There are nights in DFS you remember. I’ll likely always remember my first top three finish and how Bradley Beal rose above to drive me to glory on a night where no one else believed in him. I’ll also remember the times I trusted a player or team with all of my heart only to get it stomped upon, as we’ve seen since I started this column with Tyreke Evans in particular. And last night for me, Dario Saric was added to that list. I was all in on Dario, Joel Embiid out, a game versus defensively atrocious Atlanta, Dario playing lights out lately. About 40% of the people in DraftKings’ Big Jam tournament agreed with me.
And then Dario played what might be one of his worst games of the season. I’m not sure if super European Dario fits the profile of a player who’d be hit by the “Atlanta Flu,” the phenomenon of visiting players having bad games in Atlanta due to the bustling nightlife and, in particular, gentlemen’s club scene. But man did he look the part, bombing every shot, brain farting passes away, and not playing with the energy and competence he usually does. Unfortunately, this is the nature of the beast in the NBA. Even when someone, particularly a younger player with some ups and downs like Dario still has, is in a perfect spot for them, it’s hard to not get enthusiastic and buy in completely and then be cripplingly disappointed when it doesn’t work out.
But you can’t hold it against Dario, or Tyreke Evans, or my archnemesis Jeff Teague. You can prepare yourself better by limiting your exposures to players if you’re entering multiple lineups, pivoting off of a player who seems extremely chalky (especially on a slate as big as last night where there were so many other great options), or looking deeper on the team for another Sixer who could have capitalized if Dario failed (like Ersan Ilyasova did in a revenge game versus Atlanta). You have to take it as a lesson that there was a failure in your process just as much as there may have been one in Dario’s. Plus I still like Dario because he says things like this so I’m willing to move forward if he is:
Dario Saric does NOT want to play LeBron James in the playoffs ? pic.twitter.com/scs5LUx8It
— NBA Buzz (@OfficialNBABuzz) March 29, 2018
Anyway I just woke up on the West Coast and dove into writing this up for you guys so no early slate action that you won’t have time to read before lock, just the three main games. I’m going to try to point to a few guys I normally wouldn’t as differentiation points since, on a slate this size, finding unique players can be extremely helpful. The Switch and Hedge pairs best with Awesemo’s rankings, ownership projections, and Slam Dunks so take a look at those before considering your lineups. And now onto the slate:
Toronto Raptors (105 implied points, -10.9 on their last 10 games) at Boston Celtics (100.5 implied points, -2.2 on their last 10 games)
The Raptors head into Boston in a game with some meaning with the Celtics now just three games back of Toronto for the division crown and #1 seed in the East. The bad news is that Toronto has really not had great individual performances versus Boston this year. Kyle Lowry has looked the best in their two games versus the Celtics this year and, even at his elevated price, he’s shown some enough upside to be playable on a slate this big. DeMar DeRozan has been as cold as cold can be lately and, when combined with the tough matchup, will be low owned for a player as good as he is. There’s some opportunity there but only at limited exposure because there is no reason to trust him given recent play and usage. You can play some of the Raptors bench but the depressed scoring total would indicate to focus on the main point scorers on the team. Honestly even on a slate this big, it feels like forcing it to play anyone besides Lowry here. Maybe Pascal Siakam as hopefully low-owned value but, even then, I’m not loving it.
On Boston’s side, Terry Rozier looks interesting to me. Toronto has slipped a bit with their point guard defense recently, allowing point guards ranging from Russell Westbrook to D’Angelo Russell to Cory Joseph to enjoy better fantasy point per minute production than their normal output. Rozier still gets a lot of usage and has shown what he can do when properly motivated and allowed to shoot the rock. Jaylen Brown is currently questionable and, if he plays, he’s taken a ton of shots lately, more than enough to consider on a slate this big. Ditto Jayson Tatum, but he would be a more comfortable play if Marcus Morris and/or Brown were ruled out. Al Horford and Morris are slated to return though and neither looks particularly appealing here. Greg Monroe would be a fine play if Horford were ruled out since he’s played well in extended minutes versus Toronto this year but more likely he’s only a mildly interesting mid-priced play to differentiate your lineup a bit.
Brooklyn Nets (101.5 implied points, -9.9 on their last 10 games) at Miami Heat (109.5 implied points, -1.9 on their last 10 games)
Tough total and matchup here for the Nets. D’Angelo Russell has been a good play lately and his price has risen to show for it, making him tough to consider in this matchup. He’s going to get shots and may have to drive more of the offense given the tough matchups for his teammates across the board but I really can’t trust him tonight. Caris LeVert seems like an interesting option since he’s got the build and style that tends to work best versus Miami, more size and slashing, and he’s notched over 30 DK points in two out of three matchups versus the Heat this year with similar minutes. DeMarre Carroll and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson seem like similar plays to me and both get enough usage to consider. They’ve both had decent performances versus Miami this year but I’d be more into Carroll given the experience and price differences. Jarrett Allen also looks somewhat interesting since his minutes have been up and his price, particularly on DraftKings, would make him interesting roster filler in a matchup where he may be needed to help with Hassan Whiteside.
Whiteside is in the famous Centers Versus the Nets spot but he played 19 minutes versus Chicago and is priced way too high for that to be all he gets. Josh Richardson’s price is on the rise but he’s been a great value lately and this matchup with the Nets isn’t anything to fear. James Johnson kept his minutes last game despite Whiteside’s return but his usage dropped off a cliff. It’s certainly possible that usage picks back up here but that may be the trickle down effect of Whiteside being back. Goran Dragic hasn’t seen as much usage as he did earlier in the year when his price made sense. He may be able to get to value since the Nets are at their worst versus point guards but there doesn’t seem like a lot of ceiling to be had. Justise Winslow might be a good piece of salary filler after two straight 25-minute games where he exceeded value. The Nets should play into what he does best while also allowing him, and Richardson, some turnover and block opportunities.
Golden State Warriors (109.25 implied points, +8.8 on their last 10 games) at Sacramento Kings (100.75 implied points, -0.3 on their last 10 games)
Kevin Durant was ejected in his last game versus Milwaukee, a prime return spot where he should have had a great performance. Judging by the team total, one would think that he might have that performance versus the Kings instead. Durant notched a beefy 40 percent usage rate last game and, even at the Kings’ bottom of the league pace, he’ll get whatever looks he wants over the top of their “defenders.” That said, with the scheduled return of Klay Thompson, it’s possible that he defers a bit more than he needs to. With his price where it is, getting much above 5x, or even to that 5x number, it could be a tough predicament. Draymond Green’s price is stupidly high on DraftKings and borderline stupidly high on FanDuel but he does have the upside to get there. He owns a 50 DK point performance versus Sacramento just a few weeks ago when he and Quinn Cook were the last men standing in a brutal loss. Quinn Cook’s price is too high on both sites if Klay is back and honestly might be too high even if he weren’t; Cook had to hit 80% of his shots, including 5-for-5 from three, to get to value last game and the margins are getting narrower as these guys get back. Klay is worth a look though as a guy with a good chance of getting to 5x and way more if he got hot in his return. He told media he’s been feeling good and shooting it well so maybe he knows something the projections across the industry don’t. Andre Iguodala is out, something which means a minor uptick in peripherals for all the players but nothing noteworthy for any one.
Sacramento has won two out of three matchups versus the Warriors this year, both injured and full strength squads, and they’ll definitely play with pride to win the NorCal season series. Buddy Hield is the first place to look here with two big performances versus Golden State this year and a lot of usage lately. He’s a good but likely very popular play. Willie Cauley-Stein has looked better lately since Zach Randolph started racking up DNP-CDs and he also had his first noteworthy performance in a while versus Indiana. I don’t hate him in the matchup. The only other player I’d look at seriously here is Bogdan Bogdanovic. He was the big winner of the Bogdanovic Bowl and, even though he hasn’t had a standout game versus Golden State this year, is going to have to have to play well to keep them in the hunt tonight.
There we have it folks, a tough tough slate in the books. Make sure to follow me @ChrisSpags and let me know how your lineups are doing, hit me with questions there or in the comments below. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you tomorrow for hopefully a more interesting smattering of games!
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