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Daily Fantasy Basketball Strategy: November 11, 2015

First off, a happy Veteran’s Day to all of those out there who have served this country and defended us so that we can sit in our homes in peace playing daily fantasy sports. Next, a big ‘screw you’ to the New York attorney general who has made DFS illegal to NY citizens. I hold faith that DraftKings and FanDuel will fight this decision and prevail in the end, but there’s no doubt it’s a setback for this industry.

Last night was a reality check of how quickly things can go crazy in DFS when it comes to the NBA, just like the old days. For newer players, know that yesterday wasn’t a first ever, but a first time for this season that we had several big time news breaks within minutes of tip-offs. Beal, Carroll, Wiggins, Rubio, Garnett, Nene and more were all ruled out late leaving us scrambling to make changes that we had zero time to think out. It’s chaotic and truthfully… it sucks. It’s the biggest downfall when it comes to NBA DFS, and it’s why we say at the end of every column to stay tuned in the hour before games start or you may get screwed over.

OK, enough about all of that, let’s breakdown this big 11-game NBA DraftKings slate.

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Vegas lines and totals

Lakers (+7.5) @ Magic — 201
Raptors (-9.5) @ Sixers — 192.5
Knicks (+5) @ Hornets — 196
Pacers (-2.5) @ Celtics — 203.5
Pelicans (+11) @ Hawks — 210.5
Clippers (-7) @ Mavericks — 213.5
Nets (+12.5) @ Rockets — 205.5
Warriors (-7) @ Grizzlies — 200.5
Bucks (+2) @ Nuggets — 198.5
Pistons (+1.5) @ Kings — 203
Spurs (-7.5) @ Blazers — 199

Two games stick out with big totals, both LAC/DAL and NOP/ATL, but come with concern for blowout potential. The Pelicans will be without Anthony Davis and Jrue Holiday tonight, so it’s hard to imagine them staying in the game for four quarters with a team like Atlanta. Dallas at least is motivated by playing DeAndre Jordan who spurned them this off-season and the fans will be rowdy as ever. TOR/PHI and NYK/CHA are the two games that I will likely be very light on as they have low totals and just don’t setup to be fantasy friendly on a slate of this size.

Here are my top plays at each position tonight:

POINT GUARD

Reggie Jackson ($7,300) – You have to love the way Reggie is playing to start the season, and his playmaking ability along with a 32.6% usage rate is a recipe for fantasy glory, especially at this price. Jackson will be going at Rajon Rondo tonight and should be able to have another big scoring night while being relied on more than normal as teammate Andre Drummond will be dealing with the Boogie monster all night. I like Kyle Lowry tonight also, but for $700 cheaper, give me RJax.

Jeff Teague ($6,900) – Teague has been money this season scoring 33+ DK points in six straight games, and he truly shouldn’t be this cheap anymore. I know his upside is mid-40s so he lacks that huge ceiling, but there’s a nice level of comfort knowing that you have a guy locked in who will always deliver for you. Tonight’s matchup is a really good one also, as the Pelicans rank 30th against opposing PGs this season and on the second game of a back-to-back, it’s likely that the limited Jrue Holiday will sit this one out. This is the Hawk I want most in a game projected for 212 points.

Ish Smith ($4,800) – As I just mentioned, Jrue Holiday is doubtful tonight after playing last night, and if he indeed does miss the game, Ish is the guy to insert into your lineups. With Jrue sidelined, Ish will see more than 30 minutes of play and he racks up the assist numbers when he’s on the floor. The last game Holiday missed, Ish went for 32 DK points. Tonight with Anthony Davis out as well, the Pels will need Ish and crew to pick up the slack.

Cheap risk option: I feel like a broken record, but I can’t ever steer myself from J.J. Barea ($3,800) in this spot when active, because he simply finds a way to put up a decent fantasy score nightly. Also, if the Mavs do happen to get blown out, Barea will be in there for the garbage time just like he was last night against the Pelicans. Not much upside but a safe punt cash play.

SHOOTING GUARD

James Harden ($10,100) – Just get him in there. I know this game could be a blowout, but on it’s way to blowout status, Harden will push upwards of 50 points and I’m not even talking fantasy points there.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($5,000) – If you’re not going with the Beard at SG tonight, go cheaper with a guy like KCP in a good matchup against Sacramento. Pope has went for 27 – 24 – 29 – 27 DK points in his last four games and is playing minutes just shy of 40 every night. With a ton of PT, 12-15 shots and a poor defender on him, things look promising tonight for KCP.

Cheap risk option: Marco Belinelli ($4,200) and C.J. Miles ($4,100) are my go-to cheap options tonight at SG. Both will see upped minutes with teammates out due to injuries (Darren Collison and Rodney Stuckey) and both should see favorable defensive matchups to get up some good shots. With these types of players, you’re just hoping their shots fall because they’re streaky night-to-night.

SMALL FORWARD

Paul George ($8,800) – It doesn’t matter if they use him at the 3 or 4, George is going to be a matchup nightmare for the Celtics tonight who are also on the second half of a road-home back-to-back. 18 shots a night and a 30% usage rate are things of beauty in terms of DFS, make sure you have some shares of George tonight.

Joe Johnson ($4,800) – It just felt wrong typing that, but Joe Johnson should be looked at to score often in this high scoring affair with the Rockets tonight. With 34 and 29 DK points in his last two games, Johnson now will be matched up with Marcus Thornton primarily tonight and that should lead to some nice looks for Sweet Joe. If he’s on, he’ll crush value at this price, and I’m going to have my chips on that.

Cheap risk option: Jerami Grant ($4,100) will be somewhere in most of my lineups tonight due to his role with Robert Covington sidelined, plus his ability to pad his DFS numbers with his incredible blocking skills for a wing. Can’t imagine him going for less than 20 tonight. Omri Casspi ($4,200) is another strong punt play as he’s averaged 28 DK points over their last three games.

POWER FORWARD

Blake Griffin (9,500) – Griffin has been on an incredible run this season and is averaging 49 DK points per game. The Mavs have absolutely nobody to stop Blake from doing whatever he wants tonight, and the ONLY thing that could stop Blake from another 50+ DK point showing, is if this game gets ugly too early. Here’s to hoping the Mavs bounce back from their ugly loss to the Pelicans last night.

Greg Monroe ($8,300) – The Nuggets are hurting in the big man department, and to ask J.J. Hickson and Nikola Jokic (if he plays) to try and contain Monroe, is just comical. Even Mason Plumlee had his way against the Nuggets this week. Monroe should lead all scorers and rebounders in this game, plus get a couple blocks.

Ryan Anderson ($5,700) – Anthony Davis will be out tonight after leaving last night’s contest with hip soreness, so Anderson becomes a really good value play. The Pelicans will lean on Eric Gordon and Ryno to carry the offense, and at this price you almost have to look beyond the blowout fears and just roll with him.

Cheap risk option: J.J. Hickson ($4,200) is a nice option tonight with Joffrey Lauvergne once again out and Jokic iffy as well. Hickson isn’t the greatest, but he’s going to get 30 minutes and with those should come at least 25 DK points. He went for 44 in his start earlier this week. Richaun Holmes ($3,200) will be starting at PF again tonight with Nerlens Noel ruled out. Holmes scored 19.8 DK points last game starting in 28 minutes against a tougher opponent. He’s a top punt option tonight.

CENTER

DeMarcus Cousins ($9,800) – A bit rusty in his return from an achilles injury Monday against the Spurs, Cousins still managed to put up 46 DK points despite shooting a lousy 5/20 from the field. DMC should be ready to run (see what I did there?) more this game and it will be a clash of the titans in the paint with Cousins vs Drummond. Even though Drummond has been great, opposing centers have still done more than fair against him fantasy-wise, and Cousins should hit a big number tonight as long as he doesn’t snap and get himself thrown out which is always a fear with this stud.

Jahlil Okafor ($6,600) – No Nerlens tonight, so Okafor is almost a must-play at his price and going up against Jonas and the Raptors. With DK showings of 31 – 29 – 34 – 46 in the last four games, Okafor has made it known that he’s not your average rookie and he’s quickly turned the Sixers fans from skeptical to believers. Okafor would need 30 DK points to hit value tonight and I see that as his floor.

Robin Lopez ($4,800) – RoLo has finally been put to legitimate use the past two games for the Knicks and he’s delivered strong box score performances like we expected for him in New York. Lopez has averaged over 36 DK points the past two games and those were against Roy Hibbert and Jonas Valanciunas, so he’s more than ready for Al Jefferson tonight. Look for Lopez to hit at or above 30 fantasy points for the third straight game.

Cheap risk option: Meyers Leonard ($4,200) started the season off terribly, so his salary is very low considering his skill set. His ability to stretch the floor and hit treys really helps the Blazers in a number of ways. Look for Meyers to hit 20+ DK points for the fourth straight game.

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.

PG
1) Ish Smith
2) Reggie Jackson
3) Elfrid Payton
4) Jeff Teague
5) Stephen Curry
6) Kyle Lowry
7) Damian Lillard
8) Isaiah Thomas
9) T.J. McConnell

SG
1) James Harden
2) Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
3) Eric Gordon
4) Marco Belinelli
5) C.J. Miles
6) Monta Ellis
7) Langston Galloway
8) Khris Middleton

SF
1) Paul George
2) Jerami Grant
3) Joe Johnson
4) Omri Casspi
5) Jae Crowder
6) Danilo Gallinari

PF
1) Blake Griffin
2) J.J. Hickson
3) Ryan Anderson
4) Richaun Holmes
5) Greg Monroe
6) Kenneth Faried
7) Kristaps Porzingis

C
1) Jahlil Okafor
2) DeMarcus Cousins
3) Robin Lopez
4) Andre Drummond
5) Meyers Leonard
6) Ian Mahinmi

As always, stay locked to Twitter for late-breaking news the hour before the first games tip 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.

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