Short slates loaded top-heavy with talents, and particularly players with price tags over $11K, always make for a fascinating Rubik’s Cube of roster construction. One where we may find ourselves trying to play lineup limbo: struggling desperately to see how low we can feasibly go at certain positional sacrifices in order to jam in all of the luxury pieces in a player pool.
Today is going to be one of those days.
On a Tuesday where we’re presented a six-game offering that includes James Harden, Luka Doncic, Giannis, healthy Kyrie Irving, and a non-load management night for Kawhi, there are going to be plenty of difficult decisions to make while struggling to heap on as many of these guys as possible and being forced to leave a couple of them behind (when we’re talking strictly one lineup).
I can’t recall the last time so many studs we’re crammed into this small of a slate, so let’s have some fun with this one while keeping an eager eye on injury reports, as they very well may unlock the value required to afford the right combination of players normally unachievable.
Please keep in mind: these picks come with GPP-first in mind, but most plays work just fine in Cash Games as well.
- Added Trae Young to Guards following updated availability. (8:24 AM PST)
- Removed Brandon Goodwin from Guards. (3:12 PM PST)
James Harden, HOU ($13,000)
Not only do we get James Harden in an extremely favorable matchup, but he’s also coming to this slate without Russell Westbrook to weigh on your decision-making. With his backcourt mate taking a rest day in the first leg of Houston’s back-to-back game schedule, Harden’s lofty price tag suddenly doesn’t appear so unreasonable.
With the assumptive sky’s-the-limit take on Usage through a periscope, the grand scheme of the Rockets’ offense looks like it’s spelling for a fantastic night ahead for The Beard in this matchup. After posting an insane Usage rate of nearly 51% in his most recent outing without Westbrook (an 81-point DraftKings Fantasy Point night in a 122-115 victory over Atlanta), Harden is in line to replicate what could be a slate-breaking performance.
In a game featuring two of the top three teams in Pace for the season, not only does Harden get the additional possession opportunities, but faces a Memphis Grizzlies team ranking 22nd overall in the Defensive Rating category. All things considered, James Harden is a no-brainer in the first leg of a back-to-back, and on a short slate sans Westbrook.
Luka Doncic, DAL ($12,600)
While his past three performances have left something to be desired from a fantasy perspective (particularly due to his price tag), Luka Doncic draws a favorable bounce-back matchup with a tanking Golden State Warriors team who’s lost their past eight games in a row.
The Most Valuable Player candidate has been rocking a 35.9% Usage rate along with a league-leading eleven Triple-Doubles on the season. He’s also going to be playing with a vengeance following his recent outings, and the matchup couldn’t be much more delightful.
Luka lit up the Warriors in their last matchup, one where he dropped 78 DKFP on them in one of those aforementioned Triple-Double achievements. Golden State ranks 28th overall against Point Guards when it comes to Fantasy Points Per Game (60.15 DKFP/G), so a duplicate performance could be brewing for Luka Doncic.
Trae Young, ATL ($10,200)
Devin Booker, PHX ($8,200)
D’Angelo Russell, GS ($7,900)
Ja Morant, MEM ($7,600)
Lou Williams, LAC ($7,500)
Khris Middleton, MIL ($7,400)
Eric Bledsoe, MIL ($6,500)
Joe Ingles, UTA ($6,100)
Patrick Beverley, LAC ($5,300)
Alec Burks, GSW ($5,300)
Cam Reddish, ATL ($5,200)
Donte DiVincenzo, MIL ($4,800)
Brandon Goodwin, ATL ($4,000)
Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL ($12,200)
How much of this game is anticipated to be blowout run is in the eye of the beholder, but there’s no denying that Giannis Antetokounmpo has a stellar matchup awaiting him, as he and the Milwaukee Bucks take on the rebuild-mode New York Knicks who rank in the bottom four teams overall defensively.
The Greek Freak is averaging slightly fewer minutes in games that feature an eventual blowout, dropping just around the 28-minute range from his usual 32-minute allotment (30.9 MPG for the season). But when you figure the blowout would likely involve heavy doses of Giannis, who averages the second-highest Usage rate in the league at 36% just underneath James Harden, it makes for a difficult time to avoid rostering him.
When you’re playing the Knicks, and averaging nearly 60 DraftKings Fantasy Points per game on the season, it’s more than enough reason to warrant rostering Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Kawhi Leonard, LAC ($10,000)
Another half of a star-studded tandem who comes without his partner to command Usage, Kawhi Leonard is yet another top-shelf salaried player with a fantastic matchup, taking on a defensively depleted Cleveland Cavaliers team ranking 29th in the Defensive Rating category overall and on the second half of a back-to-back.
While his noteworthy fantasy performances have been more sporadic this season, he’s very well capable of posting over 60 DKFP and most recently did so against a similarly weak opponent in the Golden State Warriors. He’s also averaging over 36 minutes without Paul George, along with 54.5 DKFP and a near-37% Usage Rate.
Kawhi’s price tag will likely scare suitors off in favor of other directions with roster construction, which makes for a potential leverage situation on a smaller slate alongside other spend-up options in his salary range. Kawhi Leonard may wind up being the key to the slate depending on ownership leading up to lock.
John Collins, ATL ($8,300)
Kelly Oubre, PHX ($7,900)
Kevin Love, CLE ($7,200)
Montrezl Harrell, LAC ($7,000)
Jaren Jackson Jr, MEM ($6,800)
Omari Spellman, GS ($5,500)
Dillon Brooks, MEM ($5,400)
Eric Paschall, GS ($4,400)
DeAndre’ Bembry, ATL ($4,400)
Isaiah Hartenstein, HOU ($4,400)
P.J. Tucker, HOU ($3,900)
Clint Capela, HOU ($7,800)
He’s not going to commandeer the Usage here (that’s Harden’s job), but Clint Capela still demonstrates plenty of value outside of just scoring the ball, and the Memphis Grizzlies fare as a welcoming matchup to do so against.
Capela ranks among the top three players in the NBA in rebounds, averaging 14.4 Rebounds Per Game (tied for second with Rudy Gobert) and squaring off with a Memphis Grizzlies team ranking 27th overall in Opponent Second Chance Points with 14.4 per game. To me, this adds up as one hell of a matchup that the field ownership may wind up turning into chalk by the time lock time hits (waaa waaa).
With Russell Westbrook sidelined, Capela just posted 58.50 DKFP over 36 minutes and highlighted by a monstrous 22 rebounds against the Atlanta Hawks. On a slate where everyone will be paying up for Rudy Gobert, I will have my sights on Clint Capela as a pivot option.