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NBA DFS: Russ Westbrook and best/worst DraftKings daily fantasy basketball plays for Saturday, Jan. 18th

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Duds and studs. Good and bad plays. We take a look at the upcoming NBA games to let you know who to roster and who to avoid in your daily DraftKings plays.

Portland Trail Blazers v Houston Rockets Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

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) Russell Westbrook, HOU ($9300, vs LAL)

The Rockets have faced the Clips a bunch of times already but this is the first time they’ll go against the Lake Show. For all of the crap that has been thrown Russ’ way, this man is on a mission. Brook is playing like a top-10 performer since the start of December, averaging 52 DKFP per game, and somehow never broke the $10K-price barrier. Either the algorithm is dumb or reads Twitter too much. Russy is averaging 30 freaking points a game during his past 10 matches, and he’s pairing that with 7&7 boards and dimes per and some extra spicy sauce with a steal a night. The usage has been at 35% during that span (Harden is at 37% on the season) and the minutes sit at around 36 per game, which is nice as Mr. Trip-Dub is on a 1.43 DKFP per minute average since we entered 2020. Back-to-back games getting north of 55 DKFP against Minny and Portland no more than a week ago in which he dud-dubbed first (30-6-10) and got a trip-dub then (31-11-12). This is the Russ we crave.

Hate: (PG) Ricky Rubio, PHO ($7500, at BOS)

Ricky is having a season for the ages and now he’s also a father. Papa Ricky, that is. Do you know what happened when FVV had a son during last season playoffs? Yikes. Something similar happened to Double-R to days ago when he went on a massive rampage and finished with 65.5 DKFP against the Knicks which translated to 25 points, 8 rebounds, 13 dimes, 4 thefts, and a block! That was nice, but far from average-Ricky. That more casual version of Rubio has averaged 35 DKFP in January (30 if we don’t take Newborn-Doomsday game into consideration) and struggled to even score 10 points in his games this decade—in fact, Ricky has scored 6, 9, 9, 8, 11, 10, and 25 in his 2020s games. The assists are always there, sure, but the rebounds fluctuate a bit and the rest of the cats are often on the low (no more than two steals can be expected). If the points were higher at around 20 per this Father would rule the world, but sadly the low outcome kills his upside more than a bit.

Love: (SG) Derrick Rose, DET ($6900, at ATL)

All stars look aligned for Rose tonight. The PG is starting for the Pistons again after he did so once all the way back at the start of November. Makes sense, considering the state of these Pistons and the numbers Poohdini is putting up: 18 points, 2+ boards, and 6 assists on the season getting off the pine and playing 26 minutes per game while shooting 50/32/88 on 15 attempts per. Those are great stats for some riding the bench, which his per-minute performance shows at an average of 1.22 per minute on the court. Look, Rose is probably not a slate-winner, but at this price and production, the ROI and upside are massive. Kid Rose has averaged 38 DKPF in his last six games, scored 20-plus points in his last seven, is shooting 56.2% from the floor in that seven-game span, and his line in January reads 22-3-6. Nothing to complain about.

Hate: (SG) Buddy Hield, SAC ($6400, at UTA)

Buddy was down, then it looked like he was improving and getting to his good version, and now it is all back again to the bad ways for Hield. I want no Buddy like this in my life. The thing is, Hield’s 20-5-3 season-averages are as good as they can be. Only 16 other guys are putting up those numbers combined and Buddy is middle-of-the-pack in minutes played among them, which speaks well of his game. Even with that, he’s lacking production and doing just enough to average a mediocre pinpoint 1.00 DKFP per minute on the court. Buddy Buckets was exactly that from Dec. 28 to Jan. 4 playing as a 40-DKFP player nightly, but in his last four games he’s not broken for more than 35 DKFP even once. His price has logically plummeted as he’s dropped his stats in every category. Buddy showed his true talent back in 2019 when he had a torrid streak of great games to end November and start December but he hasn’t done much lately. Don’t expect him to get back to his best self against Utah.

Love: (SF) Ben Simmons, PHI ($9000, at NYK)

Benny is visiting MSG tonight and that could turn to fireworks. Don’t think Philly will sit or rest him, as he’s been matchup-proof all year long without missing time due to the opposition stinking. Embiid is still out for the Sixers and on the Knicks side there are also injuries to DSJ and RJ Barrett. All systems check. No BS with Simmons these days. Ben is on a four-game streak in which he has put up a double-double each and every night alternating his excellence in the rebounds and assists cats. If we weren’t as picky as we are, we’d need to go all the way back to Dec. 20 to find a game in which Simmons didn’t near-dub-dubbed—which means a game in which he didn’t finish with at least 9 rebounds/assists. That is a 13-game streak finishing so close to the double-digits in at least two categories, as this kid is a nightly triple-tread baked into the body of a non-long-range shooter. No threes at sight, but a more than palatable 56.7% from the floor to make up for it.

Hate: (SF) Andrew Wiggins, MIN ($6900, vs TOR)

KAT came back yesterday and Wiggins still logged a 27.2% usage rate. Truth be told Towns only played 28 minutes but still had a massive 41.3% usage himself. No matter what, Andrew isn’t getting Wiggy wit it at all these days. I already told you a few slates ago, this is not the Wiggins we love. Where is the 23-5-3 guy? Why is Maple Jordan at 15-3-3 in this new decade? What happened to the fantasy goodies? Shaking my head. I thought Drew was for real but what if it was all a mirage? You can’t trust someone who burned teams all around the country leading up to the 2020s but once we flipped the calendar page has yet to score more than 23 points in a game, who has grabbed more than 4 rebounds just once, or who hasn’t dished out more than 4 assists in any game in his last six games. The DKFP per game are at a ground-level 21.9 in that four-game span and the shooting can’t be uglier with a 35 percent from the floor on a still-huge 14 attempts per. Nothing to like here, I’m afraid.

Love: (PF) Julius Randle, NYK ($7700, vs PHI)

Not many days can you pick a big man going against Philly but with Embiid out the doors to heaven have opened for the Randlewus. What if Julius is real real? I mean, it’s already been 40 games under his belt and he’s keeping up the 19-9-3 line... Can we trust him? I’d say so, and he’s been able to level up even more during the past three weeks. Since Dec. 23 when he had a monster game and destroyed the Wiz by himself (50.75 DKFP) he’s averaged more than 45 fantasy points per game and played like a borderline top-10 performer in his slates. Sweet return for someone valued in the $7K-to-$8K clip more often than not. JR is on a three-game streak reaching at least 43 fantasy points, scoring 25-plus points, and averaging 10-3-2 boards/dimes/steals. The man has dub-dubbed in five of his last eight and the usage has gone all the way up to 34% in the past week (three games) compared to 27% on the season. All positives.

Hate: (PF) Al Horford, PHI ($7200, at NYK)

This literally happened the other day in a Ringer podcast: discussing potential trades, someone said “Philly has an extra center” which he then made clear was Embiid and not Horford, and proposed a Clippers-Sixers trade around JoJo which would leave Horford as Philly’s starting center. Again, that happened in real life just a few hours ago. Obviously, everybody went nuts and mad at the site and the podcast and everybody were right. Horford. Starting center. Of the Sixers. Over Embiid. Sure. Don’t even touch Good Old Al even with a stick, my men out there reading this. Every big man, and I mean every freaking big man in the NBA is always a fantasy monster no matter how bad he plays. Whiteside gives no effort yet he posts 15-15s. Same with Gobert. Same with Capela. Drummond posts 20-20s without trying. Whoever you can think of. Horford would give you 15 points and 8 rebounds if he gets it all right and that’s already a stretch. Seriously, bury Horford and remove him from your life.

Love: (C) Andre Drummond, DET ($9500, at ATL)

Something weird happened around Dre in back-to-back games during the last week: the Doc was limited to 19 and 22 minutes against Chicago and the Pels. Was it because of the trade rumors and a deal close to being finalized? Who knows. Atlanta seems to be out of the negotiations now and Drumm is going to visit them to close a deal-to-come-and-be-signed in July. That’s cool. I’m pretty sure Dre will want to leave them with a good impression, so this is going to be the get-right game we are all expecting from Drumm after those two low-run matches and his “full-time comeback” against Boston three days ago in which he started to gear up to the tune of 47 DKFP. That was still a bad outing (13-13-7-3-1, mind you) considering Drummond’s real upside. Bet on a 20-20 performance again tonight against a silly bad Hawks team.

Hate: (C) Karl-Anthony Towns, MIN ($9900, vs TOR)

I get the hype as I’m always feeling it in my bones, but calm down for a minute and let the KAT marinate before putting him in the bag. Towns just came back from an extended period out of the court, so you’re better off letting him near the stove for a while after he’s hot enough to play him. Which keeps hot as hell is his price, making this play twice riskier. You might be leaving 50 DKFP on the table, but the gamble isn’t worth it and Toronto is far from a stinking team.

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!