NBA Morning Thoughts 03.08.19

NBA Morning Thoughts 03.08.19

After a fairly gross two-game slate we end the work week with a fun nine-game NBA DFS slate. Looking ahead, the next 14 days will feature slates between six and nine games, something I am a big fan of. I also would like to note that being transparent is important for me and the last week and a half has probably been my least successful I’ve ever had in DFS. What’s been even more frustrating is it’s been close. Small things like pivoting from Derrick White to Terry Rozier, a rare Vucevic thirty-burger, and last night like missing out on Myles Turner are things that hurt but nothing you can harp on too much. While I’m a big trust the process guy at a certain point it’s crucial to question your process. The NBA season is long grind and player and team trends evolve rapidly, if you need a break from DFS don’t be afraid to take one. Identify what’s been working and what hasn’t. It could ultimately just be a spell of bad luck, but whatever it is, as long as you find a process that’s been successful it will turn around. Now, let’s get right to the slate…

Tools used:

Advanced DvP

Player Impact – Individual 

Player Impact – Team 

Player vs Team

Washington Wizards @ Charlotte Hornets (o/u 234, CHA -4.5)

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

Charlotte is 20th in defensive rating, 20th in pace.

We start the night off with one of the more appealing DFS games of the night as the Wizards provide elite pace to a matchup that will feature very little defense.

In his previous two matchups vs Charlotte Bradley Beal is averaging 56 FD and 55 DK points. At first glance his $10500 FD price tag seems a bit crazy, and it is, but Beal has justified his $10k+ price tag since the All Star break as he’s hit 5x his FD price four of the six games. Also, over the last 30 days he’s carried an elite usage rate of 28.41. On DK priced at $9500 he’s an elite target, no questions asked. The Hornets rank 25th in Advanced DvP against scorers.

After Beal, the Wizards get a bit trickier to target. Tomas Satoranksy is a safe middle priced option at PG. He’s priced up a touch on both sites at $6200 on FD and $5500 on DK but Sato consistently plays 30 minutes a night and Charlotte is a decent matchup for him. I don’t love him but he’s usable.

Jabari Parker has been a bit of an enigma since joining the Wizards by either proving great value or completely flopping. This is a ceiling spot for Parker coming off of back to back 30+ fantasy point performances. He’s a strong GPP target.

I’m off on Jeff Green, Trevor Ariza, and Bobby Ports. While I like the matchup their minutes fluctuate a bit too much for me to trust on a larger slate. I’d consider Portis my favorite of the trio to target in GPPs.

Attacking the Wizards has been a profitable strategy in DFS this year and that continues tonight with the Hornets. This is an elite spot for Charlotte as they get a pace-boost against the fifth worst defense in the NBA.

The best place to attack the Wizards? At PG, making Kemba Walker an elite target tonight. In two games vs the Wizards Kemba is averaging 55.15 FD and 58.12 DK points. That plays at his $9000 FD and $8100 DK price tags. While Kemba is coming off of back to back poor performances I’d expect him to be on the higher owned side. His matchup and price are too good. According to Advanced DvP the Wizards give up THE MOST points to opposing fantasy superstars and rank 17th against primary ball-handlers.

After Kemba, my favorite Hornet to target is shockingly Nic Batum. Batum has been fairly brutal all season but over the last three weeks we’ve seen his minutes jump into the 38+ range. Those are elite minutes, 38+ minutes priced at $6300 on FD and $5500 on DK vs the Wizards provides an appealing ceiling. As expected, with those added minutes Batum has seen added production. He’s a strong middle priced option at SF.

Secretly, Frank Kaminsky has become DFS relevant again playing 23+ minutes in his last three games and producing 21+ fantasy points in each. During this three game span Frank is producing at over a 1.05+ fantasy point per minute clip which should see a slight bump vs the Wizards pace and lack of defense. It’s hard not to see Frank provide value priced at $4400 on FD and $3800 on DK if in the 20+ minute range again.

The sneaky GPP guy I’d consider in this matchup is Jeremy Lamb. I’m not a huge fan of his minutes fluctuation but this is a spot where I could see Lamb explode at low ownership as the Wizards pace will lead to +rebounding opportunities. He’s strictly a GPP target.

Dallas Mavericks @ Orlando Magic (o/u 213.5, ORL -7)

Dallas is 17th in defensive rating, 19th in pace.

Orlando is 9th in defensive rating, 25th in pace.

It doesn’t matter how much I or the world loves Luka Doncic, this is a brutal matchup for Mavericks players as the Magic continue to be one of the worst teams to attack in DFS. While ultimately I’m not scared of Orlando’s defense, I do fear their slow pace and lack of turnovers. I also fear the Mavericks in full-on tank mode. This just isn’t the spot where I want to target any specific Mavericks player including Luka Doncic and Dwight Powell.

For Orlando, I have some blowout concerns here thus limiting my interest. That being said, this is a decent spot for Magic players.

The Mavericks have been surprisingly stout against skilled centers such as Nikola Vucevic on the year but ultimately I think this is a pretty good spot to snag Vuc at low ownership after his down game vs Philly. He’s far from my favorite target at center on this slate but his expected low ownership carries some appeal.

With Terrence Ross available to play tonight I’m less interested in Evan Fournier and Johnathan Isaac. While Fournier has been the much more consistent producer of late I much rather target Isaac in GPPs because of his defensive upside. The Mavericks are 24th in turnover percentage in the NBA which should lead to added steals opportunities for Isaac.

Cleveland Cavaliers @ Miami Heat (o/u 213, MIA -8.5)

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

Miami is 7th in defensive rating, 24th in pace.

I can confidently say I have zero interest in Cavaliers players matched up against a slow paced and elite defensive Miami Heat team.

If you’re desperate for Cavs exposure, with Matthew Dellavedova ruled OUT both Colin Sexton and Jordan Clarkson could see an increase in minutes. The problem with the Cavs is that Larry Drew could also look to give Brandon Knight and David Nwaba some extra run too. Sexton and Clarkson are GPP only for me in a brutal matchup.

For Miami, by now we know the Cavs are the worst defensive team in the NBA but their slow pace has limited some upside. I’m not against attacking the Cavs in this spot but this game will be played at an extremely slow pace and it carries some blowout potential. Those aren’t the ideal ingredients for DFS success.

If Goran Dragic remains out my favorite Heat player to target would be Dion Waiters. I’d buy into the Waiters revenge narrative as Dion is simply that sort of player that will look to shoot a ton vs the team that drafted him and traded him. With Dragic OFF the court Waiters sees a .27 FD and .3 DK point per minute increase with a 11.51% usage bump. $5200 on FD and $4800 on DK are good prices for him. As appealing as those metric increases look, it’s impossible to trust Dion; he’s GPP only.

Hassan Whiteside is coming off of a 20 minute 40+ fantasy point performance vs Charlotte. That is the definition of Whiteside. The Cavs are surprisingly stout vs centers but Whiteside carries an elite ceiling vs any given opponent. You can consider Whiteside in GPPs.

Utah @ Memphis Grizzlies (o/u 213.5, UTA -6)

Utah is 3rd in defensive rating, 14th in pace.

Memphis is 6th in defensive rating, 30th in pace.

Another fairly gross early matchup as the Jazz head to the Grind House to face a slow paced Grizzlies team. Ricky Rubio is doubtful and Raul Neto has been ruled OUT for Utah.

Royce O’Neale typically sees 35+ minutes when the Utah PGs are out. O’Neale will likely be chalky as he provides elite value on both sites. As expected, the Grizzlies rank 4th in the NBA vs rotational wings according to Advanced DvP so this is far from an ideal matchup. Still, tough to pass on Royce at minimum salary.

Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert see the biggest bumos with Rubio, Neto, and Exum OFF the court. Mitchell has produced at a 1.21 FD and 1.24 DK point per minute clip and carries an ELITE 35.54 usage rating. That would rank second in the NBA behind Harden. Again, the matchup is far from ideal but we’ve seen Mitchell explode in similar scenarios. He’s an elite target at $8900 on FD and $8400 on DK. Meanwhile, Rudy Gobert sees a .15 FD and DK per minute production bump with the Utah PGs OFF the floor. There are other centers I prefer at his price point but he’s a low owned pricey center worth considering.

If it was any other team besides the Grizzlies I’d be in favor of targeting Joe Ingles, Derrick Favors, and Jae Crowder. However, because it’s the Grizzlies and their excruciatingly slow pace there won’t be a ton of upside for Utah players. Ingles is a safe target at SF and Favors would be my favorite target of the three.

This is a brutal spot for Memphis as the Jazz are an elite defensive team who will likely frustrate them throughout the game.

The only Grizzlies player I’d have any interest in is Avery Bradley on DK priced at $4700. Bradley remains too cheap on DK as he’s routinely outperformed his price. I hate the matchup and I’m not a huge fan of Bradley as a player but again, his production proves he’s targetable at that price point.

Toronto Raptors @ New Orleans Pelicans (o/u 232.5, TOR -4.5)

Toronto is 8th in defensive rating, 16th in pace.

New Orleans is 22nd in defensive rating, 5th in pace.

I’m so over both of these teams. The Raptors are too deep and the Pelicans are too annoying. As bad as I want both of these teams to be irrelevant they are not and Vegas has dangled a juicy 232.5 implied total in this matchup. This is an elite matchup for the Raptors as the Pelicans continue to be a top five paced team and a bottom ten defensive team.

Unless Kawhi Leonard is scratched the Raptors don’t have an elite DFS target on their roster. Everyone is overpriced production and Nick Nurse continues to rotate his starting center. The Raptors depth kills their DFS appeal. Kawhi Leonard carries some GPP appeal because of his defensive upside.

The closest thing to an elite target on Toronto would be if Serge Ibaka started again. After three straight stints off the bench Ibaka got the start last game and exploded for 44+ fantasy points. Priced at $5500 on FD and $5400 on DK Ibaka would provide elite upside in an elite matchup at a strong price. If Marc Gasol starts I’d have zero interest in Ibaka and Gasol would be a top target.

While I think some might view this as a potential blowout, the Pelicans have hung around in games recently and Vegas seems to agree listing the Raptors as only 4.5 point favorites. Jrue Holiday is OUT for New Orleans.

No Holiday means the ball-handling duties will fall to Elfrid Payton. Payton remains appealingly priced after back to back games vs the Utah Jazz where he expectedly saw his production drop. Armed in a much better game environment Payton is a borderline elite target priced at $6200 on FD and  $5000 on DK. With Jrue Holiday off the floor Payton sees a .15 FD and DK point per minute increase with a 8.76% usage bump. The Raptors have been tough against opposing teams PGs but Payton’s opportunity outweighs that for me.

Another beneficiary of Jrue Holiday’s absence is Julius Randle. Randle sees a 6.63% usage bump with Holiday off the floor. It’s important to note that Randle will also play 15+ minutes without Anthony Davis on the floor. With both Jrue and AD OFF the court Randle is a 1.26 FD and 1.31 DK point per minute producer with an elite 34.91 usage rating. Similar to Donovan Mitchell’s usage bump, that would rank second in the NBA behind Harden. He’s not cheap but Randle is a top target vs a Raptors frontcourt that has struggled against bigs.

Philadelphia 76ers @ Houston Rockets (o/u 231.5, HOU -6.5)

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

Houston is 25th in defensive rating, 28th in pace.

The Rockets continue to be a slow-paced bad defensive team, luckily the Sixers should be able to push the tempo a bit. Expect this to be a high scoring affair. Joel Embiid remains out.

On FD, Ben Simmons is now a touch priced up at $10600. I still think that’s a targetable price for Simmons but pushes him away as being an elite target. On DK however, Simmons is still priced appealingly at $9100. While Simmons’ per minute production has actually decreased since Embiid went down his usage and his minutes are up. With that, his overall production has increased as he’s been playing around three to five more minutes per game. The Rockets rank 25th in the NBA at defending point-forwards according to Advanced DvP, this is a strong matchup for Simmons.

Jimmy Butler has been dealing with a sore back and with that his production hasn’t taken off as expected since Embiid got hurt. I do like targeting Butler in prime-time spots vs elite opponents and players and I think there’s a shot Butler gets overlooked tonight. $8200 on FD isn’t cheap but $7100 o DK is a fair price for Butler who carries legit 50+ point upside if he gets going as his shot attempts are where we want them he’s just been inefficient. Butler looked visibly frustrated after the Sixers loss to the Bulls, it wouldn’t shock me to see him come out firing. He’s one of my favorite GPP targets on the night and a good way to get affordable exposure and upside in a matchup that’s littered with high priced targets.

The Rockets have been surprisingly stout vs opposing stretch 4’s which adds some risk to Tobias Harris. The Rockets defensive scheme is to switch everything on screens which thus limits open looks for Harris on the pick and pop. Still, excluding last game, Harris has produced really well and is priced fair on both sites. He’s a solid and fairly safe choice, I worry about his ceiling and one vs one prefer Jimmy Butler at a similar price point.

Since Embiid’s injury JJ Redick has been a bit of a boom or bust option. He’s priced appealing on DK at $5100 but he’s tough to trust in cash. The Rockets rank 18th in Advanced DvP against shooters so it’s a decent spot for Redick to produce.

Of the three bigs in the Philly frontcourt dollar for dollar Amir Johnson has been the best producer but I slightly prefer Jonah Bolden. Bolden should excel when the Rockets go small and I worry about Amir Johnson’s matchup vs Clint Capela. Bolden provides decent value at $4300 on FD and $4200 on DK.

In DFS the Rockets have three usable players and not much else. The Sixers provide a decent pace-bump for Houston and their defense has noticeably declined in games Joel Embiid has not played.

It’s tough to make James Harden a priority priced at $12000 on FD and $11000 on DK with the Rockets back to full strength. Still, Harden remains an elite target as he carries elite upside on any given slate. If you’re targeting Harden, do so with confidence. Personally I prefer to go with a more balanced approach unless value opens up throughout the day.

Chris Paul is also a bit too pricey for me to make a priority in my lines as his production has fluctuated between the low 30’s and 40’s. Sure, CP3 carries upside and is capable of a monster performance any given night I’m just not confident it’s tonight against a Sixers team that ranks 1st in Advanced DvP against pass first PGs.

We keep waiting for a monster Clint Capela performance and it just hasn’t really happened. No Kenneth Faried helps and his minutes continue to be great but Capela’s scoring has been way down. The Sixers are also a below average matchup against opposing centers. Still I have some Capela intrigue in GPPs and while it may feel a bit like point chasing the Sixers have no one in their frontcourt that can match up with Capela’s size and athleticism. Theoretically, Capela should see a bump in offensive rebounds which could lead to the scoring bump we’ve been craving.

Detroit Pistons @ Chicago Bulls (o/u 218, DET -4)

Detroit is 11th in defensive rating, 27th in pace.

Chicago is 24th in defensive rating, 21st in pace.

While the Bulls offense has been on a bit of a surge ranking 4th in the NBA over their last 15 games, they’ve remained a bottom ten defense. The Pistons are also surging, winners of their last three and eight of their last ten. This is an  elite matchup for the Pistons.

My favorite position to attack the Bulls is at center and priced at $10000 on FD and $8800 on DK Andre Drummond is an elite target. The Bulls rank 25th in Advanced DvP against rebounding centers and Drummond put up 62 FD and 59.5 DK points in his previous outing vs them. I love Drummond at both of his price tags, he’s almost $1k too cheap on DK. He’s my favorite center on the slate, target him with confidence.

Since the All-Star break Blake Griffin’s production has quite frankly just been bad and a big part of that has been the resurgence of Andre Drummond and the increased usage of Ish Smith and Reggie Jackson. It’s an elite spot for Blake but it’s tough for me to target him based off of his current form priced in the $8k+ range. He’s GPP only.

Quietly, Ish Smith has been awesome over his last three games with three straight 25+ fantasy point performances. While this game won’t feature an ideal pace for Ish, Ish remains priced down at $4700 on FD and $3600 on DK. Ish provides strong value on DK.

The DFS community also continues to sleep on Luke Kennard who has been producing well over the last two weeks at a down price. Kennard is up to $5400 on FD and $4600 on DK. The Bulls give up the 6th most 3PTM to opposing teams in the NBA, this is a decent spot for him to continue his strong run of production.

Even in a brutal matchup vs one of the slowest paced teams in the NBA the way the Bulls have been playing on offense makes a few of their players worth considering.

On FD Zach Lavine has become a bit pricey at $8500, on DK priced at $7500 Lavine remains in play. Lavine’s usage is back to where it was in the first month of the season as showcased by his 48 shots taken his last two games. The matchup is a touch better specifically for Lavine than any other Bulls players as the Pistons rank 16th in Advanced DvP vs scorers. I don’t love him here but $7500 is a good price.

Robin Lopez also continues to be overlooked and under priced at $5800 on FD and $5200 on DK. Lopez has been under 30 fantasy points only twice in his last ten games. He’s playing huge minutes and has an important role on offense. He’s a safe lower middle priced center to consider.

I’m not a huge fan of the game environment for Kris Dunn but on DK he’s too cheap at $4900. Dunn hasn’t shown much upside of late but has routinely eclipsed 5x that price point. He’s decent value on DK.

Otto Porter and Lauri Markkanen aren’t over priced but ultimately I’m not looking to pay up for them in a pace-down spot against a good defense.

Oklahoma City Thunder @ Los Angeles Clippers (o/u 236.5, LAC -1.5)

Oklahoma City is 5th in defensive rating, 3rd in pace.

Los Angeles is 18th in defensive rating, 9th in pace.

While the Clippers have improved a touch defensively of late they continue to be a team to attack in DFS. We know this is a good matchup for OKC and expect lots of points. The biggest factor to monitor in this game is Russell Westbrook and how he picked up his 16th technical foul last night. IF the league does not rescind any of his tech’s Russell Westbrook will likely be suspended tonight. At the moment there has been zero news about this but I’m under the impression Westbrook won’t play tonight.

If Westbrook is out Paul George and Dennis Schroder immediately become elite targets in an elite matchup. Over the last 30 days with Westbrook OFF the court Paul George has been producing at a 1.6 FD and DK point per minute rate with an insane 41.08 usage rating. Words can’t describe how elite that production is. Per 36 minutes that would equate to around 57+ fantasy points for George and that doesn’t factor in the Clippers matchup. He’d be tough to fade on both sites for me. Schroder would likely become the chalk of the slate even with his price up a touch. With Westbrook OFF the court the last 30 days Schroder is a 1.06 FD and 1.07 DK point per minute producer with a 32.55 usage rating. Couple that with his sub $6k price tag, his elite matchup, and the likely 30+ minutes of playing time and Schroder would be an elite target.

Jerami Grant does not see much of a production increase with Westbrook OFF the floor. I’d have interest in Grant because of the high paced game environment which is typically conducive to his defensive upside.

From a YTD standpoint Steven Adams is also not very effected by Westbrook’s potential absence however over the last 30 days Adams has seen a .33 per minute production drop with Westbrook OFF the court. That is concerning. I’d prefer if Adams plays as him and Russ have good chemistry on the pick and roll. The Clippers provide an elite matchup for Adams.

IF Russell Westbrook is not suspended I’d love him in this matchup as the Clippers get torched by opposing teams PGs and rank 25th in the NBA against pass first PGs. Don’t forget, Westbrook and Patrick Beverley are not exactly buddies which would likely see Westy play with even more of an edge than he typically does.

The fast paced nature of this matchup outweighs the Thunder’s strong defense. Unfortunately for the Clippers they play a deep rotation with most of their production coming off the bench in limited minutes thus making them a tricky team to target.

I wouldn’t call Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell elite targets but both are strong GPP plays. The Clippers will have to score points in this matchup and both Lou and Harrell are bucket getters. Both are a bit pricey on FD while priced fair on DK.

Danilo Gallinari is a upper middle priced SF to consider. Again, this matchup will feature 230+ combined points and Gallinari will have his fair share. Unfortunately Gallo is a bit scoring dependent which limits his upside but the increased pace could help him build in his peripherals.

I’d expect Patrick Beverley to carry some ownership as people are aware of his and Westbrook’s beef and Pat Bev is exactly the sort of player who will play up to that beef. Disregarding the narrative, Pat has been a productive DFS option and remains appealingly price around $6k. He’s a solid target.

Denver Nuggets @ Golden State Warriors (o/u 233.5, GS -5.5)

Denver is 10th in defensive rating, 23rd in pace.

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

The last matchup we get to his arguably the best game of the night. Unfortunately, these are two of the most frustrating teams to target in DFS as both teams are loaded with capable producers who typically eat into each other’s production. The problem with that they all have elite ceilings thus they’re all priced up. Klay Thompson is expected to return for the Warriors.

My favorite target on the Warriors is Kevin Durant. Durant is quite frankly too cheap on DK priced at $8900. Durant at under $9k sort of mitigates his risk as he’s priced around his floor. With Gary Harris back Steph Curry has a capable defender on him, Durant will get a mix of Will Barton, Torrey Craig, and Malik Beasley on him, all exploitable matchups.

That being said, on paper the best matchup for the Warriors is Steph Curry. Curry is also priced down and in a spot to produce. This game SHOULD have a playoff feel to it and with the Warriors at home that should mean Steph will let it fly. Durant is a touch safer and is a bit cheaper but Curry carries the same ceiling. An argument can be made that if Westbrook is ultimately suspended paying up for Paul George at SF is more of a priority than Durant thus opening the door for Steph to be your Warriors exposure.

Strictly on DK, Klay Thompson is a bit cheap at $6100. In two games vs the Nuggets Klay is averaging 35.5 DK points which well exceeds 5x his price. He’s coming off of an injury so there is some risk but that’s a rock solid price for Klay.

I’m a bit off on DeMarcus Cousins as I’m not a big fan of targeting bigs against the Nuggets. That being said it wouldn’t shock me to see Boogie come out strong after being criticized for his defense vs the Celtics. He’s a GPP only risk.

Draymond Green is priced down and faces the same risk of Boogie as a big against the Nuggets. Ultimately, Green does play up vs elite competition, this is a decent spot to get him at low ownership and a down price. He carries strong upside. Like Boogie, Green is GPP only but one vs one I’d rather take the risk with Draymond.

My favorite Nugget to target is Jamal Murray. Dollar for dollar Murray is priced the best at $6600 on FD and $6200 on DK. Murray has consistently produced in the 30+ fantasy point range and typically thrives in pace-up spots. The fact this game should be played at a high intensity further helps Murray as we’ve seen him explode vs top teams. Murray is a strong middle priced option at PG.

I’m GPP only on Nikola Jokic as I’d rather save a little and target Andre Drummond in cash games. That being said, Jokic has absurd upside in this matchup and it wouldn’t shock me to see Denver lean on their big man early and late on the road against the Warriors. Jokic is not a bad lowish owned late night hammer to have.

A decent value to consider is Gary Harris. I think Harris will be on the higher owned side when you consider his prices at $4800 on FD and $4000 on DK coming off of a 30+ fantasy point performance and now in a pace-up spot. Having played 25+ minutes in three straight games I think Harris is a decent bet to play 30+ minutes tonight. He provides good cap relief and is a smart and inexpensive way to get exposure to this game.

I’m off on the rest of the Nuggets as I don’t think any are worth the risk. There’s certainly some upside and guys like Millsap and Barton are capable of exploding in this sort of game environment but ultimately I don’t feel they’re worth the risk at elevated prices.


Teams to Attack

Wizards, Hornets, Cavs, Pelicans, Rockets, Bulls, Clippers, DEN vs GS

Blowout Potential

Cavs @ Heat

Top Targets

PG: Russell Westbrook*, Ben Simmons (DK), Steph Curry (GPP), Kemba Walker, Jamal Murray, Elfrid Payton, Kris Dunn (DK), Ish Smith, Raul Neto

SG: James Harden, Bradley Beal (DK), Donovan Mitchell, Jimmy Butler, Klay Thompson (DK), Dennis Schroder*, Avery Bradley (DK), Dion Waiters (GPP)

SF: Paul George, Kevin Durant, Nic Batum, Jabari Parker (GPP), Gary Harris, Royce O’Neale

PF: Julius Randle, Tobias Harris, Draymond Green, Frank Kaminsky, Jonah Bolden, Amir Johnson

C: Nikola Jokic (GPP), Nikola Vucevic (GPP), Andre Drummond!, Rudy Gobert, Clint Capela (GPP), Robin Lopez