NBA DraftKings & FanDuel DFS Primer: Saturday (3/19)
I hope everyone’s enjoying March Madness, and you have one of the 161 perfect brackets left! Despite all the hype around the tournament, we still have NBA games to focus on. After a massive slate on Friday, we get to reel it in with three games in the association. Small slates are much different then you’re large ones. Player pools shrink majorly, and roster percentage becomes essential to discovering an edge. With that being said, let’s get into it.
The Primer is a first look article filled with all the information you need to help get your lineups rolling. We’ll begin with the schedule and odds to highlight which game environments stand out. We follow that up with the injury report, an essential part of any DFS player’s daily process. Then we shed light on some of our top plays of the slate, including core building blocks, GPP candidates, cash game considerations, and salary relief targets. Finally, we’ll always wrap up with our advantageous pricing segment, which uncovers price discrepancies between FanDuel and DraftKings.
So without further ado, let’s jump into another edition of the NBA DFS Primer brought to you by FantasyPros.
Schedule and Odds
- DAL @ CHA (+1.5) O/U: 224
- DET @ CLE (-6.5) O/U: 215.5
- LAL @ WAS (-2) O/U: 228
NOTE: DAL, CLE, LAL, WAS are all on the back ends of back-to-backs.
- James Bouknight (neck) OUT
- Gordon Hayward (ankle) OUT
- Rajon Rondo (ankle) questionable
- Dean Wade (knee) questionable
- Jarett Allen (finger) OUT
- Collin Sexton (knee) out for season
- Reggie Bullock (personal) probable
- Spencer Dimwiddie (injury recovery) OUT
- Theo Pinson (finger) OUT
- Tim Hardaway Jr. (foot) out for season
- Jerami Grant (knee) probable
- Cade Cunningham (illness) probable
- Hamidou Diablo (finger) questionable
- Frank Jackson (back) OUT
- Chris Smith (knee) questionable
- Killian Hayes (head) questionable
- Talen Horton-Tucker (ankle) questionable
- Wayne-ellington.php” class=”fp-player-link fp-id-2263″ target=”_blank”>Wayne Ellington (illness) questionable
- Carmelo Anthony (illness) questionable
- Anthony Davis (ankle) OUT until late March
- Kendrick Nunn (ankle) OUT until Late March
- Vernon Carey Jr. (calf) OUT
- Bradley Beal (wrist) OUT until late March
The injury report can change at any minute, and all player statuses are subject to change whether they’re on the injury report or not. Paying attention to as much news as possible is crucial to long-term success in DFS. It can also give you a severe leg up on anyone in the field who fails to do so. Once the later game information becomes available, be sure to take advantage of late swapping. Late swap allows you to get off the chalk and plug-in value plays that may not have been expected or get to a high upside play in an attempt to take one last run at the top of the leaderboard. Keeping up with all the news and information can be a lot to manage, but it’s essential.
LeBron James (SF/PF/C-LAL): $11,400 DraftKings, $10,700 FanDuel
LBJ will be a popular pay-up option on a smaller slate, and for a good reason. It seems like the 37-year old Hall Of Famer is a lock to go out and get 30 points on any given night. I don’t see the Washington Wizard’s porous defense having an answer for the King after allowing Julius Randle to go for an 18 point, 17 rebound double-double on them last night. LeBron has a usage rate of 32.5% and scores 1.50 fantasy points per minute. The Lakers should be flying high after a big win against Toronto last night, and “The King” should have another big game in his arsenal.
Darius Garland (PG-CLE): $9,100 DraftKings, $8,500 FanDuel
Darius Garland, the Cleveland Cavalier’s All-Star point guard, is having a tremendous season. Injuries have thrust the young guard into a prominent role, delivering well outside of expectations. Over the past five games, he has averaged a double-double with 24 points, four rebounds, and 10.2 assists. He has the ball in his hands most of the time, leading the team with a 27.9% usage rate, so he gets plenty of opportunities to score fantasy points. Paying attention to roster percentage will be crucial to tonight’s slate, but I expect to come in over the field on Garland. He should be in for a huge game, as he and the Cavs will take on a bad Pistons defense. The pistons are inside the bottom ten against point guards and are 25th in defensive rating (113.2).
Cash Game Considerations
Miles Bridges (SF/PF-CHA): $8,100 DraftKings, $7,800 FanDuel
Bridges has recently put up consistent fantasy numbers, scoring 35 or more DraftKings points in 11 of his last 15 games. The Mavericks play good defense but play a small ball rotation, so Bridges should be able to get a lot of high percentage looks at the rim. In addition, bridges contributes in multiple categories, giving him a solid floor for cash games. Over the last ten games, he’s averaging 19.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 5.0 assists in 34.7 minutes on the floor. He’s also shooting over 50% from the field and almost 40% behind the arc. I like the solid floor Bridges offers and he’s a viable GPP option since I project him as one of the less rostered players tonight.
Cade Cunningham (SG/SF/PG-DET): $8,300 DraftKings, $7,500 FanDuel
Cade is probable for tonight’s game after missing time due to an illness. The rookie was playing excellent basketball before sitting out the past two games. He had scored 20 or more points in seven straight games, averaging 23.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 6.4 assists in that span. Suitable for an average of 45.4 DraftKings points and 42.3 FanDuel points, well over his year average. Cunningham seems to have found his game in the NBA, and I expect him to get right back to his recent form tonight against a declining Cavaliers defense who will be without their best rim protector in Jarret Allen (finger).
Luka Doncic (PG-DAL): $11,800 DraftKings, $10,900 FanDuel
Doncic is coming off a down performance and probably one of his worst games. Last game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Doncic only had 17 points on 5 of 20 from the field and 2 of 10 from behind the arc. So I’m going to go out on the limb and say we don’t see Doncic shoot 25% from the field and 20% from three against the Hornets tonight. While the Mavericks play at the slowest pace in the league, Charlotte plays at the third, fastest. So naturally, it will be a slight pace-up spot for Doncic and company. The Hornets are a bottom-of-the-barrel defense, making this a perfect spot to be a huge bounce-back game for Luka.
Russell Westbrook (PG-LAL): $8,700 DraftKings, $6,900 FanDuel
Okay, this is by no means a set it and forget it type of play, and it’s definitely not one I’m going to be playing with high expectations. With that being said, it’s a three-game slate, and in a large field, GPP, you’re going to have to take some risk on low rostered players with upside if you want to differentiate your lineups from the rest of the field. It doesn’t get anymore riskier than Russell Westbrook, that’s for sure. The Lakers point guard is coming off a big performance last night which led to a big overtime win against the Raptors. Russ had a triple-double, finishing with 22 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. Maybe that’s the confidence booster Westbrook needed to get back to the playmaking machine we’re all used to watching. Or perhaps he puts up a dud; who knows? I do know that he makes for the perfect low rostered; what the heck play with upside who is in a revenge spot, and if he can7 have another game like last night’s, he could win someone a GPP. Please don’t break the bank, but I would definitely take some shots on the Laker guard tonight.
Mason Plumlee (C-CHA): $4,900 DraftKings, $5,700 FanDuel
I like Plumlee’s price tag on DraftKings much more, so that’s where most of my exposure will be. I already mentioned how Dallas is susceptible to allowing points and rebounds in the paint, which is where Plumlee lives for pretty much all of his minutes. He’s played consistently well over the last seven games, scoring 20 or more DK points in six of them, with 19.8 being the only time he missed that mark. The Charlotte big man has gone for 33 DK points or more in three of the last four games. At $4,900, that’s good for a return of six times your investment. So there’s still value to be squeezed out of Plumlee on DraftKings in a plus matchup.
Lauri Markkanen (SF/PF-CLE): $5,900 DraftKings, $6,100 FanDuel
With Jarrett Allen (finger) out of the lineup, Markkanen has been tasked with stepping up and taking on a more significant role, primarily scoring the ball. He’s also seen his minutes increase significantly, but he’s played well. Over the past six games, Markkanen has been averaging 36.7 DK points and 35.6 FD points. Those averages are also good for six times the return on investment. Coming off a massive 31 point, 10 rebound double-double, I’ll continue to look Markkanens way for some value tonight against an absent Pistons defense.
NOTE: As always, there will be better value to open up. These are the plays I like from a first look standpoint.
- Mason Plumlee (C-CHA): $4,900 DraftKings, $5,700 FanDuel
- Russell Westbrook (PG-LAL): $8,700 DraftKings, $6,900 FanDuel
- Luka Doncic (PG-DAL): $11,800 DraftKings, $10,900 FanDuel
- Cade Cunningham (SG/SF/PG-DET): $8,300 DraftKings, $7,500 FanDuel
- Darius Garland (PG-CLE): $9,100 DraftKings, $8,500 FanDuel
- LeBron James (SF/PF/C-LAL): $11,400 DraftKings, $10,700 FanDuel
- Jalen Brunson (PG/SG-DAL): $6,300 DraftKings, $5,200 FanDuel
- Reggie Bullock (SG/SF-DAL): $4,500 DraftKings, $3,500 FanDuel
- Saddiq Bey (SF-DET): $6,800 DraftKings, $5,600 FanDuel
- Ish Smith (PG-WAS): $4,100 DraftKings, $4,900 FanDuel
- Jerami Grant (PF-DET): $6,900 DraftKings, $5,900 FanDuel
- Kevin Love (PF/C-CLE): $6,100 DraftKings, $5,300 FanDuel
- Daniel Gafford (C-WAS): $3,900 DraftKings, $4,600 FanDuel