Welcome to your daily NBA DFS digest at FakeTeams, gents. Every day I’m here with a handful of pro-tips to roster a winning team just a few hours from now.
You might be new to fantasy hoops, so let me tell you this: the world doesn’t end in LeBron James. Each night gives us a pretty good batch of surprising performances and leaves us in the dust with more than a few upsetting outings by those we played. First world problems, carry on. That’s the beauty of this game. There are so many matches going on every single day and such a big roster available that you can’t fixate yourself in the very same player on and on but instead you need to keep things fluid.
So read on, take note, play cool, and win the day. (Player salaries pulled from DraftKings.)
Love: (PG) Fred VanVleet, TOR ($6900, at LAL)
No more bed for our friend Fred. Kyle Lowry is going to miss at least three weeks and Freddy will be thrust into the leading PG role in Toronto. VV has been quite underwhelming for the number of minutes he’s playing (0.93 DKFP per minute in 37.3) but it all comes down to him being heavily restricted in the Raps Attack. Math doesn’t check, really. VanVleet is playing the second-most minutes in the league (!) only behind Dame Lillard. The lowest usage rate between players with 35+ MPG belongs to VanVleet (18.7%) and the second-lowest is already a healthy 20.5% by Justise Winslow. The average usage between those players is 26.6%. The Springwood Slasher could more than probably be in for a massive rise in production. He’s currently dropping 15.1 PPG, 7.4 APG, and 4.1 RPG, but his new role will definitely boost his stats all around the place.
Hate: (PG) Dennis Schroder, OKC ($5300, vs MIL)
The German Vermin is at it again. Schroder is as good at giving as he is at taking. Frustration personified, with legs, winning and marathon that ends in a peak of a volcanic mountain with an enormous volcano hole full of spicy lava in which of course he goes and runs into because he couldn’t stop himself at the finish line. Whatever. Dennis last three games since Monday have been a full experience. He put up a 5-1-3 line in the first, an 11-3-9 in the second, and a ridiculous 16-6-6 in the third just yesterday. Of course, Oklahoma is keeping him on the bench to start their games because he can revolutionize but not much more. He’s had his best games against Golden State (twice) and Houston (cupcake) this season, so I’m staying away.
Love: (SG) Khris Middleton, MIL ($6400, at OKC)
Somebody hacked DK and lowered Khris’ salary to derisory levels, dawg. Sprinkle a little bit of cinnamon, and you’ll get something sweet. Sprinkle a little bit of Middleton, and you’ll get you a win. BoBo killed The Khris on Friday by hitting the buzzer-beating dagger over his forehead, but The Khris will retaliate. Because The Khris does have no fear. Middleton has scored 10+ points every game this season and comes from his best rebounding game with 11 boards and five treys. Sure, he was a zero in the rest of the cats, but that was more of an outlier than another thing. This man is actually averaging 5.9 boards, 2.7 assists and almost a stock per game, but what I love the most is his shooting. He’s holding clips of 46/40/88% while throwing 14.7/6.6/3.7 balls to the rim per game from the different spots.
Hate: (SG) Collin Sexton, CLE ($5300, at NYK)
Collin is scoring. That’s it. Collin Sexton is scoring, and that is all Collin Sexton is doing. Sexton is sharing the backfield with Darius Garland, and other than dropping buckets he is doing next to nothing. Sure, he’s putting up 17.3 points per game on 31.1 minutes, but what goes does that in fantasy when the kid is just averaging two dimes and three boards per game? His defense is nil (0.5 stocks) and the little he gives you there he removes from the equation with his 1.8 turnovers... Perhaps the most baffling thing is how Cleveland is allowing him to shoot the rock as many times as he’s doing (15.5 FGA, 4.6 3PA) considering his meh splits (42/38/80).
Love: (SF) OG Anunoby, TOR ($6200, at LAL)
It might be happening, folks. The OGs are stepping up and fighting them pesky cops. And same as with VanVleet (read above), OG will more probably than not benefit from Ibaka’s injury and indefinite time out of the rotation. Can’t love a gangster more. In another case of ridiculous minutes to go with a ridiculous usage rate—Toronto get your shit together, please—Anunoby is logging 34 MPG but only has a 13.7% usage rate that is amounting to “only” 13.8 PPG, 6.6 RBP, 2.1 APG and a massively punk three (!) stocks per game on just one turnover in return. Can you imagine if he gets the slightest of upticks in role importance? Because that is not all. This fool is shooting lights-out: 57.1% from the floor and 54.5% from three, which is nuts. Yes, he got it easier than others because of lower shooting volume, but even if shooting more means dropping those clips a bit, they should still remain as high as a Georgia pine.
Hate: (SF) Caris LeVert, BKN ($6100, at PHO)
Totally opposite to the OG. Baby Du-what? LeVert looked like the next big thing in Brooklyn after Biggie left us and now this? What is this joke? Why did they lie to me so blatantly? Shaking my head... CLV is playing 32.2 minutes and starting every game next to Kyrie, but it looks like good hoops traits are not contagious (both ways). Other than scoring 17.9 PPG, Caris has been a little non-factor this season. Remember Anunoby’s 13.7% usage? LeVert’s is at 25.7% and he’s doing even less. He’s putting on 5.4-rebound and 3.9-dime performances so far, but his defense stinks with 0.8 steals and his first and lone block coming on Friday. Oh, and his 3.6 turnovers are great too, something the very own LeBron James would be proud of! Put this kid back in the practice squad, let him improve his shooting (42/36/66) and then maybe we’ll talk...
Love: (PF) Jonathan Isaac, ORL ($6700, vs IND)
What is it between Orlando and big men? Shaq, Hunter, Howard, Vazquez, Isaac, Bamba... Too soon to tell, but my man Isaac can easily be the best thing that has happened to the Magic since Dwight—no slouch. Do you know how many players (not on steroids) are averaging more than three blocks per game? You sure do, because you’re reading about him. Isaac is a genius but Orlando is not seeing the Newton in him. Young Jon is averaging 12.3 points and 7.1 boards to go with a symmetric 1.6 & 1.6 dimes and steals, which of course would make you jump off a bridge considering he’s playing 30 MPG, but not so much when you take into consideration that the Magic are inept enough as to let him finish only 17.1 percent of plays—even dumber knowing he’s just turning the ball over 1.6 times a night. He’s shooting great from the floor (49.4%) for a big his way and his free throw clip is good too (90.5%) though he has to make more trips there.
Hate: (PF) Marcus Morris, NYK ($6500, vs CLE)
I love me some good old regression, and the one in position for it is no other than the younger—by seven minutes, that is—of the Morris twins. The Knicks suck and have sucked for all of their games this season, but somehow Marcus has been able to improve his numbers recently. Cus Morris first five games: 13.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 0.4 APG. Cus Morris last four games: 26 PPG, 7RPG, 2.3 APG. Nice! Believable? No, sir. This is one of those times some would side that you had to ride the hot streak and play this guy, but I’m not buying into it. None of the four last defenses he’s faced is ranked into the top-10, and his minutes have gone up so with opportunity came performance. Not a chance in hell he plays 40 minutes again as he did against Dallas, and honestly, all of Morris production has been seriously tied to playing time. Watch him suffer and come back to Earth tonight.
Love: (C) Joel Embiid, PHI ($9100, vs CHA)
For this one, I have to assume you know what happened the last time Embiid played a basketball game. It was against Denver and the opposing out-of-shape center hit the game-winner, making Embiid eat the L. Embiid finished the game with a good-not-great 19-15-2 line. Do you know what happens when Embiid doesn’t score 20 or more games? His next outing becomes an explosion of sorts, that is what happens. Two times has that happened this season, and in the two games after the “dud” he finished with an average stat line of 31.5 points, 14.5 boards, 4.0 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.5 blocks. All in all, scores of 66.75 and 56.00 DKFP. So, well, I guess I’m sorry for Charlotte having to face pissed-off Embiid tonight while carrying the seventh-worst defense in the league...
Hate: (C) Marc Gasol, TOR ($5100, at LAL)
You know how it goes: don’t hate too much on cheap guys, because you know what you’re paying for and the ROI can only be—mostly—good. It is not that I’m hating Gasol here, but rather trying to keep out of trouble by not using him. Serge Ibaka is injured and Gasol is about to carry some heavier load whether he likes it or not. His production so far is horrid for his minutes (0.77 DKFP per min on the floor), and his 34% shooting from the field is uglier than ever. He’s contributing seven rebounds and two dimes per, but that is really nothing for what you should expect. Perhaps his bump in minutes and usage (14.3%) fixes his troubles, but tonight doesn’t look like the best day to bank on it.
If you have any comment or question about the daily column, tonight’s games, players involved in them, or even season-long fantasy NBA topics, just drop it below or reach out to me on Twitter at @chapulana and I’ll get back to you as soon as I grab a keyboard!