We had a cornucopia of games yesterday and now we’re back to a very modest three-game slate for today’s NBA DFS picks. We have one important injury news item with C.J. McCollum that we’ll hopefully know more about before lock. But otherwise it will be three games that seem well-priced from an NBA DFS perspective with some tough choices we’ll all have to make. Despite the short slate there’s a lot to discuss so let’s get into it with the Jan. 23 NBA DFS Switch and Hedge.
Be sure to read EMac’s Cash Building Blocks for more NBA DFS picks and analysis.
Also, watch today’s NBA Strategy Show with Josh Engleman and Adam Scherer.
The Questionable Status of C.J. McCollum
What a great book title that would be. But the Nancy Drew mystery of C.J. McCollum’s injury status will hopefully be known by lock. If he’s out, Damian Lillard is one of the top plays on the slate again. I really advocated for him on the last slate with a Blazers game and he excelled beyond any of your most aggressive projections with 92 fantasy points on 37 shot attempts (including 20 from deep), 61 real-life points, as well as 10 boards and seven assists.
Lillard averages 1.5 fantasy points per minute overall on the year with McCollum off the floor along with a 35% usage rate and 36% assist rate. The matchup versus Dallas is slightly better defensively than that one against Golden State but Lillard with his price up would be a much more interesting play if McCollum is out. He’s likely too overpriced if McCollum is back in and McCollum’s cheaper price would appeal to me more.
Hassan Whiteside seems playable regardless of McCollum’s status. He had 57.75 fantasy points in that last game against Golden State, aided by his getting up to 44 minutes due to overtime. He looks solid again, though his price is high enough that the field’s 38% projected ownership seems more than fair. I’d favor him over Carmelo Anthony even accounting for the savings with Anthony. Anthony has a preposterously low 0.73 fantasy points per minute with Lillard on the floor and McCollum off with a lower 19% usage rate. Anthony may actually be more appealing if McCollum is in, something that doesn’t make the most sense other than when you consider Lillard keeps more in pocket when he can’t rely on McCollum’s possessions. I’d avoid Anfernee Simons for the same reason, though his value friendly pricing makes him more playable if McCollum is out.
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Luka Dončić will see a slight boost in his rebound opportunities with Dwight Powell out today. He’s in a strong matchup with Portland’s slightly higher pace and poor 109.4 defensive rating. I would want a lot of a Dončić/Lillard stack if McCollum is out. The big question is if Boban Marjanović picks up the start. You’d think his size is the logical counter to Whiteside and he averages 1.4 fantasy points per minute with Dončić on the floor and Powell off. Marjanović hasn’t played many possessions alongside Kristaps Porzingi, though, so it’s possible he retains his bench role. He has yet to top 23 minutes as a Maverick but, at his low price, he may warrant a good bit of exposure with Powell’s absence likely to give him a chance whether it be as a starter or a bench guy.
Maxi Kleber seems worth some stabs at his price point but he’s expensive enough that I wouldn’t find him to be a must-have. He averages just 0.7 fantasy points per minute alongside Porzingis and Dončić. I find Tim Hardaway Jr. and Seth Curry to be slightly better values on paper but that would change a bit if Kleber is the starter for Powell.
Kyrie Irving vs. LeBron James
Kyrie Irving is at a very interesting price despite a matchup against the Lakers’ tough 102.7 defensive rating. He sat out the Nets’ last game as a precaution but is expected back in today and should return to his usual ball-dominant role. The Lakers have struggled with teams who play with decent pace this year and Irving is the pathway for them to keep this competitive. I also wouldn’t sleep on Spencer Dinwiddie at his price. He’s lost some opportunity with Irving’s return but they’ll need scoring from someone besides Irving here. He and Joe Harris look like the two best NBA DFS options value-wise besides Irving.
I’m never confident in Taurean Prince’s prospects but he’s priced at a very playable level and has been over 29.25 fantasy points in four of his last seven games. Prince is basically a dice roll with all of the Nets wings, but at his price, it wouldn’t be shocking to see him spike an upside. The same goes for Jarrett Allen whose size will definitely be needed against the Lakers’ bigs. Allen is a foul risk, which could make DeAndre Jordan an interesting pivot if he’s available. If Jordan misses again (UPDATE: Jordan and Nic Claxton were both ruled out as I published this), Allen’s minutes get more secure and he’s been over 29.5 fantasy points in five of his last six games.
LeBron James appeals to me more on the Lakers’ side than Anthony Davis despite his higher price point. Davis is currently questionable again but he played 30 minutes last game against Boston. His low price gives him upside if he sees a boost in his minutes limit but if you project him just for 30 it’s harder to get there. If he misses, Javale McGee and Dwight Howard both become infinitely more compelling plays. The matchup for centers versus the Nets remains a strong one and both bigs see an appreciable boost when Davis is out. Rajon Rondo also looks like decently projected NBA DFS value. Both he and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are cheap enough that I could see some exposure in lineups where their salaries allow me to get to the higher upside studs.
A Better Game For NBA DFS Than Real Life
Washington is on a back-to-back and they’ll head to Cleveland for a game with a surprising slate-high 231 point combined total. Bradley Beal vanquished the Curse of South Beach and went off for 58.75 fantasy points on 38 minutes yesterday, the most he’s played since a leg injury knocked him out of games earlier this month. His price is so low industrywide that he’ll be one of the top-owned plays of the day but it does feel a little risky with the back-to-back and a high exertion spot last night. I’ll likely come close to the field but a pivot away from Beal would certainly make your lineup different from many out there. In cash games, he’s probably a must-have.
The rest of the Wizards look fairly priced. Isaiah Thomas is cheap and his 25.5 fantasy points last night were the most he’s had in 2020. Jordan McRae is also well priced and he saw 34 minutes yesterday. He intrigues me in NBA DFS lineups without Beal given how he may be able to steal some minutes if Beal sees less run on the back-to-back. Davis Bertans should be able to convert some wide open looks against Cleveland’s 113.2 defensive rating that allows 37% shooting from deep. He and McRae would be the guys I’d want the most in Beal-less lineups.
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Kevin Love strikes me as the best mix of points and value on Washington’s side, though his price is on the way up. He’s had over 14 shots in six out of his last seven games and that kind of usage could pay big dividends against Washington. I’d take him at his rising price over Tristan Thompson at his but the latter will be far less owned in NBA DFS. Collin Sexton looks better to me than Darius Garland despite his higher price. Sexton has started to rebound and assist more in the last month and that’s appealing given his team leading 27% usage rate and steady allotment of minutes in this pace-up spot.
Cedi Osman is also an intriguing value-ish play to help afford the studs. He’s a low usage guy who can kill you but his ownership is reasonable for this short of a slate in a pace-up game against a bad defense.