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Instead of the usual take/avoid/consider I’m going to dedicate more than a few lines of analysis for most players on the slate. If I don’t list someone then I don’t like them. It may be because of an unreliable amount of playing time, bad matchup, combination of the two, etc. Then I’m going to do a rapid fire round for a few other guys where I keep it short and simple.
It can be a bit difficult to develop a strong lineup on nights like these. The smaller 2-3 game slates are often easier because you can really take your time and analyze each guy since there are so few choices. The larger slates with 10+ games have so much variance that, as long as you find a few good picks, you’ll likely cash in on most of your games.
On 4-5 game nights I like to take a different approach. I make my team with a few studs from the high O/U and tight spread games. Then I throw in a few punts from the larger spread games in hopes that they see more playing time.
Different methods work for different people. The one fact about DFS is that there is no perfect way to play. You can study lineup outcomes and develop a general lineup formula, but everyone goes about things differently. That’s really what makes this so much fun and what gives this community such a great name.
So let’s take a look at a few of my favorite plays.
Pau Gasol - I noticed something pretty interesting when I was looking through Pau’s game logs. He has some of his best games when he gets to the free throw line. That may seem like an obvious conclusion to make, but it has a huge impact on his value. In games where he goes to the line 10+ times, he has an 80% chance to hit 5X value. I’m not one to call out favoritism, but at home Pau averages 5.4 FT attempts per game compared to 4.6 away from home. The San Antonio Spurs, Tiago Splitter and Aron Baynes in particular, are prone to getting into foul trouble. The Bulls are one of the best teams in the NBA in drawing fouls. That being said, Pau has only averaged 4 attempts per game since Noah’s injury. Both Chicago and San Antonio are top ten in rebounds and rebounds allowed per game. Something has to give. Gasol is averaging 35 minutes a game at home. With unfavorable matchups at the wing and point positions, Gasol is likely to be one of the highest scoring plays on the night. He’s averaging about 16 FGA/game, but I suspect he will see more tonight.
Tim Duncan - The numbers tell us that this is the best possible matchup in the game. But when we look a little closer those numbers can be misleading. If you’re looking at season long stats then sure, the Bulls are among the worst at defending opposing forwards. However, since Taj Gibson has entered the starting lineup, those numbers have changed. What I noticed the most is that forwards who typically get FP by scoring and rebounding are forced to pass the ball more often. Nene dropped 8 times against the Bulls, his most on the season by far. Millsap’s story is the same with 6 assists. Tim is definitely a good passer but I’m not a huge fan of taking a player that is reliant on stats atypical to their position. He isn’t seeing enough minutes to be a reliable option even on this small slate.
Jimmy Butler - His price has dropped significantly but his minutes haven’t. Despite a less than desirable matchup in this one there is a lot of opportunity to score. He gets his FP in a number of ways which always makes for a more reliable pick. With the Bulls struggling to find success on the offensive end, Jimmy Buckets might end up dropping buckets tonight. He’s averaging 14 shots a game since Joakim has been out but he just doesn’t seem to have the same spark that he did at the beginning of the month. I like him to hit value in this one but there isn’t a whole lot to support that decision. He’s the priciest SG on the board so maybe you’ll be better off fading him for a cheaper option.
Kawhi Leonard - All I can say is come get it while it’s hot! Leonard is on fire right now in terms of value. It’s a rarity at the SF position to find someone so fairly priced. The Bulls don’t do a very good job at defending the SF position so Leonard makes for a perfect play. Popovich has been strict with his playing time, keeping him right at 30 minutes. I look for that cap to be removed soon if not tonight. Kawhi is far too talented and provides a fresh set of legs for one of the oldest teams in the NBA. He is my favorite play at the position so he’ll likely find his way onto all of my rosters.
- I like Derrick Rose a lot in this one. It wasn’t his fault they were embarrassed by the Cavaliers.
- Taj Gibson’s price has risen too high for my liking, I’ll be fading him.
- Tony Parker is a roller coaster of production. GPP only.
- Danny Green and Manu Ginobli don’t have a lot of upside in this one. I’m fading Green but considering Manu for cash games. So reliable.
- Boris Diaw and Tiago Splitter bore me so I’m going to avoid them, but you can probably choose one for a punt. I’d prefer Diaw.
Derrick Favors - If you’re looking for a 35+ FP performance without spending over $9k, then look no further. Favors will draw a nice matchup against Johnny O’Bryant. This is the same Milwaukee team that allowed Pau Gasol to go off for 46 pts and 18 rebs just a couple of weeks ago. However his upside may be capped with Enes Kanter looking better and better with every game played. This isn’t going to be a very pretty game, so I expect Favors to pull down well over 10 rebounds. Combine that with a couple of put backs and he’s looking like a nice option.
Brandon Knight - This guy is a prolific ball thief, averaging over 3 steals a game in January. He also gets to the line every night and rebounds more than the average guard. The only knocks on his game are his tendencies to foul and turn the ball over. The Jazz haven’t been playing very good defense lately and will be playing in their second away game of a back to back series. With Knight having scored 20 points in three consecutive games, I see no reason that he can’t go for 4 in a row.
Enes Kanter and Rudy Gobert - It looks like the Utah coaching staff has been adamant in giving Kanter his original role in the starting lineup. That happened to pay off last night as he posted the best line of his career. Gobert didn’t play poorly by any means, but he didn’t see the minutes necessary to make him worth his price. A couple of weeks ago Gobert was a lock for most lineups. Tonight I’ll probably be fading him in favor of Kanter. Kanter’s 33 minutes played was the most on the team last night against Cleveland.
Trey Burke - What a terrible shooting performance last night. 1-10 from the field is pretty ugly. Burke has usually found a way to get the job done but he failed on that front against the Cavs. His price is still low enough to make him worth a look. Don’t let his last performance scare you too badly. The Bucks perimeter defense is no joke but Burke is a great passer, so he’ll likely return to his normal usage tonight.
- Gordon Hayward is too pricey for me, especially in cash games. He could be a decent GPP play though.
- Zaza Pachulia isn’t a pretty option as his upside has gone down with the improving health of the guys around him. He should hit 4X value tonight at the least.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo is a hard name to spell. But his price has plummeted! So he’s worth a look now for sure.
- Khris Middleton and O.J. Mayo are locks for 4-5X value.
Damian Lillard - He had a rough time shooting the ball against Phoenix last night. 6-22 from the field isn’t anything to write home about. But those 22 shots are a promising sight. Aldridge is still out for this one so someone will need to score. Wes Matthews and Nicolas Batum picked up a good amount of slack, though. The Celtics have a couple of great defensive guards in Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart. This will limit Lillard’s upside a little, but not enough to fade him immediately. I would consider him for GPP purposes but I’m avoiding him in cash games.
Jared Sullinger - Thomas Robinson is no pushover, but Sullinger can handle him. He has the range and size to push around the Portland big men. I think he ends up getting the most out of Aldridge’s absence. It will be interesting to see how many minutes Sully can get. I expect him to hit 30 because this is bound to be a rough game without him inside. For that reason, he becomes a solid play. He has hit at least 4X value in his last 6 contests and I look for that to continue.
Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum - Looks like they both escaped their shooting slumps. Just in time too! Matthews doesn’t draw a very favorable matchup as Bradley will likely be on him, however, Batum’s matchup looks wonderful. Both guys are up for consideration but I’d much rather have Batum.
- Evan Turner does a little bit of everything. I’d like to see a few more games out of him before deeming him a solid cash game option, but I’m thinking he’s already there.
- Chris Kaman has a good matchup and makes for great value at C tonight.
- Kelly Olynyk and Marcus Smart have been quite reliable lately. Punt at will!
Blake Griffin - I don’t want to gush too much. If I tell you my honest opinion and then Blake plays poorly or goes out in the 3rd quarter and doesn’t return, I’ll look like an idiot. Oh well. What’s new? Blake Griffin is my MUST PLAY of the night. If you don’t have him in your lineup you should just withdraw all of the money from your DFS accounts and quit the game… I’m kidding, but he’s seriously my favorite option. Kevin Garnett isn’t likely to play much. Lopez and Teletovic have never heard of the word ‘defense’. The Clippers are at home after a few days of rest. I’m loving the potential here. The Nets have been competitive enough to keep all of their games close, so I’m confident Blake will hit his 35+ average in playing time. Just for kicks I’m going to predict his stat line. 26 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals – That’s hard to pass up!
Chris Paul - Chris has found himself in a funk. He’ll bounce out of that funk eventually, there’s no doubt, but will it be in this game? I’m not so sure. As the most expensive PG option tonight I’m likely going to fade him. I’m not a huge fan of uncertainty, especially not when it’s accompanied by a hefty price tag.
DeAndre Jordan - Hey DJ, how it’s goin? Oh it’s goin good I just logged 6 blocks against the Celtics a few days ago! The Nets are coming in after a late night game against the Kings where DeMarcus Cousins was able to ring in 14 rebounds. Mason Plumlee finished the game with a whopping goose egg in the rebounds column, so we’re lead to believe that every board will belong to DJ. As if it didn’t already. If you ignore the bad matchup he had against Sacramento, his recent performances are very promising. Then you look at his price and he becomes a fantastic option for GPP in particular.
Brook Lopez - He played 38 minutes against the Kings last night and finished with a team high 22 points. The Clippers, Blake in particular, lack the ability to properly defend forwards. They just aren’t physical enough. Lopez comes with a bit of risk but I believe he’ll make a good play. There aren’t good matchups anywhere else for the Nets aside from maybe Joe Johnson on Matt Barnes. If the Nets truly are shopping Lopez, they may very well give him another 30+ minute game.
- Mason Plumlee just isn’t worth it after last night. DJ will destroy him.
- Jarret Jack is a little older and maybe a little stiffer after last night’s game. His price is a little steep for my tastes but you can still play him if you want.
- Joe Johnson has a good matchup as he usually starts at SF for Brooklyn now. I wish the DFS sites would reflect that reality.
- Matt Barnes is a good punt despite his poor showing against Boston.
- Why is Bojan Bogdanovic still near minimum price? If you’re wanting to fit Gasol and Griffin into your lineup, take this guy as well.
Good luck today folks!
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