This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
Although the NFL playoffs will dominate the DFS landscape today, FanDuel is rolling with four games on the NBA main slate, and there's a lot to cover, especially on the injury front.
(odds provided by FanDuel Sportsbook and are subject to change)
Games/Teams to Target - BOLD
Games/Teams to FADE - ITALIC
CHA @ TOR (-7) O/U: 219.5
DET (-2) @ MIA (TBA) O.U: 215.5
PHI (-1) @ MEM O/U: 219.5
ATL @ POR (-4.5) O/U: 234
The most significant question mark on this slate involves the Miami Heat. We'll drill down some of the injury situations below, but it's going to be nearly impossible to make selections based on the number of questionable tags. We'll attempt to sort it out in a moment. The Hawks-Blazers contest is easily my favorite on the slate, and I see elite and budget value on both ends of the ball. The Sixers also offer a lot for the slate in an easy matchup. I like a couple of spots in the Hornets/Raptors game as well. The two teams I am mainly staying away from are Memphis and Detroit. Although it's a slim slate, our nightly goal above all is to utilize players who will outperform their salary. I don't see much of that on either team.
PHI Joel Embiid (knee) OUT
We'll essentially begin endorsing people here because it's hard to play this slate without using at least one of the people I'm going to mention. The direct pivot to Embiid will be Dwight Howard ($4,400), although I have reservations about giving up the center spot to him on most lineups. He tends to get into foul trouble, but he will produce if his numbers rise above 25 minutes. I far prefer giving love to Ben Simmons ($8,300) despite his injury designation. As usual, he's restricted to point guard on FanDuel, but without Embiid on the floor, he'll play more of a hybrid role, and that spells more rebounds and defensive metrics for Simmons overall. This leads us to Tobias Harris ($7,500), who will shoulder a lot more without his signature big man to join him in the frontcourt. I like Simmons, Harris and Howard in that order, against a Memphis team that may still be without Ja Morant (ankle)
Ok, let's tackle Miami.
Jimmy Butler (COVID-19) - OUT
Bam Adebayo (COVID-19) - QUESTIONABLE
Tyler Herro (neck) - QUESTIONABLE
Goran Dragic (COVID-19) - QUESTIONABLE
Gabe Vincent (knee) - QUESTIONABLE
Whew. See what I mean? Tough to call. So, let's figure it out, shall we? First off, I think Gabe Vincent ($4,700) will play. He carried the same designation in the last game and went off for 21 points and four assists against the Sixers. Unfortunately, I can't use him in many lineups because I have two clear favorites at PG today (Simmons and see below), but if you're going MME today, he merits some exposure. Adebayo ($8,200) warrants some consideration if he suits up, but Precious Achiuwa ($4,700) becomes an excellent option, primarily due to his odd SF designation on the site. Kelly Olynyk ($5,300) would also factor in, but he has the same problem as Howard - I'm not willing to sacrifice so much to the center position. The best guy to slot in if he plays is a toss-up between Tyler Herro ($6,500) and Goran Dragic ($5,700). I favor Dragic for a couple of reasons. First, his COVID designation won't affect his play like Herro's neck issue, and I also think he will be the less popular player overall.
Gordon Hayward (hip) QUESTIONABLE
Hayward was downgraded late and missed the last game, and there's no telling if that trend will continue. Most people were expecting Miles Bridges ($4,300) to start, but they opted for Caleb Martin ($3,900) instead. Both players aren't my favorite if Hayward misses. I'd much rather focus on the rest of the starting lineup, with PJ Washington ($6,700) and LaMelo Ball ($8,000) as my top two plays for the Hornets.
There are no 10k-plus options on the slate! That's good news for those who want to spend up early and often. Aside from Simmons, who is arguably the best option, I'm all-in for Trae Young ($8,800) against the Blazers, who are weak against point guards and especially vulnerable to the pick-and-roll, which Young utilizes to exhaustion. While Damian Lillard ($9,200) and CJ McCollum ($8,300) are both viable options on such a slim slate, they didn't garner as much exposure as I hoped. Again, Lillard's problem is a positional one, as the bulk of my exposure will go to Young and Simmons, so McCollum becomes the more appetizing option in the duo. We'll allow a bit more rope in this section due to the slate's size, which will allow a mention for Pascal Siakam ($8,900). By no means is he my favorite Raptor, but we have direct metrics for Toronto as they just played Charlotte. Siakam didn't meet 5x value for the first time in a few games but played well enough (37.75 FDFP) to warrant a mention.
Chris Boucher, TOR ($8,100) vs. CHA
Boucher will be extremely popular, and I love him at the PF position. Despite a slightly inflated price tag, he could be the best option on the slate. He went off for 48 FDFP against Charlotte in the last game, and although he isn't starting, he'll consistently give you 30 or more minutes at 1.38 FDFP per minute. Boucher's exclusion from the starting five confounds many. Nick Nurse seems to have done everything in his power to keep him off the first unit, settling on guys like Alex Len and Aron Baynes to take the first crack. In virtually every game, Boucher goes in and outplays them. It doesn't matter, however. We care about the numbers only, and Boucher checks all the boxes.
Jerami Grant, DET ($7,900) @ MIA
This salary feels like a lot for Grant, but he deserves it. He's now the Pistons' top scoring option, and despite the salary, he's meeting 5x value enough to be relevant. Before an understandably challenging game against Milwaukee, he had four straight games of 43 FDFP or more. Blake Griffin ($6,100) isn't entirely out of the question because he'll receive plenty of minutes, but to be truthful, Grant is the only option that warrants significant exposure on the team at this salary level.
I bunch these two together because although they have completely different playing styles, they will mostly be interchangeable as options on the small slate. Eight times out of 10, I'm opting for Lowry, and his numbers in the last game versus the Hornets (43.2 FDFP) outdid VanVleet's (26.2) by a considerable margin. In fact, for $500 less, Lowry has outdueled VanVleet in three straight games, a streak that was only broken by a Lowry absence. Once again, Lowry's point guard tag is troublesome for me, but he's the most likely player to creep into reasonable exposure beyond my initial favorites. By and large, I view VanVleet as too expensive at the moment.
Jonas Valanciunas, MEM ($7,100) vs. PHI
Valanciunas makes logical sense at center against the Embiid-less Sixers. With or without John Morant, the Grizzlies will depend on Valanciunas to exploit Embiid's absence, as it may be the only way they can make this game competitive. Thanks to COVID protocols, he is coming off substantial rest after dropping 24 points in 16 rebounds on the Timberwolves, which was statistically his best game of the season. We need over 35 FDFP to make this play worthwhile, and although he's only broken that number 45 percent of the time, the Embiid absence is the most alluring metric here.
John Collins ($6,800), ATL @ POR
The loss of Jusuf Nurkic (more on that in a moment) should allow both Collins and Clint Capela ($6,400) a bit more wriggle room inside. Portland's frontcourt defense makes up for their backcourt defense, but Nurkic was a big part of that success. The Trail Blazers only have two true centers on the roster, and they both could be overworked. As I said, we'll discuss that issue in short order, but you have to consider one of these two frontcourt players in this matchup.
On this slate, the injury section outlines what should be the core of most lineups, and solidifying Miami's designations will be where a lot of your value comes from. After reading, refer back to the injury area because I endorsed chalk and value options there. Here are some additional value spots.
The loss of Jusuf Nurkic stings, and here is how I see things shaking down for the next eight weeks. Kanter will start, see significant minutes, and should be the best DFS play overall. However, we've witnessed Portland go small-ball in specific scenarios, and that is where Anthony will come in. I predict he'll slide in when Capela rests, and the new game script should benefit his usage. The wildcard is Giles, who is a lock to receive more minutes than usual, and like Anthony, he isn't saddled with a C designation. He hasn't played much, but at 1.26 FDFP per minute, he's made the most of his opportunities. The only question is how much he'll be used in the rotation. Kanter is your number one, but Anthony at SF and Giles at PF warrant serious consideration.
Devonte' Graham, CHA ($5,800) @ TOR
Graham will be a popular budget call in Tampa tonight because he has all the goods to reach 30 FDFP, which is what we need at this salary point. While Ball and Washington are still my number one plays, Graham is a guy who will see a decent bump if Hayward can't make it, as he'll need to create some offense on his own. Terry Rozier ($6,900) will probably be the better option if Hayward sits, but Graham stands on his own based on his potential to hit 5x value.
Derrick Rose, DET ($5,800) @ MIA
Since the small slate allows us a lot of leeway with our salary cap, this is about as cute as I'll get with budget options, aside from the bargains I've already mentioned. The point guard job in Detroit belongs to Killian Hayes in the long term, but Hayes is out, and Rose should be good for a decent allotment upon his return from injury. If we hear anything about a minute restriction, a pivot to Delon Wright ($5,500) is reasonable but ultimately not worth the price increase.
Also consider : De'Andre Hunter, ATL ($6,000) @ POR
Keep your ear to the ground about Miami. I can't emphasize that point enough. The best direction for your eyes AND ears is at RotoWire, where we'll have the latest information as it becomes available.