Daily Fantasy NBA Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - 10/19/17
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Who else? We had to wait 2 whole days for Westbrook to appear on a slate, but here it is. We may not see the same fantasy goodness as last year (averaging in a triple-double) with the addition of 'Melo and Paul George, but his usage should only go down 2 or 3%. If you remember correctly, this $11-12K price is actually about $1000 cheaper than he was on most nights in 2016. We have just 3 games on the slate and Westbrook is the clear top choice at any position. Looking at the match-up, it's juicy. The Knicks weren't horrible against the PG last year, but they also didn't have Ramon Sessions at the helm. Sessions will have no chance of staying with Westbrook and neither will Ron Baker or Courtney Lee, who I presume will take a shot at some point. Westbrook will do what he wants with the ball and whether that's score 40 or get the offense flowing, it will happen. He's the safest play on the board with a floor around 50 and a near GPP-must on such a short slate. If Westbrook has one of his classic 85 FP games, you may not be able to make it up at any other position. Westbrook should be very popular, but I won't be getting cute.
If this was a full 15-game slate, we'd likely ignore both Lowry and DeRozan. It's not that these are bad match-ups at all, but they aren't exceptional and the Raptors should win this one pretty easy. Of course, that's tough to predict, but do yourself a favor and look at the Bulls starting lineup. Ya, U G L Y. Lowry is figured to be guarded by Jerian Grant, who's actually a pretty decent man defender. He's just an absolutely atrocious defender when it comes to off-ball and screens. The Raptors offense has a ton of both and Lowry should get more than enough separation to do his work. I don't think this is a game where he goes for 50, so if you want to fade in tournaments, fine. But I do think he gets over 35 and at point guard, you're looking for a guy that won't disappoint you on a slate like this. If you can figure out a way to lock in Lowry and Westbrook, you have yourself a good start.
Consider Patrick Beverley if he's cleared to play.
DeRozan and Lowry are in pretty similar spots here and I don't think either one stands way out above the rest. On some nights, it's an easy choice. They both see average defenders and will see a typical 34+ minutes on the court. DeRozan is a bit more scoring centric than Lowry, which does concern me in a game that could be 1-way. You just don't see as many peripherals out of guards in a game like that as you do when both teams are grinding on every possession. Still, there aren't a lot of high-priced options on the slate and DeRozan is better than a lot of them. The Bulls will stick a combo of Justin Holiday and Denzel Valentine on him, and I'm not sure either will have any success. DeRozan is a lot bigger than Holiday and much faster than Valentine. DeRozan isn't the safest stud you can get in there, but a 40 point real-life game is always in the equation and he won't see anyone stop him if he is hot.
Jordan Clarkson FD - $4700 DK - $4300
Opponent - LAC
Proj Pts FD - 16.94 DK - 17.47
Clarkson is just a bit too cheap for the player he is and the role he should be playing. With Kentavious Caldwell-Pope suspended, Clarkson should come off the bench as the backup PG and SG. That should put him over at least 25 minutes with the realistic upside for 32-38. The match-up with the Clippers isn't a marquee one, but we have just 3 games on the slate and none of them are gold mines in a pace perspective. Clarkson is also blowout proof, which matters quite a bit when the 2 L.A. foes faceoff nowadays. Clarkson is a solid guard who looks to penetrate, but is perfectly fine settling for a mid-ranger. Lou Williams and Austin Rivers are what you would call horrible defenders, so Clarkson shouldn't see any resistance in that way. You'll need to save in a couple spots tonight and Clarkson is undoubtedly one of my favorite ways to do so.
Paul George FD - $8600 DK - $8100
Opponent - NY
Proj Pts FD - 37.96 DK - 38.94
There's obviously going to be a ton of questions being asked when this team takes the court tonight, and I think a lot get answered. Some are worried about there only being 1 ball and 3 guys who need it. That's just not true. It's Westbrook's team and he does what he wants. Paul George has never needed the ball a ton and is perfectly fine playing off the ball for 60% of the game. He's not a guy who needs to man up for 15 seconds to score. As for Melo, this isn't 2010. He's fine sitting back a bit and taking open jumpers. George and Anthony will still get some isolations called for them, but it'll be nowhere near the focal point. I think George is a tremendous compliment to Westbrook and one that might fit better than Durant. George is priced down from elite status and will only need about 38 to hit value in cash games and 48 in GPP's. While that's not necessarily easy, we may be considering that a floor game for Goerge in a week or two. Oh ya, it might be important to mention that he will be guarded by Doug McDermott. PG13 train all aboard.
Brandon Ingram FD - $5800 DK - $5100
Opponent - LAC
Proj Pts FD - 29.11 DK - 29.37
Brandon Ingram showed exactly what was expected out of him in 2016 at just 18-19 years old. This guy is supposedly 8 years away from his prime. He threw up numerous 30 FP performances last season and started showing more consistency towards the end of the season. I try not to use too many match-up numbers this early in the season, as just one change to a team can change the entire defense and who they are good/bad against. The Clippers added Danilo Gallinari, who should cover Ingram. Or at least try. Gallinari used to be a solid defender, but after about 84 injuries, those days are gone. He allowed over 1 FP per minute to opposing SF's in Denver and I doubt he improves with old age. Ingram is an athletic specimen and one that derives a lot of his value from fast pace and fastbreaks. Ingram isn't reliant on any 1 stat, so he doesn't need to be hot to produce. He isn't the safest option by any means (looking at you, Zip!), but he's cheap enough and could put up 35 fantasy points if things work his way just a little.
Paul Zipser FD - $4800 DK - $4200
Opponent - TOR
Proj Pts FD - 17.95 DK - 18.7
There's no name sexier to click on than Paul Zipser. It's even sexier watching him play at 0.5x speed and sit in the corner for the entire. I'm now going to turn around and tell you to play him. Hey, I'll be right on the idiot train with you. The Bulls have started out the season with a brawl between Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis, which has left 1 suspended and 1 in the hospital with facial fractures. No Bueno. Looking past the evident doom of the Bulls and onto the fantasy implications, they should come in the form of Zipser and Markkanen. RoLo, Valentine, Felicio, and Nwaba will see a slight bump, but nothing notable. Zipser played over 36 minutes a game in the last month of 2016 and showed his ability to put up fantasy points. He's extremely cheap and could end up playing close to 40 minutes. While I would pay up for Ingram if you can, I wouldn't shuffle anyone else you like to do it.
Blake Griffin FD - $9500 DK - $9600
Opponent - LAL
Proj Pts FD - 47.88 DK - 48.08
There aren't many guys to pay up for on this slate, so let's take a look at one of the guys who can put up 50 without much surprise. It might be easy to forget, but there was a time when Blake Griffin was a top 3 fantasy performer on a nightly basis. if your memory is pristine, you know it was when Chris Paul was sidelined during the 2016 season. We'll now get to see what Blake Griffin can do now that the Clippers are his. The offense will be running through him and he will be given the optimal way to play. I'm probably more excited for Blake Griffin this season than any other player in this league. He starts things off with a prime match-up against a weak Lakers interior. Brook Lopez is quite the scorer, but he's well known as a guy who backs up in the paint. Maybe that'll change now that he's off the Nets, but the Lakers aren't much better. You then get either Randle or Nance, who are just too small to handle the size of the Clippers down low. Westbrook is easily the top option on the slate, but I won't be sleeping on Griffin and could see the pivot. In cash games, I'll be making sure he's paired with the next guy we touch on.
Lauri Markkanen FD - $6500 DK - $5600
Opponent - TOR
Proj Pts FD - 22.64 DK - 22.63
With Nikola Mirotic and Bobby Portis quite literally knocking each other out of the lineup, the 1st-round rookie Lauri Markkanen is going to get a lot on his shoulders to start. Between SF, PF, and C, the Bulls have Zipser, Markkanen, Lopez, and Felicio. That's 144 minutes for 4 guys. Sure, a Valentine or Holiday may grab a few minutes at the 4, but you get the point. Markkanen is going to be expected to play close to 40 minutes and you have to expect the production to come along. He's unproven as can be in the NBA, but is no typical rookie. He's been playing pro ball in Europe since the age of 14 and is no shy guy to the spotlight. He's been the best (maybe 2nd) player on his team in Finland for 3 seasons before going to the U of Arizona. His price isn't overly cheap, but for what he should do, it is. If Markkanen gets 40 minutes and produces at the rate expected, his price will be around $8000 next slate. Get on him now while you can. He should be around 40% owned, and while you can always fade a guy, I'll be on the opposite side with likely 100% exposure.
Julius Randle FD - $6300 DK - $5800
Opponent - LAC
Proj Pts FD - 32.03 DK - 32.39
Randle just got moved from probable to questionable, so keep an eye on his status and make sure he gets the full go-ahead without a minutes limit. I expect it to happen, but you don't want to be caught with a guy that has a built-in ceiling. Randle proved a lot to the league in 2016 and will now look to make his way into the next tier of players. With Russell leaving, it should give him the opportunity to handle the ball more. It sounds weird, but Randle is actually very good with the ball in his hands outside of the paint. I look for him to create a lot this year and at this price, it's hard to go wrong when you have a usage % like he should. The Clippers aren't an easy match-up, but the paper disagrees. They ranked in the bottom 10 against PF's and C's in 2016, but I think it has more to do with Griffin and Jordan not giving it there all on that side of the ball. Randle will have the opportunity to have a big game and it'll just come down to how he starts and how the rotations end up minute-wise. If he sees over 30, there isn't much of a chance he misses value.
DeAndre Jordan FD - $8200 DK - $7500
Opponent - LAL
Proj Pts FD - 39.55 DK - 39.47
The difference between Adams and Lopez is minimal for me, but Jordan gets the slight nod. Both Jordan and Lopez are inept defenders and both guys should be able to put up numbers. Lopez has allowed nearly 1.5 FP per minutes over the last season in Brooklyn, and his surroundings in L.A. are not any better from a defensive POV. Jordan is a lock for 15 rebounds and could get to 20 if the game stays close. I guess the 1 problem you do have is foul trouble. Brook Lopez is an offensive center and he will challenge Jordan plenty. If Jordan is able to stay out of foul trouble, you can lock him in for a monster double-double. With that being said, he'll probably be 2x more owned than Lopez, who may have more upside. Either way you go, center could be a make or break position on such a limited slate. If you don't like either of these 2 big dudes, let's look at a cheap option in OKC.
Steven Adams FD - $6300 DK - $5700
Opponent - NY
Proj Pts FD - 28.22 DK - 27.06
Nobody is really talking about it, but it should be fun to watch Enes Kanter and Steven Adams go at it. They've been teammates for the past few years and play very different styles of basketball. Adams is a defensive-minded, hard-nosed bully who gets his FP in the PnR and from the attention given to Westbrook. Kanter is a more offensive, back-to-the-basket point scorer who isn't very interest in defense. Adams is a safe bet for a double-double and we know Kanter isn't going to bully him out of the paint. He averaged close to 34 minutes per game last year and I'd expect the same if not more with Kanter now gone. This match-up sets up extremely well and I don't see a way Adams is held under 20-25 fantasy points. If you need safety and can't afford Jordan or Lopez, go with Adams over Kanter or Lopez.
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- Russell Westbrook: (AP Photo/Jeff Haynes)