- With 11 games on the slate, there is no shortage of options for your DFS lineups.
It’s an atypical Tuesday in the NBA with 11 games on the slate. We’ve got a variety of matchups with teams fighting for the playoffs, teams firmly in tank mode and everything else in between. Use these plays to get you started and our NBA Lineup Optimizer to round out your roster.
Team Stack Alert
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Phoenix Suns
LeBron James (FD: $12,500, DK: $11,600)
Projected Points: FD: 59.38, DK: 60.28
Larry Nance Jr. (FD: $7,800, DK: $7,000)
Projected Points: FD: 37.02, DK: 36.96
Jeff Green (FD: $3,600, DK: $3,900)
Projected Points: FD: 21.44, DK: 21.71
George Hill (FD: $4,600, DK: $5,100)
Projected Points: FD: 26.21, DK: 26.67
J.R. Smith (FD: $3,700, DK: $4,200)
Projected Points: FD: 20.82, DK: 21.4
I get that it is somewhat disingenuous to simply list out an entire team and call them “plays” on a given night considering one can only roster four and there isn’t a huge distinction among the quality amidst the quantity.
But this is the case with the (somewhat) enigmatic Cavaliers who enter Tuesday with questions surrounding their rotations and face the very best DFS matchup on the board. It puts us in a precarious spot. Obviously, Lebron James isn’t one of the question marks and I would have loved to list him and then leave a bunch of spaces before the rest of the team. He stands head and shoulders above the rest of the field in terms of cash game safety among the upper tier of players. It essentially comes down to a decision between James and Anthony Davis. Based on the matchup, I’ll favor Lebron.
Since the trade deadline, James has been a tour de force, averaging a triple-double (29 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists) with the Cavaliers going 9-6 in that stretch. They come into this game on a two-game losing streak and desperate for a win. I suspect he has incredibly high ownership and one can stomach the prices because of the Suns’ propensity to run at a track meet pace with little-to-no defense.
The rest of the Cavaliers are the question marks. Jeff Green drew the start for the injured Rodney Hood on Sunday, but the game turned into a blowout and the former was largely ineffective. Considering his price, as long as he sticks in the starting lineup, I’d be fine firing him back up in cash games. But he obviously carries some risk.
Everyone else falls in at values at their respective price points with Larry Nance Jr. as the highest potential upside. The projected pace of the game fits his bouncy style and he doesn’t become a massive defensive liability having to guard Tyson Chandler in the post. He has double-double plus potential and the multi-positional eligibility, coupled with a reduced price on DraftKings, puts him as one of the better overall plays.
Emmanuel Mudiay, vs. Mavericks (FD: $4,400, DK: $5,000)
Projected Points: FD: 25.21, DK: 26.32
Rostering Knicks in cash games is always a rollercoaster because they are a perfect storm of bad management and firmly in the tank. But Mudiay continues to start and has played 26 or more minutes in each of the last three games. Going cheap at the position on Tuesday is likely the strategy considering some of the payoffs elsewhere. Mudiay needs to get to the rack consistently and hit the mid-range jumper to hit value (he can’t shoot threes) while pitching in assists along the margins. I’m more interested in his FanDuel price and think this could be the spot to buy on a little upside.
Rajon Rondo, vs. Hornets (FD: $5,900, DK: $5,800)
Projected Points: FD: 33.21, DK: 33.94
Rondo is much more a tournament play because the standard deviation around the performance (somewhere around 25% higher than anyone else in his tier) is the thing of cash game nightmares. But volatility also leads to lower prices and the last two games aren’t proxies for what (it appears) the Pelicans’ plans are with their point guard. Blowouts led to reduced minutes and those should round back out in this game against the Hornets. Charlotte is below average in backcourt defense (2% worse than league average) and Rondo has a chance to get back to the well-rounded lines he’d shown earlier in the month.
Shooting Guard / Small Forward
Lou Williams, vs. Bulls (FD: $7,900, DK: $8100)
Projected Points: FD: 42.75, DK: 44.36
Williams entered the starting lineup on Friday against the Cavaliers and the change stuck on Saturday against the Magic. I expect Los Angeles to continue with him in the first unit, eliminating some of the risks around his sixth-man minutes. He failed to hit value in each of those games. But the usage rate has remained intact and the Clippers remain in “must-win” mode even against a tanking Bulls’ team. Short-term dips in free throw attempts (five combined in the last two games), and a zero assist game against the Magic are outliers. When/if those stats regress to his season means Williams will revert back to a high-floor play.
Nemanja Bjelica, vs. Wizards (FD: $5,300, DK: $6,200)
Projected Points: FD: 31.78, DK: 32.54
Even for Tom Thibodeau rather’s insane ideas around acceptable minutes, Bjelica is playing a ton. He’s run 40+ in each of his last three games and with Jimmy Butler out for the foreseeable future, that isn’t likely to change. His price isn’t even close to correct on FanDuel (closer on DraftKings) and though we aren’t getting him at bargain basement punt prices like when Butler first went down, Bjelica is still a high floor play. He’s getting looks from beyond the arc (five per game over the last five) and averaging close to nine rebounds. His biggest advantage is the floor time, giving him a chance to trickle in enough stats to meet value.
Power Forward / Center
Julius Randle, vs. Nuggets (FD: $8,100, DK: $8,000)
Projected Points: FD: 40.85, DK: 43
Kyle Kuzma, vs. Nuggets (FD: $6,800, DK: $6,400)
Projected Points: FD: 34.65, DK: 35.68
Brook Lopez, vs. Nuggets (FD: $5,900, DK: $5,800)
Projected Points: FD: 30.44, DK: 30.51
Without Brandon Ingram in the short term, the Lakers have become one of the most stable rotational teams. It’s remarkable considering their playoff fate is sealed (they aren’t making it). They’ve committed to the future pieces and have become something of a team playing spoiler (three wins in the last six against teams fighting for the playoffs). Their frontcourt all still come at points per dollar values against a Nuggets team that, while improved with Millsap, still struggles to defend the interior. Randle completely dominated the Cavaliers on Sunday (following foul trouble against these Nuggets on Friday) with a 36 point, 14 rebound performance. If he can avoid the hacking, double-double potential is in his wheelhouse.
The big story on all three of these guys are the minutes. In each of the last five Lakers’ games, Randle, Kuzma, and Lopez have averaged 33, 38 and 30 minutes respectively. That’s a significant increase over their season averages and the prices on all three haven’t caught up. Lopez, in particular, makes for one of the best mid-range options on the slate if 30 minutes plus is the new normal. He’s averaging 26 points and four rebounds over his last three games.
Kuzma’s minutes' floor rivals Bjelica with the former seeing more shot attempts. He was a DraftKings chalk play on Sunday and could be again in this matchup.