NBA Morning Thoughts 03.11.19

NBA Morning Thoughts 03.11.19

We start the week off with a loaded six-game NBA DFS slate, let’s get right to it…

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Toronto Raptors @ Cleveland Cavaliers (o/u 222, TOR -10.5)

Toronto is 7th in defensive rating, 15th in pace.

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

We kick off the NBA slate with by far the least appealing matchup of the night as the Toronto Raptors head to Cleveland to face the lowly Cavs. While I expect Kawhi Leonard to play, we’ve seen him rest back to back games before. If Kawhi plays, I have zero interest in targeting Raptors players as they all eat into each other’s production and there is some serious blowout risk here. I’ve heard no reports of this but it wouldn’t shock me to see other Raptors not named Kawhi potentially rest either.

Of course, if Kawhi is ultimately rested again, this would be an elite spot for both Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam. On FD, Lowry is getting up there in price at $8500 so while I’d consider him elite, I wouldn’t consider him a must.

The Cavs will be without Matthew Dellavedova, Larry Nance Jr., and Tristan Thompson opening up some potential value. Still, this game has tons of blowout risk and attacking the Raptors isn’t particularly the best strategy. I’m not against just completely ignoring this game.

With Dellavedova out, expect to see more minutes for Brandon Knight and Colin Sexton. Knight is a usable minimum priced punt as he played 25 minutes last game without Delly and actually looked alive on the court for once. Sexton’s appeal is that he’ll play 34+ minutes priced at $5400 on FD and $4700 on DK. There’s strong upside at both of those prices and while Sexton has only played 86.1 minutes WITH Dellavedova on the court, he has seen a 4% usage bump with him OFF the court.

I get that the Raptors struggle vs bigs and that Kevin Love will likely touch the ball on every possession it’s just hard for me to pay up for him on either site with the possibility of this game being over before halftime. He’s a GPP only target.

Sacramento Kings @ Washington Wizards (o/u 241.5, WAS -2)

Sacramento is 17th in defensive rating, 2nd in pace.

Washington is 27th in defensive rating, 8th in pace.

We get a DFS gem to start the week as the Wizards host the Kings with a 241.5 implied total. This is a slightly better matchup for the Kings as the Wizards continue to be a terrible defensive team that we can attack in DFS.

The Wizards are 19th in Advanced in DvP against pass first PGs and 17th against primary ball-handlers. All season attacking the Wizards at PG has worked thus putting De’Aaron Fox in play. While I love the matchup for Fox and I do consider him an elite target, Fox is not a must for me, especially priced at $8k on FD. His $7300 DK price tag is neither high nor low. Still, he’s been over 35 fantasy points in eight of his last eleven games in an elite matchup, target Fox with confidence.

After a surge in production and price, Buddy Hield was held to his lowest fantasy point output since January 22nd and he still managed to produce 28.8 FD and 30.5 DK points. Hield has been awesome for well over a month now and it shows in his $7400 FD and DK price tags. Still, that is a price we can target Hield at and hope others remain scared off. Over the last 30 days, Hield’s usage is up over 4% sitting at 28.78 and the Wizards rank 29th in Advanced DvP against opposing shooters. I’d argue Hield is the safest bet for 40+ fantasy points in this matchup.

I, as well as most, expected Willie Caulie-Stein to see his minutes soar into the 32+ range when Marvin Bagley went down. That hasn’t exactly happened with WCS held to under 28 in his last three outings. His point per minute production has been strong and the matchup is great so I have no issues targeting Stein here at $5900 on FD and $5700 on DK. His risk is that the Wizards go small with Jeff Green at center for long stretches, which will likely affect WCS’s minutes.

The guy who has seen a minutes bump is Nemanja Bjelica as he’s played 23, 30, and 28 minutes in his last three games. With Marvin Bagley OFF the floor, Bjelica has produced at a strong 1.1 FD and 1.07 DK point per minute clip. If he’s anywhere in the 20-minute range, I expect him to smash his $4600 FD and $4200 DK price tags. We’ve seen his minutes disappear in the blink of an eye so there is a risk, but Bjelica has legit 8x upside. Currently. I’m riding the Bjelica death-train tonight.

This game carries so much fantasy goodness and while Harrison Barnes’ production has been a bit inconsistent he’s worth considering for the simple fact he’s going to play 36+ minutes in an elite game environment. His $6100 FD and $5200 DK price tags provide a safe floor and an elite matchup. Barnes is a strong middle priced SF to consider.

An already top 10 team in pace the Wizards get a further pace-bump matched up vs the Kings. This is an elite spot to target Wizards players.

Not much needs to be said about Bradley Beal, he’s an elite target. Beal has been a DFS superstar and is deservedly priced as one at $10800 on FD and $9700 on DK. His DK price is still exploitable at under $10k. The Kings rank 28th in the NBA at containing opposing fantasy superstars and their pace should lead to plenty of scoring opportunities for Beal.

A safe, middle priced PG to consider is Tomas Satoransky. The Kings rank 30th in the NBA vs pass first PGs; attacking Sacramento at PG has been a profitable strategy all year. Sato continues to play 35+ minutes and is priced well at $6300 on FD and $5700 on DK. Sato has typically smashed in these ultra up-tempo spots as he’s a capable producer across the board. The Hawks are my favorite comp to the Kings as they have nearly identical pace numbers. In three starts vs Atlanta Sato hasn’t been under 36 fantasy points, his previous matchup vs Sacramento was skewed as John Wall was still playing.

Bobby Portis isn’t seeing huge minutes but what he is doing is producing at a strong 1.17 FD and 1.2 DK point per minute clip since joining the Wizards. The pace of this matchup should lead to added scoring and rebounding opportunities for Portis, I’d expect him to carry decent ownership priced at $6500 on FD and $5900 on DK.

Similarly to Portis, Jabari Parker isn’t seeing big minutes but has been producing at a strong 1.12 FD and 1.14 DK point per minute clip. The thing about Parker is that he’s been extremely boom or bust. Recently we’ve seen more boom from him and the Kings certainly provide a boom spot. Tough for me to trust Parker in cash but he carries some appealing GPP upside. One note of risk about Parker in GPPs is that he might actually end up being on the higher owned side when you consider his $5800 FD and $5400 DK price tags, the matchup, and his recent production.

There is really no one I’m THAT opposed to in this matchup. Trevor Ariza and Jeff Green have yet to be mentioned as they are what they are. Green is what we look for in a sub $5k value as he plays decent minutes and is in a great game environment. Ariza is fine he’s just much less of a priority for me compared to other Wizards.

Detroit Pistons @ Brooklyn Nets (o/u 221, BK -2.5)

Detroit is 12th in defensive rating, 27th in pace.

Brooklyn is 14th in defensive rating, 12th in pace.

The Pistons head to Brooklyn surging and winners of five straight games. This game actually has some importance to it as the Pistons are just a half a game up on the Nets for the sixth seed in the East. In terms of matchup, by now you should know I love attacking the Nets particularly when they’re playing in the Barclay’s Center. This is an elite spot for Pistons players.

After watching Trae Young and Derrick Rose successfully infiltrate my bank account and shovel money to FD and DK I began to browse today’s games and that feeling of being robbed suddenly vanished at the sight of Andre Drummond playing the Nets. Drummond was the first person in my lineup on both sites and on DK priced at $9100 I don’t have a single reason as to why to fade him. The Nets are 28th in Advanced DvP against rebounding centers and 30th against skilled centers. Attack the Nets at center! In a game that actually means something where both teams theoretically should be playing at max effort, I’m not fading Drummond in this spot. He’s an elite target.

At $8300 on both sites, Blake Griffin is a complicated target. Prior to his last game vs Chicago, Blake had been under 40 fantasy points in five straight games and overall his production has just been bad. Thus, his price is down to where an engaged Blake offers tremendous upside. The Nets are a respectable 13th in advanced DvP against point forwards but rank 27th against athletic fours. The matchup and game environment are right for Blake and I’d expect him to be on the higher owned side because of his price. I’m perfectly fine stacking both Drummond and Blake in the same line as their production is not mutually exclusive. Blake is a borderline elite target.

With Ish Smith back and playing 20+ minutes, I’m even more off on Reggie Jackson. Reggie’s per minute production has not been bad, but I don’t need the likely medical bills on top of the lost entry fees from targeting Reggie. Ish’s price is up on FD to $4900 and $4100 on DK. The Pistons play better when Ish is on the court and in a game of importance that matters! Expect Ish to close out the game and likely be in the 22-25 minute range, he provides decent value with some risk.

A lower middle priced SG to consider is Luke Kennard. His production hasn’t been great but it doesn’t take much for Kennard to provide any sort of value at $5100 on FD and $4700. He’s consistently in the 23+ fantasy point range.

As good of a spot as this is for the Pistons, this is a below average matchup for the Nets as the Pistons are a slow-paced and competent defensive team. The Nets always evolving rotation complicates it even further. Treveon Graham remains out.

There is a legit Spencer Dinwiddie narrative whenever he plays the Pistons as he’s expressed multiple times that he plays with more of a chip on his shoulder against Detroit having cut him multiple times in the past. The problem with targeting Dinwiddie is on FD as he’s priced way up after back to back 40 point performances at $7400, that limits his ceiling a bit while providing more risk. On DK, Dinwiddie is a rock solid target priced at $6000. In two games vs the Pistons this year, Dinwiddie 34.8 FD and 37.25 DK points.

The return of Dinwiddie has clearly had an effect on D’Angelo Russell‘s production. The good thing for Russell is that his minutes are still hovering right above 30. While DLo’s usage and shot attempts are down he still carries his typical tremendous upside at low ownership. In a meaningful game and playing at home DLo is a strong GPP target.

The Pistons rank 24th in Advanced DvP against rim protectors which also puts Jarrett Allen in play as a strong GPP target. If I knew Allen was going to play 27+ minutes I would love him at both of his price tags, especially on Dk as $4800 is incredibly cheap. Still, Kenny Atkinson refuses to allow us to trust Allen’s minutes. He’s a borderline elite target on DK.

If Graham is out, expect Rodion Kurucs to continue to start and see strong minutes for the Nets. Kurucs is now priced up a bit, he’s more of a cash target than GPP as he hasn’t shown much of a ceiling based off of his price.

I also think DeMarre Carroll is worth mentioning. Meaningful basketball in March is a new thing for the Nets and it wouldn’t shock me to see Atkinson deploy Carroll a bit more than he typically does as he’s one of the Nets leaders and also is one of the few nets that has experience in meaningful games. He’s so cheap at $4300 on FD and $3800 on DK. He’s a cheap GPP risk worth considering.

Charlotte Hornets @ Houston Rockets (o/u 225.5, HOU -9)

Charlotte is 22nd in defensive rating, 20th in pace.

Houston is 24th in defensive rating, 28th in pace.

The Hornets and Rockets have similar team metrics as they’re both slow-paced and bad defensive teams. The Rockets are on a 2nd of a back to back where they have actually shown an improvement defensively while maintaining their pace. Still, the Rockets are a team we can attack in DFS.

Kemba Walker has become a GPP only target the second half of the season as his production consistently been down while maintaining occasional huge spurts of production. Kemba typically plays up to his opponent and put up a 50 burger in his previous meeting vs Houston. Do I trust Kemba? Not at all but $8800 on FD and $8100 on DK provide a nice ceiling for Kemba. He’s a strong GPP target.

A big reason for Kemba’s production woes have been because of the emmergence of Jeremy Lamb and Nic Batum however in their previous meeting vs the Rockets ALL three put up 40+ fantasy points. I’d be lying if I said I love targeting either here as neither are trustworthy but Batum has been over 30+ fantasy points in six of his last ten games and he continues to play an elite 37+ minutes a game. Batum is a strong middle priced option at SF and dollar for dollar my favorite Hornet to target.

Over the last 30 days, Frank Kaminsky has rejoined the Hornets rotation and has a 25.03 usage rating while on the court. Frank has been over 20+ minutes in four of his last five games and priced at $4500 on FD and $4400 on DK provides some value for him. His usage coupled with his minutes against a bad Rockets defense is worth considering. Still, I think his upside is a bit limited unless he’s playing 28+ minutes.

I’m not sure if people have noticed but the Hornets have been truly one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA of late ranking 28th in defensive rating over their last 10 games.

The Hornets rank 22nd against opposing superstars and 25th against scorers, this is an elite bounce-back spot for James Harden, who was truly terrible last night and remains over priced with the Rockets healthy. However, Harden has actually seen a slight production bump on the second of a back to back and the Hornets have been getting smoked by everyone. Harden is an elite GPP target as most won’t justify targeting him after flopping last night.

The Hornets have also been getting crushed by opposing centers of late with guys like Brook Lopez, Bobby Portis, Jusuf Nurkic, Hassan Whiteside (in 20 minutes off the bench), and even Clint Capela all going for 40+ vs them in their last six games. The Hornets have had some success containing rim protecting centers but they rank 30th in Advanced DvP against rebounding centers. I don’t love that Kenneth Faried is back tonight but Capela is a strong target simply because of the matchup. Attacking the Hornets at center is a new trend we must exploit as we close out the season.

At $8900 on FD, Chris Paul is way too rich for me. On DK at $7100 CP3 has some appeal. His production has been brutal but $7100 minimizes some of his risk while leaving a ton of room for upside. The main reason for considering Paul on DK is his price.

Eric Gordon is a bit of a boom or bust middle priced option. If you’re max entering I’d want some Gordon exposure.

Oklahoma City Thunder @ Utah Jazz (o/u 227.5, UTA -3)

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

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

With the Thunder and Jazz 2.5 games away from each other in the West, we have our second game of the night that carries some importance. This is a bad matchup for the Thunder as the Jazz are an elite defensive team, especially at home.

Because the Jazz are such a good defensive team this is a game where I’m only interested in the Thunder stars, I consider both Paul George and Russell Westbrook elite targets. Teams lean on their star players more so in tough spots on the road and in a meaningful game expect George and Westbrook to even further dominate the usage. That theory is showcased by the Jazz ranking 27th in Advanced DvP against superstars. Paul George and Joe Ingles have this weird beef and I’m not exactly sure what triggered it but whatever it is, it certainly motivates PG. In three games vs the Jazz this year PG is averaging 67.4 FD and 68 DK points. That production plays at $10600 and FD and $9500 on DK. Dollar for dollar, I prefer George over Westbrook and I’ve made PG a priority in my lines.

At $5300 on FD and $4900 on DK, Jerami Grant is usable simply because of his price. Grant plays big minutes and carries strong defensive upside, he’s a touch under priced.

The Jazz will be without Ricky Rubio and Raul Neto, Dante Exum is expected to return tonight. While the Thunder are an elite defensive team they have regressed a touch of late and their high pace allows for some fantasy production.

With Rubio and Neto OFF the floor, Donovan Mitchell is a 1.2 FD and 1.24 DK point per minute producer with a 36.24 usage rating. As we’ve experienced, when Mitchell is running the show for Utah he is a fantasy monster. I love Mitchell tonight in a pace-up meaningful spot at home and consider his $8900 FD and $8400 DK price tags too cheap. He’s an elite target tonight and stacking George and Mitchell in this game is something I recommend on both sites.

How much does Dante Exum play is a major question. If Exum isn’t really defined with a minutes limit and draws the start, he’s an elite minimum priced value on both sites. Not counting Donovan Mitchell, Exum is the only PG on the Jazz roster. 20-25 minutes is potentially enough to see him hit any sort of value at minimum price. It’s important we monitor what/if any minutes limit is imposed on him.

Still priced at the minimum, Royce O’Neale is a decent punt as long as Exum doesn’t start. I expect Utah to start Mitchell at PG meaning Royce gets the start at SF which typically locks him into 30+ minutes. Exum’s minutes will have a direct effect on Royce’s.

Rudy Gobert has also been a benefactor when the Jazz PGs are out as he’s a 1.37 FD and 1.33 DK point per minute producer with them off the floor. I don’t love attacking the Thunder at center but Gobert is a bit cheap on DK priced at $7800, he’s an elite target.

We’re back to the Joe Ingles-Paul George beef as Joe Ingles has averaged 31.47 FD and 31.5 DK points in three games vs the Thunder this year. Ingles also sees a 2.46% usage bump with Rubio and Neto OFF the floor. I don’t love Ingles at his $6400 FD and $5900 DK price tags but he’s worth mentioning as a safe middle priced option at SF.

Strictly on DK, Jae Crowder remains a bit too cheap at $4800. Crowder sees a minutes bump when Utah goes with Mitchell as their “PG” and he sees a 3.96% usage bump. He’s a strong sub $5k value on DK.

The GPP PF to consider for Utah is Derrick Favors. Favors’ minutes have dropped a touch his last three games but we’ve seen his minutes rise when Utah is undermanned at PG. I don’t trust Favors but he has legit 40+ point upside.

Boston Celtics @ Los Angeles Clippers (o/u 226, BOS -1.5)

Boston is 3rd in defensive rating, 18th in pace.

Los Angeles is 19th in defensive rating, 9th in pace.

We wrap the night up in LA with the Celtics heading back to the Staples Center. The Clippers have improved defensively of late but we can still attack their top 10 pace in DFS. This is a decent spot for the Celtics. As always, it’s tricky to navigate which Celtics to play. Jayson Tatum is questionable.

Kyrie Irving and Al Horford have the best matchup of any of the Celtics as the Clippers struggle to contain point guards and centers. Neither however are a priority for me as I’d rather spend up on Drummond or Gobert at center and I’d rather target Mitchell over Kyrie. Still, both are strong GPP options in a good matchup. If Tatum plays, Kyrie would be my favorite Celtic to target.

If Tatum can’t go Gordon Hayward and Jaylen Brown would likely be the biggest beneficiaries as both would see extended minutes. From a per minute production standpoint, both only see slight bumps as Hayward averages 0.1 more FD and 0.09 more DK points per minute while Brown sees a .04 FD and .03 per minute increase. However, at sub $5k with extended minutes in a pace-up spot both would provide decent value.

Tough spot to target Clippers players here as the Celtics provide slow pace and elite defense. Doc Rivers’ deep rotation also does us no favors when deciding if we want to target Clippers. Ultimately, I’m fine ignoring the Clippers tonight.

If you’re desperate for Clippers exposure Lou Williams is the guy I’d target and only in GPPs. Sweet Lou is always capable of exploding and typically plays up to his competition.


Teams to Attack

Wizards, Kings, Nets, Hornets, Rockets, Clippers | OKC vs UTA matchup

Blowout Potential

Raptors @ Cavs, Hornets @ Rockets

Top Targets

PG: Westbrook, Kyrie Irving(GPP), Kemba Walker (GPP), De’Aaron Fox, Spencer Dinwiddie (DK), Tomas Satoransky, Colin Sexton, Dante Exum*

SG: James Harden (GPP), Bradley Beal, Donovan Mitchell, Buddy Hield, Jaylen Brown*

SF: Paul George, Harrison Barnes, Nic Batum, Jabari Parker (GPP), Gordon Hayward*, Jae Crowder (DK), Nemanja Bjelica, DeMarre Carroll (GPP)

PF: Blake Griffin, Bobby Portis, Jerami Grant, Rodion Kurucs, Frank Kaminsky

C: Andre Drummond, Rudy Gobert (DK), Clint Capela, Al Horford, Jarrett Allen (DK GPP)