We have a mediocre six-game NBA DFS slate featuring a ton of studs and highlighted by a Rockets-Warriors matchup. Here is my breakdown of the games…
Brooklyn Nets @ Oklahoma City Thunder (o/u 230.5, OKC -7)
Brooklyn is 13th in defensive rating, 12th in pace.
Oklahoma City is 4th in defensive rating, 3rd in pace.
Injuries: DeMarre Carroll OUT, Treveon Graham OUT
Top Targets: D’Angelo Russell (GPP), Spencer Dinwiddie (GPP), Rodion Kurucs
Secondary Targets: Allen Crabbe, Joe Harris
The Thunder provide a stout defense but elite pace in this matchup and expect a lot of points to be scored. At first glance, some people might worry about a potential blowout, but the Nets are a team that RARELY gets blown out. I fully expect this game to stay close. As always, the trouble with targeting the Nets is their rotation making it impossible to trust D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie in cash games. Still, both, but especially Russell, carry elite upside in an up-tempo game environment as the Thunder rank 24th in Advanced DvP against opposing scorers.
With Carroll and Graham out, Rodion Kurucs is locked into minutes and is a decent value priced at $4600 on FD and DK. Don’t let Kurucs “down” minutes last game fool you as Kurucs and the starters sat the entire fourth quarter up 30 against the Pistons. Kurucs doesn’t carry a ton of upside but he’s a fairly safe sub $5k target. Allen Crabbe and Joe Harris are potentially cheap secondary beneficiaries of Carroll being out. Even just one less player in the Nets rotation typically means good things. The Thunder rank 20th in Advanced DvP against shooters so it’s an above average matchup for both. They are cheap ways of getting exposure to this game environment.
Injuries: Markieff Morris Questionable
Top Targets: Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Steven Adams
Secondary Targets: Dennis Schroder
Russell Westbrook and Paul George are elite targets there’s no two ways about it. One vs one I’d lean Westbrook even at a higher price point but I have no issues playing both in your lines. In their previous meeting, Westbrook exploded for 65.5 FD and 71.75 DK points while George went for 72 FD and 77.25 DK points. That should prove that their production is not mutually exclusive. The Nets have surrendered elite production to top players all year and rank 26th in Advanced DvP vs opposing superstars. Why Westbrook over George? Mostly because of the matchup. Attacking the Nets at PG has been a more profitable strategy then attacking them at SF but again I’d consider targeting both.
Even with his lack-luster recent production Steven Adams makes the list as he’s a center facing the Nets. That’s all it really takes these days for a big to become a top target as the Nets continue to get torched by opposing bigs. Drummond nearly had 50 fantasy points down 30 in a blowout loss vs the Nets last game. Centers are always going to get theirs vs the Nets. Adams is a safe upper middle priced center to consider.
I don’t have much interest in Schroder but the matchup and his recent play as been strong. He’s a bit more appealing at his FD $5300 price than on DK at $5600. I’m fine with Schroder as a “last guy in” sort of play.
Orlando Magic @ Washington Wizards (o/u 226, WAS -3)
Orlando is 8th in defensive rating, 25th in pace.
Washington is 27th in defensive rating, 7th in pace.
Injuries: Aaron Gordon Questionable, Wes Iwundu Questionable
Top Targets: Nikola Vucevic
Secondary Targets: Terrence Ross (GPP), Evan Fournier, Johnathan Isaac, Jarrell Martin*
The Magic find themselves in an elite spot vs the Wizards who continue to be a team I strongly recommend to attack in DFS as they play fast with minimal defense. Right off the bat, an obvious elite target in this spot is Nikola Vucevic. Vuc is a friend of the NBA TQE product as he’s quite possible the most consistent fantasy producer in the NBA. He’s a production monster in an elite spot as the Wizards rank 22nd in Advanced DvP vs skilled centers. $10k on FD and $9200 on DK are fair prices as he’s a safe bet for 50 fantasy points, target Vuc with confidence.
The rest of the Magic all carry appeal with the opportunity for them to be elite targets if Aaron Gordon is ultimately ruled out. With Aaron Gordon OFF the court Evan Fournier sees a 0.05 FD and DK PPM increase with a 3.38% usage bump, Johnathan Isaac sees a 0.13 FD and DK PPM increase with a 2.84% usage bump, and Terrance Ross sees a 0.03 FD, 0.02 DK PPM increase with a 1.69% usage bump. None of those are strikingly high metric increases but all three slightly benefit and would likely see an added bump because of the Wizards matchup. Fournier would be my favorite.
If Gordon is ruled out look for Jarrell Martin to potentially pick up the start and play 20+ minutes. Martin is a 0.76 FD and 0.78 DK PPM producer with Gordon off the court, he’d be an appealing punt to consider.
Injuries: John Wall OUT, Dwight Howard OUT (for those of you who haven’t played NBA DFS in 4 months)
Top Targets: None
Secondary Targets: Bradley Beal
The Magic continue to be one of the slowest paced teams in the NBA, making them one of the hardest teams to attack in DFS. Quite frankly, I’m all for just skipping the Wizards entirely when constructing lineups tonight as there just isn’t much appeal. Bradley Beal has been awesome and is one of the top DFS producers in the NBA, I just don’t want to pay $11200 on FD and $9800 on DK for him in a brutal matchup. Beal’s appeal is that he’s a stud that’s semi matchup-proof that will be low owned because of his price and matchup.
Detroit Pistons @ Miami Heat (o/u 211.5, MIA -1.5)
Detroit is 12th in defensive rating, 26th in pace.
Miami is 9th in defensive rating, 24th in pace.
Top Targets: None
Secondary Targets: Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin (GPP), Ish Smith
This is a truly gross game environment with not much to like. In terms of matchup, this is a worse matchup for the Pistons as Miami is quite frankly just a better defensive team. I’ve been riding Andre Drummond A LOT since the All-Star Break but this isn’t really the matchup I’m making him a priority for my lines.
Blake Griffin has been brutal from a production standpoint for almost two weeks now. Do I want to play him? Absolutely not, but his price has come down to the point where Blake is an intriguing GPP risk as he still carries an appealing ceiling. Again, I’m not sure if this is the matchup I want to try and exploit his down price though.
Injuries: Josh Richardson Questionable
Top Targets: Justise Winslow*, Dion Waiters*(GPP)
Secondary Targets: Dwyane Wade, Derrick Jones Jr, Hassan Whiteside (GPP), Goran Dragic
If Josh Richardson plays, I don’t really have any interest in any Heat players and would be completely comfortable fading this entire game. If Richardson can’t go, I’d have some interest in Justise Winslow as he sees a 0.12 FD and a 0.09 PPM increase with JRich OFF the floor. Those aren’t big bumps but Winslow would also see a slight minutes bump. I’d also have some interest in Dion Waiters as a GPP target with priced down to $4100 on FD and $4800 on DK. Waiters would likely be pushed into the 23+ minute range which offers upside vs a Detroit team that ranks 19th in Advanced DvP vs scorers.
No JRich would also throw Derrick Jones Jr. in the ring as an interesting punt at SF. We’ve seen DJJ be productive when he has minutes, the minutes would likely be there. Hassan Whiteside has some history with Andre Drummond but he’s impossible to trust. Drummond isn’t a great interior defender so the matchup is great but Whiteside has been coming off the bench since his injury so he’s strictly a very high risk/high reward GPP target.
Memphis Grizzlies @ Atlanta Hawks (o/u 221, ATL -1)
Memphis is 6th in defensive rating, 30th in pace.
Atlanta is 28th in defensive rating, 2nd in pace.
Injuries: Kyle Anderson OUT, Jaren Jackson Jr. OUT
Top Targets: Mike Conley, Joakim Noah, Avery Bradley Delon Wright
Secondary Targets: Jonas Valanciunas (GPP), CJ Miles (DK)
The Grizzlies find themselves in an elite pace-up spot vs the Hawks who we’ve grown to admire as a team to attack throughout this NBA season. Fresh off of his Western Conference player of the year award Mike Conley is an elite target. Attacking the Hawks at PG has been a sound strategy all year as they’re bottom 10 in Advanced DvP for all PG traits. Over the last 30 days, Conley has produced at a 1.12 FD and a 1.15 DK PPM clip with a 27.33 usage rating. It’s time we must stop sleeping on Conley, he’s an elite target even at his increased price tag vs Atlanta.
Avery Bradley and Delon Wright are two cheaper ways of getting Grizzlies exposure tonight and both are borderline elite targets. Bradley continues to impress and remains absurdly too cheap on DK at $4800. I’m comfortable with targeting Bradley at his $6k FD price tag. Bradley has been under 5x his DK price just twice in his last 10 games and the Hawks provide a game environment that suits his style of play. Target Avery with confidence. Delon Wright is the Grizzlies guy going under the radar a bit as he’s been over 23+ fantasy points in six of his last eight games. Wright is priced fair on both sites at $5300 on FD and $4600 on DK, this is a great spot for him to produce and I’d expect his ownership to stay down.
Both Joakim Noah and Jonas Valanciunas carry some appeal. Noah is priced down after his reign of 30+ production has ended. That being said his minutes are back up in his last two games and priced at $4800 on FD and $4700 on DK against the Hawks provides a safe floor with appealing upside. Noah is a strong sub $5k target at center. Jonas is a bit pricey and with Noah’s minutes up, Jonas’s minutes are down making it tough to trust his production at his price point. Still, Hawks provide an elite matchup, Jonas carries upside.
Injuries: Omari Spellman, Alex Poythress
Top Targets: None
Secondary Targets: Trae Young
With the Hawks a bit healthier now, I can happily skip them tonight as I have no interest attacking the Grizzlies. The Grizzlies play so slow and that will likely frustrate the young Hawks as they have no idea how to play in the half court. I’m not interested in any of the wings and with Dedmon and Collins back Alex Len doesn’t carry much appeal. The one area of weakness for Memphis that we can attack is at PG which makes Trae Young worth considering in GPPs. Trae has frustrated many of late but the Grizzlies rank 24th in Advanced DvP against pass first PGs. The Grizzlies high defensive rating can be attributed to their slow pace more so than their defense and the Grizzlies are a team that struggle to defend the pick and roll, something Trae is good at running. Still, tough to trust Trae and his price doesn’t do him any favors so he’s strictly GPP.
Golden State Warriors @ Houston Rockets (o/u 230.5, HOU -3.5)
Golden State is 15th in defensive rating, 10th in pace.
Houston is 22nd in defensive rating, 28th in pace.
Injuries: Kevin Durant OUT
Top Targets: Steph Curry, Draymond Green, DeMarcus Cousins
Secondary Targets: Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala
Here are the Warriors per minute breakdowns with Kevin Durant OFF the court the last 30 days:
From a production standpoint, DeMarcus Cousins sees the biggest bump in per minute metrics with KD OFF the court. Cousins is priced well on DK at $7400 and is a touch pricey on FD at $8500. Still, in a prime-time matchup against the Rockets expect Cousins to be heavily owned, he’s an elite target.
Even with Cousins carrying the higher per minute metrics, my two favorite Warriors tonight are Steph Curry and Draymond Green. I love to target Draymond in prime-time games and with no KD Draymond sees a slight rebounding bump and overall a decent production bump. He’s just priced really well at $6600 on FD and $5900 on DK, dollar for dollar he’s one of my favorite targets on the slate. Curry has taken the biggest hit since Boogie joined the Warriors rotation but what I’ve noticed is the Warriors seem to always force Curry the ball when one of their studs sits for a game. Curry is also priced down and has strong historical success vs the Rockets. On FD, I don’t mind spending up on both Curry and Westbrook.
Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala are secondary targets. Both are worth considering, but I’d make the three other Warriors studs a priority. Klay is also a bit too pricey for me priced at $8k on FD. Iguodala provides decent cap relief and is a cheap way of getting exposure in this game.
Top Targets: James Harden, Chris Paul
Secondary Targets: Clint Capela, Eric Gordon
The Rockets are a bit of a tricky team in DFS as James Harden and Chris Paul are SO ball dominant and usage dominant that it’s not easy to confidently target anyone else. Against their Western Conference rivals, expect Harden and Paul to dominate the ball all game. Harden continues to be overpriced, but he has legit 75+ fantasy point upside on any given night, especially nights against top teams. He’s not a priority for me at his price, but Harden is an elite target. In two games vs the Warriors this year, Chris Paul is averaging 47+ fantasy points on both sites. On FD, Paul remains overpriced based off his recent production at $8500. On DK, however, Paul is appealingly priced at $6900. That offers a safe floor with a tremendous amount of upside.
The Warriors have surprisingly struggled vs bigs this year, putting Clint Capela on the radar. I don’t fully trust Capela with Faried in the mix and his production has been down since returning from injury, but we’ve seen Capela explode in these sort of games before. He’s a GPP target that carries lots of upside.
Utah Jazz @ Phoenix Suns (o/u 222.5 UTA -7)
Utah is 3rd in defensive rating, 14th in pace.
Phoenix is 29th in defensive rating, 11th in pace.
Injuries: Ricky Rubio Questionable, Raul Neto Questionable
Update: Rubio now listed as Probable
Top Targets: Donovan Mitchell*, Rudy Gobert*, Royce O’Neale*, Derrick Favors*
Secondary Targets: Joe Ingles*, Dante Exum*, Everyone listed above if Rubio plays
The Jazz have the most uncertainty on the slate as Ricky Rubio’s availability has big implications on the rest of the team. Unfortunately for my FD friends, this is the late game and I’m not sure we get the answers we need before lineups lock. The Suns provide an elite matchup to attack and with the Suns playing at home there is a good chance they hand around in this game. If Rubio can’t go, Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert are elite pricey targets to consider. Mitchell sees a 0.2 FD and DK PPM increase with a 5.58% usage bump with Rubio and Neto OFF the floor while Gobert sees a minimal 0.09 FD and DK PPM increase with a 1.12% usage bump. What Gobert also sees is a slight minutes increase. I’d want at least one of the two in my line if Rubio and Neto are ruled out before lock.
Royce O’Neale becomes an intriguing value as the Suns are an elite matchup and he sees an elite minutes bump when the Jazz don’t have a PG. He’s a risk if no news comes out as he’s priced up a touch and would not nearly see the minutes we’d want him to be at. Derrick Favors is a cheaper way to attack the Suns frontcourt and would carry elite upside in this matchup.
Joe Ingles and Dante Exum would be secondary targets as Ingles doesn’t quite carry the ceiling I want at his price, I’d rather target Royce at a cheaper price. Still, Ingles would be a safe middle priced target. Exum would be a usable punt but one that’s tough to trust. My interest would stem from the Suns matchup.
IF Rubio plays, Gobert and Favors would be my favorite Utah targets with Mitchell being a GPP target as he’s a bit overpriced if Rubio plays. Still, the Suns provide an elite matchup and Mitchell would carry a nice ceiling.
Injuries: TJ Warren OUT
Top Targets: DeAndre Ayton
Secondary Targets: Devin Booker, Kelly Oubre, Josh Jackson (DK)
Overall, I don’t have much interest in Suns targets as the Jazz are an ELITE defensive team and one I don’t love attacking in DFS. The Utah weakness defensively in DFS is at center putting DeAndre Ayton in play as a potentially low owned pricey center to consider. Utah ranks 14th in Advanced DvP against skilled centers so there’s upside at his $8100 FD and $6300 DK price tags. On DK, Ayton is a bit of a bargain even when considering the matchup and lack-luster producing in two of his last three games.
This isn’t an ideal matchup but Kelly Oubre has been a remarkably consistent producer of late producing over 29 fantasy points in nine of his last 10 games. $7000 on FD and $6200 on DK are good prices for him. Devin Booker carries some GPP appeal as a sort of “he could” get hot. Booker will be low owned and is always capable of going on a scoring spree. Still, he’s a high risk/high reward target.
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.