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) Jamal Murray, DEN ($7100, vs NO)
This Jamal ain’t Ahmad but he’s so soft and also makes me dance. Murray is the greatest polarizer ever, having 50/50 split camps of lovers and haters. Truth be told, he has not done a lot to be considered a sure-fire hit this season, though he’s been putting on a show lately. Other than his crappy outing against the Lakers last Sunday, in his last three games he’s racked up 41.75, 49, and 46.25 DKFP good for an average 17th finish in those slates. He’s done so by dropping 28-plus points, 3-plus rebounds, and 5-plus dimes in all of them—and he even was able to get a steal in every one of those three games. The start of the month was a little shaky for Murray, that’s right, but he’s found his pace and everything from the usage to the shooting to whatever you can think of is on the rise. New Orleans is playing in this very happy night because of Zion but without Zion, and the Pels can’t win a single game nor know how to prevent rivals from feasting on fantasy food, so Murray should be in for a massive day.
Hate: (PG) Kyle Lowry, TOR ($8500, vs BOS)
I’m going to be stubborn AF here and go against Lowry once more. Not until I bring Klow down will I stop! Nah, it’s a joke, I hold no grudges on the man and myth, but I don’t like the idea of playing Kyle at this price against Boston. Lowry keeps playing more minutes than a man his age should be able to properly handle and I don’t really know if he will break someday or just go with it and set a new record. Who knows. Obviously, playing 37.8 mpg is making his production yield lower numbers (1.11 DKFP per minute on the court). He’s on a hot streak of five games reaching 44-plus DKFP but he’s surpassed the 40 minutes of run in his last three. This can’t keep up, right? Something has to give, or someone has to get in his way and end it. Let’s call that entity Celtics.
Love: (SG) James Harden, HOU ($11600, at GSW)
Oh, the rare top-priced entry. This must be just the second or third time I’ve advised you to play the most expensive player in a slate, but hey, it’s Christmas fellas. Go and treat yourself for a day. The Warriors stink big time and Harden is seriously doing what no other man is doing these days. The Beard is averaging 62.7 DKFP per game. He’s leading the league in minutes per game and has a season average of 38.8 ppg, 5.8 rpb, 7.5 apg, 1.9 spg, and 0.7 bpg. He’s this close to being on a 39-6-8-2-1 line. That is completely bonkers. Harden is completely bananas. The last time James faced Golden State it was Nov. 6 and do you know what happened? Well, this monster of a guy scored 36 crickets (6 triples), grabbed 4 boards, dished out 13 dimes, committed 3 thefts, and blocked 3 shots; all in 36 minutes. Quick summary: 74.5 DKFP on the night. Lololol. It’s been decades since the last time Harden scored fewer than 20 points, or fewer than three treys, or... Nah, forget about that silly stuff. Just play Harden, go dinner with your family, and reap the rewards just before going to sleep to enjoy a delicious bedtime.
Hate: (SG) Josh Richardson, PHI ($6200, vs MIL)
J-Rich has started every single game he’s played this season. He’s also done nothing in them. Shaking my head. JR is in a four-game streak of playing at least 32 minutes and the most he’s been able to do is finishing with 34.75 DKFP against Miami just a week ago. That was a 17-5-6 game for Rich, and his best since all the way back on Nov. 25 when he reached 38 DKFP against Toronto miraculously. J-Rich usage is at a very average 21.9% on the year, and has dropped under 20% in two of his past three. It’s hard to see him score 20-plus points (he’s done so once in his last nine games...), grab more than five boards, or dish out more than 3 or 4 assists... Not very happy Xmas for Josh. It is what happens to bad boys.
Love: (SF) Jayson Tatum, BOS ($7800, at TOR)
The symbiosis between Tatum and Brown is real. Jayson and Jaylen. Jaylen and Jayson. J&J. Only I’m going with Jay-T today because oh boy has been hot this past week. He started softly by dropping 24 on Dallas (along with 8 boards); got a little hotter against Detroit with 26 points, 5 rebounds, 3 dimes, and 2 steals; and finally torched the Hornets this past Sunday to the tune of 39 chicken wings, 12 boards, 2 assists, a steal, and 3 massive blocks while shooting 51.7% from the floor and hitting all of his 5 free-throw attempts. 41.1% usage rate on the day. 67.5 DKFP and an obvious finish as the top-performer of the slate. Tatum has been more Drederick than Jayson this season, for real. He’s a top-30 performer in DraftKings nightly—a top-20 one in December—and he’s averaging 43.6 DKFP on the month. Toronto is heavily weakened by injuries, too, and its defense is middle-of-the-pack, so yeah, Ho-Ho-Ho Jay-Son!
Love: (PF) Montrezl Harrell, LAC ($5500, at LAL)
Christmas Day is Monty Day in this place. The Clippers go against the Lakers in this new rivalry that came out nowhere and the Lake Show will be looking for revenge. Who better than a goddam dog to keep those Golden threads at bay? Trezz has been a massive hit this year and as a pending free agent he’s gonna fill his bag sooner rather than later. He’s riding the pine as no one is doing in the league. Peep: 19.1 minutes off the bench with averages of 19 points, 7.5 boards, 1.9 assists and 2.0 stocks with only 1.8 turnovers per. The treys are completely out of the equation but other than that this fool is hitting 57.2% of his 13.6 field goal attempts per game. His 1.18 DKFP per minute on the court, as a reserve, are unparalleled. All Hail The Trezz.
Love: (C) Nikola Jokic, DEN ($9400, vs NO)
I’m not going to waste your time here. This is Nikola Jokic aka Big Honey aka “No Effort Fat-ass”: 17.3 points, 10 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.6 blocks, 49% on 14.2 fga, 24.7% usage rate. How many players are putting up those numbers on the year? You can count them on one hand. No Joke, seriously. The Joker is playing the Grinch to those who think their critics of the man are Christmas. Niko’s been massive in December. He’s scored 15-plus points in his last 10 games and averaged 22.2 in that span. He’s grabbed at least 6 boards in his last 11 and averaged 10.0. He’s dished out at least 5 dimes in his last nine games and averaged 8.6. Mental game. Ridiculous outings. An average of 51.85 DKFP per game since Dec. 6. And this is a bad season for the Joker. Let me go laugh out loud a bit. I’ll be right back in a minute...
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!