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Plays of the Day
Value: Nemanja Bjelica drew the start for an injured Zach Lavine on Sunday and absolutely blew up for 24 points and 48.5 DK points (45.1 FD points) with a full line against the Lakers. While he’ll be a popular play if Lavine is out again, it’s possible that Bjelica’s positive performance will earn him steady run regardless as a backup for Gorgui Dieng and a matchup problem for any of the Hornets big men.
Fade: While Kevin Love has been consistent this year, I find it hard to recommend him as the most expensive PF on a short slate. He draws a tough matchup on paper against the Raptors and he barely produced a double double (18 points and 10 rebounds) against Toronto earlier this season, so he could disappoint if he doesn’t earn that bonus this evening.
Games to Target
- Portland Blazers (-3) hosting Chicago Bulls (Over/Under = 213.5)
- Minnesota Wolves (+2) hosting Charlotte Hornets (Over/Under = 206.5)
Kemba Walker (CHA) @ MIN: DK:$7,900/FD:$8,300
The Hornets are one of the most surprising teams in the NBA this year and their unquestioned leader is Walker, who has been remarkably consistent. He's coming off his worth shooting performance (8-of-21 from the floor) of the season, but still reached his floor of 33 FPs and provided a valiant effort against the defending champion Cavs on Sunday. Now he draws a much easier matchup against a Wolves team that is ranked 26th in defensive rating and gives up 22 PPG to opposing PGs. It's been a revolving door for Minnesota at that position and now it's a rusty Ricky Rubio starting, which is a prime matchup for Walker, as he should be able to shake the below average defender on his way to a great performance on the road.
Ricky Rubio (MIN) vs. CHA DK:$5,700/FD:$6,300
While he’s not necessarily going to keep Kemba in front of him, Rubio is a great play in his own right at a diminished price tag. He’s cheap because he’s working his way back from an elbow injury and was not a very good shooter to begin with, but Rubio’s capable of handing out dimes in bunches and the Hornets give up the seventh-most APG (9.0) to opposing PGs this year. Rubio went for 10 points, 5 rebounds and 10 assists in his sole meeting with Charlotte last year and that’s very similar to the line he just put up (10 points, 4 rebounds, 10 assists, 3 steals) in his second game back, so it’s reasonable to use him in cash games while he’s cheap enough to hit value without scoring the ball much.
Dennis Schroeder ($6300/$6100) is still reasonably cheap and he seems like a reliable option against a Heat team that is missing its starting PG.
Kyle Lowry ($7600/$8000) is always an appealing GPP play when the Raptors face LeBron and the Cavs. Tyler Johnson ($5200/$4900) is a cheaper tournament play with plenty of upside as long as Goran Dragic remains out.
Nicolas Batum (CHA) @ MIN: DK:$6,800/FD:$6,500
You might want to pay up for a prolific scorer such as C.J. McCollum or DeMar DeRozan in tournament formats, but Batum seems like the preferred cash game option at a relatively weak position this evening. He’s very affordable for a player that routinely fills the stat sheet and he’s exceeded value in consecutive appearances with the Hornets locked in a couple of close games over the weekend. Charlotte (-2) is slightly favored on the road tonight in what’s projected to be the closest contest on this 5-game slate, so Batum seems to be in line for a full slate of run. He’s facing a Wolves team that is normally good against opposing SGs, but starting two-guard Zach Lavine (knee) is questionable tonight and that could open things up for the Hornets playmaking wing player.
Dion Waiters (MIA) vs. ATL: DK:$4,200/FD:$4,300
This is a somewhat risky situation and Waiters is never a truly reliable play, but it was his relief appearance as a PG that saved Miami from a blowout loss at San Antonio last night and should've earned him more playing time ahead of another tough matchup this evening. Second-year man Josh Richardson started at PG for the injured Goran Dragic (ankle), but he flopped in DFS terms with 8 points and 4 assists over 28 minutes, while Waiters dropped a team-high 27 with a full line over 36 minutes of run. Normally, I might advise sticking with the primary ball-handler in Richardson if the Heat drew an easier matchup tonight, but they face another elite defensive team in the Hawks and they'll probably require more unconventional means to score against them. Waiters' game is pretty much the definition of unconventional.
Iman Shumpert ($3900/$3900) is a solid value option and he could have more upside if J.R. Smith (ankle) misses another game for Cleveland.
Sticking with Josh Richardson ($4800/$4000) as a value play is worth a shot if Dragic is ruled out. Sean Kilpatrick ($5800/$5500) is another bounce back candidate, as he should start at PG against the Lakers tonight.
Jimmy Butler (CHI) @ POR: DK:$8,000/FD:$8,600
The other obvious top options at this position are LeBron James and Andrew Wiggins, but both players draw tough individual matchups against two of the better defensive teams in the East tonight. Butler, meanwhile, will travel out west to face a Blazers squad that plays at the ninth-fastest pace and gives up the second-most PPG (111.1) in the NBA this season. Portland allows an above average 38.95 FPPG to opposing SFs and is more vulnerable against the position with Al-Farouq Aminu (calf) on the shelf right now. It took a couple of weeks, but Chicago’s other guards clearly understand who the Alpha is in that backcourt, as Butler’s scored 116 points with 28 assists to drop some huge DFS performances over his last four appearances and tonight should be no different.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (BKN) @ LAL: DK:$4,500/FD:$4,300
The Nets were predictably blown out early by the Clippers at the Staples Center last night, and head coach Kenny Atkinson wisely decided to bench most of his starters in preparation for a more winnable game against the Lakers the following evening. While Luke Walton has these young Lakers playing great ball, they still rank 20th in defensive rating and give up the tenth-most PPG (107.5) while playing at the fifth-fastest pace in the NBA this season. That bodes well for an athletic young wing like Hollis-Jefferson, who was coming off three consecutive games in which he exceeded value before he flopped against the Clippers top-ranked defense. He's capable of filling up the entire stat sheet when given a full slate of run and he's clearly cheap on both main DFS sites.
James Johnson ($3700/$3800) remains the most obvious punt play at this position and he should get more minutes tonight if he can stay out of foul trouble. Also consider Maurice Harkless ($5200/$4600) as a solid value on FD.
While Batum’s defensive ability is concerning, Andrew Wiggins ($7000/$6900) is on fire right now and he’ll become an even better play if Zach Lavine is out again for the Wolves.
Paul Millsap (ATL) @ MIA: DK:$7,700/FD:$7,400
If you save enough at SG and SF, you should be able to afford a top option at this position, and Millsap is clearly one of the best PFs that you can get into your lineups. He's coming off a dud in a blowout win against the 76ers and he did struggle against the Cavs two games before that, but matchups don't matter much for a versatile producer like Millsap. He's providing good numbers across the board with 16.7 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 4.0 APG and 1.7 SPG this season and he's almost assuredly going to produce down the stretch with the Hawks (-6.5) favored by a bit on the road. Miami holds most PFs to limited numbers, but Millsap is capable of burning his man all night while Dwight Howard and Hassan Whiteside potentially cancel each other out.
Nemanja Bjelica (MIN) vs. CHA: DK:$3,800/FD:$4,000
Bjelica drew the start for an injured Zach Lavine on Sunday and absolutely blew up for 24 points and 48.5 DK points (45.1 FD points) with a full line against the Lakers. While he’ll be a popular play if Lavine is out again, it’s possible that Bjelica’s positive performance will earn him steady run regardless as a backup for Gorgui Dieng and a matchup problem for any of the Hornets big men. The European veteran did most of his damage at SF while Andrew Wiggins moved down, so he could work against inexperienced wing Michael Kidd-Glichrist tonight while looking to build on that performance. Most importantly, he’s dirt cheap and will provide a ton of salary flexibility as a potentially viable punt play.
Patrick Patterson ($4200/$4000) has been as consistent as anyone over his last few games and he’ll be asked to come up big down the stretch in Cleveland.
Nikola Mirotic ($4800/$4300) finally had a big game for the Bulls over the weekend and he could see extended run against a quicker-than-average Blazers frontcourt tonight.
Karl-Anthony Towns (MIN) vs. CHA: DK:$8,200/FD:$8,400
Dwight Howard and Hassan Whiteside clash tonight in a battle between two of the best defensive centers in the NBA, so neither player is particularly appealing outside of GPP formats. Priced right between the two, Towns draws a fantastic matchup against the Hornets under sized frontcourt, as he should be able to steamroll below average defenders Cody Zeller, Spencer Hawes or the ultra-skinny Roy Hibbert tonight. Charlotte gives up the fourth-most PPG (23.13) to opposing centers and Towns has been rolling with 20-plus points in six consecutive appearances since his slow start to the season.
Mason Plumlee (POR) vs. CHI: DK:$5,300/FD:$5,100
He's been a fantastic cash game play all season and Plumlee's price tag remains quite reasonable ahead of a good matchup tonight. With the exception of the Clippers, few teams have been able to handle Plum as the perfect compliment to Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum in PnR sets. Chicago's Robin Lopez is a good post defender, but he's way too slow to contain the athletic Duke produce when he dives to the rim, which is part of the reason why the Bulls cough up the fifth-most FPPG (49.41) to opposing centers this year. There's nothing fancy about this play, but he should keep your lineups on pace for a solid total in 50/50 and H2H formats.
Tristan Thompson ($4700/$4600) seems to step up against his hometown Raptors and he’ll exceed value if he can produce a double double tonight.
Brook Lopez ($6100/$6800) should return for the Nets after resting last night and he has a much greater chance for success against the Lakers weak defense.