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Plays of the Day
Value: Dwight Howard (quad) was injured last night and his absence tonight would immediately vault Mike Muscala into the Hawks starting lineup. The fourth-year man out of Bucknell is averaging a career-best 16.4 PTS, 8.1 REB, 3 AST, and 2.4 STL/BLK per 36 minutes this year and he might be looking at that amount of playing time if he does indeed draw the start tonight against a Milwaukee team that coughs up the sixth-most FPPG (48.92) to opposing centers this season.
Fade: LeBron James came through in a heated matchup against the Raptors last night, but the Pacers don’t pose as big of a threat and Indy is weak overall defensively, so Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love could do the heavy lifting against an inferior opponent. James has posted subdued numbers on the second half of B2B sets over the past few years and he’s worth fading in order to fit other studs into lineups on this huge slate.
Games to Target
- Oklahoma City Thunder (-1.5) hosting Houston Rockets (Over/Under = 217.5)
- Denver Nuggets (-4) hosting Phoenix Suns (Over/Under = 221.5)
Russell Westbrook (OKC) vs. HOU: DK:$11,900/FD:$11,500
Westbrook and Harden stand out as the most obvious plays in a clash between high-powered offensive teams that is almost surely going to pay dividends in DFS contest this evening. While The Beard has been slightly more consistent, Westbrook has established a floor of around 60 DK points and he’s slightly cheaper on that site, while his individual matchup is better on paper than Harden’s. Westy will do battle with mediocre defender Eric Gordon while Harden deals with the elite defensive combination of Andre Roberson and rim protector Steven Adams in the earlier going. While the insane Usage Rate of both players ensures their safety in cash game formats, I give Westbrook a slight nod given his individual matchup.
Isaiah Thomas (BOS) vs. DAL DK:$8,000/FD:$8,300
There a ton of elite options at PG this evening and a couple of them remain under priced on DK in Thomas and Chris Paul ($8800). CP3 might be the better cash game play, but IT4 is just fine to consider as a tournament option in a home game against a high-scoring WCF team that doesn't play much defense. Dallas is giving up the sixth-most PPG to opposing PGs (24.8) and the bulk of Thomas' production comes from his ability to score (26.9 APG) or force help and dish off for easy buckets (6.7 APG). With Al Horford (concussion) questionable and Jae Crowder (ankle) out, Thomas has been thrust into an even bigger role for Boston, and all the injuries to the Dallas backcourt will allow him to work against even more diminutive PG J.J. Barea.
Langston Galloway ($3400/$3900) could emerge as a solid value if E’Twaun Moore (toe) misses another game for the Pelicans. Darren Collison ($5200/$5900) is an intriguing mid-tier option with the Kings hosting the Spurs tonight.
Kyle Lowry ($7700/$8000) is always a great GPP play when the Raptors face a tough challenge and tonight they’re hosting a Warriors team that gives up the eighth most FPPG to opposing PGs this season.
James Harden (HOU) @ OKC: DK:$12,200/FD:$11,500
I might go with Westbrook over Harden when forced to choose on DK, but it’s possible to fit both superstars into FanDuel lineups and The Beard is cheaper than usual on that site. Perhaps it’s because he’s had mixed results when facing his former team over the past few years, but Harden is averaging 33.8 PPG and 8.8 APG over his last four appearances against the Thunder and his numbers are up across the board with Mike D’Antoni coaching the new-look Rockets this season. Harden and his teammates made quick work of the Sixers at home on Monday and that provided plenty of extra rest ahead of what should be a heated rivalry game with a lofty Over/Under (218 points) and plenty of shootout potential.
Jamal Murray (DEN) vs. PHO: DK:$3,700/FD:$3,700 as PG
Murray finally snapped his ice cold streak to begin his career with a flurry of threes in a game that was already decided last Saturday, but those buckets count in the stat sheet and they certainly count in terms of building the young man's confidence. He's played at least 20 minutes in three straight games with Will Barton (ankle) out and now he's looking at a more consistent role with Gary Harris (foot) out indefinitely. The talented rookie is capable of scoring inside and out, while he draws a great matchup at home tonight against a Suns team that gives up the most PPG (28.27) to opposing PGs and fourth-most PPG (24.36) to opposing SGs this season while giving up the most total PPG (115.6) in the NBA this year. That makes him worth the gamble as a true punt play and a necessary addition on DraftKings if you want to afford Westbrook and/or Harden.
Always love Avery Bradley ($7100/$7000) as an upper-tier option for cash game formats. If you need a cheaper safe play, consider Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($5000/$4800) against the Knicks.
The Celtics have been awful in the defensive backcourt, so consider J.J. Barea ($6600/$5800 as PG on FD) if Deron Williams (calf) remains out tonight.
Kevin Durant (GSW) @ TOR: DK:$9,500/FD:$9,600
LeBron is coming off a huge performance, but he’s on the second half of a B2B set and is facing a pathetic Pacers defense that the Cavs should carve up early. That leaves KD as the premier play at his position in a game with the highest Over/Under (221.5 points) of the slate. The Warriors (-5.5) are only modest favorites as they visit one of the most raucous arenas in the NBA and Durant should be motivated to produce if he draws the ire of that boisterous crowd. Steph Curry will be locked in a battle with Kyle Lowry and Klay Thompson could be exhausted from trying to guard DeMar DeRozan, but Durant’s primary defender DeMarre Carroll will likely be overmatched while trying to guard the Slim Reaper. He’s been a consistent cash game play even when the Warriors win in a blowout and he routinely exceeds value with 50+ FPs in close games, so you could try to pay up for him in one of the most intriguing games tonight.
Trevor Ariza (HOU) @ OKC: DK:$5,600/FD:$5,300
This position is tough to fill if you’re looking for value, but Ariza fits nicely into lineups at that mid-tier price tag and he’s another way to get exposure to a potential shootout at OKC. The Rockets elite two-way player is coming off a season-best line (17 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, 42 DK points) in a blowout win over the Sixers and he should see heavy minutes in a tougher test tonight. The Thunder is a great defensive team, but allows the sixth-most FPPG (41.61) to opposing SFs this season. If their defensive strategy is to wall off the paint and prevent Harden from getting to the FT line or scoring easy buckets, then kick outs will be open to guys like Ariza for a number of good looks at three.
Chandler Parsons ($4100/$5100) is almost a punt play at that price tag on DK and he has a good chance to meet value as he works his way back into rhythm.
Wilson Chandler ($4900/$5200) is likely to keep playing through a hamstring injury and the Nuggets will need his production against a quick Suns team tonight. Harrison Barnes is also worth a look at $6000 on FanDuel against a Celtics team that will be without starting SF Jae Crowder.
Kristaps Porzingis (NYK) vs. DET: DK:$6,900/FD:$6,900
The Knicks began to experiment with the Zinger at center and placed highly-ineffective starter Joakim Noah on the bench in their last game, and Porzingis responded with a big double double (24 points, 11 rebounds) over 36 minutes to exceed value in a surprisingly easy win against Dallas. Tonight the Knicks will host a Pistons team that could be without starting center Andre Drummond (ankle), who has been torched by opposing big men lately anyways, so if he’s active you might even upgrade Porzingis. In any case, the Unicorn would make life very difficult for slow fill-in center Aron Baynes, and HC Jeff Hornacek would be wise to create matchup problems by giving his versatile PF more run at the 5 over a player in Noah that is not an offensive threat.
Terrence Jones (NO) @ ORL: DK:$4,700/FD:$4,500
He's still a very risky option because of his inconsistent playing time, but Jones tends to see more of the court when the Pelicans face teams that like to go small and run different styles of lineups. The Magic have a true stretch four in Serge Ibaka and often play combo forwards Aaron Gordon or Jeff Green, so there is definitely a role for Jones in the defense of those players this evening. He just produced a double double (15 points, 10 rebounds) over 30 minutes in a similar matchup against the Celtics and he seems to be a great compliment to Anthony Davis in the Pelicans front court, it's just a question of whether HC Alvin Gentry is prone to agree. Davis is obviously the more appealing option with upside, but it might be impossible to pay up for The Brow if you’re trying to afford stud guards.
Patrick Patterson ($4200/$4000) only hit one of his six FG attempts last night but still met value with 18 DK points. That makes him a very solid cash game play in my book.
Jared Dudley ($4000/$4000) has been great for the Suns over his last three appearances and he draws a good matchup against the fast-paced Nuggets tonight.
DeMarcus Cousins (SAC) vs. SAS: DK:$8,900/FD:$9,600
In past seasons, you might have steered clear of Cousins in a matchup against the Spurs no matter how cheap his price tag, but San Antonio is not particularly solid on that side of the ball this season. He's so cheap on DK that I find it hard to fade him in the same matchup in which he produced 37 points, 16 rebounds and 63.5 DK points earlier this season. San Antonio might be without Pau Gasol tonight and LaMarcus Aldridge doesn't have too much success defending Big Cuz one-on-one. The Kings superstar is averaging 30.5 PPG, 9 RPG and 3.5 APG over four home games so far this season and he seems capable of exceeding value rather easily.
Mike Muscala (ATL) vs. MIL: DK:$3,600/FD:$4,000 as PF on FD
If Drummond is out again, Aron Baynes makes for a suitable pivot at this position at $3700 on FanDuel, but you should probably make room for Muscala in any case with Dwight Howard (quad) looking at a potential multi-game absence. Howard has never been very reliable in terms of playing through injuries and his absence would immediately vault Muscala into the starting lineup and expand his role. The fourth-year man out of Bucknell is averaging a career-best 16.4 PTS, 8.1 REB, 3 AST, and 2.4 STL/BLK per 36 minutes this year and he might be looking at that amount of playing time if he does indeed draw the start tonight against a Milwaukee team that coughs up the sixth-most FPPG (48.92) to opposing centers this season.
Clint Capela ($5000/$5100) seems to like a good bet to play heavy minutes for Houston as the Rockets look to match the Thunder’s ample size in the frontcourt.
Joel Embiid ($6100/$5600) remains a solid GPP play in the hopes that he continues to exceed value while playing limited minutes. John Henson ($3300/$4000) is the nominal starter for the Bucks, but he’s only a longshot to play extended minutes.