Welcome to the Thursday edition of NBA DFS Picks and Pivots, a fantasy basketball column focused on helping you find the best core lineup for this slate of DFS action!
For those of you finding us for the first time, the concept behind NBA DFS Picks and Pivots is to give you a first look at the day’s NBA DFS slate, including our top picks, plays and pivots, using FantasyDraft pricing as a reference, to help you build your best line-up and win big!
Picks and Pivots is not a simple “best plays” column but rather it focuses on slate strategy and roster construction to help give you insight into how I will look to play this slate.
Wednesday’s NBA DFS started with the King as LeBron James put up ANOTHER 70+ fantasy point outing with a monster 73 FP gem against the Toronto Raptors and was somehow still less than 30% owned in GPP’s – I am simply not sure how you fade this guy right now. Dwight Howard went off for 32 point, 30 rebound, 70 fantasy point gem against the Nets and three big men on the slate – Anthony Davis, LaMarcus Aldridge and DeAndre Jordan rounded out the top 5 scorers of the night.
Personally, I was looking at a real nice night with LeBron, Kevin Love and the Nuggets as my core but that Nuggets-Bulls game got SO out of hand that the starters simply had no need to even sniff the court by the end of the third quarter. The Nuggets were up over 30 points at the half and 43 points by the end of the third which meant that guys like Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and Will Barton, who had already put up 30-40 FP each were not going to crack the 30 minute mark and it sent my line-ups tumbling back toward the cash line. I commented yesterday that I was not worried about playing the blowout because unless it was an extreme case I expected the Nuggets guys to play the minutes needed to secure a must in – well, being up 43 with a few minutes to go in the third quarter was basically that exact scenario – let’s move on to tonight’s slate!
Picks and Pivots is not a simple “best plays” column but rather it focuses on slate strategy and roster construction to help give you insight into how I will look to play this slate. The goal of this article is to dig through the slate, highlight our top plays and help you identify the best slate strategy across your NBA DFS line-ups.
As always, we will look to update our final lineup thoughts prior to lock on our twitter account @FantasyCPR so make sure to give us a follow for all the late breaking lineup news.
Without further ado, let’s get into today’s slate!
NBA DFS – Where to start on this slate:
We kick off this Thursday NBA DFS slate with six games starting at 7PM EST and at first blush this looks to be a slugfest of a slate. Of the six games on tap, four are bunched together with mediocre 212-214 totals, we have two double-digit spreads and the majority of the games are either neutral or pace decreases for the teams in action.
As we always do, let’s start with the injury news with the biggest news item being the status of Chris Paul who is questionable for tonight’s game against the Pistons and it would seem like the Rockets could give their star PG a night off with their spot as the #1 seed looking like a sure-fire lock at this point.
At this point, we should all know – if you take CP3 off the court, it means you are getting all the James Harden ($21.5K) you can handle as The Beard leads the team with a massive 41% usage rate while putting up 1.6 FP/M. On a slate with Anthony Davis, I do like the idea of using Harden as a one-off pivot off AD and then stacking the rest of the Pelicans as the ultimate leverage play but would only do this if CP3 is out tonight. If Paul sits, you can also look to Eric Gordon ($11.9K) who would likely slide into the starting line-up for the Rockets tonight but this is a CP3 out only kind of play as a fully healthy Rockets squad at home versus the lottery bound Pistons could be an ugly game.
The Hornets play on the tail end of a back to back tonight against the Memphis Grizzlies in a game that has no playoff implications and could end up being the battle of the back-ups with Memphis also on a B2B after playing the Sixers last night.
Could we see Marc Gasol sit? Will Tyreke Evans be back after resting last night? How about Mr. 30/30 Dwight Howard? Well he may have to sit if the league delivers his one game suspension tonight after picking up his 16th technical last night.
There are plays here but I just cannot recommend putting significant bankroll behind two teams with nothing to play for on a B2B when there are other teams on this slate fighting for their playoff lives.
NBA DFS – Core Build:
The interesting thing about this slate is we have only a handful of teams with something to play for which makes my “playoff team only” mentality heading down the stretch a bit tougher to employ especially when one of those teams is the New Orleans Pelicans who are playing the final game of their rare three games in three nights home stand due to the make-up/rain-out game against the Pacers last night.
As it stands right now ( as of 7AM EST), the Pelicans have the highest implied team total and are projected to be in the fastest pace game of the night so it is tough to say that anyone here is a bad play but you have to wonder how the fatigue will factor into this game. This game has BY FAR the highest game total at 228 which is 14 points higher than the next closest game on the slate and with only a 3 point spread there is merit to stacking this game up as the Lakers have the third highest total on this slate.
The Pelicans right now are in the #5 spot in the West only 1.5 games above the Jazz in the #8 spot and 3 games ahead of the Nuggets/Clippers who are fighting to stay in the playoff race right now.
Personally, I think the “fatigue” narrative here is going to depress ownership on the Pelicans tonight as we saw it last night where Anthony Davis ($21.4K) was less than 15% owned in GPP’s on FantasyDraft. The risk is real but this is late season NBA DFS – you want to go “safer” with Harden if CP3 is out then I get it, but couldn’t that game blowout being in Houston against the Pistons and with Houston basically coasting to the #1 seed, why would they push their MVP?
AD destroyed this Lakers team the last time they met, putting up 81 fantasy points on the back of 42 points, 15 boards and 6 blocks/steals and outside of The Beard, this is simply no player on this slate with his upside. If the “tired” Pelicans narrative and AD’s injury history become the overwhelming story today, be prepared to pounce on The Brow at lower ownership in tournaments tonight.
Jrue Holiday ($14.3K) returned last night after the flu caused him to miss Tuesday’s game and considering that no Pelicans player other than AD put up 30 FP, my guess is that the supporting cast tonight gets a bit over-looked. Holiday played 33 minutes last night but struggled offensively and the price point will likely keep people away but this is a player who put up 55 FP against the Lakers the last time they played.
E’Twaun Moore ($8.3K) was someone I pivoted off of last night when Jrue was ruled in and boy did that come back to burn me as the Pelicans forward was a core play in the Pelicans offense with 15 shot attempts and a 25% usage rate. His price point continues to be extremely reasonable so I would have no issue using him as a salary saving option today.
Cheick Diallo ($7.2K) is going to just keep making his way into my line-ups for as long as New Orleans wants to give him 20 minutes. In every game he has played 20 or more minutes over the last two weeks, he has put up 20 or more fantasy points and in fact in the four games he has played over minutes, he has put up an average of 27 FP making him one of the best point per dollar plays in my view.
Listen, I get the three games in three nights thing and my guess is the industry will overplay it here especially with the double-digit spread against the Lakers staring you in the face as a potential blowout/semi-rest spot and if that is the case I will just lock in the core plays from New Orleans tonight and let the chips fall where they may.
NBA DFS – Pivot Plays:
Normally I would not recommend a Dallas-Utah game with by far the slowest pace and a game total under 200 but this Jazz team is the perfect team to build around tonight in my opinion. Utah right now sits in the #8 spot in th West only 1.5-2 games up on the Nuggets and Clippers and after losing at home to the Atlanta Hawks, to say this is a must win spot would be an understatement.
What I love about the Jazz is that we basically have four starters that we can count on to play 30-40 minutes here tonight against the Mavericks and let’s be honest – who is going to want to stack a team with one of the lowest team totals on the board who also sees one of the largest pace decreases?
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Rudy Gobert ($15.1K) demolished this Dallas team earlier this season with a 17 point, 12 rebound, 6 block, 60+ FP performance and you expect the combination of Dirk and Dwight Powell to slow him down in a must win game? Gobert has 40+ FP in four of his last five games and makes for one of my favorite cash game plays with a demonstrated GPP ceiling.
Donovan Mitchell ($13.4K) and Ricky Rubio ($13.2K) both step into tis game with 37+ FP in each of their last three games which makes them an excellent cash game pairing with the upside for more as both players have gone for 40+ FP against this Dallas team already this season.
Joe Ingles ($13.1K) is never I guy I rush to roster but this is a player who is basically a lock for 30+ a night – go ahead and scroll back through his game logs, this is a guy who has put up 30+ FP in every game since March 5th and on FanDuel especially where you HAVE to roster two SF’s, I would prioritize him as one of the better mid-range plays.
One of the things I love about this 3-4 man stack, is that the price points allow you the ability to pair them with an Anthony Davis (or James Harden) with relative ease. As an example on FanDuel, I can stack all four Jazz players mentioned here and still have $5.7K per player remaining. Want to add Anthony Davis, E’Twaun Moore and Cheick Diallo? Perfect – you still have just under $4K per player for the last two spots on your roster.
Slate Overview: Play teams with something on the line. That’s it. Yes I know the Dwight Howards of the world can go off like they did last night and even teams like the Nuggets who were in a must win can end up in crazy game environments that allow them to basically sit out the second half but I am going with the strategy to play guys with something to play for. Look back at last night – the top 5 scorers – other than Dwight it was LeBron, AD, DeAndre and LMA – all players in the midst of a playoff race. Keep it simple baby.
Best of luck in all your NBA DFS contests across FantasyDraft, FanDuel and DraftKings and stay tuned to Fantasy CPR for all the latest DFS news and analysis!