This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
James Harden ($13,400). OK? Now that THAT is out of the way…
No, seriously. Against the Knicks, I'd go with Harden even if he wasn't putting up video-game numbers, but there's just no avoiding him. An ongoing analysis of all top lineups in GPPs and cash games have Harden all over the map. He's a pace-setter that you can't avoid, despite the price. I'm running out of clever ways to endorse him. Rocket Man, it's lonely out in space? I think it's going to be a long, long time before I fade him.
OK, enough with Elton John – there's still a lot of value here. With no AD, you've got to give some love to Julius Randle ($8,400) and Nikola Mirotic ($7,000) in this game script, but what about Jahlil Okafor ($4,600)? 20 points and 10 rebounds in Davis' absence is nothing to sneeze at. He won't be a secret tonight, but the low cost might be too good to pass up. I've outlined the lineup question for Detroit below – Drummond's potential absence would be great news for the Pelicans' interior.
Here's an injury rundown for tonight's slate. Ongoing injury situations won't be mentioned.
Ben Simmons (illness) QUESTIONABLE – Nobody likes an upper respiratory infection. His status is currently up in the air, but if he can't go, expect T.J. McConnell ($3,900) to start at the point, and the rest of the starters should see s slight boost in production.
Kawhi Leonard (rest) OUT – We won't see Leonard back on the court until Friday. The Pacers are currently the best defense in the league, allowing only 100 points per game, but if you must do a pivot, I still think Danny Green ($4,700) is your best bet, and C.J. Miles ($3,300) is your low-cost value grab.
Andre Drummond (concussion) QUESTIONABLE – This will be a top priority for DFS-ers to keep tabs on, as the Pelicans are without Anthony Davis, and a Drummond absence could spell big numbers for Blake Griffin ($9,700).
Jimmy Butler (wrist) QUESTIONABLE – Butler is another variable in the Philly/Indy contest. If both Simmons and Butler are out, Corey Brewer ($3,500) has shown up recently, but Furkan Kormaz ($3,000) is also a good pivot. This tip-off isn't until 8 PM, so swapping here will be a bit of a challenge.
Danilo Gallinari (back) OUT – Gallinari won't travel with the team, and though I would typically coin this as an 'ongoing' injury that I usually don't mention, Doc Rivers has employed an interesting three-guard lineup scheme in his absence. Patrick Beverley ($5,000) and Avery Bradley ($3,900) will get a boost here, along with Lou Williams ($6,600) coming off the bench.
Jrue Holiday, NO vs. DET ($8,600): While the big story will be the frontcourt matchups in this game, Holiday will be the catalyst to get everyone involved. He had a field day against Detroit (55 DKFP) in their last matchup, and I see no compelling reason to expect a different result tonight. He's eclipsed 40 DKFP in four of his last five, and though I'd like to see more at this price point, he's certainly capable of exceeding that floor.
Trae Young, ATL at CHI ($6,800): Kevin Huerter (neck) may be out tonight, and the red-headed wonder has been stealing a bit of Young's thunder, so this could be the rookie's chance to shine again in a battle of the cellar-dwellers. Trae couldn't get his shot going when he last met the Bulls, going only 3-for-12 from the floor, but recently Trae has been fairly accurate. I expect Young to fare much better this time around.
Alonzo Trier, HOU at NY ($3,900): It's impossible to predict what the Knicks will do in the backcourt, but Trier showed up Emmanuel Mudiay in their last game with an impressive 37.5 DKFP total, and that line might be enough for coach Fizdale to work him in more. I like a lot of Clippers guards down in this price range, but Trier sticks out as a potential punt play if things get out of hand against Houston.
We've discussed Griffin, and we know the story in New Orleans, so who else do we have?
Domantas Sabonis, IND vs. TOR ($6,500): It's imperative that we look at low mid-range and low-cost targets whenever we can so that we can afford you-know-who, and I like Sabonis' chances after posting a double-double against the Raptors in their last matchup. While Serge Ibaka and Pascal Siakam are worthy defenders, the duo of Sabonis and Myles Turner will be a challenge. Turner ($6,600) actually fared a little better against Toronto, so he is worthy of a mention as a center/utility option.
Terrence Ross, ORL at BKN ($5,700): The word is out on Ross, but the salary hasn't risen all that much, although it's now $1,200 higher than it was 10 days ago. These two teams met five days ago in Orlando, and it was a quiet 24 DKFP night for the hybrid forward. I still think there's a potential ceiling that works for me at this salary level. As you construct a Harden build, you end up seeing a lot of him, and I've opted to go with him over similarly-priced players.
Kenneth Faried, HOU at NY ($4,400): If this becomes a runaway game, how can you not consider Faried in his second game with the team? I think this is an excellent spot for Houston to kick the tires on their newest acquisition. He moved right in with a respectable 20 DKFP performance in Philly, and he'll come into MSG with a better grasp of their playbook. There's a modicum of risk here, but he could be a pleasant surprise on this slate.
I know, this is a HUGE cop-out, but I looked at all three and found myself feeling the same way about all of them, with one exception – Embiid's situation would markedly improve if both Simmons and Butler sit, but I think one of them will see the floor. All three of these guys have favorable defensive matchups, and all of them are suitable tandems with Harden, but Vucevic might be the best value in the "always-start-centers-versus-Brooklyn" situation.
Dude, what are you doing, endorsing six guys? Technically I'm not doing that - I'm just providing a tier of guys on the opposite end if you choose to go mid-range elsewhere. The biggest carriable here is Lopez, who could easily cede minutes to Bobby Portis without much notice. But my instinct is that want to find a deal for Lopez, so they'll showcase him while they can.
Believe it or not, some GPPs might be o.k. WITHOUT Harden tonight after going through the slate, and this might be one of the first nights where I think that is so – loading up with Pelicans and identifying the right pieces in Detroit and Philly could yield a big total for less money. I'd advise giving that a whirl in your GPPs, but stick with Harden in cash. You'll fall behind the pace in those contests if you don't opt for the Beard.