NBA DFS: Matchups to Exploit March 3, 2016
I’ve turned over much of my DFS NBA player selection to the DraftPros’ Player Rater, and there are days where I look at the list and wonder where the heck some of these players come from. The time has come for me to eliminate some of my doubts because the Player Rater has absolutely been on fire when it comes to selecting non-obvious plays. Yesterday’s eleven game slate was extremely challenging, as there was a lot to sift through at the top and not a ton of value. I built a lot of my lineups around five star plays Ricky Rubio, Emmanuel Mudiay, Bobby Portis and Mason Plumlee, but of course, my own biases made me get as much James Harden, DeMarcus Cousins and Kevin Durant as possible. In order to get those guys, we have to find value in the $3000-$4000 range, and I shouldn’t have doubted the names that popped up as five star plays throughout the day.
I had obvious reservations about playing Chris Andersen, Quincy Acy and Mario Chalmers in bulk. Andersen, priced at $3200 on DraftKings, put up 22 DK points, good for 6.88X value. Quincy Acy was also $3200, and he provided players with 17.75 DK points, good for 5.55X value. Mario Chalmers is someone who I’ve been playing quite a bit lately through a string of fantastic matchups, but I completely avoided him last night when he gave us 27.0 DK points, good for 6.28X value. This was the type of value necessary to get the Hardens and Durants of the world into multiple lineups, but I couldn’t pull the trigger out of fear.
There are obviously going to be success stories like that with any player rating system, but I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t point out a couple of duds as well. The Player Rater liked the chances of Jeremy Lamb, PJ Hairston and Jakarr Sampson as well, and had I plugged these value plays into my lineups in bulk, it would have spelled doom for my lineups. The Player Rater was also high on Paul George – or “Paul Floor” as I’ve become accustomed to calling him – and he delivered just that; a floor level performance.
Tonight’s four game slate is ugly. There’s no way around that, as only one game is really worth attacking and its chock full of high priced options. Golden State-Oklahoma City is actually a game I wish I could avoid, as I think the Warriors roll the slumping Thunder after a devastating loss to the Clippers last night. For those who didn’t watch last night, OKC was up by as much as 22 points before letting the lead slip with under two minutes left in the game, eventually losing by five. I know I can’t skip the game entirely, as GPPs are routinely decided by the last game unless you absolutely nail the early games. Guys like Stephen Curry (expected to play tonight), Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant can turn the tide of tournaments completely by themselves, and while the early instinct would be to target Warriors, I’m really dead-set in my belief that tonight’s main event will be an absolute massacre.
All I can do is break down individual matchups and decide on whether or not my lineups gravitate towards the last game. I’ll use BOLD UNDERLINE to denote matchups that should be attacked with extreme bias. I’ll use STANDARD BOLD to represent matchups that can be attacked liberally, but either due to hiccups in available personnel or game situation, should be proceeded upon with caution. BOLD ITALICS denote matchups that should really only be attacked using the right player, but are otherwise avoidable. Finally STANDARD ITALICS are for matchups best avoided due to the opponent’s ability to control the matchup. Let’s dive in and find an edge on this short slate.
Four of the eight teams in action tonight are playing the second night of a back to back. There’s going to be very few ways to ignore those games, but I can safely start the point guard section by recommending Goran Dragic ($6500FD/$6700DK) against the PHOENIX SUNS. The Suns allow point guards to score a league high 3.01 points above expectation along with the second most DK points per game to the position. Miami is coming off their highest scoring game of the season and are at home as 13.5 point favorites with a nice high team total of 112 points. Dragic used to play for Phoenix, and although he’s played them twice since being traded at last season’s trade deadline, we can still rely a bit on the revenge narrative to justify the play. Dragic is overpriced, plain and simple. He’s priced closer to his ceiling than his floor, so his upside is capped tonight, but the matchup doesn’t get much better. Dragic does have four 40+ DK point performances in his last seven games, exceeding salary based point expectations in six of those seven games. Minutes are secure with Dragic, as he’s played 33 or more minutes in each of his last five games. I worry a bit about the blowout, but I think Dragic can return 5X value in reduced minutes. Remember, Miami’s rotation is paper-thin at the moment, with guys like Dwyane Wade getting first crack at additional rest. Dragic should see his full complement of minutes tonight with the Heat coming off a day of rest with two additional rest days ahead of them.
If you aren’t comfortable with Dragic, Deron Williams ($5600FD/$5800DK) will save you some coin in a safer, faster spot. The Mavericks host the SACRAMENTO KINGS coming off a loss in the first game of their road trip, and targeting the Kings with your point guards has been extremely fruitful of late. Last night, the aforementioned Mario Chalmers and Mike Conley each provided upside performances in a game that went under the posted total, and Williams should have no issues doing the same thing tonight. The Kings allow 2.63 points above expectation to opposing point guards along with the third most DK points per game to the position. Sacramento allows a league high 109.5 points per game, and run at the fastest pace, increasing the chances for additional possessions for the normally slow Mavericks. Williams is averaging 32.0 DK points per game in two meetings with Sacramento this year, including a 36.5 DK point outburst in an overtime meeting at home. Williams has been quiet lately, but the matchup and game environment provide the entire Mavericks squad with a huge boost tonight. This will be a prime game to target.
REMAINING MATCHUPS: OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS, NEW ORLEANS PELICANS, DALLAS MAVERICKS, SAN ANTONIO SPURS
Dwyane Wade ($7500FD/$7100DK) is going to be at the top of everyone’s list today as the shooting guard to target, and I can’t argue with the reasons why. He, like Dragic, takes on the PHOENIX SUNS, who allow a league high 2.38 points above expectation to opposing shooting guards along with the fifth most DK points per night to the position. In two instances where Miami had a team total of 110 points or more, Wade has averaged 48.5 DK points per game, playing 33.0 minutes per game in those contests. I don’t think he’ll see 30 minutes tonight, but you can’t argue with the opportunity in front of Wade tonight. He is the primary offensive option on this Heat squad and because of the rest surrounding this game, Miami does have the ability to give their regulars full run tonight. Wade would be the most likely candidate to rest in the fourth quarter if this game gets out of hand, the lone danger in rostering Wade tonight.
This column is going to be a rerun, as I will pick on Phoenix and the SACRAMENTO KINGS with bias tonight. Wesley Matthews ($4500FD/$4900DK) is in a fantastic spot against the Kings, who are an absolute sieve to wing players. The Kings allow shooting guards to score 2.14 points above expectation along with the third most DK points per night to the position. Matthews is in the midst of one of his best runs of the season, exceeding salary based point expectations in five straight games. Matthews leads the Mavericks with 33.0 minute per game, and outside of a couple of Dallas blowout victories, has played at least 30 minutes in six of his last eight games. Matthews is hot, the matchup is right, and he’s had success against the Kings this year, averaging 28.0 DK points per game in two previous meetings.
REMAINING MATCHUPS: NEW ORLEANS HORNETS, OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER, DALLAS MAVERICKS, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS, MIAMI HEAT, SAN ANTONIO SPURS
Did you know that Kawhi Leonard ($8000FD/$7700DK) actually averages more minutes per game and scores more fantasy points per game on the second night of a back to back? The NEW ORLEANS PELICANS aren’t the greatest matchup for small forwards this season, as they hold the position 0.75 points below expectation on the season, but they’ve been leaky of late, allowing 44.5 DK points per game to opposing small forwards over their last five games, 5.9 points above their season average. Leonard is still very underpriced and has exceeded salary based point expectations in seven straight games, four of which occurred following his brief post-All Star game absence. He’s scored 20 real points or more in eight of nine, including 27 or more in four of his last five. Minutes are always my concern with the Spurs, but we’re in the stretch run now, and the rotation will remain tight as long as the Spurs aren’t massacring their opponent. New Orleans is a team capable of getting blown out, but we like the fact that this game is happening in New Orleans on national television, which should keep it closer for longer. Leonard is my favorite overall play today, and someone who I will have mass exposure to.
We’re going to continue to pick on the SACRAMENTO KINGS by considering Chandler Parsons ($6700FD/$6800DK) tonight. Use your wings against the Kings! Sacramento allows opposing small forwards to score 0.71 points above expectation, the highest number on the slate. Parsons has been on a really nice roll of late, exceeding salary based point expectations in five of his last eight with four 40+ DK point performances mixed in. The minutes are secure after an early season minutes restriction, as Parsons has played 30 or more minutes in five of his last eight games. This game will be a big tempo boost for Dallas and despite the back to back spot for the Kings, I expect this game to stay competitive into the fourth quarter. Fire up your Mavs tonight.
REMAINING MATCHUPS: OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER, PHOENIX SUNS, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS, MIAMI HEAT, DALLAS MAVERICKS, SAN ANTONIO SPURS
I rarely, if ever, recommend anyone playing the SAN ANTONIO SPURS. They play the best defense in the league and run at a bottom seven pace coupled with a top three offensive efficiency, so there aren’t a lot of peripheral stats to pick up in these games. When an individual player performs the way Anthony Davis ($10200FD/$9800DK) has against them, however, he makes for an elite tournament play. Davis is averaging 56.25 DK points per game in his last six meetings with the Spurs, including scores of 52.0 and 62.0 DK points in two meetings this year, the latter coming in San Antonio. I don’t know if Davis is a big time mismatch for this team, but he’s had his way, and with the price drop on DraftKings, he is an elite option tonight. Yes, San Antonio holds opposing fours 1.58 points below expectation and give up the third fewest DK points per night to the position overall, but the drop below $10000 gives Davis the most room for upside out of any of the elite options tonight. He also performs better on the second night of a back to back scenario, playing almost four more minutes per game, scoring 5.44 points per game and averaging 3.51 DK points more per game. The attention at the big money level will be squarely focused on the Warriors-Thunder game. Davis gives you the edge.
In that same game, give LaMarcus Aldridge ($7300FD/$6600DK) a look tonight. The NEW ORLEANS PELICANS are a neutral matchup, allowing 0.01 points above expectation to opposing power forwards, but Aldridge has had good success against them this season and has been relatively consistent of late. In two prior meetings, Aldridge is averaging 46.12 DK points per night, 14.49 DK points more than all other opponents combined. He’s also performed admirably in back to back scenarios, logging almost two minutes more per game and scoring at roughly the same rate as games with rest.
REMAINING MATCHUPS: SACRAMENTO KINGS, DALLAS MAVERICKS, MIAMI HEAT, PHOENIX SUNS, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS, OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
Center is ugly tonight, and even though the best matchup on the board tonight is in the Pelicans-Spurs game, I can’t, in good conscious, recommend Tim Duncan. Duncan has no ceiling, so upside is limited due to his low minutes, potential blowout and the back to back situation. He will be virtually unowned in tournaments, so give him a look there.
I have to keep rolling with Hassan Whiteside ($8600FD/$8300DK) because the guy is on absolute fire. The matchup with the PHOENIX SUNS is intriguing because while they have been stout against opposing centers this year – allowing the eighth fewest DK points per night to the position – Whiteside’s role has changed and he actually lines up for a ton of success. Because Whiteside is coming off the bench, he’ll see the majority of his minutes with Alex Len and Tyson Chandler off the floor. Phoenix has no one who can guard Whiteside on the pine, and that should increase both his offensive opportunities and keep him as the biggest man on the floor, which increases the likelihood of blocked shots. Whiteside has at least 40 DK points in six straight games with four 50 point outbursts mixed in. He’s also seen his minutes stabilize due to the lack of depth on the Heat bench, playing at least 30 minutes in four of his last five. He has flourished in his bench role, and I don’t see the momentum stopping now.
REMAINING MATCHUPS: NEW ORLEANS PELICANS, OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER, SACRAMENTO KINGS, MIAMI HEAT, DALLAS MAVERICKS, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS, SAN ANTONIO SPURS