Daily Fantasy NBA Preview – 27th December, 2018

James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets shoots the ball against the San Antonio Spurs in Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals of the 2017 NBA Playoffs on May 5, 2017 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio

Welcome to the 2018-19 NBA season!

To help you with your DFS lineups at PlayON, we’ll provide daily editions of our NBA Preview all season long here at Daily Fantasy Focus.

Your NBA fantasy teams have a budget of $100 million to spend on a seven-player team, with players ranging in price from $28 million to $5 million. You must pick one player from each of the five NBA positions – point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward and centre – with two final picks being at whichever position you like. With the need to squeeze in that much under budget, we need to look for the best value picks in each night’s game, at all positions.

Below is a breakdown of my team for tonight’s short five-game slate. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to lock in your line-ups and win some cash tonight

Point guard – De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings: $16.6 million

We picked Fox as a fantasy candidate before Sacramento’s last game on account of the fact that, although he had one anomalous 0.2 fantasy point performance due to injury, every game around it in recent memory had been in the 40s. Fox subsequently then put in another 43.7 fantasy point performance that night. So, with that validation, we suggest him again,


Point guard – Rajon Rondo, L.A. Lakers: $9.1 million

Back from a long term injury, and back with a bang. Rondo has averaged 24.0 fantasy points per game in his return, including a turnover-less double double last time out. And while there has always been a jarring inconsistency about Rondo since his Celtics days, this low price makes him worth a risk. At this price, there basically is no risk.


Shooting guard – Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets: $10.9 million

Shooting guard – James Harden, Houston Rockets: $23.94 million

James Harden is playing absolutely out of his shoes right now. He has needed to; his Rockets team, floundering all year, have gotten neither the health nor the production out of Chris Paul that they anticipated and needed, and their general lack of depth elsewhere has seen them rely ever more on their former MVP. Yet he has come through for them and for us, recording a giant 65.1 fantasy point average over his past seven games and only once dipping below 60 in that span. Gordon meanwhile has been starting alongside him in Paul’s stead and is showing some signs of life himself finally, recording three consecutive performances all in the very tight band of 30.4 to 31.2 fantasy points per game. At fantasy’s hardest position to find value, then, look to Houston.


Small forward – P.J. Tucker, Houston Rockets: $9.3 million

Tucker does not immediately spring to mind as a good fantasy pick on account of his very limited offensive role, which largely consists of standing in the corners. Nevertheless, he is getting more minutes than in any prior point of his NBA career, and minutes to a scrappy guy like Tucker mean production. Over his last six games, Tucker has averaged 26.6 fantasy points per game, and is proving hard to look away from.


Small forward – Wilson Chandler, Philadelphia 76ers: $8.8 million

If you do choose to look away from Tucker, give strong consideration to Chandler, who is being pressed into a sizeable role of his own. One of the two makeshift solutions to the front court shooting issues the 76ers are facing without Dario Saric, Chandler is doing better than the other option (Mike Muscala) by proving to be slightly less exploitable defensively. He thus starts, and while the above comment with regards to Tucker about small offensive role also applies here, so does the one about the production, as Chandler has averaged 22.9 fantasy points over his last four healthy games.


Power forward – Noah Vonleh, New York Knicks: $12.4 million

It is fair to say that few if any predicted that this would be the case over the summer. Indeed, given that he signed for only the minimum salary, he himself perhaps did not predict it either. Nevertheless, Vonleh has gone on to be an incredibly consistent starting power forward for the Knicks, both in real life and in fantasy, where he has averaged 30.1 fantasy points per game over his last six.


Power forward – Nemanja Bjelica, Sacramento Kings: $10.5 million

We picked Bjelica a few times in this space earlier in the season, when he was starting at power forward and putting in a lot of high-30s and low-40s fantasy point performances while still costing about the same as he does now. However, we had to stop doing that when the edict from Kings management to coaching was linked that Marvin Bagley III should be made the priority at the power forward position, which immediately tempered Bjelica’s minutes and production. Nevertheless, with Bagley now out through injury, Bjelica is back on the horse, averaging 30.1 fantasy points over his past three games.


Centre – Clint Capela, Houston Rockets: $18.2 million

Advanced metrics are not favourable to Capela this season. By any advanced measure available, he is having less of a positive impact on the floor for the Rockets than last season, and is particularly proving to be less effective when paired with both Chris Paul and James Harden at the same time.  Nevertheless, fantasy production is measured by basic statistics rather than the advanced, and those are casting him in a more flattering light; both of Capela’s last two games have seen him record over 50 fantasy points, after a long run of 40s.


Bench – Ivica Zubac, L.A. Lakers: $7.7 million

Zubac has been on the best burst of any player in the fantasy game this past week, and not just on tonight’s slate. Over his last three games, Zubac has averaged 38.6 fantasy points per game, never once dipping below 36 in any game in the process. Zubac is starting on account of the illnesses to JaVale McGee and Tyson Chandler, yet in this stint, he is proving that Chandler was not necessarily needed in the first place. He is a must-pick tonight.

My team:

Point guard – Kyrie Irving, $20.1 million
Shooting guard – James Harden, $23.9 million
Small forward – P.J. Tucker: $9.3 million
Power forward – Nemanja Bjelica: $10.5 million
Centre – Ivica Zubac, $7.7 million

Bench – De’Aaron Fox, $16.6 million
Bench – Eric Gordon, $10.9 million

In any NBA slate of games, we need to be sure to avoid certain players each night. Here’s who you should steer clear of.

(Note that the NBA provides four different player injury classifications – ‘probable’ (meaning the player has a 75% chance of playing in the game), ‘questionable’ (50%), ‘doubtful’ (25%) and ‘out’ (0%). Such classifications are subject to change right up until game time; for the purposes of the below, we list anyone from ‘questionable’ on down as being picks to avoid.)

DO NOT PICK DUE TO INJURY/ABSENCE/SUSPENSION: Aron Baynes, Jabari Bird (Boston), DeMarcus Cousins, Damian Jones, Jacob Evans (Golden State), Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, James Ennis III (Houston), JaVale McGee, LeBron James, Michael Beasley (L.A. Lakers), Ersan Ilyasova (Milwaukee), Mitchell Robinson, Kristaps Porzingis (New York), Markelle Fultz, Justin Patton, Zhaire Smith,  (Philadelphia), Marvin Bagley III (Sacramento), Grayson Allen, Naz Mitrou-Long (Utah)

That’s all for today’s analysis. Be sure to get your line-ups in, and check back every day during the season for our daily picks and advice!