- You're going to want to spend most of your DFS dollars on big men on Monday's six-game NBA slate. We'll help you prioritize the options.
Now that the league has had a weekend to fully digest the trade deadline, it feels as though the dust has finally settled. All those trades, as well as a few injuries, have changed the dynamics of some teams, and Monday’s six-game slate is a good one to take advantage of new opportunities. Use these plays and LineupLab's PlayerLab to get you rolling with lineups on DraftKings and FanDuel.
Austin Rivers, vs. Nets (FD: $5,100, DK: $5,400)
Projected Points: FD: 28.4, DK: 29.5
After sitting out about a month and a half (18 games) with an ankle injury, Rivers jumped right back into the Clippers' reworked starting lineup in the wake of the Blake Griffin trade. He took over starting point guard duties against the Sixers on Saturday night and played mid-30s minutes with a respectable 10 points, five rebounds and six assists. He gets a veritable dream matchup against the Nets, who run the sixth-fastest pace and sport a bottom-third defensive efficiency. Rivers isn’t a volume scorer, so the minutes are important, and he becomes a safer play if Milos Teodosic sits again. That isn’t a binary decision though; Rivers is in play with or without Teodosic.
Emmanuel Mudiay, vs. 76ers (FD: $3,700, DK: $4,300)
Projected Points: FD: 25.11, DK: 26.16
This one is more of a speculative pick based on short-term narrative, which I admit isn’t always the best process. But there’s some reason to assume Mudiay sees quality minutes against Philadelphia. After coming over in a trade-deadline deal, Mudiay came off the bench on Sunday against the Pacers. The bigger story, though, was how they used him. Mudiay played crunchtime minutes, sliding Frank Ntikilina over to shooting guard, and finished with 14 points and 10 assists. There’s some pedigree with Mudiay and reason to believe a scenery change sparks some life in his play. He’s coming very cheap if you think he pushes high-20s minutes, and I wouldn’t even be shocked to see the Knicks just work him into the starting unit going forward.
Lou Williams, vs. Nets (FD: $6,800, DK: $7,600)
Projected Points: FD: 37.95, DK: 39.48
From a matchup standpoint, Williams follows much of the same logic as Rivers. He’ll get plenty of opportunities to score against a porous defense. Sweet Lou is the rare sixth-man DFS play. So often bench players carry higher standard deviations on performance because their minutes fluctuate more than starters. But Williams is an exception, as he’s part of the Clippers’ crunchtime unit and is locked into around 33 minutes a game. He’s a prolific scorer, averaging 23.3 points per game (16th best in the league), with some assists thrown in for good measure. The scoring is volume-dependent, but again that’s less of an issue in pace-up games.
Justin Holiday, vs. Magic (FD: $5,500, DK: $5,000)
Projected Points: FD: 28.54, DK: 28.76
With Zach LaVine fully back in the mix now, Holiday slides over to the starting small forward on a Bulls team that might have something of a future (quite a distance down the road). It’s tougher for Holiday to find his opportunities when sharing the court with the usage-heavy LaVine, but he has worked out as a value DFS play because he sees minutes in the mid-to-high-30s. He’s been able to get up double-digit shots per game in the short term with a career-best 38% shooting from beyond the arc.
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Michael Beasley, vs. 76ers (FD: $6,500, DK: $6,800)
Projected Points: FD: 38.98, DK: 39.19
With Kristaps Porzingis out with the torn ACL, Beasley has stepped into a starting role. We have enough of a sample size on the Knicks without their star to make reasonable assumptions about Beasley’s production going forward. The on-court/off-court numbers don’t matter much with Beasley because he rarely shared time with Porzingis, so this is more just about playing time. Beasley is such a monster usage guy (31%), and in the last two games he's averaged 18 points and 10 rebounds on 30 minutes. There’s always some blowout risk because this current Knicks’ team is pretty bad, but Beasley hasn’t seen much in the way of a price increase since the first game after the injury. He’s still very much a bargain with the new opportunity.
DeMarre Carroll, vs. Clippers (FD: $5,500, DK: $5,400)
Projected Points: FD: 32.08, DK: 32.46
It’s never easy rostering any Nets players in cash games because their rotations are so fickle and even starters struggle to see more than 30 minutes a game. The one exception is Carroll who, with Caris LeVert and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson both on the shelf, gets a minutes boost because of his versatility rotating between the small and power forward positions. Over his last five games, Carrol has averaged 33 minutes and a 14-point, five-rebound line with some assists and steals thrown in there. He’s a solid mid-tier play and that kind of salary smoothing is what’s often needed to round out lineups especially at a thinner position like small forward.
Blake Griffin, vs. Pelicans (FD: $9,200, DK: $9,500)
Projected Points: FD: 44.64, DK: 45.93
It’s a good thing there’s some cheaper value in the guard and small forward positions because the frontcourt is where we are going to spend up on Monday. Since joining the Pistons, Griffin has had very little change in his season stats. In fact, he’s essentially mirroring his per-minute production from his time with the Clippers. The price is up some, but he draws such a good matchup against the Pelicans, who couldn’t defend opposing bigs with DeMarcus Cousins, and, unsurprisingly, are significantly worse without him. Griffin will likely draw Nikola Mirotic, which is an instant mismatch in the post.
Ben Simmons, vs. Knicks (FD: $9,000, DK: $8,500)
Projected Points: FD: 42.54, DK: 42.28
Another way to spend up at the position, Simmons draws a fantastic matchup against the Knicks, who will struggle to throw any reasonable defender his way. Michael Beasley is only on the court to score, and Courtney Lee is giving up a lot of size to the rookie “point guard.” He doesn’t shoot threes, but he does everything else on the court, including getting to the rack almost at will. Simmons has taken 68% of his shots from within six feet of the basket. Teams know what he’s going to do and still have no plan to stop him. The Knicks won’t either.
Anthony Davis, vs. Pistons (FD: $11,700, DK: $11,400)
Projected Points: FD: 61.01, DK: 61.34
It pays to have a very short memory in daily fantasy. Take Friday, when I rostered Davis against the Sixers and saw him put up an almost-farcical 14-point, eight-rebound line in the blowout. But I happily rostered him in the early all-day slate on Saturday against the Nets and was paid off handsomely when he piled up 44 points and 17 rebounds in the double-overtime win. DFS can be a cruel like that, and getting wrapped up in one bad game is often missing the forest for the trees. Davis draws another solid matchup on Monday against the Pistons. While Andre Drummond and Griffin make for an imposing frontcourt on the offensive end, they still allow outsized production to opposing big men. In the last two games, Dewayne Dedmon and DeAndre Jordan grabbed 13 and 17 rebounds, respectively. Davis is an excellent big money payoff and continues to see significant minutes and increased usage with Cousins on the shelf.
Andre Drummond, vs. Pelicans (FD: $10,800, DK: $10,100)
Projected Points: FD: 51.61, DK: 52.29
Speaking of the Pistons’ center, do you think he likes having Griffin on the team? Since Griffin’s arrival, Drummond is averaging an absurd 19 points and 19 rebounds per game. He’s seen the assist numbers dip a little, but who really cares? Getting close to the 20-20 range is pretty much unheard of, and it doesn’t look like a sample-size driven fluke, either. In fact, the decision between Drummond and Davis for the big-money payoff tonight is a lot closer than I would have ever imagined. I’ll give the slight edge to Davis, but the savings on Drummond is enticing.