NBA DFS: Matchups to Exploit March 11, 2016
Last night’s four game slate was ugly as advertised, but we were still able to extract really solid value from a lot of sources. If you faded the entire Toronto-Atlanta game, you probably had a pretty decent night, as Luis Scola and Kent Bazemore were the only two viable options that did anything worthwhile. San Antonio-Chicago ended in a double digit deficit for Chicago as expected, but the game stayed competitive deep into the fourth quarter, allowing LaMarcus Aldridge, Kawhi Leonard and Tony Parker to have upside performances. Pau Gasol ended up being a fantastic play on DraftKings, but seven turnovers doomed FanDuel owners. E’Twuan Moore, despite our advice to avoid him in this spot, returned a serviceable upside performance. Apologies if you trailed us on that fade.
Denver-Phoenix really ended up being Devin Booker versus Emmanuel Mudiay and Nikola Jokic, and as you might expect, the Nuggets handled their business. It should be noted that Booker did have a career high 35 points on 24 field goal attempts, proving that he can remain a viable option despite Brandon Knight’s return. Alex Len was a dud, and next time you see him, he’s likely to be a $7000 player on each site, so the decision stops being so easy. Cleveland-Los Angeles fed the narrative all night, as LeBron James and Kyrie Irving played more than enough minutes to return solid scores while Kobe Bryant predictably performed in the national spotlight.
For a four game slate, there were certainly a lot of ways to differentiate yourself. People get caught up saying “well, someone is going to score points in that game” when talking about low total, defensive struggles, but as Toronto-Atlanta proved, sometimes those points don’t add up to anything usable. Tonight, we get a beautiful ten game slate to build around, and I’m excited that only one of the 20 teams playing tonight is on the second night of a back to back in a completely avoidable spot, as the Bulls host the Heat. Value is already available, as DeMarcus Cousins will sit out tonight due to suspension, opening up some of the inexpensive options on the Kings for extended run in a great matchup with Orlando, who will also be without Nikola Vucevic. As of this writing, we only have six Vegas lines, and all of them have totals above 200 points, so we’ll have to dig into the matchups to figure out how to construct our rosters tonight.
BOLD UNDERLINE will represent matchups that should be attacked with extreme bias. STANDARD BOLD will represent attackable matchups, but due to either available personnel or game situation carry a certain degree of risk. BOLD ITALICS will represent matchups that are middling overall, but can be attacked with the right player. STANDARD ITALICS are matchups best avoided, and there will be plenty with 20 teams in action. Let’s dive in.
Sometimes that matchup doesn’t matter all that much when a player has extreme splits. Kemba Walker ($9100FD/$8600DK) is at home again, and he’ll draw a DETROIT PISTONS squad that performs reasonably well against point guards, allowing the eighth fewest DK points per night to the position. Walker averages 4.93 DK points per game more at home, and has averaged 54.95 DK points per game in his last five home games. For comparison’s sake, Walker’s last five road games have yielded an average of 38.0 DK points per game. Walker had a mediocre performance in one previous meeting with the Pistons this season, and the chance for a bust is certainly higher than usual due to the game situation, but I’m going to continue riding Walker – probably at slightly lesser volume – until he cools off in his own building. Detroit matches up superbly with Charlotte at every position other than point guard, and Kemba is likely going to have to shoulder the offensive load in what should be a competitive contest between two teams fighting for seeding at the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
If there are still Ish Smith ($6700FD/$6800DK) truthers out there, now is the time to assemble as the 76ers host the BROOKLYN NETS tonight in what should be a higher scoring, defense-free affair. The Nets allow the fourth most DK points per game to point guards and have somehow been even worse lately, allowing 8.5 DK points above their season average over their last five games. People probably don’t realize that Smith has exceeded salary based point expectations in seven straight games because his price has barely moved, proving how important ownership has to do with the pricing algorithms. Smith’s minutes have been extremely secure over his last six games, averaging over 35 minutes per game as Philadelphia continues to play slightly more competitive than we saw previously this season. In a matchup with Brooklyn, where we can likely be assured of a competitive game, I expect Smith to eat tonight, as 40 or more fantasy points is certainly within reason tonight. Dollar for dollar, there aren’t many plays I like more than Smith tonight.
Targeting the HOUSTON ROCKETS with your point guard continues to be a profitable strategy, and tonight, Isaiah Thomas ($8000FD/$7300DK) is the next point guard to get a crack at this “defense”. Thomas is underpriced on DraftKings, where we only need 36.5 DK points to 5X value, a number he has hit or exceeded in seven of his last eleven games. Tonight’s matchup features a 223 point total, a massive number for the Celtics, who have only played one other game with a total this high. In that game, Thomas logged just 30 minutes, but managed 39.5 DK points, a number we’ll gladly take tonight. Houston allows all positions to beat them equally, and they’re allowing just the 13th most DK points per game to the position. This game should be very entertaining overall, and Boston has been white hot at home lately. I look for Thomas to have an upside performance tonight, as Thomas averages 2.03 DK points more per game against Western Conference opponents this season. Target this game.
REMAINING MATCHUPS: SACRAMENTO KINGS, OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER, MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES, CHICAGO BULLS, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS, WASHINGTON WIZARDS, ORLANDO MAGIC, NEW ORLEANS PELICANS, PHILADELPHIA 76ers, NEW YORK KNICKS, PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS, UTAH JAZZ, MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES, CHARLOTTE HORNETS, LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS, MIAMI HEAT, BOSTON CELTICS
We have to decide if we want to roster James Harden ($11000FD/$10600DK) tonight and I’ll be one of those people fading and praying. The BOSTON CELTICS can be attacked with the right player, and Harden certainly fits that description, but his price is so high right now for the matchup that I can’t justify spending the extra coin for his services tonight. Boston ranks second in the NBA in turnover differential, racking up the second most steals in the league. Houston turns the ball over at the fourth highest rate in the league, and on FanDuel, where you get a full negative one for each turnover, I’m very leery of Houston’s ability to handle the ball tonight. In order to get what you need from Harden tonight, he’s going to have to minimize his turnovers, and over his last fifteen games, he’s only had two turnovers or less four times. I think Harden has one of his classic 35+ point, seven-eight turnover games, which will prevent him from paying off the highest price tag on the slate. On DraftKings, Harden is certainly a bit more in play with the available bonuses and three point shots to offset turnovers, but I will pass completely on FanDuel.
We have some injuries to monitor with the Orlando Magic tonight, as Nikola Vucevic is already ruled out and Elfrid Payton is questionable after missing practice yesterday. With or without Payton, Victor Oladipo ($7000FD/$7200DK) is an elite cash game option against the SACRAMENTO KINGS, who allow the second most DK points per game to shooting guards. If Payton is out, however, Oladipo becomes a supreme tournament option with legitimate 50 point upside, as he’ll assume ball handling duties. Oladipo averages 6.38 DK points per game more when Payton sits out, so that’s a spot to monitor. Outside of the fiasco in Dallas last week, Oladipo is averaging over 38 minutes per game in his last fourteen games and the Kings provide the Magic with the largest pace bump on the night along with the most scoring upside. Oladipo should be a lock tonight. Don’t forget about Evan Fournier ($5500FD/$5900DK), even though he’s listed as a small forward on FanDuel.
A spot that has been very friendly for shooting guards of late has been a matchup with the PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS, and tonight, Klay Thompson ($7000FD/$7000DK) gets to take a crack at them. Thompson has been wildly inconsistent this entire season, exceeding salary based point expectations in only 48% of his games overall, but his DraftKings’ price is down $800 over the last month and is in a range where we can potentially exploit a positive spot. Thompson hasn’t had one of his elite shooting performances in a while, and Portland, who allows the tenth most DK points per game to shooting guards, certainly helps the situation. Remember, the Trail Blazers blew the Warriors out in their last meeting up in Portland three weeks ago, and now that the action has shifted south to Oakland, I expect the Warriors, who are now normalizing in price, to handle business and play a full complement of minutes in doing it. Thompson is averaging 42.92 DK points per game in two meetings with Portland this season, and this is their first meeting at the Oracle this season. This could be the night.
REMAINING MATCHUPS: NEW ORLEANS PELICANS, BROOKLYN NETS, CHARLOTTE HORNETS, HOUSTON ROCKETS, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS, OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER, DETROIT PISTONS, PHILADELPHIA 76ers, WASHINGTON WIZARDS, NEW YORK KNICKS, MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES, MIAMI HEAT, MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES, UTAH JAZZ, CHICAGO BULLS, ORLANDO MAGIC, LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
I’m excited about the Celtics tonight against the HOUSTON ROCKETS in general, but I’m most excited about playing Jae Crowder ($6100FD/$5500DK) at a price more suitable for his skillset. Crowder isn’t a high $6000 range player. He has limited ceiling when he’s priced that high, but at a DraftKings’ tag of $5500, he presents you with a great chance for 7X upside in a matchup with the team allowing the most DK points per game to the position. Crowder has exceeded salary based point expectations in eight of his last nine games and eleven of twelve overall, somehow resulting in an $800 price drop in the last eight days. The Rockets allow the most assists and three point shots made to the position, and three point shooting has been one of Crowder’s strongest attributes. He averages just over five three point shot attempts per game in his last fifteen games, making at least three in three of his last eight games. Crowder has really stepped up in the steals department, averaging 2.3 steals per game over his last six games. We’ve already discussed how strong Boston is in the turnover department and how poor Houston is at handling the ball. Crowder presents his owners with 35-40 point upside tonight in one of the night’s likely highest scoring games.
The timing is pretty terrible for the MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES, as they’re now the fifth worst defense against small forwards with arguably the best one in the league waiting for them tonight in the person of Kevin Durant ($10900FD/$10500DK). Durant has been smoldering over his last eight games, exceeding salary based point expectations by an average of 14.96 points per game, meaning he’s somehow providing 6X upside at his elevated price tag. The Thunder are tied with the Warriors for the highest implied total on the slate at 119 points, and the spread is usually something I don’t worry about when it comes to the Thunder, as they tend to let games stay more competitive than they should be for much longer, even when they’re at home. Durant’s minutes are not in questions, as he’s only played less than 35 minutes twice in his last fifteen games, scoring 30 or more actual points in six of his last seven. Durant is as safe as it gets tonight, and he should continue blowing up as OKC looks to solidify their playoff seeding.
As long as Gordon Hayward ($7100FD/$6900DK) stays priced below $7000 on DraftKings, I’m going to continue playing him. When Hayward is at home, he’s a much stronger play, as you’re getting averages that equate out to a $7100 player, so continue taking the discount DraftKings is offering. Tonight, Hayward draws the WASHINGTON WIZARDS, who allow the eighth most DK points per game to small forwards. Rodney Hood’s status is up in the air, and if he should be out, his scoring load will likely be dispersed pretty evenly between Hayward and Derrick Favors, meaning we’re getting a slight uptick for an already consistent player. With Durant and Carmelo Anthony available above him in the player pool, I expect Hayward to stay low owned in this spot despite the favorable setting. Take advantage.
REMAINING MATCHUPS: SACRAMENTO KINGS, CHARLOTTE HORNETS, NEW ORLEANS PELICANS, ORLANDO MAGIC, MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES, PHILADELPHIA 76ers, PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS, BROOKLYN NETS, CHICAGO BULLS, NEW YORK KNICKS, LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS, UTAH JAZZ, BOSTON CELTICS, MIAMI HEAT, OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS, DETROIT PISTONS
The Warriors are projected to score 119 points tonight in a revenge spot against the PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS, and it’s going to be really difficult not to roster Draymond Green ($8200FD/$8000DK) at a now reasonable price tag. I have barely used Green this season because I don’t think he’s a $9000 level player. He doesn’t score enough points to make up for a game with below average output in the peripheral categories, and I prefer to roster scorers for that much money. Green is now back down to the low $8000 range, where his triple double upside carries a lot more ceiling room. Portland does allow the twelfth fewest DK points per night to opposing fours, but in a game with Golden State at home facing a team that decimated them three weeks ago, I’m interested in rostering their mid-range talent. Green is definitely on triple double watch tonight.
The MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES now allow the tenth most DK points per night to opposing power forwards, and in a game that might only feature nine players a side, I look for Anthony Davis ($10300FD/$9800DK) to continue logging huge minutes against a massively undersized opponent. Memphis may or may not have Zach Randolph back tonight, but he doesn’t sour my outlook on Davis’ potential outlook for tonight, as the Grizzlies don’t have enough bodies to throw at Davis. JaMychal Green has been great over the last two games, but he’s due for a letdown facing elite talent, and Davis should exploit that tonight. The Brow is heating up at the right time, exceeding salary based point expectations in his last three games and six of nine overall. The common player is still likely to avoid this spot because the opponent is, on paper, still a slow paced Memphis squad, but the situation has changed since losing Marc Gasol and, most recently, Mike Conley. My expectation is another near 40 minutes, 30 point performance out of Davis tonight, who is my top player overall on this slate. This game will be popular tonight, so you’re not sneaking up on anybody, but Davis has 70 point upside for a bargain price compared to what we were paying for Davis last season.
Aaron Gordon ($6600FD/$6700DK) gave us a real stinker his last time out against the Lakers and that should drive ownership down tonight ahead of a pristine matchup with a DeMarcus Cousins-less SACRAMENTO KINGS front court. The Kings allow the third most DK points per night to opposing power forwards with Cousins in the lineup. Without him, I struggle to see how Gordon doesn’t score 40 fantasy points tonight. Nikola Vucevic is sidelined with a groin injury, leaving Gordon as the primary front court option on the Magic, and there isn’t a single King who can keep up with Gordon’s athleticism. If Anthony Davis weren’t available on this slate in this spot, I would be 100% in on Gordon tonight in a strong bounce back spot.
REMAINING MATCHUPS: HOUSTON ROCKETS, PHILADELPHIA 76ers, ORLANDO MAGIC, BOSTON CELTICS, BROOKLYN NETS, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS, CHARLOTTE HORNETS, WASHINGTON WIZARDS, MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES, CHICAGO BULLS, LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS, NEW ORLEANS PELICANS, OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER, NEW YORK KNICKS, MIAMI HEAT, DETROIT PISTONS, UTAH JAZZ
I’m planning to load up on DeAndre Jordan ($8400FD/$7700DK) and there’s nothing you can do to stop me. The Clippers host the NEW YORK KNICKS, who allow the 15th most DK points per night to opposing centers, and I don’t see how the Knicks can really contain Jordan. Robin Lopez is a better than average defender, but he doesn’t have the physical tools to stop the CP3-Jordan alley-oop that should happen plenty tonight. Jordan had a slow night against the Thunder on Wednesday because the score got out of hand, but prior to that game, he had put up three consecutive 50+ DK point performances, two of which occurred at home. Back home and licking their wounds tonight, I expect the Clippers to feature their top two players and get back to basics in an extremely winnable game. I like having the “last game of the night” anchor, and when it’s DeAndre, I always can count on results. I look for a double double tonight in 30+ minutes.
If you’re looking at game logs, Brook Lopez ($8700FD/$7800DK) is going to get passed on a ton, as he’s only averaged 20.5 DK points per game in two previous meetings with the PHILADELPHIA 76ers. The past is just that, and tonight, Lopez should continue his recent fantastic stretch against a team allowing the most DK points per night to opposing centers. Lopez has exceeded salary based point expectations in seven of his last nine games against some really quality opponents, and in one of the more competitive games between two horrible teams, this is a spot to target with elite players. Lopez is the most expensive player in this matchup for a reason, and I expect him to continue his current four game stretch of scoring 20 or more points in tact against a Philadelphia front court with no answer for him. FanDuel’s center pricing is tough to swallow tonight, but Lopez certainly has 50 point upside in this matchup.
Hassan Whiteside ($8700FD/$8200DK) has owned the CHICAGO BULLS over the last two seasons. In three meetings, Whiteside is averaging 19.7 points, 14.3 rebounds, and 5.7 blocks per game, good for 51.42 DK points per game, 17.8 DK points per game more than all other opponents. Whiteside’s price caught up to him during his recent elite play, but he still has 6X upside in this matchup with the Bulls, who allow the fifth most DK points per night to opposing centers. There’s a lot of elite center plays tonight to distract the public from Whiteside coming off the bench, but no center has the massive upside Whiteside possesses in this spot.
REMAINING MATCHUPS: NEW ORLEANS PELICANS, BROOKLYN NETS, LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS, BOSTON CELTICS, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS, PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS, HOUSTON ROCKETS, SACRAMENTO KINGS, CHARLOTTE HORNETS, DETROIT PISTONS, WASHINGTON WIZARDS, ORLANDO MAGIC, MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES, OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER, MIAMI HEAT, UTAH JAZZ, MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES