Tonight’s NBA schedule brings us a clean six-game slate on DraftKings. With a limited amount of options to choose from, one question reigns supreme tonight:
When is bad basketball good?
We should find out when the Los Angeles Lakers (2-14) travel to play the Philadelphia 76ers (0-18) in one of the more interesting games for DFS tonight. It’s clear neither of these teams is good at real basketball, but with both teams struggling, either could be good to target for fantasy value.
Personally, I lean towards the 76ers, who should benefit the most from this matchup. The Lakers provide no resistance defensively, ranking dead-last in the NBA in defensive efficiency over the last two weeks of action. Conversely, the 76ers rank tied with the undefeated Golden State Warriors for 16th in the league in the same category.
You aren’t going to want to overexpose yourself to this game, though, so I do have some other ideas down below. First, today’s news and notes:
- Nene (calf) and Gary Neal (groin) are out for the Wizards tonight. There is really nothing to see here, but Garrett Temple and Kris Humphries get slight boosts to their fantasy value.
- Lou Williams (personal) is questionable tonight for the Lakers. If he sits, D’Angelo Russell becomes a great play in this matchup.
- Nerlens Noel (knee) is a game-time decision for the 76ers tonight. I like him for tournaments if he gives it a go, but Jerami Grant is a fantastic value if he doesn’t.
- Tyson Chandler (hamstring) is trending towards doubtful for tonight’s game against the Nets. Alex Len, Jon Leuer, and T.J. Warren all should see an uptick in value.
- Ricky Rubio (ankle) hopes to return, but remain skeptical until he actually takes the court. Zach LaVine would be a great play should Rubio take a seat.
- Tyreke Evans (knee) should be back for the Pelicans tonight, but I expect him to be heavily restricted. I would not play him in any format.
- Damian Lillard (abdomen) is a game-time decision for the Trail Blazers. I have some thoughts on C.J. McCollum down below.
Make sure to check the news up until tip:
BUILDING BLOCKS – Studs and Must-Have Values to Build Your Core Lineup
LeBron James, SF, CLE ($9,700): It is not often that I choose to build around LeBron in cash games, but that isn’t because he doesn’t work for the format. In fact, LeBron is a model of consistency, hitting at least 40 DraftKings points in each of his last 10 games. His ceiling game-to-game is a bit lower now as he defers to Kevin Love early in the season, but on a short slate like tonight, he will serve as a great foundation for our lineups.
Roy Hibbert, C, LAL ($4,700): There are not many values that I feel too confident about as I write this column mid-morning, so using Hibbert in either my center or utility spot seems like the best way to open up other areas in cash games. Of course, value almost always opens up closer to tip-off, so monitor that, but for now I will roll with Hibbert and his fairly consistent 25 DraftKings points of production.
If Nerlens Noel is ruled OUT:
Jerami Grant, SF, PHI ($4,700): Grant has been excellent for the 76ers this season as far as fantasy goes, and his value gets a spike if Nerlens Noel can’t go against the Lakers tonight. In Noel’s absence, Grant has been manning the power forward slot for Philadelphia and put up scores of 28 and 31 DraftKings points.
Three more studs to consider: Eric Bledsoe, $8,300 – Anthony Davis, PF, NO ($10,600) – Brook Lopez, C, BKN ($7,400)
BARGAINS – Complementary Players and Punt Plays
Raymond Felton, PG, DAL ($3,400): Yep, this is your punt option at point guard. If Ricky Rubio sits, pencil in Zach LaVine here, but Felton is the go-to if you need a dirt cheap guard tonight. With J.J. Barea sidelined Felton has seen his workload rise, so there is potential for a 20+ point DraftKings night here.
Elfrid Payton, PG, ORL ($6,100): Payton offers high upside with a moderate floor each time out depending on how his shot is falling. Last time out he couldn’t buy a bucket, and ended with 20 DraftKings points. I see that as more his base of production on most nights that he garners 30+ minutes, so I feel okay rolling him out on a short slate.
Jordan Clarkson, SG, LAL ($5,100): If you could guarantee me that Clarkson would see the workload that he has in the last two games, he might be the play of the night. Unfortunately for fantasy, Byron Scott oftentimes has other plans – as does Kobe Bryant. Still, against the 76ers there is always room for upside, and Clarkson has plenty of it at only $5.1k.
C.J. McCollum, SG, POR ($6,600): If Damian Lillard sits tonight, McCollum will probably be in all of my lineups. He looked solid in the point guard role last night, and will get to face an ancient Dallas team on the second night of a back-to-back. I love the spot, his price, and his skill set.
Joe Johnson, SF, BKN ($5,200): I probably won’t play any Joe Johnson, but I figured I would list him if you need a third small forward option on the night. His efficiency has been terrible this season, so scoring will likely be an issue, though he is a triple-double threat any given night.
Zach Randolph, PF, MEM ($6,100): Randolph returned in the Grizzlies’ last game, and put up 30 DraftKings points despite not shooting well from the field at all. I expect him to have a better rhythm this time out, and he should find things a bit easier against the free flowing Pelicans.
Jon Leuer, PF, PHX ($3,500): With Tyson Chandler unlikely to play tonight, Leuer becomes my preferred value at power forward. In his past three games, Leuer has seen at least 23 minutes twice; both times he put up at least 20 DraftKings points. Chandler’s absence benefits plenty of Suns, mostly T.J. Warren, but Leuer should have a great shot at seeing 20 minutes against a bad Nets team, making him a solid punt option.
Thaddeus Young, PF, BKN ($7,100): Young has been magnificently consistent for the Nets, hitting at least 30 DraftKings points in nine straight games. A matchup with the fast-paced Suns bodes well for that streak to continue, making him a solid mid-tier value.
Jahlil Okafor, C, PHI ($6,600): Center is loaded tonight, so you may want to double-up on the big guys for this slate. Okafor is a solid option because of his guaranteed workload and matchup, though Roy Hibbert is capable of wreaking havoc for opposing bigs any given night.
LOTTERY TICKETS – 5 Tournaments Options
Jarett Jack, PG, BKN ($6,100): When Jack is good, 40+ DraftKings points are well within reach. When he’s not? Well, he is simply bad, and we will leave it at that. The matchup with the Suns provides an opportunity for him to be the former.
Hollis Thompson, SG, PHI ($3,900): Thompson has been a solid play in his last four games, nailing 20 DraftKings points in each. Against the Lakers awful defense, there is the opportunity for more, but he is a nice value to plug into tournament lineups.
T.J. Warren, SF, PHX ($4,500): Warren’s workload is ever-changing, but if he sees the 30+ minutes he has garnered over his last two, he is an across-the-board value play. I still don’t trust that he has earned such a role, so I am regulating him to tournaments for now due to his proximity to Jerami Grant in price.
Nerlens Noel, PF, PHI ($5,800): Obviously you will want to see if Noel is playing tonight before plugging him in, but if he does there probably isn’t a better upside option relative to price. At sub-$6k, Noel offers 40 DraftKings points worth of upside, and could get there easily against the Lakers.
Nikola Vucevic, C, ORL ($6,600): When he is rolling, Vucevic is an $8k player. Now that the Scott Skiles experience has settled down a bit, we can get somewhat of a feel for Vucevic’s minutes, which appear to be safely in the 30’s. He is a tournament-only option for me due to his coach and the other values present, but if he performs like we are used to, he will be a fantastic option tonight.
BUYER’S REMORSE – Reasons for Skepticism
Robert Covington, SF, PHI ($6,700): I still love Covington long-term, and he is going to be the chalk play tonight, but I would much rather pay up for LeBron in this spot. Covington has racked up an average of 7 steals per game over his three-game streak of dominance, which is unsustainable; his dramatic rise in price is another reason I am off of him tonight despite the good matchup.
Karl-Anthony Towns, C, MIN ($6,900): Sam Mitchell refuses to play KAT more than 28 minutes as of late, so I can’t justify putting him in my lineup.