Basketball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

04/11/2018
James Davis

Daily Fantasy NBA Basketball Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - 4/11/18

The very last main slate of the year! We've still got a handful of teams playing for something, and then we've got a huge pile of teams that will be complete question marks until 5 minutes before lock (or later). Let's try and make sense of what we do know, and look forward to what is still out there.

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Point guard

Jamal MurrayJamal Murray FD - $6900 DK - $6400
Opponent - MIN
Proj Pts FD - 34.63 DK - 35.87
Jeff TeagueJeff Teague FD - $7400 DK - $7200
Opponent - DEN
Proj Pts FD - 36.8 DK - 36.87
You're going to catch on this theme pretty quickly, but we have exactly one game today where teams are fighting for their playoff lives, and that's Denver-Minnesota. The one issue we have with basically all of the Nuggets and Timberwolves are in play is that these teams have been fighting for their playoff lives for some time already, and as such all the relevant plays had already been playing a lot of minutes. This means we have more security around their play time, sure, but it also means their prices have come up in the meantime. So what do we do? Well, both teams already have track records of running their guys huge minutes when need be, and in what amounts to a win and in for the playoffs (and all that ticket sale revenue), they simply aren't going to be pulling any punches here. I'd guess Murray's minutes are safer than Teague's (just because Minnesota hasn't necessarily had Teague in the 38+ minute rotation crew even when the other starters were), but but are excellent high floor cash game options here.

Dejounte MurrayDejounte Murray FD - $6300 DK - $6100
Opponent - NO
Proj Pts FD - 31.87 DK - 31.45
Dejounte Murray falls into a similar camp to the guys above, but he's just a little bit riskier I think. He's cheaper, so that's nice, but his minutes have gone up and down quite a bit recently. Still, in close games the plan seems to be to play him 30+ minutes, and given that the Spurs could theoretically leapfrog up into having home court advantage in the first round I suspect they'll be going all out here as well. The major factor Dejounte has going for him here is the match-up. Rondo has been a poor defender all year, and the Pelicans trail just the Magic and Nets in terms of being the very worst team against opposing point guards this season. In what should be an uptempo game Murray looks like a very solid cash game option.

The rest: You're just going to have to wait until lineup lock here in all likelihood, but as of now we already know that Houston is sitting all their guards, John Wall is sitting, and Boston is sitting basically everybody. This is going to open up a lot of playing time, obviously, but I'm waiting until I hear more about who is starting where before I go too deep into speculating here.

Shooting Guard

Will BartonWill Barton FD - $7000 DK - $7300
Opponent - MIN
Proj Pts FD - 34.03 DK - 34.49
Andrew WigginsAndrew Wiggins FD - $6300 DK - $6700
Opponent - DEN
Proj Pts FD - 30.41 DK - 30.45
You wanted in depth analysis, I imagine, but in the NBA so much about safety comes down to finding guys with reliable playing time, and in the mid-range at shooting guard you aren't going to do any better than Wiggins and Barton. Barton had already been playing 39-40 minute rotations, and while paying these prices is no sure thing even on those minutes, the floor once again is just terrific. Wiggins has actually been paying these prices pretty consistently, with the one outlier being a bad performance against (drumroll please) these very same Nuggets 3 games ago. Let's address that game really quickly before we move on. Yes, most of the starters didn't wind up paying their prices in that one, but it truly was a bizarre game. The two teams combined for 41.5% from the field, and scored just 196 points. Vegas has this one slated for 212 points with a 3 point spread. That's a lot more production to go around, and this game of all the games seems like it could be weighted towards starters getting the bulk of it. I'm not going to take too much from a one game sample there.

Ben McLemoreBen McLemore FD - $4600 DK - $4300
Opponent - OKC
Proj Pts FD - 26.22 DK - 26.68
Maybe we're looking for safety in all the wrong places, but Mclemore is coming off a game in which he played 41 minutes and scored almost 7x points per dollar on these prices. Tyreke Evans, Andrew Harrison, and Wayne Selden will still be missing here, so it stands to reason that we'll see Memphis rolling it back one more time on leaving Mclemore out on the court to do his worst (and it likely will be his worst) for extended stretches once again. I can't say that this play feels especially safe - the Grizzlies did get blown out in their last game - but even the Grizz couldn't bear (get it?) to see Kobi Simmons and Myke Henry stay out there for 30+ minutes. I'm guessing we'll see Memphis fall behind, and that we'll see Ben putting threes in the air once again.

Also considered: JJ Redick. The price is just a little rich on the full season production, but you have to remember how many shots are still being freed up by the absence of Embiid. With Philly looking to close out the season with 16 straight wins and the opportunity to secure the 3 seed, I'm assuming they'll be going just as hard as anyone outside of Minnesota and Denver.

Small forward

LeBron JamesLeBron James FD - $12100 DK - $11400
Opponent - NY
Proj Pts FD - 61.83 DK - 64.3
Our first potential big payoff tonight is LeBron. I want to touch on him here for a couple of reasons. The first is that, for whatever reason, the Cavs have seen fit to continue rolling him out there for huge minutes in spite of the fact that they are just wrestling with Philadelphia over the 3 seed. Is that worth putting even more miles on James? They sure seem to think so. But is he really a cash game play tonight? It's exceedingly difficult to tell, and I think it comes down to which strategy you think works best on a night like tonight. On one hand, you won't get more opportunity to go straight up stars and scrubs than you will tonight. We've got whole teams resting their starters, and that means in many cases we have to redistribute something like 180 minutes among players who are priced like back-ups. On the other hand, it can often be very difficult to know exactly where those minutes are going. In addition to that, what if Philly is is blowing out Milwaukee, and the Cavs are up big on NY? Mightn't they just finally give LeBron a breather? I am not sure, but playing LeBron and a bunch of Grizzlies or something feels like a much more comfortable strategy for big tournaments, for me.

Paul GeorgePaul George FD - $7800 DK - $7900
Opponent - MEM
Proj Pts FD - 39.54 DK - 40.3
Another guy who fits very reasonably into the mid-range playable zone is Paul George. I also include him here mostly to bring your attention to the Oklahoma City Thunder, who are in that big quagmire of teams that's fighting over seeding in the West. I have to believe that the potential to avoid a first round match-up with Golden State or Houston matters a ton to these teams, and all signs from the Thunder seem to indicate that they think so, too. George has been playing 36-40 minutes per night on lock, and he'll get an excellent spot against the Grizzlies' back-ups here. He stomped them for 28/6/4 and 46 fantasy points in their last meeting, and I see no reason for him not to duplicate that effort here.

Also considered: Wilson Chandler, of course. If you're playing a late slate it's hard to imagine Gerald Green and PJ Tucker not being excellent plays with the rest of the Rockets sitting.

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Power forward

Anthony DavisAnthony Davis FD - $12000 DK - $11200
Opponent - SA
Proj Pts FD - 61.99 DK - 61.52
LaMarcus AldridgeLaMarcus Aldridge FD - $9200 DK - $10000
Opponent - NO
Proj Pts FD - 47.44 DK - 48.47
Power Forward has two of the very best big money options tonight, and these might be ones you're willing to prioritize even if it means taking a flier on some lesser known commodities. This is essentially a cage match to avoid a terrible first round match-up, and there's even a chance that the Spurs could vault into the 4 seed and home court advantage in the first round if the Trail Blazers lose their game. Given everything that's on the line here, you can bet these all-world power forwards will be duking it out until the bitter end. Aldridge has already been averaging nearly 5x points per dollar on these prices, and that's in variable minutes with wildly different game scripts. The Pelicans have allowed the 3rd most fantasy points to opposing power forwards this season, so this is price picking territory. Davis meanwhile has topped 58 fantasy points in each of his last 4 games down the home stretch, and while this is a tough match-up, it's also one that basically ensures he will see his full run of minutes. I love both of these guys in every format.

Paul MillsapPaul Millsap FD - $7000 DK - $6800
Opponent - MIN
Proj Pts FD - 39.08 DK - 38.81
Millsap was pretty underwhelming the last time these two teams met, and given his price and place on the shots totem pole in Denver I feel a little less secure about this selection than some others. The main reason I include him here is that Taj Gibson is questionable, and that could leave Millsap in a great match-up with the considerably slower and defensively challenged Gorgui Dieng. Heck, even playing against a banged up Taj could be a good spot. I still don't know that he possesses huge upside on these prices, but again he's not a guy I would cross off my list if he started showing up.

Keep an eye on the Dario Saric situation. He's questionable now, but if he sits that could open up a huge opportunity for Ersan Ilyasova to pile up both minutes and production.

Center

Okay, so center is super hard tonight. I am not sure I can offer any real safe plays outside of Nikola Jokic, but it isn't even clear to our lineup optimizer that this is a spot you can really pay up, so let's take a look at a few different options.

Pau Gasol is obviously playing in a huge leverage game, but do the Spurs even care? He's played anywhere from 10 to 29 minutes in close games recently, and this seems kind of speculative.

Marcin Gortat played 39 minutes against Atlanta, but then 21 minutes against Boston last night in spite of not being in foul trouble. He seems like a tournament play only.

Do you want to play the Kyle O'Quinn or Greg Monroe lotteries? Do you trust Steven Adams to produce on his current prices in a slow match-up? How about Aron Baynes? Center is really tough tonight.

The last slate of the NBA regular season, people! It's been real, and it's been fun - but has it been real fun? See you for the playoffs.

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image sources

  • Nikola Jokic, Tyson Chandler: (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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