Daily Fantasy Basketball Strategy: March 31, 2016
We have a hectic six-game NBA slate on our hands tonight, and I’ll be breaking it down from top to bottom to help you formulate your DFS lineups, and lead you towards ending the night in the green. I’ll review and analyze the top plays of the night, point out the best cheap values on the slate, and then finish with positional rankings. There’s a lot of injuries or rest days that we have to deal with tonight, so let’s get right to the daily grind!
Let’s start with who we already know will be OUT tonight either due to injury or rest: DeAndre Jordan, Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Paul Pierce, Brook Lopez, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Jrue Holiday, Ryan Anderson and Jusuf Nurkic. Then we have Taj Gibson, Kyrie Irving, J.R. Smith and Jae Crowder who are all questionable, and there are sure to be more random curveballs thrown at us throughout the day. This opens up a ton of value plays, which means you will be able to make some beastly “studs-n-duds” lineups.
Russell Westbrook – There’s only two concerns with this play, it could get ugly early and the Thunder studs sit a big chunk of minutes, and a belief that Westbrook may rest tonight after Durant was rested their last game. Basically though, if Westbrook plays, he’s set for a monster night, because the likes of Austin Rivers and Jamal Crawford can’t even pretend to believe that they can stop Russ from doing whatever he wants. Look for another triple-double type night if Russ plays 30+ minutes.
Emmanuel Mudiay – If I don’t go with Russ at PG tonight, I will likely try and save some cash here and look to the mid-tier and super cheap types who have upside. One of my favorites in the lower-mid-tier is Mudiay. The rookie has had his ups and downs this season, especially with his shooting efficiency, but he’s no doubt getting the playing time and usage to be able to deliver fine results for DFS players. With options like Mudiay, Derrick Rose and Elfrid Payton priced similarly, there’s a tough choice to make if you fade the top options, but I am leaning towards Mudiay of the trio and have him projected at 29 FPs.
Cheap risk option: Shane Larkin has hit at or above value (20+ FPs) in five straight games, and has ran away with the primary PG minutes. Look for him to stay above his value line once again tonight against the Cavs. If Norris Cole (questionable) is out again, Tim Frazier sets up to be a nice value option once again with all of the injuries the Pelicans are dealing with. Frazier has hit value in seven of the last eight games, and the one that he came up short he still managed 18 FPs.
James Harden – There’s enough great cheap plays on the slate that I will definitely be able to back a competitive lineup that features both Harden and Westbrook, but my go-to super-stud of the night over all others is the bearded assassin. Harden is torching everything in his path right now, and the Bulls are not playing great basketball as is, so it’s a great spot to pay up. My projections usually top out around the low-to-mid 50s, but they have Harden at 59 FPs tonight.
Jamal Crawford – You saw above how many of the Clippers core were sitting out tonight, that’s going to open the stage up for Jamal Crawford to dominate the ball even more than usual, with even more playing time. With his price and a fair matchup, he’s set to crush his price’s value line. I have him at 30 FPs.
Cheap risk option: Austin Rivers is the no doubt, top cheap option at SG tonight. He’s basically minimum price and will see 30+ minutes due to the stars of the team being rested. Projection for him tonight is set at 24 FPs.
Paul George – While I could make the same argument for Kevin Durant that I made for Westbrook, I just don’t like paying up for KD as much in blowout situations. LeBron James is in the same boat for me, so I prefer to save a couple grand and run with Paul George who is in kill-mode right now trying to secure a good playoff seeding, and has a real favorable matchup with Orlando. I have PG projected at 43 FPs.
Trevor Ariza – Coming off a great game against the Cavs, Ariza will be needed at his best again tonight against the Bulls, who have been giving up big nights to small forwards most of the season. Ariza will stay receiving big minutes, and should get double-digit shots, with plenty of opportunity for defensive numbers as well. I have him at 30 FPs.
Cheap risk option: Hope you’re not tired of me mentioning the Clippers B-squad yet, because there’s several more to come, including Jeff Green. With the Clips primary starting five out tonight, Green will see as many minutes as he can handle against his former team. The combo of his skills, minutes and lack of other options makes it hard to find a reason that he won’t go for at least 25 FPs tonight, even if it’s a blowout. Same game, Wesley Johnson is also in play, just has less upside, but I do have him at 23 FPs at near minimum price.
Thaddeus Young – Thad has a usage rate of 22.7% on the season, he’s played in one game this season where Lopez was out, and in that game Young boasted at super high 33.9% usage rate. In the 400+ minutes Thad has played on the court when Lopez is resting, he’s had a 26% usage rate according to nbawowy.com. What I am obviously getting at here is when Lopez is out, Thad is forced to step up, and despite this average matchup, he’s in a good position to produce.
Cheap risk option: I’m not sure why I even mentioned someone else at power forward, because it’s all about Thomas Robinson again tonight, much as it was after we found out Thad was resting their last game. In that game T-Rob put up 40 FPs, and while the matchup is tougher tonight, he’ll play enough to surpass his 18 FP value-line. I have Robinson projected at 25 FPs.
Pau Gasol – All systems, GO! Pau looked a lot closer to normal last game and it appears his minutes limit has been forgotten after playing 33 and 34 minutes the last two games. With this price and Pau’s every game upside, he is one of my favorite plays of the night aside from all of the cheap options. I have him projected at 40 FPs.
Nikola Jokic – With Jusuf Nurkic out again, Jokic should see plenty of playing time against a depleted Pelicans set of big men. With his great price, I will have several shares of Jokic tonight, and have him projected at 32 FPs.
Enes Kanter – With the Thunder likely to blow the Clippers split-squad out of the water tonight, I will use Kanter in a few lineups as an upside play due to him getting plenty of garbage time on top of his already decent minutes and production.
Cheap risk option: No DeAndre Jordan, put out the Cole Aldrich signal, because it’s his world tonight for the Clippers. If Aldrich can avoid foul trouble, he should play a ton of minutes tonight, and with him sitting at minimum price and averaging above one fantasy point per minute when DeAndre is out, Cole looks to be a fantastic bargain tonight — near must-play. Alexis Ajinca will again start, again is priced very cheap and again has a good matchup against the Nuggets who have given opposing bigs whatever they want of late. I have Aldrich projected at 34 FPs and Ajinca at 27.
Cash game rankings:
This isn’t necessarily an order of who will score the most DraftKings points. Rather, the rankings are aimed to find the best price, value and production combo to help you win cash games, also taking into account potential ownership levels for each player.
As always, stay locked to Twitter and Rotoworld for any late-breaking news the hour before the first game tips at 7 p.m. EST. I’ll do my best to update this article as news breaks throughout the day, but the best way to get the latest is always to follow me on Twitter @BigZack44, where I’ll do my best to break down the implications of any late scratches or lineup changes.