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 $29 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 picks at each price point for each position for tonight’s hefty eleven-game slate. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to lock in your line-ups and win some cash tonight.
- The Cheap – Tyus Jones, Minnesota Timberwolves: $10.1 million
As the Wolves continue to have their point guard rotation shuffle in and out of the line-up on a nightly basis, it is Jones’s turn to be the healthy one right now. And in his last two games, he has recorded fantasy point lines of 37.1 and 39.2. Jones’s price reflects his confused role between third-stringer and highly productive player, so it is one worth picking when the rotation situation around him is favourable. Right now, it is.
- The Mid-Ranger – Ricky Rubio, Utah Jazz: $13.7 million
Rubio’s streakiness is hard to fathom. Nevertheless, when in his hot streaks, he is everything the Jazz need. He appears to be on one such streak now, averaging 34.5 fantasy points per game over his last four via an increase in scoring. It will end soon, like they always do, but these streaks are worth riding where possible.
- The Pricy – Chris Paul, Houston Rockets: $17.4 million
In the last few games, Paul has been asked to do James Harden-like things. No one else can quite do that, of course, and nor should Harden really have to do them either. But in his absence, someone had to shoulder the huge scoring and playmaking burdens, and Paul stepped up, averaging 46.1 fantasy points per game over the last six. Harden is back from minor injury now, yet even with that, the Rockets need more from Paul if they are to salvage their season – and they are getting it.
- The Cheap – Avery Bradley, Memphis Grizzlies: $9.3 million
After trading for Bradley at the deadline for whatever reason, the Grizzlies are having more success getting offensive production out of him than the Clippers ever did. Bradley’s scoring has gone up to 15.3 points per game as a Grizzly compared to a mere 8.2 per game as a Clipper, despite playing almost identical minutes. From a fantasy point of view, this has meant a 24.6 fantasy point average for his new time on a price that still reflects the limited production of his old one.
- The Mid-Ranger – Jeremy Lamb, Charlotte Hornets: $11.6 million
Lamb’s last six games have seen him record fantasy point outings ranging between 6.4 and 55.7 fantasy points, which is quite the spread of results. Nevertheless, the low end of that scale is the anomaly rather than the high one, and his average over that span has been 32.6 per game, a very good return at this price.
- The Pricy – Lou Williams, L.A. Clippers: $16.6 million
Despite recorded 48.6 fantasy points in his last outing via a 21 point, 10 assist double-double, Williams’s price has actually gone down a smidge after his last game. This very much suits us here in fantasy; with a 40.7 fantasy point average over his last five, Williams has been picking up the scoring void left by Tobias Harris’s departure. He is gunning to defend his sixth man of the year title, and has a very good shot at doing so.
- The Cheap – Mo Harkless, Portland Trail Blazers: $9.3 million
There are more lower-priced small forwards on tonight’s slate than usual. Luol Deng of the Minnesota Timberwolves ($9.6 million) and Dorian Finney Smith of the Dallas Mavericks ($9.7 million) are both playing with good value in expanded roles, and the usually-shallow position has more depth to it than usual. Yet we recommend Harkless for the second time in a row, based in part on the absence of Evan Turner, but also on his production in that time (30.6 and 28.1 fantasy point outings in his last two games).
- The Mid-Ranger – Reggie Bullock, L.A. Lakers: $10.8 million
Since being acquired by the Lakers at the deadline, Bullock was thrust immediately into the starting line-up, due to the need for spacing. He has done exactly what he was asked to do, and has thus averaged 23.4 fantasy points per game in his last four. It is not huge value, but at a position with little of it to offer, Bullock’s solidness may be of use to us here.
- The Pricy – LeBron James, L.A. Lakers: $24.5 million
LeBron, by his own admission, is on a season-saving mission. Three triple-doubles in his last six games speak to the intent with which he is playing, and his fantasy point average of 59.6 per game over that span speaks to the results. Harden and Giannis may be having better individual seasons on distinctly better teams, but if you have to have one player to control a key game, James is the man still.
- The Cheap – Cheick Diallo, New Orleans Pelicans: $10.0 million
Diallo’s extended recent run in the line-up continues. He has recorded 22.0, 36.0 and 42.1 fantasy points in his last three games. It is true to say that those numbers are actually in reverse and he has been on a downward trend, but at this price, the overall average is very tasty.
- The Mid-Ranger – Kenneth Faried, Houston Rockets: $13.8 million
The return of Clint Capela has not reduced Faried’s role as much as we may have feared. The Rockets have instead employed the both of them at the same time, with Faried as a power forward, even though neither can stretch the floor. This one deficiency has not stopped them rolling to the rim and crashing the glass, and this in his last two games since Capela’s return, Faried has still managed to average 32.0 fantasy points per game.
- The Pricy – Lauri Markkanen, Chicago Bulls: $18.4 million
Markkanen’s breakout continues. He is handling the ball much better, working off the dribble and leading breaks, and is flanking this with the sweet shooting stroke and occasional post play he was already known to have, From a fantasy point of view, he has averaged 46.5 fantasy points over his last nine games, quickly becoming one of the best at his position on any slate.
- The Mid-Ranger – Jonas Valanciunas, Memphis Grizzlies: $12.2 million
As has been the case before every game in his time with the Grizzlies, we anoint Valanciunas as a good fantasy value pick, based on the fact that they have so few other players at his position. So far, he has come through for us, averaging 37.1 fantasy points in his four contests for his new team.
- The Other Mid-Rangers – Dewayne Dedmon, Atlanta Hawks: $12.9 million; Robin Lopez, Chicago Bulls; $11.2 million
Lopez, like Valanciunas above, is a good fantasy option right now even if he is a veteran on a team ostensibly looking to go younger. With Wendell Carter out and Cristiano Felicio unplayable, Lopez is starting at centre largely unchallenged, and has recorded a fantasy point average of 31.3 per game over his last six contests. Dedmon meanwhile went untraded at the deadline by the Hawks, who thus might as well play him, averaging 41.4 fantasy points over his last three and appearing in every column of the stat sheet.
- The Pricy – Andre Drummond, Detroit Pistons: $22.0 million
Drummond has not been the same fantasy player this year than he was last, because, due to the coaching change around him and the embedding of Blake Griffin, he is no longer getting the same top-of-the-key usage offensively that he did last season, which has reset his assist numbers back to where they were. A recent tear however has seen him up his scoring, as well as his block rate – February has been his best month thus far, with more than 22 points and 2 blocks per game to show for it. From a fantasy point of view, he has averaged 55.9 fantasy points over his past 11 games, and has only once recorded below 49.0 points in a game in that time.
Point guard – Tyus Jones, $10.1 million
Shooting guard – Lou Williams, $16.6 million
Small forward – Luka Doncic, $19.7 million
Power forward – Lauri Markkanen, $18.4 million
Centre – Jonas Valanciunas, $12.2 million
Bench – Robin Lopez, $11.2 million
Bench – Joakim Noah, $9.6 million
On 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: Miles Plumlee, Taurean Prince (Atlanta), Aron Baynes (Boston), Spencer Dinwiddie (Brooklyn), J.P. Macura (Charlotte), Kris Dunn, Wendell Carter Jr, Chandler Hutchison, Otto Porter, Denzel Valentine (Chicago), J.J. Barea, Maxi Kleber, Kristaps Porzingis (Dallas), Kalin Lucas (Detroit), Jordan Bell, Damian Jones (Golden State), Nene (Houston), Domantas Sabonis, Alize Johnson, Victor Oladipo (Indiana), Luc Richard Mbah A Moute, Wilson Chandler (L.A. Clippers), Lonzo Ball (L.A. Lakers), Jaren Jackson Jr, C.J. Miles, Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson (Memphis), James Johnson, Derrick Jones Jr, Justise Winslow, Rodney McGruder (Miami), Donte DiVincenzo, George Hill, Sterling Brown, Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee), Jeff Teague, Robert Covington (Minnesota), Darius Miller, Trevon Blueitt (New Orleans), Evan Turner (Portland), Corey Brewer (Sacramento), Dejounte Murray (San Antonio), Dante Exum, Tony Brafley (Utah), Devin Robinson, John Wall, Dwight Howard (Washington)
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!