- Picks for every price point and position in NBA DFS contests on Decmeber 12.
There is a lot to like about Tuesday’s seven-game NBA slate. For DFS purposes, that includes a few bad defensive teams, games expected to have a fast pace, inefficient pricing and opportunity opening up because of injury. Those are all elements of the schedule that DFS players should try to exploit on Tuesday.
Jeff Teague, vs. 76ers (FD: $6,500, DK: $6,500)
Projected Points: FD: 33.53, DK: 33.86
Teague was flat-out awful in 36 minutes against Dallas on Sunday, finishing with just nine points and five assists while nearly fouling out of the game. It’s never how you like to start out one of these articles, but in DFS we play the long game. This is a fantastic time to buy on the Timberwolves point guard, as he’s coming in at his third-lowest FanDuel price of the season. Teague (and really the rest of the Minnesota starting five) has fantastic consistency ratings because his minutes do not fluctuate, thanks in large part to Tom Thibodeau’s insistence on leaning on his best players. He’ll face a Sixers team running at the fourth-fastest pace in the league and allowing more than league-average points to point guards.
Spencer Dinwiddie, vs. Wizards (FD: $7,000, DK: $6,100)
Projected Points: FD: 33.65, DK: 33.58
Since D’Angelo Russell went down in mid-November, Dinwiddie has taken the Nets point guard reins and turned into a viable fantasy option. That’s really saying something considering he’s on a team that treats its rotations more like NHL line changes than an actual NBA team. But since Russell’s injury, Dinwiddie has averaged a team-high 30 minutes, 15 points, eight assists and 3.5 rebounds per game, and is tied at a team-leading 22% usage rate. If John Wall remains out, the Wizards are greatly compromised in guarding opposing point guards.
Andrew Wiggins, vs. 76ers (FD: $5,900, DK: $6,000)
Projected Points: FD: 27.85, DK: 28.12
The addition of Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota starting lineup has curbed Wiggins’s fantasy value this season. Specifically, his shot attempts have fallen off a cliff. Last season he racked up a team-leading 29% usage rate. This season, it’s down to 24%, though that’s still the highest among the starters. On top of that, his three-point percentage has fallen to 30% from last season’s 35%. All of that means that this is where we can start buying low. He’s coming at his cheapest FanDuel and DraftKings salaries of the season and there’s some reason to expect this three-point shooting regresses back to his career averages. He’s still playing a ton of minutes and this game projects as both high-scoring and close. This is the exact spot I want to buy low on a guy, especially considering how the DFS community has soured on his play.
Kent Bazemore, vs. Cavaliers (FD: $5,500, DK: $5,300)
Projected Points: FD: 27.71, DK: 27.66
Rostering Bazemore can be like riding a roller coaster. Sometimes it’s great fun with some fast speeds and loop-de-loops, and you get off wanting to take another spin. Other times the train gets stalled on the track and you’re stuck there for what feels like hours. Tuesday’s matchup with the Cavaliers is has a good chance to be the former. While his minutes do fluctuate, they’ve stayed consistent over the last couple of years when facing Cleveland. He has averaged more than 30 minutes a game against the Cavaliers because his wing defense typically makes him his team’s best option against LeBron James, while his secondary ball-handling skills aren’t a total liability. He’s often stuck in this price tier because of the aforementioned volatility in his performances, so when we can make reasonable assumptions about his run it’s a good time to buy.
LeBron James, vs. Hawks (FD: $12,600, DK: $11,800)
Projected Points: FD: 61.81, DK: 64.09
Lebron is putting up near-MVP level numbers thanks to an expanded on-ball role in the offense (they don’t have any real point guards on the roster, Jose Calderon doesn’t count) and the Cavaliers’ insistence on giving him an unusually heavy load of minutes this early in the season. It’s a recipe that could bite them down the road, but for now, DFS players should take advantage of James maintaining as high a minutes floor as anyone in the league. Atlanta’s wings have defended him reasonably well this season, holding him to 25 points, 13 assists, six rebounds per game in their two meetings. Those are still impressive numbers, to be sure, but they don’t equate to DFS value on James’s price tag. But on a night with some uncertainty around the upper price tier, he’s is the clear big money choice.
T.J. Warren, vs. Kings (FD: $8,000, DK: $6,900)
Projected Points: FD: 37.12, DK: 36.48
Warren is a much better value on DraftKings where his SF/PF designation also allows some positional flexibility. Warren’s big bump in the short term comes from the loss of Devin Booker to injury. Warren’s full season usage sits at 26% but jumps to 29% with Booker off the court. The Suns are, of course, a complete mess with their rotations, but Warren is one of the lone beacons of safety on the squad, mostly because they need his scoring and ability to get his own shot in the offense. He rebounds the small forward position reasonably well, and the Kings sport the second-worst defensive efficiency in the league.
Ben Simmons, vs. Timberwolves (FD: $10,000, DK: $9,800)
Projected Points: FD: 49.47, DK: 50.34
Joel Embiid was a very (very, very) late scratch on Sunday and his status is questionable leading into Tuesday’s contest. These current projections for Simmons are working under the assumption Embiid plays and the former is pushing up against 5x value on both sites. In other words, he’s a fine play if the big man suits up. But he becomes a fantastic play if Embiid is out again. Simmons goes from a full-season 25% usage and 13.5% total rebounding percentage to 29% usage and 15% total rebounding with Embiid off the court. And unlike other Sixers rookies in years past, there isn’t much of a leash on Simmons’ minutes considering he’s averaging 36 per game. Minnesota is a bottom-third defensive team though the only real concern with Simmons here is the possibility that he gets a heavy dose of Jimmy Butler. I’m still buying on the matchup with the upside if Embiid sits.
Zach Randolph, vs. Suns (FD: $7,500, DK: $7,100)
Projected Points: FD: 38.69, DK: 39.2
Nothing is ever safe with the Sacramento Kings. They are in full-on tank mode, have a revolving cast of players shuttling back and forth from the G-League, and have no great incentive to keep any consistency with their rotations. But the one exception is Randolph, who is averaging 33 minutes per game over his last five, and has been excellent with a 24-point, 11-rebound, three-assist line in that time. But as the stats and opportunity have solidified, his price on both sites is up about 42%. He’s still worth it in a fantastic matchup against a Suns team allowing 5% more scoring and rebounding to opposing PF/C types.
Andre Drummond, vs. Nuggets (FD: $9,200, DK: $9,400)
Projected Points: FD: 45.08, DK: 46.01
Drummond is putting together his best season, averaging career highs in minutes (33.4) and rebounds (15.3) per game, to go along with his second-best scoring average at 14.1 points per game. His ability to stay on the court longer is due, in part, to his greatly improved defense and a near-miraculous improvement in free-throw shooting. Up to 61% from a career 40% mark. He’ll get a Nikola Jokic-less Denver team on Tuesday that will try to front him with Mason Plumlee and a revolving cast of undersized bigs. The Nuggets are allowing about 6% more scoring than league-average to opposing centers, and are about league-average keeping them off the glass. Drummond will be a handful for the Denver interior, and the limited offense of the Nuggets bigs puts him at less risk to get into early foul trouble.
Enes Kanter, vs. Lakers (FD: $6,600, DK: $6,400)
Projected Points: FD: 31.09, DK: 32.97
Kanter is a high-risk, high-reward play on Tuesday. From a safety perspective, I greatly prefer Drummond to the rest of the center position. If you’re looking to take an upside risk, though, Kanter fits the bill. He’s incredibly inconsistent because his minutes are all over the place, and he doesn’t play a lick of defense. But that’s less of a concern against the Lakers who tend to play small after getting 20 minutes from Brook Lopez. They are among the worst in the league at defending the center position, allowing about 7% more scoring than league-average to opposing bigs. If Kanter stays out of early foul trouble and his minutes push up toward 30, then he has as much upside as anyone in this price tier. Those are, of course, big ifs.