Basketball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

Austyn Varney

Daily Fantasy NBA Basketball Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - 12/15/17

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Point guard

Russell WestbrookRussell Westbrook FD - $10900 DK - $11400
Opponent - PHI
Proj Pts FD - 54.06 DK - 57.35

I know, you're shocked. It's very satisfying that we have close to 2016 Russell Westbrook in the building nowadays, as it's absolutely one of my guilty pleasures as a basketball fan to watch him dominate like he can. He ho-hummed himself to another triple double last game and maintained his 50 FP baseline. He now gets a very friendly and fun match-up with a 76ers squad that may elect to keep this fast. Vegas hasn't dropped a line yet, but I expect high and tight. The 76ers rank 9th worst against PG's, but it's tough to think any of these guys have a shot at containing Westbrook. Simmons may end up moving over, but he's certainly not fast enough and it would just cause match-up nightmares elsewhere. Westbrook is going to dominate this defense and should be in line for another 50-60 fantasy points. His price is down a bit and I like him a lot in cash games. I'll have him in tournaments where I have more exposure to this game, which is a lot of places.

Rajon RondoRajon Rondo FD - $6000 DK - $6100
Opponent - DEN
Proj Pts FD - 34.13 DK - 34.41

Rondo only saw 18 minutes last game, which I actually love. He was on a crash course for injury with extended minutes in a few straight and needed to pump his brakes. He did just that and should be good to go tonight for around 28-32. It's all he really needs at this price in a match-up with a pitiful Nuggets defense. They are the leagues worst team against PG's, allowing over 50 FPPG. Rondo is probably better suited for cash games as he's very likely to fall within 25-40 fantasy points. I don't mind him in tournaments, but would feel the need to pair him with a few guys we'll touch on later. Rondo put up a triple-double in his last real game and is proving to be an integral part of this Pelicans team. They need it with such gaping holes on the perimeter. Rondo is still underpriced and a viable way to go if you're looking for 30 points. 

Andrew HarrisonAndrew Harrison FD - $4500 DK - $4600
Opponent - ATL
Proj Pts FD - 26.69 DK - 25.82

Our last option at PG is a bit contingent on some news. Tyreke Evans was a late scratch last game and it allowed Harrison to pick up 30 minutes and 35 fantasy points. He's been getting enough minutes with Conley out, but had the ball in his hands a ton last game. He now gets a match-up against a Hawks squad that is average on paper against PG's. In reality, Schroder is horrible on defense and has no help at the rim with Dedmon out. Harrison is an extremely active player when on the floor and will never be a guy that just stands in the corner like Maximillion Kleber. Or Stanley Johnson. His price is still fair on both sites and makes for a great play in all formats if Evens is ruled out.

Shooting Guard

Gary HarrisGary Harris FD - $6400 DK - $6400
Opponent - NO
Proj Pts FD - 32.01 DK - 32.06

Gary Harris is turning a corner this season and made a big step last game in the public eye with Will Barton out. Harris is far from a guy that'ps reliant on Will Barton being out, but it helps a ton. He ended up seeing  37 minutes last game and came through with 53 fantasy points vs a strong Celtics squad. He now sees a match-up against a Pelicans team that does not guard perimeter players. On the season, they've ranked 5th worst with 49.8 FPPG. Also, as of note, they have given up 70 per game over the last 5. The addition of Rajon Rondo to the defense hasn't helped and it sure seems like E'Twaun Moore doesn't even know what defense is. Barton is questionable once again and Harris would jump to the forefront of every cash game if he's out. If he plays, Harris is just a fine play in all formats. The match-up is just too good to ignore for a guy that's still under $6.5k and capable of putting up 30-50 a night. Shooting guard has a lot of different ways to go, and Harris jumps ahead all of them if Barton is out. Push him to the 5th or 6th option if Barton is ruled in.

DeMar DeRozanDeMar DeRozan FD - $9100 DK - $8400
Opponent - BKN
Proj Pts FD - 39.81 DK - 40.24

The 5 most expensive options at shooting guard are all very interesting. Oladipo is my least favorite of the bunch against a stingy Pistons defense, followed by Brad Beal, James Harden, and Lou Will. That takes us to the favorite in DeMar DeRozan. DeRozan and the Raptors face-off with Nets at home in Toronto. I think the number 1 concern most people have here is the blowout, so let's look at that. The Nets aren't nearly as bad as people think and seem to never get blown out. Even against the Rockets (lost by 14), all starters played a full complement of minutes. I personally have no concern of a blowout more than 10 or 15 points, and DeRozan will be in there until then. He's well rested and playing well, going for 40 FP in 7 straight. We know the match-up with the Nets is ideal and one that's tough to screw up. They're still allowing the 3rd most FP to opposing SG's with 50.5, and has been over 60 in the last 10. They will throw every defender they have at DeRozan, but it simply doesn't matter when you don't have help at the rim. DeRozan will have the opportunity to smash here and is in play across the board if you have the funds. I don't see him getting over 10-15% owned.

Jrue HolidayJrue Holiday FD - $7400 DK - $6800
Opponent - DEN
Proj Pts FD - 37.53 DK - 37.89
E'Twaun MooreE'Twaun Moore FD - $4800 DK - $4800
Opponent - DEN
Proj Pts FD - 23.9 DK - 23.97

We're going to touch on this game quite a bit and you've probably already figured that out. Neither of these teams know how to play defense and both have a lot of weapons that are slightly underpriced. Holiday and Moore have their price slightly bumped for AD being out, but they are still affordable. It would typically be worrisome to pay this much for E'Twaun Moore, but he's getting very consistent shots and minutes on a Pelicans offense that will always have open 3's in the corner.  It's either that or teams elect to leave the big men open. Holiday is the real perimeter playmaker on the squad and can be slotted in for 35 fantasy points when the game is close. The Nuggets have some decent defenders on the perimeter, but Barton is questionable and Harris can only do so much. Both of these guys are viable options in all formats and guys I'd rather play with correlation from this game. 

Small forward

Jonathon SimmonsJonathon Simmons FD - $6700 DK - $6600
Opponent - POR
Proj Pts FD - 33.92 DK - 34.48

Let's move on to the weakest position on this slate with small forward. You can certainly pay up for Giannis Antetokounmpo, but it's a bottom 15 match-up and both of those love to play slow. That's not to say he won't put up 50 FP with the upside for 70. I would just rather play Westbrook, Cousins, or Harden and save some money. We'll pay down a bit at SF and start it off with Jonathon Simmons. We really have no idea what the Magic are doing this early on, but Fournier has officially been ruled out. Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac are questionable, but I expect both to play. Gordon participated fully in practice yesterday, which means he's cleared the concussion protocol. Now I wouldn't be surprised if he sits, but I'm not expecting it and not shaping my teams around that expectation. With Fournier out, Simmons is going to continue seeing 35+ nights with a 30 FP floor. He has the ball in his hands a ton and looked like a ball hog before last game. With more ball-handling responsibility, he went for 8 assists. This is a skilled player and a guy I can't believe Popovich let slip away. His price is still under $7k, so he'll need 35 in cash games. It's more than doable in a match-up with the Blazers, who are the league's worst team against SF's (49 FPPG). Simmons is a very play in formats and a guy I'll probably end with 100% of because of the surrounding environment at this position. That and the fact that he fits my balanced lineup construction perfectly.

Wilson ChandlerWilson Chandler FD - $4600 DK - $4500
Opponent - NO
Proj Pts FD - 25.67 DK - 26.72

It looks like Wilson Chandler is finally returning to the guy we know and love from past years. I saw starting to think he was gone forever, but the last few games give us hope. He's still way too cheap and rightfully so on all sites. He's a $6k player and will probably get there eventually if he continues getting 34+ minutes. We touched on his floormate Gary Harris a position ago and this is another guy who benefits from Will Barton being out. The Pelicans aren't as bad against SF"s as they are the rest of positions, but 10th worst still isn't great. This team just doesn't play much defense and is electing to try and outscore teams, which is always a possibility with their weapons. This is obviously a game we're targeting a ton and Chandler gives you cheap exposure to a guy that will be involved down the stretch in a close, high-scoring game. Small forward is pretty ugly and I don't see Wilson Chandler being the guy to burn you.


Power forward

Ben SimmonsBen Simmons FD - $9200 DK - $9500
Opponent - OKC
Proj Pts FD - 46.91 DK - 46.53

The top tier of power forward is an interesting spot with Anthony Davis and Ben Simmons both having a legitimate argument for the top spot. We'll stay away from Davis, who's still a little dinged up and over $2k more expensive than Simmons. He can obviously put up 70 fantasy points on any night, but I'd rather go Cousins if you have to attack the Pelicans. We already touched on this game with Russell Westbrook, but you can target some of the cheaper guys as well. Vegas hasn't dropped a line just yet, but I expect a 215+ total with a spread no larger than 5. It's easily one of my favorite games on the slate and deserves a lot of attention. As for Simmons, he had the worst game of his career last time out. The Timberwolves shut him down and he only finished with 18 fantasy points. The team was injury-riddled and the game was just ugly. Before that, it was a casual 40 FP/night with the upside for 60. This Thunder squad is good at defense on paper, but I see Simmons giving them a huge mismatch. Carmelo Anthony is a little too slow and I don't see him following around Simmons all night. That'll force Paul George on to him, which will cause 'Melo Anthony to switch to Covington.  George is a fine defender, but Simmons will have success and a floor of 40 is here again. This game will be up and down all night with plenty of peripherals and more than enough open driving lanes. Don't let 1 bad game run you away from a top option on the slate.

Nikola MiroticNikola Mirotic FD - $5900 DK - $5500
Opponent - MIL
Proj Pts FD - 25.3 DK - 25.8

Lauri Markkanen is currently listed as questionable and it seems clear that the Bulls do not want to rush him back. Nikola Mirotic has been absolutely dominant in his absence, going for 36 and 44 in the last 2. It's not a fluke, either. He's not going to be putting up 40 FP a night, but this is a guy who had just as much hype as Markannen and could still very well be a better player. He's deserving of the minutes and I think he gets over 24 no matter what. I'll personally only be on him if Markkanen is out, but it wouldn't be the end of the world. The Bucks are an average defensive team against PF's and Mirotic diced up much better defenses in Utah and Boston. If Markkanen is confirmed out, pencil in 30+ minutes in a match-up that should be close throughout. Neither of these teams play very fast, but that's not a huge deal for a big man like Mirotic. His price is fair on both FD and Dk under $6k and has value if given the minutes. If Markkanen is playing, you can do better.

Carmelo AnthonyCarmelo Anthony FD - $6500 DK - $6600
Opponent - PHI
Proj Pts FD - 31.57 DK - 32.47

I'm hoping Lauri Markkanen gives himself another night off because I'm not too huge of a fan of our options here. We're looking at a guy in Carmelo Anthony who's very safe and easy to toss in at his price, but still, the position leaves you wanting more. Here's to hoping some news breaks and gives PF some excitement. As for Melo, his price is depressed and he gets a top 10 match-up against a Philly squad that doesn't play defense. The 76ers rank 7th worst against opposing PF's and have allowed 53 FPPG over the last 10. This game is going to be very high-scoring and while Melo hasn't done much of said scoring, he eventually will. He's still taking the shots and Westbrook is getting him open consistently. He'll be fine tonight even with an average shooting night and anything extra is gravy. He also gives you exposure to 50 FP upside if he gets hot, which you can't find elsewhere at his price. Give me the 2 options above in a vacuum, but not if I have excessive exposure to OKC @ PHI. Anthony is viable in all formats at his price and feels like a guy a lot of people will plug in as the last filler.



Marc GasolMarc Gasol FD - $8300 DK - $7900
Opponent - ATL
Proj Pts FD - 43.68 DK - 43.89

If Al Horford is out, you can pay down at center. If not, you're going to needs to stick some funds in that back pocket and pay up for a big man. There are actually a lot of different ways to go. If you want to pay all the way up, nobody can blame you for DeMarcus Cousins. He just might be a few hundred pricey with AD back. Instead, we'll move towards a very affordable Marc Gasol in an elite match-up. The Hawks are currently the 2nd worst team against opposing centers, but it's probably worse without Dedmon. They've allowed an astounding 56 FPPG over the last 10, which is first worst by a ton. Marc Gasol is going to absolutely dice these guys up and comes in with the safest of all floors at 35. Both of these teams play at a similar pace and a 204-208 total is what I'd expect we see. It will remain close and Gasol will see even more shots if Tyreke Evans is ruled out. The spot couldn't be better. The price won't be cheaper. And there are enough options on this slate where he won't be too popular. I'm loving Marc Gasol in all formats on this slate and am not nervous to die on his train. 

Andre DrummondAndre Drummond FD - $9400 DK - $9100
Opponent - IND
Proj Pts FD - 47.01 DK - 47.99

If you want to pay up a little more or don't like Gasol for ??? reason, Andre Drummond is a pivot I love. The only team worse than the Hawks against centers are the Pacers, who've allowed 47.2 FPPG on 20.6 points and 13.5 rebounds. Drummond is not playing the best basketball of his season and it'll hopefully keep some off of him even more. He's still the same center he ever was and certainly didn't lose the shot he never had. He's in line for 40 fantasy points as a floor with a 20/20 in his sights if it stays close. There is just nobody on this Pacers interior that can match his physicality. Myles Turner will give it a go, but he'll be winded by the 2nd quarter and look as if he just went though war. Drummond is a great play in all formats and one you should be able to fit with all the value around. Good luck tonight and please do comment below if you have any questions! 

Aron Baynes is the way to go if Al Horford is out again.


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