Basketball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

Jerry Vanderwoude

Daily Fantasy NBA Basketball Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - 3/27/18

Welcome basketball fans to NBA Tuesday. We've got a lot to look over on tonight's eight-game schedule with plenty of exciting options. DFSR has the top plays at each position so join me as we go position by position to discuss tonight's slate.

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Point guard

Damian LillardDamian Lillard FD - $9000 DK - $9400
Opponent - NO
Proj Pts FD - 47.68 DK - 49.51
There are several exciting ways to pay up tonight, and Damian Lillard is an excellent way to do so without jumping into a five-figure salary commitment. Despite a poor night shooting from the field, Lillard made up the difference at the charity stripe in Oklahoma City on Sunday. He posted 24 points to go along with five assists, seven rebounds, and three steals to keep himself cash game viable. He's scored 20+ points in every game dating back to early February while locked into a 36-38 minute rotation and is a threat to put up 40 fantasy points (FP) any given night with 50 FP upside. The Blazers are in New Orleans tonight for a game with a 222 projected total that promises to be a shootout right to the buzzer. Lillard has been holding the game-time decision tag lately as his wife is expected to give birth any day now, so you'll want to keep an eye on the news, but if he's available he's a consideration in both cash games and tournaments.

Cameron PayneCameron Payne FD - $5500 DK - $5700
Opponent - HOU
Proj Pts FD - 29.68 DK - 29.29
Kris Dunn has already been ruled out for tonight's Bulls game in Houston, so fire up Cameron Payne. Payne has started five games now for the Bulls while Dunn is sidelined with a toe injury, and has proven himself a solid cash game play each time out. Averaging 28 minutes per start and .96 FP per minute Dunn is priced to a point where we only need 25 FP to pay value. Chris Paul is expected to be back on the court for Houston tonight, but the beard, James Harden has already been ruled out leaving Houston once again without a top gun. This game has opened with a stupid 12.5 point spread but Chicago is so thin in the back court that even if it does get ugly quick you have to think Payne can stretch 25 minutes of playing time. I'll like him even more if CP3 gets ruled out once again.

Quinn CookQuinn Cook FD - $6000 DK - $5900
Opponent - IND
Proj Pts FD - 27.11 DK - 29
Quinn Cook projects to be the starting point guard for the Warriors throughout the remainder of the season and into the first round of the playoffs with Steph Curry out of commission with a knee injury. Cook has started seven of the Dubs last eight games, and still managed over 30 minutes in Friday's game with Steph's early exit. Though he was quiet in his first couple of starts, it didn't take Cook very long to acclimate to running with the starters, and really took control of the offense in recent games that saw Golden State missing upwards of four of their primary starting five. He's scored double-digit points in six straight, and though yet to post a double-double, he has come close on multiple occasions. He's paid a minimum of 5X points per dollar (PPD) on these prices in five straight with 7X upside. The Warriors host the Pacers tonight. Indiana isn't the easiest matchup for opposing point guards, but Cook is still priced on the low side for the opportunity he presents. While Payne is my play in cash games, Cook could easily go 30+ and shatter his tournament ceiling.

Shooting Guard

Lou WilliamsLou Williams FD - $7500 DK - $7800
Opponent - MIL
Proj Pts FD - 35.99 DK - 37.67
I knew once the Clippers returned Lou Williams to the bench it was a matter of time before we saw the price climb back up and here we are. Over the course of several games running with the starters we saw Williams' price dip down to the low $7K's (upper $6K's on FanDuel) and now he's back on the upswing. The thing is, he's still priced well below the level he's been playing at. In his last two games (off the bench) Sweet Lou has averaged just under 50 FP in 35 minutes. The Clippers, who are on the outside looking in in the west host the Bucks tonight in a game with an all too appealing 225.5 O/U and just a three-point spread. Though they've been a top ten team this season, over their last ten games the Bucks have been average defending against the two. Regardless of DvP, Vegas spreads, or anything else for that matter, this play simply boils down to the price. Back in the second unit and loving it, until he returns to $8,000+ Lou Williams absolutely has to be a consideration for a spot in our lineups in all formats.

C.J. McCollumC.J. McCollum FD - $7300 DK - $7500
Opponent - NO
Proj Pts FD - 36.54 DK - 37.66
Back to the Bayou we go for the other half of the Dynamic Duo in the Portland backcourt. C.J. McCollum saw his price take a dip following what can ultimately be chalked up to a bad night against the Rockets last week in which he posted only 15 FP. He has since answered back with two stellar performances against two of the top ten teams in terms of defensive efficiency this past weekend. First, he added seven rebounds, four assists, and two steals to 26 points against the Celtics, who hold the top defense in the game. Then two nights later he goes 34/4/4/0/1 against an impressive Thunder defense. Tonight's opponent comes in the form of a Pelicans team with the third worst defense vs. position (DvP) in the game. It's a prime spot for McCollum who has averaged 1.25 FP per minute in his last two outings, and 1.0 FP per minute over his last seven including that clunker against the Rockets. Count on C.J. as a lock for 35, and don't be surprised if he goes for 50.

Nick YoungNick Young FD - $4800 DK - $4800
Opponent - IND
Proj Pts FD - 24.58 DK - 25.71
The Warriors are just bursting with daily fantasy basketball value right now. With names like Curry and Thompson on the shelf guys like Nick Young get to step in and play big minutes for bargain prices. Swaggy P has started six straight games for the Warriors while Klay Thompson contends with a fractured thumb. The results have been quite the mixed bag of both impressive and dreadful but there's reason to be optimistic in his projection for tonight. The Pacers have been average at defending against shooting guards this season, and over their last five games have surrendered the eighth most fantasy points to opposing shooting guards. Young struggled in a big way against the Jazz on Sunday, the nine points he dropped was the lowest total since he stepped into the starting rotation six games ago, but just two night's earlier against the Hawks, Young dropped 24 in 25 minutes. It's a risky play, and like Cook above, likely one I'll reserve for tournaments. The floor may be low, but the ceiling is very high, and Nick Young could pay off in a big way tonight.

Small forward

LeBron JamesLeBron James FD - $12300 DK - $11600
Opponent - MIA
Proj Pts FD - 63.1 DK - 64.05
Giannis AntetokounmpoGiannis Antetokounmpo FD - $11200 DK - $10300
Opponent - LAC
Proj Pts FD - 53.53 DK - 54.46
This is all about James. I put Giannis Antetokounmpo's headshot here, just so you can see how the two top plays at the position compare. Though he's much more expensive , LeBron James projects for more raw points and has a much better PPD projection than the Greek freak. That's not to say you can't consider Giannis if you need the savings and are looking for a pivot, but before you settle take a look at the recent game logs. In the last seven games LeBron has scored below 60 FP just once. Giannis has been below 60 five times, and below 40 twice. James has been on a different level since the trade deadline, and has led Cleveland to five straight W's. Tonight they take their talent's to South Beach for a match up against a Miami Heat team clinging to that last spot in the east and ranked 18th in DvP against small forwards in their last five games. I don't hate Giannis tonight, and neither does our NBA lineup optimizer, but in cash games especially try to find the funds and splurge on LeBron.

Josh RichardsonJosh Richardson FD - $5800 DK - $5500
Opponent - CLE
Proj Pts FD - 29.52 DK - 29
Despite a couple of recent duds, there's no denying that JRich is one of the more improved daily fantasy plays of the season. He's an all-around threat who plays a complete game and stuffs the stat sheet from all sides. If you need evidence of this just look to his games last week against the Knicks and Nuggets. In those games, Richardson combined for 29 points, eight rebounds, 10 assists, five blocks and four steals in 68 minutes and paid an average of 6.8X PPD. LeBron and the Cavaliers are in town tonight, and with them comes a defense allowing more fantasy scoring to small forwards than any team in the game this season. For a player like Richardson, as long as the shot is falling that means big things are on the horizon tonight. Our system likes Richardson for 29 FP tonight, I wouldn't be surprised to see him go 35 or better. Play him everywhere.

Harrison BarnesHarrison Barnes FD - $6400 DK - $6300
Opponent - SAC
Proj Pts FD - 29.96 DK - 30.8
The Mavericks experimented with Harison Barnes at the four but it seems apparent that he is much more comfortable as a small forward. In five games back at the three now Barnes has averaged 23 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.6 assists in 35 minutes per game. Tonight the Mavericks head to Sacramento for a tilt with a Kings defense who have been average defending the position all season, and rank 13th against the position over their last ten games. These basement dwellers with little to play for at this point are two of the NBA's slower teams, and the game features a 97.4 combined pace factor, so the upside could be limited, especially for a player like Barnes who lives and dies with his shot, but as a cash play 32 FP is a fair request and should come relatively easy.


Power forward

Serge IbakaSerge Ibaka FD - $5300 DK - $4900
Opponent - DEN
Proj Pts FD - 26.02 DK - 26.1
As is usually the case in days ending in Y, power forward isn't pretty tonight. That said, I think we can get out of the position relatively satisfied. We'll begin with Serge Ibaka. Ibaka continues to be a reliable play at a reasonable $5K price tag. Playoff seeding is far from wrapped up, but the Raptors are enjoying a comfortable lead with that top spot in the East. They host a Nuggets team tonight that are now two games out of the final spot in the West following a tough loss in Philly last night. Outside of a rough night in Cleveland last Wednesday when he only saw 23 minutes and managed just a 6/4/2/0/0 line, Ibaka has been locked into a steady run of 25-30 minutes for Toronto while hovering in the 20-25 FP range which is just where we need him. Denver has been a bottom five defense against power forwards in their last five games and isn't ranked much better on the season. The Raptors are nine-point favorites tonight, in a game with a 226.5 projected total and a 99.6 combined pace factor. Considering how iffy some of the options at this position are, I'm fine with riding with Ibaka and looking for a 25 FP night.

James JohnsonJames Johnson FD - $5800 DK - $6200
Opponent - CLE
Proj Pts FD - 27.08 DK - 27.4
Kevin LoveKevin Love FD - $8100 DK - $7800
Opponent - MIA
Proj Pts FD - 37.67 DK - 40.46
After Ibaka, we have a pair of guys from the Cavs/Heat game. James Johnson much like Ibaka is a mid-tiered price play who can easily be counted on for 25-30 FP on any given night. He's actually cooled off a bit after a stretch of games paying 7-10X PPD a couple of weeks back but is still coming in at that 5X mark we look for in cash games. The Cavs are a bottom five defense at that position this season, and their 100.1 pace of play will speed up Miami's more conservative game. Johnson will spend much of his night paired off with Doctor Love. Kevin Love is now four games back after missing over a month with a fractured hand. He saw 32 minutes against the Nets on Sunday meaning the kid gloves are off, and he is receiving full run as the Cavs make their final push for playoff seeding and attempt to hold home court advantage. Love double-doubled twice in his last three games, and paid at least 4.5X PPD even when on a minutes restriction. Miami's a much better team defensively at the four, but they are allowing 20% more fantasy scoring to power forwards over their last ten games than their season average. If you have the funds to spend up, Love is a fantastic cash game play, but you can just as easily settle on Johnson who is a fantastic tournament option at a bargain price.


Nikola JokicNikola Jokic FD - $9800 DK - $8800
Opponent - TOR
Proj Pts FD - 48.97 DK - 50.99
I hate it, but I think we have to pay up tonight at center. It won't be easy, but yeah, the cheaper guys are projecting well under 5X PPD. We'll start out with Nikola Jokic. The Nuggets come into tonight as the nine seed in the West, two games out of the playoffs following a tough loss in Philly last night. Joel Embiid and the Philly D stifled Joker holding him to 14 points, his lowest total in the last ten games. Prior to that, Jokic has been as reliable a play as you could find at the position, paying 5X PPD on even these high prices in four of his last six games. The Raptors play a bottom ten defense at the position, and run the court with a 100.1 pace factor. Despite the nine-point spread, even if this game gets completely out of hand, you have to think the Nuggets who need a W tonight, will run Jokic out there until the legs fall off. It won't be easy but for the implied safety Jokic is the play at the five.

DeAndre JordanDeAndre Jordan FD - $8000 DK - $8000
Opponent - MIL
Proj Pts FD - 39.19 DK - 40.92
With a 225.5 projected total and a three-point spread, this game between the Bucks and the Clippers should not only be an exciting one, it should also present DeAndre Jordan with a chance to return to form following a couple of clunkers. The Clippers are right behind the Nuggets in the Western race and will be looking for a big game from Jordan who should see his full allotment of minutes in what should be a shootout. Jordan has double-doubled in three of his last four games, and 10 of 14 this month, though some poor shooting and a lack of defensive numbers have impacted his upside. Milwaukee is ranked 24th defending against opposing centers in the last ten games. It won't be easy, but I plan to do whatever is necessary fit in Jokic at the position, with Jordan as an alternative if I just can't find the funds.

If you absolutely, positively need a cheap option, consider Jusuf Nurkic, it's risky, but there is upside potential there.

Thanks for stopping by, as always good luck out there tonight. Feel free to drop any questions or comments below. Cheers!!


image sources

  • lebron: AP Images

3 Visitor Comments

  1. Olynyk seems like a decent play tonight. would he be worth the $2k in savings over Jok? or would dropping LeBron be a better option?

    • Oly’s minutes have been all over the place since losing Whiteside, though he has been impressive in three of his last four. The guys have him in the system for 28 minutes tonight, and for the same price Nurkic is projecting for slightly more FP, The pair (Olynyk/Nurkic) see the two easiest targets at the position for centers this season, so it could basically be a pick’em. Over the last two weeks, the Pels have been slightly more generous to the position. I still prefer Nurkic, but can certainly see the case for Oly.

      • and just like that Bam has been ruled out making Olynyk much more appealing.

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