This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
Sunday's games have an odd schedule structure where we have an almost equal amount between the early games and the contests on the featured slate. It's a shame that we have to leave out, PHI/NY, TOR/WAS and MIL/ATL, but there's plenty to work with on the four-game featured slate.
The primary injury scenario tonight involves the Mavericks, where it appears J.J. Barea (Achilles) is out for the season, and to make matters worse for Dallas, Dennis Smith, Jr. is questionable with a back injury. Even if Smith suits up, someone has to take Barea's place in the second unit. Jalen Brunson ($3,800) is the most likely candidate, but this might be a wait-and-see situation unless you really need to go low. Aside from this spot and long-running tags on other players, the slate is relatively clean on the injury front.
I'm fairly confident that James Harden ($12,700) headlines my main lineup against the Magic, but things are a little cloudy beyond that. This leaves us around $5,300 per player to work with, but if I can get a couple of guys in there below that number, we could probably get it to around 6K each. Since spouting out, random plays does us no good if we know which way we're going, I'll model my picks with an aim toward rostering Harden and focus two plays in the lower ranges along with one spend-up guy to stack.
C.J. McCollum, POR ay DEN ($6,600): McCollum's 33-point performance against the Nuggets is more than enough to give the shooting guard a mention in today's column. While I like Curry and Lillard, McCollum could easily pop into the 40 DKFP range, and for under 7K, that's a steal. Lackluster totals against the Thunder and the Knicks resulted in a lower five-game average than I like to see, but that alone could be enough to move people off him, even on a small slate like this.
Alec Burks, CLE at LAL ($5,100): Burks is logging significant minutes as the Cavs' starting off-guard, so the chances are good that we'll see an improvement from his 24-fantasy-point game against the Lakers earlier this season, when he barely saw 23 minutes of court time. With Harden already taking up one guard start, it's great that Burks gives us eligibility in all three guard slots. The one factor that gives me pause about Burks is Jordan Clarkson ($5,700) who will be in revenge-game mode against his old team. He put up 31 DKFP the first time around. If you're a fan of that narrative, you should pivot to Clarkson, but I think Burks is capable of a similar total.
Malik Beasley, DEN vs. POR ($4,400): Monte Morris is always a threat to siphon some playing time from Beasley, but right now Beasley has every opportunity to succeed, with an average of 30 minutes on the court over the last six games. Now, all he has to do is produce. 30 DKFP or more at this price Is what we need in a Harden build.
Kevin Durant ($9,600) and Luka Doncic ($8,500) are definitely in play as Harden tandems, but Durant is the player who can shine brighter here. Durant put up 50 DKFP, and Doncic only managed 37 DLFP in their last contest. I can get a total in the high 30's for cheaper.
Draymond Green, GS at DAL ($6,700): Green is an excellent example of a player who can muster a Doncic-like total for a lower price, provided that he posts a respectable rebound total. He's one of the few players In the league that can give you the rare rebound-assist double-double (I think there should be a bigger bonus for that). He's done it twice this season and comes close to it on an almost nightly basis. He missed one opportunity to play the Mavs but posted a 14/10/5 line against them right before Christmas.
Al-Farouq Aminu, POR at DEN ($4,800): Things get a little dodgy down here at this level, but I think Aminu has the best chance to pop here. I believe 35 DKFP would be a target number here, and I'd be thrilled to see him go above that. If he gets hot from long-range and grabs some boards, he can certainly get there.
Jusuf Nurkic, POR at DEN ($8,300): I think it comes down to Durant/Doncic or a top-flight center to pair with Harden. Jokic logged a poor total yesterday and also struggled against Portland, and I'm not a fan of Vucevic's matchup, so I have no problem shifting to Nurkic. His last tangle with Denver resulted in a 41.3 DKFP total. He's a bit on the expensive side, though.
DeAndre Jordan, DAL vs. GS ($6,800): This could be the sweet spot at center, as it can allow me a bit more flexibility but still produce a solid total. Jordan mustered 42.5 DKFP against the Warriors before, but his low floor is a cause for concern.
Ante Zizic, CLE at LAL ($3,900): Seriously a punt play here only, but Zizic did pop up for a 32.5 DKFP score against Houston on Friday, so it could be a sign that they'll utilize him more here opposite JaVale McGee. Slotting him in resulted in some nice improvements at the forward positions.
By utilizing some low targets, I was able to get Harden, Durant and McCollum all in reasonably well. A strong performance from any number of centers and possibly Curry could be slate-breaking for me, but this looked to be the most sensible cash option for today.