Sunday presents us with eight games on the NBA DFS main slate on both FanDuel and DraftKings, and much like the last week and a half, the injuries continue to ravage teams. With so many ambiguities, there stands to be a chunk of value that should benefit.
As always, the game-by-game breakdown will provide a brief overview of each and every game on the slate, highlighting players that stand out. This doesn’t, however, mean that every player will be touched on. If a player is excluded from the breakdown, that simply means that they didn’t stand out as one that necessarily needs to be in your player pool. Again, this is the first look. Things will change given news throughout the day, but I will do my best to prime you for all of the hypotheticals that we can forecast.
This matchup presents us with one depleted backcourt taking on one depleted frontcourt. On the Pelicans side of the ball, Lonzo Ball, Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Josh Hart all remain out, paving the way for Kira Lewis, Isaiah Thomas and Eric Bledsoe to step into additional minutes. While Bledsoe has the most security from a minute's perspective, his $6,100 price tag is a bit nauseating considering his floor. I would rather take a shot on one of the two values, with Lewis being my preferred option assuming he sees 23-25 minutes. Naji Marshall is another interesting piece as he’s been drawing spot-starts recently and remains cheap at $3,700. You never have to twist my arm to like a fellow Xavier alum, but I would reserve Marshall for GPPs, as he hasn’t hit a shot from the field over his last two games.
This also provides additional touches and shots for the star forwards in Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson. Both are viable, but Williamson is the preferred option given his 40.5% assist rate with the three guards off the court this season.
The Cavs are in a similar situation only with their frontcourt, as both Larry Nance and Jarrett Allen are likely out Sunday, and we could potentially see Kevin Love rest on the second leg of a back-to-back. This leaves Isaiah Hartenstein, Dean Wade and Taurean Prince as three players who should be staring at massive minutes. All three are viable in this matchup, but I prefer to get exposure through Prince or Hartenstein, assuming Wade draws the start opposite of Steven Adams (a matchup I prefer to avoid).
With Ball out, Collin Sexton and Darius Garland should have some extra breathing room on the offensive end. While Bledsoe is no slouch defensively, one of these two will have a favorable matchup just about all game. Sexton has topped 20 raw points in seven consecutive games while Garland recently flashed a ceiling of over 50 DK points, making them both viable in GPPs.
Bucks at Magic preview
MIL -8.5, total: 224
The Bucks have been dealing with a plethora of injuries and maintenance-related absences throughout their starting five for the better half of the last week, and Sunday is no different. Giannis Antetokoumpo is listed as doubtful, while the other four starters (Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton, Donte DiVincenzo and Brook Lopez) are all listed as probable. If we are taking this initial injury report literally and expect these four to suit up, it’s a pretty straightforward breakdown. All four get a massive boost sans Antetokounmpo, with Holiday and Middleton being elite options across both FanDuel and DraftKings.
If for some reason the injury report goes south and these players miss, we can look to the reserves. Jordan Nwora, Thanasis Antetokounmpo, Bobby Portis and Jeff Teague would be the priorities, with Portis still being an elite option with just Giannis doubtful. This is a situation to monitor, as this is not a game the Bucks absolutely need all of their starters active in order to come away with a win.
Without Giannis, the Bucks’ get marginally worse on both sides of the ball (shocker), outlined below using FTN’s On/Off Splits Tool:
Because of this, we can look to a couple of Magic players for value, especially if Mo Bamba and Chuma Okeke miss the game (currently listed as questionable). If they do, Wendell Carter would be a great bet for 30-plus minutes, making him an elite GPP option given his 1.15 DraftKings points per minute since being traded to Orlando.
Cole Anthony is the other option that I have my eyes on here, as he’s seen 26 minutes in both of his two games since returning from injury. While he’s coming off of the bench, it won’t take much to unseat Michael Carter-Williams in the starting lineup or at the very least, take over the lion’s share of the minutes at point guard. He’s averaged six assists and five rebounds per game since his return and assuming his shot rounds back into form, he makes for a great buy-low in tournaments if you think his minutes begin to ramp up. Terrence Ross is another GPP-viable option, as his high-volume play style gives him the highest ceiling on the team, even off the bench.
Spurs at Mavericks preview
DAL -6, total: 220.5
This is a rather clean game from an injury perspective outside of Mavs’ power forward Maxi Kleber carrying a questionable tag. His absence would open up some additional minutes in the frontcourt for Dorian Finney-Smith and potentially Nicolo Melli, with the former of the two being a great cash-game option given how many minutes he already plays.
In terms of the superstars in Dallas, you can’t really argue with Luka Doncic or Kristaps Porzingis here. While Doncic hasn’t flashed his ceiling over the last week or so, we know what he’s capable of and he’s still posted a 35.7% usage rate and 37.9% assist rate over that span. By default, he’s the top overall spend up on the slate given Giannis being doubtful. This isn’t a spot where I think you need one of these two however, as balance is a build that I am leaning toward on this slate. That said, Porzingis fits a balanced build quite well. Over his last two games, he’s also averaged 24.5 points, 14.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 34.5 minutes per game.
The Dallas defense has been an improved unit as the season has progressed, making this a spot where I don’t feel a dying urge to force Spurs into my lineup. Because of this, I’m OK limiting my Spurs’ exposure to one of the three key cogs: Dejounte Murray, DeMar DeRozan or Jakob Poeltl. Murray should have a higher chance to accumulate defensive peripherals in a matchup with Doncic, while Poeltl and DeRozan (fifth in the NBA in drives per game, 18.3) could still have some success around the rim against a Dallas defense giving up a 63.9% field goal percentage in the restricted area.
Raptors at Knicks preview
NYK -1.5, total: 213.5
While Fred VanVleet is still likely to miss another game, the Raptors should be welcoming back both Pascal Siakam (rest) and Kyle Lowry Sunday, making this an intriguing time to buy into an underdog from a betting perspective. With VanVleet out, both get a nice bump in usage rate, but I would not go out of my way to force them into a lineup considering the difficulty of the matchup. Between the two, Lowry is a more appealing option for $1,500 cheaper.
Gary Trent is coming off a career game, while Chris Boucher is playing the best basketball of his life, and while it’s been great to watch, both of them are difficult to trust in anything more than tournaments with the two stars returning and it being a difficult matchup. There are simply better options elsewhere. The same can be said for OG Anunoby, whose price is now too restrictive with Siakam back.
The Knicks step into a sneaky strong spot, but I’m still not ultra-high on this team Sunday (considering I bet the Raptors ML). That said, I won’t argue if you want to play Julius Randle for under $10,000. He’s posted two triple-doubles over his last three games and hasn’t dropped below 44 DraftKings points in any of his last five games. Getting a floor this stable in what’s projected to be a close game is a great asset in cash games.
Pacers at Grizzlies preview
MEM -2.5, total: 228.5
The Pacers are starting to get back to full health, with Myles Turner being the only starter ruled out for Sunday’s game. This should shift Domantas Sabonis to the five and open up a starting spot for Edmond Sumner. While the former is an elite play in all formats, especially with the heightened upside on the glass, the latter is an easier fade. Sabonis is simply too cheap for the upside he comes with and after pulling down 15 boards on 26 rebounding chances in the last game Turner sat, he should see a similar upside Sunday.
Malcolm Brogdon and Caris LeVert are both viable in tournaments, but if I’m spending up for a Pacers’ player, I want Sabonis. Him shifting to the center spot could also add a few extra minutes for Doug McDermott, who showcased his ability to get hot last game with 19 points in 21 minutes. At $4,500, you can do a lot worse.
This is a very middling matchup for the Grizzlies, but the $7,000 price tag on Ja Morant is extremely appealing. While I will likely not go there in a single entry, he certainly warrants consideration in multi-entry formats, as his ceiling is well over 50 DK points and he’s not priced with that in consideration. Jonas Valanciunas is also cheap ($7,400) and his matchup gets much better with Sabonis playing center as opposed to Turner. While Sabonis has the ability to draw him out to the perimeter, Valanciunas should have a field day on the offensive end, making him my favorite option on the Grizzlies.
Outside of the two main players here, Dillon Brooks is the other that I want exposure to in GPPs. He’s a player to get while they’re hot and having topped 35 DraftKings points in two of his last three games, there doesn’t seem to be a better time than now. The absence of De'Anthony Melton should continue to open up a few additional minutes as well, making him a great tournament value at $5,300.
Bulls at Timberwolves preview
CHI -5, total: 231
Likely the juiciest game on the slate from a DFS perspective, this is a game that will garner little attention from a casual fan.
Zach LaVine went scorched-Earth Friday, logging 50 points and scoring 25 straight points in the second quarter against the Hawks. That’s now his third consecutive game over 40 DraftKings points and his second consecutive game over 55 DraftKings points. I know recent form isn’t an be-all, end-all, but this is damn good and the matchup doesn’t get much better. He’s well worth his $8,600 price tag on DraftKings and $8,300 tag on FanDuel.
If not playing LaVine, I do have a ton of interest in Nikola Vucevic given the matchup with Karl-Anthony Towns. While these two haven’t met since 2019, Towns is one of the worst defensive centers in basketball, making this an extremely exploitable matchup for Vucevic at a very reasonable price tag. Outside of the two All Stars, I have some interest in Coby White ($4,600) and Lauri Markkanen ($4,300) in tournaments, simply as price plays relative to their ceilings. While both are extremely volatile and even more-so with the addition of Vucevic, this is a matchup where we could easily see ceiling games. Those ceilings needed are also much lower at their current salaries than they were in November when these players were both $2,000 more expensive.
While the matchup for the Timberwolves is a bit different since the Bulls’ acquisition of Vucevic, it’s still an exploitable one. Karl-Anthony Towns is a matchup-proof player and has now topped 50 DraftKings points in nine consecutive games. While Doncic may be the top spend-up on the slate in terms of raw ceiling, my personal lean is Towns if choosing between the two.
If not going Towns, I want exposure to one of Anthony Edwards or D'Angelo Russell. Edwards is $1,100 cheaper but has maintained a solid 25.6% usage rate over the last six days since Russell’s return. Russell has been operating as a sixth man, but he’s still seen at least 24 minutes in all three games back with his minutes most-recently ramped up to 29 last game. He’s topped 40 DK points in two of his three games since returning and has sported a 33.3% usage rate and 1.47 DKP/min clip over that span. Of the two, he’s my preferred option at an extreme discount considering what we’re accustomed to.
With Malik Beasley out, we should once again see Josh Okogie draw another start. He played 37 minutes last game and while his 16 points is a bit of an outlier given his role (or lack thereof) on offense, getting 37 minutes from a player at $3,500 makes them more than viable in a favorable matchup. He’s one of the better value options on the slate in tournaments given his ability to rack up stocks and apparently, contribute on offense occasionally.
Pistons at Clippers preview
LAC -10.5, total: 219.5
With Kawhi Leonard already ruled out for rest Sunday, it’s going to be hard to not lock in Paul George at $8,400. He simply fits the mold of the balanced build that I am shooting for and carries a 34.2% usage rate, 21.9% assist rate, and 1.31 DKP/min clip without Leonard on the court this season. This should also lead to more minutes for Luke Kennard, Marcus Morris and Nicolas Batum, especially with Patrick Beverley and Serge Ibaka out as well. All three are viable value options, with Morris carrying the highest ceiling and Batum being my preferred option in cash games.
This is also a spot where we could see another healthy dose of Terance Mann, even with George back in the lineup, considering the lack of point guard depth and the blowout potential in this game. For $4,900, he’s a viable value option if Rajon Rondo is ruled out. This would also make Reggie Jackson a viable option at $5,100, but I would want Rondo out to feel fully comfortable with the play.
The Pistons are a team that I am likely full-fading on this slate now that their backcourt is fully healthy (and crowded) and Mason Plumlee is back from his one-game absence. The one caveat, however, is if Jerami Grant is unable to play. In this case, we would likely see more of Sekou Doumbouya and for $3,100, he would be an elite value on a slate starving for exactly that. You can also look to Isaiah Stewart at $4,800 in tournaments if you expect this game to blow out, as he would likely be one of the primary beneficiaries in this scenario.
Heat at Trail Blazers preview
POR -1.5, total: 221.5
The Blazers are coming into this game on the second leg of a back-to-back after Enes Kanter posted a 24-point, 30-rebound double-double Saturday against the Pistons in 37 minutes. With Jusuf Nurkic still sidelined, he certainly has appeal at $6,100 in tournaments, but I would be a bit wary of his playing time considering his 37 minutes last night. Even so, he’s one of the strongest mid-tier options on the slate.
This is not a game where I have a ton of interest in Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, simply because I think there are a ton of other guards I would rather play in much more favorable matchups. Both still have tournament upside and appeal, however, and should come in relatively low owned.
On the Heat side of this game, Victor Oladipo has been ruled out and Tyler Herro is listed as questionable, which could open the door for Goran Dragic and Kendrick Nunn to benefit. Both players are under $5,000 and given the lack of value on the slate, they stand out as exceptional options. This also bodes well for Jimmy Butler, who has often-times taken over the facilitator duties on this team, as has Bam Adebayo. Both are viable in a very exploitable matchup, but neither are must-plays.
Joe Metz is a 25-year-old sports junkie from Milwaukee, WI. He's been part of the DFS writing community and a member FSWA for the past 5 years, writing at sites including Fansided, RotoCurve, and Fantasy Data before joining the FTN team. While operating as a fantasy degenerate by night (well, and day), he also works as an Account Service Executive for the Milwaukee Bucks by day, with 2019-20 being his third season with the team.