Well…Did anything big happen in the NBA yesterday? We have a rather small five-game NBA DFS slate to kick off the month of February. Let’s get right to it…
Memphis Grizzlies @ Charlotte Hornets (o/u 206.5, CHA -4.5)
Memphis is 7th in defensive rating, 30th in pace.
Charlotte is 21st in defensive rating, 19th in pace.
This is a fairly gross matchup featuring two of the slower paced teams in the NBA. The Hornets are also a bad defensive team, so I have some intrigue in Grizzlies players.
Mike Conley has been balling of late, going for 40+ fantasy points in four of his last five games while also seeing slightly higher minutes. Not surprisingly, Conley jumped onto the injury report with a sore knee, so this is a situation we have to monitor. If Conley plays, he’s priced appealingly at $7900 on DK and is usable on FD at $8500. If Conley can’t go, Shelvin Mack would become an elite value PG while Jevon Carter would become his GPP pivot.
With Memphis thin at the wing, Kyle Anderson should continue to see 30+ minutes. Anderson is usable on FD priced at $5600, but is incredibly appealing at his $4400 DK price tag. If Conley can’t go Anderson would see a slight usage bump with already strong minutes. His $4400 is cheap.
Interestingly, it appears Bruno Caboclo is now one year away from being one year away…I think. But still, Bruno has been seeing minutes for Memphis with Casspi and Temple out, and he’s produced fairly well. Bruno is super long and that length plays off with his defensive upside. Priced under $4k, and if in the 25-30 minute range, I’d have some interest in Bruno as a GPP value dart.
I’m not really interested in Marc Gasol tonight, I don’t think he’s over or under-priced, I just prefer spending elsewhere.
For Charlotte, this is a less than ideal matchup because of the pace the Grizzlies play at. I don’t really have much interest in any Hornets players.
If you’re desperate for Charlotte exposure the Grizzlies rank 22nd in the NBA in DvP vs PGs over the last 15 games, putting Kemba Walker in play as an interesting GPP target. I’m not forcing Kemba into any of my lines. But in 20 max GPPs, if playing 20 lineups, I’d want some Kemba exposure.
Boston Celtics @ New York Knicks (o/u 218, BOS -13)
Boston is 3rd in defensive rating, 20th in pace.
New York is 28th in defensive rating, 13th in pace.
So…I’m not even sure how to break this game down yet without knowing who will actually be playing for the Knicks tonight. One thing that is for certain, this game has some serious blowout potential, and I’m really curious to see what the atmosphere in the Garden will be like. What Celtics can we target? It’s an elite matchup for them all, as the Knicks are a truly terrible defensive team.
I don’t see how this game stays close, making it tough for me to pay up for Kyrie Irving or any Celtics stud. Still, this is beyond an elite matchup, and Irving is a superstar playing in the Garden, where I’m sure Knicks fans will be chanting for him to come to New York. If this game stays close Kyrie will smash.
The Celtic I am most interested in is Jayson Tatum, as his price has remained down on both sites, and in an elite matchup vs the Knicks we could see the Celtics force Tatum the ball.
Gordon Hayward is also on my radar tonight as a cheap GPP option at SF. Hayward has been brutal except for his last game, so this seems like a good spot for Brad Stevens to try and let Gordon gain some more confidence. He’s a GPP only target, but this is a sneaky strong spot for him while also being blowout proof.
This next Knicks section is going to be a bit of a challenge, because at the moment we just don’t know who will be available tonight. In case you missed it and are living under a rock, the Knicks traded Kristaps Porzingis, Trey Burke, Tim Hardaway Jr, and Courtney Lee to Dallas for Dennis Smith Jr, DeAndre Jordan, and Wes Matthews. I don’t expect any of the Knicks new pieces to play tonight, and I’d be willing to bet that Jordan and Matthews get bought out. So, with Frank Ntilikina and Mudiay OUT … which Knicks do I think will be available tonight? Kadeem Allen, Allonzo Trier, Damyean Dotson, Kevin Knox, Mario Hezonja, Lance Thomas, Luke Kornet, Noah Vonleh, Mitchell Robinson, and of course Enes Kanter. Of those 10 names listed, nine are likely to play, as Kanter has been banished to the far-end of the bench. In terms of the matchup, it’s brutal, as the Celtics are an elite defensive team, but the Knicks are super thin in the backcourt tonight, which outweighs the tough matchup.
The Knicks have three available “guards” tonight in Kadeem Allen, Allonzo Trier, and Damyean Dotson. Allen is my favorite target of the trio, as we get him at $3500 on FD and $3300 on DK. Allen has produced well in his 17ish minutes his last two games, and if that get’s bumped up to 25-30 he has a decent shot to 10x value. Trier will be the highest owned of the trio, especially on FD, priced down at $4000. On DK, Trier is $5400 so he’s not THAT much of a value. Still, minutes and production should be there for Zo. Goatson, aka Dotson, is the sneaky Knicks wing to consider. Dotson has been a part of the rotation for awhile and continues to impress me. He’s active on the court so if the minutes are there the fantasy production usually follows. I’d consider all three elite values simply because of their minutes.
The minutes will also be there for Mario Hezonja, and I expect him to be the highest owned Knick on the slate. Hezonja has seen 25+ minutes in three straight games and with a thinner team tonight, Hezonja should be locked into 30+ minutes at $4400 on FD and $4200 on DK. As mentioned above, the matchup is brutal, but Hezonja see’s a 5.56% usage bump with THJ, Mudiay, and Burke OFF the court. He is an elite value because of his potential minutes and price.
Like Hezonja, Kevin Knox should be locked into strong minutes tonight. Knox doesn’t see a huge fantasy point per minute increase with Mudiay, Burke, and Hardaway OFF the court, but does see a 3.54% usage bump. I expect Knox to take a ton of shots and play a ton of minutes tonight.
The Knicks frontcourt isn’t as clear with Luke Kornet back in the picture. If Kornet starts and isn’t on any sort of limit, Kornet is an appealing high upside value, as he produced well with his minutes before getting hurt. I don’t expect Kanter to play, which would leave Noah Vonleh and Mitchell Robinson as the remaining Knicks. Vonleh is the safest — we know what we’re getting with him and while he’s slightly affected by the return of Kornet, I expect his minutes to be there. Robinson has big time GPP upside, especially if this game gets out of hand early.
I don’t like saying it but even in a terrible matchup almost every Knicks player is worth considering tonight because they will play a ton of minutes UNLESS Dennis Smith Jr, Wes Matthews, and DeAndre Jordan play. If that’s the case, then it’s a nightmare scenario where Fizdale will torture us. Speaking of Dave Fizdale, this is your Fizdale warning: It doesn’t matter if there are only five Knicks players available, Fiz will always try and find a way to ruin us.
IF Dennis Smith Jr. plays, with the little backcourt depth the Knicks have tonight, DSJ would be a borderline elite target.
Oklahoma City Thunder @ Miami Heat (o/u 218, OKC -4.5)
Oklahoma City is 2nd in defensive rating, 3rd in pace.
Miami is 6th in defensive rating, 25th in pace.
This is an interesting matchup, as two really good defensive teams square off. What complicates this matchup for the Thunder is Miami ranks 29th in pace over the last 15 games, really showing a team effort to slow the game down. Playing at home I think we will see Miami continue to try and slow down the pace, while the Thunder’s elite pace will push the tempo at times.
Paul George has been amazing. FD has rightly priced him up, and DK has him priced at $9900. While I don’t think either price is egregiously high or low, it’s tough for me to spend $11k+ on FD vs Miami. On DK, however, George is still in play as 55 fantasy points is strong value at that price tag.
One area where Miami has struggled defensively is against primary scoring ball handlers, and while Russell Westbrook has ceded a lot of his scoring responsibilities to George, he is still a bucket-getter, making this an intriguing matchup for him. Westbrook now has this reputation around DFS where he’s no longer the elite option he once was, but it’s worth noting he’s been over 55+ fantasy points in five of his last eight games.
It looks like Steven Adams and Terrance Ferguson are good to go tonight, I don’t really have any other interest in Thunder players besides the studs. Adams is cheap on DK at $6400, so I have no issue using him. It’s a decent matchup for Jerami Grant, as Miami has struggled vs PFs, but the slow pace concerns me.
Miami won’t be able to dictate the tempo for the entire game, making this an interesting pace-up spot for them. The issue with targeting Heat players is Coach Spo, and their frustrating rotation. OKC’s second-ranked defense doesn’t help, either.
I’m off on ALL Heat players tonight — I don’t think any are worth the risk, unless some late-breaking injury news occurs. If you’re desperate for Heat exposure, Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson have the most secure minutes. JRich has been brutal from a production standpoint of late, but the minutes are there, so in a slight pace-up spot he’s an interesting GPP target.
Atlanta Hawks @ Utah Jazz (o/u 227, UTA -11.5)
Atlanta is 26th in defensive rating, 1st in pace.
Utah is 5th in defensive rating, 15th in pace.
The Hawks are getting healthier and in a brutal spot vs the Jazz. Utah is back to being their stout defensive self, so even on a small slate this isn’t the spot I want to spend up on Hawks. I’m off on all Hawks players.
On the flip-side, Utah is in a glorious Atlanta matchup, which puts Jazz players firmly on the map. I will continue to list the Hawks team metrics out until the point is hammered home. The Hawks are 1st in pace, 26th in defensive rating, 30th in turnover percentage, 20th in true shooting percentage, and 21st in rebounding rate.
The first name that pops up for Utah is Donovan Mitchell, and for good reason. Mitchell should be able to score a ton, grab some steals, and see a bump in assists and rebounds because of the Hawks. His $8800 price on both sites isn’t cheap, but Mitchell is an elite target in an elite matchup.
Pace, poor defense, and being turnover-prone means we can attack the Hawks at PG, putting Ricky Rubio on the radar. I don’t trust Rubio at all, but this is an elite production-bump (new DFS word) spot where he should see +assists, +rebounds, +steals because of Atlanta’s style of play. The $6300 on FD and $6100 on DK for Rubio is fair, and he’s a really interesting target that will likely be on the lower owned side.
I like Joe Ingles’ price on both sites, especially the $5300 on DK. There’s nothing exceptional about Ingles except for the matchup he’s in, which makes him a safe lower middle priced SF with decent upside.
I’d expect Rudy Gobert to be a fairly popular center tonight. Gobert is priced ok in an elite matchup. If Atlanta is able to hang around late until the fourth quarter, Gobert has a monster ceiling. The Hawks play a traditional center for the majority of the game, meaning Gobert will be around the rim A LOT, and against a team like Atlanta that usually equates to fantasy goodness.
Houston Rockets @ Denver Nuggets (o/u 227, DEN -4.5)
Houston is 27th in defensive rating, 28th in pace.
Denver is 9th in defensive rating, 27th in pace.
We end tonight with the best actual basketball game of the night, as two top Western Conference teams face off. The matchup for the Rockets doesn’t seem as bad as it looks, as Denver has been a bottom 10 defensive team over the course of the last month. Chris Paul is listed as questionable for this game.
Not that it REALLY even matters much at this point, but if Paul can’t go, we know what to do: Fire up James Harden. Even while the Nuggets were playing elite team defense they struggled against primary ball-handlers, so this is an elite matchup for Harden. Even if Paul plays, Harden is still an elite target at his insanely high price tag. He’s nuts and is breaking DFS. To recap, if Paul doesn’t play, Harden is a must. If Paul plays, I can understand the Harden fade, but he’s still an elite target.
Kenneth Faried has been awesome since joining the Rockets, and is now priced high enough where a decision needs to be made, especially tonight vs a team like Denver. Faried will likely face Jokic, which will pull him away from the rim and likely limit his rebounding and defensive upside. Faried could also be in early foul trouble, as he’s severely undersized vs Jokic. Still, with Faried’s activity, I think he’s still usable.
If Paul can’t go, Eric Gordon and Austin Rivers become intriguing values worth considering, especially Gordon. When Harden is on the bench,Gordon sees a 13.03% usage bump, and averages 1.2 FD and 1.27 DK points per minute with both Harden and Paul OFF the floor. He also sees a production bump with just Paul OFF the floor. Plus, Gordon is cheap at $5300 on FD and $5000 on DK.
At $7300 on FD and $6800 on DK, Chris Paul is weirdly usable if he plays tonight. The 27ish minutes could be enough for him to exceed value. Of course, he’d still be a huge risk.
Houston is a terrible defensive team, and a team we can attack regardless of their slow pace in DFS. This is a good spot for Nuggets players. Jamal Murray remains OUT for Denver.
This is a smash spot for Nikola Jokic, as Houston just doesn’t have the size to matchup with Jokic with Capela OUT. Jokic is right there with Harden as the top overall play on the slate,. There’s not much else that needs to be said. But just for fun, Jokic is averaging 59.77 FD and 59.02 DK points per 36 minutes with Jamal Murray OFF the court over the last 14 days. His $11500 FD and $10800 DK price tags are fine.
Will Barton and even Gary Harris made me eat some crow last game for Denver, as both see a strong production and usage bump with Murray OFF the floor. The minutes are still there for both and Harris is still priced down. Harris is considered questionable, but he played 30+ minutes last game with the same questionable tag, so I fully expect him to play. Harris is an elite target at sub $6k, while Barton is strong GPP SF.
No Murray also means we can use Monte Morris and Malik Beasley as usable value Gs. Morris has seen his price jump after exploding last game for 40+ fantasy points to $4500 on FD, and $5100 on DK. Morris is still an elite value on FD. Beasley continues to just get buckets, and I’m starting to buy in. He’s a strong value.
Below are the Nuggets players per-minute production differentials with Jamal Murray OFF the court over the last 14 days.
Teams to Attacks
Knicks, Hawks, Rockets, Nuggets
Celtics @ Knicks, Hawks @ Jazz
PG: Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving (GPP), Kemba Walker (GPP), Ricky Rubio, Kadeem Allen*
SG: James Harden, Donovan Mitchell, Eric Gordon (if CP3 OUT), Monte Morris (FD), Allonzo Trier*, Damyean Dotson*
SF: Paul George, Gary Harris, Kyle Anderson (DK), Mario Hezonja*
PF: Jayson Tatum, Luke Kornet*
C: Nikola Jokic, Rudy Gobert
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.