Happy Friday everyone! First off, my apologies for no article yesterday. It was a busy day with work and other time sensitive items. I greatly appreciate those of you who inquired about the article since it means that you have been following it this week.
Secondly, I don't anticipate any days as crazy as yesterday so I will do my best to complete the analysis early in the morning (I am on the West Coast) and publish by 12 PM PT. The good news it that is not even 7 AM PT and the analysis for this large 9 game slate is all done! Of course things can change later in the day with any unforeseen injury/inactive news but I have a feeling that the lineups we see right now will be static for the most part.
Let's start with the table that shows my model's outputs as well as the top 5 optimal lineups for DK and FD. Click on the link below for the model's outputs and of course the images below show the best lineups possible using my model.
Now, let's provide narratives for each position. As usual, the focus will be for FD but you can apply any of this analysis to DK as well.
PG: Trae Young and Monte Morris
Ice Trae was nothing but cold last night (sorry for the silly pun). Against one of the top teams in the East, Young willed the Hawks to victory by scoring 39 points and dishing out 13 assists. True, tonight is a BTB and there is travel involved. However, the flight to Atlanta to Washington DC is very short and the Hawks are in a tight playoff race holding the 10th seed with Washington just 1.5 games back. The model loves Trae and you should too, especially at a salary of under $10K on FD.
Monte Morris is risky but hear me out. The Nuggets play the Rockets, arguably the worst defense in the NBA. Houston also plays at a very fast pace so the Nuggets will probably have more offensive possessions than usual. Jokic is expected to surpass 60 fantasy points according to my model (more on him later) and the correlation between Morris and Jokic is strong (as it should be between starting point guards and All Star centers). As long as Morris can get us 30 fantasy points, we are good. He doesn't need to light the world on fire for him to hit value.
SG: Cameron Payne and Alec Burks
Some cheap plays here. Payne is obvious and will be chalk. He didn't score as many points last time out but it was also a blow out with Phoenix beating Portland by 30 points. I expect tonight's game against New York to be closer. There are other Suns players you can roster but with no CP3 or Booker, Payne should get tons of usage meaning that he will contribute in a myriad of ways.
Then just look to the other side of the court in Phoenix for our other value play at SG. Burks is super cheap for the minutes he is getting. Burks has been up and down all season but with Kemba Walker out for the rest of the season (Knicks elected to not play him which I find unusual) and with Bridges on Barrett and probably Crowder and Ayton on Randle, I believe Burks will see more open looks and probably be covered by mediocre defenders. We are not asking for much at a price of $4,600 on FD. 15-16 points with 5-6 assists and 3-4 boards will do.
SF: Corey Kispert and Malik Beasley
Consistency has been the name of the game for Kispert. He has not dipped below 20 fantasy points in his last 4 games. Like Morris and Burks, we are not asking the world of Kispert. Just make your shots while you are on the floor. Basically, do your job as a backcourt/wing player.
Beasley is a must at his price. When Anthony Edwards was out from Dec. 17 - 28, Beasley put up strong numbers during that 6 game stretch. He averaged 20 ppg, 4 rpg, 2 apg, and 18.5 FGA per game. Also, he never dipped below 30 minutes per game. Those numbers are well above his season averages. It's not a coincidence that Beasley's last game was strong with Edwards ruled out. Beasley should do well again tonight, even if he is coming off the bench.
PF: Giannis Antetokounmpo and Isaiah Stewart
Now we are talking a big game with Giannis! Don't worry about the tough matchup against Chicago. Giannis is matchup proof as we saw in his last game against Miami, another strong Eastern Conference contender that plays awesome defense. I am guessing Giannis has something to prove given that there are three other teams ahead of Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference standings and that the NBA pundits are talking them up but not the Bucks who are defending NBA Champions. Giannis should be the king of the hill until someone dethrones the Bucks in the postseason. Expect Giannis to go gangbusters tonight, especially with Chicago on the 2nd half of a BTB set and flying back home from Atlanta last night.
As for Stewart, I am playing it safe given his consistent fantasy production. I am also considering Stewart's physical advantage against the light Pacers' frontcourt. Just look at Stewart's measureables: 6'8" and 250 lbs. The big men for Indiana (Jackson, Smith, and Brissett) all give up at least 40 lbs to Stewart. At a salary of $5,400, a double-double by Stewart will do which is something he does often or comes close to doing. Throw in a block, a steal, and a couple of assists and we are at 30 fantasy points which is close to 6x value.
C: Nikola Jokic
Lastly, we end this column with another stud. Jokic has been mediocre lately but his matchup against Houston is the type of "get right" game he needs to get back on his MVP track. Is there blowout potential? Sure. However, the Nuggets don't blow out teams that often. Except for last Sunday against Portland (a team that threw in the towel after the NBA trade deadline), the Nuggets have played several close games lately. Of course the Rockets stink but with Jalen Green showing solid improvement in his rookie campaign, the addition of Dennis Schroder, and full health for all of the starters, the Rockets are playing more competitive basketball. That means Jokic should see plenty of minutes and feast all night against the weak Rockets frontcourt. What I aslo like about Jokic is the potential for low ownership. Usually teams that play on the west coast or close to the west coast tend to get overlooked by a majority of DFS players who live on the east coast. Also, his high salary and blowout potential will deter people from rostering Jokic. Let the others flock away from him while you flock towards him. Jokic will be the centerpiece of your very profitable DFS lineup tonight.
As usual, look for an update from me about 30 min before lock with a sample lineup. As long as not much changes in terms of injury/inactivity news, the model and these narratives are what we should lean on when building your rosters. Good luck and enjoy the start to your weekend!