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) Ben Simmons, PHI ($7600, at BOS)
Gotta admit this was a tossup between Benny and Kemba. I ultimately picked the better three-point shooter. No, seriously. Kemba was mental yesterday dropping 44 pops on Indiana in 35 minutes. He made 7 threes, grabbed 3 boards, dished out 7 assists, committed 2 thefts and... he still was second (64.75 DKFP) on the night to James Harden’s 80.75 points!!! You can play Kemba eyes closed (he’s at $7,700), but he comes from 35 minutes of run, gets a back-to-back, and he crapped the bed in his debut precisely against Philly with 16.5 DKFP back in October. Benny, though, the stuff of dreams. Simmons has been a top-15 player in five of his last six, is playing up to 35 minutes per, and while his usage is on the low side (19.3% on the season) he is still averaging 14 points, 7 rebounds, 8.4 assists, a league-leading 2.2 steals, and 0.5 blocks. His turnovers are high, but he more than compensates with an incomprehensible shooting chart (dunk-or-nothing) that has his FG% at a massive 57.0 on 10.2 FGA per. With Boston playing two in a row and Smart/Gordon doubtful, Benny should be back on his 45-plus DKFP track tonight.
Hate: (PG) Dejounte Murray, SAS ($5600, vs CLE)
More a warning than a hating blurb here. Dejo played north of 30 minutes last Friday for the first time this season and Pop said he’s no longer on a minutes restriction. Well, good luck believing it at the first attempt tonight, but I just won’t until I see it. Murray has been putting up per-minute production at the level of the league’s greatest, but we have yet to see that translate to a daily full-time role. His price has jumped a full $1K since his last game, and while Cleveland stinks they can give you fits here and there. If Jounte goes back to his 25 MPG don’t put a ceiling over 30 DKFP on his name, and even if he surpasses that playing time he might neither shine. This Murray is for the future, not the present.
Love: (SG) DeMar DeRozan, SAS ($7300, vs CLE)
No need to check the numbers. Cleveland. Cheap. Shooting guard. All systems check. If you have read Benny’s blurb above you know what Harden did yesterday to the Cavs: 55 points on a 55-3-8-2-2 line for the night, which basically translated to the fifth-best fantasy game of all of the 7784 player-games logged this season. No big deal at all, right? Well, DeDe happens to play James’ position, Cleveland seems to be the same team as it was yesterday, and DeMore DeRozan plays DeMore you like him. DeRozan has played 40-and-40 in his last two getting 23-5-9 and 15-10-7 lines, and he’s hit five treys in his last five games!!! Nah, forget about those longies because they aren’t going to be there nightly, but DeMar is producing all across the board and he’s been a top-25 player in the last couple of weeks and change. Nothing other than himself should stop him today.
Hate: (SG) Luke Kennard, DET ($5500, vs DAL)
I was so enamored of Kennard earlier in the season but now he’s so Lukewarm. LuKe (shouts for have the fitting name combo!) had a torrid run from the start of November to its second week’s end, but he hasn’t done a lot since. He’s kept his scoring more or less up (13.5 PPG since Nov. 15) but he’s a big level or two of where he started the year (18.9 PPG up to Nov. 15) and the rest of the cats have also suffered a bit. LuKe was hitting three treys per game but that has dropped to two per game in his second half. He hasn’t grabbed more than 5 rebounds since Nov. 15, and he’s topped 5 assists just twice in that span. He keeps starting and playing heavy minutes but this is more like the Kennard we came to know when we came out of the womb. Not an over-expensive play, but Dallas limits fantasy performances and he hasn’t even reached 25 DKFP in his last three, so let the cold alone.
Love: (SF) Tobias Harris, PHI ($6900, at BOS)
Bostonian sandwich today for Tobi. He’s priced right between Tatum ($7100) and Jaylen ($6300), yet he might have the highest upside of the three. I seriously wonder if Tobias Josh Harris is the one of—if not the—most underrated and overlooked player in the league right now. No casual fan would make this pick above the two C’s, let me tell you with confidence. Yet, Tobi is playing more than 34 MPG and putting up 19.2 points, 7.0 boards, 3.2 dimes and 1.7 stocks on a ridiculously low 2.0 turnovers per day. Keep in mind where he plays. He’s battling for chances against Embiid and Simmons at the very least (his 23.6% usage shows) but he’s been as good as anyone. Tobi is shooting 48.5% from the floor on terrific volume (15.6 FGA), hitting some threes (32.4% on 4.4 3PA) and nailing them good from the charity stripe (79.8%). Since the calendar flipped to December he’s been a top-20 player in four of his five games (all above 41 DKFP) and in the other one he was limited to 22 minutes because... Cleveland.
Hate: (SF) Kent Bazemore, POR ($4800, at DEN)
You would have never thought about playing Kent Bazeless, but still. This is more about letting you know why The Baze is on my list of off-court greats and not on the on-court ones. Gotta appreciate body art, and the hair, and the beard, but can’t love the game. Such is life, Kent. Cold world. You can’t have it all. Baze has started the last two games for the Blazers and with Rodney Hood out he will keep racking up minutes until Kevin Love inevitably gets to town. Kent has been no Kev, though. He’s averaging 0.81 DKFP per minute on a 17% usage rate this season. In his 22.9 minutes, he’s scoring 7.7 points and grabbing 4.2 rebounds, but the rest of the cats are an afterthought. His shooting stinks big-time (34/34/80) and his season highs are 15 pops, 10 boards, and 6 assists. Even if he was putting that line nightly he’d be at what, 35 fantasy points per? Great, only that he’d need to double or triple his minutes to reach those heights.
Love: (PF) LaMarcus Aldridge, SAS ($7000, vs CLE)
LMAO! What the hell is going on!? LaMarcus has played one game in the past twelve days. Talk about load management, dawg. For all the critics, he’s been a steady as hell performance, and that’s totally out of the question. LMA is a top-30 player on the season averaging 37 DKFP per game, more than good for anybody any day. He’s usually on the low-side of the pricing algorithm methods and that’s nice. Aldridge finished November on a good run and extended it to December with a dub-dub (19 and 13) in his lone game in the month of Santa. He’s averaging 22.2, 7.6, and 2.4 in his last five to go with 1 SPG and 1.4 BPG. Those numbers are pretty sweet, if you ask me. In fact, those are the season-long average-line numbers of KAT, Giannis, and AD, so you get an idea. The sample is small, sure, but Aldridge’s ceiling is great and his floor isn’t under his season average, to be fair. Great play against Cleveland and he’s matchup-proof in terms of minutes played no matter the game’s outcome.
Hate: (PF) Kevin Love, CLE ($6200, at SAS)
What I could Love, I must now hate. It’s time for a change, mate. Love is inching closer to find a new home, and good for him, because after playing his ass for this Cavs team during the first month of the season it looked like he just stopped trying and is now just waiting for his agent call to arrive and Cleveland to send him packing west of Ohio. Love was heart-warming during that said stretch: he finished 10 of 13 games with 38-plus DKFP, averaged a double-double (18.7 and 12.1) easily, and even his assists weren’t bad at 2.8 considering his surroundings. In his last seven games up to yesterday, though, just one double-double and only two performances over 21 fantasy points... His minutes have dropped a ton and are floating the 26 per at most, his usage is south of 20%, and he can’t even score 10 points on a nightly basis... We all know Love—I lied there—and the player he is. He doesn’t need to prove anything else so why the hell will he care. Just free him from this rebuilding and let him blossom elsewhere.
Love: (C) Nikola Jokic, DEN ($9000, vs POR)
If it is not today, then when? If you’re a fool, that’d be your question. If you’re a savvy basketball connoisseur, you know Jokic’s narrative has been wrong all season long. This is the Joker in 2019: 31.1 MPG, 16 PPG, 10 RPG, 6.3 APG, 1 SPG, 0.6 BPG. Shooting splits of 47/23/80. Usage rate of 24.6%. 1.33 DKFP per minute and 41.5 per game. I’ll keep it simple. Do you know how many players are averaging a 16-10-6 line this year? One, Jokic. Do you know how many players are averaging a 15-10-5? Two, Jokic and Giannis. And let’s say 14-9-4? Those two, Bam, Luka, and KAT. I think I have lowered the bar quite a lot already, and I hope you get what I’m saying. For all the “lack of effort” bullshit we’re hearing, Niko is balling as hard as he can do in a pro basketball court. He went on a little slump at the end of November, but hey, shit happens to humans. If Chubby Joker looks like this I don’t even need to meet G.I. Joker.
Hate: (C) Dwight Powell, DAL ($4500, at DET)
Same as with The Baze (read above), this isn’t a true hating blurb. Dwight is starting but these Mavs take away most of his Powerlls. He’s playing more than 25 minutes per but his production is super low on the counting cats with 8.2 points, 4.7 boards, and 1.3 dimes. His efficiency is mind-blowing, as DP is shooting 68.4% from the floor and 46.2% from three but the volume just isn’t there (4.9 FGA and 0.7 3PA) so it goes for nothing. He’s shown flashes here and there (24 points against Minny, 9 rebounds versus the Lakers,...) but his 0.71 DKFP per minute is one of the worst marks in the league. Can’t blame him, though.
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!