We have more playoff football Sunday, but we also have a five-game DFS main slate in the NBA. There should be plenty of value on this slate, allowing you to play whoever you want.
Be sure to follow all of the news throughout the day, especially from Washington.
(Make sure to check out all of the great FTN NBA offerings and fantastic NBA Tools, including our FTN NBA Odds Tracker and daily FTN NBA DFS cheat sheets!)
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Boston Celtics
BOS -6.5, total: 215.5
At the start of the season, both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown were absolutely dominating the usage for the Celtics. However, Tatum remains out of the lineup due to health protocols. Over the last three weeks since Kemba Walker made his debut, it’s been Walker and Brown dominating the usage in the same way. In the three games since Walker returned to action, Brown is sporting a 35.5% usage rate, while Kemba is right behind him at 34.4%. During that three-game stretch, those numbers rank third and fifth in the league, respectively. Walker’s minutes limit was increased to 25-28 minutes in his last game and he ultimately logged 29 minutes, scoring just over 36 fantasy points. However, his price has come down to $6,300 on DraftKings and although the Cavaliers have been a top-five defensive team this season, that is a really intriguing price tag for Walker, especially given the usage he is seeing right now. Meanwhile, I have zero issue going to Brown, who has attempted 20, 24 and 28 shots over his last three games. And with Tatum off the floor this season, Brown is sporting a massive 34.1% usage rate, while averaging 1.34 fantasy points per minute. And while Cleveland has been much improved on the defensive end, for the second straight season, they have struggled in transition, coughing up the most transition points per game (24.0), while allowing a league-leading 18.6% frequency rate off the play type. That bodes well for Brown, who is averaging 8.0 transition points per game this season, good for the second-most in the league. Finally, I don’t hate Marcus Smart now that his price has come down a bit.
Andre Drummond is coming off a great game against Brooklyn but still only played 27 minutes, putting him under the 30-minute mark in each of the first two games since Jarrett Allen made his debut. This is a very solid matchup for Drummond, as the Celtics are allowing 6.6 post-up points per game this season, the sixth-most in basketball, while Drummond is averaging 6.1 post-up points per game, tied for the second-most in the league. However, I still struggle to pay up for him with Allen getting around 20 minutes, while the Cavs. have no problem closing with him if he’s playing well and Drummond isn’t. Meanwhile, if we get news that Darius Garland won’t be limited and will start, he becomes interesting at $5,500 on DraftKings. If he remains limited, I have no problem with Collin Sexton, who has a 35.2% usage rate over his last three games.
Charlotte Hornets @ Orlando Magic
ORL -1.5, total: 215.5
I really like the Magic here, facing a Hornets defense that has been giving it up in multiple ways this season. I’ve touched on Aaron Gordon’s uptick in ball-handling since Markelle Fultz’s injury and it continued last game, as he nearly triple-doubled, scoring 17 points to go with nine rebounds and nine assists. In the eight games since Fultz went down, Gordon is averaging 79.7 touches per game, right behind Nikola Vucevic, who is averaging 80.8 touches per game during that span. That number is up by around 15 per game from his season average, while Gordon is also averaging 17.7 assist points created per game during that same span, good for the 15th-best number in basketball. With Fultz and Michael Carter-Williams off the floor this season, Gordon is sporting a team-high 19% assist rate, 22% rebounding rate and 23.8% usage rate, while averaging 1.16 fantasy points per minute. This new role from Gordon has made him an incredible player in fantasy and someone I still have interest in.
Meanwhile, I rarely ever have an issue going to Vucevic, who just has such a high floor seemingly every game. Charlotte has actually allowed the fewest points per game to opposing roll men out of the pick and roll but we do know that they still don’t have anyone to slow Vucevic down. I also don’t mind going back to Evan Fournier here, who is coming off a great game. He scored 26 points while adding nine assists, with the latter being a bit of an outlier so I’d definitely expect that number to drop significantly. However, the Hornets play zone defense more than any team in the NBA, doing so over 20% of the time, which has resulted in a lot of points off three-pointers against them. In fact, 38.5% of the points scored against Charlotte this season have come from beyond the arc, the third-highest clip in the league. In two games since returning from injury, Fournier has attempted 17 triples.
For Charlotte, it is still tough to consider playing LaMelo Ball over Devonte' Graham and Terry Rozier right now. He’s still more expensive than the two and his minutes just haven’t been where we’d like them to be. Graham is playing huge minutes right now, logging at least 35 minutes in seven of his last eight games. I think both Graham and Rozier are perfectly fine plays at their price, while Gordon Hayward was on my radar against Chicago but that was more due to the matchup and uptick in pace. Orlando is still playing slow this year and are around league average in terms of defense, which doesn’t really result in a ton of excitement from this Charlotte team.
Atlanta Hawks @ Milwaukee Bucks
MIL -7, total: 231.5
Trae Young is dealing with a back injury and is listed as questionable to play in this game. If Young is ruled out, obviously a ton opens up for the Hawks, as the star point guard is averaging 86.7 touches per game (ninth), 8.0 minutes of possession (third) and 5.56 seconds per touch (fifth). The Hawks also remain without Bogdan Bogdanovic, which is notable considering he can handle the ball a lot. Last year when Young was out of the lineup or off the floor, Kevin Huerter ran plenty of backup point guard, but they might not need him to do so as much here with the addition of Rajon Rondo, who could start if Young sits. Still, with Young off the floor this season, we see some huge usage spikes. For instance, John Collins’ usage rate jumps up by a whopping 8.1% with Young off the floor, while De'Andre Hunter (also questionable) sees his usage rate jump up by 8.1%. I do, however, think Clint Capela would be off my radar if Young is out. Capela and Young run the pick and roll so often and so effectively and I question whether that same rapport will be there with Rondo or Brandon Goodwin running the show. And while he’s been playing out of his mind lately, Capela is also coming off a 10-block game, which is definitely not repeatable. Of course, he’s been rebounding the ball at an insane rate, as no player in basketball is averaging more rebounding chances per game than Capela (23.6). If Trae sits, feel free to mix in Rondo and Goodwin, who are both insanely cheap, into some of your lineups. With Young off the floor this season, Rondo is sporting a healthy 32% assist rate.
For Milwaukee, hopefully Young plays, as it gives this game a better chance of staying close, which gives Giannis Antetokounmpo a better chance of playing huge minutes. Due to a couple of floor games being sprinkled into his game log as of late, Giannis is still just $10,400 on DraftKings, which is a very tough price tag to ignore, especially for someone who is averaging 1.58 fantasy points per minute to go along with a 34.4% usage rate. I honestly think the price tags on Milwaukee’s top three options of Giannis, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday are all very strong, especially in a game that should be played at a fairly high pace. The Bucks don’t run a ton of pick and roll but when they do operate out of the set, Middleton is usually the player running the show, as he leads the team with 5.5 points per game as the pick and roll ball-handler. The Hawks, meanwhile, are surrendering 21.5 points per game to opposing pick and roll ball handlers, the fourth-most in the league.
Washington Wizards @ San Antonio Spurs
SAS -6, total: 231.5
The Wizards will be playing their first game since Jan. 11, though they will be pretty shorthanded. A handful of players remain out due to health protocols, Thomas Bryant is out for the year, while Russell Westbrook and Raul Neto are questionable. If both guards miss this game, the Wizards will have nine players available for this game, which is a situation we can take advantage of in DFS. Of course, you have to start with Bradley Beal, who has a whopping 37.5% usage rate and is averaging 1.64 fantasy points per minute with Westbrook off the floor this season. And with Ish Smith already out, Beal would have to handle the ball at a ridiculous rate if Westbrook and Neto also remain out of the lineup. When we have situations like this, you can almost consider anyone from Washington, as they will present you with plenty of salary relief. Just keep an eye on the news.
For the Spurs, Dejounte Murray is highly questionable after twisting his ankle over the weekend. With Derrick White already out, the Spurs backcourt would become a lot easier to trust for fantasy if Murray sits. Patty Mills played 37 minutes in the Spurs last game, though his price has jumped up to $5,000 on DraftKings. If Murray is out, Mills remains viable, but Devin Vassell would also make some sense, as his minutes were already on the rise as of late. Meanwhile, DeMar DeRozan, despite coming off a strong game, continues to see his price drop, as he’s now $7,600 on DraftKings. With Murray off the floor this season, DeRozan’s usage rate climbs by 3.8%, pushing him to a 28.4% mark. He is also averaging a team-high 1.31 fantasy points per minute when Murray is off the court. LaMarcus Aldridge would also become more interesting, as his usage rate, rebounding rate and fantasy points per minute all climb quite a bit with Murray off the court.
New York Knicks @ Portland Trail Blazers
POR -4, total: 214
Surprisingly, New York has been the top defensive team in basketball on the young season, which will limit my interest in the Portland side. Of course, you have to consider Damian Lillard, who will continue to run the show with both CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic sidelined. With both players off the floor this season, Lillard is sporting a near 32% usage rate, while averaging 1.35 fantasy points per minute. Lillard also ranks third in basketball in average seconds per touch (5.76) and second in time of possession per game (8.1 minutes). I also like Enes Kanter at just $6,200 on DraftKings. His rebounding rate with both Nurkic and McCollum off the floor is at 45%, while there also could be some shot-blocking potential for him here, facing a New York team that is coughing up 3.51 blocks per game to opposing centers this season, good for the second-most in the league. Outside of Lillard and Kanter, you could take a shot on Robert Covington and hope he can hit his shots and walk into rebounds, while Rodney Hood is a value option that could play 25-27 minutes in this game.
Julius Randle is once again the top option from New York, as you simply know what you are going to get. He has a 27.4% usage rate, 31% rebounding rate and 17% assist rate, while averaging a strong 1.28 fantasy points per minute. Once again, I like RJ Barrett under $7,000 because you know you are getting 38 minutes from both he and Randle in any close game and I expect this game to be close. If I had to choose one other player from this team, it might actually be Alec Burks, who is healthy and has played 31 and 27 minutes over his first two games back. He’s always been a high-usage player and so far this season, his usage rate is at 23%, while averaging 1.05 fantasy points per minute.