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 ($6700, at NYK)
We can be this close to watching the Knicks turn into a double-dumpster fire, kick their coach out of the MSG and burn the building down to ashes. That is appealing enough to watch, but if you want to be even more invested, play Jamal tonight. The Arrow hasn’t played up to his name so far (33.7% from three) but he’s hitting 43.8 percent of his overall looks from the floor, which is nice. On 33.3 MPG he’s posting 18.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 4.9 assists. Jamal has that sweet balance nailed down. And just in case you still were doubting the man, he’s providing a ridiculous 1.7 steals per and boasting a royal 25.5% usage rate—the highest mark of any Nugget. The Jam is playing heavy minutes even in blowouts and against shitty teams so that’s no reason for concern and he’s been a top-20 player in all of his last four games going back to Nov. 24.
Love: (SG) Fred VanVleet, TOR ($6600, vs HOU)
No. 1 Toronto Raptors Living Legend Kyle Lowry came back from injury but even with that—and although helped by extra OT-minutes—Freddy VV still racked up 19 points, six dimes, and three steals with a 20.6% usage on the day against Miami. His fantasy production dropped a bit mostly because of the assists lost to KLow but other than that I see no reason not to keep banking on Dutch Fred. He’s going to keep starting games, he’s averaging a stupid 37.8 minutes (even if those get down a bit he’ll still be on the 35+), and he’s contributing all across the board. There will definitely be a clash with Lowry in the aforementioned game-handling department, but the dimes he’ll lose could very well turn into more catch-and-shoot chances and points. No wonder, considering FVV is shooting a massive 39.6% from three on the year and aiding that percentage with another delicious one in his 87.9% success rate from the charity stripe. Also, the NBA likes to rob Houston so Toronto will win and that probably, maybe, perhaps helps Freddy in some way.
Hate: (SG) RJ Barrett, NYK ($5600, vs DEN)
Rookie being rook’d, exhibit no. 1. As much as I want to like Barrett—and I’ve loved him since his HS days at Montverde—he’s going throw much more than growing pains. This RJ is definitely not MJ. More JR, I guess. Barrett shooting line (37/32/53) is atrocious at the very very best yet he’s shooting even his kicks night in and night out. The Maple Mamba is definitely and apt nickname. Barrett is going for everything (13.8 FGA) but his performance is softer than a fallen maple leaf. RJ is logging 32.4 minutes but only scoring 14.7 pops a day, and other than that he’s grabbing nice boards (5.3) but not doing much more in the rest of the cats. I’m all in for the Knicks playing him to death so the kid gets thick skin growing, but I’m going to leave him in my fantasy bench every day.
Love: (SF) Brandon Ingram, NO ($8000, vs PHO)
I watched a chapter of one of those YouTube homemade shows about The Slenderman when I was young and I will never forget how it scared the hell out of me. That is why every time I see Ingram play I want to get inside my bed and cover my head. Those were shitty films, but BI is building Oscars-level tapes nightly. Funny considering he had to leave Hollywood to do so. Anyways. Tiny Dog is the leading man (28.5% usage rate) of these Pels now and at least until Zion comes back from honing his Roman body in hell’s cauldrons. It’d be easier to tell you where Ingram is not improving this year than where he is, such has this season been for him. BI is dropping 25.4 PPG, grabbing 7.2 RPG, dishing 4.1 APG, and adding insult to that with 0.9 SPG and 1.1 BPG. He’s just mental. Only him and some other KAT are on those numbers through 17 games. Had it not been for a little injury, BI would have scored at least 40 DKFP in every game he’s played except two (35.75 and 39.25 though...), and he’s averaging 45.3 DKFP in the last month. Seriously, the jump has been ridiculous.
Hate: (SF) Dario Saric, PHO ($6000, vs DEN)
Saric got a couple of good games two weeks ago and fools went nuts. Turns out Super Dario ain’t no Super Mario, though. He might had caught the power-star for his back-to-back 44- and 47-DKFP run, but that was that. In his last three Saric has put up a 27.4 fantasy points average and not cracked the top-20 (obviously) in any of those games. He keeps starting every single Suns game and playing heavy minutes (27.9 on the season but more than 32 in four of his last five games), which is a little baffling. The D is a points and boards man and forget about the rest, because he won’t provide. He’s shooting massively from the charity stripe at 85.7 percent but only visiting it 1.8 times per so don’t give it lots of weight. Just in the very own Suns you can find Machine Gun Kelly for $6100, so don’t tell me you have any reason to play Middling Dario.
Love: (PF) Pascal Siakam, TOR ($8200, vs HOU)
I picked The Siakaman as the go-to play of the day just the other night and you know what happened? He made me eat the L. Not a bad L (15-12-1 line against Miami), but still and L. For some reason his usage cratered to 21.3% and Toronto forgot about him and he failed to hit a three for just the second time in 20 games and look, that’s enough, because Spicy P won’t repeat that pooping performance. Houston lets one cook as he wants, and Pascal will bring the spices. He’s minute-proof and has topped 34 minutes in virtually every game since the start of November, he’s averaged a 25-8-3 in his last five and his season numbers are even a nail better. I haven’t included his shooting averaged on the blurb up to this point because I didn’t want you to pass out so early: 47/37/81 on 20.2 (!) FGA, 6.3 3PA, and 4.8 FTA. His TS% of 56.4 is sixth among players shooting at least 20 shots per game. Welcome to the Club, Spicy. This time for real real.
Hate: (PF) Julius Randle, NYK ($6300, vs DEN)
Tonight in Watch Me Crumble: Special Guest The Randlewus! I just can’t go with it anymore, folks. Told you about it the other day. So close, yet so far. Randle is starting to fall more in the no-dub-dub bucket rather than in the sure-dub-dub one. It’s been one in the last nine games and it was a borderline 22-10 effort. Even with more than an uptick in usage during his past couple of games (back-to-backs to start December, from 29% to 33% usage rate), Julius is not giving a Joule of energy. He’s scoring in the high-fifteens low-twenties and that’s keeping him afloat, but the boards have gone extinct not to mention the production at the rest of the cats... In fact, Randle isn’t bad at dishing assists with 3.4 per but he’s nullifying them with a massive 3.4 TO per game... The three-pointers are flying but not going through the rim by a mile (25% on 3.6 attempts) and the free throws are a tad ugly too at 66.7%.
Love: (C) Joel Embiid, PHI ($9700, at WAS)
I was checking some numbers before writing this. I had to take a full 45-minute break after reading Embiid’s before coming back to the keyboard. Jeeeeeez. JoJo always scare the hell out of me because of the health issues. Why if he doesn’t play enough (30.1 MPG)? Why if someone puts up more points (22.4 PPG)? What if for some reason he doesn’t click on the boards (12.2 RPG)? Straight BS—bullshit, not Ben Simmons, that is—my friends. Embiid is burning the Association alive. He’s posting the easy dub-dub with gusto and barely playing thirty minutes on the season (realistically he often plays north of that, but numbers are numbers). He’s adding 2.9 dimes and 2.3 stocks to his nightly line, which I have to tell you is hot. His usage rate of 31.2% is sky-high. But what broke my brain, again, is the fact that he’s doing it all in such a low playing time. Embiid’s DKFP per minute amount to 1.56 (!!!). Even on 25 minutes of playing time, he’d still be reaching 40 DKFP! Mojo JoJo is a bad man.
Love: (C) Nikola Jokic, DEN ($8500, at NYK)
Hard to hate the Joker because his game is definitely a joke—in the good sense. Niko entered the season overweight, keeps being a bunch of donuts over the limit, but he’s still averaging 40 DKFP on the season while playing 31.2 minutes. His line is a massive 15/10/6 dub-dub-plus-dimes one and I just can’t process how he does it. It is just nonsensical no matter how you look at it. New York sucks though, and Jokic has ridden the pine more than once in such contests this year so he might see his time on the court limited. He must have been eating more fried chicken than not lately because his greasy fingers have lost the touch and he’s failed to score more than 13 points in his last four games. Joka was all about caring against the Lakers on Tuesday (he stuffed the whole cat-rack with 13 points, five boards, eight assist, and three steals) but that is not going to cut it. I want that 40-plus fantasy points Jokic but he has not reached the mark since Nov. 22.
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!