We have a star-driven, six-game NBA DFS slate on our hands, highlighted by a potential NBA Finals preview where the 76ers head to Golden State, and a potential Eastern Conference Finals preview between the Raptors and the Bucks. With all of the stars on a smallish slate, here are my top targets…
Steph Curry (FD $9200, DK $8900) vs Ben Simmons (FD $9500, DK $8600)
We start off the night with one of the hardest questions on the slate, Curry or Simmons? Simmons is appropriately more expensive on FD because of his defensive upside, while Curry is appropriately more expensive then Simmons because of his 3PT upside. I think a lot of people will flock to Simmons in this spot and lean Durant at SF. I prefer targeting Curry here. We’ve seen Curry stuff the stat sheet in intense, high-paced game environments like the one that will be featured tonight, and playing at home typically helps shooters. The argument against Curry is DeMarcus Cousins. Curry has taken the biggest usage hit since Boogie returned, seeing an 8% drop. Still, I think this is a matchup where Chef Curry gets cooking and with this game likely to stay close throughout we could see Curry hit his true ceiling at a down price.
*Note: I like Simmons too, and would consider him an elite target, as the pace of this game should lead to production across the board. This is a close 1 vs 1, so if you’re on Simmons and OFF Curry, trust your gut. Production is there for both.
Rajon Rondo (FD $6900, DK $7000) vs LAC
Rondo has let us down his last two games but he continues to play elite minutes and with Lonzo Ball and LeBron James still out those minutes will continue to be there. Rondo isn’t cheap, especially on DK, but this is an elite matchup vs the Clippers for him. Expect this game to be played at a very high pace, something Rondo typically thrives in. I’m not as confident as I have been with him, but I trust attacking the Clippers, Rondo has triple-double upside in this spot.
Reggie Jackson (FD $5400, DK $4700) vs DAL
I hate this. Every single time I’m teased by Reggie Jackson and a minutes bump at a down price I’m left frustrated and hurt. How can something be so bad and evil yet so alluring? Jackson has played 30, 35, and 36 minutes his last three games, which has been a product of Ish Smith and Reggie Bullock being out. If Bullock remains out, I fully expect Jackson to be back in that 35-minute range. If Bullock plays Jackson has some added risk, but I would still expect around 30-33ish minutes. I don’t trust Reggie at all but it’s a pace-up spot for him vs a poor defender in Dennis Smith Jr. Jackson provides some cap relief and upside.
BONUS PG PUNT SPECIAL
Edmond Sumner (FD $3500, DK $3800) vs ORL
Sumner is a sub $4k option at PG that provides us with cap relief to target other stars. If you’re going with a stars and scrubs approach you will need someone like Sumner. On FD priced at the minimum, he seems like a fairly strong option as a “free punt” with the potential to become slightly more than that. In his two game stint as a starter for Indiana, Sumner hasn’t done much except show some defensive and rebounding upside. The slate dictates who we can play, and Sumner is among the more usable values at the moment.
Jimmy Butler (DK Only: $7400) vs GS
After a three game absence, Jimmy Buckets came back with a 50 burger vs the Lakers. Tonight he finds himself in a primetime, high-intensity game environment vs Golden State. Jimmy is a bit too priced up for me on FD at $8600 to call him an elite target, but man I love his $7400 DK price tag. Jimmy typically shows up in these big spots, as his alpha-personality brings out max effort and elite production vs the best players and teams in the NBA. The Warriors certainly fit that bill tonight. While I think he’s overpriced on FD, I still think he can get there in this spot so it’s not a complete fade for me. And I love Jimmy on DK, as he’s priced around and arguably even below his floor.
Lou Williams (FD $7300, DK $7200) vs LAL
Sweet Lou has been balling, and this one is fairly straightforward. With Danilo Gallinari out the Clippers continue to go small, and Lou Williams has seen 3.37% usage bump over the last 14 days with Gallinari OFF the court. This is an elite matchup vs the Lakers, with a not yet released but I’m sure high implied total. We can target Lou with confidence here.
Josh Hart (FD $3900, DK $4200) vs Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (FD $4000, DK $4600) vs LAC
We need value and here are two values on the same team at similar prices who play similar minutes. So 1 vs 1, who am I taking? The Clippers play a three guard lineup now with Gallinari out, meaning Luke Walton will likely matchup with Rondo, Hart, KCP, Ingram, Kuzma/Zubac/McGee for the majority of the game. While I think a strong case can be made that KCP is much safer, I’m leaning Josh Hart. Hart’s production has been bad but I was encouraged to see Walton play him 30+ minutes last game. We’ve seen Hart go on these long droughts, and then play one game with a lot of minutes, and then smash the next game. There’s an opportunity for that here, especially vs a team like the Clippers. Both Hart and KCP provide decent value.
BONUS GPP SPECIAL
D’Angelo Russell (FD $8800, DK $8400) vs SA
I believe these waves of 50 burgers are here to stay for Russell, especially with Dinwiddie sidelined. The risk is I also think his random 25-30 point duds are always a possibility too, and Kenny Atkinson sometimes has a short leash with Russell, which effects his minutes. The Spurs are still not a great defensive team, and we can attack them with players like Russell, who run the show on offense for their teams. I like the matchup here, and the 50+ point upside is there. Russell will be low-owned because of all the other studs on the slate, and 50+ upside with smart risk and low ownership sounds like an elite GPP candidate to me.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (FD $11500, DK $10600) vs Kawhi Leonard (FD $10100, DK $9400)
This is the most important battle in one of the premier games of the night and most likely to be a very commonly asked 1 vs 1: Giannis or Kawhi? While both teams are strong defensively, I’m not worried about either in terms of matchup. In their previous meetings, Giannis averaged 59.7 FD points and 64.12 DK points vs Toronto, while Kawhi has averaged 52.9 FD points and 50.25 DK points vs the Bucks. Their matchup and points per dollar are nearly the same, so what’s the kicker? Saving a touch on Kawhi is one way to go about it. If you’re in a pinch and love your line but have Giannis in and need around $1k of salary, Kawhi is the downgrade I’d make. But that’s not answering the question. So, 1 vs 1 I’m taking Giannis and here’s why: The Bucks are on the road. Typically, role players see a bump in production at home and while role players shoot worse on the road, stars get leaned upon more heavily on the road. This holds especially true in high-intensity game environments like tonight in Toronto. I fully expect the Bucks to lean on Giannis throughout, which will keep him more engaged and attacking the defensive glass. Both are elite targets tonight, but if I had to pick one I’m spending up a touch and going Giannis. If you can’t decide and feel like rolling the dice in GPPs, a good strategy would to just play both.
Kevin Durant (FD $9400, DK $9100) vs PHI
Kevin Durant is the pivot off of Giannis and/or Kawhi, and if I’m fading one of them I’d want Durant in my lineup. For starters, Durant’s price on both sites is comically fair for how he’s produced since Boogie returned. It’s just shocking to see Durant so cheap. Cousins returned 10 games ago, so using The Quant Edge Player Impact Tool and setting the date range to the last 14 days, we see Kevin Durant is averaging -.24 FD and -.28 less DK points per minute and seeing a -4.4% usage drop while sharing the court with Boogie. Per-36 minutes, Durant is averaging 40.92 FD and 40.29 DK points with Boogie ON the floor. What works in Durant’s favor is SO FAR after the start of each half, he and Boogie’s minutes have been staggered, meaning he only shares the court with Boogie around 11-16 minutes per game. The Sixers are a good defensive team but the game environment outweighs the defense, and while we always have to worry about blowout potential for the Warriors, this is a spot where Durant will likely see a full minutes load. He’s at an all time cheap price and is a star in a primetime game that features a 240 implied total, Durant will be able to produce. It wouldn’t shock me to see Durant the highest owned of the three stud SFs simply because he’s the cheapest.
Brandon Ingram (FD $7100, DK $7300) vs LAC
Ingram has seemingly taken the Anthony Davis trade rumors and channeled that frustration into some of his best basketball of the season. The last two outings for Ingram looked more like Summer League and preseason Ingram rather than regular season Ingram, as he’s no longer settling for his shot, he’s looking for and taking his shot. While that may not seem like it means anything, for a scorer like Ingram that shows he’s confident, and confidence is key. Plus, Ingram is in an elite spot vs the Clippers. While the prices are similar, I’d much rather target Ingram on FD. Typically, DK guys should be anywhere from $400-$800 cheaper in this price range, but Ingram is more expensive on DK.
Wilson Chandler (FD $4000, DK $4000) vs GS
Wilson Chandler is simply a cheap value filler featured in a high-paced, high-intensity game environment with a 240 Vegas implied total. We need value tonight, and Chandler will play 30ish minutes while coasting into 10+ rebounds with a few buckets and a steal or two. I’m not saying have Chandler be the first person in your lineup, but if you’re in the need of a super-cheap SF, Chandler is my favorite of those options.
LaMarcus Aldridge (DK Only PF/C: $8300) vs BK
I love to attack the Nets at center and LaMarcus Aldridge is the Spurs center. On FD, Aldridge is priced up after recent strong games with DeRozan out of the lineup (at $9600), and tonight DeRozan is probable, Aldridge is just too costly for me. On DK though, Aldridge’s price has stayed down and that is a price we can attack vs Brooklyn, regardless if DeRozan plays or not. With all of the pricey targets tonight I’d expect Aldridge to be slightly under-owned, considering the elite nature of his matchup.
Pascal Siakam (FD $6500, DK $6200) vs MIL
I really like Pascal tonight, especially at his down price on both sites. Pascal has had a slight dip in production of late, but he’s still playing 35 minutes a night. In three games vs the Bucks this year Siakam, is averaging 43.1 FD points and 41.42 DK points. He has the right body build to go up against the length of the Bucks, and the one area where we can confidently attack the Bucks is at PF. This is an elite spot for Siakam at an elite price. Dollar for dollar he’s one of my favorite targets on the slate.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (FD $4500, DK $4200) vs SA
My Rondae love affair continues…Unfortunately for Rondae, tonight is less about the love and more about the cost. We need value tonight and quite frankly, there just isn’t much. Rondae will likely be in the 20-25 minute range, but Nets minute projections always come with an asterisk because of Kenny Atkinson. The matchup isn’t great, but Rondae is my favorite bet to 5x+ his salary at under $5k at PF, which overall is a position of weakness. Anywhere we can find some savings tonight is crucial.
Andre Drummond (FD $9200, DK $8100) vs DAL
Coming off of his concussion Andre Drummond looks good, having gone for 48+ fantasy points in back to back games. Why Drummond and not Embiid or Vuc at center? Savings and matchup. Drummond is noticeable cheaper than both, and on a slate with limited value that is crucial. Drummond will also square off against DeAndre Jordan, which will keep Drummond around the rim ALL game. Both prices are appealing, with DK’s price borderline cheap for how Drummond has played, I really like him in this spot.
Ivica Zubac (FD $5200, DK $5100) vs LAC
This is your classic bounce-back spot for Zubac. Zubac was coming off of a 50 burger facing Joel Embiid and the Sixers, with Lakers fans thinking they have the next Shaq. Then, with high ownership, Zubac flopped in his last game because of foul trouble. He does not have that risk tonight against the Clippers, as he gets the corpse of Marcin Gortat early, and has a noticeable height advantage over Harrell. There is not much value featured on this slate and there are A LOT of expensive options, so saving at center and going Zubac in an elite matchup helps fit other stars. The Clippers have been the worst team in the NBA vs opposing centers, so again, this is a smash bounce back spot for Zubac. I’m hoping recency bias keeps his ownership down. One quick note: If McGee ends up starting tonight, I would still have interest in Zubac, but there would be far more risk.
*Note: Joel Embiid is also a top play at center but dollar for dollar not my favorite. With not much value and a lot of high priced targets it’s tough to squeeze Embiid in. The savings from Drummond and/or Zubac are crucial for roster construction.
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.