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 ($8500, vs WAS)
If you missed the news beat yesterday: the Raptors have shut down Marc Gasol, Norman Powell, and Pascal Siakam indefinitely due to different injuries. Uh, oh, low blow. Do you know how many minutes was Lowry playing already? More than 37 per game. Do you know how many minutes will he play now? Probably 48. The KLow will eat and then some in this depleted team going forward. He’s the clear no. 1 guy now and the 21.2 usage will rise to the 25-30 range easily. Kyle is having a great year with a 19-5-7-1 line on the season. He’s shooting 40/35/88 so the percentages aren’t that bad and the shots will go get bumped up too. No risk in betting on Lowry today even without having seen nothing from this “new” Raptors. The Wiz are ultra bad and get scored on a bunch, so no matter what happens today it will still be K-Day.
Hate: (PG) De’Aaron Fox, SAC ($7000, at IND)
I watched Swipa’s comeback the other day, and so far so good. I liked what I saw. He went for almost 30 minutes of run, which was nice for a first game back after more than a month out. There were rumblings about how he’s not Quick yet. Shaking my head. He played nicely and his 37 DKFP weren’t bad. But I have to say that he came off the bench and he’s still gearing up a bit. Indiana is a tough opponent and has limited teams to not many fantasy points on the year, so at this price maybe the Fox shouldn’t be part of your lineup tonight. He can go and drop a 20-10 dub-dub (basically his ceiling) on a bunch of added minutes, but it’s a risk for $7K and with the Pacers at the other end. Let him get into rhythm for a couple more days and then run with him.
Love: (SG) Jalen Brunson, DAL ($6400, at PHI)
The cheapest of today’s plays in the column, you gotta love Brun, son. Luka got injured and Brunson got insta-called to action. He went from averaging 15 minutes off the bench to 32 and two starts (you can even count Miami’s game as another start as Luka didn’t even reach two minutes on the court). All Jalen has done? Catch some bodies. He’s finished his three go-to games averaging 13.6 ppg, 6 rpg, and 10 apg while dub-dubbing in his last two and just missing on it against Miami (18-7-8 line, though). The shooting was good (48/35/73) before this door opened, and it’s kept up on a much healthier dose of shots. JB can easily step into Luka’s role and become a nightly 40-DKFP poster with chances of a dub-dub against any given team. His usage on two of his last three went all the way up to 23.1% and 27% on a leading role, so his numbers will go up in every cat. Take advantage before the price goes higher than that of an actual J&B flask.
Love: (SF) Brandon Ingram, NO ($8700, at GS)
Skinny B moved places and never looked back. Good for him getting rid of the pesky flashy Hollywood. I’m not making this up: Gram is shooting 5.8 treys per game—by far his career-high—and hitting 39.6% of them. His eFG% of 55.1 ranks seventh among players shooting more than 15 shots per game, his usage is all the way up at 29.1%, and he’s been Zion before Zion for these putrid Pels. Tiny Dog’s dropping 25.3 ppg on the year, and somehow—given his teammates—finding a way to dish out 3.7 dimes per game while grabbing 7.1 boards a night. The Slenderman is playing as the 19th-best performer since the start of December and has finished with 39-plus DKFP in six of his 10 games in the month of giving. Fits. Fits are what BI is giving this Christmas. His streak of scoring 20-plus points is at six games already and he’s been able to pair a couple of those games with 10 boards for two dub-dubs (he’s got five in the full season). He’s also shooting 50% on his last four while attempting 19.5 field goals and he reached a usage rate of 37.4 against Minny this past Wednesday. Mental.
Hate: (SF) Kelly Oubre, PHO ($6700, at OKC)
Ayton won’t play tonight. Shaking my head. Good news for Oubre, though. Booker will be back tonight. Yay! Bad news for Oubre, though. Make what you want of the situation, but with Book back I think Oubre won’t have all of that going for him, much less against the Thunder. Oubre hasn’t been bad, but he hasn’t been great. I love Oubre as much as I’d love my sons, don’t get me wrong. I just don’t see it. He’s dropped 17, 24, and 19 in his last three but that’s pretty much all he’s done as he’s finished all of those three games at 35-or-under DKFP while averaging more than 35 minutes! His shooting has dropped from 45% early to 42% in December and we’ll see if he can keep it up or if it keeps plummeting. Machine Gun Kelly looks more like Water Gun Kelly to my eyes.
Love: (PF) Jonathan Isaac, ORL ($6500, at POR)
The algorithm is silly. Jonathan Judah Isaac is a goddamn winner yet he’s valued like a fidget spinner. You know how this work: you take a hellish advantage of those cracks in the system and celebrate by night’s end. Isaac is the only man—the other is a Brow, not a man—alive blocking 2.6 shots per, and he’s also snatching 7.1 rpg and hanging 12.4 ppg on foes all around the Association. JJ-I is 22 years old, by the way. To hell with those Moes Bambasses. Give me Isaac all day. Be careful, though, as Isaac could be a little banged-up after only playing 17 minutes on Wednesday. He’s out of the injury report so he should be good to go. Portland is a little sucky-sucky in the interior and other than Whiteside there aren’t enough players capable to stop JI there. Will Isaac drop out, though? Dunno. Isaac is shooting 3.2 treys per and hitting them at a 33.7% clip while having success 49.5 percent of the time on his 10.4 attempts from the floor. He might put on a dance and make Portland suffer, and that’s why I’m betting on him. Jonty is at 3.8 stocks on the season, oh my.
Hate: (PF) Julius Randle, NYK ($7100, at MIA)
Glad to see you back, JR! It’s a shame you’re not the true OG JR, but what can we do... The Randlewus facing Miami tonight and a little bird is telling me he might get his ass BAM’d. Might not happen, but one gotta trust his sources, right? Anyways, Randle plays for the Knicks, and the Knicks suck, and Randle keeps being so frustrating to watch. Seriously. Three dub-dubs in his last six games, but he’s fallen short of it three times and in two of them he finished with a freaking 9 boards... So close, yet so far away. The threes have re-emerged, but how can you trust them knowing he’s a 29% career long-range shooter on a 26% this season? Not getting into the danger zone, bro. Nobody gives a crap in New York, so his usage will remain high and no one will say a word, but the production in his 31-plus minutes is at 1.02 DKFP per minute and rather disappointing after last year’s explosion.
Love: (C) Nikola Jokic, DEN ($9400, vs MIN)
The KAT is in the bag—literally, missing tonight’s game—and this situation is no Joke, but all Jokic. Seven Nikolas in the history of the NBA, you bet who’s the greatest one at eating donuts and balling. Not giving a damn about the game as some voices are saying, Big Honey is putting up an unparalleled 17-10-6 line on the season. Only Giannis is better in points/boards yet he falls short in the assists cat with 5.4 to Niko’s 6.7. That’s correct: 6.7 dimes per which rank 18th in the whole Association. Lol. This wrecking ball of a man is a seven-footer of 215-plus pounds of kindness. If KAT completes the miracle and is on the court, fear nothing, because he already faced Jokic back in November and the Joker finished with a good 20-6-7 line—and that was when he was going through his fat-loaded slump. It’s all good with Niko-the-Pooh.
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!