Daily Fantasy NBA Basketball Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - 3/21/16
After an oddly frantic Sunday of daily fantasy NBA action, we settle into a Monday slate that's equally as perplexing. There's no shortage of injury concerns, blowout worries, and stout defenses to navigate around. Thankfully it's a nice big slate that we'll surely be able to find some suitable plays for. The key here is going to be following our updates article throughout the day and making sure we stay on top of the news. This is a big point, actually - these picks are going to be as well reasoned as they can be given what we know the night before the contest, but daily fantasy basketball comes down to your ability to pivot late. So, get ready!
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A note before we begin - I'm not including the Golden State and Minnesota guys here because I'm fairly sure the game will be a blowout. It should be an up and down game, though, so if you have a hunch that the game stays closer it would be an interesting stack. We're projecting them for fewer minutes, though, so you won't see those guys in these picks. Good luck!
Isaiah Thomas - FD 7700 DK 7600
Opponent - ORL
FD Proj. Pts - 36.19 DK Proj. Pts - 38.69
Thomas turned in a stellar performance against the 76ers on Sunday, putting up a busy 26/6/8 in ball-dominant minutes against the 76ers. And, really, this is just who Thomas is when the game stays close. The Celtics are totally prepared to run the offense through him, and they've shown that he can even play in the high 30s minutes if the game script is right. Well, this one has the makings of a game that could head in that direction. The Magic are deploying a combination of the offense-first Brandon Jennings, the hobbled Elfrid Payton, and the largely irrelevant CJ Watson. Should be a nice game for him.
Ish Smith - FD 6500 DK 6100
Opponent - IND
FD Proj. Pts - 32.12 DK Proj. Pts - 33.04
Is is attacking the rim again, and we've seen a tick back upward in terms of both his assist numbers and his field goal attempts (which should lead to more points, duh), but the fantasy production hasn't quite clicked in on account of his bad luck from the field and the Sixers inability to keep games close. While the Sixers won't be favored in this one by any means, Ish's price has now kind of dipped to where we're looking at his floor. If the Sixers manage to keep this one close he's a favorite to play mid-thirties minutes, and he should be priced about 10% higher in cases like that. I don't know if you can call him a safe play because the minutes are so up and down, but stacking this game for big tournaments looks very intriguing to me.
Ray McCallum - FD 3700 DK 3200
Opponent - PHX
FD Proj. Pts - 21.47 DK Proj. Pts - 22.69
With the caveat that of course we'll need to hear that he's starting again. But man, McCallum was a very solid play in his last outing. He saw 34 minutes in his role as a starter, and performed adequately (if not spectacularly) in a tough match-up with the Clippers. What's really driving this recommendation is the fantastic price ($3,200 on DK in particular) for his minutes, and the terrific match-up. The Suns have allowed the very most fantasy points per game to opposing point guards this season, and he should be a safe play with huge upside if he's in the starting lineup.
Also considered: Kyrie Irving.
Keep an eye on: Brandon Jennings and Elfrid Payton. If Payton is back in the starting line-up, Jennings becomes unplayable, but he makes an interesting play if Payton comes off the bench or sits again.
Monta Ellis - FD 6600 DK 6300
Opponent - PHI
FD Proj. Pts - 30.65 DK Proj. Pts - 31.98
It starts to get a little old recommending the same guys all the time, but if the sites are going to refuse to adjust certain players' prices, I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do. Ellis has been a daily recommendation here, but he continues to go out and flex a 5x points per dollar floor, so he'll keep showing up at the top of his position. Philly is predictably bad against the shooting guard position, made even worse by the lack of wing depth stemming from Covington's absence. But really, is Isaiah Canaan supposed to scare me here? Sauce Castillo? No. Ellis is getting his, and is a great anchor for double-ups today.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope - FD 5600 DK 5800
Opponent - MIL
FD Proj. Pts - 26.95 DK Proj. Pts - 29.43
Another guy who is just as solid as they come right now, KCP is still under-priced on account of his combination of playing more minutes than his season long average, and shooting more often during those minutes. He's paid 7x points per dollar in 3 of his last 5 games, and was solid in the other two. The Bucks have been a net positive match-up for SGs this year - they've allowed the 9th most fantasy points per game to opposing shooting guards this season - so this is another case of high floor and high ceiling, for me.
Tony Allen - FD 4700 DK 4700
Opponent - PHX
FD Proj. Pts - 23.76 DK Proj. Pts - 24.33
Tony benefits from the same match-up that helps McCallum, above, but he has the added benefit of a much more secure role. He's locked into a 33 minute rotation at the moment, and really thrives in chaotic up and down games. This one with the Suns should be exactly that - they have a lot of young, turnover prone players, and don't play great defense in transition. Allen's coming off of back to back games where he paid 5x this price, and I'd suspect that's something like his floor in a phenomenal match-up here.
If he starts again, Bradley Beal is a tremendous value at current prices.
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LeBron James - FD 9500 DK 9200
Opponent - DEN
FD Proj. Pts - 46.11 DK Proj. Pts - 47.95
Giannis Antetokounmpo - FD 10200 DK 9800
Opponent - DET
FD Proj. Pts - 48.11 DK Proj. Pts - 49.23
Two guys that bubble to the top of our small forward rankings for similar but subtly difference reasons. LeBron is here as a pure value play. His price has dropped to unreasonable levels based on his per-minute production this season, and FanDuel and DraftKings' pricing models are mistaking recent low point totals for something other than some minutes-based aberrations. His price will rise 5% before season's end, mark my words. Giannis, on the other hand, is arguably still not priced appropriately for what he's capable of when things break right. He's a point-forward who's positively dominant on a per-minute basis, and his price has stalled on account of the Bucks being involved in two odd games in a row. He'll get back to normal against whichever of Marcus Morris or Tobias Harris covers him, and 60+ point upside is in play here. LeBron is the double-up play for me, and Giannis the tournament play.
Kawhi Leonard - FD 8700 DK 8300
Opponent - CHA
FD Proj. Pts - 42.15 DK Proj. Pts - 43.99
For such a big slate, small forward is preciously shallow outside of the top tier guys today. So, my suspicion is that our lineup optimizer is going to mandate spending up at the position. Kawhi has been a pretty steady option recently, playing big minutes and enjoying the spotlight as the Spurs' number 1 offensive option. He's got a nice match-up with the Hornets today, who have allowed the 11th most fantasy points per game to opposing small forwards this season in spite of playing a pace below league average. It's hard to imagine 7x upside, but he's a very solid 50/50 option for sure.
There's a lot that needs to be figured out at SF before making full recommendations tonight. Nikola Mirotic would be a nice play if he starts, and likewise for Otto Porter. In the meantime, I also like Marcus Morris and PJ Tucker as off-beat plays with high upside for big tournaments.
Zach Randolph - FD 6900 DK 6700
Opponent - PHX
FD Proj. Pts - 35.85 DK Proj. Pts - 36.44
Z-Bo stormed back with a vengeance against the Clippers, pouring in a 28/11/10 triple-double and running the entire offense out of the post like a man 5 years his younger. The good news? He'll have an even better match-up today. The Suns' fast and loose style should lend itself well to extra opportunities. But really, we've been waiting for this Randolph since Gasol went down. I expect more of the same here, and believe he'll be 10% higher priced by season's end.
Taj Gibson - FD 5400 DK 5300
Opponent - SAC
FD Proj. Pts - 26.02 DK Proj. Pts - 26.46
Bobby Portis - FD 4400 DK 4500
Opponent - SAC
FD Proj. Pts - 22.85 DK Proj. Pts - 23.48
Neither guy is appropriately priced for his role in a league-average match-up given their current opportunity in the Pau-less Bulls, so they'll keep showing up in optimal lineups until their prices are corrected. Gibson in particular just put up 7x+ points per dollar against the toughest interior defense in the league in Utah, so something tells me he can figure something out against the Kings, who have allowed the 5th most fantasy points per game to opposing power forwards this season. Portis is a little riskier given the fewer minutes, but both should have prominent roles here.
Amir Johnson - FD 3800 DK 4000
Opponent - ORL
FD Proj. Pts - 21.22 DK Proj. Pts - 21.76
Johnson is starting and playing 25 minutes a game right now, and he's scored more than 30 fantasy points in 2 of his last 3 games. That'd be good production on a 6k salary, and you're getting him for a 33% discount to that. His floor is likely 5x points per dollar here, making him a phenomenal way to go cheap and spend up at a position where it makes more sense (like small forward).
Keep an eye on the Kenneth Faried situation. Darrell Arthur played 35 minutes (and was awesome) when Faried missed their last game, but he may be back for this one. Stay tuned for our updates article tomorrow and we'll hopefully have more news.
DeMarcus Cousins - FD 11100 DK 10400
Opponent - CHI
FD Proj. Pts - 52.21 DK Proj. Pts - 52.83
Cousins hasn't missed a beat since his one games suspension, putting up double-doubles with ease and causing opposing offenses problems on defenses as well. And then there was his humiliating 24/20 dismantling of the Knicks. Oof. This one, well, it seems a little unfair. The Bulls are basically playing without a center right now, and it's not like guarding the center position was easy for them to begin with - they've allowed the 3rd most fantasy points per game to opposing centers this season. Seems like the safest big money option out there, and the upside here is through the roof.
Marcin Gortat - FD 6200 DK 6600
Opponent - ATL
FD Proj. Pts - 31.08 DK Proj. Pts - 31.59
Al Horford - FD 7200 DK 6600
Opponent - WAS
FD Proj. Pts - 34.13 DK Proj. Pts - 34.71
If you want to grab some guys that won't be on as many radars. Gortat has quietly slid back into playing a 33 minute rotation, and he's put up a workmanlike 30 fantasy points a game in this minutes. Horford is basically a rich-man's Gortat with an extra dose of being erratic. He's got some real duds on this price, but also flashed 6x-7x points per dollar upside. And, hey, they've got a pretty nice match-up in one another! If you're constructing big tournament lineups, either makes an intriguing stand-alone while you stack other teams at the other positions.
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