Welcome to the James Harden slate! We have an eight-game NBA DFS slate, let’s get right to it…
Note: Chris Paul news came toward the end of the completion of this article. Keep in mind Harden when reading about some high priced targets I mentioned as they were likely written pre-CP3 news.
Charlotte Hornets @ Washington Wizards (o/u 232, WAS -3.5)
Charlotte is 21st in defensive rating, 8th in pace.
Washington is 26th in defensive rating, 19th in pace.
This will be the fourth and final meeting of the regular season between these two teams and as has been the case every time, this matchup carries a lot of appeal. Cody Zeller is considered doubtful tonight.
Starting with Kemba Walker, he flopped as “chalk” last match up vs Washington which will likely lower his ownership a touch even after a monster outing vs Houston is last game. Kemba has sort of become a boom-or-bust option in the 2nd half of the DFS season, but by now we know the Wizards provide a boom spot for him. Kemba is priced fairly at both spots with his DK $8200 price tag providing more of a ceiling. He’s a top target that carries elite upside but also some risk.
Last game vs Houston with no Zeller it was Willy Hernangomez who got the start and saw the majority of minutes. Charlotte went small a lot and there is a good chance of that happening tonight but at minimum price and a 1+ FPPM producer, Willy is an elite value to consider vs Washington.
Frank Kaminsky should also see increased minutes, I don’t particularly trust him but he’s a usable value. My fear is that Charlotte will stagger the minutes at center with Frank, Willy, and Marvin Williams when Washington goes with Portis at center, which could affect Frank’s minutes.
The Charlotte big with the most secure minutes is Marvin Williams and he carries an elite DK price of $4700. I’d expect Marvin to be on the higher owned side on both sites as the Wizards provide an elite matchup. Williams is averaging 36.03 FD and 37.08 DK points in three matchups vs Washington on the year. He provides strong cap relief and elite upside.
Nic Batum and Jeremy Lamb are more so secondary middle priced targets that provide upside. I don’t trust either of them but the Wizards provide a ceiling spot for them. I’d expect Lamb to be on the high owned side as he put up a 50 burger in his last matchup vs Washington. I’d imagine Batum will be on the lower owned side after being a “chalk” late scratch vs Houston. Batum is safer, Lamb carries a better ceiling.
This is also an elite spot for the Wizards as the Hornets have regressed defensively in the second half of the season to the point where they are a premier team to attack in DFS now. Trevor Ariza is questionable.
Bradley Beal is a stud and is priced as one on FD. Still, I don’t mind paying up for Beal at $10800 as the Hornets rank 27th in Advanced DvP vs opposing scorers and 25th vs opposing superstars. This is an elite matchup for Beal to build off of his impressive production. On DK priced at $9500, Beal is an elite target who provides legit 60+ point upside with minimal risk at under $10k. Beal will be a priority in my DK lines. Update: With CP3 out Beal is less of a priority for me on DK, still an elite play.
Predicting the minutes at center for the Wizards has been a bit tricky but I fully expect Bobby Portis to handle the majority of the minutes tonight. The Hornets have been getting shelled by centers for the last month and attacking them with bigs is something we must continue to do as we wrap of the regular season. Portis’ position on the Hornets varies as he’s the “center” but he’s more of a stretch 4 and a rebounder. The Hornets rank 23rd vs stretch 4’s and 30th vs rebounding centers. Portis is an elite GPP target tonight.
If Trevor Ariza can’t go, that would secure some minutes for both Jabari Parker and Jeff Green, who is a bit safer because of his price, but Parker carries the more appealing upside. Both are worth considering with Green a borderline elite target if Ariza can’t go.
With that being said, Thomas Bryant is a cheap GPP high upside center to target. Bryant would likely see some added minutes if Ariza can’t go as the Wizards would shift up a touch more with Green at the “4.”
With his price up, I’m fine with targeting Tomas Satoransky but he’s far from a priority in my lines. On DK, Tomas carries some cash appeal priced at $5800 as he continues to play elite level minutes with 30ish+ fantasy point production. He’s a safe middle priced PG.
Sacramento Kings @ Philadelphia 76ers (o/u 231.5, PHI 10.5)
Sacramento is 17th in defensive rating, 1st in pace.
Philadelphia is 10th in defensive rating, 7th in pace.
The Kings head to Philly on a 2nd of a back to back in what should be a high scoring pace-fueled contest. One note of risk, the Kings have been brutal on back to back’s this year averaging almost 10 fewer points per game.
While I love this potential game environment almost EVERY Kings starter sees a production and minutes drop on back to backs. While that number is slightly skewed from an early season six-minute benching of his starters from Dave Joerger, the Kings have still consistently struggled and seen their minutes limited. The Kings are fighting for their playoff lives though so, in theory, we should see their regulars play normal minutes. Still, I’m off on the Kings as the back to back, Bagley’s return, and potential blowout concerns me.
For the Sixers, this is an elite matchup as attacking the Kings has typically been a sound strategy in DFS because of their pace. On FD, the risk for the Sixers is Jimmy Butler and Joel Embiid are both back and everyone is priced as if one of them were out. The Sixers are flush with pricey producers who eat into each other’s production and in a potential blowout spot with increased price tags I’m not really interested in any of them.
DK, however, has lowered most of the Sixers prices offering some interesting appeal. On DK, I’d rank the Sixers in order of preference as Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, JJ Redick, Jimmy Butler.
Joel Embiid priced under $10k is a glorious site and something we shouldn’t take for granted. Yes, he has risk, but he can still get there in three-quarters if this game gets out of hand and offers elite upside if this game stays close. Jimmy Butler is his biggest risk. Ben Simmons is also a bit cheap at $8500 one you factor in the Kings are THE team to attack in DFS with PGs. The Kings are 30th in DvP against pass first PGs.
Los Angeles Lakers @ Detroit Pistons (o/u 219.5, DET -9)
Los Angeles is 14th in defensive rating, 5th in pace.
Detroit is 12th in defensive rating, 27th in pace.
UPDATE: LeBron James is OUT
This is a matchup masked with uncertainty as Luke Walton last week stated LeBron’s minutes would be monitored and would likely sit on the second of back to backs. Well, tonight is a back to back for the Lakers and LeBron’s minutes have not really been monitored. I personally don’t think LeBron will play tonight. From a DFS perspective, while the Pistons are not an ideal team to attack in DFS because of their pace, the Lakers would offer elite value if some of their veterans rest.
IF LeBron rests than I think we can expect the baby Lakers to get the majority of playing time tonight. Both Alex Caruso and Moe Wagner would be intriguing values to target. When Wagner has gotten minutes, he has been fairly productive and priced at under $4k on both sites provides elite value. Caruso has played 25+ minutes in three of the last four games, I’m fairly certain there is a role for him in tonight’s game with or without LeBron. Caruso is an appealing value PG to consider and the Pistons position of weakness defensively is at PG.
No LeBron would likely mean Kyle Kuzma would become option A on offense. Kuzma is coming off of a rather disappointing outing last night. The Pistons rank 16th against stretch 4’s on the year. With LeBron off the court, Kuzma sees a 0.09 FD and 0.11 DK per minute production jump and a 6.21% usage bump. He’d have risk in a mediocre matchup, but he remains appealing priced when you factor in the potential usage bump.
Regardless of LeBron’s status, this is an elite spot for Pistons players as the Lakers have regressed tremendously on defense and continue to play at an elite pace. Just for fun, if LeBron does in fact rest the Lakers have actually improved slightly defensively in games he has not played. Still, it’s obvious that overall no LeBron would be a good thing for Pistons players.
After a dismal outing vs Miami where I hope we all rightly faded him I’m right back on the Andre Drummond train tonight. The Lakers rank 28th in Advanced DvP against rebounding centers and couple that with their pace and the prospect of potentially facing the Lakers bench should mean Drummond is in store for a monster outing. The Pistons have been a mess getting blown out in their last two games however Drummond’s per minute metrics have been there and his effort has passed the eye test. Drummond is an elite target and a tough fade on DK priced at $8800.
Blake Griffin has been absolutely brutal of late and his price is at an all-time low. I don’t trust him at all but the Lakers provide a great bounce-back ceiling spot for him at his down price. He’s an elite GPP target.
There is some uncertainty on Reggie Jackson’s status tonight and if he’s ultimately unable to play Ish Smith becomes an elite value target to consider. Ish would be close to a must for me matched up vs the Lakers pace and priced at $4000 on FD and $3900 on DK.
Portland Trail Blazers @ New Orleans Pelicans (o/u 235.5, POR -8)
Portland is 15th in defensive rating, 18th in pace.
New Orleans is 23rd in defensive rating, 4th in pace.
The Blazers are beneficiaries of New Orleans pace and lack of defense tonight and on the road I expect this game to stay fairly close throughout.
The Pelicans are 28th vs scorers and 23rd vs superstars in Advanced DvP but by now we know attacking them at PG is a sound strategy putting Damian Lillard firmly in play. Lillard is not a priority for me on either site, but the matchup is too good to ignore, he’s a top target.
CJ McCollum has been on a tear of late going for over 35+ fantasy points in six of his last eight games. On FD, I HATE his price at $8200. Is there upside? Sure, but CJ is the sort of player I much rather target on DK with the 3PT bonus and -0.5 turnovers. On DK, CJ is priced appealingly at $6800. There’s always some risk when targeting scoring dependent players but this is certainly a spot for CJ to score.
During the middle of the year, we saw Jusuf Nurkic explode from a production standpoint with CJ sort of declining. It appears that switch has flipped with CJ being the bigger focal point on offense as showcased with his high usage rating. This is still an elite spot for Nurk to produce but he carries lots of risk. He’s a strong GPP option.
If Mo Harkless is ruled out Jake Layman, Evan Turner, and Rodney Hood become usable punts. I’d consider them more FD free plays then DK punts.
The Blazers are the definition of an average matchup in DFS as they sort of play to their opponent’s pace and are an average defense. While there is some consistency in the Pelicans rotation now, most of their prices have come up making them a tricky team to target.
I’m an Elfrid Payton fan in DFS but on FD, it’s tough for me to spent $7600 on him in this matchup. On DK, even $6600 is a bit steep for me. Payton’s not a complete fade and I get the GPP appeal as he’s coming off of back to back triple-doubles, but he carries a lot more risk at his current price point.
Frank Jackson also continues to play heavy minutes and priced at $5k on FD and $4900 on DK, he’s usable but no longer a priority. Dollar for dollar, I’d prefer to spend on Jackson over Payton as the path to 6x upside is much easier at Jackson’s price with less risk.
While he’s been producing 40 fantasy points fairly consistently this isn’t the matchup where I want to target Anthony Davis at a slightly higher price point. He and his 20 minutes of elite production are extreme GPP only tonight, I just don’t see the ceiling even at $7100 on DK. There is an argument to be made AD on DK is worth considering in cash.
The same goes for Julius Randle who has failed to reach 40 fantasy points in four straight games. With Diallo seeing 12-20 minutes every night and Davis producing at almost a 2 FPPM clip, the peripheral stats just aren’t there for Randle to hit his ceiling. It’s tough for me to spend up on him.
Phoenix Suns @ Houston Rockets (o/u 225, HOU -13)
Phoenix is 29th in defensive rating, 11th in pace.
Houston is 22nd in defensive rating, 28th in pace.
While this game carries some blowout potential, we’ve seen the Suns starters play heavy minutes while trailing heavily. The Rockets have improved, but are still a bad defensive team, their slow pace isn’t ideal to attack, however. I have some, but minimal interest in Suns players tonight. Tyler Johnson is considered questionable.
UPDATE: Tyler Johnson ruled OUT
UPDATE: Chris Paul ruled OUT
No Chris Paul minimizes some blowout risk.
We’ve seen Devin Booker play up to his competition in the past and this provides that sort of situation. If Tyler Johnson is ruled out, Booker would likely see a strong usage bump as he’s seen a 6.8% increase with Johnson OFF the court the last 30 days. I don’t trust Booker but he’s a strong GPP target especially on DK.
Mikal Bridges and Josh Jackson would also become appealing values to consider if Johnson is ruled out. While De’Anthony Melton would likely get the start, the Suns would shift down for long spurts of the game with Booker at PG. Both Bridges and Jackson would likely see increased minutes in a plus-matchup at a down price. Melton would be a usable punt.
I’m a bit bitter at DeAndre Ayton after his flop vs the Jazz but Ayton remains priced appealing on DK at $6100. Typically, Ayton is a 30+ fantasy point producer, Ayton would carry a safe floor with some upside.
Kelly Oubre is also a bit too cheap on DK at $5900. While his production has been down a touch over his last two games I’d still consider him cheap on DK. Oubre has failed to reach 5x his current price tag just twice in his last ten games. We want more than 5x his price but the Rockets poor defense and Oubre’s down price provide some safety and upside.
The big news for the Rockets is that Chris Paul will rest tonight. I think we all know what that means…
James Harden is beyond an elite target tonight facing the 29th ranked defense in the NBA with no Chris Paul. By now we’re aware that Harden sees impressive metric bumps without CP3 but just for fun with CP3 OFF the court Harden sees a .35 FD and a .38 DK PPM increase with an 8.58% usage bump, which translates to 1.67 FD and 1.75 DK PPM and a 43.53 usage rating. Don’t be scared off by his $12500 FD price tag, I don’t need to convince you to play Harden at $11000 on DK. Don’t worry about ownership, plug in Harden and move on.
The other major beneficiary is Eric Gordon who sees a 0.16 FD and 0.2 DK PPM increase. Where Gordon really hits his ceiling is he runs the show when Harden is on the bench. With both CP3 and Harden OFF the floor, Gordon sees a 0.4 FD and 0.42 DK PPM increase with a 12.34% usage bump. Gordon will play 10 of his minutes at ELITE production in an ELITE matchup vs a Suns team that ranks 30th vs shooters. Gordon is an elite target at $5500 on FD and $4900 on DK. Expect high ownership.
The Suns provide an elite matchup for Clint Capela, ranking 30th vs rim protecting centers. Capela sees a minimal 0.06 PPM increase with CP3 OFF the floor, the real intrigue is with the matchup and his $7100 DK price tag. I’d expect Capela to be heavily owned.
Gerald Green becomes a usable punt at SF as he should see extended minutes with no CP3. He’s far from a must but he carries some upside.
Milwaukee Bucks @ Miami Heat (o/u 220, MIL -4)
Milwaukee is 1st in defensive rating, 6th in pace.
Miami is 8th in defensive rating, 25th in pace.
I, surprisingly, have very little interest in this game as the Heat’s pace and defense coupled with the plethora of producers on the Bucks make this a not so appealing game to target. I’m perfectly fine fading all Bucks players.
If you’re desperate for Bucks exposure, no one will play Giannis Antetokounmpo because of the matchup, price, and recent production which makes him an ideal GPP candidate. If I’m only playing one GPP line Giannis isn’t in it but if playing multiple lines I’m not against having some Giannis exposure.
For Miami, while this is a pace-up spot for them the Bucks are an elite defensive team, I don’t have much interest in Heat players.
One area where the Bucks have struggled recently is against scorers ranking 18th against them over their last 15 games. D Wade is currently questionable. If he’s ruled out, I’d have some Dion Waiters intrigue in GPPs.
Josh Richardson and Justise Winslow are two other players who would benefit from no Wade and the pace the Bucks provide. Both are priced right around $6k and both see minimal production and usage bumps. Neither would be a priority but both would be low owned targets at a down price in a decent spot.
New York Knicks @ San Antonio Spurs (o/u 216.5, SA -13)
New York is 27th in defensive rating, 17th in pace.
San Antonio is 20th in defensive rating, 22nd in pace.
We’ve got some major blowout potential in this one as the Spurs are at home against a truly terrible Knicks team. Dennis Smith Jr. is out for the Knicks tonight.
No DSJ should mean Emmanuel Mudiay will get the start and see heavy minutes at PG. Mudiay will be one of the highest owned targets on the slate as he’s priced at $4800 on FD and $4200 on DK in an elite spot vs a Spurs team that ranks 21st vs primary ball-handlers. Mudiay should see anywhere from 28-34 minutes as a 0.84 FD and 0.91 DK PPM producer with DSJ OFF the court. His only risk is Dave Fizdale.
The Dave Fizdale pivot off of Mudiay is Allonzo Trier. If Fizdale decides to go with Trier over the course of the game at PG over Mudiay, Trier will smash his price tags. Trier’s price makes him usable regardless of whether Mudiay plays more than him as he will see a slight minutes bump no matter what. I’d rather target Mudiay by a mile but Trier is interesting in GPPs.
I hate the Knicks frontcourt as Fizdale loves to mix and match the rotation and with Hezonja available to play tonight, we have a real opportunity to get Fizdaled. DeAndre Jordan is CHEAP on DK at $5500. Noah Vonleh is also cheap and has been playing big minutes. While I tend to think those minutes will continue, there is always Dave Fizdale risk. Both provide cap relief and upside but this is your Fizdale warning.
Damyean Dotson has been playing heavy minutes and producing well I just don’t like targeting him at his increased price tag.
It’s an elite matchup for the Spurs, the big question is does this game stay close enough for their starters to hit their ceilings. My gut says no and Pop is a coach who will pull his starters quicker than anyone else. That’s the risk for the Spurs tonight.
To keep it short both LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan are elite targets. We know the attacking the Knicks is a profitable strategy. Again, their risk is a potential blowout. I personally am looking to spend up elsewhere (Harden with CP3 out) which makes them tough to fit. Both have been producing well of late as the Spurs make their playoff push.
Dollar for dollar Derrick White is my favorite Spurs target. He’s semi-blowout proof and in an elite spot at a decent price. White won’t be heavily owned, this is a great spot for him. Still, with his price up he’s GPP only on FD for me. He’s very usable in cash on DK.
I also love Jakob Poeltl tonight. Poeltl remains priced down and carries legit 30+ point upside at under $5k on both sites matched up against the Knicks who rank 21st vs rim protecting centers. Poeltl is also blowout proof. If this game gets out of hand, expect him to dominate garbage time.
Chicago Bulls @ Los Angeles Clippers (o/u 229.5, LAC -8.5)
Chicago is 25th in defensive rating, 21st in pace.
Los Angeles is 19th in defensive rating, 9th in pace.
We wrap the night up in LA with the Bulls playing a Clippers team looking to cement their spot in the playoffs. While they’ve improved defensively, the Clippers provide much-needed pace to this matchup. Zach Lavine is expected to play.
My favorite target on the Bulls is Robin Lopez. RoLo continues to play 30+ minutes a night as a 0.9 FD and 0.88 DK PPM producer priced under $6k. The Clippers, who rank 21st vs skilled centers, provide the right matchup to see Lopez eclipse the 1+ PPM clip. Believe it or not, RoLo is a skilled center who is a capable low post scorer. He’s a safe lower middle priced center to target who will likely continue to be overlooked.
After RoLo, my only real intrigue in Bulls targets is with Zach Lavine and only in GPPs. Lavine is priced down after missing his last two games. I don’t expect his minutes to be limited and the Clippers rank 28th vs primary ball handlers. Overall it’s a good spot for him he just carries a bit of risk.
It’s important we monitor the status of Danilo Gallinari for the Clippers heading into lineup lock. As the late game, there’s a decent chance we don’t get an update before the dreaded 7 pm FD lock. Overall this is a good matchup for the Clippers with some blowout concern.
Regardless of Gallo’s status Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell are top targets vs the Bulls. Both should dominate the Bulls second unit and both make for a fun GPP stack as they complement each other’s DFS production well running the PnR. Harrell is too cheap on DK priced at $6k vs a Bulls team that struggles to defend the pain.
No Gallo would push Patrick Beverley into elite consideration as Beverley sees a minimal .02 PPM production bump but more importantly around a five-minute bump of playing time. The Clippers shift up allowing Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Bev to play heavy minutes together. Shai would be a usable punt.
Teams to Attack
Hornets, Wizards, Kings, Lakers, Pelicans, Suns, Knicks, Bulls
Knicks @ Spurs, Suns @ Rockets, Kings @ Sixers, Bulls @ Clippers
PG: Damian Lillard, Kemba Walker, Derrick White, Emmanuel Mudiay, Ish Smith*
SG: James Harden, Bradley Beal, DeMar DeRozan, Devin Booker (GPP), CJ McCollum (DK), Lou Williams, Eric Gordon, Allonzo Trier GPP
SF: Giannis Antetokounmpo (GPP), Kelly Oubre (DK), Nic Batum, Jabari Parker*, Jeff Green*, Mikal Bridges
PF: LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin (GPP), Anthony Davis (DK), Montrezl Harrell, Bobby Portis, Marvin Williams, Noah Vonleh, JaMychal Green (punt)
C: Joel Embiid (GPP), Andre Drummond, Clint Capela, DeAndre Jordan (DK), Robin Lopez, Jakob Poeltl, Ivica Zubac (DK), Willy Hernangomez
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.