JEREMY'S DAILY JEWELS
Throughout this NBA season I’ll be sharing some interesting notes and quotes I come across while doing my research for the upcoming DFS slate in a new DGCourtroom.com feature called: Jeremy’s Daily Jewels.
Keeping up with tradition, the Cleveland Cavaliers are once again following the same pattern as they have in each of the past 3 seasons. Look for LeBron James to send out his annual cryptic tweet sometime in November or December that will give weeks’ worth of fodder to the ESPN morning shows and sports talk radio. The Cavs will continue to struggle throughout the first half of the season – experimenting with different rotations and even resting their guys. Once January or February hits, LeBron will proceed to call out management for not making any significant moves at the trade deadline. Then, usually towards the beginning of March, they’ll flip the switch and get on a roll just before the playoffs.
I’m saying all of this because, for the foreseeable future we should continue playing everybody against the Cavaliers, while being weary of rostering anybody on Cleveland unless someone is sitting or their prices go way down. Kevin Love is the only Cav who has been semi-consistent, going for 6 double-doubles and one 19/9 game. Since moving back to power forward three games ago, K-Love has shot 10-20 from beyond the arc. LeBron James did see his price dip all the way down to $10.4K on Fanduel. I would not even consider LeBron had his price stayed over $11K.
With the Iman Shumpert injury, Dwyane Wade could even be in play for GPPs. D-Wade is averaging 10.5 points and 4.5 assists across the last two games while running the offense for the second team.
There’s not a lot to say about the Pacers side except that everyone who sees the court is someone we should be considering. Opposing point guards, shooting guards, and power forwards against the Cavs all find themselves in top-5 matchups with respect to pace-adjusted Fanduel points per minute. Darren Collison was the only Pacers starter to not get involved in the blow-out win over the Kings on Tuesday. He should have no problem bouncing back Wednesday.
At a loaded SG position, Victor Oladipo is clearly a top play. Thad Young is a nice PF value at only $5.8K on Fanduel. Young has proven to have a floor of 20 fantasy points on any given night, with major upside against the Cavaliers. None of the Pacers’ starters, who also include Bojan Bogdanovic and Domantas Sabonis, played over 28 minutes on Tuesday. All five finished the game with a +/- of +19 or better. Lance Stephenson will get another chance to see his old buddy LeBron.
The Milwaukee Antetokounmpo’s will roll into Charlotte to play their second game in as many days. On Giannis Antetokounmpo’s last game on the second night of a back-to-back, he unleashed 66.6 Fanduel points against Portland, shooting 17-23 from the field. I guess you don’t have to worry about tired legs and flat jump-shots when the Greek Freak can get to the hole anytime he wants. He’ll be considered an A-1 play until further notice.
On a side note, when did Gus Johnson start announcing Bucks’ games?! I’ve never been so excited to watch Tony Snell and Matthew Dellavedova play basketball, eagerly anticipating someone to hit a mundane jumper to beat the shot clock in the 3rd quarter followed by random screams from Gus: “OHHHH MYYYYY!!!!!!! AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH@#%#$&^@#^@!!”
If we follow our trusty flow-chart from yesterday’s article, it will lead us to Dwight Howard – coming off a down game against Memphis. His price fell on Fanduel to a fair and affordable $7.4K, making him someone we should consider for cash games. In their first matchup of the season, D-12 pulled down 22 boards and accumulated 4 blocked shots. Keep in mind that game was before Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was playing, and MKG would figure to take some rebounds and defensive stats away from Howard.
While Kemba Walker looks to have finally gotten it going, scoring 26, 34, and 27 real-life points over his last three, what’s most impressive is that he shot 13 free throws in his last game. Getting to the line that much is a signal that a player is playing aggressive. And even though the Bucks don’t present the easiest matchup on paper, we should have Kemba Crossover on our radar as long as Nicolas Batum remains out.
The return of Cody Zeller figures to cut into the minutes of Frank Kaminsky. The Hornets’ starting power forward, Marvin Williams, started off the season on a dreadful note but has picked it up over the past two games. Williams sports a usage rate in the mid-teens but at $4.7K on Fanduel, he is still significantly cheaper than he was most of last season.
Despite what the stats may say, I will be a little conservative when it comes to rostering Nuggets and Wizards on Wednesday’s slate. Both teams are returning home after long road trips on the opposite side of the country – one of the most traditional let-down or “trap” spots in professional basketball. (One explanation I’ve heard is that when guys are on the road, they tend to relax more and bond with teammates in their hotels quite a bit. Once they get home, its back to “real-world” problems. Yeah, they’re professionals but sometimes it helps to consider they’re all human beings too).
The Wizards do find themselves in a juicy matchup against the Suns. Last season the Wiz had two west-coast swings and in their first game back at home, John Wall and Bradley Beal put up decent games both times but each fell short of reaching 5x value in either game. Anybody who’s a fan of basketball knows that Wall is too talented for his early-season mediocre-ness to last much longer. All Wizard starters will be in play.
If you believe in patterns, last year’s asinine 70-point showing by Devon Booker came on the second night of a back-to-back after playing in Brooklyn…
Booker’s price remained at $7.2K on FD after his dominating performance in the Suns’ victory over the Nets Tuesday. After Wednesday’s game, I’d expect his tag to jump north of $8.5K. It wouldn’t be wise to mess around by playing the ownership game and fading Booker in too many lineups, as we’ll have plenty of other spots to go contrarian on this gigantic slate.
Mike James also did not see his price increase, so at $4.5K on Fanduel he should have no trouble hitting 5x value. T.J. Warren was in foul trouble for most of last night’s game but, playing with 5 fouls, he enjoyed a tremendous 4th quarter to finish with 36 Fanduel points. The erratic Marquese Chriss averaged 0.13 more Fanduel points per minute when playing at home in the friendly confines of Talking Stick Resort Arena last season. We can find better punts on this slate than Chriss, including his teammates Dragan Bender and Alex Len who played his college ball at the nearby University of Maryland.
The Philadelphia 76ers opened as 8.5 favorites over the Atlanta Hawks, and that number has already begun to increase. Atlanta, who’s giving up the 4th most pace-adjusted Fanduel points per minute to opposing centers, doesn’t figure to have any answer to Joel Embiid. The Hawks are dead last in the league in total rebounding percentage.
Ben Simmons is an exceptional player who would figure to draw Kent Bazemore defense, but should still stuff that stat-sheet with another 40+ fantasy point night. Even if J.J. Redick does return, T.J. McConnell is still too cheap at $5K and will continue seeing big minutes while Markelle Fultz is out. Redick actually plays the SF position for the Sixers most of the time, and Dario Saric and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (TLC) see the biggest bump in minutes when Redick’s out. We don’t need to go chasing waterfalls on this slate. RIP Left Eye.
Goran Dragic has quietly been perhaps the most consistently mediocre player so far. In each of his six games, the Dragon has put up between 28.3 and 35.0 Fanduel points and has maintained steady usage rates between 22.0 and 27.7. He now finds himself in a great matchup with the Bulls, who as a team allow the most pace-adjusted steals per game (10.2), and pace-adjusted assists per game (26.9).
Hassan Whiteside could make his return on Wednesday and should give a boost to everyone on the Heat, with the only exceptions being Bam Adebayo, Kelly Olynyk, and possibly James Johnson. The rest of the Heat player’s price tags are not that inflated and Whiteside’s return should improve their spacing on the court and return them to a style of play they’re more familiar with. Don’t overlook them on this slate.
Dion Waiters dropped a 49-fantasy point bomb on Monday, but for somebody who’s clearly dealing with a pretty severe ankle injury that will eventually require surgery to fix, we don’t want to get suckered into recency bias.
Miami’s 19th place ranking in total rebounding percentage and 18th rank in team defensive should improve upon the return of Whiteside. It should also correlate with a pace much slower than their current 13th place ranking. I’m not messing around with any Bulls on this slate, but I would have interest in Lauri Markkanen if he wasn’t all the way up at $6.6K on Fanduel.
Sacramento-Boston projects to be a slow-it-down matchup between teams ranking 26th and 22nd in pace. If Marcus Morris makes his season debut for the Celtics it would render Jason Tatum unplayable at his current salary. Maybe you can roll the dice on Jaylen Brown or Terry Rozier if you think Rozier will see action during garbage-time of a blow-out. Both Brown and Rozier signed contract extensions on Tuesday so they may be looking to prove their worth. Kyrie Irving and Alfred Horford are both worthy of tournament consideration.
Until the Kings can figure things out, let’s just hope they don’t appear on many more 4-game slates where we’re forced to roster any of them.
Could this finally be the night that James Harden goes off for a monster game? Superstars such as Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Michael Jordan always saved their best performances for when they visited Madison Square Garden. Last season against the Knicks, The Beard put up an ultra-efficient 30 points on only 16 shots in NYC en route to a 61-fantasy point performance. He also dropped 90-fantasy points on the Knicks last season, albeit that one was played in H-Town. For Harden to put up that massive performance, he’ll need to be a bit more aggressive and get to the free throw line more than he has been to start out the year. In his last game against Philly he attempted 12 free throws, his highest mark of the season.
Trevor Ariza, who was drafted by the Knicks, is the not-so-proud holder of a measly 11.4% usage rate on the season. Opponents are shooting the 5th most 3-pointers per game against New York, and we’ve already discussed here how Ryan Anderson is a much better shooter away from H-Town.
The Knicks are the 2nd best team in the league in terms of total rebounding percentage, so maybe we don’t want to go all-in on Clint Capela. Eric Gordon is in play if we want to pass on Harden, or even if we want to play them both at SG in what has become known as the “Judge’s Special.” The Knicks allow the 3rd most pace-adjusted assists per minute to the PG positon.
The Knicks, undefeated since inserting Jarrett Jack into the starting lineup, will look to stay hot in this matchup. Kristaps Porzingis is playing like an all-star starter right now, racking up 3-straight 50+ Fanduel point performances. Lordzingis is letting it fly from everywhere on the court too, even knocking down 3’s from just inside the half-court logo. Opponents are shooting 39.8% from beyond the arc against Houston, the 2nd highest percentage in the league. His usage rate of 35.8 on the season is the highest among all players who have seen at least 100 minutes.
Houston is allowing opponents to shoot 40% from three-point land, the 4th highest mark in the league (Phoenix, Miami, and Cleveland are all allowing a higher percentage). Tim Hardaway Jr. had an incredible 4th quarter to salvage fantasy value and help seal the Knicks’ win over the Nuggets on Monday. At only $5.2K on Fanduel, he has a high-ceiling and is intriguing, albeit at a very loaded SG position.
For the 7th consecutive time on Monday, Minnesota’s game total went OVER its Vegas projection. The over/under opened at 224 for their tilt in N’Orleans, by far the highest it’s been for any T-Wolves game.
The Smoothie King Center in NOLA projects to be the most fantasy friendly environment on Wednesday. The Timberwolves are giving up the 2nd most points in the paint per game this season, while the Pelicans’ opponent on Monday (Orlando) is the only team allowing more. Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins will both be A-list fantasy plays once again. You can’t go wrong with either player, but at first glance I may lean slightly towards AD, just because we have a plethora of options at the center position and the Pelicans’ scorekeeper is notorious for giving Davis extra blocks and other stats at home.
Jrue Holiday is a very strong play at PG, facing the Wolves who are still letting opposing point guards shoot a lights-out 54% on field goals and 51% (!!!) percent from 3-point land.
Andrew Wiggins, Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns, and even Jeff Teague are all solid tournament plays on Wednesday. I’m not sure any qualify for must-have status in cash games, but we at least know this should be a fast, high-scoring affair. Teague, off his 60 Fanduel point outing, will likely come with inflated ownership.
The Memphis Grizzlies project to be in a good spot facing the run-and-gun Magic, but both Mike Conley and Marc Gasol are currently listed as questionable. If one or either of them sit, we should find plenty of cheap value on Memphis, even if they’re likely to get blown out. Mario Chalmers played well in his last game, and James Ennis, Jarell Martin, and Dillon Brooks have all shown flashes of NBA-level talent. Chandler Parsons, who should be arrested for robbery after signing that massive contract, has shown signs of life over the past two games, but still isn’t seeing even 20 minutes a night.
If Gasol and Conley do sit, Nicola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon should feast against the Grizzlies’ backups. But if that’s the case, do we really think this game stays close long enough for any of the Magic starters to see enough minutes to hit value? Maybe we’d be smarter to look towards someone like Jonathon Simmons off the bench.
Joe Johnson may miss Wednesday’s game for Utah, possibly giving a bump to Thabo Sefolosha off the pine. Other than that, Noah Vonleh is probable to rejoin the Trail Blazers, which would cut into the minutes of guys like Al-Farouq Aminu and Ed Davis. Last season Vonleh started but only logged around 17-minutes per game. On this massive of a slate we shouldn’t be looking to target a game that opened with an over/under of 197 too heavily, especially in cash games.
While we shouldn’t have a ton of interest in playing many Blazers on Wednesday, we should keep in mind that, in complete contrast to the Cavs, the Blazers are playing as hard as any team in the NBA right now: specifically point guard Damian Lillard. Dame played 41 minutes on Monday night, including the entire second half until finally being pulled with under 2 minutes left in the game. The Blazers were getting trounced by the Raptors, down by over 25 points, until Dame put the team on his back, shooting 9-15 and 5-5 from the line in the second half. The comeback ultimately fell short, thanks primarily to a non-existent C.J. McCollum. When Lillard was finally subbed-out, he goes to the bench and throws the towel out of frustration. It’s refreshing to see guys who play with passion and actually care this early in the season. Dame Dolla is the closest thing we have to a modern Allen Iverson. (Yeah, I said it).
And last but (one of) the least appealing games to target on this slate, the Dallas Mavericks will visit the L.A. Clippers. Major shout-out to the Mavs who, since the last time they played, have enjoyed a meteoric rise from 30th to 29th in the league in total rebounding percentage. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan can both be considered buy-low candidates in this matchup with their depressed price tags. I wouldn’t recommend a game-stack of more than 2 or 3 players here, even in large tournaments.
The Clip Show started out the year playing as fast as any team, but have since moderated to having only the 17th fastest pace in the league. (the Milos Teodosic effect?) Patrick Beverley eats rookie point guards for lunch, so Dennis Smith Jr. figures to have his hands full in this matchup. Wesley (Missionary) Matthews and Harrison (H.J.) Barnes don’t much arouse me on this large slate, but you can do worse than these two high-floor, low-ceiling guys.
The Pacers, Kings, Bucks, and Suns are on the second night of a back-to-back.
Only the Portland Trail Blazers will be playing their first in consecutive nights.
Let’s Talk About Pace, Baby:
IND (5) @ CLE (15)
MIL (21) @ CHA (10)
ATL (12) @ PHI (9)
PHX (1) @ WAS (8)
SAC (26) @ BOS (22)
CHI (29) @ MIA (13)
HOU (16) @ NYK (23)
ORL (3) @ MEM (28)
MIN (14) @ NOP (6)
TOR (11) @ DEN (19)
POR (20) @ UTA (30)
DAL (27) @ LAC (17)
(League rank as of 10/31)
Will you be riding with Davis and Boogie Cousins again? Or will you be paying up for Giannis or Harden? LeBron? Or even Lordzingis? We have some tough decisions to make on the super high-priced guys. I’d love to hear your take on the slate or any feedback in the comments section below.
You can follow Jeremy on Twitter @zinneDFS