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 $26 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 six-game slate. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to lock in your line-ups and win some cash tonight.
- Point guard – Elie Okobo, Phoenix Suns: $6.8 million
Although Devin Booker is back healthy and still the lead guard, the Suns would still like to have a point guard to put alongside him, even if it is only someone in the Patrick Beverley role. Someone to defend the small and quick opponents, to push the tempo, to take turns with the ball handling. They have not really found it, aside from a decent stretch by De’Anthony Melton. Yet with him out currently, fellow rookie Elie Okobo is getting another go, and he had a career-best game last time out, returning 29.1 fantasy points.
- Point guard – Monte Morris, Denver Nuggets: $10.6 million
It is now three consecutive 40+ fantasy point games for Morris, who continues to benefit from the absence of Jamal Murray. He is also benefiting from the price freeze that, as will be seen below, also boosts the fantasy candidacy of several other recent picks of ours. With an average of 43.2 over this span, Morris is basically a must-pick right now.
- Shooting guard – James Harden, Houston Rockets: $28.9 million
Harden kept his 30+ point streak alive with another 43 point outing last time out, yet from a fantasy point of view, he did even better than that. An anomalous six steals and four blocks on top of his usual league-leading scoring made for a colossal 89.9 fantasy point performance. He has to be picked every night right now, regardless of the cost.
- Shooting guard – Frank Jackson, New Orleans Pelicans: $6.4 million
Having missed his entire rookie year due to injury, Jackson has not much been used this season by the Pelicans due to the presence of E’Twaun Moore ahead of him, and the renewed intent to at least see what can be found among the multitude of underwhelming small forward options. With Moore currently out, however, there is a spot available to him. Indeed, there is a starting spot available to him, and as many as 40 minutes last time out. And in those minutes, Jackson put up 25 points and 30.4 fantasy points. That is a lot on such a tiny price, and having started three straight games, the opportunity for more is right there.
- Shooting guard – Bojan Bogdanovic, Indiana Pacers: $12.9 million
In the absence of Victor Oladipo, out for the season with serious injury, the Pacers have seen their season come apart slightly, with a four game losing streak that seems to put them out of the running at the top of the Eastern Conference. Nevertheless, in his wake comes a lot of minutes and shots for somebody. And with Tyreke Evans not being even nearly the bounce-back player that he was last season, it seems as though Bogdanovic is going to be the one to step up, averaging 35.9 fantasy points per game over the last two contests.
- Shooting guard – Malik Beasley, Denver Nuggets: $11.1 million
- Small forward – Torrey Craig, Denver Nuggets: $8.4 million
Beasley is also benefiting from the absence of Murray, as well as Gary Harris at the off-guard spot. It seems as though this former forgotten-about deep bench player has now become a front-line shooter for one of the league’s very best teams. Another 22 points scored last time out correlated to another 29.4 fantasy points, and at one of the hardest positions to find consistent mid-range fantasy value, Beasley is providing it. And Craig isn’t doing too badly next to him on the wing either, averaging 23.4 fantasy points per game over his last seven, a number inclusive of an anomalous 4.7 point outing.
- Power forward – Kenneth Faried, Houston Rockets: $11.7 million
Whether or not you pick other power forwards for the “flex” positions is your own decision – there are after all good candidates below. It is not realistically possible however to forgo picking Faried as your power tonight, and certainly it isn’t wise. As the sole productive interior player on the team, Faried’s athletic finishing abilities are seeing him do a good job of filling in for Clint Capela at the dunk position, giving James Harden a target off the dribble and for the lob; combined with his own always-excellent rebounding, Faried has returned a fantasy point average of 36.5 over his past six games, with both great consistency and great value.
- Power forward – Kenrich Williams, New Orleans Pelicans: $8.5 million
- Power forward – Cheick Diallo, New Orleans Pelicans: $6.4 million
- Centre – Jahlil Okafor, New Orleans Pelicans: $11.7 million
The aforementioned injury/absence crisis of the Pelicans is most biting in the front court. They started the season with a three-man rotation at the big man spots – Anthony Davis, Nikola Mirotic, Jerome Randle. Yet all three are currently out due to injury, and in Davis’s case due to the need to preserve the trade asset for a few more days. It is all hands to the pump below them, then, and Okafor has famously been a major beneficiary of this opportunity, piling in the points and (unusually for him) the boards on his way to a 35.7 fantasy point average over his last six games.
Diallo, who has only been intermittently used in his three years so far despite being productive per minute in all of his opportunities, was used enough for a sizeable 32.1 fantasy point performance in the last game, and has surely earned another opportunity. And reaching even further down the bench, Kenrich Williams has shown himself to be an even more productive player than Diallo or indeed any of the underwhelming small forward options, recording a 31.6 fantasy point average over his past three games through a combination of defence, shooting and rebounding. As before, from great problems comes great opportunity.
Point guard – Darren Collison, $15.6 million
Shooting guard – James Harden, $28.9 million
Small forward – Miles Bridges, $12.7 million
Power forward – Kenneth Faried, $11.7 million
Centre – Jahlil Okafor, $11.7 million
Bench – Monte Morris, $10.6 million
Bench – Kenrich Williams, $8.5 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 (Atlanta), Spencer Dinwiddie, Jared Dudley, Allen Crabbe, Caris LeVert (Brooklyn), Gary Harris, Jamal Murray, Isaiah Thomas, Michael Porter Jr (Denver), Clint Capela, Brandon Knight (Houston), Victor Oladipo, Doug McDermott (Indiana), Jason Smith, Eric Bledsoe, Donte DiVincenzo (Milwaukee), Elfrid Payton, Julius Randle, Anthony Davis, E’Twaun Moore, Trevon Blueitt, Nikola Mirotic (New Orleans), T.J. Warren, De’Anthony Melton, Dragan Bender (Phoenix), Dante Cunningham, Dejounte Murray (San Antonio), Markieff Morris, John Wall, Dwight Howard, Troy Brown, Devin Robinson (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!