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  • Games between the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers, and Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets, should dominate DFS lineups on Saturday.
By Doug Norrie
January 20, 2018

It’s a big Saturday night in the NBA, and we have two key matchups that could dominate much of the ownership on this DFS slate. It’s rare to have so many of the night’s plays concentrated between just two games, but that is definitely the case here. Let’s take a look at the key stacks to build around for cash games. And be sure to use our NBA Lineup Optimizer to round out the rest of your plays.

Game Stack Alert No. 1

Milwaukee Bucks vs. Philadelphia 76ers

Khris Middleton (FD: $7,400, DK: $7,900)

Projected Points: FD: 39.29, DK: 40.38

Eric Bledsoe (FD: $7,000, DK: $7,600)

Projected Points: FD: 39.84, DK: 40.4

Tony Snell (FD: $3,700, DK: $3,800)

Projected Points: FD: 17.76, DK: 18.19

Matthew Dellavedova (FD: $3,500, DK: $3,300)

Projected Points: FD: 19.32, DK: 20.55

John Henson (FD: $5,200, DK: $4,600)

Projected Points: FD: 29.08, DK: 27.58

In a gift of very early injury reporting, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Malcolm Brogdon have already been ruled out for Saturday’s game against the Bulls. This is one of those situations we wait for in DFS: a superstar (and another auxiliary piece) out for a team, leaving a clear delineation of minutes and opportunity in their wake. Between the two of them, we are left to redistribute about 70 on-court minutes and a healthy dose of usage, rebounds and assists.

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Middleton and Bledsoe are the two clear winners in this situation, and will likely be among the highest-owned players Saturday evening. Giannis is the Bucks’ leader in nearly every relevant category (minutes, points, rebounds and assists), and without him these two will be asked to pick up much of the slack. With Giannis off the court this season, Middleton and Bledsoe see significant bumps in usage. Middleton is the big gainer going from 24% to 33%, while Bledsoe goes from 27% to 31%. Both should log heavy run, with Middleton a likely candidate to crest the 40-minute plateau. Philadelphia runs the third-fastest pace in the league, and both should compound the usage spikes with a heavier volume of possessions. Again, this is close to the dream DFS scenario when putting together cash game lineups.

The other Bucks’ pieces will be called on to fill in along the rotational edges, with Dellavedova likely drawing the start at two-guard, and Snell covering the wing duties on defense. Neither lights the world on fire from a fantasy perspective, but at their respective price points, it’s tough to argue with the minutes-based upside in this matchup. I suppose we can be somewhat concerned with the blowout if the Bucks are running thin on talent, but the upside outweighs that concern.

Joel Embiid (FD: $10,500, DK: $10,400)

Projected Points: FD: 53.63, DK: 55.21

Dario Saric (FD: $5,500, DK: $6,200)

Projected Points: FD: 31.78, DK: 33.2

T.J. McConnell (FD: $5,100, DK: $4,800)

Projected Points: FD: 26.06, DK: 25.75

Robert Covington (FD: $5,100, DK: $5,000)

Projected Points: FD: 31.96, DK: 31.79

While the Bucks have opportunity opening up without their superstar, the Sixers are simply priced too low across the industry. Embiid is nearing a joke of a price point on FanDuel. The Bucks are on the prowl for a center in the trade market, but until they pull off some kind of deal, they’re stuck running out John Henson and Thon Maker to deal with opposing bigs. The Bucks allow roughly 5% more scoring than league-average to centers, and The Process is coming off a two-game stretch that saw him averaging 30 points, 14 rebounds and five assists against two of the better defensive teams in the game, the Celtics and Raptors. Milwaukee is a far cry from those squads and Embiid rates out as the best big-money option on the evening slate of games.

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Meanwhile, Saric was something of a FanDuel chalk play on Thursday night against the Celtics and didn’t disappoint. He put up 16 points, six rebounds and three steals in 35 minutes of action. The big story for Saric is the absence of J.J. Redick in the first unit. While it isn’t an exact opportunity switch, Saric does see a 10% usage bump with the Sixers’ sharpshooter off the court. This played out on Thursday with his 14 shot attempts, his most since December 30th. Saric matches up well against a smaller, wing-driven Bucks’ team playing without their best defender.

And finally, you can consider rounding out some lineups (more on the GPP side of things) with guys like Simmons, Covington, and McConnell. The former two are really struggling on the fantasy end of the ball in the short term, which has led to Simmons second-lowest FanDuel price of the season, and Covington’s lowest. It can be tough buying players at the low end of their relative production, but these are also the scenarios that can lead to massive separation upside.

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Game Stack Alert No. 2

Golden State Warriors vs. Houston Rockets

Stephen Curry (FD: $9,500, DK: $10,300)

Projected Points: FD: 51.81, DK: 53.82

Kevin Durant (FD: $10,700, DK: $10,300)

Projected Points: FD: 51.27, DK: 51.27

Draymond Green (FD: $8,000, DK: $8,200)

Projected Points: FD: 39.48, DK: 38.88

In what lines up as the marquee game of the night, the Warriors head into Houston to take on the Rockets in a matchup of the two best teams in the Western Conference. The total on this game is an absurd 235 points, with Vegas projecting it to stay close, favoring the Warriors by four. These two teams put up a combined 238 points on January 4, and that was without both Durant and James Harden. This has shootout written all over it, and targeting the big money on the Warriors has significant upside.

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These are the third- and eighth fastest-paced teams in the league, and both Curry and Durant should see significant shot volume. Curry is shooting an absurd 51% from three over his last ten games, while Durant is averaging 28 points, six rebounds and five assists over his last five. It doesn’t take a genius to come up with superlatives for these two. Rest assured this is just the kind of matchup we want to target their upside, even at expensive price points.

Green tops out a very thin power forward position, where it’s very difficult to find reliable minutes on FanDuel. He played 38 minutes in their last meeting and put up the rare triple-double with 17 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists. We can’t pencil him in for the exact same production because, again, that game didn’t feature Durant. But the minutes are, real and these are just the kind of matchups the Warriors wait for in unleashing their utility knife.

P.J. Tucker (FD: $4,100, DK: $3,700)

Projected Points: FD: 21.9, DK: 21.83

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (FD: $4500, DK: $4200)

Projected Points: FD: 21.94, DK: 21.14

I’m not as interested in the big money options on the Rockets considering Harden is working his way back from injury, while Chris Paul’s and Eric Gordon’s prices are up in the short term playing without Harden. But the cheaper wings are interesting. Both Trevor Ariza and Gerald Green are serving suspensions for storming the Lakers’ locker room, leaving Tucker and Mbah a Moute to soak up almost all of the remaining minutes. These two were brought in over the offseason almost specifically to matchup up as three-and-D wings against the Warriors. They should both see minutes in the mid-to-upper 30s, and are coming in near the bottom of the salary tier.

 

Tucker played 34 minutes off the bench on Thursday and Mbah a Moute went 32 in the starting role, finishing with 14 points and five rebounds. That game was in hand late, and yet the Rockets still played a very tight rotation. There’s every reason to expect they will use a similar minutes allocation on Saturday.

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