NBA DFS: Matchups to Exploit March 17, 2016
Last night was a quality bounce back night in NBA DFS for me and a lot of it had to do with reacting to late breaking news. On FanDuel, I had to make some tough decisions in order to fit Kyrie Irving into my lineup, as LeBron James was ruled out about 45 minutes before lock and he has been a fantasy goldmine in games where James sits. I wanted to have plenty of access to the New Orleans-Sacramento game, but regardless of the high total and close spread, Irving is an absolute must play when James sits. Once I fit Irving into my lineup, I had some tough decisions to make at the top. Cousins or Davis? Drummond or Love? I had enough salary to fit either DeMarcus Cousins and Kevin Love or Anthony Davis and Andre Drummond. By the time lock came and went, I was saddled up with Love and Cousins and although Cousins gave me a second straight sub-5X performance, I was satisfied with my Kevin Love selection, as he had a monster 23 point, 18 rebound double double in a four point victory over Dallas.
John Wall was someone I touched on in yesterday’s article and his case was strengthened even further as Derrick Rose was deemed healthy enough to play. Rose is one of the worst defenders at the point guard position on a team ranking in the bottom ten in fantasy production allowed to point guards as is, so his presence made Wall a fantastic play. I had a little bit of exposure to Wall on DraftKings, but I ignored him and his triple double completely on FanDuel. That is my lone regret from yesterday. I’m happy overall with the 307.9 points I scored on FanDuel, as I was able to cash every 50/50 and the $25 buy-in Slam.
As a special treat, we get an eight game Thursday night slate to pick and choose from. The NCAA Tournament tips off today and will occupy the Turner networks, so there is no TNT game tonight, which I guess made the NBA schedule a healthy amount of games. Whatever the reason, we get to play a full slate on a Thursday and it’s a pretty good one despite five of the sixteen teams playing the second night of a back to back. We currently have three lines out, so picking individual players is tough at this moment, so we’re going to analyze matchups the way we always do.
When discussing matchups, I’ll use BOLD UNDERLINE to denote matchups that should be attacked with extreme bias. STANDARD BOLD will represent a matchup that can be attacked liberally, but due to the available personnel or the game situation carries a certain degree of risk. BOLD ITALICS represents a matchup that is middling and should really only be attacked with a superstar or player receiving maximum minutes. STANDARD ITALICS represents a matchup best ignored overall in any format. Let’s dive in.
Are the PHOENIX SUNS playing? Does the opponent have a point guard worth using? These are among the two most important questions to ask yourself when starting your research on any slate. The answer to both questions here is yes, as Utah’s Shelvin Mack ($5500FD/$5400DK) is priced up for this matchup, but he’s managed to exceed salary based point expectations in seven straight games, so we know that despite an increased expectation tonight, Mack will provide us with a healthy floor and has the best possible matchup to achieve the upside we need. The Suns allow the most DK points per night to opposing point guards and 3.23 points above expectation to the position on the season. Mack has exceeded expectations over his last seven games by an average of 12.33 points per game, meaning that based on his current salary, he’s provided 7X upside in those games. The Suns have a habit of making opposing point guards of every skill level look like Magic Johnson, and mid-range point guards especially have benefitted from Phoenix’s soft perimeter defense. Gordon Hayward may sit this one out again tonight, which impacts Mack positively, but even if Hayward plays, Mack is still among my favorite point guards on the slate.
When looking at straight DvP stats, a lot of people are likely to target the Brooklyn Nets with Derrick Rose because they’re the fourth friendliest defense to opposing point guards. However, the struggling CHICAGO BULLS are playing the second night of a back to back and one of the tendencies of this club is to play up or down to the level of their competition, and, for that reason, Donald Sloan ($4400FD/$4400DK) is on my radar tonight. If Derrick Rose plays, the outlook is even better, as he ranks 81st of 82 eligible point guards in defensive real plus minus, a stat Adam Levitan tweeted out yesterday. John Wall hung a triple double on Rose last night and I’m not suggesting Sloan has Wall’s upside, but the matchup is certainly primed for the picking. Sloan is not a consistent player, nor does he carry a really safe floor. He has, however, had success in solid matchups where the game remained competitive. The Bulls are tired after last night’s whooping in Washington, and they already allow the sixth most DK points per night to opposing point guards. Sloan is worthy of consideration tonight.
Speaking of John Wall ($9400FD/$9800DK), you have to consider him an elite play against the PHILADELPHIA 76ers despite the fact that they only allow the 14th most DK points to opposing point guards on the season. Wall has averaged 49.25 DK points per game in four meetings with Philadelphia this season, which represents his current DraftKings’ price tag. With a lack of top options to pay up for tonight, my gut tells me plenty of people will chase last night’s triple double and make room for Wall on their rosters tonight. Wall has actually performed above average on the second night of back to backs this season, scoring 2.24 DK points per game more in these scenarios. The 76ers are severely undermanned right now and Wall may not need to play a full complement of minutes in this one, but I would expect him to do plenty of damage in whatever minute allotment he sees in this spot.
REMAINING MATCHUPS: BROOKLYN NETS, DENVER NUGGETS, WASHINGTON WIZARDS, PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS, MILWAUKEE BUCKS, ATLANTA HAWKS, INDIANA PACERS, MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES, CHARLOTTE HORNETS, UTAH JAZZ, TORONTO RAPTORS, SAN ANTONIO SPURS, MIAMI HEAT
We should know by now that picking on the PHOENIX SUNS with our guards is a profitable strategy, so even though it’s painful to own him, Rodney Hood ($5400FD/$5600DK) has to be on your radar tonight. Hood has been the primary beneficiary from a usage standpoint when Gordon Hayward has missed time, and he benefitted directly on Monday night, scoring 28 points against a tough Cleveland defense, his highest point total in his last fifteen games. I don’t think using Hood is directly tied to Hayward’s status, but it certainly doesn’t hurt if Hayward sat out once again. Phoenix allows the fifth most DK points per game to opposing shooting guards and should be able to dictate a faster pace against the sluggish Jazz.
Taking a shot at Jimmy Butler ($8600FD/$8100DK) has been a fruitless endeavor since his second return from injury this week, as he’s under performed in consecutive games. Butler still carries a very high floor due to his activity on the defensive end, and tonight, the BROOKLYN NETS probably won’t provide a lot of resistance. The Nets allow the sixth most DK points per game to shooting guards and have been horrible over their last five games, allowing 13.2 DK points per game above their already high season average. Butler played shortened minutes in a blowout loss last night, which gives me optimism that he could see his normal 33-36 minutes tonight. As I mentioned before, the Bulls have a tendency to play up or down to the level of their competition, and with Chicago back home, I would expect the home crowd to energize Butler into having a good game. Even if he doesn’t explode, Butler is going to give you a 30-35 point floor on each site, so he won’t kill your lineup. Just make sure he’s playing.
Tonight looks like a really great spot to target Dwyane Wade ($7400FD/$7000DK). Wade and the Heat are at home against the CHARLOTTE HORNETS with two full days of rest in their back pocket. The Hornets, who give up the seventh most DK points per game to opposing shooting guards, are playing on the road on the second night of a back to back, and Wade has predictably been a much better player in games where he’s had two or more days or rest. With rest, Wade averages 35.08 DK points per game, 2.11 DK points per game more than games in which he’s had fewer than two days of rest. Miami is favored by four points with a team total of 107 points, another spot where Wade has gone bananas this season. Wade is averaging 41.94 DK points per game when the Heat have a total of 107 points or higher, 9.04 DK points more than games with a total below 107. Wade is a lock for my lineups tonight.
REMAINING MATCHUPS: DENVER NUGGETS, MILWAUKEE BUCKS, PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS, PHILADELPHIA 76ers, WASHINGTON WIZARDS, MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES, ATLANTA HAWKS, CHICAGO BULLS, INDIANA PACERS, TORONTO RAPTORS, MIAMI HEAT, UTAH JAZZ, SAN ANTONIO SPURS
I have to take a paragraph to discuss Giannis Antetokounmpo ($10200FD/$9400DK). I’ve been looking for opportunities to fade him at his current price and the guy just continues to amaze me. Antetokounmpo has exceeded salary based point expectations in 15 of 19 games since the beginning of February and has four triple doubles mixed in over his last twelve games. He’s been within one rebound or assist of a triple double on two other occasions. The losses of Michael Carter-Williams and OJ Mayo have opened up massive minutes and ball handling opportunities for Giannis in the last month, and he’s absolutely flourished. His price is elevated, to put it lightly, but with no other $10000 players on FanDuel and only one player priced above him on FanDuel, I don’t see a lot of reasons to not roster him tonight. The MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES are the epitome of a matchup to target with a superstar player right now, as they’re running D-league level competition out every night and veteran castaways like Matt Barnes and Lance Stephenson are playing max minutes. Their DvP success against most positions was achieved with their full rotation intact, and with no Marc Gasol, Mike Conley and Zach Randolph, this team is one we should be attacking every night. Antetokounmpo has played at least 35 minutes in 14 of his last 15 games, and with Memphis playing the second night of a back to back tonight, there’s very few reasons to not find room for Antetokounmpo’s massive floor on your roster tonight.
This will be a night where I fade Paul George ($9000FD/$8400DK). The TORONTO RAPTORS allow the sixth fewest DK points per game to opposing small forwards, but I’m fading George because his price is back on the rise after exceeding salary based point expectations in five of his last six games, but we need to understand why he’s been exceeding expectations. Of those five performances, only one occurred against a team ranking in the top half of the league in defense against small forwards. With a price back on the rise and a difficult matchup with a top two seed, George is avoidable tonight.
For as much acclaim as Giannis Antetokounmpo has achieved over the last six weeks, it has gone virtually unnoticed that opposing small forwards are still doing plenty of damage against his Milwaukee Bucks. Tonight, despite the back to back scenario, the trio of Matt Barnes ($5600FD/$5800DK), Lance Stephenson ($5600FD/$5500DK) and Tony Allen ($4500FD/$5000DK) are all in play. Stephenson and Allen are shooting guard eligible on FanDuel, and the Bucks are friendly to shooting guards as well, so treat the analysis the same. Milwaukee allows the seventh most DK points per game to opposing small forwards and there is very little doubt that these three will log heavy minutes tonight. My preference of the trio is Stephenson coming off the bench as the offensive catalyst. The fact of the matter is that Memphis is a candidate to get blown out on a nightly basis, so proceed with caution on your exposure with these options, but know that if the game stays close, the spot is fantastic.
REMAINING MATCHUPS: WASHINGTON WIZARDS, PHOENIX SUNS, PHILADELPHIA 76ers, CHICAGO BULLS, BROOKLYN NETS, DENVER NUGGETS, CHARLOTTE HORNETS, ATLANTA HAWKS, MIAMI HEAT, INDIANA PACERS, PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS, UTAH JAZZ, SAN ANTONIO SPURS
You have an opponent playing their third road game in four nights across the country who rank inside the bottom five in fantasy production allowed to the position. You attack that scenario every time, right? That’s the case for Paul Millsap ($8000FD/$7700DK) tonight against the DENVER NUGGETS, and I’m not even a little bothered by the fact that Millsap played 34 minutes last night in a hard fought win against the Pistons, because the Hawks return home on the victory high playing a likely sluggish Nuggets squad. Denver has been a target for opposing front court studs over the last two seasons, currently allowing the fifth most DK points per night to power forwards. Millsap is always someone you hate owning in these types of matchups because the Hawks are the type of team good enough to blow an opponent out, but I’m expecting a closer game tonight with Denver playing better of late. I haven’t heard any news of Atlanta looking to rest players down the stretch, but if there is news, Atlanta is one of those teams that is good to the DFS community with their news announcements. Millsap is one of the top targets at any position tonight.
We learned last night that Marcin Gortat is dealing with a back injury, as he was scratched after lock and then suddenly available to play at the beginning of the second quarter. My gut tells me Washington does the right thing and sits him tonight against the PHILADELPHIA 76ers, and that opens up Markieff Morris ($5000FD/$5000DK) for extended run. Morris got off to a great start against the Bulls last night before his services were not required to complete a blowout victory, so he only played 14 minutes. As a member of the Wizards, Morris has already faced Philadelphia twice, averaging 35.25 DK points per game in those two contests. The second meeting with Philly was the second night of a back to back, as tonight is, and he logged over 37 minutes in a 45.75 DK point outburst. Philadelphia allows the second most DK points per night to opposing power forwards, and with a strong likelihood of extended run tonight against a very short Philadelphia front court, Morris should coast past value.
The MILWAUKEE BUCKS are a favorite target of mine for power forwards and while JaMychal Green ($6000FD/$5900DK) is the preferred target, I’m interested in using Jarell Martin ($3900FD/$3600DK) as my top value play today. Milwaukee is allowing the fourth most DK points per night to opposing power forwards and Martin has benefitted from extended run as Memphis deals with an injured roster top to bottom. Martin has exceeded salary based point expectations in five straight games, logging 21 minutes or more in four of those contests. He has scored in double figures in each of his last three games and grabbed eight rebounds in back to back games. Green does not match up well with Jabari Parker, who is a stretch four playing on the perimeter and slashing towards the basket rather than a standard post up four, and on the second night of a back to back, Martin stands to pick up additional run in a pace up spot. I’ve been on Martin a little bit lately, but tonight is where I’m planning to get maximum exposure.
REMAINING MATCHUPS: MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES, BROOKLYN NETS, CHARLOTTE HORNETS, PHOENIX SUNS, ATLANTA HAWKS, CHICAGO BULLS, WASHINGTON WIZARDS, PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS, MIAMI HEAT, TORONTO RAPTORS, INDIANA PACERS, SAN ANTONIO SPURS, UTAH JAZZ
Make sure you’re aware of Jonas Valanciunas’ status again tonight, because Bismack Biyombo ($4200FD/$4200DK) is right back in play if Valanciunas sits, and even though the INDIANA PACERS are a bottom four matchup for centers, you can’t disregard the additional minutes for a sub-$5000 play. Biyombo averages 30 minutes per game when Valanciunas sits, almost eleven minutes more than when JoVal plays. He’s averaging 25.75 DK points per game in those 30 minutes, a bump of 9.32 DK points per game. Indiana allows the fourth fewest DK points per game to centers, but when we’re talking about a value play, we know we don’t need a whole lot of production to hit our number. Biyombo is my number one center if Valanciunas misses another game.
Are the CHICAGO BULLS playing? Does their opponent have a center worth playing? Similarly to the Phoenix Suns and point guards that oppose them, we must ask these questions on every slate. The answer to both is yes, and Brook Lopez ($8300FD/$8100DK) probably isn’t expensive enough in this juicy spot. The Bulls will sit Pau Gasol for a third straight game and Taj Gibson will join him on the bench tonight after leaving last night’s game with an injury of his own. The Bulls will go to war with Nikola Mirotic, a small forward in a power forward’s body, Bobby Portis, a raw rookie, Doug McDermott, a shooting guard in a power forward’s body, and human pudding Cristiano Felicio manning the front court tonight. Lopez has no competition tonight, and he is already averaging 43.62 DK points per game in two meetings with the Bulls this season. Lopez has also been a far better player on the road this season, averaging 3.47 DK points more per game away from the Barclay’s Center. This situation is likely tonight’s chalk, but I see no reason to avoid this situation.
The ATLANTA HAWKS are also in action and with the injuries behind him, Nikola Jokic ($6400FD/$6500DK) is a dynamite contrarian play tonight. Jokic is volatile only in his minutes, as Mike Malone seemingly has zero clue on how to distribute minutes to his talent, but Jokic is a player who fills up every category on the stat sheet. He’s exceeded salary based point expectations in eight of his last nine games despite playing 21 minutes or fewer three separate times. The Hawks allow the fourth most DK points per game to opposing centers, and Jokic’s versatility makes him a challenging matchup for Al Horford and company tonight. I think Jokic is usable in cash games tonight, and is likely to be under-owned in tournaments.
REMAINING MATCHUPS: PHILADELPHIA 76ers, BROOKLYN NETS, PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS, TORONTO RAPTORS, PHOENIX SUNS, CHARLOTTE HORNETS, DENVER NUGGETS, MILWAUKEE BUCKS, WASHINGTON WIZARDS, MIAMI HEAT, UTAH JAZZ, MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES, SAN ANTONIO SPURS