlando Magic, $3,900 – You need value on a short slate, and Frye is one of your best options at a discounted price. Since earning his starting spot back (or getting it back by default due to Kyle O’Quinn’s ineffectiveness), he’s scored no fewer than 20 fantasy points. Considering he’s $3,900 and we’re dealing with a very short slate, I see no reason not to roster him. Also working in Frye’s favor is the fact that the Thunder have struggled against opposing power forwards this season, and have been especially bad over the last three weeks. Over that time, they’ve been third worst in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing power forwards.
Serge Ibaka, Oklahoma City Thunder, $7,000 – Ibaka has long been a player I have refused to roster. He’s always been priced way too high for his average production, and he completely disappears for long stretches during games. Despite Ibaka being a capable scorer, it’s often the Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant show, especially down the stretch in close games. However, that seems to be changing. Ibaka’s been very good lately, and from reports that I’ve read, the Thunder are going to him more in the fourth quarter. Orlando is one of the worst teams in the league at defending opposing power forwards. Expect Ibaka to take advantage of a very good matchup and post a very nice stat line.
Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors, $6,000 – Valanciunas is difficult to use because of inconsistencies in both production and minutes. I think a lot of players will flock to the safety of Nikola Vucevic, and in cash games, that may be the right strategy. However, Oklahoma City has been extremely tough on opposing centers this season, and Valanciunas has the better matchup. In addition, due to the size of the Pelicans’ frontcourt, my expectation would be that Valanciunas would play more minutes. I can’t predict what Dwayne Casey will do exactly, but I think it’s likely Valanciunas gets a heavier workload today than he typically would.
Omer Asik, New Orleans Pelicans, $4,700 – Asik almost never exceeds 30 minutes of court time, and while I wouldn’t typically target him on a larger slate, he’s in play today because of the lack of options. He often ends up right around 20 fantasy points, which is fine on a short slate for $4,700. He’s a decent value option that’s available to you if you want to avoid spending at center so you can spend up more on the better options that exist at other positions.