Basketball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice
Daily Fantasy NBA Basketball Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - 1/13/17
Friday the 13th! Ooooh. Anyone feeling a little off today? Thinking there's something creeping around in the shadows or the air feels a little different? That's because it's a made up bad luck day that has no real bearing on anything in the real world. Unless of course these picks turn out bad. Then I'm blaming the day.
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Isaiah Thomas FD - $9000 DK - $9000
Opponent - ATL
Proj Pts FD - 47.74 DK - 50.75
Marcus Smart FD - $5600 DK - $6300
Opponent - ATL
Proj Pts FD - 29.62 DK - 31.74
Avery Bradley’s already been ruled out for Friday leaving a lot of backcourt minutes again up for grabs. Smart and Thomas played 36 and 38 respectively last game with IT3 really lighting it up in the second half on his way to a show-stealing 38/6/5 line against the Wolves. He’s the primary usage uptick when Bradley’s off the court and dude didn’t disappoint, chucking up 29 shots. Both have seen moderate price hikes just in the last couple of days because of the opportunity with Bradley off the court, but I still think we are getting value on them figuring they play major minutes against the Hawks. Note that Atlanta’s slightly above average defending opposing backcourts this season so these guys aren’t getting a crazy great matchup. But the projects as close and the Celts should be able to score here. Smart is likely a chalkier play than Thomas simply because there’s other PG value in the latter’s tier. But folks might be turned off to Smart with him not hitting value against the Wiz as a chalk play on Wednesday.
Kemba Walker FD - $8100 DK - $8300
Opponent - PHI
Proj Pts FD - 41.03 DK - 43.45
Even with Nic Batum set to return tonight, it’s hard not to love Kemba in this spot. Walker’s shouldering much more of the offensive burden this season as evidenced by an uptick in his per minute shot attempts and a big spike in his three point shooting. He’s hitting 42% of shots from beyond the arc, up from a 35% career average. That’s a noticeable increase. And while it could be some run good over the short term, I don’t think we see the number regress to terribly much considering the sample size. TJ McConnell’s the new starting point guard for Philly, and he’s an dramatic improvement defensively over Sergio. But Kemba’s still in a solid spot here considering his minutes upside and overall time on ball (5th in the league) and usage rate. It’s close between Walker and IT3 in the same price range.
Kyle Lowry FD - $9200 DK - $8500
Opponent - BKN
Proj Pts FD - 44.32 DK - 47.57
Whenever Brooklyn plays I feel almost contractually obligated to write up just about every relevant DFS play going against them. You get it even one step better with Lowry who’s been a crazy high minutes guy in the short term mostly because the Raptors need him so much in close games. There’s some blowout risk so don’t expect him to hit minutes in the low 40’s like he’s been doing on the regular but the Nets are so very bad that even reduced minutes could get him close to value. They can’t defend any position and point guard’s no exception where they allow almost 8% more scoring than league average.
James Harden FD - $11600 DK - $11400
Opponent - MEM
Proj Pts FD - 55.98 DK - 60.31
It’s never fun playing guys against Memphis. I get that. But the sites are also price-correcting for these kinds of matchups and as was the case with Westbrook the other night, it was an overcorrection. Contrary to popular belief, you can put up numbers against Memphis relative to price and I think that’s the case here with Harden. He sees about an 8% reduction in price slate-over-slate just because of the matchup and I think he’s fully in play here. We probably don’t need to roll through all of the Harden superlatives. He’s basically on the short (2-3 person) list for the MVP and might just be the sole guy when it’s all said and done. Yes, Memphis is allowing roughly 5% less scoring and assists to opposing PGs, but remember what I said about the price decrease on Harden. It’s more than those percentages. I think you are actually getting him at a relative bargain here.
Evan Fournier FD - $5500 DK - $5800
Opponent - POR
Proj Pts FD - 28.12 DK - 30.27
Foul trouble bit him early against the Clippers and he saw drastically reduced minutes because of it. Fournier is often the only guy we can trust on the Magic to actually play regular starter’s minutes and that should be the case again tonight. Portland’s about average when it comes to defending shooting guards though they struggle guarding the three. Fournier will move between the two and three depending on the rotation and I think you see the minutes stabilize in this matchup. Fournier will see shots in the mid-teens when he’s getting his run and does enough on the glass to keep the floor on the higher end considering his price.
DeMar DeRozan FD - $9400 DK - $8700
Opponent - BKN
Proj Pts FD - 45.31 DK - 47.21
Much like Lowry, I need to put everybody from the Raptors (who stand to see minutes) into play here. The Nets are as bad as it comes on defense for a lot of different reasons. For starters, their players stink. Then they double down on that by playing all of these weird, hockey line rotations in which no one ever is on the court consistently with anyone else. It really makes for a dream DFS situation and Derozan is in the mix from a cash game perspective because the Raptors implied total shoots through the roof. Derozan’s kept up his insane shot volume ways over the short term and is averaging 24 looks from the field along with 10 trips to the line over his last five. Those kinds of opportunities are in the upper elite class and the Nets don’t have anyone who can handle his type of short range game. I’m worried about the blowout of course, but think he’s in play.
LeBron James FD - $9900 DK - $9700
Opponent - SAC
Proj Pts FD - 49.61 DK - 52.83
Lebron got buzzed off his minutes in a random blowout to the Blazers on Wednesday night. It could have been a travel thing with Cleveland not getting into Portland until very late the night before because of the weather. Or it could have just been one of those games (the second unit didn’t do the Cavs any favors). Either way he saw a random minutes reduction which could qualify in some parts as a rest game. Cleveland’s a modest -6.5 and have one of the higher implied totals on the night. Lebron coming under 10K on both sites has him right in the bullseye for cash games at a small forward position almost completely lacking in value (you’ll see what I mean as we get lower on the list). Sacramento is a slow team when running most of the offense through Boogie, but they are also one of the worst in the league in defensive efficiency. Look for a bounce back from Lebron.
DeMarre Carroll FD - $3800 DK - $4500
Opponent - BKN
Proj Pts FD - 23.06 DK - 24.71
He plays a lot of minutes. What he's doing out there (from a fantasy perspective) is a bit suspect even with the heavy run. Considering how bad small forward is on this slate, I have no issue getting away from it cheaply with a guy like Carroll. Sure, the game projects as a blowout. But Demarre, at least on FanDuel, is coming so cheap that basically punting the position is completely fine. There is so little value that I think playing a guy with around a 30 minute floor at close to the minimum allows you flexibility in other spots. And there's upside too. He's put up 16 threes over the last two games and will rebound from time to time.
After Lebron and to a much, much, much lesser extent Carroll, the small forward pickings get really damn thin. If you think the Hawks get locked into a close game then Thabo Sefolosha is interesting from a minutes' perspective. But he can also disappear in a big way even when on the court. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is in the same vein. With Batum coming back I'm less certain on the minutes, but he will often pitch in enough around the fantasy margins to at least not kill you at his prices. Bojan Bogdanovic is also coming cheaper and won't totally crush your soul. But this is all to say that small forward is a rough one on this slate.
Update: Stanley Johnson makes a great play tonight with KCP likely out due to an injury he suffered in the late game last night.
Kevin Love FD - $7700 DK - $8000
Opponent - SAC
Proj Pts FD - 40.81 DK - 43.58
The Kings have actually been above average against the power forward this season so it isn’t like we are exploiting some crazy matchup. But we are getting Love very cheap right now, especially on FanDuel. His price dropped below 8K after some short term weirdness with him involving food poisoning and blowouts. He has upside on both sites. On FanDuel, it’s the price while on DraftKings you have to love both the double/double upside combined with the amount of threes he’s shooting. The prospect of getting extra points there along with the minutes creeping back up have me loving the cash game floor all around. On a night with some expensive plays possibly eating up salary on the top end, a middling approach with guys like Love has its merits.
Derrick Favors FD - $4700 DK - $4800
Opponent - DET
Proj Pts FD - 23.65 DK - 24.73
To be fair, I hate this position today which is why you’re going to see guys like Favors and a couple of other shoulder shrugs getting written up. He saw reduced minutes on the back end of the back-to-back against Memphis. But then the run didn’t reappear against the Cavs. That could have been a matchup concern against Cleveland and I suspect you see the minutes tick back up here against the Pistons. Not necessarily up to the mid 30’s like against Minny, but upper 20’s is totally in play. The Jazz don’t want to play Favors and Gobert together for long stretches which effects the former more than the latter but the Pistons do play a bit bigger across the board. I think that gets Favors the opportunity and he’s still coming very cheap on both sites.
Ersan Ilyasova FD - $5900 DK - $5900
Opponent - CHA
Proj Pts FD - 27.17 DK - 29.06
Dare I say the Philly rotations are stabilizing? Is it really happening? I never thought I’d see such a thing in my lifetime, but right in time for Friday the 13th I’m calling the weirdness out. I think Philly has somewhat of a plan with their minutes. And Ersan is part of the “process”. He’s seeing fairly consistent low 30’s run in the short term and getting double digit looks from the field per game. The rebounding doesn’t come in bunches, especially when he’s playing with Embiid, but the usage rate is promising all things considered. He isn’t a cheap play anymore at a tough position you can do worse (ringing endorsement).
Joel Embiid FD - $7800 DK - $8100
Opponent - CHA
Proj Pts FD - 41.49 DK - 43.58
Speaking of Embiid, we are climbing back into that zone of asking ourselves the hard question of, “At what price can we play a guy on a hard minutes’ cap?” That’s been the issue with “The Process” all season as he tests the limits of what a guy can do in limited court time. He’s just such a per minute beast that playing an $8K guy who only stands to see 29 minutes (at most) of court time becomes a real question. But he’s coming off a 21/14 game against the Knicks that only took him 27 minutes to cobble together. That’s just nuts. The Hornets don’t have much in the way of interior defense and are especially light if Zeller were to sit again. The price tag is definitely pushing back up against the zone of comfort, but I think we can go back his way again tonight.
Nikola Vucevic FD - $7000 DK - $6900
Opponent - POR
Proj Pts FD - 36.37 DK - 37.96
He started last game over Biyombo and here’s to hoping that move sticks. Vuce has been relegated to a quasi-sixth man role with Bismarck in the starting lineup and often been able to pay value even off the bench. If he’s looking at the starting gig and a steady diet of low 30’s minutes then we are getting him underpriced. Vuce was seeing around 15 shots per game and nearly averaging a double/ double in the short term at reduced minutes. If he climbs back into this starter-steady run then we are buying low. Portland’s well below average at defending the opposing center and they allow 4% more scoring and 3% more rebounding than league average to the position. This is a great time to buy on Vuce and I don’t even think you’re completely killed if he’s coming off the bench again.