Happy Friday Karma Nation! My plan is to get this article out early with my initial thoughts. I’m also trying to get our Christmas lights up as the weather in my area is going to get ridiculously cold here soon. So my general thoughts are below and any major updates I’ll note in bold here at the top.
On quick strategy note; Why do I emphasize team and overall game pace so much? Understanding and trying to accurately project a games pace is essential when evaluating fantasy plays. Fast pace = more opportunities. More opportunities = Higher ceiling of fantasy points. What pace doesn’t do is guarantee anything. Nothing is guaranteed in Daily Fantasy. But when we stick to our process, eventually the stars align and we will hit a nice score. So back to the Pace discussion. Let’s use yesterdays slate as an example->
We had three pace down spots; two were projected to be competitive while one was a pretty obvious blowout spot. The first game, Rockets vs Warriors, also had injury and rotation situations that would lead to increased minutes to key plays. Ultimately, it was the pace of the game that really destroyed everyone’s fantasy viability. If you look at the box score, you will see Harden took a lot of shots. This gives the illusion of a faster paced game with poor shooting; but in reality, Harden was trotting down the court, iso’ing 1on1 and taking a contested jumper before the shot clock expired. This is exactly what we don’t want when finding safe fantasy plays. We were on the unders in this game with it being a big overall pace down spot. I used fantasy as a hedge, and stacked Kevin Durant & Harden as I thought; (1) if the game goes over it will be due to efficient shooting performances by them, and (2) due to their high usage rates, I could see scenarios where they hit value and the game still stays under. The other reason I stacked up the studs from that game is because I rarely get Spurs games right. That is just a team I hate seeing on the slate.
Moral of the story-> PACE Matters. Now let’s dive into this slate.
Heat AT Pacers -5, 212
Dwyane Wade, Dion Waiters, James Johnson OUT
Pacers-> no injuries
PACE (MIA); 10th Pace Bump; -3.5 proj poss DEF EFF; 14th
PACE (IND); 28th Pace Bump; +1.4 proj poss DEF EFF; 11th
Before spending time calculating injury adjusted usage and fantasy points per minute, let’s understand these are two teams facing each other that put great emphasis on defense. This is also an overall pace down spot. Given the defensive nature of both teams, I’d argue it’s an even greater pace down spot than projected. Lastly, the Pacers are healthy and the Heat’s injury situation hasn’t changed in some time. Given the above things, it really comes down to price in a situation like this. We can’t just blindly fade any game, we could very well overlook a pricing mistake by doing that.
Goran Dragic, PG, 6,200 -> Fine Play. One way to attack the Pacers is at the PG position. I still don’t love this spot, but Dragic is fairly and has the best DvP matchup.
Hassan Whiteside, C, 7,900 -> Fine GPP. Goatside busted as chalk against the Nets. I don’t love him in this spot, but he makes for GPP consideration because I could see him having a blow up game after busting as chalk. He does this quite often.
Darren collison, PG, 4,500 -> Solid Value. Looks like Collison isn’t in a timeshare with Cory Joseph anymore. He’s logged 30+ minutes over the last two games. His price hasn’t changed much and I’m not too concerned about Dragic defense.
Raptors AT Celtics -1.5, 214
Serge Ibaka Questionable, Kawhi Leonard (b2b Probable), CJ Miles Doubtful
Jabari Bird OUT, Marcus Morris Questionable
PACE (TOR); 13th Pace Bump; -1.6 proj poss DEF EFF; 3rd
PACE (BOS); 20th Pace Bump; +1.5 proj poss DEF EFF; 6th
Much like the first game, we have two of the best defenses in the league squaring off in this game. All my initial thoughts in that first game apply here also. So it’s going to come down to price and matchup.
Raptors-> *Assuming Leonard and Ibaka play* everyone on this team is fairly priced. If Ibaka is ruled OUT, I’ll be going back to the well and firing up Jonas Valanciunas.
Jaylen Brown, SG/SF, 4,600-> Fine GPP value. Shooting guards have fared well against the Raptors. Brown also found his shot against the bulls. He’s a raw scoring dependent play.
Jazz AT 76ers, -3, 216.5
Raul Neto OUT
76ers-> no injuries
PACE (UTA); 22nd Pace Bump; +2.0 proj poss
PACE (PHI); 4th Pace Bump; -1.5 proj poss
Joel Embiid and Jimmy Butler saw 22 minutes on the court together against Orlando. Butler had very little effect on Embiid as he owned a 34% usage rate & 1.53 fantasy points per minute average. The case wasn’t the same for Butler; 21% USG & 0.60 FP/min. It appeared Butler had the most significant impact on Ben Simmons who owned a 13% usage rate and 0.74 fantasy points per minutes while on the court with Jimmy.
Do note, this is an incredibly small sample size. Embiid’s rotation is designed to give him two mini breaks each half. Jimmy will most definitely be on the court while Embiid checks out. My guess moving forward is we see Embiid continue to dominate and we will see Butler pick things up while Embiid is on the bench. For me, I’ll take a wait and see approach on Ben Simmons. I want to see that he is capable of producing while Butler is on the court.
Joel Embiid, C, 10,300 -> Solid/Elite
Jimmy Butler, SG/SF, 7,300 -> GPP
The Jazz were blown out in embarrassing fashion by the Mavericks on Wednesday night. I’m not going to factor that blowout into this game. The Jazz just didn’t have it. Donovan Mitchell has underwhelmed all season and hopefully recency bias keeps the industry off of him tonight. The fact is, Mitchell is in a smash spot. We have a pace up game for the Jazz and DvP matchups should lead to increased usage and shots for Mitchell. With Robert Covington gone, JJ Redick should have the task of defending Mitchell. I could see a scenario where the game starts out like this and possibly in the second half it could be Jimmy or Simmons guarding him. Rudgy Gobert will have the task of defending Joel Embiid. This means he should see big minutes and be active on the court, which could lead to an increase in peripheral stats.
Donovan Mitchell, PG/SG, 7,200 -> Elite GPP play (if we think JJ Redick will be guarding him)
Rudy Gobert, C, 7,500 -> Solid Play-> Gobert is a disciplined big and should be able to avoid Embiids antics and stay out of foul trouble.
Derrick Favors, PF/C, 4,500 -> Solid Value play-> his minutes aren’t what we like to see but his production on the court has been solid.
Nets AT Wizards -7, 222.5
LeVert OUT, RHJ & Jarrett Allen questionable
Wizards-> no injuries
PACE (BKN); 21st Pace Bump; +1.9 proj poss DEF EFF; 21st
PACE (WIZ); 9th Pace Bump; -1.7 proj poss DEF EFF; 25th
USG&FP/M (BKN); D Russell 30%/0.85, Dinwiddie 28%/1.11, RHJ 23%/1.01, Harris 20%/0.85, Ed Davis 14%/1.09
With LeVert OUT, I noted on Wednesday that Dinwiddie and Russell would most probably be the largest beneficiaries. Well, Russell started the game with 7 or 8 straight misses from the field. The production was definitely their he just couldn’t make a shot. Dinwiddie also had a slow start but put up big numbers in the 2nd half. Lastly, this spot also depends on the viability of RHJ and Jarrett Allen.
D’Angelo Russell, PG/SG, 6,600-> Elite GPP play
Spencer Dinwiddie, PG/SG, 5,700-> Elite GPP play
The Wizards have two things going on that we love for DFS purposes; they are playing at a fast pace and giving very little effort on defense. As we predicted on Wednesday, the Wizards blew out the Cavs, who were in a let down spot on a b2b coming off a win. No Wizard player saw more than 30 minutes. If the Brooklyn guards find their shot, we will have a high scoring game that we will need to prioritize for fantasy purposes.
Dwight Howard, C, 5,700 -> Elite play. Centers smash against the Nets. This is why Whiteside was chalk on Wednesday night. Whiteside got into foul trouble which destroyed many lineups. Long story short, I think Howard gets an easy double double tonight.
Markieff Morris, SF/PF, 4,500 -> Solid Value.
John Wall, Otto Porter, & Bradley Beal are arguably in play. However, the Nets have been solid against opposing guards. Wall and Beal are also priced way up. Personally, I’d take the 400 discount on Lillard over Wall.
Knicks AT Pelicans -10, 228
Courtney Lee OUT, Mitchell Robinson Probable
Nikola Mirotic Probable, Elfrid Payton Questionable
PACE (NYK); 19th Pace Bump; +3.7 proj poss
PACE (NOR); 5th Pace Bump; -1.3 proj poss
The Knicks are right up there with the Cavs as the two worst teams in the league. The Knicks have been on the losing end of three straight blowouts; to OKC, Magic, and the Raptors. The Pelicans starters have probably averaged the highest amount of minutes played per game relative to any other starters in the league. This has been due to pure coaching style and injuries. Personally, I think this game is over by half time and the Pelican starters will get to rest in the 4th.
*If you think this game has a chance of staying close. . . By all means, feel free to load up. This will most likely be a very contrarian stance.
*If ELF plays, and no minutes restrictions are announced, he would make for a decent GPP flier given his price.
Kevin Knox, SF, 4,300 -> Knox is a young player they are developing. Regardless of a blowout, he should see minutes. As long as he is starting, he will be one of my favorite value plays.
Emmanuel Mudiay, PG, 4,000 -> Fine value. I don’t mind him IF Elfrid Payton is starting.
Blazers AT Wolves +1.5, 222.5
Moe Harkless, Seth Curry OUT
Derrick Rose Questionable, Jerryd Bayless OUT
PACE (POR); 18th Pace Bump; +1.6 proj poss DEF EFF; 4th
PACE (MIN); 11th Pace Bump; -0.4 proj poss DEF EFF; 22nd
Let me get this out of the way. JEFF TEAGUE is an elite play if Derrick Rose is ruled out. If Rose plays, that is a lot of mouths to feed at the guard position for the Wolves. With Jimmy Butler gone, Andrew Wiggins had a breakout game against the Pelicans. His price hasn’t moved much, which makes me think he will be quite popular today. However, Portland has had no issues keeping Wiggins in check over the years but he did have one blowup game in the 16’-17’ season (no Jimmy Butler). Karl-Anthony Towns has been a beast with Butler off the court. The Blazers are pretty solid at limiting production so KATs 9,600 price tag doesn’t sit too well with me. If Rose is OUT, I’d argue KAT’s scoring upside increases. If Rose is IN, I could see a scenario where just Robert Covington or Taj Gibson hit value solely due to their prices.
JEFF TEAGUE, PG, 5,900 -> Elite IF Rose is ruled out. If Rose is ruled in, I think we can pivot elsewhere.
Robert Covington, SF/PF, 5,300 -> Solid play. He logged 41 minutes vs the Pelicans. I’d imagine they will want Covington on the court to lock up CJ McCollum.
Andrew Wiggins, SG/SF, 6,100 -> He’s a fine play. If Rose is ruled out, you could argue his scoring upside could pay off his salary. If he is going to be high owned, I don’t mind fading him in GPPs.
Karl Anthony Towns, C, 9,600 -> Jimmy is gone and KAT has been smashing. This is still a tough matchup. I don’t feel great about clicking KATs name on this slate. Don’t let me talk you off of him if you are riding his momentum out.
Blazers-> We have a 5 unit bet on the Blazers -1.5 tonight. I’m not saying they will blow the Wolves out, but I do think they get a solid win tonight. I see this happening on the heels of Baby Dame (again). Karma Nation was all over Damian Lillard on Wednesday night and we got him at 2% ownership. The industry loves recency bias so he’ll surely be higher owned on tonight’s slate. This doesn’t concern me one bit. Winning tournaments, or getting deep cashes, is all about properly balancing the best plays with the best leverage (low owned) plays. When the chalk hits, it’s usually because it was a good play. JEFF TEAGUE, is a prime example of this. On Wednesday, Teague was questionable all day while nothing was noted on Rose. Thirty to Forty minutes before lock, Teague was ruled IN and Rose was ruled out. Teague ended up being massive chalk (rightfully so) and you pretty much needed him on Wednesday night.
Damian Lillard, PG, 9,100 -> Elite play.
Jusuf NurkShow, C, 7,100 -> Solid GPP play. His price is getting up there but I love the matchup against the Wolves.
Evan Turner, SG/SF, 4,400 -> Solid Value.
Kings AT Grizzlies -7, 213.5
Kosta Koufos OUT
Omri Casspi, Ivan Rabb Probable, Dillon Brooks, Green, Parsons OUT
PACE (SAC); 3rd Pace Bump; -5.2 proj poss
PACE (MEM); 30th Pace Bump; +4.8 proj poss
Memphis is winning games by slowing the pace down and playing solid defense. The Kings pace has also been trending in the wrong direction. In my opinion, this team was playing well above expectations to start the season and my guess is that we see more losses than wins moving forward.
Mike Conley, PG, 7,000 -> Fine to Solid Play. I’ll most likely be paying up for Lillard though.
Marc Gasol, C, 7,400-> Solid play. I never get too excited about rostering Gasol, but he is in play as he typically thrives in easy matchups.
Shelvin Mack, PG, 4,200 -> Solid Value-> The Grizz are very limited at the guard position. Mack has been the guy in the second unit.
MarShon Brooks, SG, 3,300-> I like Brooks if we think this game blows out and he gets extra garbage time minutes.
Bulls AT Bucks -13.5, 224.5
Dunn, Lauri, Bobby, Denzel OUT
John Henson, DJ Wilson, Donte DiVincenzo OUT
PACE (CHI); 15th Pace Bump; +2.8 proj poss
PACE (MIL); 6th Pace Bump; -1.6 proj poss
The 4-11, short-handed Bulls, are massive underdogs against the Bucks tonight. This, in my opinion, is the “obvious” blowout spot, which could lead to lower ownership. However, despite their 4-11 record, the Bulls have managed to keep all but two games competitive (Warriors & Celtics).
Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF/PF, 11,500 -> Solid to Elite Play. Giannis would be the pivot off of Anthony Davis if paying up tonight. Even if this game turns into a blowout, I could see many scenarios where Giannis hits at least 5x. If this game stays close, he could very well put up one of his monster 70 DK pt games.
Zach LaVine, PG/SG, 7,800 -> Solid GPP Play -> Notes below.
Wendell Carter, C, 5,300 -> Solid GPP play ->
Giannis + Zach LaVine + Wendell Carter makes for a very interesting game stack. The assumption would be that this game stays relatively competitive on the heels of efficient performances from LaVine and Carter. From that point on, we are just stacking the highest usage and fantasy point producers from each side.
*Check back around 5pm central for updates*