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DFS NBA: DraftKings Tip Sheet 10/25

AP Photo/Kim Raff

We’re back! The NBA season tips off tonight, and that means daily fantasy basketball makes its triumphant return to our lives. I’ll be here all season long giving you my thoughts on the main slate of games, my favorite plays, and game theory/roster construction.The DraftKings NBA product looks a little different this season, so I want to give a few thoughts before we kick things off:

  • No More Late Swap: When the first game of the slate tips off, your lineup is now locked. This makes it extremely important to make sure you’re following the injury news. You can do this through awesome sites like Rotoworld or Rotowire, and you should be following beat writers on Twitter or some other injury aggregation source. As a note: this change ensures that you will get burned by a late scratch at least once this season. My advice is to move on as a quickly as possible; it will happen and there’s really nothing you can do about it as it’s part of the game now.
  • Multi-Position Eligibility: Some players are now eligible at up to two positions. This allows for greater lineup building flexibility and the strategy should evolve as the season grinds on. I don’t have a ton of thoughts on it quite yet, but it will change how I prepare this piece and research the slate. Just make sure you’re considering all the options when building your lineups.

And finally, the beginning of the season disclaimer: this piece is not intended to build your lineup for you. The idea here is to provide thought-out analysis and perspective to help you build your best cash game lineups. I won’t provide full lineups, but rather a pool of players that I am looking to build around for that slate of games. This post is out far before lineup lock, and my lineup isn’t typically finalized until 30 minutes before tip. Keep on top of injury news and oftentimes that will lead you to the crucial value plays.

Slate Overview

In this space, you can expect a few sentences on the slate, followed by the top team totals of that night from Las Vegas. Following the information that Vegas puts out via their betting lines can lead you to fertile fantasy basketball soil. We’re looking for high paced games with big Vegas totals.

Tonight, there are just three games. With the Warriors and the Cavaliers at home, it’s pretty clear where a lot of the superstar talent is going to come from. The Knicks and Trail Blazers are also interesting, given the projected pace of both squads, but the Spurs and Jazz — two of the slowest teams last year — threaten to muck things up a bit.

The top team totals tonight:

  1. Golden State Warriors (vs. SA) – 110 points implied
  2. Cleveland Cavaliers (vs. NYK) – 107.5 points
  3. San Antonio Spurs (@ GS) – 101.5 points

Point Guard

In the positional breakdowns, look for a quick rundown of how the position stacks up for that slate. This will be general roster construction tips, recent trends, and finally, a list of plays I’m looking at for the position listed in order of price.

A pair of elite point guard plays looms over the rest of the pool. Stephen Curry and Damian Lillard were two of the most dynamic scorers in the NBA last season, and we get a choice of either in the first slate of the season. Given the pricing difference, I would lean Lillard, even in a tough matchup with the Jazz and George Hill.

Speaking of Hill, he’s my favorite value play at the position tonight with Tony Parker a close second.

Note that we’re going to see the multi-position eligibility come into effect here. C.J. McCollum is listed below because I do like him as a play tonight, but as of right now I’m leaning towards playing him at shooting guard.

  • Stephen Curry, GS ($9,600)
  • Damian Lillard, POR ($8,500)
  • C.J. McCollum, POR ($6,300)
  • George Hill, UTA ($5,300)
  • Tony Parker, SA ($4,600)

Shooting Guard

The next guard slot is a bit more clear-cut for me than point guard. Klay Thompson is at a nice price, but it’s tough to pull the trigger until we know exactly what his shot workload will look like. C.J. McCollum is $200 less and looks like a great buy if you’re looking to go high-end at the position; he averaged 34 DraftKings points per game last year and 39.8 DraftKings points per game against Utah. He should also have an easier time of things than his teammate, Damian Lillard, as he draws a matchup with Rodney Hood instead of George Hill.

There are a few palatable options in the bargain range, but I will have McCollum in my lineup in all likelihood. My favorite cheap play is probably Courtney Lee, though I don’t feel great about it given his lack of production as a high-volume player with the Grizzlies for the past few years.

  • Klay Thompson, GS ($6,500)
  • C.J. McCollum, POR ($6,300)
  • Evan Turner, POR ($4,700)
  • Joe Johnson, UTA ($4,300) – starting for the injured Gordon Hayward
  • J.R. Smith, CLE ($4,100)
  • Courtney Lee, NY ($3,700)
  • Johnathan Simmons, SA ($3,000) -potentially starting for the injured Danny Green

Small Forward

Here’s where all that aforementioned star power ends up. Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, and Carmelo Anthony are all available and at decent prices. Right now, I’ve got three of them in a lineup and I like the approach with the guard value out there tonight. The one I’m not using? It’s likely to be Kevin Durant. He should be pretty popular given the publicity of him changing teams, and he’s still a solid play in a vacuum, but I try to never play guys against Kawhi. Maybe it blows up in my face, but tonight I don’t see a reason to pay up to go against that philosophy.

A few of the value plays found here are holdovers from the shooting guard section, but note the inclusion of Kyle Anderson. Depending on roster construction, I probably would play him over Johnathan Simmons, even if Simmons starts for the injured Danny Green. With the Spurs, nothing is out of the question, so perhaps Simmons is the play; it’s just that Anderson is the more talented guy and offers across-the-board fantasy upside.

  • LeBron James, CLE ($9,000)
  • Kawhi Leonard, SA ($7,800)
  • Carmelo Anthony, NY ($7,600)
  • Evan Turner, POR ($4,700)
  • Joe Johnson, UTA ($4,300) – starting for the injured Gordon Hayward
  • Kyle Anderson, SA ($3,500) – potentially starting for the injured Danny Green

Power Forward

Due to the multi-position element, my favorite top-tier power forward play is LeBron James. However, a few more names have begun to enter the picture at this position. Draymond Green is only $7,200 and has considerable upside given his triple-double skill set. Like Klay Thompson, I am hesitant to pull the trigger on opening night, but he’s certainly in play. LaMarcus Aldridge find himself in a high-usage spot, however he struggled to get going in two visits to Oracle Arena last season. Trey Lyles is virtually a must-play for me, though it will likely be at the center slot.

The last name to discuss would be Al-Farouq Aminu, who will be Portland’s starting power forward this year after spending some of last year miscast as a wing. The matchup against Utah is brutal, but Derrick Favors being out is a boost to Aminu’s value. If he can see 28-32 minutes, his price tag is too low for the rebounding he can provide towards that double-double bonus on DraftKings.

  • LeBron James, CLE ($9,000)
  • Draymond Green, GS ($7,200)
  • LaMarcus Aldridge, SA ($7,100)
  • Al-Farouq Aminu, POR ($4,400)
  • Trey Lyles, UTA ($3,600) – minutes bump for injured Derrick Favors


This position may be the toughest to crack because effectively understanding it means you need to know the Spurs’ plan of attack. So, yeah, good luck with that. If they come into Oracle Arena looking to play bully ball with LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol, regardless of the presence of the “Super Death Lineup”, then both Aldridge and Gasol are worth a long look. I personally am high on Gasol, given the way centers project to be able to beat Golden State on the inside, but it will be a challenge to get him into the lineup while fitting in the superstars I like more.

Zaza Pachulia gains relevance if you think the Spurs are going to stay big. He is cheap and showed last year that he can be highly productive when given the proper workload. With Trey Lyles emerging as the go-to value play of the night, I don’t think using Pachulia is necessary, but he’s an interesting play if you really want to go with the high end point guards tonight.

  • Draymond Green, GS ($7,200)
  • LaMarcus Aldridge, SA ($7,100)
  • Pau Gasol, SA ($6,900)
  • Zaza Pachulia, GS ($4,000)
  • Trey Lyles, UTA ($3,600) – minutes bump for injured Derrick Favors

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