Basketball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice
Daily Fantasy NBA Basketball Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - 12/11/17
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After a stretched out Sunday slate that ended with Joel Embiid getting ruled out 5 minutes after lock, we're on to a brand new week of DFS basketball. We kick it off with an interesting 6-game slate full of games that are expected to be close. There's a lot of different superstars to pay up for and not a whole lot of value. Make sure you keep an eye out for the news & updates article as I'll touch on any news/value that comes out from now until then. I most certainly know I'm recommending a lot of expensive options tonight, it's just the nature of the slate. We will get to some decent value, but this is a slate that will come down to the $10k+ guys. The first one we'll look at is Russell Westbrook. As a guy that should be the most expensive option on every slate around $12k, he's a little too cheap. Especially if Paul George is out once again and he sees an extra 4-5% usage. This match-up with the Charlotte Hornets is an average one if Batum is on him and an exceptional one if Kemba stays. Dwight Howard isn't much of a rim protector and the Hornets have allowed the 5th most FP in the paint to opposing PG's. Westbrook is by no means a must with so many options, but he's right up there with the best of 'em. He's worth a look in both cash games and tournaments.
Point guard is not a spot to pay down at tonight. Unless some serious news breaks, there's nobody under $5k worth considering. We're going to move down in price a tad with Chris Paul. This is a very exciting DFS game and the one that will likely draw the most ownership. It'll be interesting to see how the Pelicans respond on a tough B2B, but the Rockets should have no issues at all. Aside from being extremely tired, the Pelicans are the league's worst team against PG's. They are the only team to allow over 50 FP per game and have allowed 55 in the last 10. Rajon Rondo is no longer a good defender in any way and can be taken advantage of on the perimeter and in the paint. He also takes a lot of risks, leaving open lanes to the rim. Chris Paul is the same maestro of basketball as always and he's started to integrate himself nicely into this offense. He's an extremely safe cash game play with immense value if the game stays close.
Yep, we're staying with the high-end options and taking a look at Damian Lillard. When you're on the road in Golden State, there's a lot of risk, but the upside is here. If the Blazers are able to keep this close like the Grizzlies on Saturday, it will have to be on the doing of Lillard and McCollum. With Steph Curry out for an extended amount of time, the Warriors are going to struggle against PG's. Pat McCaw, Shaun Livingston, and Quinn Cook are getting the minutes at PG and 2 of those 3 guys are brutally bad defenders. Lillard has been one of the more consistent point guards in the league and has been over 45 FP on a nightly basis. There is a lot of risk here with Lillard if the Warriors get hot, but if they don't, Lillard is going to see 35+ minutes of productive court time against a team that is willing to run. Lillard has a 40 FP floor with a 70 ceiling. Point guard is a spot to pay up at until we get some news that drastically changes things.
Both of these guys are 2 of the top plays at shooting guards in very different price ranges. Harden, obviously, is one of the top priced options and one of the few guys you'll have to choose between. Gordon is actually a savings option at this point, sitting under $5k on both sites. He's getting 30 minutes a game and getting to 20 FP on a nightly basis. He has a 40 point ceiling in any game and especially against a Pelicans team that can't guard the perimeter. 99% of the attention and any good defender will be on Harden, so it's just up to Gordon to hit his shots. He played for the Pelicans for a few years and that has to do something for a guy. As for Harden, there isn't much to discuss. He's an absolute maniac when his 3-point shot is falling and has 70 fantasy point on any night. His floor is about 50 against a Pelicans team that's worn down and can't guard SG's anyway. There is no right way to go between Russell Westbrook and James Harden. You can probably find a way to fit both, but there are some other guys you'll need later. I think I slightly prefer Harden, but will have exposure to both in all formats. Gordon is better off in tournaments, but can be played in cash if no value emerges. He's just reliant on scoring, which can be tough.
E'Twaun Moore FD - $4600 DK - $4500
Opponent - HOU
Proj Pts FD - 23.74 DK - 23.94
On a slate that we're looking for value in, E'Twaun Moore is very solid in a game we're looking to attack. He's been over 35 minutes in 6 straight games and will match-up with James Harden and Eric Gordon, who don't play defense. The Rockets are fine on paper against shooting guards, but Holiday and Rondo will see the superior defenders at all time. His price is super low on both sites and will likely be a bit lower owned than Eric Gordon, who are similarly priced. He doesn't have too much upside without any peripheral game, but he's hit 35 FP in 3 of the last 20, so it's somewhat there if he gets hot from behind the line. It's hard to go wrong with a guaranteed 35+ minutes and 20 fantasy points on a slate without any tremendous value to lean on. It's another "meh" play, but these are the guys you need to play to reach up for the stars. Not exciting. Necessary.
DeMar DeRozan FD - $8800 DK - $8200
Opponent - LAC
Proj Pts FD - 41.53 DK - 41.84
If you have some sizeable funds but can't get all the way up to Harden, DeMar DeRozan is a phenomenal pivot under $9k. He's been putting up 40+ fantasy points every night and has flashed 60+ upside plenty. He now faces off with a Clippers team that is in absolute shambles. Lou Williams and C.J. Williams get the minutes at point guard and neither are at all good defenders. It'll have to be Gallinari that moves over if they want any shot of slowing down DDR, as the guys they have at the 2 don't have a chance. Seet Lou is a great offensive player, but we're going to run into some serious trouble when these guys are forced into guarding elite plays. DeRozan is one of my favorite plays on this slate that I expect to fly under the radar. I don't like him nearly as much as I do a Harden or Westbrook in cash, but you can get some savings with DeRozan and have a very fair shot at 50 fantasy points. This Clippers defense is a shell of itself and I'm willing to attack while they are missing an identity. I wouldn't be surprised to see either Lowry or DeRozan benefit with a monster game. DeRozan has a slightly better match-up, so we'll look there.
Treveon Graham played 26 minutes with Lamb and Batum out last game. I don't know if I'll go there, but he's an option if no more value emerges and they sit again.
We start off our 3rd position with a 3rd superstar in Kevin Durant. With Stephen Curry out for the foreseeable future, it'll be tough to ignore Durant in a game against a WC foe that should stay close. He's put up 66 and 74 the last two games, so he's obviously getting a monstrous bump. The Blazers have Harkless and Turner at the 3, who have a ton of trouble with KD. Aminu will end up on him down the stretch, but I think we all are well aware of how much that matters. Durant is a lock for 30 real-life points if this game stays close and about 60 FP. There's always a possibility of a Warriors blowout, but without Curry, you're going to need an insane 2-3 quarters from the stars, which would end up fine in the end. Durant is still affordable for his current role in this offense and has a ceiling higher than is reasonable to say. If this game stays close, it could be 1 you regret not stacking. You then have a much cheaper option in Andre Iguodala that's getting 28+ minutes a night with many of them at PG. expect him to bounce back and certainly get over that 20 FP mark at a friendly price tag. Durant is one of 4 elite superstars on this slate that are going to be extremely tough to turn down. It may come down to what game you personally think is the most competitive of the bunch. Just take comfort in KD and don't worry about his expected ownership.
Wesley Johnson FD - $4500 DK - $4200
Opponent - TOR
Proj Pts FD - 22.84 DK - 21.62
With the return of Danilo Gallinari, everyone expected Wes Johnson to go back to 15-19 minutes. Nope. He's sat at 24 and 31 with Gallo back, so we have to keep paying attention. His price is still close to bare minimum and the match-up with the Raptors isn't half bad. When given the minutes, this is a guy that will do you well. He doesn't stand in the corner on this offense and is actually given the opportunity to run some ISO when Rivers is on the bench. Wes Johnson is by no means a fun guy to roster or someone you're looking for an explosion out of, buts always possible. He put up 50 fantasy points just 2 weeks ago against LeBron and the Cavs, which is just a little reminder that this is DFS NBA and nothing is really that predictable when they get on the hardwood. Johnson is super cheap, a lock for 24+ minutes, and active when on the court. That's all you can ask for from value on this slate. I still prefer trying to reach up to Durant or Iggy, but wouldn't change anything I loved about my team to do it.
Draymond Green FD - $8500 DK - $7400
Opponent - POR
Proj Pts FD - 36.06 DK - 35.23
With Anthony Davis playing 40 minutes last night in an up-tempo game with Philly last night, it's hard for me to recommend him here. There's obviously the chance he goes off, but I think it's a lower lower than the chance of him playing 22-27 minutes in a game that Cousins is allowed to take over. He will certainly be able to. Instead, we'll move down to Draymond Green for our top PF. We've already looked at Durant and Draymond also sees a considerable bump with Curry out. He gets a lot more minutes at "point guard" on offense and is going to have plenty of success against the Blazers. The Blazers are missing Nurkic from an already weak interior and they will likely end up playing small. Green will play both the 4 and 5 and dominate against these subpar guys they will be throwing at him. (Vonleh, Aminu, Turner, etc.) Green is a guy with a 35 FP floor that can go off if the game stays close. Only play him in a tournament if you have other exposure to this game. In cash, he's a great option and one you don't have to worry much about hurting you.
Marvin Williams FD - $5100 DK - $4700
Opponent - OKC
Proj Pts FD - 26.74 DK - 26.84
Here we are with some very safe value. Maybe. Let's look at this situation. Both Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky have missed the last 2 games, result in Marvin Williams seeing safe minutes and even safer production. Cody Zeller will remain out, but Kaminsky is questionable. I'm personally of the opinion that Marvin Williams will see minutes whether Frank plays or not, but there's no doubting that there is some risk. If Kaminsky remains out, go ahead and use Williams as a main source of value in all formats. This match-up with the Thunder is a tough one for most guys, but Williams will have success against Carmelo. He is effective at stretching the floor and can take advantage below the rim against a guy like Anthony. His price is still very fair around $5k and it'll be tough for him to kill you in 30+ minutes. Power forward is easily one of the weakest positions on the slate and Vegas expects this game to be close. This isn't a very exciting play, but you need the value on this slate and it's one of the safer ways to get it.
Carmelo Anthony FD - $7100 DK - $6700
Opponent - CHA
Proj Pts FD - 35 DK - 35.99
If Paul George is out again, Carmelo Anthony is a guy you must give some attention to. He's going to remain reliant on scoring no matter who's on the floor, but he's getting a lot more shots and a guaranteed 35+ minutes if PG13 is out. Westbrook is looking for him a ton and they're actually working well together. The match-up with the Hornets doesn't jump out of the water, but it's fine. Marvin Williams will struggle to stay with Melo and he will have plenty of open shots on the perimeter. It just comes down to whether he hits them or not. You will more than likely know the fate of your Melo teams well before halftime. I still think Draymond is a lot safer, but Melo is over $1k cheaper and has just as much upside on any given night.
Anthony Davis played 40 minutes last night. Cousins played 26. I would be quite surprised if Davis plays more than 30 minutes tonight. That's if he plays.
DeMarcus Cousins FD - $12000 DK - $10700
Opponent - HOU
Proj Pts FD - 52.34 DK - 54.76
The Pelicans made an extremely smart move in playing DeMarcus Cousins for just 26 minutes last night in a close game against the 76'ers. It may have been a lot of luck with foul trouble involved, but let's just give the Pelicans a break and say they made a good decision for once. Either way, it'll allow Cousins to pick up 34+ tonight. Against a Houston squad that likes to run and can't guard bigs on the perimeter, it should be trouble. Clint Capela is a menace on the boards, but he's not getting minutes and he'll be bullied by the Cuz everywhere else. DMC is a match-up proof monster that is going to see a lot more minutes than his counterpart in AD. He's going to cost you a pretty penny on FD, but is a lot more affordable on DK and tough to avoid anywhere. This is a game that deserves a lot of attention and Cousins is the number 1 option on the Pelicans. If I can get it to happen, I'll get as close as I can to 100%. He's not a must because of the price, but is right up there with Westbrook, Harden, and Durant as the top tier superstar options on the slate. Let's touch on some other guys if you're forced to pay down a bit.
Marc Gasol FD - $8400 DK - $7800
Opponent - MIA
Proj Pts FD - 39.81 DK - 40.1
With Hassan Whiteside remaining out for at least one more game, Marc Gasol should have some fun here. It will be the duty of Bam Adebayo, James Johnson, and Kelly Olynyk to stop Gasol. It won't work at all. They are 3 very poor interior defenders that Gasol is smarter, bigger, more athletic and just superior in every aspect. He's going to control the paint with ease and can be locked in for his 35 FP floor before getting off the bench. His upside is monstrous in a match-up that is expected to play slow and remain close. Usually, we want to target high-tempo games, but centers benefit the least from them, generally. There are obviously outliers on each side, but Gasol isn't one. He prefers to slow it down and get set on each possession on both offense and defense. This is his game to lose and the Grizzlies will let him play 35+ minutes. I still like Cousins a lot and will try to pay up for him, but don't feel forced. I also think Gasol stays under 15% owned, which is criminal.
Robin Lopez FD - $5300 DK - $4900
Opponent - BOS
Proj Pts FD - 24.27 DK - 24.02
Yes, this is admittedly reaching for some value. I won't actively play Robin Lopez, but he has to be considered for this price if you think this game remains close. He typically sits around 25 FP and will rarely kill you. We know Al Horford is a bad defender and he's not a huge fan of physical contact in the first place. The Celtics are fine on paper against the center spot, but has a lot to do with them just forcing teams to play small. Lopez is a lock for playing time and we've seen him get stretched out for 40+ minutes on weird occasion. This isn't a spot you go for upside, and it's probably a spot you try to avoid, but if you need to pay way down this is the way to go for 25 fantasy points. Bam Abedayo is the only other way to pay down, but he has a brutal match-up with Gasol and the Grizzlies front. I'll do my best to get up to DeMarcus Cousins or Marc Gasol, but RoLo isn't a horrible plan C.