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FanDuel DFS NBA Strategy Advice: Saturday (12/26)

by Vaughn Dalzell | @VaughnDalzell | Featured Writer
Dec 26, 2020

The day after Christmas is usually filled with leftovers and relaxing as the day before kicked all our butts. Well, the NBA gave us five great games to keep us up late on Christmas, and now the association returns with 10 games. Let’s see who’s worth playing and fading today!

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Value Plays

Point Guard

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Ben Simmons (PHI) NYK $9,600 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Malcolm Brogdon (IND) CHI $7,100 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
George Hill (OKC) CHA $5,000 ⭐⭐ High

Simmons averaged 18.0 points, 9.7 assists, and 6.3 rebounds in his three meetings with the Knicks last season and a near triple-double in 2018-19, making him a vital player for this matchup. The 76ers overall have owned the Knicks, and Simmons came out of the gate with 16 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, three blocks, and two steals for 48.3 fantasy points in the season-opener. I expect similar numbers versus the Knicks.

Brogdon could rack up points and assists today versus the Bulls, and in his last two meetings, he did just that. Brogdon averaged 18.5 points, 8.0 assists, and 5.5 rebounds last season while shooting 61.5% from the field. The Pacers looked great versus the Knicks, and the Bulls should be no better defensively starting Coby White and Zach LaVine at the guard positions.

George Hill is one of the few veterans on this Thunder roster, but he could be a high-risk sleeper. Hill could see enough minutes to post 10-plus points and a fair amount of assists with most of the Thunder’s production from a season ago gone. For $5,000, he’s one of the few guards I would take for that value and based on who he is playing and this being the first game of the season for OKC.

Shooting Guard

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
DeMar DeRozan (SAS) TOR $8,300 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (OKC) CHA $7,600 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Malik Beasley (MIN) UTA $4,800 ⭐⭐ High

DeRozan had a monster season-opener and got the Raptors, his former squad, in the second game of the year. DeRozan posted 57.3 fantasy points on 28 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists, close to a triple-double. The Raptors lost a few players, including Serge Ibaka, that would allow DeRozan a few more paint looks that generally wouldn’t be there.

Gilgeous-Alexander opens his season against a Hornets backcourt made up of a trio of younger players. He could possibly post a double-double or somewhere near that mark as the best player on this Thunder team. OKC has reloaded and will start to build around him, and I wouldn’t be shocked if he led the team in points, rebounds, and assists today.

Beasley had an excellent season-opening performance. He dropped 23 points, four rebounds, and two assists for 32.9 fantasy points. He only played 26 minutes, and while Utah is a strong defensive team, Beasley can assist his teams in numerous ways making him more valuable than his current DFS rank. 

Small Forward

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
NYK $6,600 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium
TJ Warren (IND) CHI $5,800 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Carmelo Anthony (POR) HOU $4,700 ⭐⭐ High

Harris is one of a few players that could have a strong performance against the 76ers today. He averaged 20.5 points. 6.8 rebounds, and 3.8 assists in four meetings, all wins last season. Harris could post similar numbers today as the second scoring threat behind Joel Embiid

TJ Warren will be matched up with rookie Patrick Williams, Otto Porter Jr., and Zach LaVine, most likely. Warren is a pure enough scorer to surpass 20 points versus all three of them, and he’s surely going to play more than 23 minutes in this game. The Pacers won their opener handily, and there was no need to pressure Warren at home, but on the road versus a divisional opponent will mean more than 23 minutes. 

Melo plays a former opponent that’s in limbo with COVID issues and trade rumors surrounding James Harden. Melo could score 15-plus points while recording 7-plus rebounds and assists in this matchup, as the Rockets haven’t played a regular-season game yet. Anthony scored 15 points and grabbed four rebounds in the opener, but versus Houston last year, he recorded 13 points and 12 rebounds per game across three meetings. 

Power Forward

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Domantas Sabonis (IND) CHI $8,500 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Aaron Gordon (ORL) WAS $6,900 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Robert Covington (HOU) POR $5,600 ⭐⭐⭐ Medium

Sabonis recorded 54.1 fantasy points on 32 points, 13 rebounds, and five assists. He’s matched up with a squad in his second game that his team has beaten 10-consecutive times. Sabonis could feast on younger bigs Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr., making him the top play at power forward tonight. 

Gordon totaled 38.4 fantasy points in the season-opener with 20 points and seven rebounds in 26 minutes. He should see an increase in playing time versus the Wizards and their young frontcourt. Gordon is a double-double option tonight alongside Nikola Vucevic.

Robert Covington was in a Rockets uniform last season, but he opened this year in a Portland jersey. Although recording 13.3 fantasy points in 21 minutes versus the Jazz, the Rockets will be a much more favorable opponent for RoCo. His three-ball will be something to watch tonight, and whether or not he can hit the boards versus Rockets’ new center, Christian Wood, will make or break his DFS output tonight. 

Center

NAME (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Andre Drummond (CLE) CHI $8,400 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ Low
Al Horford (OKC) CHA $6,100 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Medium
Dwight Howard (PHI) NYK $3,900 ⭐⭐ High

Andre Drummond is getting a revenge game against the Pistons, the team he spent his entire career with up until last season. Drummond posted 14 points and 14 rebounds in his first game of the season and is undoubtedly looking to outdo that versus Detroit. He’s the top center on the board tonight. 

Al Horford had a great postseason, leading the Thunder in scoring the final two games with 15 and 17 points. He will be one of the primary scorers, rebounds, facilitators, and the Hornets are a great team to open with. Horford could finish top three on the team in points, rebounds, and assists when the season is over. 

Dwight Howard turned heads in his intro with Philly. The one-time NBA Champion finished with four points and 10 rebounds for 20 fantasy points in 13 minutes. He could see a small bump if Philly blows New York out today, and Howard could have another 20+ fantasy point performance in this new offense. 

Studs Worth Their Salary

  • Andre Drummond (CLE) $8,400: Drummond is projected to easily double-double on all computer models, and if he would have played more than 27 minutes, he could add another 15-15 game to his resume.
  • Damian Lillard (POR) $9,000: Lillard could go off versus Houston and James Harden, as this will be the top matchup of the night in terms of player or team. Lillard is a dark horse for MVP this season, and there won’t be a Houston Rocket that can defend him tonight.
  • Bradley Beal (WAS) $8,100: Beal opened the season with 31 points alongside Russell Westbrook’s triple-double introduction game. Beal versus the Magic is a favorable opponent for him, and last season, Orlando finished the regular season by scoring 120-plus points or more. I can see another high-scoring effort here with Beal leading the game in scoring.
  • Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (OKC) $7,600: SAG is going to be up for Most Improved Player of the Year once the season ends — if he doesn’t end up getting dealt by the trade deadline. Last season he averaged 19.0 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game. He’s the only starter back from last year’s team unless you’re counting Darius Bazley.
  • CJ McCollum (POR) $7,200: Like Lillard, McCollum could light it up versus the Rockets. He averaged 22.4 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.3 assists in four meetings last season. If he posts those numbers today, he’d be worth a play here.

Notable Players to Fade

  • Larry Nance Jr. (CLE) $7,000: Nance had a career game in the season-opener, recording 53.6 fantasy points but don’t expect that to happen again this quickly. Kevin Love may return immediately, affecting his minutes and production. 
  • Terry Rozier (CHA) $6,400: Rozer exploded for 42 points in the season-opener, and with all that fire, there’s some expected regression coming in the second game. His teammates are surely going to step up, and I would be surprised to see him go back-to-back with monster games. 
  • Mike Conley (UTA) $6,200: Conley had 22.6 fantasy points in the first game of the season, and he’s not going to have many 30-plus fantasy points at this point in his career. Conley has taken a backseat offensively in Utah to their two All-Stars. 
  • Gordon Hayward (CHA) $7,200: Hayward, like Rozier, will see increased teammate production and his numbers slightly decrease. Hayward is still figuring out where he is in this offense, and when the team starts leveling out with regards to who is the No. 1, we will see his real DFS value. 
  • Lauri Markkanen (CHI) $6,400: Markkanen struggled to start last season after his season-opener, and I can see a similar trend coming to the Bulls’ forward. The Pacers present a strong frontcourt to oppose his scoring efforts, and if he’s not rebounding or hitting threes, his DFS value drops drastically. 

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Vaughn Dalzell is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Vaughn, check out his archive or follow him @VaughnDalzell.

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