NBA Morning Thoughts 01.11.19

NBA Morning Thoughts 01.11.19

We have a nine-game NBA DFS slate on our hands, with tons of juicy matchups and lots of blowout potential tonight. Let’s get right to it…

Milwaukee Bucks @ Washington Wizards (o/u 231, MIL -7.5)

Milwaukee is 3rd in defensive rating, 6th in pace.

Washington is 27th in defensive rating, 8th in pace.

The Bucks head to Washington in an elite spot vs the Wizards. Giannis is listed as probable, so we can assume he’s good to go, but it’s important to monitor his status throughout the day.

UPDATE: Giannis Antetokounmpo now listed as DOUBTFUL

This is huge news and makes the rest of the Bucks incredibly appealing if Giannis is ultimately ruled out.

The first two names that come to mind are Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton. Bledsoe’s recent minutes drop is concerning but he should be over 30+ with Giannis out. Middleton is the main beneficiary in my eyes as he will be option A on offense and will play more on the ball leading to +assists and +FGA’s. In terms of Bledsoe vs Middleton. I prefer Middleton but it’s crucial to factor in that PG is much weaker on the slate then SG is. SG is absolutely loaded.

Malcolm Brogdon also see’s a nice bump if Giannis can’t go. I was on Brogdon before Giannis news, no reason to be off him now.

Brook Lopez and Ersan Ilyasova see nice bumps. Lopez will be more of a focal point on offense while Ersan could potentially start and see 25ish minutes at the 4 in an appealing matchup. Ersan is dirt cheap and a capable producer. Brook Lopez is too cheap on DK.

We can target Giannis Antetokounmpo with confidence vs the Wizards. We know the Wizards provide an appealing DFS matchup because of their poor defense and high pace, but what also works in Giannis’s favor is the fact that the Wizards are 30th in rebounding rate in the NBA. Giannis should be able to dominate the glass on both ends of the floor. Giannis is a stud in an elite matchup, and hopefully with this game being played in Washington the Wizards can hang around.

Mike Budenholzer has taken some minutes away from Eric Bledsoe of late, so we can’t trust him at his price even with a strong matchup. That being said, because of the matchup, Bledsoe has some GPP appeal at what would typically be a cheap price for him.

While Bledsoe has been losing minutes, Malcolm Brogdon has been gaining them. Brogdon has only seen a minimal price jump with his recent strong production and minutes bump. I like Brogdon here — it’s a good matchup and a fair price. He doesn’t carry a ton of upside, but he offers some safe cap relief.

Khris Middleton is a safe middle priced SG. I prefer him on DK at a cheaper price and with the 3PT bonus. Middleton’s ceiling is a bit limited with Giannis in the lineup, so he’s more of a cash game target.

At $4900, Brook Lopez remains a bit cheap on DK. On FD, Brook is priced fairly at $5800.

The Wizards find themselves in an appealing pace situation, at home, vs an elite defensive team. I tend to agree with Vegas and their implied total that the overall pace of this game will outweigh Milwaukee’s defensive prowess.

Otto Porter Jr.’s minutes limit has been increased to around 30, which allows us to continue to target him at his down price. Porter’s production has been great since he returned, and I expect it to continue as he’s the second option on offense with Wall out. Porter is cheap on both sites at $6100 on FD and $5900 on DK. I don’t love that he will get Giannis minutes, but the path to upside for Porter is there.

On FD, Bradley Beal remains a bit too pricey for me at $9500, but he’s appealingly priced on DK at $8600. That’s a price we can target Beal at with confidence. Vegas thinks the Wizards will score around 111 points tonight, Beal will play a  big part of that.

Quietly, Ian Mahinmi has produced three straight 30 point games. I get the appeal but this isn’t the spot I want Mahinmi, as I don’t think his size is as necessary vs Milwaukee. Also, if he is getting minutes to matchup with Brook Lopez, Lopez will force him away from the rim, limiting his production.

I’m also off on Trevor Ariza and Jeff Green. Since Otto’s return, the production hasn’t been there for either.

Atlanta Hawks @ Philadelphia 76ers (o/u 231.5, -12.5)

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

Philadelphia is 12th in defensive rating, 7th in pace.

The Hawks are always a bit of a challenge to target in DFS because of their deep and somewhat inconsistent rotation. While this game features some blowout potential, most Hawks are blowout proof. And the pace of this game should lead to some fantasy production.

Jeremy Lin seeing big minutes is apparently here to stay, as even with Huerter back Lin saw 28 minutes. At $5100 on FD and $4600 on DK, Lin is firmly worth considering and I’d argue a borderline elite target. We could also see Lin match McConnell’s minutes. Regardless, Lin is a capable producer and I expect him to produce in this spot at an appealing price.

Facing Joel Embiid should mean solid minutes for Dewayne Dedmon tonight. Dedmon isn’t someone we can particularly trust at his elevated price, but his upside remains. Alex Len continues to have some GPP appeal. He can be a production monster at times.

I’m not really sure what to do with John Collins here. He’s walking foul trouble if he’s on Embiid or Ben Simmons, and my guess is he gets early Simmons minutes. However, if Philly runs away with it, Collins will destroy garbage time. Collins is a pricey and risky GPP option at PF, but we know what he’s capable of.

The return of Kevin Huerter signaled a dip in production for DeAndre Bembry. Huerter remains a strong cheap target at SG, while Bembry is more of a “not so cheap” GPP dart at SF.

The Sixers couldn’t ask for a better matchup vs the Hawks. Unfortunately for Philly players, we HAVE to consider the potential blowout here, especially playing at home where Philly is 18-3.

Ben Simmons is my favorite of the Sixers studs, as he’s priced down a touch on FD and DK at $9300 and $8900, respectively. The Hawks are the most turnover-prone team in the NBA, and Simmons’ production on the defensive end is typically there. This is an elite spot for him. Blowout is his risk.

There’s no denying that Joel Embiid should smash in this spot vs Atlanta, but my fear is we won’t get four quarters of Embiid. On FD, the center position is very top heavy, so most will likely have to spend up, Embiid is not a bad spend at all. I’d expect him to be heavily owned, as the Hawks provide him with an elite matchup.

I’m only targeting Jimmy Butler in lineups that don’t feature Embiid or Simmons. Again, it’s hard for me to envision this game staying close enough where all THREE are hitting their ceilings. Because of the Hawks propensity for turning it over and their high pace Jimmy could see a huge scoring and defensive game. His price is up a touch, so he’s tough to trust with his recent production, but if Jimmy is going to hit his ceiling it makes sense it happens vs Atlanta.

After a disappointing effort last game, TJ McConnell remains a usable value PG. The Hawks matchup provides him with a good bounce-back spot. Furkan Korkmaz becomes a usable value ONLY if JJ Redick remains out.  

Brooklyn Nets @ Toronto Raptors (o/u 219.5, TOR -10)

Brooklyn is 20th in defensive rating, 21st in pace.

Toronto is 10th in defensive rating, 17th in pace.

The Nets are a challenge to target tonight vs the Raptors in Toronto for a few reasons. Toronto is a good defensive team, especially at home, and don’t play at an appealing pace. The Nets provide some of the risk too, as their deep rotation can lead to inconsistent minutes. I don’t expect Jared Dudley to play tonight, so that should open up a few extra minutes at PF.

With Hollis-Jefferson already out and Dudley likely to be scratched both DeMarre Carroll and Rodions Kurucs should be in line for strong minutes. I prefer Carroll in this matchup, though both provide decent cap relief and the Raptors have given up strong fantasy production to opposing PFs.

Priced at $4900 on FD and $5200 on DK, Joe Harris also provides some cap relief with upside. Harris will also benefit if Dudley can’t go, as that would shift his typical backup, Carroll, to more minutes at the 4. Harris should be around 30 minutes, and if the Nets are able to hang around they will need Harris’s scoring.

Ed Davis has been producing, scoring 20+ fantasy points in four of his last five games. Davis is no longer sub $4k, but he does provide cap relief at $4700 on FD and $4000 on DK.

I’m off on all three Nets PGs, as I don’t think Russell, Dinwiddie, or Napier are worth the risk in this matchup. Russell and Dinwiddie always carry some GPP appeal, and if I had to pick one I’d lean Dinwiddie.

Vegas is slighting the Nets a touch here in my opinion, listing them as 10 point dogs. Typically the Nets hang around, so I don’t think the Raptors run away with it.

I really like Kawhi Leonard in this spot. Typically I target opposing PGs and centers vs. Brooklyn, not wings, as the Nets defend forwards fairly well. However, Leonard has the ball in his hands a lot, so he’ll see some of that opposing PG goodness the Nets provide. DK has bumped Leonard’s price up to $9700 while FD has kept Leonard priced low at $9600. Both of those prices carry appealing upside, especially his FD price. Also, the Nets always find themselves in these close and crazy games, which usually leads to fantasy production from their opponent’s star players.

Target the Nets at center! Serge Ibaka is the Raptors center, and his price is up and his production is down so he’s not as appealing as I would have hoped, but the matchup keeps him in play. His $6200 DK price is fair with limited risk, FD’s $7000 is a bit riskier.

Attack the Nets at point guard! Kyle Lowry is a strong target simply because of the matchup. Lowry’s price is fine on both sites at $7800 on FD and $7600 on DK. The issue with Lowry is he hasn’t really reached his ceiling in games where Leonard plays. However, at his current price, around 40 fantasy points is enough to justify the spend on Lowry.

Indiana Pacers @ New York Knicks (o/u 218.5, IND -8)

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

New York is 29th in defensive rating, 13th in pace.

The Pacers head to Madison Square Garden and find themselves in an elite matchup vs a Knicks team that is creeping up on the Cavs as the worst defensive team in the NBA. The Knicks have also upped their pace, making them a terrible defensive team that plays at high pace. This is an elite matchup for Pacers players.

With Myles Turner out, we can look to keep targeting Domantas Sabonis. Sabonis would be an elite target in this spot, and he’d also be high owned. Sabonis has crushed the Knicks twice thus far in the year, with limited minutes justifying his increased price tag.

I’m high on Victor Oladipo tonight too, as the faster Knicks pace leads to more Knicks turnovers, which in turn leads to +steals opportunities for Dipo. The issue with Dipo is that it’s essential the Knicks are able to hang around in this game for him to hit his ceiling. And with so many appealing SGs on the slate, that makes it tough to pay up for Dipo.

I expect Darren Collison to play, but if he can’t go Cory Joesph would become an elite value PG.

And with Turner a no go, Kyle O’Quinn becomes a usable cheap center with a boatload of upside.

This is a brutal spot for Knicks players, as the Pacers are an elite defense who play at slow pace. Those are two things that don’t bode well for DFS production.

While I think this game can and will remain close up until the fourth quarter, I don’t want to target any Knicks players, as I just flat-out don’t trust their rotation. It wouldn’t shock me to see Mario Hezonja carry some decent ownership after two strong games, but it also wouldn’t shock me if he started and played 11 minutes. That’s how Fizdale’s Knicks have been this year. Sure, there are some cheap prices, but I’d stay away. I can live with myself if I miss a Tim Hardaway Jr. game vs the Pacers.

Dallas Mavericks @ Minnesota Timberwolves (o/u 221, MIL -4.5)

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

Minnesota is 18th in defensive rating, 12th in pace.

The T-Wolves played at an appealing pace in their first game with new coach Ryan Saunders, and that is something we can attack in DFS. Dennis Smith Jr remains out for the Mavericks.

No DSJ means Luka Doncic will get the start at PG in a pace-friendly game environment. Luka’s price is up on both sites — $8200 on FD and $8400 on DK — but not up enough for me, especially on FD. I love Luka in this spot, as we’ve really seen him reach his ceiling when he is starting at “PG,” and Minnesota’s pace should lead to added production in his peripherals.

Harrison Barnes is a really interesting target tonight, as he’s dirt cheap and finds himself in an elite matchup. The T-Wolves have surprisingly been one of the worst teams vs opposing wings all year, so this is an elite spot for Barnes. Barnes also sees a slight usage bump with DSJ out. Listen, I know Barnes isn’t the sexiest player to target and he’s making me fall asleep just typing about him, but he’s rock solid at his price in this matchup.

If you’re desperate at PG, JJ Barea is a usable cheap PG. His minutes won’t be great, but he’s capable of hitting his ceiling in this spot at his low price.

I’m off on DeAndre Jordan, as his matchup vs Karl-Anthony Towns will keep him away from the rim and limit his rebounding numbers.

For Minnesota, Dallas is a good defensive team that plays at an appealing pace. Their strong overall defense does not outweigh the expected pace of this game though, so there is production to be had. Derrick Rose is considered questionable.

Andrew Wiggins was the initial benefactor of the T-Wolves coaching change and I expect that to continue. Unfortunately, Wiggins is priced a bit up on both sites, making him tough to trust. It’s still Wiggins so I have my concerns at his elevated price tag, but his upside is there. An engaged Wiggins is capable of elite production, and he’s now in the price zone where we’re not sure if we’re still buying low, or if his price is on the higher end. If Derrick Rose plays I believe that will hurt Wiggins’ production a touch, too.

It was a disappointing production outing for Karl-Anthony Towns in Saunders’ debut, but I consider that a bit of an abnormality, as Wiggins was on fire. KAT is more of a risk than he has been over the last two weeks, but his incredible upside is still there.

Another interesting note from the Saunders debut was Dario Saric seeing 25 minutes. Saric is still priced way down on both sites, so he’s an elite value. I expect Saric to continue to see 25ish minutes, as Saunders has stated he wants to play faster with more floor spacing. Saric provides better floor spacing than Taj Gibson. This is the time to buy low on Saric.

We need to wait and see on Rose’s status before making a decision on Teague, but overall I’m a bit pessimistic about him. If Rose plays I’m out on both Rose and Teague. If Rose is out, Teague is in play even at his elevated price tag, but his risk is Saunders’ relationship with Tyus Jones, which could lead to high Tyus usage.

Cleveland Cavaliers @ Houston Rockets (o/u 217.5, HOU -15)

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

Houston is 26th in defensive rating, 28th in pace.

For Cleveland, it’s imperative Rodney Hood remains out to consider targeting Cavs players. Currently Hood is questionable. While this game will be played at a slow pace, the Rockets are not a good defensive team. Larry Nance Jr. remains out.

If Hood is out, both Alec Burks and Jordan Clarkson become usable SGs to consider. Clarkson has produced really well in his last three games and is blowout proof. Burks is an appealing sub $5k option that carries some upside.

No Nance puts Tristan Thompson in play. Against Capela, Thompson should be around the rim all game. With center fairly top heavy, Thompson is one of the more appealing middle priced options. Ante Zizic is a usable punt.

The Rockets play the worst defensive team in the NBA tonight. This game does carry some serious blowout risk.

Not much needs to be said about James Harden. He’s the top player on the slate, as he continues to put up monster game after monster game with CP3 out. Harden should be able to score at will as well as find open teammates, which will lead to +assists. Harden’s risk is the blowout, but EVERYTHING is run through him, so if the Rockets are up big it’s because of Harden. He has an endless ceiling in this game if it stays close.

I’m off on Clint Capela. The Cavs slow pace really limits opposing centers upside. While I won’t fight anyone if they want Capela in this spot, ultimately I’d rather spend elsewhere.

Gerald Green is an interesting value at SF in this game, as he will take a lot of shots, and most will be open ones.

Charlotte Hornets @ Portland Trail Blazers (o/u 223, POR -6.5)

Charlotte is 19th in defensive rating, 14th in pace.

Portland is 15th in defensive rating, 18th in pace.

The Hornets head to Portland in an interesting game that should carry some DFS appeal but doesn’t really excite me.  Both of these teams are middle of the pack in most team statistics.

We can always consider Kemba Walker on any given slate, however Kemba’s production his last five games has been a bit worrisome. His price has come down a lot and the matchup is fine, but it’s still tough for me to trust Kemba in cash games. Kemba can be considered in GPPs, as he always carries 50+ point upside.

This is a really good spot to get Jeremy Lamb at under $6k. Both sites priced him down while he was injured and I don’t expect his minutes to be limited tonight. Lamb played 28 minutes in his first game back, which is a really good sign. The Blazers have struggled to defend wings all year, so the matchup and price are right for Lamb. If SG wasn’t loaded tonight Lamb would be a priority for me.

Both Bismack Biyombo and Willy Hernangomez carry some GPP appeal, as Charlotte will need size to matchup vs Nurkic. Still, hard to trust which one it will be, I still slightly prefer Biyombo, as his defense is more important for the Hornets with Lamb back.

The Blazers are a bit of a mystery, as Damian Lillard is listed as questionable. This is something we must monitor throughout the day.

If Lillard PLAYS, I’m off on all Blazers.

If Lillard is OUT CJ McCollum becomes an elite target, as he will be option A on offense and handle most of the ball-handling responsibilities.

Jusuf Nurkic would also see an appealing production bump if Dame can’t go. Nurk becomes more of a presence on offense and Portland will look to run a lot through him in the post, which would lead to added points and assists. Nurk also has a mismatch over Biyombo and Hernangomez.

With Mo Harkless already out, Evan Turner would become an appealing value if Dame can’t go. Turner would get minutes at PG, and would be locked into 27+ minutes at a super low cost.

Los Angeles Lakers @ Utah Jazz (o/u 217, UTA -9)

Los Angeles is 8th in defensive rating, 3rd in pace.

Utah is 5th in defensive rating, 16th in pace.

This is a brutal spot for the Lakers, as the Jazz are now back to being an elite defensive team that we look to avoid in NBA DFS.

The only Laker player I have confidence in targeting is Kyle Kuzma. Kuzma has become option A on offense for the Lakers with LeBron out, and that should continue. Even with the terrible matchup, Kuzma’s scoring provides a somewhat safe floor for him at his price on both sites. I think a lot of people will avoid Kuzma and for good reasons, but I don’t think we need to worry too much about the matchup specifically for him.

Another usable Laker is JaVale McGee. I’m mostly looking at McGee in GPPs, as LA will need his size vs Gobert. McGee’s risk is his minutes, as we’ve seen Zubac begin to play a bit more and more of late.

Utah, on the other hand, is in an elite pace up spot vs the Lakers and are littered with injuries at the PG position. Ricky Rubio, Dante Exum, and Raul Neto are all OUT. While the Lakers are a really good defense, Utah’s lack of depth at PG is something we can exploit.

Donovan Mitchell will be the de-facto Jazz PG, and serve as the primary ball-handler. Mitchell did the same in their previous game and we saw Mitchell improve his scoring, rebounding, and assist totals. Previously, Mitchell had been incredibly scoring dependent, but this new role will lead to added peripheral stats. He’s an elite target, even at his elevated price tag, with an elite pace-up spot.

The other Jazz player that will handle more ball-handling duties is Joe Ingles. Ingles is priced at $6000 on FD and $5700 on DK. Those are exploitable prices for Ingles in this spot, and for the same reasons as Mitchell, Ingles is an elite target. Ingles is super safe with elite upside.

The Lakers pace leads to more rebounding and defensive opportunities, and this should lead to added production for Rudy Gobert. I’d expect Gobert to be a fairly popular target tonight, and he can also potentially see an assists bump with no “true” PG, as they will run more high post screen handoffs through Gobert and their guards.

Jae Crowder is usable sub $5k option at SF. He will see 30+ minutes in a pace-up game.

Chicago Bulls @ Golden State Warriors (o/u 221, GS -15.5)

Chicago is 21st in defensive rating, 23rd in pace.

Golden State is 16th in defensive rating, 10th in pace.

This is another game with massive blowout potential, and fortunately for the Bulls, a lot of their players are somewhat blowout proof.

One of those players is Kris Dunn. Dunn is really interesting to me, priced at $7100 on FD and $6600 on DK, as his price has continued to drop while his production has stayed around 30-35 fantasy points. Golden State also tends to play around with the basketball early in the game vs inferior opponents. Dunn’s down price minimizes some of his risk, and the pace-up Golden State matchup could see him hit his ceiling. I like him a lot here.

I’m off on the rest of the Bulls, as their frontcourt rotation is a bit too crowded and unpredictable for me. I’d rather spend elsewhere.

For Golden State, we HAVE to factor the blowout potential here, especially playing at home.

It’s hard for me to trust Steph Curry and/or Kevin Durant in cash games, because I don’t think we will get more than three quarters from them. Still, both can be considered in GPPs, as they will be low owned and capable of going crazy vs a bad team like Chicago.

Klay Thompson also carries some GPP appeal. I’ve stated this before, the Warriors love to get Klay going vs terrible teams, and this fits that bill.

The Bulls are one of the worst teams vs opposing centers, and though I don’t trust him Kevon Looney is a usable sub $5k center worth considering.


Teams to Attack

Wizards, Hawks, Knicks, Timberwolves, Cavaliers, Lakers (pace + lack of UTA PG depth)

Blowout Potential

Bulls @ Warriors, Hawks @ Sixers, Cavs @ Rockets, Pacers @ Knicks, Bucks @ Wizards, Nets @ Raptors

Top Targets

PG: Ben Simmons, Kyle Lowry, Eric Bledsoe, Kris Dunn, Jeremy Lin

SG: James Harden, Bradley Beal (DK), Khris Middleton, Luka Doncic, Donovan Mitchell, CJ McCollum (if Dame OUT), Malcolm Brogdan, Jeremy Lamb, Clarkson/Burks (if Hood OUT),

SF: Kawhi Leonard, Joe Ingles, Otto Porter Jr., Harrison Barnes, Evan Turner (if Dame OUT)

PF: Domantas Sabonis, Kyle Kuzma, Serge Ibaka, Dario Saric, Ersan Ilyasova

C: Joel Embiid, Rudy Gobert, Tristan Thompson, Brook Lopez (DK), Kevon Looney