NBA Morning Thoughts 02.08.19

NBA Morning Thoughts 02.08.19

We wrap up the work week with a fun, eight-game NBA DFS slate, so let’s get right to it…

*Note: There is a lot of uncertainty at the moment with players on new teams. Some are intentionally left off until we have more information.

Denver Nuggets @ Philadelphia 76ers (o/u 229.5, PHI -4.5)

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

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

We start with two of the NBA’s best teams squaring off in Philadelphia. This is a decent pace-up spot for the Nuggets, as the Sixers will likely try to control the pace at home. While the Sixers have above-average defensive metrics, I’m unconcerned about their defense for Nuggets players. Gary Harris remains out.

One of the more interesting player matchups we get tonight is Nikola Jokic vs Joel Embiid. Jokic has been unbelievable this year, and while he won’t get it, he deserves to be in the MVP conversation. We’ve seen skilled big men have huge games vs Embiid, as his “ego” keeps his opponent locked in all game. It’s not easy to pay up for Jokic on either site — $11200 on FD and $10400 on DK aren’t exactly cheap — but there is upside in this spot. Unfortunately there isn’t much historical data between these two, as Embiid missed his previous matchup vs the Nuggets this year, when Jokic exploded.

An interesting GPP target is Jamal Murray, and simply because of price. Murray is cheap on both sites at $6700 on FD and $6300 on DK, and played 31 minutes in his return to action in his last game vs Brooklyn. Murray averages 1.01 FD and 1.05 DK points per minute with Gary Harris OFF the court, with around a 2% usage bump. Shockingly, Murray had been somewhat consistent before getting injured, and he’s priced around his floor in a high-intensity game environment. I like him a lot tonight.

Paul Millsap is listed as questionable, so we will have to continue to wait and see whether we can unleash Trey Lyles and Mason Plumlee. Lyles is still cheap enough and would become an elite target. Plumlee at his elevated price is more of a debate.

Monte Morris remains a bit too priced up for me with Jamal Murray back. The minutes will still be there for Monte — it’s more so the usage that worries me at his price. Malik Beasley remains a strong target and is still too cheap on FD at under $5k.

The new-look Sixers are a bit of an unknown tonight, as this will likely be their first game with new addition Tobias Harris. In terms of the matchup, Denver has become a team we can attack, as they boast the 25th ranked defense in the NBA over the last 15 games.

The Tobias Harris move has made the Sixers less DFS relevant at their elevated price tags. While I expect we see an active Harris tonight, it’s tough for me to pay around $7k for him, as I do think there is potential for him to sit in the corner on offense a lot.

Joel Embiid is the safest of the Sixer studs simply because he has always been the most productive. Again, does Harris’ addition take away looks the way Jimmy Butler’s addition negatively impacted Joel? I think it may, but I still have GPP intrigue in Embiid.

On FD, Ben Simmons is a bit too pricey, but I like this matchup a lot and his DK $8400 price tag is very targetable. Simmons on DK is probably my favorite Sixer to target, as he’s the least scoring dependent of their new “big 4”.

I’m off on Jimmy Butler and JJ Redick. I think Butler can certainly get there, but I’m of the wait and see approach with most of the Sixer players. While they could all reach 5x value, I don’t see much of a ceiling for any of them except for Embiid and Simmons.

Cleveland Cavaliers @ Washington Wizards (o/u 220, WAS -10.5)

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

Washington is 26th in defensive rating, 8th in pace.

The Cavs head to Washington to face a Wizards team we very much like to attack. Both of these teams are bad and play minimal defense, and the Wizards provide a strong pace-bump for Cavalier players.

With Burks gone and Osman out there’s a real opportunity of strong minutes for Jordan Clarkson. Clarkson can be a nightmare to target at times, but he’s typically been a decent producer thus far in the year. The Wizards matchup benefits him, and while he’s slightly priced up at $5800 on FD and $5200 on DK, I have no qualms with targeting Clarkson at either of those prices. I like him a lot tonight.

The minutes continue to slowly go up and up and with Osman out they should creep over the 30 mark for Larry Nance Jr. Nance’s price hasn’t jumped much — $6500 on FD and $5800 on DK. With Love, Osman, and Thompson OFF the floor, Nance is averaging 1.12 FD and 1.09 DK points per minute which is strong production. I expect Nance to be around 30-32 minutes tonight, and with an elite Wizards matchup I like Nance a lot.

I’ve been off on Collin Sexton all year, as his per minute production has been mediocre, but Sexton has the chance to play elite minutes in an elite matchup. I still don’t love him but that is something we have to consider. David Nwaba will likely be in the 25-30 minute range, so he offers some value, especially under $4k on DK.

The Wizards have the luxury of playing the worst defensive team in the NBA. News is the most important thing for the Wizards as we still don’t know whether Bobby Portis and Jabari Parker will suit up tonight. If both are out, the Wizards are a shorthanded team in a great spot.

We’ll lead off with Bradley Beal, and he’s fairly straightforward. This is a great spot for Beal here, as I don’t think this is as much of a pace-down game as some may think. Beal should be able to score at will vs the Cavs league worst defense, and his price on both sites is fair. Beal is averaging 39.57 FD and 40.92 DK points in three games vs Cleveland this year. That’s not elite production, but the circumstances are different now. Beal’s an elite target regardless of the status of Portis and Parker, and he’d be close to a must for me if both were ruled OUT.

If Portis and Parker are ruled out, Thomas Bryant would become an elite target. Bryant has been a production monster at times, and this would mean his minutes are locked in. Bryant went for a 50 burger in his last game when Washington was shorthanded, and he carries that sort of upside in this spot.

Tomas Satoransky and Jeff Green would also benefit if Portis and Parker don’t play, and would be considered borderline elite plays. Both a priced appealingly on DK.

IF Portis and Parker PLAY, I’d only be interested in Bradley Beal and Bobby Portis. I think we’d see a motivated and pissed off Portis, which we know is a dangerous man in DFS. Even if he only played 25 minutes this could be a smash spot for Bobby.

New York Knicks @ Detroit Pistons (o/u 206, DET -8.5)

New York is 28th in defensive rating, 16th in pace.

Detroit is 9th in defensive rating, 24th in pace.

The Knicks are my least favorite team to target in DFS now, and it’s all because of one man, Dave Fizdale. This is your Fizdale warning. This is a pace-down game, and quite frankly a gross spot to target Knicks players.

The Knicks don’t really have another PG on the roster at the moment, so Dennis Smith Jr. is locked into big minutes. DSJ is the one Knick that I would target with some confidence tonight, as Detroit has struggled to contain PGs, and his minutes are safe in the 35+ range. I’d expect Smith to be a fairly popular target, which sets us up nicely for some Fizdale rants on DFS Twitter.

The buy-out of Wes Matthews potentially opens up minutes again for Damyean Dotson. We’re a fan of Dotson at TQE — 25+ minutes at under $4k makes Dot an interesting punt at SG.

While the Knicks may be one of my least favorite teams to target, they are one of my favorite teams to ATTACK. The Knicks play at a decent pace and are truly horrible defensively, so this is an elite spot for Pistons players.

Even with his price up we can go back to the well with Andre Drummond tonight. FD has priced Drummond up to $10000 which makes my insides hurt a little. On DK, Drummond is priced at $8600, and that is an elite price for him in this spot. Remember, the Knicks are the LEAST efficient team in the NBA (30th in true shooting %) and Drummond is a rebound machine. Drummond has looked great since returning from his concussion, and it would not shock me in the slightest to see him put up a third straight 50 burger.

While he may have slightly disappointed some his last game vs the Knicks I have zero issues targeting Blake Griffin tonight. This is an elite spot for Blake, and if the Knicks hang around Blake has legit 50+ point upside.

I would love the Reggie Jackson hype train to end so he can stop giving me nightmares and I can stop talking about him. Jackson has seen a slight minutes bump over the last two weeks, and with that his production has grown. It’s a great spot for Jackson but I refuse to be lured in by this trap. I’m happy to take one for the team and fade RJAX so everyone else can prosper in his production.

With Reggie Bullock gone a good chunk of minutes open up at SG. At first glance I think Luke Kennard and Langston Galloway absorb most of those minutes, and I prefer Kennard. I don’t expect Svi to see big minutes in his debut.

Chicago Bulls @ Brooklyn Nets (o/u 233.5, BK -8.5)

Chicago is 24th in defensive rating, 23rd in pace.

Brooklyn is 17th in defensive rating, 11th in pace.

This is an elite pace-up spot for the Bulls, as sneakily the Nets have been the highest paced team in the NBA over their last 15 games. Coach Kenny Atkinson wanted to increase the tempo and the Nets sure have. Defensively the Nets have improved too, but we can look to attack this Nets pace. Otto Porter is expected to make his debut tonight.

With Portis gone and Carter injured, there is not much competition for minutes with Lauri Markkanen. While Lauri isn’t a traditional “center,” it’s always wise to attack the Nets with bigs. Lauri will certainly see some minutes at center and his minutes and production last game are a decent onus of what Lauri is capable of. I don’t love his $8k FD price tag, but I really like his DK $7k price. Overall this is a great spot for Lauri — he’s an elite target on DK.

We need to monitor the status of Zach LaVine, as he re-injured his ankle in practice. Currently, he’s listed as questionable. If LaVine plays, I love him tonight. LaVine also benefits from Portis and Parker’s absence and I don’t think Otto Porter’s arrival will affect his usage too much early on. This is a great matchup and his price is fair.

IF LaVine can’t go, we can fire up Kris Dunn with confidence. Over the last 14 days Dunn has seen a 6.06% usage bump with LaVine OFF the court, which equates to 1.01 FD and 1.05 DK points per minute. That is strong but nothing special, production-wise, but we must not forget about the intriguing BK matchup. Dunn would get a strong bump because of Brooklyn, which offers appealing upside at $7100 on FD and $6500 on DK.

While I get the appeal I’m in no rush to force Otto Porter into my lineups.

The Nets also find themselves in a lovely matchup against a really bad Bulls defense. Caris LeVert returns tonight and while as a Nets fan I’m happy to see that, as a DFS fan that just gives us more reason for Kenny Atkinson to frustrate us.

I fully expect LeVert to be on a strict minutes limit tonight, which means his return doesn’t quite effect D’Angelo Russell too much yet. While Russell’s per minute metrics don’t show a massive improvement, Russell has thrived since LeVert went down because of the added minutes. With Dinwiddie still out I believe initially LeVert will effect Shabazz Napier the most. DLo remains one of the strongest GPP targets out there.

An interesting value to consider is Joe Harris. Yes, Crabbe and LeVert have an effect on his minutes, but Harris is too cheap on DK at $4600 and Chicago gives up the most open three point shots per game. This is a sneaky great spot for Harris.

I’d love to target Jarrett Allen and more Nets here, but I just don’t trust the rotation. Allen has GPP intrigue because of the elite nature of the Bulls matchup, but I worry Kenny will sit him on the bench when Chicago goes with Lauri at the “5” for long stretches.

Milwaukee Bucks @ Dallas Mavericks (o/u 223, MIL -8)

Milwaukee is 1st in defensive rating, 5th in pace.

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

The Bucks head to Dallas with their new addition, Nikola Mirotic, unlikely to play tonight. And Khris Middleton has been ruled out for rest purposes already. Giannis Antetokounmpo is listed as probable, but it would not shock me if Milwaukee ended up sitting him, too.

Leading off with Giannis Antetokounmpo — if he plays we can target him with confidence. He’s a stud and Dallas doesn’t have anyone athletically that can come close to matching him. Giannis is certainly a touch overpriced, but he carries one of the highest floors on a slate with a lot of studs Giannis is far from a must because of his price. Still, Giannis does see a .13 FD and .14 DK more fantasy points per minute while carrying a 2.05% usage bump with Middleton OFF the floor.

Expect Eric Bledsoe to be one of the highest-owned targets on the slate because of the Middleton news. Bledsoe see’s a strong 6.07% usage bump but that hasn’t translated to much of a production bump — he’s only averaging .02 FD and .03 more DK points per minute. I’d call Bledsoe an elite target but not a must.

The biggest beneficiary with Middleton OFF the court has been Malcolm Brogdon, who sees a 6.69% usage bump while averaging 1.05 FD and 1.11 DK points per minute. Brogdon typically plays around 27-30 minutes, but I’d expect him to be around 36 tonight. Per 36 minutes Brogdon averages 37.95 FD and 39.95 DK points, and priced at $6300 on FD and $5600 on DK, Brogdon has the chance to offer elite upside.

If you’re looking for a sneaky GPP punt, Pat Connaughton is your man. In two games Middleton has missed this year, Pat has played 30 and 19 minutes. At .89 FD and .9 DK points per minute Pat can exceed value in this spot if he’s only at 20ish minutes.

It’s a nice pace-up spot for Dallas, however Milwaukee isn’t a team I love to attack, as the Bucks boast the NBA’s best defense. The Mavericks rotation is a bit of nightmare to figure out, so I’m ok with staying away.

There are four guys I’d consider tonight for Dallas: Tim Hardaway Jr, Maxi Kleber, Dwight Powell, and Dorian Finney-Smith. I’m a Luka fanboy, but this isn’t the spot where I want to target Luka UNLESS Giannis is ruled out. Hardaway Jr. is a DK GPP only target for me. If the minutes increase he’s way too cheap at $4900. Dallas has no bigs, so Kleber and Powell will continue to play big minutes. Kleber vs Powell is interesting. I’d say Kleber cash, Powell GPP. On FD, Powell is too pricey for me. Finney-Smith will also continue to play big minutes and is priced down.

Golden State Warriors @ Phoenix Suns (o/u 230.5, GS -15.5)

Golden State is 13th in defensive rating, 10th in pace.

Phoenix is 29th in defensive rating, 12th in pace.

This game depends A LOT on the news of Devin Booker. If Devin Booker can’t go, I have no faith that this game will stay close. Still, this is an elite spot for the Warriors. The risk, of course, is a blowout and which of their five All-Stars do they lean on.

He’s priced at an all-time low and this is an elite matchup, but the production just hasn’t been there for Steph Curry since Boogie came back. I’m fine with using Curry in GPPs, but Curry is averaging .28 less FD and .31 less DK points per minute with a 10.41% usage drop with DeMarcus Cousins in the lineup. Those are HUGE metric drops.

Typically I love to target Klay Thompson vs bad teams and this fits that bill. I don’t particularly have that same feeling for tonight, but Klay continues to carry elite upside.

This isn’t the spot I want to pay up for Kevin Durant, and now Boogie Cousins is priced too high to even reach his ceiling with his minutes limit.

If Booker plays, all Warriors studs get a bump, as Phoenix will potentially be able to keep the game a little closer. I don’t think they stand a chance if Booker sits.

For Phoenix, Josh Jackson is usable regardless of the Booker news, but he certainly gets a bump if Booker is ruled out. Jackson is blowout proof and gets a 7.16% usage bump with Booker OFF the floor. Jackson has been a steals machine of late, so his defensive upside is appealing.

The Suns newest addition, Tyler Johnson, is also an interesting target right off the bat. The Suns don’t have a PG and if Booker can’t go Johnson will have the ball in his hands a ton. Johnson is cheap on both sites at $4700 on FD and $4300 on DK, and I’d consider him fairly blowout-proof, as I’d expect Igor Kokoskov to give as much run as possible for Johnson. I have strong interest in Tyler tonight.

I’m off on the rest of the Suns. I don’t have a ton of interest in DeAndre Ayton vs the Warriors.

Minnesota Timberwolves @ New Orleans Pelicans (o/u 223, NO -6)

Minnesota is 18th in defensive rating, 13th in pace.

New Orleans is 23rd in defensive rating, 6th in pace.

This is probably the most complicated game to break down. I have no idea what to expect from the Pelicans after all of this drama, and the Timberwolves have four PGs who are listed as questionable. On the surface, this is an elite matchup for the Timberwolves.

The Pelicans have been getting absolutely torched by opposing bigs since Jahlil Okafor entered the starting lineup, which puts Karl-Anthony Towns on my radar. The issue, however, is what impact does Anthony Davis’s return have? I’d expect Towns and Davis to matchup, and if we get an angry AD that could pose problems for Towns. Upside is clearly there.

Jeff Teague, Derrick Rose, Tyus Jones, and Jerryd Bayless are ALL questionable at the moment. As of now it’s a wait and see approach. If ALL are ruled out Isaiah Canaan is a strong value punt. This is an elite matchup for whichever Timberwolves PG(s) are available to play.

Depending on which T-Wolves PGs can play will also have an impact on Andrew Wiggins. I love Wiggins if Rose can’t go, and if Rose is in Wiggins scares me, as Wiggins sees the biggest metric drops with Rose ON the court.

Oh boy, the Pelicans. Seriously, I’m not exactly sure what to expect. The T-Wolves are a team we can attack in DFS, but I’m not entirely sure the Pelicans are a team we can target at the moment. The big issue with most of the Pelicans players is they are all priced up, as if Davis and Randle are still out. We have the double-edged sword of everyone being overpriced with the total unknown of how the team will react after the trade deadline drama. I’m ok with fading all Pelicans players.

On DK specifically, I don’t mind taking a GPP shot with Anthony Davis priced at $11200. That’s an appealing price for AD, and if we get a mad AD, he can obliterate that price tag.

Miami Heat @ Sacramento Kings (o/u 218.5, SAC -2.5)

Miami is 6th in defensive rating, 25th in pace.

Sacramento is 21st in defensive rating, 3rd in pace.

While the Kings have slowed down their tempo a bit, this is still an elite pace-up spot for Miami Heat players.

The biggest beneficiaries of the Tyler Johnson trade are Justise Winslow, Dwayne Wade, and… Dion Waiters? Waiters will likely be used as the secondary ball-handler and scorer off the bench. He’s a GPP only target. Winslow’s reign as the Heat PG is solidified, so this is an elite spot for Justise, who is priced down after a string of poor production. While I don’t mind Josh Richardson, I prefer targeting Winslow at a cheaper price.

Hassan Whiteside had his moment last game vs Portland, and while it’s impossible to predict his next “moment,” this is a strong spot for him. He remains a strong GPP-only target.

Predicting who will get the most run amongst Bam, James Johnson, and Olynyk is about as much fun as playing Reggie Jackson every night. I love the spot and there is upside for one, I just don’t know if any of the three are worth the risk. Still, Johnson is my favorite of the trio.

Over the last 15 games the Miami Heat are ranked 28th in pace. They have fully shifted to a slow-paced, grind-it-out style of play, which does not bode well for the Kings fantasy production.

The one area of weakness for Miami’s new stout defense is defending scoring PGs and SGs, which puts both De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield on my radar tonight. Neither are cheap and both are coming off of disappointing outings vs Houston. Both are strictly GPP plays.

In general I think it’s safe to stay away from Kings players. I continue to love Bagley’s growth, but this isn’t the spot I want to target him in.


Teams to Attack

Cavs, Wizards, Knicks, Bulls, Nets, Suns, T-Wolves, Pelicans, Kings

Blowout Potential

Warriors @ Suns

Top Target

PG: Steph Curry (GPP), Ben Simmons (DK), Eric Bledsoe, Jamal Murray, Kris Dunn*, Dennis Smith Jr, Tyler Johnson

SG: Bradley Beal, D’Angelo Russell (GPP), Klay Thompson (GPP), Andrew Wiggins*, Malcolm Brogdon, Jordan Clarkson

SF: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Justise Winslow, Dorian Finney-Smith

PF: Anthony Davis (DK), Lauri Markannen, Larry Nance Jr, Josh Jackson*, Trey Lyles*

C: Jokic (GPP), Embiid (GPP), Andre Drummond, Thomas Bryant*