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.
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While some of us may need that extra shot of caffeine during the morning grind to start the week (myself especially and never in moderation), there’s rarely a case of the Mondays when it comes to NBA DFS. And today is especially not the case as we’re not only gifted an extra half-hour to prepare leading up to lock, but a seven-game slate that’s mildly similar to that of what we broke down on this past Friday: a variety of talent and value spread throughout the Guard position (particularly the SG’s), a stud-stocked Forward position also not without its band of value players to offer, and eventually settling on a modest amount of potential in the Center category. Without further delay, slam your espresso or what-have-you and let’s dig in…
• Rajon Rondo ($5,500 DK/$6,100 FD)
Alright, bare with me here. I know this guy has been essentially the reflective parallel to that of the bipolar nature within the Lakers offense these days. Fluctuating between the recent examples of 18 DKFP in 26 starting minutes (@ PHX, 03/02) to that of a resounding 48 DKFP in 40 minutes just the game prior (vs. MIL, 03/01), the hot-headed veteran is not quite exactly the definition of reliability. But considering his price tag first and foremost in a starting role where he has NOT been afraid to shoot whatsoever, it’s hard to not anchor your rosters confidently at that cost.
Then when you take into account that he’s facing a Clippers team who’s rolling at the 5th highest pace in the league over the last 10 games, this just means more opportunities you may see Rondo hucking up another shot. And just to add to those hopeful Lakers possessions is a Clippers opponent ranking 26th overall in turnover percentage in that time frame as well.
• Eric Bledsoe ($6,500 DK/$7,400 FD)
Now, how this guy’s price tag has stooped so low is rather evident if you look at some real doozies he’s oozed out in a recent five-game span (19.75, 9.25, 7.0, 26.75 DKFP in four of the five). But Bledsoe, fresh off of a newly-signed contract extension on Friday, is facing an opportunity considered nothing short of a smash spot against the Phoenix Suns.
Seeing an extra day off alongside the extra dollar signs this past weekend, the Bucks paid point guard has bounced back from those horrid forementioned performances with an average of 59.62 DKFP in his last two games and facing a Suns team ranking in the bottom four teams in the league defensively over the past ten games. Not to mention…it’s a revenge game for him!
Pivots: De’Aaron Fox, Jamal Murray, Elfrid Payton, Luka Doncic (Nobody can get this guy’s position right on either site but today he’s PG/SF on DK and SG on FD), Ricky Rubio (too cheap)
Punts: Landry Shamet, Derrick White/Bryn Forbes, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
• DeMar DeRozan ($7,700 DK/$8,800 FD)
While not without his notoriety for fantasy blemishes throughout the 2018-19 season, DeMar DeRozan was actually rather consistently solid in most of the month of February. Never drifting too far past the $8,000 mark, DDR is averaging nearly 45 DKFP in his past four games and faces a great matchup in front of his home crowd with the Denver Nuggets.
The Nuggets, ranking 4th overall in the league in pace over their last ten games, offer a prime opportunity to DeRozan who has been averaging a 26.8% usage rate in his last four games played since picking up his fantasy point total average . At such a price that allows for much flexibility across the remainder of your roster, the once-Toronto castaway provides an incredible ceiling you can divvy out ownership to with confidence.
• Devin Booker ($7,800 DK/$8,900 FD)
Despite his ability to frequent his floor every bit as often as his ceiling in regards to productivity, Devin Booker waves around a price tag that’s more than worthy of entertaining as the opportunity at hand very much provides a route to the upside as opposed to the latter. Squaring off against a Milwaukee Bucks team who has found their way into the top nine teams in pace over the last four games, Booker’s own Suns team carries a 6th overall pace in that same span.
And not only does the flow of this game presumably incorporate a Suns deficit early and often, but Booker’s 32.36% usage rate in his past five games will assuredly offer the first dibs of fantasy opportunity to keep his team within this horse race. He’s simply too cheap given the amount his team relies upon him on a nightly basis.
Pivots: Buddy Hield, Khris Middleton, Josh Richardson (SF on FD), Dwayne Wade, Lou Williams
Punts: Pat Connaughton, Kent Bazemore, Damyean Dotson
• Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,500 DK/$12,200 FD)
While they say his minutes have not been restricted since his recent rest period for knee soreness, Giannis has indeed averaged slightly less time since then with 32 minutes in both of his last two games. However, let’s be real here…it’s Giannis. And his opponent tonight, they’re still the Suns…am I wrong?
Let me tell you what I mean by “It’s Giannis”: he balled out to the tune of 79 DKFP versus Utah in his very last game since the rest, and that was even involving the slight decrease in his usual 36ish minutes. While there’re no guarantees, his ownership should be lower than or no worse than equal to LeBron’s tonight and to think the Greek Freak will take it easy on the Suns is to assume yourself into a bad spot. I will be getting my share of the MVP front runner.
• Danillo Gallinari ($6,300 DK/$7,300 FD)
Especially a featured player of consistency that flies under the radar, Danillo Gallinari is carrying far too cheap of a salary cost today against a Lakers unit in disarray. He posted 42 DKFP in his last matchup against them (12/28), and that was only with the offense coming from him 19% of the time.
Since the trade deadline he’s become much more of a focal point behind the ball, and with a 26.75% usage rate in his last five games he’s got a fantastic shot at plus-value against a Lakers team ranking dead last defensively in the past ten games.
Pivots: LeBron James, Brandon Ingram (PG/SG on DK, SF on FD), Nikola Mirotic
Punts: DeMarre Carroll, DeAndre’ Bembry, Jae Crowder, Kevin Knox
• Kelly Olynyk ($5,300 DK/$5,600 FD)
How in the hell is this dude so cheap still?! Let me make this reasoning fairly simple for you: he’s starting almost positively regardless of Whiteside’s status, he’s playing against a garbage Atlanta Hawks team who’s in the bottom five teams defensively over the last ten games, and he’s playing out of his mind at a 38.12 DKFP average in his last four games. At his price tag, that’s an average of an 8.35 X value!
• Derrick Favors ($5,300 DK/$5,600 FD)
Although he’s facing a slight price jump as opposed to usual, it would be ridiculous if he didn’t given his recent explosiveness given the opportunity. With proving to wield a massive ceiling for fantasy production, Derrick Favors is averaging 38.62 DKFP in his past six games and reached an absurd season-high 54 DKFP in his last game against a solid Milwaukee team (03/02). At home today he’s gifted a mailed-in New Orleans Pelicans team who touts the highest pace played in the league over the past ten games and proves to be nothing short of a possibility for a booming fantasy total.
Pivots: Bam Adebayo, Montrezl Harrell, LaMarcus Aldridge
Punts: Noah Vonleh, Cheick Diallo, JaMychal Green, Kyle Kuzma
• Willie Cauley-Stein ($5,800 DK/$6,100 FD)
Indeed it appears that Sweet Willie’s price tag has seen a bit of a hike in contrast to what we’re used to seeing. However, just remember how cheap his price on either site still truly is and especially in regards to his boundless opportunity spot tonight at home with a late hammer joust at home in Sacramento against an ever-revolving cast of mediocrity in the New York Knicks.
With Marvin Bagley sidelined with a sprained left knee, Cauley-Stein dominated in his last outing on Friday against the Clippers, paying off far beyond the calling of his salary at an incredible 9.2x value. And while the public threatened of an opportunity beckoning for Harry Giles on the horizon given Bagley’s absence, he only mustered 17 minutes as WCS clearly dominated the role down low for the Kings. And with his mild price increase you’ll see a decreased ownership amongst the public with yet another wildly high ceiling opportunity for the ex-Kentucky Wildcat.
• Rudy Gobert ($7,900 DK/$10,300 FD)
If you look at his recent fantasy productivity, you may pose question as to why he Rudy may be worthy of investment on today’s slate. But with a Center position that’s seemingly linear when being mindful of opportunity costs, I believe from a top-down perspective that Rudy Gobert proves to have a huge ceiling opportunity matchup against the lowly New Orleans Pelicans.
Much like the suggested ceiling of Derrick Favors here, Gobert stands to have a quietly solid upside and potentially explosive stat line against the paced-up Pels who fantasy-wise have been the league’s worst against the Center position over the past two weeks. While I’m not entirely fond of his cost over on FanDuel, his cost over on DraftKings is realistically too cheap when being cognizant of his monstrous performances of not too long ago.
Pivots: Brook Lopez, Nikola Jokic, Mitchell Robinson, Dewayne Dedmon
Punts: Jarrett Allen, Ivica Zubac, Alex Len, JaVale McGee
I feel like with the greater value opportunities being available in the lower hanging fruit of the Center position, you can build around a steady number of guards and roster accordingly with one of the studs (Giannis/LeBron/Jokic). My eyes first settle upon Eric Bledsoe and bringing it back with Devin Booker in specifics to the Guard flagship possibilities. I tend to split my investments equally when it comes to the fork in the road between Giannis and LeBron, with considerations to Jokic only resting as the wild card pivot at stud.
I will certainly be getting a ton of the Kings pieces against a Knicks team who provides no real threat to a ceiling being reached among any of the noteworthy players in Sacramento’s fold. With the late hammer game offering possibly the highest over/under of the evening at 232, I will drift into some Knicks to fill out my rosters in order to afford some higher priced characters elsewhere. And speaking of which, it won’t escape my prerogative to get to some lineup exposure that consists of game stacking this matchup.
Best of luck and talk to you in Slack.SportsGamblingPodcast.com throughout the day with updates and other roster construction conversation.