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) Damian Lillard, POR ($8900, vs MIN)
You know it’s Dame Time. I know it’s Dame Time. We all know it’s Dame Time—except Portland, it seems... The damn Blazers keep wasting peak DOLLA Dame years and I firmly believe they’ll never do anything big. In the meantime, I’ll keep enjoying his sweet verses. Lillard just roasted Golden State and Orlando in back-to-back 31-plus points performances. He finished his last couple with lines of 31-5-13 and 36-3-6 (with 7 treys no less!) and Dame’s been spitting hot rhymes all year long. Other than a couple of blips in December he’s performed like a top-15 player nightly on average (44.7 DKFP through nine games) and he’s only played fewer than 36 minutes against the Knicks—because the Knicks suck big time, and even with that he finished the game at 45 DKFP—in his last eight games. This man keeps carrying his team and trying to get places. Dame’s 45/37/90 shooting splits are only at PG13’s and D-Book’s reach among players with a usage rate of over 27%.
Hate: (PG) Ben Simmons, PHI ($8200, vs WAS)
Benny has everything to thrive, but that actually kills him a bit in fantasy worlds. Why, you say? Because he coasts through games. His usage is ugly at 19.7% on the year, he’s playing more than 34 mpg, and putting up a line of 14.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 8.1 apg, and 2.1 spg. Those are mental numbers, don’t get me wrong, and his 1.14 DKFP per minute speak volumes of it. The problem is Triple-Threat Simmons has bested the 38-DKFP mark just once in his last six games because he just goes with the flow. You can expect him to drop 20 points on any team, and get his 5-plus boards and dimes nightly along with some steals, but the production isn’t really on par with his price. Washington is a cupcake and Philly played yesterday, so a blowout is a very real possibility and that might mean some Sixers—BS included—will spend some delicious resting minutes on the pine.
Love: (SG) Khris Middleton, MIL ($6400, at NY)
To think this is a top-tier second-fiddle to Emperor Giannis—who is probable for tonight, so maybe misses the game—at that price makes me excited. To think the Knicks will be at the other end puts it over the top. K-Midd is cheap as hell yet he’s producing 1.16 DKFP per minute while playing 27.7 mpg on the year. He was meh against Dallas and LA, but his true talent is more around the 35-40 fantasy points clip than the 25 he posted in those two matches. In fact, Khris had scored 20-plus points four consecutive games prior to those couple outings and is averaging 5.7 boards and 3.8 dimes in December. The triples are a constant (he’s hit 21 through nine games this month) and although the field goal attempts have dropped a bit recently they should get back to his usual 15-plus soon enough. Get-right matchup on schedule for him tonight.
Hate: (SG) Devin Booker, PHO ($8300, vs HOU)
D-Book the cook came back yesterday after nine days off and dropped a shiny egg. Not terrible, but nothing close to Murder Dev’s true talent. While the rival might call for a play (this is not too much of a Hate blurb, truth be told) I’d still let Book cook and marinate the dish for a couple of days before going for it. Dev has had his peak and valleys on the year and his last two games went for only 38 and 27.5 DKFP so it’d be reasonable to think an explosion might be coming as soon as tonight, but I think we’re better off waiting at least for the next chance. On a good day Book is a 40-point upside guy with the outside chance at a dub-dub, but he can also finish games with a 15-2-2 line and let you all the way down. Write Booker’s name on your notepad to play him next Friday against Golden State. That’s when the cook will make you feast on his makings.
Love: (SF) Andrew Wiggins, MIN ($7800, at POR)
What early-days Wiggins a mirage? The jury is still out, I guess. No matter what, though, it is not often that I don’t get Wiggy with Andrew. Four of five hitting the 20-plus points is no joke and in the other one—yesterday against Denver—the Maple Jordan still dropped 19 crickets and filled the stat line with 3 boards, 6 dimes, a steal, and a board to spare. Wiggins is playing as many minutes (38 mpg in his last five games) as he can handle and with KAT out he’s shooting more than 20 rocks per game. His splits are at 43.5% from the floor and 85.9% from the line in the month, and he’s fallen under the 35-DKFP mark just once in December. To be honest, there are winds of a drop in production being whispered in the streets, but Drew has maintained his averages from November during the past three weeks so fear nothing, my boys.
Love: (PF) LaMarcus Aldridge, SAS ($7400, vs LAC)
One thing is to not get excited by LMA’s game, another one is blatant disrespect. I’m LMAO at this silly algorithm because pricing Old Al so lowly is stupid. You know the Spurs are a two-man wrecking crew and LMA is half the system. Well, even with that he’s only finishing 23.2% of the plays this season yet producing 1.10 DKFP per minute on the court. Oh, and he’s playing 33.5 a night, just in case. The shooting is amazing at 50.1% from the floor on 15.2 tries and while the threes are limited to just 1.7 per he’s still hitting 32.6% of them. All in all, 18.8 ppg and 7.4 rpg are his season averages and he’s blocking 1.9 (!) shots per. I mean, I get it. I get that Aldridge is not Bam, Embiid, or whoever you can link explosiveness to. But this LMA is for real for real even while playing in his 13th season as a pro. If his last two (19-13-4-1-2 against Houston, 20-10-2-1-4 against Brooklyn) are a clue of what is coming tonight, then I’d be very excited about playing LaMarcus indeed.
Love: (C) Clint Capela, HOU ($8000, at PHO)
For all of the Drummonds and Hassans in the world, there is always the under-the-radar Capela. Logical when you play in the same team as Harden and Russ, I guess. But look at those gaudy numbers! Clint has no Cap: super easy dub-dub on the season averaging a very delicious 14-14 to go with the 1-1-2 in dimes, steals, and blocks. To fill the sheet like that is pretty much unheard of. Only five no-name guys are doing it this year: the very own Clint N’Dumba Capela, Drummond, Bam, Giannis, and KAT. How do you feel about the Swiss Bank now, huh? Obviously, Capela is deferring all and then some to J&R on offense—Cap’s usage rate is a putrid 15.6%—but even with that he’s a walking double-double waiting to happen nightly. He might not shoot more than 10 times a night, but he puts it through the rim at a 65.1% clip and he only turns the ball over 1.7 times per. No. 1 in the Inexplicably Forgotten Player award early-season candidates list.
Love: (C) Joel Embiid, PHI ($10200, vs WAS)
Philly is playing on back-to-back nights, that’s why I put Clint before JoJo and would go with Cap instead of Embiid. BUT, and only IF Embiid is confirmed in and plays—keep and eye on the news wire—this is the day to pay big buckets for him. Washington has between zero and no interior presence. They allow the second-most DKFP per game. Mojo JoJo is averaging 23.2 ppg and 12.8 rpg (multiply those for two because that’s at reach against the Wiz). Top-10 performer in December to the tune of 51.4 DKFP in eight games with an average line of 24-14-4-1-1 and a usage over 31%. Big Bucks, but Big Buckets. The Process have it all.
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!