This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
DraftKings is excluding the Hawks-Grizzlies matchup, so the main slate will kick off at 4:00 p.m. today with nine games.
GAMES TO TARGET - BOLD
GAMES TO FADE - ITALIC
OKC @ CHA (-3) O/U: 216.5
CLE @ DET (-2) O/U: 215
ORL @ WAS (-2) O/U: 228.5
PHI @ NYK (+8) O/U: 218
IND @ CHI (+4.5) O/U: 221.5
TOR @ SAS (+1) O/U: 225
MIN @ UTA (-8) O/U: 225
HOU @ POR
PHO @ SAC (+3.5) O/U: 228
(odds provided By FanDuel Sportsbook and are subject to change)
Since we like to give our articles a decent shelf life, we go to press without any concrete information about the Rockets-Trail Blazers. There's no word that it ISN'T happening, but for the moment, I'm going to leave endorsements off the table for this contest and mention a couple of plays independently at the end of the article. Even if the game is played, multiple people will sit out due to COVID-19 protocols.
I'm a big fan of Phoenix and Indiana on this slate, and both were places I didn't expect to go at the outset. Although I gave many mentions to the Suns, there are Pacers that I should have perhaps mentioned (Sabonis, Warren), but an article can only be so long. Also, the ORL/WAS matchup should be a fun, high paced matchup with a lot of potential value.
Russell Westbrook, WAS (rest) - QUESTIONABLE
A back-to-back approaches for the Wizards, and it's a near certainty that the team will rest their new acquisition for one of these games. Westbrook's direct replacement would most likely be Raul Neto ($3,500), but this scenario has yet to crystallize. Bumps for Bradley Beal ($8,100) and Troy Brown ($4,000) are more reliable estimations. You should keep an eye on Davis Bertans ($4,500) as well, as he's also likely to take a rest day during this tilt.
Kevin Love, CLE (calf) - QUESTIONABLE
A return from Love would shake things up in Cleveland. The game is already on the fade list, and more value can be had if he remains out. One can predict a much-higher floor for Larry Nance ($7,000) and Andre Drummond ($8,400) if Love remains sidelined.
ELITE PLAYERS ($9.000-plus)
The two players above 10k (Harden and Westbrook) may not even play, so our ability to reach for a bit more value at the top increases somewhat. Two centers stand out for me right off the bat. Karl-Anthony Towns ($9,600) snd Nikola Vucevic ($8,200) both came out of the gate with strong performances Vucevic technically doesn't belong in this category due to his salary, but they are my one and two despite Joel Embiid's presence. I prefer Ben Simmons ($9,600) over Embiid against the Knicks, and he will receive moderate exposure in my build. The elite category bottoms out reasonably quickly with Damian Lillard ($9,000). If this game goes on as planned, you have to like Lillard's explosive potential against a Houston team that will be riddled with absences.
Kyle Lowry, TOR ($8,000) @ SAS
Lowry's salary went down a bit after only achieving 3.8x value against the Pelicans. The Raptors needed to shake off the rust a bit, and they should come back strong against the Spurs in a decently-paced affair. At 35, you'd think age would be a factor with every ensuing season, but he continues to chug along. For cash games, it will be tough to find a more reliable floor on the slate.
Zach LaVine, CHI ($7,500) vs. IND
LaVine and the rest of the Bulls didn't play exceptionally well against the Hawks in their first game, and LaVine was ice-cold beyond the arc (1-for-8). The result was a slight salary downgrade for the hybrid guard, making him a lot more palatable tonight. The Pacers are slight favorites in this game, which makes sense considering Chicago's 20-point loss to Atlanta, but it's a much-improved Hawks squad that's the likely culprit here. I wouldn't give much credence to a slow start for LaVine.
Malcolm Brogdon, IND ($7,100) @ CHI
Incredibly, Brogdon's salary stayed right where it was after a masterful job against the Knicks. He stuffed his stat sheet across the board and crushed his projection for 7x value. While this isn't an exhilarating game to target on face value, it could turn out to be the fantasy gold mine of the night with guys like Brogdon and LaVine. If they both fare well, their respective teams will also earn a boost.
Deandre Ayton, PHO ($7,400) @ SAC
At this salary, Ayton is an excellent value against a team that's still struggling to find its identity in the frontcourt. The Suns' exciting win over Dallas is a portent of good things to come for the franchise. Although Ayton didn't have a great evening against the Mavericks, I expect him to meet value against the Suns. After plugging the elite centers and a good feeling about a budget center (more below), Ayton may not see a lot of love from me, but he's going to be popular.
Also consider: Devin Booker, PHO ($7,900) @ SAC
VALUE PLAYS ($6,667 and below)
For some of my favorite value plays, refer to the final paragraph, where I outline the Rockets- Trail Blazers contest.
Keldon Johnson, SAS ($4,600) vs. TOR
Unless you're still suffering from a holiday hangover, you already know about the much-hyped waiver-wire pickup. Is he worth the buzz? If you have Gregg Popovich as a fan, the answer is a resounding yes. Although he's still a developing player, a long-term investment makes a lot of sense. When Derrick White returns, Lonnie Walker will end up on the pine, not Johnson. Also, he's excelling and generating headlines while getting over a foot injury. Couple that with this extremely budget-friendly salary, and you've got one of the most popular plays of the night.
Terry Rozier, CHA ($6,400) vs. OKC
Rozier posted a career-high 42 points against the Cavaliers to begin the regular season. I wouldn't expect the same level of production against the Thunder, and Rozier is a notoriously streaky shooter. Still, with a tremendous potential ceiling, his salary is well-placed and could generate a lot of value.
Mason Plumlee, DET ($5,900) vs. CLE
Like it or not, it looks like Plumlee has a steady starting job with the Pistons. I say that because it's his first time with a regular starting role in his eight-year career, and, well, there's probably a good reason for that. We still have to recognize the opportunity given, especially at this salary level. I like Plumlee even more if Kevin Love sits. While Andre Drummond is a rebounding beast, he's at best an average defensive threat.
Mikal Bridges, PHO ($5,300) @ SAC
Bridges is poised for a breakout season, and he fills out a lineup packed with talent. In many ways, Bridges is the missing piece that Phoenix needs to round out this bunch. Even though he's had an impressive two-year tenure with the Suns already, it's time to hand over the keys to him at the wing, where it's his job to lose. If he's not yet on your radar, he should be. His salary should remain reasonable for at least the next couple of weeks.
Let's now shift to the Rockets- Trail Blazers game and work on the assumption that they'll play. Obviously, James Harden ($11,000) jumps to the forefront, and he may be rostered low due to the dubious backstories that are circulating. For me, the guy I want to target is Christian Wood ($6,700). With DeMarcus Cousins out, Wood will line up opposite Jusuf Nurkic and enjoy a nice outing. We also have Eric Gordon and BenMcLemore out. This puts a lot of pressure on Danuel House ($3,700) to perform, making him a great value on the slate. For a punt play, look no further than Sterling Brown ($3,500), who could very well receive significant minutes.
Obviously, this is an exploitable spot for Portland, and I'm going to give an endorsement to their starting lineup. CJ McCollum ($7,200) might be the best value overall as he has a good history of playing against a Harden-led squad.