We are pushing these picks early because it’s 9:30 in the morning, on the East Coast, and DraftKings’ 100,000 entry SharpShooter for Monday night is already 1/3 full. I can remember the days where we would struggle to fill a 10,000 entry NBA contest on a weeknight… At any rate, with these picks coming out so early double-check all questionable players and all of your plays before tipoff. Injury and late scratches create value and destroy lineups.
I have been asked several times about our workflow when we make our picks in the morning. Because these come out so quick we rely on a lot of running knowledge as far as PPG allowed to each position, coaching styles, player MPG and rotations, team playing styles, and player/team home/road splits. This allows us to narrow each position down to a handful of players almost immediately.
The first thing we do is eliminate low scoring teams altogether. Players may thrive in those situations, but we generally aren’t interested in anyone playing in slow paced games with a total under around 192 unless there is an injury that is creating a unique opportunity for value.
So really we start with Vegas lines for the slate, identify teams we want to target, and then positions we want to target on those teams. From there we open up StatMuse and start looking at player trends including performance against opponent, usage rate against opponent, usage rate at home or on the road, usage rate with or without any players that are missing or returning from injury, and put together a floor, ceiling and mid level projection for each of our targets. After identifying the top value and highest ceilings at each position, it’s just a matter of piecing together lineups.
Top Plays for Friday Night
James Harden – $10,800
Of the group of players currently priced over $10,000 on DraftKings, Harden is my favorite to use and least favorite to watch… He’s averaging 5x value for his nearly $11,000 salary, and has been particularly good against the Nuggets over the past two seasons. In his last 6 starts against Denver, Harden has averaged 58.5 PPG, with 3 64+ fantasy point performances and a game where he scored 50.
Tyreke Evans – $7,000
Evans is underpriced at $7,000 on DraftKings. He doesn’t need the ball to be effective, in fact his usage rate is less than Davis and Holiday and about equal to Norris Cole and Ryan Anderson. Since returning to the lineup, Evans is averaging 5x value, but has gone well over that number in 4 of his 6 games. He is playing more 2 than 1 right now, Portland gives up the 12th most points to the position, but it wouldn’t matter as neither McCollum or Lillard are a bad matchup for Evans.
Nikola Vucevic – $6,800
Nikola Vucevic will need to have a big game tonight if the Magic are going to hang with the Nets. Oladipo has been hit or miss lately, Payton disappears in a slower paced matchup like this, and Tobias Harris is questionable. Luckily for the Magic, Vucevic has been really good in Brooklyn, averaging over 49 DraftKings PPG against them over the last two seasons. He has also reached 6x+ value in 4 of the Magic’s last 9 games overall.
Jahlil Okafor – $6,400
The Bulls surprisingly continue to struggle defending the Center position, giving up the 6th most PPG on the season and 4th most over the last three weeks. Okafor had a monster game against them earlier this season going for 46 DraftKings points with a 21/15/1/2 line. He’s also been on a roll as of late going for 7x in 2 of his last 3 and may the 76ers may be without Noel tonight which only further increase Okafor’s role.
Top Bargains for Friday Night
Bojan Bogdanovic – $4,700
Forget about the fact that he’s starting with Hollis-Jefferson injured… doesn’t matter. You always start Bojan Bogdanovich against the Magic…
Jameer Nelson – $4,200
Nelson stepped up in a big way when Mudiay went down last Friday… it was the first time he’s played without the rookie this season, so we can’t be certain the usage will carry over, but this is a great matchup so given the minutes he will see, I feel good about using him either way.
Matt Barnes – $4,200
Barnes has been on a roll lately reaching 6x value in 6 of his last 10, and Washington is the matchup to target at wing positions right now. Look for Barnes to make it 7 of his last 11 with a big game at home against the leagues 5th fastest, and 8th most defensively inefficient team.