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) Kyle Lowry, TOR ($7700, vs CLE)
Klow is playing 37.3 minutes per game. Klow is 33 years young. Only James Harden is playing the same time, and only 10 others are logging more than 35 minutes—only PJ Tucker at 34 years of age is older than Kyle. Bonkers is bonkers. Obviously, with that much run, Lowry’s per-minute production is only at 1.03 DKFP but he plays so many minutes that it doesn’t even matter and he’s still averaging 38 DKFP a game. Since coming back from injury at the start of the month he’s scored in double digits five of six times and put up a dub-dub against Miami. His usage is low (19.4%) but he ain’t giving a damn about it and still getting fantasy value from all across the board. December averages: 15.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 7.1 apg, and 0.9 stocks. He’s also been able to keep his turnovers a little bit more under control while raising his free-throw shooting to a 90% clip on 5.7 attempts. Cleveland’s baby-backcourt might be a kid’s game for him to handle tonight.
Hate: (PG) Ja Morant, MEM ($7300, vs MIA)
Never in my life did I expect to write about Ja on the hate side, but here we are. Ja Ruled, Rules, and will Rule. Not tonight, though. Morant was out for a while, came back screaming—against Golden State, tho—and his last two games have been a little disappointing even facing Phoenix (28 DKFP) and Washington (35.5). The minutes are the same, so it’s a drop in performance. Momo has dropped just 13 and 18 pops to go with 4 rebounds in each and 6-and-5 dimes respectively in those two. Obviously, Ja is still Ja, only he might be a little bit rusty and trying to find his mojo back. Miami isn’t the best team to do so, so I’d advise passing on him today, even more at that very rich price for what he’s been doing lately. The return on investment doesn’t rule at all.
Love: (SG) Khris Middleton, MIL ($6900, vs DAL)
There was a silly tweet making the rounds yesterday asking which team would benefit the most from adding a legend to its current roster. Kareem was the Bucks option. My take: if you put together Giannis, Middleton, and Kareem, you might also have to fold the league due to massive imbalance. Sure, the former and the latter would probably be the top dogs, but K-Midd has been mashing on his own. Khris is playing low minutes (27.6) yet he’s scoring 18.6 ppg on the year to go with a very delicious 5.4 boards and 3.5 dimes. His shooting comes from Mars at 50/41/90 splits on lo less than 13.9 fpa (5.2 of them treys). K-Midd has been in the Middle-a-ton this season for Milwaukee, and he seems to only be getting better by the day. The usage is up to 30% these days and he’s dropped 20-plus pops in his last four. He toyed but missed at dub-dubbing last Monday (20-9) but he’s been this close and he already did it a month ago. The eyes go to the Greek, but don’t forget about Khris Midd.
Hate: (SG) Dillon Brooks, MEM ($5700, vs MIA)
Soft-hate here, as the price isn’t too crazy but high enough to make the cut. Dillon has been hot lately, but his 36-26-33 usage rate marks during the past three games look completely out of this world. He’s played the same minutes but he’s been awarded more opportunities than ever, so it’s reasonable he’s put up some good numbers. Even with that, DB hasn’t upgraded his database, only patched and hacked it and fooled you. Miami’s D is stout as hell and let’s be real, Dillon isn’t a guy you trust to score 20 points per game nor reach 3-3-1-1 in the other cats. That’s just more than enough reason to fade him for good and without hesitation. Even the other the DB of the slate—Devin Booker, that is—being banged up and doubtful to make it to tonight’s game offers more upside playing on one leg and an arm tied to his back.
Love: (SF) Jimmy Butler, MIA ($9100, at MEM)
All superheroes had low moments, right? Must be one of those for Jimmy Buckets, because he doesn’t feel able to break that streak of missing game-ending shots lately, fouled or not. Even if he’s got to go home with the L a couple of times, the Butler keeps serving fantasy value with gusto. You have to go all the way back to November to find the last time he dropped fewer than 20 crickets. Add three triple-doubles in December to that, and this Butler is a luxury to have. Seriously, JB ain’t Playing Under the Influence: he’s a top-12 player in the month, is averaging 51 (!) DKFP in that span, and his season all-around numbers are unmatched. I mean, this guy is keeping up a 21-6-6-2 line (rounding down) that only LeBron, Luka, and Russ are close to—though not reaching on all-four cats included. The defense and effort are top-notch, so Jimmy is matchup-proof and will keep playing all the minutes he can handle no matter the opposition.
Love: (PF) Kristaps Porzingis, DAL ($7800, at MIL)
It’s Christmas time and it’s also Kristaps time. Luka went down injured and will be out until we flip the calendar to 2020. That can only mean double-sized meals for The Zing. In fact, that is what happened against Miami last Saturday. 40 minutes of run, 28% usage, and a dub-dub to celebrate Luka’s absence. This is the Kristaps we knew, and the Kristaps we enjoy. KP did it all: 22 points, 14 boards, a couple of dimes and blocks, and a steal. Had he found his shooting stroke (he finished with a rather horrid 33% from the field) he could have easily reached 30 pops. Dallas has played great and The Zing has been awesome in his second-fiddle role, but that wasn’t amounting to much for fantasy players. This new KP2.0 should be relevant again, and who knows if this short stint gives him the confidence to murder opponents at the same pace Luka was going for them. We can only hope that’s the case, starting today by slashing Greek Myth Giannis.
Love: (C) Steven Adams, OKC ($6700, vs CHI)
Cheapity cheap play of the day, courtesy of the DK algorithm being too slow to catch up! I have to admit I gotta eat this L. I didn’t believe in Stevie a while ago, but now I’ve turned into a leader of his church. On no more than 27 minutes per game on the season, Adam’s numbers are this close to a dub-dub with 11.2 ppg and 9.5 rpg. He’s adding 2.8 dimes per, just for fun, and turning the ball over just 1.4 times. The thing with this Tarzan of a man is that you need to look a little under that first layer to see the real value. It’s basically been a tale of two halves for Stevie, and he’s mashing skulls in December: 15 points, 11 boards, 2.7 assists, and 2.3 blocks make his average line on the month. He’s posted five double-doubles in his last seven games (six in eight going back to November) and while he was a 25-DKFP guy in his first 11 games of the year, he’s turned into a 36-DKFP performer in his last 11, scoring more than that 36-DKFP average in five of his six December’s matches (highs of 51, 41, and 40 FP, all since Dec. 6). This is the real Kaki Beast, folks. Take advantage of him before the price goes sky-high.
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!