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 eight-game slate. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to lock in your line-ups and win some cash tonight.
- Point guard – Tim Frazier, New Orleans Pelicans: $7.7 million
As the Pelicans continue to muddle through a mixture of injuries and trades, Frazier (not the kind of player a team trades for, but the kind a team in mild disarray can plug gaps with) is getting big minutes. In the absence of E’Twaun Moore, Frazier is on hand to get Jrue Holiday the covering shooting guard minutes, and is having some good scoring and assist games. Indeed, last time out he recorded a near-triple-double, putting in 12 points, 9 rebounds and 8 assists on his way to a massive 40.8 fantasy points.
- Point guard – Dennis Smith Jr, New York Knicks: $12.9 million
We picked Smith before the Knicks’ last game, in anticipation of the fact that he would remain free to explore the limits of his own talent on a team not going anywhere, and who dealt for him precisely to see whether he could be a front line point guard. True to form, Smith scored 31 real points on his way to 47.4 fantasy points, more than a 350% mark-up on his price.
- Shooting guard – Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls: $16.3 million
We have very much reached what might generously be called the “evaluatory” part of the season for those down the bottom. And the Bulls are very much down the bottom. That said, the upside of that is plenty of freedom on the court for those who are actually get yet are not benched yet. LaVine is one such player, and last game followed a 53.1 fantasy point performance with another 42.1.
- Shooting guard – David Nwaba, Cleveland Cavaliers: $7.1 million
Nwaba, always productive with minutes, is now healthy. And with Alec Burks and Rodney Hood now traded, along with J.R. Smith still being on the bench, he has a large role to play. Nwaba took advantage of this last time out, recording 32.6 fantasy points, and even half of that would be good value for us here.
- Small forward – Taurean Prince, Atlanta Hawks: $10.9 million
On a slate short of small forwards with value at both the top and the bottom, Prince offers us some value in the middle. Having not been traded by the Hawks despite the rumours that he would be, Prince is working his way back to his best, with his strong start to the season being waylaid by injury. With his fantasy price having gone down accordingly, Prince now offers value on the nights that he posts numbers in his usual range, as he has done over his last three games, averaging 25.7 fantasy points per game.
- Power forward – Lauri Markkanen, Chicago Bulls: $17.0 million
As with LaVine above, we picked Markkanen as a fantasy pick before the Bulls’ last game on account of the fact that he had been averaging 40.6 fantasy points over his last four games, as well as his main playing time rival Bobby Portis Jr being traded away. Markkanen responded with a giant 55.6 fantasy points, scoring 31 real points in the process, his third consecutive 30+ point performance. We thus go back to the well here again tonight.
- Power forward – Kenneth Faried, Houston Rockets: $13.5 million
Faried’s last eight games have all seen him return more than 30 fantasy points per game, and often far above that, including two performances in the forties. Inevitably, his price is increasing to reflect this. But it has not increased enough to diminish his value – Faried is still essentially playing at a 250% mark-up, an excellent return at any price.
- Power forward – Kenrich Williams, New Orleans Pelicans: $11.2 million
The Pelicans’ front court situation is highly unclear in both the immediate and long terms. But Williams is staking a good claim to be a part of the latter because of his play in the former. Six consecutive games between 25.1 and 39.1 fantasy points have seen him yield a 31.4 fantasy point average that span, which is not just value, but consistent value. The best kind.
- Centre – Jonas Valanciunas, Memphis Grizzlies: $8.5 million
Having decimated their roster over the past week, the Grizzlies are remarkably short of players, particularly up front. The recently acquired Valanciunas, then, could well have a starting spot and some opportunities to produce. Valanciunas has not played for some weeks due to injury, but was about to return for the Raptors on the very night they dealt him. With so few playing time rivals, he could be a good one tonight.
- Centre – Mitchell Robinson, New York Knicks: $9.8 million
Back from his own injury, Robinson has posted 59.7 fantasy points across the two games of his return. Entirely uncoincidentally, the Knicks have bought out Enes Kanter, with a view to not blocking Robinson’s path in their future. So while DeAndre Jordan is still there starting ahead of him, Robinson is the priority, and the value is obvious.
Point guard – Russell Westbrook, $28.4 million
Shooting guard – David Nwaba, $7.1 million
Small forward – Jayson Tatum, $16.6 million
Power forward – Kenneth Faried, $13.5 million
Centre – Mitchell Robinson, $9.8 million
Bench – Kenrich Williams, $11.2 million
Bench – Dennis Smith Jr, $13.3 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), Daniel Theis, Aron Baynes (Boston),Tony Parker, J.P. Macura (Charlotte), Chandler Hutchison, Wendell Carter, Denzel Valentine (Chicago), Danuel House, Clint Capela (Houston), Victor Oladipo, Doug McDermott (Indiana), Danilo Gallinari, Luc Richard Mbah A Moute (L.A. Clippers), Chandler Parsons, Dillon Brooks, Omri Casspi, Joakim Noah, Kyle Anderson, (Memphis), Donte DiVincenzo, Nikola Mirotic (Milwaukee), Jahlil Okafor, Elfrid Payton, E’Twaun Moore, Trevon Blueitt (New Orleans), Alex Abrines, Andre Roberson (Oklahoma City), Mo Bamba, Timofey Mozgov, Markelle Fultz (Orlando), Kawhi Leonard (Toronto), John Wall, Devin Robinson, Troy Brown Jr, 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!