This article is part of our DFS College Basketball series.
Tuesday marks the first night of the 2019 ACC/Big Ten challenge, which composes the vast majority of the DFS slate. Fanduel has a seven-game slate compared to the six on DraftKings, which is constructed by leaving out the Syracuse/Iowa matchup but adding in UAB/Texas and Bradley/Memphis.
Before proceeding, I had the list below in my preview for opening night, but I wanted to remind subscribers once more of the various features we offer here at RotoWire — whether there's a write-up like this for a given slate or not.
- CBB Injuries, which can be viewed via our news updates or in grid form (tip: sort by date to see anyone injured for that specific day).
- Subscriber Discord: Included with your subscription, you can join our Discord server to share ideas with other subscribers and root for your collective plays.
- CBB Team Pages: From our Team Stats page, click on any team for an in-depth breakdown of various factors related to the team. Here you can see depth charts, starting lineups over the last five games, a full schedule with results/box scores and various other metrics calculated by RotoWire.
And here are a few more that are DFS specific:
- Lineup Optimizer: Your general lineup-building starting point. Here, you can edit our mathematically-based projections to your liking and use customizable features such as lock/exclude to build lineups that have your own personal touch. "Like" a player to boost his projection by 20 percent. And NEW this season, generate up to 150 lineups for a given slate.
- Daily Matchup Info: This tool organizes the entire slate with sortable columns for things like implied point total and pace. It's a great starting point for figuring out games/matchups to target.
- Advanced Daily Lineups: This feature displays a team's recent starters alongside their usage rates. It shows bench players as well. A high usage rate, reasonable minutes total and below-average price tag typically signals a good DFS play.
Without further delay, let's dive into the Tuesday slate.
Vernon Carey Jr., F, Duke ($8,700 DK, $8,000 FD)
Carey hasn't scored under 30 DraftKings points since the second game of the season, and has a ceiling in the 50s like we saw against Cal on Nov. 21 (over just 22 minutes). Tuesday night represents his most difficult matchup since the opener, however, so a fade isn't necessarily off the table, especially for the single entry folks. Michigan State essentially runs a six-man frontcourt rotation on any given night, but they're a top-20 team in offensive rebounding rate and allow opponents to shoot just 41.8 percent on two-point baskets, good for No. 26 in the nation. The whole Duke team gets a slight usage boost with Cassius Stanley (lower leg) out for the foreseeable future, but the matchup means Carey isn't necessarily the auto-lock he's been in other games of late.
Cassius Winston, G, Michigan State ($8,000 DK, $7,900 FD)
Winston is one of the most skilled and experienced backcourt players in the nation, but draws one of the better on-ball defenders Tuesday in Duke's Tre Jones. Fortunately, we don't have to go back too far for the last time these two matched up, as Winston had 20 points, 10 assists and four steals in last year's Final Four upset over Duke. He probably won't play a full 40 minutes and a repeat performance is asking a lot, but he still seems like a superior play to Duke's Tre Jones ($8,100 DK, $7,400 FD), who had four points, four rebounds and five assists in the aforementioned matchup.
Jordan Nwora, F, Louisville ($8,400 DK, $7,600 FD)
Michigan may have shown it is the real deal with consecutive wins over Iowa State, North Carolina and Gonzaga last week, but Nwora is still in play as an ACC POY contender averaging 33.8 DK points/game this season. His usage through seven games is a full 10 percent higher than anyone else on the team. I'm locking him in on FanDuel at least due to the $800 price break.
Trayce Jackson-Davis, F, Indiana ($8,300 DK, $7,700 FD)
Jackson-Davis has seen 30-plus minutes in consecutive games this season, which has resulted in back-to-back double-doubles that produced 40 or more DraftKings points. The Seminoles are nothing special when it comes to defensive rebounding rate, which could open up the door for production in that category, but they are still a team that is difficult to score on. KenPom ranks Florida State No. 3 in the country in defensive efficiency, and the Noles check in with impressive ranks in opponent effective field-goal percentage (No. 13), opponent turnover percentage (No. 11) and two-point field-goal percentage allowed (No. 23). They have a pair of seven-footers seeing regular time in the frontcourt that could make things difficult on the Indiana freshman.
Luka Garza, F, Iowa ($8,900 DK only)
While not used on FanDuel, Garza is the highest-priced option on DraftKings and with good reason. He was limited by foul trouble in a Nov. 29 loss to SDSU, but has multiple 50-point DraftKings performances on the year. He has the higher ceiling, while his counterpart in this game, Elijah Hughes ($8,600) has the higher floor, with 34.0 or more on DK in each of his last six games. Any way you slice it, this is a game you want a piece of, which we'll discuss in further detail below.
With Cassius Stanley ruled out for the foreseeable future due to a lower leg injury suffered Friday against Winthrop, we have to start the value play section by mentioning the Duke ancillary players. Matthew Hurt ($4,800 FD) has been back in the lineup and producing, scoring 21.0 and 33.0 DK points in his last two games. Wendell Moore ($4,400 FD) has a 30-point ceiling and should be a lock to start now, but he's prone to dud games as well. Jack White ($4,200 FD) and Alex O'Connell ($4,000) are your minutes leaders off the bench, though one of them will likely get the starting nod. Just keep in mind this isn't Winthrop. Michigan State plays at a middle-of-the-pack tempo, but ranks No. 15 in the nation in KenPom's adjusted defensive efficiency. Duke's implied total of around 70 points is one of its lower marks all season.
Blake Hinson, G, Ole Miss ($4,800 FD, $5,900 DK)
The DraftKings price has caught up appropriately, but let's go ahead and lock him in on FanDuel. He missed the season's first four games due to illness, but has averaged 20.4 DK points/game since his return, and has entered the starting lineup for the last two games. He started 31 games for the Rebels last year with averages of 8.3 points and 2.9 rebounds, but is more involved this year with a usage rate of 24.4 percent (second on the team) since his return.
Franz Wagner, F, Michigan ($4,600 DK, $4,400 FD)
Wagner entered the starting lineup immediately upon his return from a wrist injury, and averaged 6.3 points and 4.0 rebounds over 27.0 minutes across three starts in the Battle 4 Atlantis. While that's only good for 16.4 DK points/game, it's still nearly 4x at an incredibly low price point. I also don't think he's reached his ceiling yet, as he fouled out in the first game and may still be establishing his role in the offense. The only downside is a matchup against a Louisville team that ranks eighth in the country in defensive efficiency, per KenPom.
Bryce Golden, F, Butler ($5,000 DK, $5,100 FD)
Golden has scored at least 10 fantasy points in every game this season, and while the minutes are sometimes inconsistent, he's hit 4x with 24.5 and 22.8 DK points in his last two games. Ole Miss is No. 52 in the country in defensive efficiency while allowing opponents to shoot 47.3 percent on two-point baskets (No. 134). The team will rely on Golden for more minutes if he stays out of foul trouble, so a ceiling game is in play.
Here are a few players not mentioned above who meet the following criteria: they start, play at least 25.0 mpg, are top 2 on their team in usage rate and are priced less than $5,500, per our Advanced Daily Lineups Page.
Courtney Ramey, G, Texas ($5,300 FD only)
Jalen Benjamin, G, UAB ($5,200 FD only)
Tyreek Scott-Grayson, G, UAB ($5,100 FD only)
M.J. Walker, G, Florida State ($4,600 FD, $5,500 DK)
Rejean Ellis, G, Memphis ($4,900 FD only)
Game to Target
Syracuse (-4.5) vs. Iowa, o/u 145, 7 p.m. EST (DraftKings Only)
If you're playing the DraftKings slate, this is one of only two games with an over/under above 140 and it nearly rivals the Michigan State/Duke game that sits at 147. We've discussed that one plenty, so let's hit some values here. As I mentioned above, Elijah Hughes ($8,600) is a safe option for cash games. Joe Girard is also worth a look at $6,000, as he's averaging 28.8 DK points/game since entering the starting lineup on Nov. 16. He's one of three Syracuse players above a 20 percent usage rate, and has been getting a slight minutes boost with Jalen Carey (thumb) on the sidelines.
Luka Garza ($8,900) dominates the usage for the Hawkeyes, but Joe Wieskamp ($6,500) is a fine middle-tier option if it fits. Iowa will need outside shooting to help break the Syracuse zone. CJ Fredrick ($5,500) has actually been the better outside shooter through seven games, but Wieskamp gets the most attempts. The wild card here is Jordan Bohannon ($4,700 DK), whose usage has varied drastically as he tries to play through discomfort related to offseason hip surgery. He had a season-high 31.8 DK points in his first start Nov. 28 against Texas Tech, but then had just 9.0 DK points across 23 minutes in the following game. With a few days of rest he should be good to go, and perhaps closer to the player who averaged a combined 12.6 points and 4.6 assists through his first three years with the program.
Memphis (-12.5) vs. Bradley, o/u 147.5, 9 p.m. EST (FanDuel Only)
The absence of James Wiseman continues to mean big things for Precious Achiuwa ($7,200), who has averaged 35.9 FD points in four games since Wiseman's suspension started. I feel even better about his prospects than any of the "Top Players" listed above. The most obvious play, however, is Rejean Ellis ($4,900), aka "Boogie." He's oddly racked up four personal fouls in back-to-back games, which may make some players back off and likely explains this price tag. He's second on the team in usage and similar to Kentucky's Ashton Hagans last season, Boogie gets his floor boosted by defensive stats (he's averaged 3.5 steals per contest over his last four). Bradley does defend the perimeter better than most – opponents shoot just 27.4 percent from distance – but some of that can be attributed to small sample size. For example, a below-average Northwestern team shot 10-of-20 from the perimeter in one of Bradley's two losses. Lastly, D.J. Jeffries is in play in the middle tier at $6,200. He had a dud on Thanksgiving against NC State, but still played 27 minutes and made his first start. He averaged 25.2 FD points/game in the six contests leading up to it, reaching at least 20 in every one of those games.
Bradley will get a big pace boost playing against a Memphis team ranking No. 10 in the country in KenPom's adjusted tempo metric, and there are two key players to keep an eye on. Senior guard Darrell Brown ($5,900) has over 100 starts with the program under his belt. He leads the team in usage and has played 33 minutes or more in every game this season, so you know the opportunities will be there. In the frontcourt, Elijah Childs ($6,300) is second on the team in usage, averages 30.0 minutes per game and is fresh off performances of 3.4 and 24.1 FD points against high major teams in Northwestern and Kansas State, respectively. I'd lean towards Brown in cash games, but Childs arguably has a better ceiling against a frontcourt missing its anchor.
Game to Fade
Pittsburgh (-4) vs. Rutgers, o/u 127.5, 9 p.m. EST
The over/under in this game speaks volumes on its own, but evenly-distributed rotations are another perfectly acceptable reason to stay away. Rutgers has four players with a usage rate higher than 20 percent, but two of them barely see 20.0 mpg. Geo Baker ($7,800 DK, $6,500 FD) checks in at fourth among those options and is the leader in minutes per game and fantasy points per game. He might be worth consideration on FanDuel given the price break, but it's tough to expect a lot from any Rutgers players against a Pitt team that ranks No. 338 in the nation in KenPom's adjusted tempo.
Pittsburgh's best play is Justin Champagnie ($6,100 DK, $6,200 FD), who is averaging 28.8 ppg on DraftKings across four games since entering the starting lineup. The only other real options there are Xavier Johnson ($6,200 DK, $5,900 FD) and Trey McGowens ($5,800 DK, $5,600 DK), who both share a usage rate over 24.4 percent but as usual, are probably best-suited for GPPs. I won't fall for the Terrell Brown ($4,200 DK, $4,600 FD) trap again, even if he does get back in the starting five. The guy benefiting from Brown's downturn is Eric Hamilton ($4,400 DK, $4,400 FD), who has recorded double-doubles in back-to-back games. We'll see if that usage can keep up.
FanDuel has been a bit slow to respond to pricing changes this year, so if you're playing over there, it's worth checking out the salary differences between sites to identify potential value. This is very evident on Tuesday, where five players check in at $1,000 or more cheaper than their DraftKings salary:
|Firstname||Lastname||Team||FanDuel||Draftkings||FD Difference||DK Difference|
Just missing the cut is Florida State's M.J. Walker, who is only $4,600 on FanDuel compared to $5500 on DraftKings. He doesn't get much of a matchup boost, but when you're second on the team in usage, start and play 25.0 mpg, you're worth a look at that price.
Have questions about our DFS content? Want to learn more about games that aren't mentioned here? Leave a comment, or jump in on our subscriber Discord to chat with other CBB DFS players.