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) Donovan Mitchell, UTA ($8100, at NO)
It’s easy to cherry-pick stats here and there to make someone shine. Not DoMi’s case, though. You don’t need much effort to find how great Mitchell has been this season: just take his 25-4-4 baseline on the year and look for similar players. How many of them are putting up those numbers since the year’s tipoff? Ten including Spida. Such has been the Don’s season to date. You might think he’s on the low and well, he had a couple of meh outings to close 2019 and open 2020, but other than that Mitch has performed like a top-15 player on average since Dec. 11 in eight of the 11 games he’s played. In those matches Mitchell averaged 45.75 DKFP on 36 minutes of playing time with numbers improving on his aforementioned season averages with a 29-4-6 line. Since Xmas day he’s shooting 55.2 percent from the field on 18.4 fga (five games played) and logging usage rates in the 25-to-35 percent range.
Hate: (PG) De’Aaron Fox, SAC ($8200, vs GS)
The Fox has been all over the place since returning in mid-December. It’s been a wild set of games with varying outcomes nightly. Swipa is a bolt but these Kangz and Luke Walton seem to be short-circuiting the explosiveness with the crawling-pace they’re playing at... That’s why you have to hate Fox a bit at least until they realize where their true advantages are and how to use DAF to his best talents. Since his return, Fox has played nine games, but he’s only been able to reach his best fantasy tallies in those he’s logged more than a 31% usage rate. In the rest, he’s not broken the 40-DKFP mark and even had three—including two days ago against the Pels—in the twenties. The scoring is usually there with the 20 points being almost a lock, but the boards are low more often than not and the assists are nothing but guaranteed to be on his side nightly. Boom/bust play at the very least. The matchup looks nice, but you never know with the Kangz and Swipa pairing.
Love: (SG) Zach LaVine, CHI ($7700, at DAL)
Talk about a hottie. Quick Q: is LaVine gearing up for the All-Star, even if it is only to make an appearance in the Slam Dunk Contest? I think so, because oh boy has he been saving the Bulls ass lately. Since Dec. 9 Young Hollywood has been part of 12 games and in all but three he has reached at least 42 DKFP (two of those in which he failed still went for 31 and 32 fantasy points). He’s performed like a top-20 player in that span and a top-15 guy removing those three lower outings. Zachary is the face of these Bulls and his usage is closer to the mid-thirties than the high-twenties, getting up and up as the season progresses. Just a couple of days ago facing Boston LaVine had his best game since late-November with a 35-point night (with 5 triples baked in) to which he added 2 boards, 3 dimes, and 4 thefts to log goodies all across the board.
Love: (SF) Buddy Hield, SAC ($7200, vs GS)
I told you the other day and I reaffirm myself: either Buddy is looking for a trade out of Sacto or he’s busting his ass proving he’s the head honcho and only King among Kangz. He threw the team under the bus and then, magic. Buddy is on a five-game streak of dropping at least 20 points on his rivals and in that span, he’s grabbing 7 rebounds and dishing out 4.2 assists per. Just last Saturday he grabbed a season-high 12 boards and three games before he put shared another season-high with 8 dimes facing Denver. It’s been six games scoring at least three treys, five games with five-plus rebounds, and four with three or more assists. This Buddy wants to be your buddy. Let him in.
Love: (PF) Derrick Favors, NO ($6900, vs UTA)
Somehow in another parallel universe, Derrick is doing you no Favors at all as his usage is very low. I mean, it’s been almost a month since he finally came back from injury and since that day (Dec. 13) he has gone over an 18.4 percent usage rate once. With that, in that parallel universe, Derrick might be averaging 15 DKPF. But in this our very lovely universe, Derrick is a walking Favor. Sure, the outcomes are not great great, but the usage is horrid at a 14.4% average since his comeback yet he’s been putting up nightly near-40 DKFP since Xmas day while becoming a living, breathing, walking double-double for the Pels. It’s been seven dub-dubs in his last eight games and the one he couldn’t get he missed on by just a couple of points. Favors is a 12-12 players these days with ease and he also provides a couple of daily dimes to go with a good blocking rate (he’s averaging a block per game on the season but he’s bumped that up to 1.7 since Dec. 17 topping at 4 blocks on Jan. 3).
Hate: (PF) TJ Warren, IND ($6000, at CHA)
This Warren isn’t regulating that much for Indiana. Far from his early-season version, TJ is now a middling player at the very least. Good, maybe, but definitely no great at all. I much prefer the OG TJ to these days TJ. In his last five games Warren has topped at 35 DKFP and he needed 35 minutes to do so... Warren is averaging his 20 points as pretty much any starter in the league but other than that he ain’t doing a lot in any other cat. In fact, his points per game in the last month are even lower than that mark at 18 ppg, and his other stats look something like 4.3 rpg and 1.6 apg. Those numbers are all higher than his season averages, which I don’t know about you but don’t speak greatness to me. The shooting is definitely great at 50.1% from the floor on 14.1 fga per game, but he usage is super average at 21.9% and the rest of the box feels empty: just look at his DKFP per minute for validation, with them being at a truly horrific 0.84 mark.
Love: (C) Nikola Vucevic, ORL ($8300, vs BKN)
Nikola Jokic, Nikola Vucevic, Nikola Tesla. You can’t go wrong with a Niko. Vucevic’s career is so Magic. Like, so Magic you don’t even know what it is, I mean. Will he stay in Orlando? Will he be traded? Will he just spend his life playing for a team with no aspirations and always finishing in purgatory-territory? I don’t know, but Vuc is doing all that is in his hand to elevate Disney’s team. Nik is averaging the sweet dub-dub on the year with 18.4 ppg and 10.8 rpg, including a neat 3.4 dimes per and 1.9 stocks with only 1.1 turnovers a game. The shooting is sublime from the floor (45.4%) considering he’s launching 4.5 treys per, and the usage isn’t bad at 25.3%. If anyone is on a hot stretch that’s this Niko: six-game streak of reaching 41-plus DKFP and an average outcome in the top-13 of those slates he’s been part of going back to Dec. 27. The double-doubles have been there in his last three games even playing just an average of 32 minutes, though the usage has gone all the way up to 30% in those last three matches.
Hate: (C) Steven Adams, OKC ($6900, at PHI)
I hated the Kiwi, then loved him, and I’m back to hating it at least a bit nowadays. The fires have been devastating Australia (good vibes and prayers go to the Aussies from here; hope you find a break soon and can finally get rid of them!) for a long time and although Stevie comes from New Zealand he’s feeling the heat. Sure, he had a 41-DKFP night against Cleveland on Saturday, but it was Cleveland and Love was more worried about shouting toward Sexton than defending the post. Other than that, Steven-A has been on the low lately and although he has the dub-dub at reach every night it’s not a lock to get it and if he does it is by a hair with borderline 10-10 performances. The shooting percentage is obviously high at 60% from the floor as he only shoots from inches away, but the scoring numbers are never high and the boards are at 10-per since Dec. 26 with three games over that mark and three under it. Not trusting him out of context, trusting him even less facing Philly and a beast in Embiid (he already limited Adams to a 7-7 game back in November...).
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!