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 seven-game slate. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to lock in your line-ups and win some cash tonight.
Point guard – Fred VanVleet, Toronto Raptors: $10.7 million
Point guard – Delon Wright, Toronto Raptors: $9.0 million
Kyle Lowry continues to struggle with injury, and so while it is never clear for much in advance whether or not he will play in any given game – he is currently listed as “doubtful” for this one – monitor the injury wire and keep his two backups on your fantasy radar. VanVleet has been capable of big nights in this role before, and while he has not been entirely at the races of late, he will be getting the start, while Wright has also got an expanded role in his absence. In both cases, bear in mind that tonight’s opponent, the Milwaukee Bucks, have some of the highest possession games in the league. So any healthy Raptor could benefit from this tonight.
Shooting guard – James Harden, Houston Rockets: $25.7 million
Shooting guard – Austin Rivers, Houston Rockets: $10.1 million
Harden is on such a history tear that a fantasy point night in the mid 50s would be something of a downer for him. The problem with his recent tear is that he lacks for help. Chris Paul is out again, Carmelo Anthony did not work out, and the wing position is a patch-up job. Yet into that fuzz steps recent pick-up Rivers, who seems to be fitting quite well. Rivers’s career-long desire to only take three-pointers and drives to the basket coincides ideally with the Rockets’ approach to basketball, and he has increased his minutes share in every game he has played so far, largely in part due to a lack of alternatives. In those five games, Rivers has averaged 22.0 fantasy points thus far, and it is trending upwards.
Shooting guard – Norman Powell, Toronto Raptors: $8.6 million
After a nothing season last year and an injured start to this one, Powell has seemingly gotten back to his best in his latest return. Four double-figured scoring games in his last seven, compared to only one the entire season prior, have combined with his defensive acumen to help him average 26.2 fantasy points over his last two. It may not sustain, but the price is very low.
Small forward – Danuel House, Houston Rockets: $10.2 million
Small forward – Gerald Green, Houston Rockets: $9.0 million
As was the case before the Rockets’ last game, and as touched upon above, the biting shortage of depth on Houston’s roster is particularly being felt on the wings. The main beneficiaries of this in terms of both playing time and fantasy production have been House and Green. House, the mid-season pick-up that is now a regular starter, has averaged 16 real points and 25.6 fantasy points per game over the last three, while Green has shot his way to a 22.4 average over his past two. With so little competition around them, both could well do it again.
Small forward – Kyle Anderson, Memphis Grizzlies: $13.1 million
It is likely that Anderson’s fantasy value will soon peter out quite considerably. He has something of a monopoly over the small forward position for the Grizzlies this year, as Dillon Brooks has been injured, as has Chandler Parsons, who is also now out of favour. But recent trade acquisition Justin Holiday is incoming, providing some depth at this historically very weak position, and thus a challenge to Anderson. Nevertheless, Anderson has averaged 34.8 fantasy points over his past five games, including a delicious triple-double last time out.
Power forward – Ersan Ilyasova, Milwaukee Bucks: $8.4 million
Power forward – D.J. Wilson, Milwaukee Bucks: $7.3 million
In Ilyasova’s recent absence, the Bucks have given some time to Wilson, a player who previously it looked as though they had already given up on. The spindly stretched four showed more than he ever had in his (admittedly very limited) opportunities before, looking more aware, shooting better, and recording a 20.3 fantasy point average over his last four. Ilyasova returned in the last game, and looked sharp, recording 25.0 fantasy points in only 19 minutes, but Wilson recorded 23.3 of his own in the same game; perhaps, then, there is room for them both.
Power forward – Nemanja Bjelica, Sacramento Kings: $12.5 million
Centre – Greg Monroe, Toronto Raptors: $8.6 million
Two seasons ago, Monroe was a sixth man of the year candidate. It is not as though he got any worse in that time, or had any significant injury. The only difference between the Monroe of then and the Monroe of now is opportunity, borne out of the league’s swift evolution away from post-based bigs, even productive and highly skilled ones like he. Get him minutes, and he gets you production, as evidenced by his 23.7 fantasy point average over his last two games.
Centre – Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers: $14.4 million
Since returning from injury, Thompson has played in two games, and posted exactly 22.9 fantasy points in both. That is not enough to have value at this price. It is also not however the range Thompson was operating in before injury, back when he was an automatic double-double guy and one of the most consistent fantasy value options in the game. The rust will go, and Thompson should be back to the high 30s range soon.
Point guard – De’Aaron Fox, $16.7 million
Shooting guard – James Harden, $25.7 million
Small forward – Danuel House: $10.2 million
Power forward – Nemanja Bjelica: $12.5 million
Centre – Tristan Thompson, $14.4 million
Bench – Fred VanVleet, $10.7 million
Bench – Gerald Green, $9.0 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: Kevin Love, John Henson, J.R. Smith, Ante Zizic, Matthew Dellavedova, David Nwaba (Cleveland), Zaza Pachulia, Ish Smith, Henry Ellenson (Detroit), DeMarcus Cousins, Damian Jones (Golden State), Chris Paul, Eric Gordon, Carmelo Anthony (Houston), Chandler Parsons (Memphis), Nikola Mirotic (New Orleans), Jimmy Butler, Wilson Chandler, Markelle Fultz, Justin Patton, Zhaire Smith (Philadelphia), Marvin Bagley III (Sacramento), Dejounte Murray (San Antonio), Jordan Loyd, Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valanciunas (Toronto), Grayson Allen (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!