Basketball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

Austyn Varney

Daily Fantasy NBA Basketball Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - 12/13/17

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Point guard

Russell WestbrookRussell Westbrook FD - $11200 DK - $11200
Opponent - IND
Proj Pts FD - 54.25 DK - 57.55

After a very interesting 7-game Tuesday slate that brought plenty of fireworks, we have a 9-gamer on our hands with plenty to dissect. We'll start it off in Indiana with a guy who starts this article more than anyone; Russell Westbrook. Westbrook and the Thunder will coke into Indiana as 2 point underdogs and be forced to stop the animal that is Victor Oladipo. Westbrook is the guy he's learned most of this brilliance from and I'm sure he's ready to give him a friendly reminder of just that. Both of these teams like to run the court and a 211 O/U is a tad above average. Darren Collison lines up on paper to match-up with Westbrook, but we all know him and 'Dipo will be going at it when it matters. He has a 50 point floor like snowy nights and a ceiling that's uncomfortable to note. He's not a must with the inflated price tag, but there will be ways to get there on a big slate with looming injury implications. Westbrook is the top raw play in all formats at point guard. 

Rajon RondoRajon Rondo FD - $5800 DK - $6300
Opponent - MIL
Proj Pts FD - 32.34 DK - 32.8

Rajon Rondo has been a stud for the Pelicans and even better when Anthony Davis has been out. He's currently questionable tonight and Rondo does become a much better play if AD is ruled out.His price is still friendly on both sites and he's been locked into cash game value night in and night out. This match-up with the Bucks is average for most point guards, but Rondo doesn't rely on scoring. The Bucks struggle with rebounding and Rondo will have the opportunity for plenty of peripherals. The game is expected to be close and rather high-scoring, though Vegas hasn't opened up a line on this one yet. That has a lot to do with the status of Anthony Davis. Expect an o/u around 210 with a 4 or 5 line if Davis is out. Rondo has also seen 37 and 42 minutes over the last 2, so he may be comfortable getting pushed at this point. He didn't even look too bad at the end of the game against the Rockets and just has a game-long duel with one of the best point guards in NBA history (CP3).  Rondo is nowhere near a must with PG always having options, but he's definitely one of the best for his price range.

Kyle LowryKyle Lowry FD - $8000 DK - $8300
Opponent - PHO
Proj Pts FD - 41.98 DK - 43.66

If you're looking for a mid-priced option with a 35 point floor and 60 ceiling, here you go. Lowry and the Raptors stunk up the Staples Center last time out and took a beating from the injury-slowed Clippers. They'll now get a very nice chance to bounce back with a match-up against the Phoenix Suns. The team who plays the least amount of defense in all of the NBA. I assume T.J Warren will cover DeRozan, which would allow Lowry to go crazy with Ulis and James. They are 2 of the worst defensive PG's in basketball and get no help with an interior who is filled with some very volatile characters. You don't even know who will see 0 or 30 minutes and neither do they. It's an unhealthy environment and certainly not one that spreads shutdown defense. There's obviously some blowout risk here, but that would just mean to me that Lowry went off. I'll have a lot of exposure here and if it stays close, we could definitely be looking at one of those big Lowry games. He's fairly priced on both sites and will likely be 25-25% owned.


Shooting Guard

Lou WilliamsLou Williams FD - $8200 DK - $7700
Opponent - ORL
Proj Pts FD - 41.28 DK - 42.95

Let's just take a step back and realize how wild it is what Lou Williams is doing right now. He's a guy that's been coming off the bench and playing 23-30 minutes for years now. This is his 12th season in the league and most certainly never thought he would be in a spot like this again. He's playing 35+ minutes on a nightly basis and typically sits around 40 FP. He's pretty dependent on the match-up, so it's nice to see one against a Magic squad that ranks 5th worst against SG's and are missing a good defender in Evan Fournier. Williams is fairly priced for the production this year and there is still plenty of upside to work with. This game with the Magic figures to stay close and we know where the ball will be in the final minutes. He's not a must with a lot of ways to go at SG, but is right up there in tier A.

Jeremy LambJeremy Lamb FD - $4900 DK - $5400
Opponent - HOU
Proj Pts FD - 31.82 DK - 32.09

Jeremy Lamb started for the injured Nicolas Batum last game and drew a solid 33 minutes. He disappointed with just 20 fantasy points against a tough Thunder defense, but we know what Lamb can do. This is a guy that will shoot 10-15 times when in the starting lineup and isn't someone you have to worry about spending empty minutes sulking in the corner. He gets involved in a lot of possessions and is actually a guy you've probably been annoyed with if you are a fan of Kemba. He takes a lot of shots that should be his. He now gets a solid match-up against the Rockets and James Harden at SG. We all know how much Harden and Gordon love to play perimeter defense. Lamb can be penciled in for 25 with the upside for 40. I don't see any reason to avoid him if Batum is ruled out. Outside of having enough salary to pay up for 2 studs.

Victor OladipoVictor Oladipo FD - $9900 DK - $9200
Opponent - OKC
Proj Pts FD - 45.01 DK - 45.18

If you're looking to pay up and want some more exposure to this game, Oladipo is in a strong spot. Especially if Andre Roberson is out. Roberson is an elite defender and while George/Westbrook would probably move over anyway, it causes problems in the defense that can be exploited. Oladipo is a top 15 player in this league and is proving it on a night in and night out basis. You're not chasing points, either. 'Dipo has put up 60+ fantasy points a bunch of different times this year and it's simply who he is at this point. His price is equal to his talent, but higher than most are willing to pay at this point. He's getting 20 shots a night and controlling the offense as well as anyone in the NBA. The most improved player trophy is already in his back-pocket and a playoff berth will be there if he keeps this up. The Thunder are a solid defense overall, but the game is expected to be close and high-scoring, so the points are coming from somewhere. Oladipo will have some vengeance on his mind and I'll have a ton of him. The projection system isn't as high on him with Roberson questionable and he will see a big bump if he's eventually ruled out. Shooting guard is a solid position and one you'll need to get right.

Small forward

Giannis AntetokounmpoGiannis Antetokounmpo FD - $12100 DK - $11300
Opponent - NO
Proj Pts FD - 59.03 DK - 59.49

A team like the Pelicans is one that is absolutely not ready for Giannis Antetokounmpo. I know that nobody is, but there are some teams who at least have a shot. Unless Anthony Davis gets healthy and somehow gets as fast as a guard, then maybe. Until then, it'll have to be guys like Dante Cunningham, Jrue Holiday, and Darius Miller. The Pelicans have been struggling against wing players all season long and it has a lot to do with them not having a single shutdown defender. Tony Allen obviously fits the role, but he's hurt and won't play tonight. Giannis is obviously expensive and you'll have to deceive between 1 or 2 of these high-priced options. He's one I'll have plenty of exposure to and will be pairing him with a certain Center we will touch on later in the same game. This is a top 5 match-up for Giannis and I'm willing to bank on 50 as a safe floor. Small forward is fine, but weaker than the last 2 positions, so you'll be missing out on less value. 

Jonathon SimmonsJonathon Simmons FD - $6500 DK - $6400
Opponent - LAC
Proj Pts FD - 35.08 DK - 35.5

Giannis is the most expensive option by a ton at SF, but there are some other guys to consider like Paul George and T.J. Warren who are higher priced than Jon Simmons, who we'll touch on now. He's proven himself as a valuable asset in this league and will be getting a paycheck because of it. With Evan Fournier already ruled out for this game, Simmons is the number 2 option on this offense and not afraid to shoot. He hit 45 fantasy points last game against the Hawks and sees a friendlier match-up tonight with the Clippers. Danilo Gallinari is expected to miss and it would turn the SF position into a turntable for the Clips'. Simmons is fairly priced on both sites and a strong play in all formats. He's under-priced with Fournier out and I don't mind if he's highly owned.

Sam DekkerSam Dekker FD - $3600 DK - $3500
Opponent - ORL
Proj Pts FD - 10.68 DK - 10.63

Crazy? Maybe. But he played 27 minutes with Gallinari out last game and you have to like him if he gets there again. Gallinari is expected to miss, but hasn't officially been ruled out. It's certainly not a guarantee as he saw 23 and 20 with Gallo out a week ago, but the match-up certainly works. The Magic are 2nd worst against SF's in the entire league, allowing 44.5 FPPG. In cash games, this isn't a spot I'll go. There will be plenty of news out by the time lineups lock and Dekker will not be a must. He did show some upside last season when hot from the 3-point line and he is uber-cheap.  He's not safe or even a guy you have to love in tournaments, but small forward is weak after Giannis and Dekker could very well walk away with 20+ FP. At $3500, that would be more than enough and you likely won't be missing out on all that much elsewhere.


Power forward

Serge IbakaSerge Ibaka FD - $5800 DK - $5700
Opponent - PHO
Proj Pts FD - 28.5 DK - 28.16

Power forward is ugly. There are a lot of interesting names at the top, but none are in a safe spot. Anthony Davis, Aaron Gordon, and Lauri Markkanen are all questionable and very hard to trust in any format. Instead, we'll move down to Serge Ibaka, who sits under $6k on both sites, despite the consistent 30-35 fantasy points a night with an often 40 point upside. He's been extremely solid as of late and now sees an elite match-up with a Suns squad that we know loves to run. We looked at Kyle Lowry at PG and could have very well looked at DeMar DeRozan as well. The Suns rank dead last against PF's in the entire league, allowing 50.4 FPPG. They have also allowed an astounding 67.5 over the last 5. That is a difficult task to do, but what happens when bad players are rotating in and out with injury. Serge Ibaka is an extremely safe play with upside at a position that lacks both. We could very well see him highly owned, but that's fine. The price is fair and I find it hard to believe he ends up the guy who hurts you.

Derrick FavorsDerrick Favors FD - $5100 DK - $5500
Opponent - CHI
Proj Pts FD - 28.2 DK - 27.38

The Utah Jazz are a completely different team with Rudy Gobert and it most certainly does affect Favors. He has been pretty bad since he returned, but should be in there for another 28+ minutes tonight and is far too cheap. The Bulls are the 10th worst team in the league against PF's and may be short-handed with  Lauri Markkanen questionable. Mirotic and Portis are 2 great offensive guys, but they don't have much interest on the defense side. He's been priced way down to the low $5k's and will only need you 25 in cash games. He has 35+ point upside if he stays in the game for 30 minutes, which is always a possibility against a big team like the Bulls. Power forward is ugly and Favors won't restrict you elsewhere.


DeMarcus CousinsDeMarcus Cousins FD - $12000 DK - $11000
Opponent - MIL
Proj Pts FD - 56.71 DK - 59.4

I don't think it will take long to convince you on Boogie Cousins. For one, Anthony Davis is questionable. He's in play either way, but surely sees a bump if AD is out. Secondly, this Bucks team just doesn't stand a chance. Zilch, none. Let's just explore for a second with what the Bucks will be tasked with tonight. At Center, they have Thon Maker. I don't think he could last more than a possession or two without getting hip-checked into the 50th row. That'll leave John Henson and Joel Bolomboy. Unless Kareem Adbul-Jabbar throws on the Converse and gives it a go, I don't see how the Bucks contain Cousins AT ALL. He is going to individually dominate everyone that tries and will be in there for 35+ minutes. If Anthony Davis is out, he jumps up a bit in my book, but is still going to be found in most of my lineups either way.

Aron BaynesAron Baynes FD - $3600 DK - $3900
Opponent - DEN
Proj Pts FD - 19.44 DK - 19.25

With Al Horford already ruled out, this one is pretty easy. Baynes has already been starting and saw 26 and 16 minutes in the last two. Baynes can be locked in for 23+ minutes with the upside to play 33 if the game goes the right way. he is extremely active when on the floor. Especially as the go-to big man. You can almost guarantee over 1 FP/min and it really just comes down to how this game ends up running. If Plumlee/Faried stick with Baynes and go big, he could get well over 30. If the Nuggets go small, he could see just 23-28. He would still be in line for value and wouldn't kill you in any format. DeMarcus Cousins is very nice, but there are other ways to pay up and Baynes is one of the safer value options on the entire night. He'll be a guy that forces me off of Cousins in at least 30% of lineups. Everything changes if Kyrie Irving gets downgraded from doubtful. Keep an eye out for the Updates & News article as there will be plenty to dissect. Center is an important position and suspect most ownership is on these 2 guys. Let's look at a guy that's in a solid spot, but should come in well under 20% owned.

Nikola VucevicNikola Vucevic FD - $9300 DK - $8800
Opponent - LAC
Proj Pts FD - 44.1 DK - 45.06

If neither of those guys float your boat or you just want to live on the wild side, Nikola Vucevic is a great pivot. He has been absolutely dominant recently and is the clear number 1 option on this offense. He's also the number 2 option with Evan Fournier out. Over the past 3 games, he's put up 63, 55, and 65 fantasy points. My god.  The Clippers are an injury-riddled squad that has been plugging holes while others open up. DeAndre Jordan is still healthy, but he's not a good defender. The Clippers rank 8th worst against centers in the NBA and have been 2nd worst over the last 10 games. Vucevic is going to be very low-owned with all the options at center and he's in play in all formats. I will have most of my exposure to Baynes and Big Cuz, but will definitely have 10% or so Vuc in tourneys.


image sources

  • Russell Westbrook: (AP Photo/Jeff Haynes)

6 Visitor Comments

  1. Anyone know what happened with Faried yesterday?

  2. It was just one of those matchup games where Faried didn’t stand a chance trying to guarr Boban and they decided to go with the ultra small lineup with Trey Lyles (whos been red hot) and Wilson Chandler (who finally had a decent game, when Drummond was out and Plumlee when Drummond was in. They just threw Darrell Arthur out there when Boban was out there mostly because he could stretch them on the offensive end where Faried has no outside shot. The only big that got any run was Plumlee and he played well but when he was out and Drummond was out they went ultra-small instead of usually letting Faried get his run….sorry for the long answer but just a matchup thing, nothing wrong with Manimal.

  3. Anyone know what happened to Ben Simmons yesterday?

    • He got guarded by jimmy butler

  4. What happened to Ron Baker yesterday?

  5. What happened with your constant Ricky Rubio recommendation? He’s cheaper than ever now. Oh wait yeah that’s right he doesn’t score any fantasy points just like your old go to George Hill. Glad the message board continues to teach you Austyn.

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