NBA Morning Thoughts 01.30.19

NBA Morning Thoughts 01.30.19

We have a fun eight-game NBA DFS slate, highlighted by the luxury that is Kings vs Hawks basketball. Let’s get right to it…

Dallas Mavericks @ New York Knicks (o/u 217, DAL -6)

Dallas is 14th in defensive rating, 16th in pace.

New York is 28th in defensive rating, 13th in pace.

The Mavs head to the Mecca to face a banged-up Knicks team that continues to regress defensively while increasing their overall pace. This is an elite spot for Mavericks players, and I expect this game to remain close throughout.

It’s Luka Doncic’s first game at Madison Square Garden and he’s heading in on fire, going for 55+ fantasy points in back to back games. Luka’s price has shot up to $9800 on FD and $8800 on DK, so targeting him is a bit trickier than expected. It’s an elite matchup and I love the stars at the Garden narrative, but his price is just steep. If this game stays close Luka should smash, so I’d consider him a borderline elite target, especially on DK.

After a two week hiatus Dennis Smith Jr. is back, playing 30 minutes a night and producing well. This is an elite matchup for DSJ vs the inept Knicks defense, and while his price has come up a touch on FD to $6200 and $5700 on DK, I think there is plenty of upside for Dennis in this spot. He’s a strong GPP target.

Lastly, he’s not a priority for me, but it wouldn’t shock me to see a big rebounding game from DeAndre Jordan in this spot. The Knicks have zero size while also not having anyone who could really expose DJ on the perimeter. The minutes will be there, making it an elite spot for DJ to gobble up rebounds facing the least efficient team in the NBA.

This is my Dave Fizdale warning: Proceed with caution.

Here are people I trust to play 27+ minutes tonight for the Knicks: Tim Hardaway Jr. and Noah Vonleh. Vonleh is my favorite Knick to target as it’s just him and Mitchell Robinson in the Knicks frontcourt. Meanwhile, Robinson carries some GPP upside. With the Knicks injuries Tim Hardaway Jr has played 30+ minutes in four straight games, and I’d expect that to continue tonight. I like this spot for Hardaway, and I’d consider him a borderline elite target if it wasn’t for Fizdale.

If you want to go down the rabbit hole that is Knicks cheap guards and wings, go for it. There’s definitely upside if you correctly predict the right guy. Quite frankly, I’m over it and have thrown my hands up in protest over Fizdale and his rotation.

Charlotte Hornets @ Boston Celtics (o/u 218.5, BOS -7.5)

Charlotte is 18th in defensive rating, 18th in pace.

Boston is 5th in defensive rating, 19th in pace.

The Hornets head to Boston to face a Celtics team likely without Kyrie Irving. From a team metrics standpoint, the Celtics have actually been a slightly better team in games Kyrie has not played in this season. Still, this is a brutal spot for the Hornets, facing an elite Celtics defense in Boston.

I really don’t have much interest in any Hornets players here. If you’re desperate for Hornets exposure, Kemba Walker is usable and has shown up in games vs elite competition, but with PG a position of strength tonight this isn’t the spot I want to pay up for Kemba.

Marvin Williams is also a cheap usable PF worth considering, as the minutes and price are there for him.

For Boston, by now we have a good sense of what they are with Kyrie OFF the court. In terms of the matchup, Charlotte isn’t a good defensive team, so there’s nothing that scares me off Boston players here.

I’m curious to see if a lot of people are scared off by Terry Rozier’s increased price on both sites. Rozier is priced at $6500 on FD and $6100 on DK, and that does nothing to scare me off him here. Per 36 minutes, Rozier is averaging 34.15 FD and 34.69 DK points when Kyrie is OFF the court. I expect Rozier to be right around 36 minutes and facing a mediocre defense should lead to a slight production bump for Rozier. He remains an elite target even with his price up.

Jaylen Brown remains priced down on both sites at $4700. Brown is one of the biggest beneficiaries when Kyrie is OFF the court, seeing a 5.11% usage bump and averaging +.95 FD and +.96 more DK points per minute. He averages around 30 minutes in games Kyrie sits so we can project Brown for around 25-30 fantasy points. That’s good value at his price.

Another beneficiary of no Kyrie is Marcus Morris, as he sees a 6.08% usage bump with him OFF the court. Morris is priced up a touch but still remains a safe PF worth considering.

Both sites have priced up Marcus Smart and Al Horford after their monster performances vs Brooklyn. While I don’t mind either in this spot, their price dictates my interest and I’m off on both of them because of their prices.

Chicago Bulls @ Miami Heat (o/u 206, MIA -10.5)

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

Miami is 6th in defensive rating, 23rd in pace.

The Bulls are on a second night of a back to back and head to Miami for a brutal matchup vs the Heat, who rank 29th in pace and 5th in defensive rating over their last 15 games. Couple that with the Bulls averaging nine less points as a team on back to back’s, and no thank you, this is not the spot for me to spend up on Bulls.

If you’re desperate for Bulls exposure Jabari Parker went nuts last night, and could potentially see some added minutes. And Wayne Selden remains under $4k and will likely see 30+ minutes.

In total contrast, this is a good spot for Heat players, as the Bulls continue to struggle defensively. Derrick Jones Jr. is already ruled out, and it’s important to monitor the status of both D Wade and Tyler Johnson. Both are listed as questionable.

It pains me to say it because his price is now up on both sites, but Hassan Whiteside is in an elite spot vs Chicago. The Bulls have been Nets-esque vs opposing centers all year and Whiteside has smashed recent elite matchups against the Knicks and Clippers. I hate his $8k FD and $7500 DK price, so proceed with caution, especially because his production bump hasn’t exactly come with a minutes bump (it did vs LAC). All I will say is there’s Goatside potential tonight. There’s also a lot of Woatside potential.

If Tyler Johnson and D Wade can’t go that puts Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson as really the only two capable primary ball-handlers the Heat have. I’d consider both borderline elite targets because of the matchup + touches bump.

It pains me to say it but Dion Waiters sees a 7.56% usage bump and averages +.87 more FD and +.96 more DK points per minute with Wade, Johnson, and Jones Jr. OFF the court. Waiters recently found himself on the list so proceed with caution, but he would be an interesting target if both can’t go.

Wayne Ellington would also be a beneficiary if Johnson and Wade were to miss this game, as he would likely draw the start and see strong minutes while priced under $4k on both sites. Ellington can really shoot and Spoelstra tends to ride him when he starts him, so he’d offer strong value at SG.

Because Chicago struggles vs bigs I wouldn’t mind targeting Bam Adebayo here in GPPs. We can’t trust Spo and his big man rotation, but we can trust their upside in tournaments, as they are all in an elite matchup and will carry low ownership.

Memphis Grizzlies @ Minnesota Timberwolves (o/u 211.5, MIN -5.5)

Memphis is 7th in defensive rating, 30th in pace.

Minnesota is 19th in defensive rating, 11th in pace.

The Grizzlies hobble to Minnesota a banged up team in a strong pace-up game environment. Of late the T-Wolves have been a team we can look to attack in DFS, as they’ve been a below average defensive team while playing at appealing pace.

With all of the Grizzlies injuries we’ve seen Mike Conley and Marc Gasol produce at a more consistent rate, especially Conley, who has produced 40+ fantasy points in four of his last five games. This is a good spot for Conley, and attacking the pace-y teams at PG is something I like to do. I don’t particularly trust Conley at his $8300 FD and $8000 DK price tags, but they aren’t anything outrageous. Conley will be low owned and is a borderline elite target. I also like Gasol in this spot, as I expect him to stick with Taj Gibson around the rim with Jaren Jackson on KAT. If Memphis sticks Gasol on KAT, Marc would see less rebounding opportunities.

The Grizzlies are especially thin on the wing, putting Kyle Anderson in play. Anderson was the butt of NBA Twitter jokes after his 7-second, end-of-game sequence vs Denver. Luckily, we aren’t judging Anderson based off those 7 seconds, and Anderson is appealingly priced at $5700 on FD and $4500 on DK, as I expect him to be around the 30 minute mark in a strong matchup. Anderson’s price on DK is elite — the $4500 is too cheap.

Another Grizzlies value to consider is Justin Holiday. His production has come in spurts since joining Memphis, but the minutes are elite and he’s under $5k in a pace-up game. This is a spot for Holiday to produce. He offers cap relief and upside because of his defensive ceiling.

If JaMychal Green is ruled out again, Jaren Jackson Jr. carries some GPP appeal. The risk with Jackson, and it’s a big risk, is that I think he will matchup vs KAT, which adds a lot of foul trouble risk to an already foul-prone player.

The Timberwolves are also banged up, especially in the backcourt, with Jeff Teague and Tyus Jones already ruled out and Derrick Rose closer to doubtful. The Grizzlies haven’t been the same staunch defense of late, so while their slow pace is far from ideal, we don’t have to run and hide when we see Memphis on the slate anymore.

If Rose is ultimately ruled out, Jerryd Bayless becomes a strong value PG worth considering. Memphis has really struggled vs opposing PGs of late, ranking in the bottom 10 over their last 15 games. Bayless is what he is — he’s going to play a lot and shoot a lot and at $5k on both sites that has appeal.

Andrew Wiggins has been the biggest beneficiary with the T-Wolves PG injuries, as he’s finally shown some consistently high production. I like Wiggins in this spot. His prices — $6800 on FD and $6400 on DK — are appealing if and only if Rose is ruled out.

In four of his last five games, Karl-Anthony Towns has gone for 55+ fantasy points, and while this isn’t the ideal spot for him, KAT is a stud who is matchup-proof. If you’re targeting KAT, do so with confidence. He likely will be on the lower-owned side, as most will run from the Grizzlies matchup and his price tag.

Denver Nuggets @ New Orleans Pelicans (o/u 227, DEN -8)

Denver is 10th in defensive rating, 27th in pace.

New Orleans is 26th in defensive rating, 5th in pace.

The Pelicans continue to be one of my favorite teams to attack in DFS because of their fast pace and poor defense. This is an elite matchup for Nuggets players. Jamal Murray is ruled OUT for this game.

Regardless of if Murray was in or out, Nikola Jokic is an elite target tonight. Jokic is in a pace-up spot and will be around the rim all game, matched up vs Jahlil Okafor. Okafor’s usage in the block does carry some concern, but Okafor’s lack of defensive talent makes up for some potential missed rebounds for Jokic. The high pace should benefit all of Jokic’s peripherals. It’s hard not to like him here.

In Denver’s last game both Will Barton and Gary Harris played 30+ minutes, meaning it might be finally time to unleash both. Barton sees a 7.74% usage bump while Harris sees a 6.43% usage bump with Murray OFF the floor. Barton is priced up a bit, but the pace the Pelicans provide is the ideal game environment for Barton to thrive in. Harris remains priced as if he was playing 20-25 minutes. In a pace-up spot, priced down, and with a usage bump, Harris is an elite target at SF tonight. I’m a fan of playing both, especially if fading Jokic.

No Murray means Monte Morris is a usable punt on both sites. The minutes have been fine, but his production has lacked of late. The increased minutes of Barton and Harris play a huge factor in that. Still, Morris will be around the 25-28 minute mark in an elite pace-up game, priced under $4k.

The only thing positive I can say at this point about Paul Millsap is that he’s cheap. His production has been awful except for a 22-minute, monster performance vs PHX. The big issue I have with Millsap is his minutes, or lack thereof. Again, he’s cheap in an appealing matchup, but I just don’t trust him at all.

The Pelicans are on a second night of a back to back after impressing last night vs Houston — their first game after Anthony Davis’ trade request. Denver has regressed defensively, so I’m not overly concerned with the matchup and the back to back. Coming off of a big win has me slightly concerned though, as those are recipes for a potential blowout.

Predicting blowouts isn’t fun and something I don’t recommend, which means I have a lot of interest in Jrue Holiday if Julius Randle is ruled out again. Jrue is running the ship for the Pelicans and continues to produce across the board. While he isn’t cheap on either site, we can attack Denver at PG, and Jrue’s 1.47 FD and 1.49 DK points per minute and 6.09% usage bump are incredibly appealing. Jrue’s an elite target as long as Randle remains out.

The other guy absolutely balling for the Pelicans is Jahlil Okafor. In a five-game span, Okafor has seemingly turned his career around and has looked the part of a dominant offensive low post player many thought he would be coming out of Duke. While I’m not a fan of attacking the Nuggets at center, as Jokic pulls bigs away from the rim, Okafor’s minutes and production are hard to ignore with his price still under $7500. Okafor is an elite target, and I’d expect him to carry high ownership.

I expect E’Twaun Moore to be available tonight, which complicates the SF situation for the Pelicans. Darius Miller is the guy I trust the most, but he’s directly impacted by Moore’s potential return.

We also need to wait and see on the status of Elfrid Payton. If he can’t go again, both Frank Jackson and Tim Frazier become appealing value PGs worth considering.

Indiana Pacers @ Washington Wizards (o/u 217.5, PK)

Indiana is 3rd in defensive rating, 24th in pace.

Washington is 24th in defensive rating, 8th in pace.

The Pacers head to Washington a broken team after the Victor Oladipo injury, but after struggling vs Golden State find themselves in an elite matchup vs the Wizards.

This is the perfect bounce-back spot for Darren Collison, as the Wizards fast pace and poor defense is perfect to attack on PG. Collison was playing some of his most productive basketball of the year and even produced from a per minute standpoint in his 24 minutes vs Golden State. I expect no one to play Collison with some of the other strong options at PGs, Collison is an elite target priced at $6500 on FD and $6200 on DK.

Strangely enough it was Edmond Sumner who saw the minutes bump and not Aaron Holiday last game with Tyreke Evans out. Now, whether that was the product of the blowout or a trend that will continue we just don’t quite know yet. Sumner will get the start again, Holiday is a better per minute producer. Both are capable of exceeding value in an elite spot vs Washington.

I love Myles Turner tonight. Turner sees a production and slight usage bump with Dipo and Evans OFF the court, but it’s the matchup that has my mouth watering. Turner’s size and athleticism will cause fits for the Wizards and the Wizards increased pace will lead to added rebounding and defensive upside. Turner has been producing well and is priced appealingly on both sites. He’s an elite GPP target and I would argue even cash game safe.

The matchup works for both Domantas Sabonis and Thad Young. I just prefer to target them when one of them or Turner aren’t playing. Neither has produced that well of late. Still both carry some GPP upside, especially Young, who could see +steals vs the pacey Wizards.

The Wizards are on a second night of a back to back and facing a team I don’t particularly like to attack, as Indiana plays at a slow pace and with strong defense. While the Pacers looked attackable vs the Warriors last game, we must remember that they are the Warriors and these are the Wizards. Here are the Pacers team metrics with Dipo not playing (the sample size is only three games):

I really don’t have much interest in any Wizards players unless someone is scratched, as no one is priced at a line we can take advantage of, and the Pacers are just not a smart team to attack. If you’re desperate for Wizards exposure, Bradley Beal is always capable and priced fairly on DK. Tomas Satoransky is probably dollar for dollar the safest Wizard to target.

Atlanta Hawks @ Sacramento Kings (o/u 235, SAC -5.5)

Atlanta is 25th in defensive rating, 1st in pace.

Sacramento is 21st in defensive rating, 2nd in pace.

We’ve made it. We’ve made it to DFS heaven. The top two fastest paced teams in the NBA square off tonight, and both happen to be bottom 10 defenses. One could argue the implied 235 total could be considered low, as when these teams met earlier in the year they exploded for 261 points in regulation. There is a ton of fantasy goodness to go around, and both teams provide an elite matchup for each other. If there’s an apropos game-stack, this is it and I would expect this game to remains close throughout.

John Collins continues to impress in his second season, but at times can be construed as a risky target because of his sky high price, which typically keeps his ownership down. What Collins does offer is an immense ceiling and both sites make you pay for that ceiling at around $8k. The Kings are 26th in rebounding rate and 19th in true shooting percentage, and couple that with the around 105+ possessions this game will carry, and Collins will have ample rebounding opportunities. The Kings poor frontcourt defense will also pave the way for a big Collins scoring game. Collins typically smashes bad teams, and this is the perfect spot for a monster double-double from him.

The Hawks “dynamic duo” at center continues to produce, and in this spot I’m fine with using either Dewayne Dedmon or Alex Len as GPP targets. There’s no way you can trust either in cash games, but upside is there for both in this sort of matchup.

With Taurean Prince back in the 30 minute range and priced at $5100 on FD and $5200 on DK, not only does it make Prince worth considering, but it just complicates the Hawks entire wing rotation with DeAndre Bembry and Kevin Huerter. I trust Prince the most even after flopping last game, but it’s been proven that Bembry carries the most upside. Kent Bazemore has been upgraded to questionable in this game, which would further complicate this situation. If Bazemore plays I wouldn’t play any of the Atlanta wings. If Baze sits for one more game I’d rank them: Prince, Bembry, Huerter.

Attacking the Kings at PG is typically a sound strategy, putting Trae Young firmly in play. Young has been producing rather well of late going for 40+ fantasy points in four of his last seven games. Young is someone I never trust, but in this sort of matchup vs an equally young team Young certainly carries strong GPP upside.

A sub $5k GPP PG to consider is Jeremy Lin, strictly because of the matchup. Lin has been around the 20 minute range with the occasional 25+ minute bump, if he gets one of those bumps Lin carries some upside. I’d also be off on Lin if Bazemore played.

As good of a matchup as this is for the Hawks, this is a slightly better matchup for the Kings, as Atlanta provides everything we look for in a team we want to attack in DFS.

In their previous meeting earlier in the year, De’Aaron Fox went crazy vs Atlanta, going for 65.5 FD points and 72.5 DK points. And no one played him! I weirdly think Fox’s ownership will stay down in this one with a lot of other strong options at PG, but it will be hard for me to stay away. Fox thrives in pace and Atlanta’s propensity for turning the ball over while missing shots and playing poor defense should once again lead to added peripheral stats for him. Fox is an elite target tonight.

Bogdan Bogdanovic vs Buddy Hield is a 1 vs 1 I see all the time and one I expect to encounter tonight. While the matchup is clearly great for both players, I’m leaning Hield as I expect the pace of this game to lead to Hield taking 20+ shots. Teams shoot 47.4% from the field vs ATL and 36.4% from 3, so if Hield takes 20 shots and hits at around those numbers the upside is clearly there, especially with the pace boosting his peripheral stats.

The big I love for Sacramento continues to be Marvin Bagley. Bagley’s price is starting to creep up on FD at $6200, but he remains priced appealingly on DK at $5400. Bagley carries legit 40+ upside in this matchup at fairly low cost. I love him in this spot, and I’d consider him a borderline elite target.

Willie Cauley-Stein is certainly in play at $6400 on FD and $6200 on DK. His down price minimizes some of his minutes risk, while the Atlanta matchup raises his ceiling.

Seriously, there’s really no one I don’t like in this matchup. If there are any League Pass subscribers or NBA streamers reading this, I highly recommend watching this game. It’s going to be fun.

Utah Jazz @ Portland Trail Blazers (o/u 218.5, POR -1)

Utah is 4th in defensive rating, 14th in pace.

Portland is 15th in defensive rating, 20th in pace.

Lastly, Jazz vs Blazers isn’t exactly the late-night hammer we were dreaming of, but there is some appeal. In terms of the matchup for Utah, the Blazers are the definition of a mediocre matchup, and I expect this game to be played at a fairly slow pace. The risk with targeting Jazz players is with Rubio back there are a lot of mouths to feed that are all quite expensive.

Speaking of Ricky Rubio, with Utah still thin at PG I expect him to finally see a slight minutes bump after a strong performance last game. Rubio’s $6400 FD price and $6000 DK price are fine, as both offer a decent floor with lots of upside. While it’s always hard to trust Rubio I think he’s a decent GPP target.

Donovan Mitchell continues to produce even with Rubio back in the lineup. It’s tough for me to pay up for Mitchell in this spot, and I expect most to feel the same way as he’s just not easy to fit into lineups. That will drive his ownership down, making him an ok GPP target. Still, I’d rather spend elsewhere.

On DK, Rudy Gobert remains a bit cheap at $8100 — he’s priced around his floor. I’m not interested in him on FD at $9400. I don’t love attacking the Blazers at center, but I’m not overly worried about it. Gobert is a good target on DK.

While Derrick Favors is cheap, this isn’t the spot I want to target him, as I think he will see a slight minutes drop because of Al-Farouq Aminu. Aminu is more of a perimeter player and Favors won’t be able to keep up with him. Using that same logic, Jae Crowder will likely see a slight minutes bump and is an interesting cheap SF.

The Jazz are back to being an elite defensive team — ranking 1st in defensive rating over their last 15 games — making them a really tricky team to target.

One area we can look to attack the Jazz, though, is at center, putting Jusuf Nurkic in play. Gobert sags off the PnR or comes out to cut the driving lane of the ball-handler, thus allowing centers to either roll to the basket for an easy layup or attempt an uncontested floater. For that reason opposing centers have had success vs the Jazz. And Nurkic is a skilled big man who recently put up a 50 burger vs the Jazz.

My only other interest in Blazers players would be Damian Lillard, and my interest is only because of my disinterest. What makes Lillard a decent GPP target is that he’s a stud in a brutal matchup that no one will pay up for. Dame is certainly capable of producing vs anyone, and at super low ownership that has appeal. Still, he’s incredibly risky.


Teams to Attack

Knicks, Bulls, T-Wolves, Pelicans, Wizards, Hawks, Kings

Blowout Potential

Bulls @ Heat, Nuggets @ Pelicans

Top Targets

PG: De’Aaron Fox, Mike Conley, Terry Rozier, Trae Young (GPP), Darren Collison, Jerryd Bayless

SG: Luka Doncic, Jrue Holiday, Buddy Hield, Jaylen Brown

SF: Will Barton, Justise Winslow + Josh Richardson (if TJ + Wade OUT), Gary Harris, Kyle Anderson (DK), Taurean Prince

PF: John Collins, Marvin Bagley, Noah Vonleh

C: Karl-Anthony Towns, Nikola Jokic, Jahlil Okafor, Myles Turner (GPP), DeAndre Jordan