Welcome to the very first NBA daily fantasy post for the 2015-16 regular season! I’ll be writing this column covering the daily slate Monday through Friday throughout the year for Today’s Fastbreak.
Before I dive into my favorite plays for opening night, I want to lay out my vision for this article. My intent is to highlight plays to assist you in building your lineups, not to provide a lineup that claims to be perfection each day. In other words, this article is not going to build your roster for you.
There are plenty of reasons why I don’t write up my “optimal” lineup and post it for everyone to use, but two are more important than any other. First, I freely admit I will be wrong on plays. The lineups I enter on DraftKings will never be perfect—there are no guarantees in games of any sort. Second, it’s terrible for the person simply plugging in lineups and it’s awful for the industry. A great deal of the fun of DFS is building your lineup, and pitting it against others who have crafted their own.
While I don’t want to build your team for you, I will aim to provide an informed opinion on the day’s potential plays. It is important for everyone to understand roster construction, but getting an outside view or dissenting opinion on players can be extremely valuable. In this way, we can uncover plays we may have never considered, or feel more confident in plays we already thought about.
This article will evolve throughout the year, but I will attempt to have three to four sections to discuss each day.
Building Blocks: This section will contain players that I like as the core of a lineup. It will include a selection of stud plays and values (normally 2-4 players) that would serve as a solid foundation.
Bargains: This section will contain players that aren’t necessarily fit as “core” plays, but will be worth considering based on their price and the needs of your lineup after assembling your foundation.
Lottery Tickets: This section will contain affordable players with high upside. However, these players will also carry a considerable amount of risk.
Buyer’s Remorse: This section will contain players that I likely won’t be deploying. Of course, it doesn’t mean that they are unplayable, but I will try to provide some reasoning behind why I am “off” of a certain player.
In this intro section, the content will vary based on the slate. Oftentimes, I will lead with relevant news or a matchup to target. Typically, the introduction will not be nearly this long, but hey, it’s opening night.
The prices provided and scoring referred to will be for DraftKings, though the general concept should apply to most daily fantasy sites. The plays provided are aimed more at cash games (50-50’s, head-to-head’s) and less at tournaments.
As previously stated, the format of this article could very well change throughout the year. I welcome constructive feedback on what you like (and what you don’t) and hopefully this piece will serve as a great tool, as well as a place for discussion regarding the awesome game that is NBA daily fantasy.
If you have specific questions about lineup construction or just want to talk DFS, I can be reached via Twitter @6thManHoops.
Without further ado, today’s building blocks:
BUILDING BLOCKS – Studs and Must-Have Values to Build Your Core Lineup
Stephen Curry, PG, GSW ($9,500): Curry’s price reached much higher than its current point during his MVP season last year, so getting him at a sub-10k price tag makes him easy to deploy. As one of three true studs on the opening slate – and the only elite point guard – I will be looking to Curry to anchor my lineups on Tuesday. In eight games against New Orleans last season, including the playoffs, Curry averaged nearly 29 points, eight assists, five rebounds, and four three-pointers per game, and makes for a fantastic piece in any lineup.
Eric Gordon, SG, NO ($5,200): Is there any team more banged-up than the Pelicans right now? Tyreke Evans (knee) and Norris Cole (ankle) will both likely miss this game due to injury, and Jrue Holiday (knee) is said to be on a minute restriction until January. With Holiday capped at (reportedly) 15-20 minutes per game, and only the likes of Nate Robinson and recent waiver claim Ish Smith standing in his way, Gordon should see plenty of time with the ball in his hands as a shooting guard.
Draymond Green, PF, GS ($6,900): I originally had Green outside of the core plays, but his price has made him a fixture in my lineups for Tuesday. His price tag is probably at the bottom of what it will be this season, and his matchup is excellent: Green averaged 44.9 DraftKings points against New Orleans last season. Green has as much upside as any power forward not named Anthony Davis due to his variety of contributions and triple-double potential.
Anthony Davis, PF, NO ($10,400): Look, you’re going to have to make some choices in your lineups, and unless you feel comfortable rolling the dice on minimum salary guys, you may be able to fit only one of Curry-LeBron-Davis into your lineups. All three are excellent plays for the opening slate, and though my favorite is Curry given his price tag, Davis has the most upside of anyone available. At the peak of his powers last season, Davis was an unstoppable fantasy force, threatening triple-double status with points, rebounds, and blocks. Paying up for him is always a defensible move, even though I don’t think I will be doing so in this spot.
BARGAINS – Complimentary Players Who Look To Have Favorable Pricing
Nate Robinson, PG, NO ($3,000): Robinson has been a Pelican for less than two weeks, but he may be needed to play the lion’s share of the point guard minutes. When he is rolling, Robinson is a deadly scorer who can add assists and steals, so it’s within the realm of possibility he pays back his price tag by a large margin.
Mo Williams, PG, CLE ($4,900): One of the keys to winning daily fantasy basketball is identifying players who have increased opportunity on any given night. Mo Williams fits the bill for the opening slate of games, as he is projected to see starter’s minutes in place of the injured Kyrie Irving. His skill set should fit in great with this Cavaliers team, mainly his three-point shooting and ability to handle the ball when LeBron James needs a rest.
Marcus Morris, SF, DET ($4,500): The small forward pool is absolutely dreadful—and it is on most nights—so unless you are ready to pay up for LeBron James, there is going to be some risk involved. James’ back injury won’t keep him out of the game, but it’s enough for me to look elsewhere, and I keep landing on Morris as my go-to option. He should have a nice floor as the starting small forward ahead of Stanley Johnson, and at his price point he only needs to be serviceable.
Ryan Anderson, PF, NO ($5,000): Anderson has two things working for him on opening night: his style is perfect for the Pelicans’ desired up-tempo pace, and the team is decimated by injuries at center. Anthony Davis should see his fair share of time at the five, allowing Anderson to see an uptick in minutes as a stretch-four. His rebounding leaves something to be desired, and that hurts his floor, but New Orleans is going to need him to stretch the floor if they want to win this game.
Al Horford, C, ATL ($7,300): Horford should be a solid play on an opening night full of centers that we aren’t sure we can rely on. The Cleveland situation is murky with the return of Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao, the Bulls have a rotation in flux, and the Pelicans-Warriors game might go completely center-less. That leaves Horford vs. Andre Drummond for the “safe” play, and the $900 savings you get by taking Horford should break any tie there.
LOTTERY TICKETS – High Risk, High Reward Plays
Tony Snell, SG, CHI ($3,000): It looks like Snell will start in place of Mike Dunleavy at small forward, so if you want to punt the shooting guard slot on DraftKings, he may be your guy. Snell had good stretches last season, but isn’t a dynamite contributor, so he will likely need volume to be a good play.
Kent Bazemore, SG, ATL ($3,000): Bazemore reportedly won the Hawks’ starting small forward gig, so he will be with the first five when the season tips against Detroit. He has an interesting skill set, and could rack up some nice defensive stats if he gets enough run. Bazemore is the biggest gamble of this bunch, but he probably has higher upside than Snell.
Doug McDermott, SF, CHI ($3,000): McDermott has been one of the darlings of the preseason, and may be a popular tournament play on opening night. His shooting ability should mesh well with Fred Hoiberg’s offensive game plan, putting him on the radar as a cheap boom-or-bust option. If Snell struggles offensively, McDermott could take over the workload at small forward.
BUYER’S REMORSE – Reasons for Skepticism
Jrue Holiday, PG, NO ($5,100): This one is fairly obvious, but I will list him here due to the small slate. Holiday is on a minutes restriction until January, and I would not advise playing him at this time. That is all.
Jimmy Butler, SG, CHI ($7,600): Butler is one of my favorite players in the league, but I won’t be playing him on opening night. The main reason: LeBron James. Butler is the team’s premier defensive stopper, so it’s easy to see him wearing down a bit as the game goes on if he draws the assignment of James. He shot around 41-percent from the field in eight games against Cleveland last season while serving as the “LeBron stopper”, and the presence of value plays at shooting guard will help me resist paying up for Butler.
Bulls PFs/Cs: Aside from maybe Pau Gasol, I will be staying far away from this situation on opening night. Between Nikola Mirotic, Taj Gibson, Joakim Noah, and promising rookie Bobby Portis, there is no way to tell how the minutes will shake out. This situation is a wait-and-see for me until the rotation solidifies.