We end the week with a nine-game DFS slate around the NBA and once again, the injuries aren’t slowing down. As the season winds up, crazy things can happen in NBA DFS so make sure that you are always on your toes and ready to adjust.
The Pacers are once again going to be a key team on this slate. Both Malcolm Brogdon and Domantas Sabonis are questionable to play in this game, while Myles Turner has already been ruled out with an ankle injury. With both Sabonis and Turner sidelined Wednesday night, we saw Goga Bitadze enter the starting lineup. The young center was solid, scoring 14 points to go along with three rebounds and five assists in 25 minutes. The three rebounds were definitely disappointing, while Bitadze only saw nine rebounding opportunities in the game. Caris LeVert led the Pacers with 12 rebounding chances in the game but perhaps it was just a blip on the radar, as Bitadze is sporting a strong 27% rebounding rate with Sabonis and Turner off the floor this season, while averaging 1.20 fantasy points per minute in the split. If Sabonis can’t return to the lineup, feel free to go back to Bitadze at $3,800 on DraftKings. Brogdon and Sabonis together have missed the last three games and in that span, T.J. McConnell has led the team in touches per game (73.3). During that same stretch, McConnell is averaging 15.3 potential assists per game, tied for the sixth-most in the league. If Brogdon and/or Sabonis remain out of the lineup, McConnell would make for a very strong play once again, as his assist rate climbs to 38% with both players off the floor this season. Finally, Caris LeVert would continue to take 17-20 shot attempts if the Pacers remain shorthanded for this game.
For the Magic, Cole Anthony could be worth a look in a GPP. He made his return to the lineup Wednesday, scoring 25.2 fantasy points in 26 minutes. That was more playing time than I thought in his first game back but the thing that has held true with Anthony all year long is how long he holds onto the ball. Anthony is averaging 5.92 seconds per touch on the year, good for the fifth-highest mark in basketball. And in his last game, he averaged a whopping seven seconds per touch, while attempting 14 shots. Terrence Ross has also seen his price tag come down and he should continue to play 30-33 minutes, attempt a ton of shots and sport a relatively high usage rate for this weak Magic team. We also saw Khem Birch sign with the Raptors after a buyout, which could open up some more minutes for Mo Bamba, who logged 25 minutes last game, scoring 37 fantasy points. Wendell Carter is definitely the safer option but Bamba has the ceiling if he can play 25 minutes or so.
Timberwolves @ Celtics preview
BOS -8, total: 228
Karl-Anthony Towns remains red hot, scoring at least 53 fantasy points in each of his last eight games. And over his last six contests, Towns is averaging 28.8 points, 14.0 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 37.5 minutes per game. No one on this Celtics defense makes me worried about Towns who should once again be in your player pool this evening. Meanwhile, D'Angelo Russell has played 24 minutes in each of his first two games back from injury. During that span, he is sporting a massive 33.3% usage rate, while attempting 19 and 15 shots. His presence still keeps me off of Anthony Edwards at $7,700 on DK, especially since Russell’s minutes are going to trend upward sooner or later.
Jaylen Brown is coming off a huge game, scoring 32 points to go along with 10 rebounds and three assists. Even though Kemba Walker will be back in the lineup for this game, I still see this as a great spot for Brown, who is averaging 6.1 transition points per game on the season, good for the second-most in the NBA. He is also shooting nearly 59% from the field in transition. The Timberwolves, meanwhile, are surrendering the second-most points per game off transition on the year (23.1), as well as the second-highest field goal percentage (57.6%) off the play type. I also like Jayson Tatum against this bad Minnesota defense that ranks 25th against primary ball handlers, 25th against crafty finishers and 26th against scorers on the year, per our advanced DvP tool. In any competitive game, Tatum is locked into massive minutes and $9,000 is more than fair as a price tag. Kemba Walker will be back after resting on Wednesday, but I think I prefer going to Marcus Smart at $6,200 than Walker at $6,900, especially with Evan Fournier still sidelined.
Grizzlies @ Knicks preview
MEM -1, total: 216
Ja Morant left Tuesday’s game late with a back issue but was active Wednesday and played well, scoring 19 points to go along with seven boards and seven assists. Morant has been a bit up-and-down in fantasy, while the ceiling has been lacking for much of the season. However, we know a ceiling is there, especially in the right matchup. And at just $7,100 on DK, this is a spot to target Morant, despite the slow pace and strong defense that New York plays with. Meanwhile, Jonas Valanciunas is also just $7,100 on DK, a price that is too cheap given the fact that he averages 1.32 fantasy points per minute for the season. Finally, with DeAnthony Melton and Justise Winslow out again, you can gamble on Grayson Allen (coming off a huge game) or Dillon Brooks.
Julius Randle continues to post great game after great game and over his last six outings, is averaging 22 points, 10.0 rebounds, 6.8 assists and just over 47 fantasy points per game. This is a very fine spot for him, facing a Memphis team that is coughing up a league-leading 1.13 points per possession off post-ups this season, as well as the highest field goal percentage off the play type (58.5%). Randle, meanwhile, is averaging 4.2 post-up points per game on the year, good for the eighth-most in all of basketball. And while his ceiling has been capped pretty much all year long, $6,600 is a nice price tag on RJ Barrett, who is going to play 35 minutes most nights.
Bulls @ Hawks preview
ATL -2, total: 227
We’ll have to keep an eye on the Hawks over the course of the day, as both Clint Capela and Danilo Gallinari are questionable to play. Capela rested on the second end of a back-to-back on Wednesday but is still dealing with an Achilles issue. In that game, Onyeka Okongwu got the start and scored nearly 34 fantasy points in 32 minutes. With John Collins out, Okongwu would have to play huge minutes if Capela were to sit again. And with Capela and his league-leading 23.2 rebounding chances per game potentially out of the equation, Okongwu would benefit, as he saw 22 rebounding chances the other night. And with both Collins and Capela off the floor this season, Okongwu is sporting a 28% rebounding rate, while averaging a respectable 0.92 fantasy points per minute. Meanwhile, if Gallinari sits again, Solomon Hill would likely remain in the starting lineup and could offer some value. Of course, Trae Young is the clear top play here, and one of the best plays of the slate, honestly. He faces a Bulls team that ranks 25th against dimers, 27th against primary ball handlers, 29th against scorers and 27th against crafty finishers, according to our advanced DVP tool. Chicago is also coughing up the most points per game to opposing ball handlers out of the pick and roll (24.0), while Young is averaging 13.7 points per game off the play type, the third-most in basketball.
For the Bulls, Zach LaVine is still very intriguing at just $7,800 on DK, while Nikola Vucevic finds himself in a good spot. The Hawks’ frontcourt might be shorthanded for this game, but they are already surrendering the fourth-most points per possession to opposing roll men out of the pick and roll (1.22), while also allowing the fifth-highest field goal percentage off the play type (56.4%). Vucevic, meanwhile, is averaging a league-leading 6.1 points per game as the roll man, a number that is still at 5.3 per game since joining the Bulls, which would rank fifth-most in the league. I also have zero issue with Tomas Satoransky at $5,100, who continues to start at point guard and log 30-34 minutes.
76ers @ Pelicans preview
PHI -6, total: 228.5
The Pelicans remain banged up. Brandon Ingram has missed the last five games with a toe injury and is listed as questionable for this game. Meanwhile, Lonzo Ball has played well of late but is back on the injury report with the same hip issue that kept him out of the lineup for seven games not too long ago. This isn’t the best matchup in the world, but Zion Williamson has been so damn good this season, while the offense will continue to run through him, especially if Ingram and/or Ball sit. With Ingram off the floor this season, Williamson is sporting a 32.8% usage rate to go along with a 22% rebounding rate and 1.42 fantasy points per minute. If Ball is inactive, Eric Bledsoe would have to log huge minutes and handle the ball a good bit, especially with Nickeil Alexander-Walker out and Kira Lewis questionable. Bledsoe can be very tough to trust but the 76ers are allowing the second-most points per game to opposing shooting guards on the season (24.5). I would also have some moderate interest in Ingram at $8,300 if he’s active.
Joel Embiid has returned to the 76ers lineup and immediately became the focal point of the offense again. In his two games since returning from injury, Embiid is sporting an absurd 41.3% usage rate, while averaging a whopping 19 post-ups per game during that span. He has also attempted an insane 37 free throw attempts in those two games and at $10,100 on DraftKings, Embiid is someone that needs to be on your radar. Ben Simmons, meanwhile, continues to underwhelm, failing to reach 40 fantasy points in any of his last nine games. At $8,400 against a Pelicans defense that isn’t strong, this could be a good spot for him, but I think I’d rather play Tobias Harris at $8,000 on DK.
Hornets @ Bucks preview
MIL -8.5, total: 223.5
Giannis Antetokounmpo didn’t play again Thursday, and we’ll see if he suits up Friday. Both Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday were very disappointing in Giannis’ absence Thursday, but we know the volume they see when he is off the floor, so I’d absolutely go back to them if he is ruled out again. Meanwhile, Bobby Portis continues to play great basketball, scoring 44.5 fantasy points over his last two games, both of which have been starts. During that span, he is averaging a healthy 21.5 rebounding chances per game. I’d also be willing to give Brook Lopez a shot if Giannis remains out, especially against a Charlotte team that is allowing the second-most rebounds per game to opposing centers this season.
These teams just met Wednesday night, so a lot of the analysis will be the same. For the Spurs, Dejounte Murray did return to action after a one-game absence and provided a very strong floor like he always does. DeMar DeRozan was definitely a disappointment, scoring just 27 fantasy points. I’d be willing to go back to him for the same reasons I liked him the other night. Denver is still allowing the highest field goal percentage in basketball at the rim (68.1%), while DeRozan is averaging 18.5 drives per game on the year, good for the fifth-most in the NBA. That could bode well for Murray, too, who is averaging nearly six points per game off drives over the course of the season.
Jamal Murray has missed the last two games with a sore knee and is questionable again for Friday’s contest. Denver started Monte Morris at point guard Tuesday but moved Facundo Campazzo into the starting lineup Wednesday. He played 28 minutes, while Morris was at just 19 minutes, so we’ll need to keep an eye on the starting lineup if Murray is once again ruled out. Of course, the obvious decision is to just play Nikola Jokic, who is sporting a 35% usage rate, 28% rebounding rate and 29% assist rate with Murray off the floor this season, while averaging 1.68 fantasy points per minute in the split. And for whatever reason, DraftKings just doesn’t want to price Jokic up so even if Murray suits up, you can comfortably roll Jokic into your lineups.
Wizards @ Warriors preview
GSW -4.5, total: 239
Bradley Beal returned to the Washington lineup Wednesday, and while he’s on the injury report ahead of this game, he’s listed as probable. Beal played 30 minutes in his first game back, scoring 26 real points and sporting a usage rate of 31%. Now healthy, $9,300 is an intriguing price tag for Beal, especially in a game that features the top two teams in the NBA in terms of pace. Meanwhile, Beal’s return didn’t slow down Russell Westbrook, who recorded another triple-double, giving him seven triple-doubles over his last 10 contests. Both Beal and Westbrook are inside the top-12 in the league in transition points per game, which should bode well for them in a game that should feature plenty of pace and a lot of possessions.
For the Warriors, you have to love Stephen Curry in a matchup this good. The Wizards are coughing up the second-most points per game to opposing point guards on the season (26.2). Washington is also allowing the fourth-most transition points per game on the year (20.8), while Curry is averaging nearly five points per game off the play type this season. He should be able to do whatever he wants in this spot, which should bode well for Draymond Green and his peripherals. He is sporting a 21% rebounding rate and team-high 28% assist rate on the season and any game that will present more possessions and rebounding chances is great for a player like Green. Finally, James Wiseman can be worth a look as a cheap GPP center option in this spot.
Rockets @ Clippers preview
LAC -11.5, total: 222
Paul George’s price tag continues to stay still, as he’s now scored over 50 fantasy points in each of his last two games, yet remains just $8,200 on DK. Against a putrid Rockets team, George stands out as a really strong play here, while you can certainly go back to Kawhi Leonard at $9,400, though I prefer the $1,200 discount with George.
With John Wall ruled out for the Rockets, players like D.J. Augustin, Avery Bradley and Kevin Porter will all see a bump. Augustin will likely play 23-27 minutes and could be worth a look at just $3,500, while Porter will see the usage, as he’s sporting a 26% usage rate with Wall off the floor over the last two weeks. During that same stretch, Augustin is sporting a 25% usage rate and 22% assist rate, while averaging 1.08 fantasy points per minute in the split.
Adam Pfeifer has been covering fantasy football, baseball and basketball since 2012. He has been featured in the Football Diehards fantasy magazine for four years now, while also making multiple appearances on Sirius XM Fantasy. You can follow him on Twitter @APfeifer24.