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 nine-game slate. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to lock in your line-ups and win some cash tonight.
- The Cheap – Dante Exum, Utah Jazz: $8.0 million; Terry Rozier, Boston Celtics: $9.8 million
Both Exum and Rozier are pencilled in to start for their teams tonight because the regular starters are struggling with injuries. Kyrie Irving is definitely out with an eye problem, and his absence last time out allowed Rozier to see a big spike in his minutes and production, recording 43.1 fantasy points in the process. Meanwhile, Exum recorded 39.5 fantasy points the last time Rubio was out, so keep an eye on his status, which is currently only “questionable”.
- The Mid-Ranger – Tyus Jones, Minnesota Timberwolves: $10.9 million; Tomas Satoransky, Washington Wizards: $11.5 million
As is the case above, both of Jones and Satoransky are also currently starters due to the injuries to the regulars, and in Satoransky’s case, he will be for a while. John Wall’s season-ending injury has seen Sato averaged 33.6 fantasy points per game over the last three, including 42.7 last time out, while Jones has recorded a 38.3 fantasy point average over his last three. Both also did this in the same situation last year, too; these are not flukish numbers.
- The Pricy – D’Angelo Russell, Brooklyn Nets: $17.2 million
For all the value available at the point guard position in the lower price brackets tonight, do not overlook the recent performances of Russell at the top. In his last two games, he has recorded fantasy point outings of 41.8 and 55.5. And while Russell has long been, and still is, one of the streakiest performers in the game, Mike Conley’s likely absence tonight should give him the opportunity to go off again.
- The Cheap – Josh Okogie, Minnesota Timberwolves: $7.2 million
With Robert Covington out, it seems as though Tom Thibodeau would rather move Andrew Wiggins to small forward and start Okogie, rather than turn to his long time workhorse Luol Deng. Seems their love affair may finally be over. Last time out, Okogie missed all his shots from the field and scored only 3 points in 26 minutes, yet his defensive effort led him to 14.6 fantasy points anyway; add a couple of baskets to that, and that represents good return on a tiny price.
- The Mid-Ranger – Josh Hart, L.A. Lakers: $11.4 million
Hart’s price has spiked up $1.5 million since the Lakers’ last gsme, which is inevitable given his recent production. His last six games have seen him return 22.1, 16.2, 39.8, 31.7, 38.9 and 39.0 fantasy points, numbers that are not only good but which are also trending in the right direction. He will be a good pick candidate until LeBron returns.
- The Pricy – Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns: $18.5 million
Booker has often been our “pricy” pick suggestion at this position all season, even if he is not actually playing the position. The fill-in point guard recorded 48.4 fantasy points last time out, his fourth performance above the 40 point mark in his last five games. Only the absolute drubbing the Suns suffered at the hands of the Warriors prevented it from being five for five, so consider Booker here unless you think the Clippers will do the same.
- The Cheap – DeMarre Carroll, Brooklyn Nets: $9.2 million
The continued absence of Allen Crabbe – who is out with a damaged “fat pad”, which sounds terrible and excellent at the same time – means greater opportunity for Carroll. Last year’s starter has responded with consecutive fantasy point performances in the 30 point range. He never lost his game, just his starting spot. With it back, he offers very strong value.
- The Mid-Ranger – Brandon Ingram, L.A. Lakers: $13.5 million
Ingram’s fit alongside LeBron longer term still remains to be determined, and there is certainly more volume than effectiveness to his game right now. He scored 17 points in the last game against the Thunder, but took 21 shots to do it, many of them forced and contested. Nevertheless, Ingram played 41 minutes in the game, is currently playing big minutes in every game, and has averaged 35.7 fantasy points over his last four games. Volume is all that counts for us here.
- The Pricy – Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder: $22.4 million
George’s strong start to what is his career-best season pushed him to the very top priced tier of fantasy players, and it seems as though that is where he will stay. He has averaged 56.2 fantasy points per game over his last seven, fuelling both the offence and the defence of a strong-looking Thunder team. And as strange as it sounds to say, he is probably their best player these days.
- The Cheap – Rodions Kurucs, Brooklyn Nets: $8.1 million
Kurucs’s price has in fact dropped $0.4 million since last time. That crazy streak of his in which he averaged 35.5 fantasy points per game over three contests is over, and over the last two, he has averaged only 13.3. Nevertheless, Kurucs remains a big minute starter for whatever reason. So if his shot is off for a couple of games, thus tempering his price, then he will only yield better value once it comes back.
- The Mid-Ranger – Montrezl Harrell, L.A. Clippers: $12.7 million
We consider a return in fantasy points per game of roughly 2.5 times a player’s fantasy cost per million as being the right sort of range in which to anoint value. With this in mind, consider Harrell’s average over his last eight games (33.0) to his price in million ($12.7). That is more than 250%, and while it could have been achieved more consistently than it has been, Harrell has been good all year. He still is.
- The Pricy – DeAndre Ayton, Phoenix Suns: $17.9 million
A look at Ayton’s last six games reveals two obvious bands of production. Four of his games have seen him record between 32.9 and 39.2 fantasy points, normally near the higher end of that. And then to flank that, he has two monster games in the 60s. Ayton is a consistent double-double, and thus on the nights when he also exhibits enough defensive awareness to make some plays on the ball, he can go off.
- The Cheap – Luke Kornet, New York Knicks: $9.2 million
The current Knicks starting centre is something of a must-pick at this moment. His last three games, with a 32.7 fantasy point per game average, have been done without ever dipping below 29.7 in a single game. It is unclear how much longer this will be the case for, as Mitchell Robinson is soon to return. Nevertheless, it appears as though Enes Kanter is the one the Knicks will part with before either of the younger duo. So maybe it will sustain after all.
- The Mid-Ranger – Thomas Bryant, Washington Wizards: $13.4 million
Bryant’s anomalous one-off fantasy point performance of 48.6 last week is now at least a three-off. In his last three games – which does not include that one – he has averaged a further 41.2 fantasy points with two further 40+ games in there. It is an unexpected yet entirely welcome break out that price spikes have not yet sufficiently diminished the fantasy value of.
- The Pricy – Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves: $23.4 million
The Timberwolves had to choose between Towns and Jimmy Butler, and they chose Towns. He has thus far responded in a big way. Over his last four games, Towns has recorded a colossal 70.4 fantasy points per game, including a 90.1 performance that is the biggest mark of any player in any game this season. On a slate with so much low-end value to be had, the very highest priced players are of some import to us as well, and Towns is shining brightly.
Point guard – Tomas Satoransky, $11.5 million
Shooting guard – Devin Booker, $18.5 million
Small forward – Giannis Antetokounmpo, $25.8 million
Power forward – Montrezl Harrell, $12.7 million
Centre – Luke Kornet, $9.2 million
Bench – Josh Hart, $11.4 million
Bench – Tyus Jones, $10.9 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: Taurean Prince, Kent Bazemore, Jaylen Adams (Atlanta), Robert Williams, Marcus Morris, Aron Baynes, Jabari Bird, Kyrie Irving (Boston), Allen Crabbe, Dzanan Musa, Caris LeVert, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (Brooklyn), Bobby Portis, Denzel Valentine (Chicago), J.R. Smith, John Henson, Kevin Love, Ante Zizic, David Nwaba (Cleveland), Kyle Kuzma, LeBron James, Rajon Rondo, Michael Beasley (L.A. Lakers), Chandler Parsons, Mike Conley (Memphis), Goran Dragic, Dwyane Wade (Miami), Ersan Ilyasova (Milwaukee), Derrick Rose, Robert Covington, Jeff Teague (Minnesota), Kristaps Porzingis, Isaiah Hicks, Mitchell Robinson (New York), Alex Abrines, Andre Roberson (Oklahoma City), Timofey Mozgov, Jonathon Simmons (Orlando), Grayson Allen, Ricky Rubio (Utah), Markieff Morris, 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!