The DraftKings Tiers championship is tonight meaning we have one of the more important Tiers Talks of the year. Let’s get right to it…
(Players listed in order of preference)
LeBron James, Nikola Jokic, Kyrie Irving
Tier 1 is the LeBron James tier with Nikola Jokic as the GPP pivot. As good of a matchup as it is for Kyrie Irving he just doesn’t carry the floor or ceiling of Bron and Joker. Ultimately, LeBron is the cash and “best” choice as the Lakers are without Kyle Kuzma and potentially Brandon Ingram. LeBron will need to do just about everything on the offensive end, which typically leads to fantasy production. Jokic carries elite upside because of the matchup but his production has been down a touch of late with the Nuggets almost at full strength. Hard to pass on LeBron in this tier.
Ben Simmons, Trae Young, Julius Randle, Donovan Mitchell
Tier 2 is also fairly straightforward with Ben Simmons leading the pack. In four career games against the Bulls Simmons has never been under 50 fantasy points. That coincides with Simmons’ current three-game 50+ fantasy point streak. This is an elite matchup and I fully expect another 50-burger from Simmons here, he’ll rightfully be the highest owned in this tier. My favorite GPP pivot is Trae Young. The Spurs are a bottom three team against primary ball-handlers, pass-first PGs, and scorers, which are all three categories I’d argue Young qualifies for. This is an elite matchup where he carries elite upside, the reason for Simmons over Young is because Simmons has the much safer floor.
DeMar DeRozan, Lauri Markkanen, Rudy Gobert, Devin Booker, D’Angelo Russell
Tier 3 is where things start to get a bit trickier as a decent case can be made for four of the five players listed. Right off the bat, I’m off on DLo simply because the Nets are too healthy. His minutes and production are down since Dinwiddie returned, he’s not worth the risk for me. Ultimately, my favorite in this tier is DeMar DeRozan and that is due to his beautiful Atlanta matchup. DDR has been over 45 DK points in four of his last six games and with the Spurs, a bit undermanned I don’t see why or how he’s under that threshold tonight. Lauri Markkanen is my favorite pivot off of DeRozan. After Lauri’s strong run of production for the banged-up Bulls, he’s cooled down a bit of late. Still, the shot attempts are there and the Sixers provide increased pace and a weak defensive frontcourt. It wouldn’t shock me to see Lauri go off in this one with what I expect to be fairly low ownership. I don’t love Gobert but he’s a safe target against the Pelicans. Booker is a GPP only pivot strictly because of his lovely Knicks matchup. Suns vs Knicks is some terrible basketball however it does provide DFS appeal.
LaMarcus Aldridge, Kevin Love, Tobias Harris, Zach Lavine, Jimmy Butler, Jrue Holiday
Tier 4 trumps Tier 3 as all five guys listed are worth considering. Starting with Butler and Lavine. While they’re listed as my fourth and fifth targets I seriously have no qualms rostering either. Butler has an interesting Bulls narrative to consider, ultimately I worry about the back to back and his sore back. That typically isn’t an ideal combo. Lavine benefits from the pace-up nature the Sixers provide however his floor doesn’t match up with the players listed above and ultimately the Sixers have held scorers like Lavine in check ranking 13th in Advanced DvP. The Bulls get torched by bigs and Tobias Harris has been en fuego of late. I expect Harris to carry some decent ownership, he’s a strong target in this tier. Ultimately this tier came down to Aldridge vs Love for me with me slightly leaning Aldridge. BOTH are in ELITE matchups as Kevin Love gets to feast off of the Nets front-court. Aldridge is in a prime Atlanta matchup. Aldridge gets the slight edge because of the Spurs lack of depth in the front-court with Poeltl out. I expect Atlanta to hang around in this game meaning Aldridge will likely get 36+ elite minutes of production compared to Love’s 28-33. I do think Love will carry low ownership so he’s a strong GPP option as I’m never opposed to targeting bigs against my Nets.
DeAndre Ayton, Anthony Davis, Buddy Hield, De’Aaron Fox, Otto Porter Jr, Paul Millsap, Mitchell Robinson, Al Horford
Anthony Davis’ 46+ DK points vs Utah last game sort of throws a wrench in this tier as that proves he’s targetable. As frustrating as it is to target someone who will only play 20 minutes, he’s a decent bet for 40 DK points. That being said, 40-49 is his ceiling with him a likely candidate to producer around 30-37 DK points. He’s GPP only. Buddy Hield and De’Aaron Fox also complicate this tier. Hield has been AWESOME of late and has consistently produced over 30+ fantasy points. Hield is a safe target that offers a higher ceiling than Fox. The Boston matchup doesn’t do either of them any favors, but Boston has regressed defensively on the second of a back to back. I’m off on Porter, Millsap, and Horford. All are capable of getting there but if I’m looking to take a massive risk in this tier, I’d fully send it with Mitchell Robinson. Yes, DeAndre Jordan is going to play but even 25 minutes of Mitchell Robinson can yield you 40+ DK points. He will likely be under 10% owned. He’s ONLY an extreme GPP risk if playing multiple lineups. DeAndre Ayton matched up against the Knicks is the clear frontrunner in this tier and expect him to be the highest owned by a good amount. Ayton’s usage has been up, which has led to a production bump and the Knicks are terrible, not much else really needs to be said.
Rajon Rondo, Willie Caulie-Stein, Derrick Favors, Kelly Oubre Jr, Dennis Smith Jr, Jamal Murray, Larry Nance Jr, Joe Ingles
Right off the bat Jamal Murray, Larry Nance, and Joe Ingles are off my radar in Tier 6. While Ingles has shown strong production his last five games, I don’t think he carries the upside or floor we’re looking for. Murray has shown the little upside of late with the Nuggets at full strength and Larry Nance is only usable if Kevin Love is scratched. Dennis Smith Jr. is an extreme GPP pivot with an elite matchup vs the Suns. While I LOVE the matchup, his minutes have been under 30 in his last four outings, which limits his ceiling. He’ll be low owned and if Fizdale gives him more run, he could smash this tier but it’s a bit of a long shot, thus making him GPP only. Kelly Oubre and Derrick Favors have both been sneaky good producers of late and it wouldn’t shock me if either of them sat atop this tier. Both are in elite spots as the Knicks would struggle to contain me to 30 DK points and the Pelicans get torched by opposing bigs. Both have risk though as Favors sometimes cedes to other Jazz players and thus sees fewer minutes and Kelly Oubre is well…Kelly Oubre. I think the safest best for 30 DK points is Willie Caulie-Stein. Ultimately we want more than 30 DK points but Stein’s minutes are up without Bagley and the Celtics are a bad rebounding team. He carries some upside. I have WCS, Favors, and Oubre as a coin-flip with me putting WCS ahead of both simply because of the higher floor. Rajon Rondo is the leader for me in this tier as after LeBron he’s potentially the only other Laker that can create. The Nuggets are a top defensive team but have struggled vs opposing PGs. They have a respectable ranking of 12th vs pass-first PGs, but Rondo’s potential usage and minutes outweigh that. Since rejoining the starting lineup, Rondo has 48.75, 48, 18, and 60.5 DK points. No one in this tier carries that sort of upside.
Stefano Vaccarino is the NBA Product Manager for The Quant Edge. Formerly known as Rotodamus NBA on Twitter, Stefano provides consistently accurate NBA insights and predictions. His perception of the game and understanding of analytics allows him to identify profitable NBA situations.