There are hundreds of ways to win in daily fantasy basketball, and nobody will ever see all of them on any given night.
That may not be the most appealing thing to read, especially when you’re coming to this column to get advice – perhaps it is if you just come to laugh at my picks – but it’s the honest truth.
When it comes to lineup construction, there’s rarely a set of players that you must have in order to win every night. For example, the industry toted Russell Westbrook as a must-have player last night. He was awesome: 67 DraftKings points, good for 5.77 points per $1000 spent. Not bad when you consider he cost $11,600, nearly one-quarter of the salary cap.
In a vacuum, having Westbrook increased your odds of winning last night. He was valuable in relation to his production per dollar, and he posted a massive point total. But the restriction on the cap made the choices around him all the more crucial.
I fumbled those choices in my cash game lineup last night, despite having some hits (Zach LaVine, Brook Lopez). My duds (Evan Turner, Derrick Favors) were just too much to overcome. To make matters worse, my alternative lineup sans Westbrook had a score far north of 250.
But, instead, I suffered one of my least profitable nights of the season.
Plenty of players are going to perform each night. Getting your studs is the way to a solid foundation, but your lineup as a whole is the most important thing. My advice is to never field a lineup with players you are uncomfortable with, even if it means you have to take out a guy like Westbrook in order to build a better team.
Today’s news and notes:
- Chris Paul (groin) is doubtful against the Pistons. I have zero interest in Pablo Prigioni or Austin Rivers, who will start for J.J. Redick (back).
- Bradley Beal (shoulder) is questionable against the Magic. Gary Neal and Ramon Sessions would see a bump if he misses.
- Dwight Howard (rest) is out versus the Mavericks. Clint Capela is mildly interesting as a replacement.
- Chandler Parsons (rest) is out versus the Rockets. I don’t really care for this situation for fantasy purposes, especially on a back-to-back.
- Victor Oladipo (concussion) is out against the Wizards. Shabazz Napier played 18 minutes off the bench yesterday, but Scott Skiles also slid Evan Fournier over to cover the shooting-guard slot to allow playing time for Aaron Gordon. I wouldn’t search for value here in cash formats.
Make sure to check the news up until tip:
BUILDING BLOCKS – Studs and Must-Have Values to Build Your Core Lineup
Reggie Jackson, PG, DET ($7,400): I like both Jackson and John Wall for tonight’s slate, and my lineups will see plenty of both. Jackson has a great matchup in particular, squaring off against a fast-paced team that’ll probably start a combination of Pablo Prigioni and Austin Rivers in the backcourt. Pivot to Wall if Chris Paul plays – he’s doubtful right now – but I like Jackson to take full advantage of his circumstances here.
Danny Green, SG, SA ($4,100): We need to save money somewhere, and I prefer to do it at either shooting guard or small forward. Green has struggled with his shot so far this year, but he’s turning it around with at least 20 DraftKings points in four of his last six games. If Kawhi Leonard is out or plays limited minutes, Green is a candidate to play extended time against the 76ers – a matchup that carries huge upside.
Blake Griffin, PF, LAC ($9,300): Assuming Chris Paul is out or, at the very best, limited against the Pistons, Griffin is a near must-play to me. His price is fantastic for the production we’ve been getting out of him (45 DraftKings points per game), and his usage will jump with Paul and J.J. Redick out.
More studs to consider: John Wall, PG, WAS ($8,900) – Kevin Love, PF, CLE ($7,900) – DeAndre Jordan, C, LAC ($7,500)
BARGAINS – Complementary Players and Punt Plays
Elfrid Payton, PG, ORL ($5,500): While it’s always worrisome to roster players coming off the first end of a back-to-back, Payton offers good value on a slate lacking it on the lower-end of the point-guard pool. His upside is bigger than any of the three guys ahead of him (Jarrett Jack, Deron Williams, and Ty Lawson).
Eric Bledsoe, SG, PHX ($8,100): Bledsoe absolutely annihilated the Clippers in his last game out and has been over 45 DraftKings points in four of his last six contests. The good times should keep rolling against a high-pace Denver squad coming to Phoenix on the second night of a back-to-back.
Trevor Ariza, SF, HOU ($5,500): Small forward isn’t looking too appealing tonight, especially if Kawhi Leonard is ruled out against the 76ers. Ariza is a solid mid-tier option who soaks up nearly all the minutes on the wing for Houston, so I have no problem plugging him in and forgetting about the position all together.
P.J. Tucker, SF, PHX ($3,400): If you’re looking for a true punt play, P.J. Tucker probably has the most upside given his price. The script for this game looks to be one of a high-scoring affair, and with the Nuggets playing their second game in as many nights, Tucker could gobble up rebounds once tired legs come into play. I also like T.J. Warren here if Markieff Morris sits this game out.
LaMarcus Aldridge, PF, SA ($7,000): It’s hard to love the matchup with Nerlens Noel in this spot, but the increased usage that Aldridge could see if Kawhi Leonard out makes him a consideration. His price is simply too low for his talent in this matchup, despite his production being muted as a Spur.
Tyson Chandler, C, PHX ($5,300): There are several high-end options that are appealing at center tonight, but if you want to go another direction, Chandler is probably the best bet. The Nuggets are weak on the interior, and Chandler’s price continues to slide.
LOTTERY TICKETS – 5 Tournaments Options
Michael Carter-Williams, PG, MIL ($6,300): I’m not sure you can trust Carter-Williams in his first game back from injury, especially given the Bucks’ now four-deep point-guard spot, but I have no problem plugging him in for tournaments. His upside is tremendous due to his triple-double type of numbers; it’s just the unknown workload that scares me.
J.R. Smith, SG, CLE ($4,200): Smith is the ultimate tournament play. If he gets hot shooting the rock, he should win you some money.
LeBron James, SF, CLE ($9,900): There’s nothing risky about LeBron usually, and I don’t really think that changes here. What makes him a favorite tournament play of mine is that he should be a bit contrarian in nature with people paying up for Blake Griffin and/or John Wall instead.
Draymond Green, PF, GS ($7,000): Green is another guy I don’t mind in cash, but in tournaments he’s the perfect marriage between upside and value. The blowout factor is real in this game though, if that’s something you consider in your picks.
Tim Duncan, C, SA ($6,000): I like Duncan for the same reason I like Aldridge, and Duncan is $1,000 cheaper. It’d surprise me if he played a full workload, but if he does, he should have a nice game.
BUYER’S REMORSE – Reasons for Skepticism
Ty Lawson, PG, HOU ($5,800): I doubt you were considering playing him, but yeah, don’t. He hasn’t eclipsed 30 DraftKings points in four games, despite playing at least 34 minutes in each contest.
Wesley Matthews, SG, DAL ($4,500): Aside from an explosion against the Clippers (40 DraftKings points), Matthews has been relatively unproductive. After playing 30 minutes last night, it’d be surprising if he was able to play the entire game tonight.