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) Spencer Dinwiddie, BKN ($8000, at HOU)
Non-followers of the Association were surprised when people started celebrating in Brooklyn and thought it was all due to #XmasSZN. Far from it. The Nets had just announced Kyrie would miss a few more games and folks around Barclays knew what that meant: Spicy D would keep balling. Pence has been the bomb this year. He’s playing more than 30 mpg and averaging a massive 1.24 DKFP per minute on the court. On the season Widdie is posting a 22-3-6 line while finishing 30% of Brooklyn’s possessions. I’m not saying the Illuminati is bad for your soul, but the Din is definitely filling the gap pretty nicely. Dinwiddie got the starter reins all the way back on Nov. 16 and he’s averaging 26 ppg, 3.5 rpg, and 6.9 apg since then. His last three weeks speak volumes of the Din: 24-plus points in each of the six games, four outings of 5-plus assists, a couple of 6- and 8-board nights, and even back-to-back games in which he dropped 41 on the Spurs and 39 on the Hawks. For real for real.
Hate: (PG) Kyle Lowry, TOR ($8400, at BOS)
When I’m driving, my children have stopped asking “are we there yet?” and started asking “is Lowry still alive?”. Makes sense. Klow is playing more than 39 mpg in December and has broken the 40-minute barrier in three of his last four games. Lowry is 33 years old by the way, and I don’t even know if he’ll explode on the court one of these days given his huge run. Even with all those minutes, he’s performing nicely, though, and his 20.4 ppg and 7.6 apg are sublime considering the bumps Toronto is going through. He’s shooting could be better though, as he’s carrying 41/36/86 splits—good, not great. The usage is low for someone of his profile and role at 21.9%, which sucks to see. We have a rematch here between the Raps and the Celts—who played Dec. 25—and the Beantown Boys limited Klow to a 14-4-8 line and 36 DKFP in their last game, so I’m not trusting him today.
Love: (SG) James Harden, HOU ($11200, vs BKN)
If you read me you know I hate to play the uber-expensive guys. The Beard comes second only behind Luka tonight, but to hell with it. Harden is a lock to give you 60 DKFP nightly it’s so ridiculous. Imagine how good this fool is that everybody was let down by his Christmas performance yet he posted a 24-6-11-3 line with 6 triples shooting 50% from the floor with a measly 21.6% usage rate. That translated to 57.5 DKFP. Lol. Harden has been the best player in December by far—he’s finishing each nightly slate as the fourth-best performer on average, followed by LeBron as the sixth-best, which is to say two places ahead of him every day. Jameson is averaging a league-leading 62 DKFP in the month followed by Giannis (57.6) and Lebron (54.6). The difference in fantasy points between Harden and Giannis (4.4 DKFP) is the same as that between Giannis and sixth-ranked KAT. Just to keep things fresh and mention something different, JH has hit a league-leading 65 treys this month while only two other players (Devonte’ Graham and Duncan Robinson) have even crossed the 50-triple mark. I’m fainting.
Hate: (SG) Jimmy Butler, MIA ($7900, vs PHI)
Our Butler served his teammates nicely yesterday and helped them get the W, so we’re giving him a day off today facing Philly. Don’t get me wrong, as the Butler has made his job and pleased Master Riley very nicely this year. It’s just that these Sixers bring the banana peel and make Butlers fall after slips. These two teams faced each other back in Dec. 18 and Jimmer could only reach 32.25 DKFP to the tune of a half-filled 14-7-5-2 line. That has been the worst game of Jimmy this month, and when he went against Philly back on Nov. 23 he also dropped an egg: 11-5-3-2 for just 25.25 DKFP, that one the worst game of his season to this date. Jimmy Buckets has been serving delicious dishes all across the board, and that is out of the equation, but today is off-day for Jimmy Tuxedo.
Love: (SF) Jayson Tatum, BOS ($7600, vs TOR)
I can’t wrap my head around the fact that Jay-T is still 21 years old. And he’ll be until next March! It’s just insane given what he’s doing on those pro-courts. Tatum has been on a rampage since mid-December dropping more than 24 points in four of his last five games and posting a dub-dub against Charlotte in his best performance of the year—39 pops, 12 boards, 2 dimes, 1 steal, 3 blocks... and 41.1% usage rate! The Raps are lacking bodies all around the roster and Tatum could eat big time against them in what looks like a get-right game after the dud on Christmas day—JT finished with a poor 11-9-6 line three days ago. I don’t believe Toronto will stop Jason as they did then, even less knowing that Tatum torched them in his second game of the year to reach 50.25 DKFP after hanging 25 pops on them and missing on the dub-dub for just one rebound.
Love: (PF) Julius Randle, NYK ($7600, at WAS)
The trade talk is heating up and who knows if The Randlewus will leave Manhattan. So far so good for him though. He’s no longer a dub-dub threat, which is bad, but also good. Good because I don’t have to get frustrated over him missing on it and I just can enjoy and value Julius for what he is, a 20-8 nightly player. J30 has been a 39-DKFP performer in the last three weeks, he’s ramped up his usage to close to 30% on these stinking Knicks, and he’s averaging 24.8 ppg, 9.1 rpg, and 2.9 apg in the games he’s played more than 25 minutes in that span. The stocks are virtually non-existent, which sucks a little bit, but he’s hit four and five threes in back-to-back games and he’s shooting 45.4% from the field on 14.8 attempts this season. Washington lacks everything from bigs to smalls to middies to whatever you can think of. Good game ahead for Jules.
Hate: (PF) John Collins, ATL ($8400, at CHI)
I love Collins as much as I love my mother. This is not a blurb in which I’m going to hate too much on him, but rather the Hawks as a whole. Collins was good before being suspended, and he’s been good in his two games since coming back. I mean, this kid put on a 50 DKFP performance in his first outing back against Cleveland logging a dub-dub just to kick-start his “real” season. Do you know what happened yesterday after Trae had to leave with an injury though? Atlanta sunk the ship and then some. Collins finished with 9 points and 16 boards, shot 28.6%, committed 5 personal fouls and had two turnovers. The rebounds saved him a bit, but if Trae is forced to stay out for any amount of time every Hawk will feel it more than they want to. After we know more of what’s going on, or the new role and usage Collins gets, we’ll be better off him even if his usage is supposed to go up a bit.
Love: (C) Montrezl Harrell, LAC ($6200, at CHA)
Love me some Monty today! And that sweet price! Trez goes into this game as his usual pine-rider—some things never change, for the good this time—and I’m betting on a comeback to his good 40-DKFP days from earlier in the month and season. Truth be told, he’s been a little underwhelming lately only getting to more than 30 DKFP in one of his last five games, though that shouldn’t last for long. All in all, though, he keeps scoring more than 18 pops a night and grabbing at least 6 boards per. The season averages are even better at 19 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 1.9 apg and a combined 1.9 stocks. No reserve is putting on Harrell’s work and production in the L as his 1.17 DKFP per minute show. Don’t look for treys here but go home happy and with a smile after looking at his 57.5% from the field on 13.5 attempts in his limited 29.2 mpg of run a night.
Hate: (C) Joel Embiid, PHI ($9400, at MIA)
Did you expect the Heat to be the third-best team in the East past-Christmas and 1.5 games above Philly after 30 games? The Heat is hot even in the snowiest month. Can Joel handle such flames? I don’t know for sure, and Embiid has been killing it this year to say the least, but I’d play the safe game and stay off him just in case. You have reasons to play him, of course, but he’s been on some sort of minutes restriction and he’s played fewer than 30 minutes in three o his last four going back to Dec. 21 and that has limited his outcomes a little bit. Still great at around 45 DKFP, for sure, but Miami has some bodies showcasing good D traits and their rank sixth-best in fantasy points given up to the opposition this season.
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!