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 ($8500, vs PHO)
Dame Dolla has been a top-10 player in the last three weeks going back to Dec. 15. In that span, he’s played seven games with an average of 48 DKFP per outing to the tune of 29.4 ppg, 3 rpg, and 7.9 rpg. Both the points and the assists are over his season numbers, even with slightly lower shooting percentages. On the year, Lillard is hitting 44.2 percent of his 19 attempts per from the field while scoring 36% and 90% of the treys and freebies he launches nightly. The usage is great at 28%, and it has been nothing but Dame Time lately for DL: he’s dropped 27 or more points in all but one of his last seven games, hit 3 or more threes in five of those, grabbed 3 or more boards in every game but two, and dished out more than 6 assists in five matches. Lillard has only logged one dub-dub since Dec. 16 but he’s toyed with it another couple times falling one or two assists short of it. Not bad.
Love: (SG) Donovan Mitchell, UTA ($8400, vs DET)
Show me a Pistons guard, and I’ll show you a flying pig. Spidaman will eat big time tonight against a squad that I don’t even know if can be called a team these days. Mitchell has been painting faces from day one and contributing all across the board, efficiency metrics included. He’s putting up a 25-4-4-1 line on the year that only 10 other players are keeping up with, and you factor in his super-low turnover rate of 2.5 per he’s all alone in the league in all those marks combined—and all of that with a massive 30.8% usage. It is not that Mike Conley was affecting his game, but with him out he’s doing all he can handle and DoMi is now a surefire 30-point scorer nightly with upside to reach the 7-to-9-dime range without much trouble. He’s dropped 28-plus points in six of his last eight and had two games of 20-9 and 30-9 in which he was really close to that sweet dub-dub outcome. It’s just a matter of when, not if.
Love: (SF) Jimmy Butler, MIA ($7800, at WAS)
It still feels a little crazy to me that Butler chose Miami to become the best-ever version of himself. It makes sense, though, as the best Butlers serve in the most glamorous places. Jimmy murdered Philly two days ago after putting on middling performances against them earlier in the season. The result? 25 pops to go with 9 boards, 9 dimes, a couple of thefts and a block to round it all. The usage was one of the highest of the year at 30.2 percent and this Jimmy kept his game as up as it’s been all December long. J&B is far from drunk but rather a top-20 performer in the month averaging 46.4 DKFP per outing and a silly 22-8-7 line incredibly close to a Russ-esque trip-dub—no wonder, in fact, that Westbrook is the only guy sustaining those marks on the whole season. Such has been Jimmy Buckets (20-6-6-2 on the year).
Hate: (SF) Kelly Oubre Jr., PHO ($6700, at POR)
You can’t hate on low salaries but Oubre’s is high enough to allow throwing some shade toward him without remorse. This Oubre has been more Water Gun than Machine Gun Kelly this month. This game will mark the end of December for Wave Papi and so far he’s only had two games of 40-plus DKFP. Kelly was incredible by mid-November when he had an out-of-mind set of games averaging 41 DKFP over more than a week, but other than that he’s just been another guy from the bunch. In fact, he’s not topped 25 DKFP in three of his last five and some fools will fall for his last performance against Sacto on Saturday (53 DKFP; 20-16-5 on the night... in 41 minutes) without looking past it. Other than that he had sucked big time in prior games. Oubre is far from a 20-point scorer and his true-talent grabbing boards is closer to 4-per than anything else. He contributes a little bit of everything but not a lot of anything. Meh.
Love: (PF) John Collins, ATL ($8700, at ORL)
Turns out Atlanta is just going to play the bully game. Alright then, I surrender. Play Johnny all day, folks. If this is what the Hawks are without Trae, you won’t lose much. I mean, Collins logged a ridiculous 38.7 usage rate against Chicago, played 33 minutes, and finished with 34 points, 8 boards, 2 assists, a steal, and 3 (!) blocks. The shooting was incredible at 53.8% considering he even hit a couple of treys and shot 26 rocks. Lol. That was the best game of the season through 11 for JoCo and he even missed on the dub-dub. Seriously, these Hawks are crap but it seems their plan A was Trae and their plan B with Trae out is an all-Collins scheme. Good for us. Don’t overthink this. Just on brute force and mere usage, Johnny will yield fantasy goodies nightly.
Love: (C) Hassan Whiteside, POR ($7100, vs PHO)
Too bad Ayton is out again. Too good Hassan will be at the other end. Only once in the past two-weeks-and-change has Hassan played fewer than 31 minutes, so he’s going to get the run no matter what. Oh, and let me tell you he’s definitely making the most of his playing time. Our favorite Doesn’t-Give-A-Crap-Er-of-the-Year is a walking dub-dub: he’s got 22 on 30 of his game and finished 2 points or 1 board short in another four... Hassan is going to get you his 15-15 nightly, bet on that. He’s shown the upside to get to 20-plus pops here and there and has reached more than 15 boards in five of his last six games, so there’s that. No treys from this classic big man but a very delicious 60.8% shooting percentage from the field on his 10.5 attempts per. He’s got the blandest of usages at 20.2% but all of his work on the dub-dub cats added to his league-leading 2.7 blocks per make him a 1.38-DKFP-per-minute performer. Sweet Hassan.
Hate: (C) Jarrett Allen, BKN ($6200, at MIN)
Will we ever get rid of the Allen-Jordan headache? Shaking my head... Brooklyn is finally running Afro Allen for longer periods than DAJ but even with that they are still at 26.5 and 21.1 mpg respectively. With such variance, it is hard to trust Allen in fantasy plays, which is so frustrating because he can give fits to anyone. He’s averaging a 12-10 dub-dub on short minutes but the problem comes with not knowing what will be next for him. Take his last three games, which is the main reason for this Hate. 22, 27, and 27 minutes, outcomes of 23.5, 17.5, and 35.5 DKFP... Middling performances at best and that last one got bumped by a 16-10 dub-dub that came out of nowhere. The usage sucks at around 15%, which doesn’t help matters either.
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!