Basketball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice
FanDuel NBA Picks and DraftKings NBA Picks - Monday 2/25/19
After a rather slow Sunday (I guess the NBA didn't want to compete with the Oscars) we get a huge, 11-game slate of basketball on Monday. It's one of the bigger evening slates I've seen to start a week (though admittedly my memory is short). There's plenty to break down so let's get to it.
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Ben Simmons FD - $9000 DK - $8000
Opponent - NO
Proj Pts FD - 50.17 DK - 51.57
With Joel Embiid out the last two games (and remaining out for the rest of the week), Simmons has been called on to play major minutes in the short term. And as was to be expected, he’s seeing a solid usage bump over the last two games with 17 and 19 shots respectively. The game against Portland (in a loss) was his better fantasy line with 29 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds. Against the Pelicans on Monday, Simmons will face a team in flux who haven’t played much in the way of defense all season. I’m fine running Simmons out here again even on a big slate, especially on DraftKings at $8000.
Eric Bledsoe FD - $6900 DK - $6400
Opponent - CHI
Proj Pts FD - 42.22 DK - 42.86
Giannis Antetokounmpo is doubtful for Monday’s game and that means we can rather safely fire up the rest of the Milwaukee Bucks in this matchup against the Bulls. Not only is Chicago pretty garbage-y, but few other supporting casts see the upticks across the board in fantasy like the Milwaukee guys do when the Greek Freak is out of the picture. Bledsoe sees about a 6% boost in usage and 9% bump in his assist rate. Last game Antetokounmpo sat Bledsoe scored 19 points, pulled down 11 boards and handed out five assists. He’s also coming at something of a bargain at sub-$7K prices on both sites. Even on a big slate, he makes for one of the best value plays on the board.
The rest of this position, at the time of this writing, requires something of a wait-and-see approach considering the injury situations. Let’s see what injury news we’ll want to be on the lookout for:
Chris Paul (FD $8400 DK $8300) would be the play of the night again if James Harden needed to sit again. Paul went for 23 points and 17 assists in the upset win over Golden State on Saturday. He’d be major chalk if Harden had to miss another game.
Jalen Brunson (FD $3800 DK $3900) would also be a strong play if Luka Doncic had to miss another game with injury. Considering the Mavericks have no plans on making the playoffs, they’ll likely be overly cautious with their superstar going forward. Trey Burke would also be a candidate for more minutes off the bench in this scenario.
Khris Middleton FD - $7000 DK - $6300
Opponent - CHI
Proj Pts FD - 39.26 DK - 40.88
Malcolm Brogdon FD - $6200 DK - $5400
Opponent - CHI
Proj Pts FD - 35.94 DK - 36.98
When Giannis sat last game, the Bucks were blown out by the Magic at home (103-83 Orlando). Much of it stemmed from Milwaukee’s horrendous shooting from behind the arc (17% from three). Middleton and Brogdon combined for 35 shots (8-35) and a grizzle 0-10 from three. It was a terrible performance, unlikely to be repeated. Both guys see huge bumps in usage with Antetokounmpo off the court. Middleton gets a 13% usage uptick (one of the highest you’ll ever see in our system) and Brogdon goes up about 6%. Considering the prices stagnate on these dudes when Giannis is on the court (because dude literally does everything for the team) it’s almost a no-brainer to roster them when the big guy is out. That’s the case on Monday.
Kent Bazemore FD - $5600 DK - $5400
Opponent - HOU
Proj Pts FD - 34.38 DK - 33.82
Bazemore drew the start for Kevin Huerter on Friday and though the latter is questionable for Monday’s game, Taurean Prince has now been ruled out. This doesn’t mean Bazemore would automatically draw the start for Prince (if Huerter was back) but there should be plenty of wing minutes available for the Hawks. Base played 34 and 33 minutes respectively over the last two games and piled on 19 shots in the last one. He can drive you nuts if the shot isn’t falling, but is able to pick up enough rebounds (six per game in the last two) and defensive stats (at least two blocks+steals in five of the last six) to keep his head above water in cash games. We will probably need to confirm a Hawks’ starting lineup before going all in on Bazemore.
Strongly consider Caris Levert (FD $5700 DK $5400) who’s getting more consistent minutes now that’s he’s fully back from injury.
LeBron James FD - $12000 DK - $11200
Opponent - MEM
Proj Pts FD - 58.64 DK - 61.87
There are a lot mid-tier salary guys cropping up as fantastic values for Monday, so we might not need to pay top dollar for any of the big money guys but Lebron would qualify as a spend-up option even in a matchup against Memphis. The Lakers are teetering on desperation mode right now especially after taking a disastrous loss against the Pelicans on Saturday. It’s meant pressing Lebron close to 40 minutes a night and he’s basically averaged a triple-double over the last five games with 24 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. He’s also piled on some steals in games because the defensive effort just has to be ramped up considering the Lakers troubles. I’ll take him even in the slow matchup because he has the best chance at max minutes of any upper-price tier player on the slate.
Derrick Jones FD - $3500 DK - $3400
Opponent - PHO
Proj Pts FD - 21.73 DK - 20.75
The Heat are likely to be without James Johnson, Justise Winslow and Rodney McGruder in this game, leaving them almost woefully undermanned across the board (and even Goran Dragic is likely still on a minutes’ limit). I’m projecting Jones to start in this game considering he took over McGruder’s minutes on Saturday, playing 27 (mostly in the second half). He averages seven points and four rebounds in 18 minutes per game on the season. Those won’t overwhelm you, but if he can press towards 30 minutes with the Heat shorthanded than paying off near-minimum salaries on both FanDuel and DraftKings shouldn’t be too difficult. Miami is a 7:30 EST game so here’s to hoping we know the starting lineup before lineup lock.
On FanDuel, this position is a nightly trainwreck (except for our boys Pascal Siakam and Paul Millsap on Sunday) and usually requires some sort of injury issue or huge concession in *talent* when it comes to rostering guys. Nothing is really different about Monday’s slate of games in spite of there being 11 of them.
Let’s walk through a long list of *Strongly considers* as we make sense of how this can affect that for these games.
Strongly consider Dirk Nowitzki (FD $3500 DK $3100) if he drew the start again for Maxi Kleber. The old man played a, rather surprising, 25 minutes last game and I suppose could be in line for similar run this time around as well as he continues his retirement tour.
Strongly consider Kenneth Faried (FD $6600 DK $5500) if James Harden sits out again. Fried drew the start in Harden’s place which is a testament to the kind of versatile lineup construction the Rockets have built over the last few seasons. They have the ability to just shift everyone *up one* in the hierarchy (starting with CP3) and Faried took over a lot of those minutes.
If Jaren Jackson Jr. is out again then Ivan Rabb (FD $4600 DK $5600) would once again be in play. He’s a much better FanDuel pick at these prices for what it’s worth. Rabb had drawn starts but played barely any minutes as the Grizzlies rotated their plethora of bigs. But if JJJ is out then there’s more run to pass around.
The Heat are so short of personnel that it’s hard to imagine Kelly Olynyk (FD $4600 DK $3900) not getting solid run. But this is the Heat and famous last words.
Jonas Valanciunas FD - $7600 DK - $6400
Opponent - LAL
Proj Pts FD - 38.28 DK - 39.59
As is often the case when a guy goes from a good team where he saw marginal minutes because of defensive issues and goes to a bad team who’ll just play him on the offensive upside alone, Jonas is crushing it as a Grizzly. In his first three games in Memphis (including a start on Saturday for the injured Jaren Jackson Jr.) Valanciunas is averaging 20 points, nine rebounds, three assists and a block. Now he’ll face a Lakers’ team allowing 10% more scoring and 13% more rebounding than league average to opposing centers this season. This is a smash spot for Chewy and he’s a great bargain as a DraftKings pick at $6400.
Boban Marjanovic FD - $5400 DK - $5500
Opponent - NO
Proj Pts FD - 32.27 DK - 32.5
After lighting the world on fire in his first start for Joel Embiid, Boban cooled off last game in a 15-point loss to the Trailblazers. But if the reality is for the guy to play in the low-to-mid 20’s with Embiid out then these prices are still a tick too low for Marjanovic. The guy averages nine points and six rebounds in less than 17 minutes per game and can fill it up early and often just by nature of being well, unnatural. The Pelicans do have a lot of bigs they can bring to the table, but all of them have levels of athleticism that could give Boban issues. He’s not quite the cash game lock we saw two games ago, but I think he’s in the cash game discussion.