We are nearly one week into the NBA season, and trends are starting to develop a bit. New players are emerging as useful for fantasy (Julius Randle), and old standbys are struggling to get situated (Marc Gasol). Information is power in NBA daily fantasy, and we are starting to get enough to make more educated decisions when building lineups.
On Monday, we will get our second tidy slate in a row with a seven-game slate. The game I love tonight, regarding fantasy production, is Oklahoma City at Houston. Both clubs are on the second night of a back-to-back, but these teams like to run (both have a pace over 100 through 3 games), and that should mean fantasy goodness. You could honestly talk me into most plays in this game.
News and notes from last night:
- It looks as though Dwight Howard is going to start sitting out back-to-backs. I will be watching very intently to see how he performs with an extra day of rest tonight.
- Julius Randle is going to be worth using for daily fantasy as long as his price hovers around the mid-$5k range. He exploded for 22 points, 15 rebounds, four assists, four steals, and a block last night, and should plenty of run for a terrible Lakers squad.
- Robert Covington (MCL sprain) should be back tonight against the Cavaliers. He is on a minutes restriction, though an undisclosed one, so I would avoid this situation right now.
- DeMarcus Cousins was diagnosed with an Achilles strain, and could end up missing the next two games. Kosta Koufos would be very interesting for daily fantasy if Boogie misses any time.
- LaMarcus Aldridge finally got going last night, dropping 24 points, 14 rebounds, five assists, along with a steal and a block. It looks like he is being encouraged to be more aggressive, and that could make him worth a look.
- Deron Williams (knee) returned versus the Lakers and played 31 minutes. He looks good to go moving forward, and could provide some solid value in the right matchup.
As always, make sure to stay on top of the news before the games tip.
BUILDING BLOCKS – Studs and Must-Have Values to Build Your Core Lineup
Russell Westbrook, PG, OKC ($10,300): Westbrook is going to be the focal point of most of my lineups once again, as I throw caution to the wind and go against playing Stephen Curry, who is the basketball version of the human torch right now. My thought process is this: I want Westbrook in a fast-paced matchup, even more so when Ty Lawson is trying to guard him. Curry has been phenomenal, so I can’t fade him completely, but I prefer Westbrook tonight, for better or worse.
Isaiah Canaan, PG, PHI ($5,000): Canaan is the unquestioned starter at point guard for the 76ers until Tony Wroten (knee) and Kendall Marshall (knee) can get back from last year’s injuries, so he is a near-lock to play 30 minutes per game. That screams value at only $5k, and a matchup with the Cavaliers could lead to a big game if garbage time comes early.
Eric Bledsoe, SG, PHX ($7,500): The shooting guard slot gets sour quickly after James Harden and Bledsoe, and I think Bledsoe will settle in at a price around $500-$1000 higher once he gets going, so there is value here. A fast-paced matchup against the Clippers is a nice bonus, but positional scarcity makes Bledsoe a great building block today.
Three more studs to consider: James Harden, SG, HOU ($9,900) – Blake Griffin, PF, LAC ($9,800) – Kevin Love, PF, CLE ($7,500)
BARGAINS – Complementary Players Who Look To Have Favorable Pricing
Jarrett Jack, PG, BKN ($6,000): Jack doesn’t do anything exciting, but he is a solid cash play as a starting point guard priced this low tonight. The Bucks aren’t as scary of a matchup as they were last year, so I have no problem deploying Jack as a second guard.
Michael Carter-Williams, PG, MIL ($6,700): Any given night, Carter-Williams can flirt with a triple-double and become the top point guard in fantasy. Those nights have been rare since he joined Milwaukee, and I am not expecting one here, but he is averaging 35 DraftKings points per game. That mark would be enough for the former Rookie of the Year to be worth rostering.
Nik Stauskas, SG, PHI ($3,300): If you hate the available shooting guard pool, you may choose to pay down to Stauskas, who should see anywhere in the range of 20-25 minutes. The 76ers are a prime candidate to see a ton of garbage time in this one, so he shouldn’t have a problem getting the 15 DraftKings points required for him to make value.
Al-Farouq Aminu, SF, POR ($4,800): Aminu continues to be underpriced, and I will continue to use him until his salary corrects itself. The forward can put up points, rebounds, threes, as well as steals and blocks, making him a multi-category asset. At under $5k, there isn’t a player with bigger upside at a normally dreadful small forward position.
Thaddeus Young, PF, BKN ($5,500): Young is underpriced at under $6k, and only needs around 25-30 DraftKings points to make value. With his ability to score, rebound, and rack up steals, and with his minutes increasing every game, he should have the workload available to do so.
Meyers Leonard, C, POR ($4,500): Aside from the game in which he battled foul trouble, Leonard has played 34 and 31 minutes. He looks to be locked in as the starting power forward for Blazers, and should outperform his salary that puts him at the 13th most valuable center.
LOTTERY TICKETS – High Risk, High Reward Plays
Mo Williams, PG, CLE ($5,300): On paper, you have to love the matchup with the 76ers for Williams. However, it’s unclear how much he will play if the Cavaliers get up big, as David Blatt has not been looking to play the sharpshooter more than 30 minutes other than the tightly contested opening game.
Marcus Thornton, SG, HOU ($3,000): This is the ultimate point chasing selection, but if he is going to see 25+ minutes, he is going to fire up a ton of shots. After a solid performance last night, it’s possible Kevin McHale tries to use Thornton off the bench to spark his 0-3 squad.
Klay Thompson, SG, GS ($6,900): Something is off with Klay Thompson, but it’s unclear whether his lack of explosive fantasy performances is due to his team’s dominance or his stiff back. If you want to play him, do it in a tournament format, but be advised, he hasn’t played 30 minutes in a single game this season.
Markieff Morris, PF, PHX ($6,300): Morris is priced fairly well, and he gets a fast-paced matchup with Clippers. The Suns are going to need him to score some points if they want to compete, and he will have to do so given his modest contributions in other categories outside of the scoring column. Still, there is potential for some value here.
Dwight Howard, C, HOU ($7,000): You can’t trust Howard’s health or his workload these days, but he has 20-20 upside anytime he plays. I wouldn’t play him in cash games, but he’s worth a dice roll in tournament formats.
BUYER’S REMORSE – Reasons for Skepticism
CJ McCollum, PG, POR ($6,700): McCollum is still overpriced from his opening-night explosion. If he gets hot, he should pay off this salary, but I am not interested in paying a premium to find out if tonight is his night.
LeBron James, SF, CLE ($9,700): “Chill-mode LeBron” was bad, but “bad back LeBron” is virtually unplayable for me against a team that this Cavaliers squad could beat by 20+ points.
Trevor Ariza, SF, HOU ($5,600): I want exposure to the Oklahoma City-Houston game, and Ariza is priced favorably, but I don’t like his situation. He played 41 minutes last night and will likely be tasked with guarding Kevin Durant. How much will he have left to give offensively?
Marc Gasol, C, MEM ($8,000): Better days are coming for the younger Gasol, as he has averaged just under 25 DraftKings points per game so far. I won’t be paying $8k to find out if “better days” begin with Golden State on the road.