Hello my DFS friends! It has been a while since I last wrote an NBA DFS article full of analysis and with enough time for you to digest all of the content I share in my work. My real job has kept me busy but fortunately we have an inservice day meaning more time for NBA DFS!
As usual, here is the table that shows my model's outputs as well as the top 5 optimal lineups for DK and FD. However, I have added a slight wrinkle to the optimals. I am featuring 3 studs: Luka Doncic, Kevin Durant, and Nikola Jokic. I don't believe we should roster all three since there are three other star players I like who are under $10K (more on them later) but we should have at least one of those studs to anchor our lineups. Hence, I have created optimals with Doncic, Durant, or Jokic.
Click on the link below for the model's predictions and of course the images below show the best possible lineups using my model with DK lineups shown first and then FD lineups.
When you click on the Google spreadsheet, you will see that Doncic, Durant, and Jokic are the top 3 player and they should be. Doncic easily has the highest usage out of any NBA players and it's not even close. The matchup is not great but Doncic blew up for 74.1 FD points against Philly just a month ago. His ownership will be low since the Philly D is solid and the pace is slow. However, Doncic is matchup proof so if we can get 6 or 7x from Doncic tonight at sub-20% ownership, good for us. Durant is a solid play given the super weak matchup and no Kyrie Irving. Why Irving still cannot play in NYC is beyond me given that we are finally getting out of the pandemic but for now take full advantage of Durant's high volume of FG attempts and other peripheral stats. Finally, Jokic is always a great play given that he is in the midst of another tight MVP race and is trying to keep his team out of the play-in tournament. The matchup is also favorable. Keep in mind that power forwards and centers have feasted against Cleveland with Jarrett Allen out indefinitely with a fractured finger. Jokic could have another one of his 40 point triple doubles this evening with no big body on Cleveland to hold him down. Mobley and Love have size but they are not as big as Allen nor they do defend as well he does.
Of course there are other studs you can play tonight such as Embiid, Trae Young, LeBron, SGA, and DeAaron Fox. However, all of them are questionable and with just 3 weeks left to the regular season, something tells me that most, if not all, of them will rest tonight. Even if they play, I would much rather have Doncic, Durant, or Jokic who are all fully healthy and have had some amazing stat lines recently.
So why not roster the entire trio of Doncic, Durant, and Jokic and go for a Stars and Scrubs lineup? There are a few issues with such a roster build tonight.
There is a good chance that any one of those three players don't reach 6x value. A 50 fantasy point night might work for a cash game but not a GPP and not getting 6x or 7x value for someone who is priced over $10K on either DK or FD will keep us below the cash line.
I don't believe tonight's slate features any teams doing major load management or playing a bunch of G league guys at the minimum salary. We saw that with Portland a couple of weeks ago where you could roster 3 - 4 Blazers starters and grab 3 high priced studs. However, the Portland players are now priced up and I don't see enough players at the bare minimum salary who can pop off for 7x or 8x value.
This is a large slate so there will be plenty of players priced from $7K - $9.9K who have favorable matchups and should be engaged in close games against weak defenses who play at a high price. That means high minutes and volume for these players I have mind.
So who do I have in mind? Malcolm Brogdon, Jayson Tatum, and Julius Randle. You can roster two of those players and one of the studs and still have a great lineup on DK. On FD, things are even better since we can get all three of them plus Doncic, Durant, or Jokic with plenty of other value plays. So why those three?
Brogdon is playing Houston. Need I say more? Houston has the worst defense in the NBA and plays at the fastest pace. With a Vegas point total north of 240 and a close spread, take the player on Indiana with the highest usage. Yes, there is Hield and Haliburton but the roles they play for Indiana is no different than the roles they played for Sacramento. Hield is a pure shooter and Haliburton helps out in other areas. The Pacers offense still runs through Brogdon and he gets a juice matchup tonight for a very good price.
Tatum gets a similarly weak opponent. Also, Tatum is on fire right now. Just look at his month-by-month splits and focus on the current month: 35.1 ppg, 49.4 FG%, 39.& 3pt%, and 35.1 usage%. All of those numbers are significantly higher this month than the previous months. The rebounds and assists are roughly the same at 8 rpg and 4.5 apg. Tatum is also getting to the free throw line more frequently. His ownership might be low given that he will be playing on the west coast. He is exactly the late night hammer we need to propel us to first place by the time tonight's games are complete.
Randle is player I like in the $7K - $9.9K range. You could make an argument for RJ Barrett but hear me out on Randle. Washington's defense has been downright awful since all teams returned from the NBA All Star break. They are 2-8 and have allowed 121.9 points per game and over 50% from FG range. For comparison purposes, the Rockets have allowed 118.4 ppg and 48.4% from FG range during this entire season. The Knicks have also looked solid lately winning 4 of their last 6 games. Randle has had two excellent games during that stretch where cracking 60 fantasy points in each of those instances. Randle's ownership is typically low on large slates which is good for us.
So there is half of your lineup: Brogdon, Tatum, Randle, and either Doncic, Durant, and Jokic. So who are the value plays? Jordan Clarkson, DeAndre Hunter, Dillon Brooks, Isaac Okoro, and Nic Claxton. The first four players mentioned will be starting tonight and should see 35+ minutes with plenty of FG attempts. All of them are priced under $5K on FD and should reach at least 6x value. Claxton won't start but in an earlier article I mentioned that the top frontcourt bench player facing Portland tends to pop off. Claxton is 6'11" and is an impressive athlete. He has been seeing at least 20 minutes per game and should flirt with a double-double. If we are lucky an get 3 - 4 combined blocks and steals, we are looking at a 35 - 40 fantasy point night from him. That could make the difference between just reaching the cash line and finishing in first place.
I could go into detail with Clarkson, Hunter, Brooks, and Okoro but we have less than 90 minutes before the 4 PM PT main slate lock. The model likes those players so trust the data and trust my analysis. Sample lineups are shown below for both DK and FD. Again, submit 3 lineups for each site with Doncic, Durant, or Jokic as your anchor.
DK (DONCIC): Brogdon, Clarkson, Fournier, Tatum, Claxton, Doncic, Okoro, Bitadze
DK (DURANT): Brogdon, Clarkson, Tatum, Durant, Claxton, Huerter, O'Neale, Bitadze
DK (JOKIC): Brogdon, Alexander-Walker, Huerter, Tatum, Jokic, Conley, Okoro, Bitadze
FD (DONCIC): Doncic, Clarkson, Brogdon, Alexander-Walker, Brooks, Hunter, Randle, Tatum, Bitadze
FD (DURANT): Brogdon, Clarkson, Brooks, Okoro, Durant, O'Neale, Randle, Tatum, Claxton
FD (JOKIC): Brogdon, Morris, Brooks, Okoro, Tatum, Huerter, Randle, J. Hernangomez, Jokic