Welcome to the Monday 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.
Welcome back to some back NBA DFS Picks and Pivots as I took the weekend off from basketball to focus on my annual fantasy baseball keeper draft and as it always does, that draft gets me so amped-up for the start of the MLB season. Frankly I cannot wait until first pitch on Thursday and I am really excited to bring you Picks and Pivots in MLB DFS all season long.
However we still have NBA DFS in our lives with less than 10 games to go across the teams in the NBA and for the most part we have much of the playoff picture in focus which is going to be critical to narrowing down our player pool down the stretch. The Eastern Conference is essentially locked into their 8 teams with seeding really being the only issue now but in the Western Conference we have a ton of intrigue as the difference in being the third seed to the ten spot in the West is only 5 games. The Nuggets and Clippers remain within 2 games of the playoffs so you have a logjam of 8 teams fighting for 6 spots and that is where I would focus my player pool on almost every slate from here on out.
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 – Finding our Core:
Heading down the stretch of the NBA DFS season, I am going to overly simplify Picks and Pivots down to a core group of teams and players that I am looking at with the mindset of playing players in games that matter. I know it sounds simple but I am finding success with this strategy the last week to ten days and with so much volatility with players sitting/resting/playing limited minutes, this really helps you cut out the noise and focus on finding the consistent production with upside.
There are really only two games I am focused on tonight with the Nuggets-Sixers and Timberwolves-Grizzlies with all but the Grizzlies being teams that are in contention and fighting for playoff spots. You can actually make the case to simply limit your exposure to Denver and Minnesota as the Nuggets and Wolves sit only 1.5 games apart in the standings as the 9 and 7 seeds in the West.
On the Minnesota side, the fantasy production really has been limited across the board for this team in recent games as Karl-Anthony Towns ($18.9K) is the only member of the starting unit with over a FP/M of production in the last two weeks. In fact over the last two weeks, KAT has a 26.6% usage rate while putting up 1.3 FP/M but tonight he will take on a Memphis team he has really struggled against the last two season, failing to top 40 fantasy points in four of his last five meetings.
In theory, KAT would be a core play based on his usage and his guaranteed minutes but I really struggle to lock him in as the highest priced player on FantasyDraft tonight as he would need 57 FP just to hit value on this salary and the recent history just does not give me the confidence we can get there.
I cannot believe I am saying this, but I actually think Andrew Wiggins ($12.1K) may be the play here as he is averaging 36 FP/G over his last three outings and what has really stood out to me in the last two games is that he has racked up 19 rebounds. Wiggins is usually someone I keep off my radar entirely because of his scoring dependency but if he is going to become a more aggressive rebounder with Jimmy Butler out, than I think you can use him as a solid mid-range play tonight.
The one other thing to keep in mind here tonight is the opponent – the Memphis Grizzlies – who are just one game removed from a 60 point beating on the road in Charlotte and will once again be without Tyreke Evans tonight. With Minnesota having everything to play for on their home court and Memphis simply tanking, there is the potential for a blow-out here which could put the Minnesota bench in play.
Last game against the Sixers, with the Minnesota starters getting blown out we got a rare extended look at the Wolves bench as we saw three different Minnesota bench players log 20+ minutes. Tyus Jones ($6.2K) will continue to run the back-up point with Derrick Rose out tonight and we were reminded of his upside last game as he logged 25 minutes and 30 fantasy points on the back of 11 points, 6 assists and 3 steals. Gorgui Dieng ($6.5K) racked up a double-double with 15 points and 11 boards in 26 minutes which was good for 38 FP and although neither player can be counted on here tonight, there is merit to using them as salary savers if you believe this game will be one-sided and considering this game has opened with an 11.5 pt spread it would seem like Vegas agrees!
NBA DFS – Game Stack:
The Nuggets-Sixers game has a 223.5 game total which is the highest on the slate and with only a 5 point spread this looks like a great game to build around with two teams in the heat of the playoff race and in fact the only game that features two teams with anything to play for. I will say it again – I simply want my exposure in NBA DFS this late in the year to be with teams/players that have something to play for – so this is the game that I will be focused on tonight.
The Nuggets right now will continue to be without Gary Harris and all that does is further solidifies the five man starting rotation for Denver as each member of the starting five is locked into major minutes down the stretch. Over the last two weeks, three Nuggets starters are putting up over a FP/M as Nikola Jokic ($16.1K), Jamal Murray ($12.9K) and Will Barton ($13.3K) are top three in both FP/M production and usage over that time period which makes them a trio I will have locked into my core in all formats tonight.
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Paul Millsap and Wilson Chandler are more secondary plays for me considering their low usage but I do want to keep an eye on the buzz around Millsap specifically today. On the surface, Millsap ($11.9K) would have game log watchers looking elsewhere after he only played 24 minutes and put up 13 FP against the Wizards but it is worth noting this was largely due to an illness that made him an in-day downgrade and was clearly a drag on his performance. One game earlier against the Bulls, Millsap went off for 48 FP in only 26 minutes and logged 45 minutes of court time in their double OT game against the Heat right before that. There is some sneaky upside here is Millsap is over-looked today and I would not be afraid to stack him up with the other “Big 3” in Denver tonight.
On the Sixers side of this game it all starts with Joel Embiid ($16.7K) and Ben Simmons ($16K) who could make for some intriguing contrarian plays based off their recent minute trend where neither player has gone over 30 minutes in the last three games. The truth is that much of the reduced minutes can be attributed to blowouts as the Sixers were up by 30 points going into the 4th quarter versus Memphis, 30 versus the Magic and 27 versus Minnesota. If people simply look at the game logs here they could miss an opportunity for big nights from the Sixers stars in the NBA TV featured game of the night.
Slate Overview: Even though we have five games on tap tonight, I simply cannot get behind any other game environment than the Sixers-Nuggets as I refuse to put any of my pre-MLB bankroll behind the Knicks/Suns/Grizzlies at this point in the NBA DFS season. My goal is to lock in at least 3-4 Nuggets tonight and correlate that with the Simmons/Embiid duo and utilize 1-2 bench values from Minnesota in what should be a blow-out against the Grizzlies. Tread lightly, play smart and try to pad your MLB bankroll!
Best of luck in your NBA DFS contests across FantasyDraft, FanDuel and DraftKings and stay tuned to Fantasy CPR for all the latest DFS news and analysis!