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) Ja Morant, MEM ($7400, vs WAS)
There is this guy Zion who isn’t playing these days. Even if he was, I think Morant would be making quite a case to be the ROY, because Ja Rules. Mo had his load management spell for the last few days, came back, dropped 26 points and 7 dimes on Golden State, and then proceded to murder Aron Baynes in plain sight. Ruthless Ja is the best Ja, and Ruthless Ja is Ja Morant every night. His contribution on the night of the Dead Bayneses wasn’t otherworldly (13-4-6-1), but it’s been three days of full rest so Ja should be ready to go and the Wiz give up fantasy goods in bunches. Mo is putting up 18.7 points, 3.2 boards, 6.3 dimes, and 1.3 steals on the season while shooting 46/42/78. He is freaking 20 years old and has played 19 pro games, yet he’s finishing almost 29% of Memphis’ possessions. Two rookies have finished with that line and usage rate: Trae Young and Allen Iverson. I haven’t looked that up since this very moment but I’ve been preaching the Ja-AI comparison since the season started. Glad to know numbers back it up.
Hate: (PG) Kendrick Nunn, MIA ($6400, at DAL)
Don’t blame me if you play Kendrick and you get Nunn out of him tonight. It’s Dallas, and Dallas’ matchups suck. Nunn’s been good-not-great, but he was undrafted! Awesome steal by Miami, have to acknowledge. Not a lot of rooks are putting up 16-2-3-1 lines on the season, which is what K-Nunn is doing through 25 games. The problem is that Nunn is starting every goddam game yet not producing that much. He was sublime against Atlanta last Tuesday dropping 36 crickets, but hey, it was Atlanta and he did it in 42 minutes of run. Other than that he’s only broken the 30-DKFP barrier in one game of his last eight, which is no bueno. Nunn should give you some points and dimes, but he’s far from his early-season version these days. Not trusting him just one bit, even at his kinda-low price.
Love: (SG) Bradley Beal, WAS ($9300, at MEM)
Christmas holidays bring family reunions and if you’re the one cooking the Beal must be on point. You can’t disappoint. Washington is visiting Memphis and thus Beal will be cooked very right. So right, in fact, that you can already smell that 30-10 line. Let’s enjoy the fiesta. You can argue Brad has been “bad” in his last two games but he has still finished with 20-2-5 and 16-4-9 lines which sorry, but sound good enough for me. Anyways, Memphis is nothing for this Beal, and he should be back to his 45-plus DKFP today if all goes according to plan. Double-B is a top-20 player on the season and his lowest finish in any slate of games is 50th! That was an outlier and he still reached 29 DKFP, so it wasn’t that bad. Beal ain’t hitting any Wall this season (get it?), and he’s having his best year ever to the tune of 27 points, 4+ boards, and 7 dimes per. Sweet and savory, perfectly balanced.
Love: (SF) Davis Bertans, WAS ($6800, at MEM)
The Bert has arrived from the far East, folks. Latvia, that is. It took him time, but oh my, oh my. It makes sense that San Antonio was his first home, only they let him loose and look at this Bert-a-Beast now. Everyone around the league is calling to know about his availability. Makes sense, too. Bertans is shooting 8.6 treys a night and hitting them at a massive 46.5% clip! Overall, his shooting 11 times from the floor with a 47.4 percentage, which is so close to what he’s doing just from beyond the arc. Bertans is just insane in the brain with his game, and he’s only finishing 16.8% of the Wiz possessions! Washington, please, fix this or move him. DB has expanded his database of great games lately, as he’s been a top-30 player in all of his December games and the fifth-best on Tuesday’s slate with a mere 50.75-DKFP effort... No big deal. Just 32 crickets (eight triples!) and nine boards on a 61.1% shooting night. He’s hit at least four threes in his last five games. Mental numbers.
Hate: (SF) Paul George, LAC ($8300, at CHI)
PG13 ain’t no Kawhi, but still. The Clips come from playing the Wolves yesterday and putting on a show/effort unheard of. George helped in the comeback massively and logged 39 minutes of playing time while dropping 46 (!) points and adding 5 rebounds, 7 assists, and 2 steals. More incredible was his 42.7% (!!) usage rate. Pauly played back-to-back games to start this week and was sublime having a couple of 52- and 63-DKFP nights. If he’s not really injured, he’s going to be on the court, count on that. You might think that Chicago is a good rival for him—it is, because the Bulls give you that “they’re good” feeling but nope, they aren’t—but I’m thinking a blowout-and-rest game is coming tonight. Let the second unit run the Bulls and rest the top dogs. You don’t risk such a high payment on a guy that could see the bench extensively today.
Love: (PF) Jaren Jackson Jr., MEM ($6500, vs WAS)
If you haven’t heard of it: JJJ just dropped 43 on Milwaukee. In 29 minutes. With nine three-pointers to his name. While I’m typing this JJJ is either sleeping like a baby after a monster night or celebrating it in some after-hours club in Memphis. Who knows. No matter the case, props to him for what he just did to the poor Bucks even if couldn’t get the W home. This pick is not about just that game, though. Triple-J has been killing it lately on a nightly basis. He’s on a six-game streak of surpassing the 30-DKFP mark and in three of those he’s reached 40 or more. If only could he grab a few more boards he’d be a walking dub-dub (JJJ is averaging 25.8 and 4.8 in his last six) and he has the potential to do it; I’m firmly believing this. His usage is really high (31.1% in December) even playing along with Ja, which you have to love. Also, the Wizards have between zero and none good interior guys. If he’s not still under hangover effects tonight, JJJ will cook.
Hate: (PF) Blake Griffin, DET ($6900, at HOU)
I’d be careful with this one because it’s Houston and you know what Houston does: getting scored on a bunch. Even with that, Blake is far from his Superman tendencies. Drummond is the Doctor of this team now, no matter what you think or say. Facts first, folks. Griffin is playing almost 30 minutes and he’s scoring moderately good buckets at 17.5 PPG while adding 4.8 boards and 3.4 dimes, but that is all. The shooting percentages will make your eyes bleed poop: 38/28/77, but the (not Super) man is still launching 14.5 shots from the floor and 6.2 from three, which is a little bit nonsensical considering the shitty outcomes. His last couple of games have been all but encouraging: he crapped the bed against New Orleans (5 points, 4 rebounds in 34 minutes...) and doubled on that against Dallas (10 points, 3 rebounds, 5 assists). If this is the new Superman I’d rather be stuck in the 40s version of it, quality of drawings be damned.
Love: (C) Montrezl Harrell, LAC ($6400, at CHI)
Not that Trez needs a good game script to get minutes, but tonight should be the night. The Clips could easily blow Chicago out of the water early and that can only mean... Party time for Montrezl! Mon ami Harrell is already logging north of 29 minutes per and dropping 18.7 points nightly along with 7.6 boards and 2 assists. His 1.9 stocks are sweet too, and he’s only turning the ball over 1.7 times a day. Do you know what is great, though? Trez is hitting shots 58.9% of the time while attempting 13.1, which is basically what Bam Adebayo is doing on more than three fewer attempts. Trez is shooting (dunking) better than Dre, Jokic, Valanciunas, etc etc. He is not starting games because he doesn’t want, basically, or because it’d be unfair. Gotta love Harrell.
Hate: (C) Clint Capela, HOU ($7500, vs DET)
I’m sorry for C&C, but I’m not importing its drinks tonight. Capela is facing Dr. Dre and I don’t like that. I’ve always sided with producers over solo-singers, I guess. Dre is blocking 1.8 shots and stealing 1.7 balls per game. Clint is at 1.9 and 0.8 himself, sure, but his overall production isn’t as great as that of Dre and he might suffer today in the zone. Not that I like Dre over him that much, either, and he’s a shit ton more expensive, so I’d fade both. But Cap I’d do without any single doubt. The dub-dub is nice and all (14-14), and the shooting sublime (64.7%), but he’s just attempting 9.7 field goals and 2.9 free-throws so... meh. His usage in the two-headed monster Rockets offense is almost nil (15.4%) and he only sees the eventual dump-off in the paint. I’d rather run with a higher-upside, cheaper flier like Jarrett Allen or Steven Adams all the way.
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!