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) Trae Young, ATL ($9700, vs HOU)
When the algorithm fails, you take advantage of the chance. Trae has been matchup-proof all season long and even after scoring himself 52 DKFP in his last game his price dropped. Wtf... Ice Trae under $10K is a gift wrapped in God’s clothes. Seriously, just peep: TY is averaging more than 35 minutes per game, and in all but one of the 22 games he’s played 35-plus minutes he’s gotten to at least 45 DKFP. His average in those 22 games goes all the way up to 56.5 DKFP, his performance ranks in the top-5 of his slates nightly, and Trae has logged dub-dubs in eight of 22, and a trip-dub against Toronto—full truth be told, he’s also missed on another eight dub-dubs just by one or two dimes... which would have put that 8/22 at 16/22! Young has played three games this year and these are his lines: 28-5-10 (5 treys, 39.1 fg%), 41-4-8-2 (5 treys, 52.2 fg%), and 29-4-12 (4 treys, 66.7 fg%). Ridiculous is falling short in describing what this kid is doing.
Hate: (PG) Jordan McRae, WAS ($6600, at ORL)
Not hard to get what’s going on here. Beal is out—questionable tonight so he might be back already—and McRae has played a handful of moderately good games in extended playing time even starting his last two. All of that is alright, what is not is his price’s rise. We’re talking about a 22-minute, 24-DKFP averager here, folks. Before being given ample run McRae was between no one and none, whatever you prefer. His shooting looks great at 44/47/79 but he’s shooting 10.4 fga and 3.7 3pa this season which are low marks for any other starter in the L and the percentages will undoubtedly go doing with more attempts per game as the minutes go up (in fact, before having his first 30-plus minutes game he had a 47 fg% and he’s down to 39% in his last five). Mac has needed more than 30 minutes on the court to get into the 40-DKFP range and although he can score—he needed 24 shots to reach 19 points on Monday though—the rest of the cats other than the rebounds are nil. Don’t risk it on McRae, even less in such a large slate like today’s.
Love: (SG) Khris Middleton, MIL ($7100, at GSW)
The Warriors suck and Giannis is probable for tonight due to injury. He should play if only taking his recovery into account, but Golden State is so bad that the Bucks might opt to leave him out as they won’t need him to get the W. Enter Khris Middleton, filler of all holes, bringer of rain, fantasy goodies awarder. Khris hasn’t been a Ton in the Middle of the news to kick off the new year. Three games with low returns would not cut it, but tonight’s matchup looks like the perfect get-right game for the K-M. The usage is nice at over 26% on the year, but with Giannis potentially out it can be bumped up to at least 30% easily with chances of reaching 35-plus if all systems check. Midd is almost always on the 20-plus scoring and his boards are a lock on the 6-to-8 range. The dimes aren’t hard for him to find with an average of 4.8 since Xmas Day. Good play with Giannis in, must-play with Giannis out.
Hate: (SG) Jimmy Butler, MIA ($8200, at IND)
This is more a cautionary pick than anything, considering Butler isn’t a lock to be on the lineup tonight and his price. The ROI could be super low if he doesn’t play (obviously) and even if he’s limited or a little banged up. If you want more reasons to skip him, well, Jimmer has offered his owners a good service on his last eight games going back to Dec. 18 but the Butler’s offerings have not been that great for the salary he’s demanding these days. Only two games topping 40 fantasy points don’t cut it for me. He’s performed like a top-25 player in that span but his price on those slates was that of a better player on average. Good-not-great play. Butler can turn a hobo into a millionaire, but he won’t turn the millionaire into a billionaire, if you know what I mean.
Love: (SF) Brandon Ingram, NO ($8800, vs CHI)
Hadn’t it been for Le Croissant Gobert and the refs giving him the benefit of the doubt a couple of days ago we’d be talking about last-second-hero Ingram. We’re talking about loser Ingram instead. Shaking my head... Even carrying the L, BI had a game for the ages and his best fantasy performance since the third game of the year (!) all the way back on Oct. 26: the Slenderman finished with 35 pops, 8 boards, dished out 5 assists, and added one steal and one block on a 46.2% shooting-from-the-floor night in which he dropped 3 triples and 8 freebies—56.5 DKFP by night’s end. Don’t get too amused, though, as that has been Tiny Dog for the whole year. Since the last main slate he missed on Dec. 7 Ingram has averaged 43.5 DKFP per game and performed as a top-20 player nightly. He has failed to score 20-plus points in just two of his last 14 games going back to that day, and he’s posted three dub-dubs in the meantime. His averages since Xmas Day: 25.8 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 4 apg, and 1.7 spg. Can’t get much more from anyone out there.
Love: (PF) Jayson Tatum, BOS ($7600, vs SAS)
Considering how bouncy Jay-T has been lately this price makes sense. Considering Tatum’s season it’s nuts: 34 minutes, 21 points, 7 boards, 3 dimes, a steal, and a block per game. That line is nonsensical considering Tatum is 21 years old. Not even 10 players have posted those numbers in their age-21 season in NBA’s history, so you more or less get an idea of what Jay is doing and what is to come. I get you being worried about his last streak of roller-coaster games but let’s get to the classroom for a second. These are Tatum’s fantasy scores in his last six matches: 45, 21, 43, 28, 47, 26. Can you infer the next number in the series? Correct, another 40-plus DKFP outing against a lowly Spurs team that will make for a good get-right night. The points are dancing up and down these days, but Tatum has that 30-pop baked into his potential and the boards are high more often than not. Sprinkle some assists, steals, and blocks (he’s blocked 5 shots in his last four games) and you got yourself a winner.
Hate: (PF) John Collins, ATL ($8000, vs HOU)
For all the hype and anxiety that my body had to sustain until Collins came back from his suspension, the results are being disappointing at the very least and making my suffering not worth it at all. JoCo blew my mind in a great three-game streak during the last week of December in which he averaged 23 points and 11 boards (including a 34-pop explosion, and another one with 16 rebounds) but after that, he’s done nothing. With or without Trae in the lineup, The Baptist is not doing any miracles and putting up the blandest of numbers nightly. In his last three, he’s finished with measly 10-11, 16-8, 17-5 lines against Orlando, Boston, and Denver. He’s playing under 30 minutes per since coming back but his production is rather mediocre without him struggling mightily to get to 20 points and 10 boards. The percentages are good and that’s saving him a bit. We’ll see what happens if Atlanta lands Drummond and pair these two beasts; interesting scenario at the very least.
Love: (C) Nikola Vucevic, ORL ($9000, at WAS)
Sorry for being repetitive on almost consecutive days, but Vuc is for real for real. Another 48-DKFP performance two days ago against Brooklyn on a paltry 21.5% usage rate more than solidified this Niko as a high-40s performer during the last couple of weeks. His averages since Dec. 27 read as follows: 19.5 ppg, 12.3 rpg, 3.9 apg, 0.8 stocks. It’s been eight games in a row for Vuc hitting at least a three-pointer and he’s scored more 3 triples on three of his last six matches with a season-high 5 long-range makes on Dec. 28 against Milwaukee. The price is as good as they come for such a productive line and he’s putting up those numbers on not-overly-huge runs of around 32 minutes per. Oh, and the Wiz will be at the other end of the court tonight, so you know what to do.
Hate: (C) Rudy Gobert, UTA ($7900, vs NY)
No French cheaters in my lawn, boy. The love was cut dried from Gobert at the flipping of the calendar page, it looks like. Three games in the mid-to-high-30 fantasy points don’t cut it for me. Two games in a row falling short of even a miserable 10 points are just blatantly offensive. The boards are as high as they’ve ever been at 16 per in his three January games, but other than that I’m not buying this Gobzilla fake. The thing is the minutes are sky high at 36 in his last 12 games, so either French men love naps or I don’t even know. Top-20 performer in December turned top-30 in 2020. Let Rudy marinate for a few days.
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!