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It takes three things to be successful in DFS. Understanding the numbers, having some guts and a good bit of luck. You can spend hours and hours analyzing every statistic, creating spreadsheets and making projections but it’s not always enough. Sometimes your gut is telling you to play that guy that’s only started in on game this season, but hey, he did finish with 40 points. Luck is just something that we, sadly, can’t account for. Maybe you needed a punt (low priced guy) in your lineup so you could fit in a stud and guess what? He scored better than that stud.
The picks I make here rely largely on numbers because they’re what matter most, they’re the one thing we can rely on. When you find those special patterns and begin to recognize what it takes to be create a consistently successful lineup, that’s when you have the most fun. I’ll handle the number crunching. The gut feelings and rabbit feet are on your responsibility.
There are a lot of games on tonight’s slate so I realize I may leave a couple of names off. With so many good plays tonight I’ll try to focus on the best/worst of each group. You may notice that I’m a proponent of starting a pair of teammates.
If you have any questions, comments or concerns feel free to contact me via Twitter.
Studs – Chris Paul and Jeff Teague - Chris Paul is one of my biggest must plays of the night. The Cavaliers are allowing their opponents to shoot 47% from the field which is 2nd worst in the NBA. Paul is shooting 40% from beyond the arc this season and currently sits in 5th for assists/game at 10. With Cleveland coming off of a late night contest with the Los Angeles Lakers, Paul will have no trouble doing what he likes.
Teague is an interesting option. The Atlanta Hawks are on an absolute tear right now. They lost both of their matchups with the Toronto Raptors earlier in the year so you know they’re aching to take this one. They look infinitely better now than they did in their earlier matchups and I doubt we see any late scratches. Teague shot 58% from the field in their meetings earlier in the year and dished out 20 assists as well. It will be a fast paced, high scoring contest with plenty of opportunity to rack up fantasy points. He’s a perfect option at his price.
Honorable mentions include Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook and Damian Lillard. Some of you may notice that in my original edition I had Westbrook listed as a dud. With Golden State resting some guys, the game seems like it will be much closer.
Dud – Kyle Lowry - The Atlanta Hawks pride themselves in playing shut down defense. With the Raptors winning the series vs. the Hawks 2-0, I look for Atlanta to be the aggressors in this one. DeMar DeRozan has returned to the starting lineup and Lowry's price has yet to reflect that. His usage and scoring will likely drop even in this run'n'gun game. With all of the potential value surrounding him, it makes sense to fade him.
Give me more Mo! If you were smart and/or lucky enough to have Mo Williams on your roster this past Tuesday, you probably found yourself making some money. He’s seen a flurry of great matchups as of late and the trend continues tonight against a soft Phoenix team. In his recent meeting with the Suns, which was early last week, Mo hit 10X value as he knocked down 4 treys and dished out 11 assists. Combine him with a stud guard and you’re sittin’ in the money.
Collison is an intriguing pick but my love for him is tentative. He hasn’t been outstanding lately but there is consistency in his game. He’s listed here because of the injuries to Rudy Gay and Ben McLemore. I expect Ben to play but if Gay misses any time Collison would get a bump in minutes. The Sacramento pace will likely clash with the slow, plodding pace of the Miami Heat. That being said, Chalmers and Cole aren’t defensive specialists so Darren has nice upside for his price.
Trey Burke is guaranteed a solid amount of minutes. Since the injury to Burks Trey has averaged nearly 35 minutes a game. His price has plateaued a little because of his recent performance, but he’s very consistent and has the potential to make it rain. With a floor of about 25 points, his upside is looking really nice against a Los Angeles Lakers team allowing more points to guards than anyone else. With Enes Kanter returning to the lineup we can expect Burke’s assist numbers to rise. He’s a very safe option tonight.
Studs – Tyreke Evans, Victor Oladipo, DeMar DeRozan - It looks like Jrue Holiday is going to sit another one out. I don’t believe he’ll need to play against the Philadelphia 76ers for the New Orleans Pelicans to get a win. That means Tyreke is going to get plenty of minutes and thus plenty of touches. The 76ers are the second worst team at defending opposing guards so, at his price, Evans is a great option. If Anthony Davis sits he becomes one of my favorite plays.
Victor Oladipo has been on fire lately. With Tobias Harris already ruled out for this matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies, he definitely deserves a look. There is an initial concern about Tony Allen sliding over to guard him but neither Jimmy Butler nor James Harden could slow him down. I think he’s a must start at his current price tag.
DeMar DeRozan looked like he hadn’t missed a stride when he returned to the court on Wednesday. Given he was facing the lowly 76ers, but he finished 9-14 from the field in 29 minutes of playing time. He has another favorable matchup with the Atlanta Hawks, especially with Kyle Korver questionable. He averaged 20 points per game in their two meetings already this year. Nice value.
Dud – Jimmy Butler and Kobe Bryant - Jimmy Buckets was a must own just a couple of weeks ago. Now that he’s made a name for himself, opposing teams make it a priority to lock him down. His price has risen too high for me to feel comfortable rostering him. He hasn’t hit 5X value since New Year’s Day. With Joakim Noah out now he has a chance to pick up some additional stats, but I’m going to wait and see if that happens before taking a chance.
Kobe would be a nice option if he were to see more minutes. He may not even suit up for this one considering it’s the second of a back to back. Even if he gets the nod, he won’t be worth the price. A minutes cap and a bad matchup aren’t a recipe for success.
I won’t go into detail about any of these matchups as the story for each of them is very similar. Good matchups, plenty of minutes, all are great scorers and locks to hit 4X with 6X upside. I listed them in the order I like them from most to least but all are good choices.
Studs – LeBron James, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins - LeBron is going to be playing his second game in two nights but he had a few weeks to rest, right? He’s the most consistent and highest scoring option at the position. He’ll likely draw Matt Barnes which is the best matchup we could hope for. If you’re comfortable with his price tag then go ahead and take him.
Draymond can stuff the stat sheet in a number of ways. For this reason he has one of the highest floors at the position. His most recent game against the Heat was nothing more than an anomaly. Early foul trouble and a bad matchup were to blame. He seems to play to the level of his opponent which is great because tonight he’ll be taking on Kevin Durant and the Thunder. I am confident he will return to form. Green has hit 5X value in each of his meetings with the Thunder so we can safely assume it will happen again tonight.
Wiggins is probably my least favorite of this group but I had to list him here. I do like Mo Williams tonight, but I doubt he drops another 50 bomb. Wiggins will need to score against a Phoenix team that likes to run and knows how to put points on the board. He has a soft matchup with P.J. Tucker and Gerald Green likely given the task of guarding him. In his meeting with the Suns last week, Wiggins went 10-16 from the field for 25 points. He’s a mid-priced option you can feel comfortable taking.
Kevin Durant is a very interesting option tonight. Even though the Thunder lost badly last night to the Houston Rockets, Durant looked pretty good as he did 8-12 shots, 4 of which came from beyond the arc. The spread on the game now makes for a great matchup but he is still very pricey, and therefore comes with risk.
Duds – Gordon Hayward, and Chandler Parsons - It’s simple. These guys are performing way below their given prices. Hayward has a good matchup but I’m not expecting him to hit 5X his price so he’s therefore unworthy of my love. Parsons just isn’t playing well.
Not really buying into Nicolas Batum either, but his game vs. the Clippers might have been an anomaly.
Gold Mines – K.J. McDaniels and DeMarre Carroll - I understand these guys aren’t minimum priced but I’m not liking the variance at the bottom of the pile. McDaniels has averaged 30 minutes in his last 6 contests. He’s also putting up .8 fantasy points per minute. Do the simple math and he’s guaranteed to hit 5X value. I’ll buy the over on that considering Tyreke will be running the point so he’ll find himself lined up against Eric Gordon or Dante Cunningham.
Carroll has been playing really well lately and should do just fine in this matchup with the Raptors. If Korver is out his stock rises even higher. He can shoot the ball well, rebound and pass. The fast pace and high O/U for this game make this pick look promising.
P.J. Tucker, Jonas Jerebko, Kyle Singler and Jerami Grant are bottom of the pile picks. As I mentioned above there is a certain amount of variance to account for, so don’t roster them and expect a high floor. But the value is there nonetheless.
Studs – LaMarcus Aldridge, Pau Gasol and Zach Randolph - Aldridge looked like a man among boys during Wednesday’s game against the Clippers. He was obviously the superior forward in that game, having his way with Blake Griffin. Tim Duncan is known for his fundamentals but not his defense. In Portland’s last trip to San Antonio they found themselves in a triple OT, but pulled out the win. Aldridge’s numbers may seem a bit inflated for that reason, but he will surely dominate the weak interior of San Antonio.
Joakim Noah is out until further notice so Pau Gasol will have to play even harder. I’m not sure if that’s possible, but it’s lovely for DFS players. The Boston Celtics are a poor defensive team, especially down low, and they like to run the ball. For that reason, Gasol should be able to score and rebound at will. This will be Chicago’s 4th meeting with Boston this season and Pau is already averaging 21 points and 13 rebounds against them. Gasol has the highest ceiling of anyone on the night I believe.
Zach Randolph’s matchup is just as, if not more, favorable than Gasol’s. With Tobias Harris ruled out, Randolph will find Devyn Marble or Channing Frye across from him. With Mike Conley questionable with an ankle injury it’s likely that ZBo will need to handle some additional scoring responsibility. Since his return from injury, Randolph is averaging 19 points and 14 rebounds a game. His floor alone is enough to roster him.
Again I listed these guys in the order that I like them. This is not the rank in which I believe they’ll score, but the value I believe they will hit from highest to lowest. All are seeing a solid amount of minutes, a couple will take advantage of injuries. None of them have bad matchups. If you’re looking for a cheap option or guaranteed 5X any of these guys will do the job.
Studs – DeMarcus Cousins, Nikola Vucevic, Al Horford - I’m appalled at the lack of MVP talk surrounding Cousins. He’s been THE most impressive player this season. I’m possibly a bit biased (GO CATS!) but he’s averaging 25 points, 14 rebounds and 5 assists in the past two weeks. Add that to 2 steals and 2 blocks per game, shooting 85% from the free throw line and you’ve got an absolute stud. He’s the safest play on the night and should be able to destroy the likes of Hassan Whiteside. If Rudy Gay is out he’s likely my favorite play next to Pau and Paul. Pau, Paul and Cousins…sounds like a law firm.
Vucevic deserves another look with Tobias Harris out. Vucevic and Oladipo have made an incredibly dangerous duo the past few days. His matchup isn’t all that pretty with Marc Gasol defending the rim, but Gasol hasn’t been himself lately. He allowed Mason Plumlee to score 15 points and grab 9 boards. Risky option for the price, but I’m betting it pays off.
Horford took the night off Wednesday as him teammates had little trouble with the 76ers. He’ll likely use his fresh legs to dominate the paint tonight against Toronto. I don’t see Jonas Valanciunas stopping him. For his price he’s probably the best bang for your buck at the center position.
Duds – Marc Gasol and Andre Drummond - Same story for both of these guys. They’re just not playing up to par. For that kind of money you can find a better play. Gasol has a decent matchup but it’s far too risky. Drummond’s matchup isn’t nearly as enticing and he’s coming off of a 10 fantasy point performance. Stay away!
Avoiding Mason Plumlee as well.
Gold Mines – Rudy Gobert, Hassan Whiteside and Jusuf Nurkic - Even if Enes Kanter draws the start, Gobert will likely see more minutes. He’ll be taking on the Lakers in their second game in two nights so it’s a beautiful matchup. I don’t understand why Gobert’s price hasn’t skyrocketed. Cash in while you can.
Nurkic doesn’t see many minutes but he has one of the best fantasy point per minute averages. If Chandler is active we may want to downgrade Nurkic slightly, but I still think he’s worth a look.
Stay tuned for updates. There are trade rumors surrounding Brook Lopez, Jarret Jack and Lance Stephenson among others. If anything happens today that affects the value of players listed above I’ll be sure to account for the changes.
Good luck out there today!
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