NBA Morning Thoughts 01.04.19

NBA Morning Thoughts 01.04.19

We have a 10-game NBA DFS slate on our hands, so let’s get right to it …

Utah Jazz @ Cleveland Cavaliers (o/u 208, UTA -9)

Utah is 6th in defensive rating, 15th in pace.

Cleveland is 30th in defensive rating, 29th in pace.

We start off the slate with a fairly gross game, as the Jazz head to Cleveland to face the Cavs and their awful defense. This game will likely be played at a slow pace throughout, but what keeps some Jazz players in consideration is Cleveland’s 30th ranked defense. It’s important we monitor the status of Ricky Rubio, who is listed as questionable.

If Ricky Rubio can’t go, Dante Exum would likely start and become one of the top values on the slate. I’d prefer to target Exum in a pace friendly game environment, as his game isn’t best suited in the half-court. Still, it’s hard to ignore Exum at his sub $4k vs the Cavs if Rubio is out.

No Rubio would also give Donovan Mitchell a slight bump. Mitchell is strictly a GPP target for me, as his production has been poor at his price, yet he carries 40+ upside at around $7k vs a bad defensive team.

I want nothing to do with the Cavaliers tonight, and can confidently say they are a hard fade for me. With Tristan Thompson and Rodney Hood back healthy and Patrick McCaw part of the team the rotation is too crowded now. And that’s not even factoring in the brutal matchup vs the Jazz. No thank you, let’s move on.

Orlando Magic @ Minnesota Timberwolves (o/u 212, MIN -6)

Orlando is 14th in defensive rating, 27th in pace.

Minnesota is 20th in defensive rating, 12th in pace.

This is an interesting spot for the Magic, as they face a hobbled Timberwolves team. After creeping into the top 12 in defensive rating after the Jimmy Butler trade, Minnesota has begun to regress. If you couple that with the pace-up nature of this game, this isn’t a bad spot to target Magic players.

Nikola Vucevic has been a production monster all year. I’m not against targeting him, but this isn’t the spot I want to spend up on him when there are cheaper options with better matchups available.

The slight pace-up should help Aaron Gordon. Gordon has shown signs of life after a brief week-long no-show in the middle of December, averaging 33.67 FD points in his last eight games. Still, at that sort of production Gordon is over-priced on both sites, at $7600 on FD and $7100 on DK. I like the spot for Gordon here, but not a huge fan of his price. He’s a strong GPP target.

At $5300 on both sites, Evan Fournier is cheap. I’m not particularly sure what has happened to Fournier this year, as he just hasn’t looked comfortable in Steve Clifford’s system. Still, his low price minimizes some of his risk.

I was very high on DJ Augustin coming into the year, and he just hasn’t produced as expected, as his minutes have also been a touch inconsistent. DJ has shown a bump in production over his last four games, and remains under $5k. He’s a usable sub $5k value PG.

The Magic are a boring team to attack in DFS, as they play a lot of slow, low post basketball which brings the game to a crawl and minimizes potential turnovers and blocks. Still, the T-Wolves are banged up so there is lots of value available. Robert Covington has already been ruled out, while Derrick Rose is doubtful and Jeff Teague is questionable.

If Rose and Teague remain out we can target Tyus Jones with confidence. Jones has proven time and time again he’s a capable producer when the minutes are there. He would be locked into 35+ minutes in the $6k range. He’d be a solid middle priced option at PG.

If Rose is out and Jeff Teague plays, depending on if he has a minutes limit, Teague would be an appealing option.

No Robert Covington makes Josh Okogie a usable value SG on this slate. Okogie offers some cap relief, and I’d expect him to play more than the 24 minutes he got last game.

Karl-Anthony Towns is the big name on the T-Wolves we need to consider. I hate targeting centers against the Magic, as Vucevic’s low post usage minimizes that center’s defensive and rebounding upside. Center is fairly strong on the slate so I don’t think spending up on Towns needs to be a priority, but his usage-production bump he gets with Rose, Teague, and RoCo off the floor can’t be ignored. KAT is an elite target even at his elevated price tag and poor matchup.

I’m ready for Andrew Wiggins to frustrate me tonight. It’s hard for me to fade Wiggins if Rose and Teague and Covington are all out, as he would carry legit 40+ point upside at around $6500 on both sites. We know Wiggins is capable when he’s motivated, and a larger role on offense should motivate him. Wiggins put up 36+ fantasy points vs Boston in his last game with all three out. While Orlando is not a great matchup, it’s a better matchup than facing the Celtics in Boston.

Washington Wizards @ Miami Heat (o/u 214.5, MIA -7)

Washington is 27th in defensive rating, 9th in pace.

Miami is 7th in defensive rating, 21st in pace.

This is a less than ideal matchup for Washington, as Miami has changed its philosophy of late, ranking 28th in pace in their last 10 games while still playing strong defense. Markieff Morris remains out.

The Heat have struggled to defend primary ball handling scoring guards, which is exactly what Bradley Beal is. The sites have priced Beal up since John Wall’s injury, so Beal is far from a must. Still, this is a good spot for him.

With Morris out, Thomas Bryant should continue to see 30+ minutes at center. Bryant has put up 35+ fantasy points in three straight games, and is still priced under $7k on both sites. Bryant is an elite target at center because of his minutes bump and his activity on the court.

I’d rather target Tyus Jones, but I’m fine with targeting Tomas Satoransky at his elevated price. This isn’t a great matchup, but Sato will play huge minutes and that has appeal.

Otto Porter Jr. is really cheap on both sites. I only mention him on the off chance Scott Brooks says Porter is not on a minutes limit. In that scenario, Porter’s price can be exploited.

I expect we see the Wizards defensive metrics begin to improve with Wall now done for the year, and their pace has already begun to slightly drop. While this is a strong spot to target Miami Heat players, their rotation is a bit tricky, which adds some risk.

With Bryant seeing 30+ minutes, this is a sneaky spot to target Hassan Whiteside. I sort of love Whiteside here, as Bryant should bump his minutes to the 27-32 minute range and keep him around the rim all game. One risk for Whiteside is while Bryant isn’t much of a threat on the outside, he is very mobile which could force Spoelstra to use Bam. Alex Len just torched the Wizards in limited minutes, and Whiteside is capable of that too. He’s an elite GPP target.

Both Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson are getting pricey for me. Richardson is seeing less ball handling opportunities with Winslow as the Heat “PG,” while Winslow is still splitting some of those duties with Richardson and Tyler Johnson. If Wade is able to play tonight, I think I’m staying away from them all. The return of Dion Waiters also complicates their rotation.

Dallas Mavericks @ Boston Celtics (o/u 208,)

Dallas is 13th in defensive rating, 11th in pace.

Boston is 4th in defensive rating, 19th in pace.

This is a tough spot for the Mavericks, as they face an elite Celtics defense on the road in Boston. Dallas features a deep rotation with not a ton of cheap value, and couple that with the Celtics stout defense and I’m not particularly interested in targeting Mavericks players.

If you’re desperate for Dallas exposure, Luka Doncic is always capable. With Dennis Smith Jr back Doncic’s upside takes a hit, but we all know what Luka is capable of. Dennis Smith Jr. also has some GPP appeal as a high ceiling cheap PG. He produced well in his last game, so I can potentially see him picking up a few extra minutes.

On paper, the Mavericks provide a slight pace-up spot for Boston. However, I don’t see it that way. Still, the Mavs aren’t a team to avoid attacking in DFS. Kyrie Irving remains out.

Both sites have priced Terry Rozier up a touch to $6100, but he’s still too cheap in my eyes. Rozier is an elite target who will play 30+ minutes. He is a steals machine who is capable of producing across the board, and I’d expect him to be highly owned.

If Marcus Morris can’t go, both Gordon Hayward and Jaylen Brown should see a bump in playing time. Hayward finally found his groove last game, and I expect that to continue here. I’d expect Hayward to be highly owned too, as he’s still priced under $6k. The logic is there: The Kyrie-less games are the perfect spot for Brad Stevens to get Hayward going, and no Morris means the minutes will be there too. Brown is too cheap on both sites if he’s in line to play 30+ minutes.

There’s been a lack of aggression with Jayson Tatum this year. In the last game with Kyrie out, I was expecting Tatum to lead the Boston offense, but he did not. Tatum now has seen his price drop to the low $6k range, and that is super appealing. Do we see an aggressive Tatum tonight? I don’t know, but his price drop minimizes some of his risk and his 40+ upside is still there.

Indiana Pacers @ Chicago Bulls (o/u 201.5, IND -6)

Indiana is 2nd in defensive rating, 25th in pace.

Chicago is 18th in defensive rating, 23rd in pace.

The Bulls and their 18th rated defense are a bit overrated in my eyes, so this is a decent spot to target Pacers players. Myles Turner is expected to return.

That said, I don’t have a ton of interest in any of the Pacers. Victor Oladipo always carries intriguing upside and shouldn’t have much of an issue scoring against the Bulls, but there are other SGs I’d rather target on this big slate.

If Myles Turner can’t go, Domantas Sabonis would find himself in an elite spot with extra minutes. A potentially “masked” Myles Turner is worth considering in GPP’s as well.

This is a brutal spot for the Bulls here, as they face off against the Pacers elite defense and slow pace. On a 10-game slate I have no interest in any of the Bulls players, as none are particularly that cheap and all have a bad matchup.

The Justin Holiday trade opens up some minutes for Shaq Harrison and Zach LaVine, but against the Pacers I’m not that interested.

Brooklyn Nets @ Memphis Grizzlies (o/u 214.5,)

Brooklyn is 23rd in defensive rating, 30th in pace.

Memphis is 5th in defensive rating, 22nd in pace.

This is a brutal spot for the Nets in a pace-down matchup vs a top 5 defense on the road. I hate attacking the Grizzlies in DFS, as their slow pace truly limits the opposing team’s fantasy upside.

I don’t have any real interest in targeting Nets players. If you’re desperate for Nets exposure, DeMarre Carroll is priced appealingly on both sites and should continue to see strong minutes.

Spencer Dinwiddie carries some GPP appeal, as the Nets typically lean on Spencer in close “grind it out” matchups such as this one.

This is a decent spot to target Grizzlies players, as the Nets are not a good defensive team and struggle to defend opposing PGs and centers. Mike Conley is listed as questionable in this game. I expect him to play but we need to monitor his situation throughout the day.

Regardless of Mike Conley’s status, Marc Gasol is an elite target tonight. What do we always say? Target centers vs the Nets! Gasol gets that honor tonight. I’m not concerned about his $8k+ price tag.

If Mike Conley plays, he is someone worth considering. The Nets are also terrible containing opposing PGs. If Conley can’t go, Shelvin Mack would then become an elite value target, while Kyle Anderson would get a bump in ball handling responsibilities.

The Grizzlies will potentially unleash their newly acquired player tonight, Justin Holiday. If he plays I’m staying away from their wing rotation.

Atlanta Hawks @ Milwaukee Bucks (o/u 230.5, MIL -13)

Atlanta is 24th in defensive rating, 1st in pace.

Milwaukee is 3rd in defensive rating, 7th in pace.

This matchup features some blowout potential as well as some serious pace. The Bucks are an elite defensive team and while this game will see a ton of possessions, this isn’t a great matchup for Hawks players. Kent Bazemore remains out. Taurean Prince may return.

We know both Alex Len and Dewayne Dedmon can produce big numbers in the 25 minute range, and both have been hovering around that range. Len is the more appealing target, as he’s proven to be the safer path to upside. I don’t love the matchup for either, as Brook Lopez pulls them away from the rim. Still, both carry GPP upside.

A usable middle priced SF to consider is DeAndre Bembry, but only if Prince is ruled out. Bembry has seen his minutes consistently over 20 and he remains cheap on DK, priced at $4200.

The only other Hawks player that I have some interest in is John Collins, but that’s strictly in GPP’s. Collins isn’t cheap, but his mobility might earn him a bump in minutes in a pace friendly game.

The Bucks have the privilege of playing my favorite team to attack in DFS, the Atlanta Hawks. The only risk worth noting when targeting Bucks is the potential blowout. They carry three expensive targets, and ideally you want as many minutes as you can get from them. The Hawks are capable of sticking around until the fourth quarter, but there is real potential for this game to get out of hand early.

This couldn’t be any better of a matchup for Giannis Antetokounmpo. Giannis is the top player on the slate, and of course the most expensive. Four quarters of Giannis vs Atlanta is absolutely worth his price. Three quarters and a 20-point halftime lead is not. Still, Giannis is an elite target vs the Hawks, so you can target him with confidence.

I’m off on Eric Bledsoe as he’s seen his minutes down a touch and has been known to coast during non-competitive games. With that same thinking, I’m on Malcolm Brogdon. Brogdon is interesting because we are going to get 25+ minutes from him in an elite matchup at under $6k. Brogdon isn’t the type of player to coast through a game, so maybe we get Bledsoe’s usage at Brogdon’s price.

It’s an elite matchup for Khris Middleton, so target him with confidence. The debate with Middleton is whether that’s where you want to spend at SG tonight. Middleton has only hit 5x+ his value at his current price three out of his last eight games. With that said, the Hawks are a good team to change that.

I know I sound like a broken record, but Brook Lopez is still cheap enough to consider playing. Both sites have bumped up Lopez a touch, but he’s still under $6k, and against the Hawks that is appealing. Lopez isn’t my favorite target, but if you’re in need of a safe middle priced center with an elite matchup, he’s the guy.

Los Angeles Clippers @ Phoenix Suns (o/u 233, LAC -4)

Los Angeles is 21st in defensive rating, 8th in pace.

Phoenix is 28th in defensive rating, 16th in pace.

This is one of my favorite games to attack on the slate, as both of these teams are prone to DFS goodness. The Suns are the third worst defensive team in the NBA, and while on paper it’s a pace-down game for the Clippers, I fully expect Phoenix to play up to LA’s pace.

The Suns have been getting destroyed by opposing bigs recently, putting Montrezl Harrell in a strong spot. Harrell isn’t cheap on either site but is priced fairly considering the matchup, and I slightly prefer him on FD. Harrell is a gifted scorer, and the Suns give up a ton of points to opposing bigs. Interestingly, centers average the most steals in the NBA vs the Suns, so Harrell also has some appealing defensive upside.

There will be lots of points to be had in this game, and Tobias Harris will be a big part of the scoring. Harris is priced well on both sites, so he’s firmly worth considering.

While Danilo Gallinari has actually produced a bit better than Harris of late, I’d rather target Tobias tonight. Still, a similar thinking applies with Gallo: There will be lots of points scored, and Gallo will be a part of the scoring.

I’d expect Lou Williams to be a fairly popular play. Sweet Lou has been over 37+ fantasy points in five of his last seven games since returning from injury. Doc is playing Lou more, and Lou is producing. He’s got a strong price on both sites in an appealing matchup.

Over the last 10 games the Clippers are 26th in defensive rating, and fourth in pace. This is an elite spot to target Suns players.

One of my favorite targets tonight is Devin Booker. The Clippers have been torched by ball handlers all year, and in a game that will feature lots of scoring, I want the player who will likely score the most points. Booker is far from cheap but he’s been over 44+ fantasy points in seven of his last 10 games, which is right around 5x his value at his current price. This is a ceiling spot for him in an elite matchup.

The Clippers have also been torched by centers all year, and Deandre Ayton is an elite target tonight. Gortat and/or Boban are too slow and Montrezl Harrell is too short, so Ayton should dominate the glass and the low post. I’d expect him to carry fairly high ownership.

TJ Warren had a real stinker of a game vs the Sixers in his last outing, and both sites lowered his price to $6200. So we’re getting Warren in an elite spot at an elite discount tonight — that’s too cheap for him. Warren will frustrate us at times, but surprisingly, he has been fairly consistent this year.

Mikal Bridges, Kelly Oubre, and De’Anthony Melton are three sub $5k guys worth considering, Mikal Bridges is my favorite.

New York Knicks @ Los Angeles Lakers (o/u,)

New York is 29th in defensive rating, 3rd in pace.

Los Angeles is 9th in defensive rating, 13th in pace.

This is another juicy DFS matchup, as the Knicks and their poor defense head to the City of Angels to face the high-flying Lakers. While the Lakers have been a strong defensive team recently, their overall pace and lack of LeBron James make targeting some Knicks players interesting.

If Emmanuel Mudiay is going to play 30+ minutes, he’s too cheap on FD at $5900 and on DK at $6000. Mudiay thrives at this pace, as he sees a bump in his peripheral stats. I really like Mudiay tonight, and his only risk is Fizdale’s inconsistent rotation.

The pace-up nature of this game should also help Noah Vonleh. Vonleh has seen strong minutes and a rebounding bump with Kornet starting over Kanter. I love Vonleh tonight on FD, as his production has been consistently around 5x his salary, and he finds himself in a ceiling game tonight. On DK, Vonleh is a touch riskier but still in play.

Both sites have priced up Luke Kornet, so playing him is no longer a must. Still, Kornet is more than usable on both sites. Kevin Knox has seen his price drop a touch, so he’s also in play in a pace-up spot.

The emergence of Knox, Mudiay, and Kornet has seen Tim Hardaway Jr’s  production and usage nose dive. Hardaway is at one of his cheapest prices I can remember, and in a strong matchup. I don’t trust him anymore, but the opportunity for production is there.

The Lakers will once again be without LeBron, and have the luxury of facing a Knicks team that is lacking on defense and playing faster. It’s important we monitor the status of Kyle Kuzma, as he’s listed as questionable.

Regardless of Kuzma’s status, Brandon Ingram is an elite target. Ingram will play big minutes and take on a scoring and playmaking role vs a terrible defensive team. If Kuzma can’t go, Ingram would likely see even more of a scoring bump as well.

Lonzo Ball is also firmly worth considering, regardless of Kuzma’s status. The Knicks surprisingly don’t turn the ball over a ton which could limit Lonzo’s defensive upside, but I do think the Lakers increased pace will lead to more Knicks turnovers. This is a strong spot for Lonzo.

If Kuzma can’t go, Lance Stephenson and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope would likely see an appealing minutes bump. Lance is always an intriguing punt if he’s going to see extended run.

Regardless of Kuzma’s status, Josh Hart is a rock solid middle priced option at SG. While I think his price limits his upside a touch, he’s a safe target that does carry some upside because of the Knicks matchup.

JaVale McGee remains too cheap on DK, so you can target him with confidence. On FD, McGee is priced fairly but still offers appealing upside because of his defensive potential.

Oklahoma City Thunder @ Portland Trail Blazers (o/u 233.5, PK)

Oklahoma City is 1st in defensive rating, 4th in pace.

Portland is 16th in defensive rating, 17th in pace.

Man, I’m tired of talking about the Thunder. They are probably my least favorite team to see on a slate. All of their targets are incredibly expensive, and on the defensive end they are so good I don’t want to attack them. Yet their pace typically outweighs their defense from a DFS perspective, leading to decent DFS production from their opponent. Tonight, they head to Portland to play a Blazers team that will likely play up to their pace with mediocre defense.

At this moment neither Russell Westbrook nor Paul George are a priority for me, as both positions are flush with cheaper options. Between the two, I’m leaning towards George because of his cheaper price. WITH that all being said, both should be considered elite targets, especially George, as Portland has struggled to defend opposing wings all year.

It’s not an ideal matchup for Steven Adams, but strictly because of his price and consistency Adams is a strong cash game target.

At $5300 on both sites, Dennis Schroder is very cheap. Schroder has seen a slight dip in his production, but not enough to warrant his current price. The minutes have still been there for Dennis, which is the most important piece. We know he can be a capable producer.

In what should be a close game throughout, played with good pace, Jerami Grant is an appealing lower middle priced PF. Grant’s upside is there because he is a steals and blocks machine. Typically when games are close throughout we see more of a defensive effort from players.

It’s a tough spot for the Blazers, facing the top-ranked defensive team in the NBA. As mentioned earlier, the Thunder also play at an elite pace, which helps look past their stout defense.

Damian Lillard seems to always play up vs top competition, and tonight he gets Westbrook. Lillard is not one of my favorite targets on the slate, but I do think he’s an elite GPP option playing at home and at his price.

At $6400 CJ McCollum is priced fine on both sites. I don’t have a ton of interest in CJ but we’ve seen the Blazers lean on him to score vs top Western Conference opponents in the past. CJ is strictly a GPP target but there’s upside in his case, as this game should remain close with lots of scoring.

Mo Harkless has consistently seen 30+ minutes a game, and has been over 30+ fantasy points in three straight games, yet he’s still priced below $5k on both sites. Mo is a strong value SF worth considering.

I’m off on Jusuf Nurkic and the rest of the Blazers. There are other centers I’d rather spend on then Nurk at his price.


Teams to Attack

Wizards, Nets, Hawks, Clippers, Suns, Knicks, Lakers

Blowout Potential

Hawks @ Bucks, Jazz @ Cavs, Pacers @ Bulls

Top Targets

PG: Russell Westbrook, Mike Conley** Lonzo Ball, Terry Rozier, Tyus Jones, Emmanuel Mudiay, Dante Exum (if Rubio out), Shelvin Mack (if Conley out)

SG: Bradley Beal, Devin Booker, Andrew Wiggins, Lou Williams, Jaylen Brown

SF: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Paul George, Brandon Ingram, TJ Warren, Gordon Hayward, Otto Porter Jr (if minutes limit lifted), Mo Harkless

PF: Tobias Harris, Montrezl Harrell, Jayson Tatum, Noah Vonleh

C: Karl-Anthony Towns, Marc Gasol, DeAndre Ayton, Hassan Whiteside(gpp), Thomas Bryant, JaVale McGee