HOU (-6.5) @ LAL – 223.5
This game has a total over 10 points higher than the next closest on the slate, so you’ll definitely want a piece when you’re constructing DFS lineups. The Rockets should win this game, the pace should be insane, and the Lakers figure to offer very little defensive resistance, so their main cog on offense, James Harden, should be in for a monster game and makes for one of if not the strongest play on the slate. Clint Capela, Eric Gordon, and Ryan Anderson are all solid plays as well. Trevor Ariza, in theory, could certainly have a strong game, and he deserves consideration.
The Lakers fantasy prospects are also boosted by the expected pace and suspect Rocket defense, so their main offensive piece, D’Angelo Russell, will also deserve heavy consideration as a cash play. Julius Randle is another very strong play for the Lakers considering his matchup with turnstile Ryan Anderson. Jordan Clarkson and Lou Williams also have the potential for strong games in this high scoring affair, and with the pricing extremely tight on Draftkings, Lou is in play for salary relief.
Primary Plays: James Harden, D’Angelo Russell
Secondary Plays: Julius Randle, Eric Gordon, Jordan Clarkson, Clint Capela, Ryan Anderson, Lou Williams, Trevor Ariza
SAC @ PHX (-2.5) – 212
Phoenix played with the fastest pace of any team in the preseason and comes into the season with a great match-up against the Kings. The Kings don’t have much in the way of perimeter defense, and the Suns’ guard trio of Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker, and Brandon Knight figure to have success early and often. Sacramento projects to start Ty Lawson, and Eric Bledsoe should eat him alive. Booker should have his way with either Ben McLemore or Arron Afflalo as well, and given his lower salary and higher projected ownership, he may make the superior cash play to Bledsoe, but Bledsoe is a very interesting pivot in tournaments as his ownership should be much lower. Brandon Knight will probably see a lot of Garrett Temple, who poses the toughest matchup of the three, but not enough to keep you away from using Knight. P.J. Tucker is expected to play off the bench which probably makes both him and T.J. Warren unplayable. Jared Dudley’s minutes are a question, the Kings figure to rotate Kosta Koufos, Demarcus Cousins, and Willie Cauley-Stein in the frontcourt, and their size may force Phoenix to match with a larger 4, possibly Marquese Chriss or Alex Len, although Len saw almost no time at the 4 in the pre-season. I wrote in my pre-season preview that the Suns will probably be looking to showcase Tyson Chandler for trade early in the season, he’s as fresh as he’s going to be all year, the Suns need him out there to counteract the Kings’ size, and he’s fairly cheap at 4.6K, if you’re going to use him, this is the time. However, being asked to guard Demarcus Cousins always brings an increased likelihood of foul trouble.
Speaking of Demarcus Cousins, he should eat in this game. I’m a long-standing member of the Boogie Fan Club, and while his antics and tendency to foul can be incredibly frustrating, his talent and versatility are elite. He accounted for over 33% of the team’s usage in the pre-season and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that increase in a game that counts. When you factor in the inflated pace when facing the Suns, great matchup (Tyson Chandler used to be a good defender), his rebound and assist rates, and ability to produce in the defensive categories, you have to consider Boogie one of the best plays on the slate. I’m always worried about foul trouble and his general immaturity when rostering Boogie, but hopefully he’s not too frustrated to begin the season and he toes the line. If Arron Afflalo starts he’s a very interesting salary relief option in this high total game at only 3.7K. Rudy Gay deserves consideration but I won’t play him, and Kosta Koufos is very interesting in this game at only 3.1K. I want no part of Ty Lawson in general, but I really want no part of him at 5.5K against Eric Bledsoe.
Primary Plays: Demarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker
Secondary Plays: Brandon Knight, Tyson Chandler, Arron Afflalo, Kosta Koufos
BKN @ BOS (-13.5) – 211.5
This game should be a blood bath. I think Boston has made the jump to the ranks of the NBA’s elite, and Brooklyn is probably the worst team in the league. I would not be surprised to see Boston win by 30. I think one of the most critical mistakes you can make as a Daily Fantasy player is to fade a player or team for being in too good of a spot, so all of Boston’s options on offense should be considered top plays. Avery Bradley at 4.8K is probably the top value I’ve seen so far on the slate, and Isaiah Thomas will see no resistance from Jeremy Lin. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is a solid defender, but I’m assuming we see him matched up with Jae Crowder, although it would probably make more sense from a tactical standpoint to match him up with a guy like Bradley that initiates more offense. Ultimately, I’m not sure it matters to Brooklyn, and without having seen any real-time rotations, I’ll assume RHJ sticks with Crowder. Al Horford is another tremendous play, and he should spend time at the 4 matched up with Trevor Booker as well as time at the 5 against Brook Lopez. Amir Johnson is a consideration and should have next to no ownership, but his minute floor is terrifying, he could easily give you 14 minutes and 17 FP. With Marcus Smart out with an ankle injury, I think Terry Rozier should definitely be considered, and he could very well see a bump if/when this game gets out of hand. With pricing extremely tight, at just 3.2K, with his combination of play-making ability and potential volume, I wouldn’t try to talk someone off of using Rozier in cash, although I haven’t gotten to constructing any lineups. He’s at worst a great tournament play.
The Nets could very well score about 80 points in this game and have zero fantasy relevant players. Jeremy Lin looks like their top fantasy option, but I’m assuming Avery Bradley, who is a suffocating defender, is tasked with shutting him down, while Isaiah Thomas hides on Bojan Bogdanovic. It’s possible that Brad Stevens won’t want to put the diminutive Thomas on someone with such a size advantage, and, if matched up with Thomas, Jeremy Lin could definitely have some fantasy success, but I’m not willing to make that gamble in a cash game. Brook Lopez is priced out of consideration in such a bad matchup. I can see taking flyers on Bogdanovic, RHJ, Luis Scola, or Markel Brown with salaries so tight, but I hope it doesn’t come to that.
Primary Plays: Avery Bradley, Al Horford, Isaiah Thomas, Terry Rozier, Jae Crowder
Secondary Plays: Jeremy Lin, Bojan Bogdanovic, Luis Scola, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Amir Johnson, Markel Brown
OKC (-8) @ PHI – 208
The Russell Westbrook solo era couldn’t be getting off to a better start match-up wise as OKC travels to face Philly. Philly’s point guard tandem of T.J. McConnel and Sergio Rodriguez are DOA against Bestbrook, he’s locked in as a top 3 play for the slate. Steven Adams is a bit pricier to start the season than I’d hoped, but definitely a strong play a 5.8K. Same with Enes Kanter at 6.1K, I think he has a very strong game, but I was hoping to get him cheaper. Oladipo is in play, but I’d like to see how he’s used in real games before getting too invested at 7.1K, I think there may be better plays in that range. I wouldn’t try to talk you out of using Andre Roberson, Joffrey Lauvergne or Ersan Ilyasova in tournaments.
I was really hoping Joel Embiid would be closer to 4.5K, but with a 20 minute cap at 5.4K in a tough matchup with Steven Adams, he’s a secondary play at best. My favorite play on the Sixers is Jerami Grant at 4K, he’s played all 3 frontcourt positions and posted a 24% USG and 1.1 DK ppm in the pre-season, I think he’s a very solid salary relief play. Robert Covington and Gerald Henderson are also interesting. I could see playing Sergio Rodriguez, T.J. McConnell, or Dario Saric, but I’ll need to see it from them in real games before betting on them.
Primary Plays: Russell Westbrook, Steven Adams, Enes Kanter, Jerami Grant
Secondary Plays: Joel Embiid, Victor Oladipo, Robert Covington, Gerald Henderson, Andre Roberson, Joffrey Lauvergne, Ersan Ilyasova
DEN @ NOP (-2.5) – 207.5
This is a great game to target, tight spread, 2 bad defenses, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this one go over the total. Anthony Davis was the highest USG player in the pre-season at over 40%, and I expect that to continue into the season. There are tough decisions to make on this slate with the 4 studs over 10K all in great spots, but at only 10.1K , Davis may post the highest points per dollar. Tim Frazier (4.8K), E’Twaun Moore (4.5K), Solomon Hill (4K), and Terrence Jones (4.5K) provide salary relief and offer some upside in this competitive, high paced game. Terrence Jones is my favorite play of the bunch, but they’re all viable.
Danilo Gallinari seems underpriced at 6.2K, and Will Barton should see a ton of run of the 2/3 and only costs 4.6K, I think he’s a great play given how rosters will shake out on this slate. Jusuf Nurkic (5.8K) is probably my preferred play over Nikola Jokic (6.9K) just because of the savings, but I think they’re both solid plays. Emmanuel Mudiay will start and deserves consideration at 6.2K, and Jamal Murray is interesting to me at 3.9K but I’m not sure how many minutes he’ll see to start the regular season. Jameer Nelson is min priced, I’m not going to play him, but I guess he deserves a mention.
Primary Plays: Anthony Davis, Terrence Jones, Danilo Gallinari, Will Barton, Jusuf Nurkic
Secondary Plays: Tim Frazier, E’Twaun Moore, Nikola Jokic, Emmanuel Mudiay, Jamal Murray, Solomon Hill
DAL @ IND (-6.5) – 205.5
Drafkings must’ve read my season preview articles, because all the guys I was excited to play to begin the season are all priced way up. Myles Turner (6.2K) should have a great game, but there may be better options at the price point. Thad Young is interesting at only 5.5K, and it’s going to be tough to pay up for Paul George when you could just keep going for Harden, Brow, or Bestbrook. This could make him an attractive lightly owned tourney play. Given the way the slate is shaking out, I think it’s going to be tough to play any of these guys until we can see exactly where the usage is going in this offense. Rodney Stuckey (3.3K) is worth a tourney punt off the bench.
Andrew Bogut (5K) is probably my favorite play from the Mavs’ starting lineup, but I’m not terribly interested in them either. This game is probably going to go overlooked in general, so all the plays should be low owned, but maybe with good reason. Seth Curry (3.7K) is also interesting as a guy who could put up a ton of shots with the second unit, and maybe even get a little run with the starters.
Primary Plays: Myles Turner, Thad Young, Paul George, Andrew Bogut
Secondary Plays: Jeff Teague, Monta Ellis, Rodney Stuckey, Deron Williams, Wes Matthews, Seth Curry
MIA @ ORL (-4) – 200.5
Goran Dragic was another guy I was hoping to get a little cheaper, but I still think he’s a great play at 7K in what should be a competitive game. Hassan Whiteside (8.6K) is a great play, but you have a tough choice between him and Karl-Anthony Towns in the same price range, and I’d probably lean Towns. I like Justise Winslow as a player, but 5K is probably too much to pay for what probably won’t be an offensive focal piece. Tyler Johnson (4.2K) makes for an interesting play as a guy off the bench that will get some shots and possibly minutes with the starters. Derrick Williams (3.9K) and Luke Babbitt (3K) deserve consideration, but we’re not sure exactly how the Power Forward rotation will shake out just yet. I would exepct Williams to start aginst Serge Ibaka. Dion Waiters (4.1K) will probably get his shots up, but will they go in? That’s not a risk I’m looking to take, but I understand if you do.
I think Evan Fournier is a solid play for the Magic, and should probably make for a low-owned, high-upside tourney play at 6.4K. Serge Ibaka (6.2K) should see a lot of court time and get plenty of shots up, Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon should both see plenty of minutes but I question their shooting ability, and Jeff Green makes for a very interesting play at only 3.8K, he should get plenty of usage off the bench.
Primary Plays: Goran Dragic, Evan Fournier, Hassan Whiteside, Serge Ibaka
Secondary Plays: Jeff Green, Elfrid Payton, Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic, Tyler Johnson, Dion Waiters, Justise Winslow
MIN (-1) @ MEM – 199
Karl-Anthony Towns, fire him up. 9.2K is a lot to pay on this slate, but in a tight game against a team that is pushing the pace this year, I’m looking to fire him up as much as possible. Memphis has traditionally been regarded as a great defensive team, but I don’t see anyone on the roster that’s going to stop KAT. I don’t see many people on any NBA roster that will stop KAT. Zach Lavine(5.4K), Andrew Wiggins(6.5K), and Gorgui Dieng (5.6K) are also strong plays. The Wolves’ main options off the bench, Shabazz Muhammah (3.1K) and Nemanja Bjelica (3K) make for very interesting punt plays to fit in the studs on the slate, I think they both have potential to reach 6x.
KAT poses a tough match-up, and Marc Gasol is supposed to be on some sort of ambiguous minutes restriction, but I’m sure he’ll feel good enough to play 30+ minutes on opening night in a contested game, and he makes for a very interesting play at only 6K. I mentioned getting on Mike Conley (6.8K) early in the year, especially as a tournament play, and I think that definitely applies in this game, I doubt he is very highly owned. Jamychal Green (4.1K) makes for a very strong play because of his low price point, and Zach Randolph is also squarely in play off the bench at 5.7K, he should push for a 30% USG rate in his ~25 minutes. Tony Allen won’t play in this game, and all of the Memphis wings are cheap, it’s just tough to peg which one will see the most shots. I’m guessing Vince Carter, who doesn’t seem to age and is min-priced, James Ennis, and Troy Williams are the best plays on the wing.
Primary Plays: Karl-Anthony Towns, Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, Jamychal Green, Zach Lavine, Gorgui Dieng
Secondary Plays: Andrew Wiggins, Zach Randolph, Vince Carter, Ricky Rubio, Shabazz Muhammad, Nemanja Bjelica, James Ennis, Troy Williams
DET @ TOR (-7) – 199
Kyle Lowry (7.8K) and Demar Derozan (7.2K) are the plays for Toronto. Jonas Valanciunas is too expensive at 6.5K to take seriously. Lowry gets the better matchup of the 2 against Ish Smith, so I’m guessing the usage pendulum swings a bit towards him in this game after Demar shot it every time he touched it in the pre-season (38% USG), but Demar will still get enough shots up to post a strong fantasy line.
Andre Drummond could easily just completely dominate this game, and he’s definitely a strong tourney play at 8.4K, but I’d rather get up to Whiteside or KAT in this price point. I assume most people feel the same way, so Drummond should go a bit underowned. Ish Smith has an attractive price point at 4.7K, but I’m just not willing to use him because of the low shot volume and efficiency you’re signing up for. Tobias Harris (5.7) and Marcus Morris (4.6K) are very strong plays in great match-ups. Morris makes for a very legitimate cash-game target at that price point, although I think this game is one of if not the least attractive on the slate based on pace and offensive efficiency.
Primary Plays: Kyle Lowry, Demar Derozan, Andre Drummond, Marcus Morris, Tobias Harris
Secondary Plays: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
CHA (-2) @ MIL – 194
I hate this game because Roy Hibbert is a terrible basketball player, but he’s only 3K, and Cody Zeller, who is expected to play, missed all of pre-season and is a big unknown coming into the year. I’m not playing Roy Hibbert, I’m probably not playing Cody Zeller, but I am very interested in Kemba Walker. He may go overlooked with all of the other great point guard options on the slate, I think he makes for a really strong tournament play and is certainly cash viable when you consider his shot volume and efficiency. Nicolas Batum is priced attractively at 6.4K, and Marvin Williams is definitely going to go overlooked at 4.7K, I think he’s a great tournament play, and potentially cash viable. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist isn’t a great shooter, but has a really strong minute floor for his defense, and he makes up for his scoring numbers in rebounding and defensive statistics. Jeremy Lamb could see the majority of the shots against a weak Milwaukee second unit and is priced at the minimum, I think he makes for one of the strongest punt plays on the slate. Marco Belinelli also deserves consideration, but I don’t think I’ll use him.
Giannis and Jabari are the main pieces here for the Bucks. Giannis may go a little overlooked in a weird price point between the top tier studs and guys like Dragic, D’Angelo Russell, etc. I’m not sure they’re cash viable plays in a tough matchup, Charlotte plays tough defense at a very slow pace, and I expect them to win this game fairly handily. I’m assuming Nic Batum matches up with Giannis while Michael Kidd-Gilchrist chases Jabari. The Bucks player I’m probably most interested in using today is Greg Monroe, he’s going to see plenty of shots with the second unit, and he should see the softest matchup against either Zeller, Hibbert, or both. I’ve also touched on the fact that I think the Bucks will be looking to showcase him for trade, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him play a bunch and be a featured offensive piece to begin the year. I’m not playing Matthew Dellavedova or Michael Beasley, but I wouldn’t try to talk you out of Mirza Teletovic.
Primary Plays: Kemba Walker, Nicolas Batum, Marvin Williams, Greg Monroe
Secondary Plays: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Jeremy Lamb, Cody Zeller, Mirza Teletovic