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Injuries to Monitor
We have several teams on a back-to-back, and tons of injury news still to drop for Monday night’s slate. Boston was a strong candidate to rest some guys after playing on Sunday, and we received that news with them ruling out both Marcus Smart and Robert Williams. Joel Embiid was also ruled out for the 76ers. As of 3:30, we are still awaiting news on all of LeBron James, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kyle Kuzma, Karl-Anthony Towns, Devonte’ Graham and Goran Dragic. This slate could get completely flipped on its head, and we are 100% likely to get more value opening up as the day goes on.
Guard is a clear spend-up spot for me with the Embiid news, locking in James Harden as my favorite play on the slate. Since joining the 76ers, Harden is over 1.6 fantasy points per minute with Embiid off the floor. He also leads the team in usage rate, 38%, in that sample, with Tobias Harris and Tyrese Maxey at 26% and 25% respectively. There are a number of other strong spend-ups as well, such as Luka Doncic and Darius Garland. We know the story with Doncic, but Garland has been on a tear for the Cavs in recent games. He’s topped 40+ DK points in each of his last six games, and his usage rate is over 30% over the last 10. Keep in mind, that’s a 3% increase from his season average. Right now, Garland is projecting for one of the higher-owned plays on the slate, but I would be prioritizing Harden first and foremost.
We also have some quality value here in Derrick White. White gets a boost with Marcus Smart sitting, he started and topped 35 minutes in the last game that Smart missed. He has point per minute ability and is one of the better value plays on the slate as of now.
UPDATE: JAMES HARDEN HAS BEEN RULED OUT — WE CA REPLACE HIM WITH TYRESE MAXEY AS A MUST PLAY.
Forward is a spot where I’m hoping some more value opens up, because I’m not loving what I’m seeing based off early OWN% projections. DeMar DeRozan is projecting as chalk in a revenge spot against this former team, but we just don’t have enough quality value for me to feel comfortable forcing him into my lineup with Harden as of right now. Then we have some cheaper guys like Grant Williams, who gets a boost with no Robert Williams. Cade Cunningham is one of my personal targets at this position, but his salary is close enough to DeRo’s that he could end up a touch lower-owned. I’ve written him up a ton recently as his drives per game numbers have been ballooning, and Portland has been pretty much the worst defense in the NBA over the last two weeks.
My favorite tournament build would be to grab the Cavs guys — Mobley + Garland — and fit them in around LeBron James for correlation. James could rest here which would make Russell Westbrook a must play, but when he has played in Cleveland he has put up major numbers. He’s on a mission to lead the league in scoring this year, and we could see a vintage LeBron performance tonight at lower ownership in DFS.
Center has no standout for me as of now, with Marvin Bagley projecting as the highest owned player. Bagley sees over a 3% usage spike with Jerami Grant off the floor, and with Kelly Olynyk looking unlikely to play, the minutes should be there. I’m comfortable with him in all formats if that’s the case, but he isn’t exactly cheap so he wouldn’t be a must in tournaments for me. Someone I personally really like, is Evan Mobley against the Lakers. Mobley continues to cement himself as the ROY, and has seen a ton more offensive work with Jarrett Allen out for the Cavs. He’s top-four in the NBA in paint touches per game since Allen went down, and the Lakers interior defense has been crumbling. Over the last six games, they’re bottom-six in opponent points in the paint per game. This is a really strong spot for a Mobley ceiling game and the minutes should be there.
We also have DeAndre Jordan at just $3,300, who should be needed for bigger minutes with Embiid out. If he’s starting, his ownership will skyrocket.
Main Lineup Musts: Derrick White, James Harden, Marvin Bagley, DeAndre Jordan (if starting)
Written by Ben Hossler (Follow @BenHossler on Twitter)