This article is part of our DFS NBA series.
7:40 PM EST UPDATE : Well, of course right after the first game locks the rest of the Wolves news comes in. Austin Rivers (knee) is out, but Anthony Edwards (hip) and Taurean Prince (ankle) are playing. So, just to clear up my previous update. Naz Reid is obviously the premier play here. Anthony Edwards remains a strong play. Russell is OK here, and he is in around 20 percent of my lineups and I will not adjust from there. If you were only doing a single entry or three-max, I wouldn't bother, personally. Prince remains a fairly strong value option, but that is more so on Draftkings than Fanduel. Kyle Anderson is pretty much off the board for me on Fanduel, but he's still OK on Draftkings. I do have some of him as well. Jaden McDaniels also remains a decent play. If you really want to dive deep, Jaylen Nowell should in theory see a small boost with Austin Rivers out. He makes for a strong contrarian play, especially with those Suns guards likely to garner a lot more of the public's attention.
Good luck to everyone still reading.
7:20 EST UPDATE : Well, the Wolves are not obliging us with the rest of the very relevant news and lock is right around the corner. So, I just wanted to go on record to say, Anthony Edwards is a very strong play if he plays. Taurean Prince is OK value if he plays. If Prince doesn't play, it should be a small boost for Kyle Anderson and Jaden McDaniels, who are already solid plays worth some exposure. D'Angelo Russell is a good play either way as well, but would certainly see a strong boost if Edwards were to sit. If Austin Rivers, Edwards and Prince sit, it'd certainly help Jaylen Nowell too.
6:40 EST UPDATE : Rudy Gobert (groin) will be out again tonight. It doesn't take make much effort to say this officially brings Naz Reid near the top of the list of all plays tonight. This is also a much better spot for him than last night when he was dealing with Nikola Jokic against the Nuggets. It probably won't happen, but it'd be great if people soured on him a little and became nervous after his average performance last night. People can dream. With that said, he is now the premier center play on the slate, and definitely a guy I believe you can be comfortable locking into place. This obviously brings down the value of playing guys like Robert Williams and Kevon Looney, but between multi-position eligibility and or utility spots, other centers in his price range can still be played as well.
I will update again once we get further news on Anthony Edwards, Taurean Prince and Austin Rivers.
Rudy Gobert update coming soon...
6:25 EST UPDATE : Jaylen Brown (adductor) will play tonight according to Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report. This isn't unexpected after he was able to practice yesterday and take part in shootaround this morning. He's also not expected to be under any kind of minute limit. This is an obvious blow to Derrick White and Malcolm Brogdon. Grant Williams as well. It's a four-game slate and everyone will be centralized around the same plays for the most part, so they're still viable if you want to take a different path. However, I personally don't see the value in them. This will leave my interest in the Celtics to Jaylen Brown himself, Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford and Robert Williams. Pretty much in that order. Especially on Fanduel where Brown is just too cheap at 8.3K. I really do like Williams as a way to differentiate here in tournaments. Even with somewhat limited minutes, his point-per-minute upside is still strong.
On a separate note, in my write-up for this game, I didn't fully realize how cheap Kevon Looney was on Draftkings. It seems like there is some traction on him as a potentially popular play tonight. I think he's a perfectly fine choice and will probably have some myself. He's also the type of guy who will probably burn you in this spot more often than not. So, I'll be treading carefully.
This article is meant to give an introspective overview of today's NBA slate, with the goal of uncovering the best plays available to us based on what we know. As news comes, this article will be updated with further analysis, including how it will change the way we could approach this slate. The goal now is to set a foundation for who could or should be in our player pool. While later confirming the best route to take as the evening unfolds.
Golden State vs. Boston
The Warriors are playing their fourth of a five-game road trip, which will end tomorrow night in Cleveland. This is a relatively large pace-down spot for them against one of the top 10 teams in defensive efficiency, but they're still projected to score 117 points, which is only 0.5 points below their season average.
Boston returns home after a three-game road trip and is fresh off two days of rest. They're getting a relatively significant pace bump against the 16th-ranked team in defensive efficiency, which is leading to a 123 implied total, a number 4.2 points above their season average.
In all this game sits on a large 240.5 total, which is by far the largest on the slate. The biggest news around this game which will affect our fantasy lineups is the status of Jaylen Brown (adductor). Although he is still considered questionable, he did participate at shootaround this morning, which likely means he may be trending more toward probable. Luckily, as this is the first game of the slate, we'll get that news before lineups lock.
As one of the better defensive teams in the league, it's never easy finding players to attack the Celtics with. However, if there's one general weakness where they're exploitable, it's typically on the wing with sharpshooters. This would narrow my interest down to Klay Thompson, Jordan Poole, and to an extent Stephen Curry. All three are reasonably priced as well, although Poole's Draftkings price is a tad high, and I can't justify putting him on rosters over Thompson. My interest in Curry is mild at most, as with a smaller four-game slate, we're likely going to need the highest-scoring player on the slate, and there are really not a lot of cheaper options available to us currently. So, nailing down the right high-salary play(s) could be significant to our success. As the slate currently sits, I just can't put Curry ahead of the likes of Joel Embiid or James Harden amongst others.
Players to consider - Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole (Fanduel only). Stephen Curry can be considered if you really want to diversify your spend-up plays.
As mostly outlined above, the Celtics have the most intriguing spot on the slate. Not only do they have the highest total by several points, but the Warriors also remain one of the friendliest fantasy matchups in basketball. We can really attack from anywhere. The main issue here though is the potential return of Brown, whose absence has led to increased production for multiple players, therefore increased prices. In my opinion, the matchup offsets any of this, assuming Brown returns. Whether Brown returns or not, this will likely end up being the team I'm heaviest on and will likely be well diversified on exposure, as the matchup truly puts everyone into play.
Players to consider - Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Al Horford, and Robert Williams. I'm not opposed to going as far as Grant Williams, Derrick White, and Malcolm Brogdon either, but I believe all three would be much better served if Brown were to miss, which is fairly obvious.
Raptors vs. Timberwolves
The Raptors get a solid bump here against Minnesota with a 119 total, which is seven points above their season average. They've also scored at least 122 points in four of their last five games, albeit one did go to overtime. Every rotational piece of the team is fairly priced with some wiggle room to exceed value here. Again, with only four games on the slate and wanting to have at least a moderately sized player pool to work with, we're likely going to want to have multiple pieces from this team. Especially if we expect to have relatively little exposure to the last two games of the slate. Fred VanVleet, Scottie Barnes, and Gary Trent have all been producing quite well recently overall compared to their price, and there is little reason here to believe this isn't another spot in which they can succeed. Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby are fine options as well, although they're a significant tier down from the other three for me. If possible, I'd much rather get to Joel Embiid as well over Siakam. Precious Achiuwa is also a stronger cheap option here on a slate with little to be desired on the low end.
Players to consider - Fred VanVleet, Scottie Barnes, Gary Trent. Precious Achiuwa for salary savings.
Anthony Edwards (hip), Rudy Gobert (groin), Taurean Prince (ankle), and Austin Rivers (knee) are all questionable. Their statuses will have an obvious impact on how we attack this game. Prince and Edwards both played last night, while Gobert and Rivers missed. A continuation of that is quite likely. Although Edwards has been questionable every game for a while now and has continued to play through the injury, maybe tonight is the one he finally sits.
With that said, this spot for Minnesota will need to be revisited once this news comes, as there are too many moving parts to make any determinations. Luckily as the second game on the slate and just a half-hour after the first game, there's a good chance we get the news before lock.
This is a good reminder that as news comes out, I will update this article with how it changes my approach to the slate, so if interested, do come back and check it out. I also may make updates if my thoughts on anything change, or have anything I find useful to share regarding the slate.
Players to consider - To be determined.
Nets vs. Suns
This game has by far the lowest total on the slate, sitting at just 221 and both teams are projected to score below their season average. The Nets remain without Kevin Durant (knee), and the beneficiaries of this have had their prices begin to adjust for their increased roles. On the other hand, the Suns will be without Chris Paul (hip) Devin Booker (groin), Josh Okogie (nose), Cameron Payne (foot), and Landry Shamet (foot). However, they do get Cameron Johnson back, who will be on a minute limit.
Despite Phoenix's recent struggles, they're still not giving up a lot overall fantasy-wise, combined with increased Nets prices, this is a tricky spot to nail down with any authority. You're really just trying to hunt out which players' price hasn't increased enough. First and foremost and not lacking in obviousness, there's still plenty of room for Kyrie Irving to exceed his price considered value. Beyond that, we're still looking at the usual suspects in Ben Simmons, Royce O'Neale, Seth Curry, T.J. Warren, and Nic Claxton. Curry and Warren probably take the largest leaps of fight in putting on our rosters, although Warren arguably has the most point-per-dollar upside of the group. It just doesn't seem like the Nets are ready to give him the minutes to hit the type of score he could be capable of. Speaking of leaps of faith, once again on a slate that is currently lacking cheaper options, Joe Harris could be viable if you're willing to take on that risk.
Players to consider - Kyrie Irving, Ben Simmons, Nic Claxton, Royce O'Neale and Seth Curry.
Considering the number of injuries the Suns are going through, you would think the team would be loaded with options. However, they've instead reached down to the furthest depths of their bench and are playing as many guys as possible, and no one outside of Mikal Bridges and maybe Deandre Ayton is playing heavy minutes. Torrey Craig was getting consistent minutes, but the return of Johnson will likely impact him.
This makes it extra difficult to sort out who could succeed here, and playing most of these Suns is taking on considerable risk. Not to mention, even without Durant, the Nets remain one of the better defensive teams in the league. I would tread carefully here, and lean on known factors like Bridges and Ayton. Saben Lee is perfectly fine, as he's expected to draw the start and will certainly help make it easier to construct lineups. However, he's far from a sure thing and will likely garner considerably high ownership as a cheap starting point guard. One only needs to look as far back as his last game against Memphis to know that does not equal production, and there's a reason he's bounced around the league this year. Players such as Damion Lee, Torrey Craig, and Duane Washington are fine if you really want to diversify, but I don't intend to go there.
Players to consider - Mikal Bridges, Deandre Ayton, and Saben Lee.
76ers vs. Trail Blazers
The Sixers are playing their fourth of a five-game road trip, while Portland returns home after a one-game trek to Denver. Both teams are coming off one day of rest, and this game's 233 total sits as the second-highest on the slate. Although neither of the teams ranks highly in pace, they're both in the top 10 in offensive efficiency, which is likely playing a part in the game's fairly high total. Both teams are projected to score above their season average, with the Sixers exceeding their 113.8 average by four points and Portland doing so by two points with their 115.3 implied total.
Both teams are healthy as well, other than Justice Winslow (ankle) remaining out, and he hasn't played since Dec. 21. So, we're certainly looking more for places to exploit than taking advantage of any new increased opportunities a player may find.
With so much of the Sixers' usage flowing through Joel Embiid, James Harden, and to an extent Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris, it's really difficult to ever play anyone outside of those four. Maxey has yet to really take off with any consistency since returning and has one of the more difficult matchups, at least from a DVP standpoint. The same can be said for Harden regarding the matchup, but his ceiling travels everywhere and is not concerned about the matchup. From a DVP perspective, our best bets are Harris and Embiid. Personally, I rarely if ever play Harris as his success-to-non-success ratio is far weighted to the latter. Embiid has arguably the highest ceiling on the slate, but he's not necessarily easy to fit salary rise.
Players to consider - Joel Embiid and James Harden.
The Blazers have a solid total here despite facing the third-best team in defensive efficiency, and the fifth-slowest team in the league. From a matchup standpoint, there is little that stands out here, as one might imagine. Damian Lillard is similar to Harden here in that his ceiling travels no matter the matchup and he hasn't scored less than 54 fantasy points in his last four games. If going for Lillard, you're counting on talent trumping matchup, which isn't a bad route to take. With no real clear spots to attack, yet no obvious stay-away spots, this isn't a bad place to get a little contrarian, especially with limited options on a four-game slate. If you want to play an angle where Lillard is kept in check, it makes sense the production will come from somewhere else. This would bring Anfernee Simons, Josh Hart, Jerami Grant, and Jusuf Nurkic more into play. Although Hart's rapidly declining price on Draftkings may make him far from contrarian, especially on a slate starved for lower-priced plays.
Players to consider - Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons, Josh Hart, Jerami Grant, and Jusuf Nurkic.