DFS Devil’s Advocate: Cores, Pivots, and Strategy will offer to serve as a mutually proportioned grasp for an everyday NBA DFS main slate, touching on core and pivot plays at each position, as well as strategies you may find useful as roster outlines or interesting contrarian plays.
Friday is here and it’s the first of the month! And before we get to the weekend, we’ve got a seven game NBA slate to handle. Today we’ve kind of got a lopsided distribution of talent across the featured roster positions. From staring down the barrel of the fully-loaded Guard position overall provides an immense amount of roster construction pivots with no shortage of reasoning. And while the options available at Center for the day provide a palatable amount of upside, they are much fewer and further between (with a ton of Multi-Position Eligibility guys as the majority option on DK). Let’s take a look at the menu…
• Kyrie Irving ($8,900 DK/$9,900 FD)
The Boston Celtics are the only team without a win since the All-Star Break and Kyrie Irving is in a prime spot to help them bounce back against a Wizards squad who ranks as the league-worst defensively and second overall in pace over the past ten games. In front of his home crowd on a Friday night, I can’t see a scenario (barring injury) how Irving isn’t a prime catalyst in what’s looking to be a responsive Celts’ bounce-back game.
• Trae Young ($8,100 DK/$8,800 FD)
Trae Young has looked marvelous in the past several weeks, averaging 44.58 DKFP for the entire month of February and 50.25 DKFP in his last six games. His price tag is still a palpable one given his consistent fantasy prominence, while ownership should leave plenty of breathing room to edge the field should you choose to go that route. The Bulls, ranking in the bottom six teams defensively over the past ten games, provide a considerably softer matchup for the Hawks rookie point guard.
Pivots: Kemba Walker, De’Aaron Fox, Eric Bledsoe, Rajon Rondo
Punts: Patrick Beverley, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Ryan Arcidiacono, Tyler Johnson
• Zach LaVine ($7,700 DK/$8,300 FD)
Speaking of brilliant consistency, Zach LaVine has been nothing short of such himself. Sporting a beyond-reliable 42.55 DKFP average performance throughout February, how his price tag has remained so peculiarly low over that course of time (and much of the season for that matter) is beyond me. To add incentive to the matter, he’s been off the public’s radar and draws a fantastic matchup against the Atlanta Hawks who are in the bottom four teams defensively overall and a league-worst in turnover percentage as well as opponent’s points off turnovers. While nothing is impossible, Zach LaVine is more likely to be of good to your roster than not.
• Lou Williams ($7,100 DK/$7,600 FD)
In what’s in line to be a shootout donning the day’s highest over/under of 240.0, the Clippers take on the Kings in Sacramento and Lou Williams somehow remains at his typical low-key $7,000ish range and should be in line for a solid stat line against the highest paced team in the league over the past ten games in the Kings. Despite always being anchored to the second unit, with an undeniably high ceiling on nearly a nightly basis and a typical usage rate up around 30%, Lou should be a core play of several desirable pieces from this game.
Pivots: Jrue Holiday, Devin Booker (QUESTIONABLE), Buddy Hield, Khris Middleton
Punts: Marcus Smart, Jalen Brown, Caris LeVert (if you dare)
• LeBron James ($11,400 DK/$12,400 FD)
Despite the downward spiral which it appears the Lakers have set course upon, King James is still filling the stat sheet and proving to be one of the only fantasy reliable players on this rollercoaster of an offensive unit. While his price tag may still strike the concern of some with guilt by association (to the Lakers), LeBron is averaging 61.87 DKFP in his four games since the All-Star break and is set for a turbo-scoring matchup with the second highest over/under of the slate (237.0) in this evening’s late hammer game against our next core candidate.
• Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,600 DK/$11,000 FD)
On the other side of the ball in this prime time barn-burner-hopeful, Giannis will also be a roster anchor to count on and against a Lakers team who’s fourth overall in pace and among the bottom seven teams defensively over the past ten games. Despite his oddly poor display in his last court performance (which appeared to be a great matchup with the Kings prior to the minutes restriction), the Greek Freak will be eager to put his MVP talent on display against an incohesive Lakers defense.
Pivots: Danilo Gallinari, Brandon Ingram
Punts: Gordon Hayward, Joe Harris
• Lauri Markkanen ($8,600 DK/$9,000 FD)
For pretty much all the same reasons of consistency listed for LaVine, those are mutually echoed in the case of Lauri Markkanen except with a slightly higher ceiling and price tag. Atlanta is giving up a slew of points and Markkanen warrants attention with a near-30% usage rate since returning from the All-Star Break. And with Multi-Position Eligibility at Center on DK, he makes for a versatile dagger on Friday’s slate.
• Julius Randle ($8,000 DK/$8,800 FD)
With the Pelicans playing their hand for the rest of the season with the pieces they know will remain true to them, Julius Randle is in a very appealing smash spot against a Phoenix Suns team who is atrociously bad on defense (28th overall) and especially at rebounding (last overall) in the last ten games. Despite Anthony Davis’ lingering 20-ish minutes nipping at his ceiling, Randle’s opportunities will still be aplenty.
Pivots: (Update: John Collins is OUT with illness. I would consider Omari Spellman as a totally worthy Pivot/Punt option at bare minimums on both sites.) Montrezl Harrell, Jayson Tatum, Pascal Siakam, Anthony Davis (if you dare)
Punts: Marcus Morris, Nikola Mirotic, JaMychal Green
• Willie Cauley-Stein ($4,500 DK/$5,500 FD)
Given the highest over/under of the evening’s slate, a Clippers team that’s abysmal against the Center position, Marvin Bagley out with injury, AND a ridiculously cheap price tag, it’s nearly impossible to ignore WCS as a generous core play at a moderately weaker Center position for the day’s slate. Harry Giles will slip in to steal some minutes in relief but that salary on Willie will be ignorance bliss given this matchup. Roster Cauley-Stein with little concern of him hindering your cause.
• Al Horford ($6,400 DK/$7,700 FD)
With everything Kyrie has going for him this evening, you can assume a large part of that opportunity for Al and drop the salary cost over $2,000 as well. Horford has been a rather stable fantasy producer through all of February with less than a mere handful of subpar turnouts aside from that. And of his several plus-value examples in that time frame, his ceiling has even struck as high as 62.25 DKFP (@ MIL, 02/21). Matchup and price here makes for much to feel good about.
Pivots: Deandre Ayton, Jusuf Nurkic, Cody Zeller, Brook Lopez, Jarrett Allen
Punts: Ivica Zubac, Kyle Kuzma (at the 5?!), Ed Davis
With all of the potential maneuvering you can factor in by starting at the Guard positions, today’s roster strategies are countless without getting convoluted by too many murky options. I plan on targeting as much of the Clippers/Kings game as possible, especially in respect to the cheap center options (both teams are weak defensively at the position also) and inspiring over/under. I love a lot about both sides of that game and there will be too much love to go around here to have to be too concerned with public ownership distribution.
Trae Young, John Collins, Zach LaVine, and Lauri Markkanen will also be starting points I’ll be anticipating builds around. I won’t be shying away from potentially rostering three of the four in at least a couple of lineups as well. Since ownership will be hard to guesstimate on this one, getting a mix of the bunch can aid in differentiating your roster from the field (this oft applies to many game stack approaches).
However, I find myself implementing either a lot of Kyrie Irving or a number of his surrounding cast members and chasing pieces from the two highest over/unders of the night with Giannis or LeBron. I’d suggest not falling entirely in love with any one cheap Center option as that becomes an easy endeavor to accidently fall subject to on a slate like this one (hello, Ed Davis). Pivots are meant to be uncomfortable to some mild level of concern, and that nagging feeling includes the silver lining of shaking off plenty of public ownership as well. Often the place where it’s too easy to get comfortable is the one begging for an awkward zag.
Stay sharp, have fun, and see you in our NEW featured Slack Channel for updates and other roster strategy discussions throughout the day.