DraftKings DFS NBA Strategy Advice: Sunday (4/18)
Tonight’s DraftKings slate features some uninspiring matchups. Most teams playing today are currently out of the playoffs — the Raptors, Magic, Kings, Thunder, T’Wolves, and Rockets wouldn’t qualify for the NBA’s play-in tournament at the moment. And of the teams that are in, at least two will have to go without key players tonight (Hornets and Trail Blazers).
Each week, I’ll be here to profile some strong value plays, studs, and duds for Sunday’s DraftKings slate. I’ll do my best to point you in the right direction, and if you have any questions, you can hit me up on Twitter at @is_sirois. All matchup data is pulled from our defense versus position tool.
Most Value Per Dollar
Tonight’s five-game slate will tip-off at 7 p.m. ET. The betting totals point to two high-scoring games: SAC/DAL (230.5) and MIN/LAC (232.5). The rest of the slate’s totals aren’t very attractive, but they’re acceptable to warrant targeting a player or two: POR/CHA (217.5), HOU/ORL (220.5), and OKC/TOR (219.5). That said, expect most of the players featured below to come from one of the first four teams.
Injury-wise, Damian Lillard will sit out for the Trail Blazers, which will leave Norman Powell and C.J. McCollum to pick up the slack. Fortunately, they’ll play a depleted Hornets squad without two of its best players (Gordon Hayward and LaMelo Ball) and with two more starters (Devonte’ Graham and P.J. Washington) questionable. Elsewhere, Kawhi Leonard is questionable for the Clippers, and one of my plays of the day hinges upon his injury status. The Rockets will also remain without John Wall, Eric Gordon, and Danuel House, among others.
Below is a list of the top-eight players of the day expected to generate the most value relative to their salary, ranked in order of how much they’ll cost you.
Christian Wood (HOU) $8,500
Wood’s salary remains too low for the amount of work he has to do for the Rockets. He busted for 20.8 DraftKings (DK) points in his last outing, but he had averaged 54 DK points per game (DKPPG) in the preceding two matchups — that’s good for 6.6x value against this price. The post-Vucevic, post-Birch Magic may struggle to limit Wood, as Wendell Carter Jr. isn’t a great defender.
Kevin Porter Jr. (HOU) $6,600
With both Gordon and Wall out, Porter will do most of the ball-handling for Houston. The last time Wall sat out, MPJ went for 14 points, 13 assists, and six rebounds against the Clippers on his way to 42.5 DK points (6.4x value). The Magic are a vastly inferior opponent, as they allow the fifth-most DKPPG to point guards. Porter should cash in on that matchup tonight.
Norman Powell (POR) $6,300
Powell is surprisingly affordable despite Damian Lillard’s injury. He posted 34.5 DK points (5.5x value) in the first game that Lillard missed, and he has a dream matchup on tap. The Hornets surrender the most made threes per game (14.9), and number which has been ticking up recently, and they permit the most made threes to shooting guards. Powell has slate-winning upside on this condensed slate.
Devonte’ Graham (CHA) $6,200
Please note that Graham is questionable for tonight’s action. He also missed Charlotte’s battle with the Nets on Friday, so make sure to double-check his status before inserting him into your lineup. Should Graham play, he is a slam-dunk option — the Trail Blazers allow the second-most DKPPG to point guards, where Graham plays exclusively, and the Hornets are pressed for depth elsewhere on the roster.
Marcus Morris (LAC) $5,500
Only start Morris if Leonard sits out again. In his last four games (all without Leonard), Morris has averaged 31.5 DKPPG (5.7x value). That streak should continue tonight, as the T’Wolves struggle defensively — they rank third-worst in defensive efficiency and surrender the most DKPPG to small forwards (and the ninth-most DKPPG to power forwards).
Ivica Zubac (LAC) $5,400
Serge Ibaka remains on the shelf, so Zubac will continue to draw starts for the Clippers. Although he busted last time out, as he posted just 11.8 DK points in 16 minutes against the 76ers, he had been averaging 35.9 DKPPG (6.6x value) through the three prior games. Since the T’Wolves allow the second-most DKPPG to centers, yous should feel confident about starting Zubac — especially with the game’s total set so high.
Jalen Brunson (DAL) $4,400
Brunson is a good bargain-bin play against a defense like Sacramento’s. They allow the sixth-most DKPPG to point guards, where Brunsons spends 79% of his minutes, and the full-game total also suggests that we’ll see a lot of scoring. Though Brunson’s role off the bench limits his upside, the point spread points to a runaway Dallas win, and that could help Brunson see more workload than usual.
Gary Harris (ORL) $4,200
Harris has played in just four games for Orlando, and he is averaging 19.2 DKPPG (4.6x value) for his new team. However, his minutes have been trending up, and the Rockets give up the most DKPPG to shooting guards. Harris may not have a ton of upside because of his rotational role, but he should get enough minutes against Houston’s beatable defense to hit value.
Studs Worth Their Salary
- Luka Doncic (DAL) $10,900: Doncic should lead the slate in scoring tonight. The Kings are a fast-paced team that plays poor defense, especially against point guards, where Luka spends half of his minutes.
- Kawhi Leonard (LAC) $9,500: Leonard is a must-start if he is healthy enough to play. The T’Wolves are laughably bad against opposing small forwards, which is a recipe for a huge night from Leonard, as is the high projected point total.
- Paul George (LAC) $9,300: George is a good play regardless of Leonard’s status, but he’s obviously a much better one if Leonard sits. He actually spends more time at small forward than Leonard, so he may be better positioned to exploit Minnesota’s defensive vulnerabilities.
- Pascal Siakam (TOR) $8,800: The Thunder give up the second-most DKPPG to power forwards, and Siakam should take advantage of that for a big night this evening. Also, he has gone for 49-plus DK points (5.6x value) across his last two games.
Notable Players to Fade
- De’Aaron Fox (SAC) $9,800: Fox is a price-based fade in this matchup. The Mavericks play at the NBA’s third-slowest pace, which could mean fewer opportunities than usual for Fox to score. He has cooled off somewhat since his back-to-back streak of 60-plus DK points, so let someone else take the risk on him at a price this high.
- Fred VanVleet (TOR) $8,000: The Raptors just got fined by the NBA for irregular rest reporting. That means they may end up “starting” guys they intend to rest, like VanVleet or Lowry, just to avoid violations. For instance, VanVleet started Toronto’s last game but played only 23 minutes — well below his season average (36.1). Since Toronto has been regularly resting both FVV and Lowry, I recommend that you leave them out of your lineups tonight.
- Kyle Lowry (TOR) $7,700: See VanVleet, Fred.
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