This article last updated 10/17/2018 – Featured image from Google Images / Toronto Raptors Twitter
The short slate for night 1 was entertaining. The 76ers got owned by the Celtics again. Here’s what Joel Embiid had to say about the rivalry:
Ben Simmons had a great game. He had a double-double and was well on his way to the triple-double by halftime, but he finished 2 assists shy of the triple-double. He still stuffed the stat sheet with a final line of 19 points, 15 rebounds, 8 assists, 4 steals, and 2 blocks in 43 minutes. Embiid had a decent game, posting 23 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, and a steal in 37 minutes. The rest of the 76ers were pretty disappointing. Dario Saric played only 23 minutes and did next to nothing. Robert Covington and Markelle Fultz were both ineffective, and the 76ers didn’t get much help off of their bench.
The Celtics looked like the much better team, although Kyrie Irving looked as if he had some lingering arthritis after playing Uncle Drew this summer. Gordon Hayward‘s first game back from his horrifying injury last season was encouraging. Before the game, it was announced that Hayward would be on a 25-minute restriction, and he played 25 minutes. He posted 10 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 steals in that timeframe. It was not a fantasy lineup winning performance, but his midrange game looked good and he looked confident and comfortable running the floor. I think he’ll be a good weapon for us this season. Al Horford looked like he was going to have a monster game, but slowed down in the second half after the game was in hand. He only scored 9 points with 4 rebounds and 2 assists, but his fantasy day was saved with his 5 blocks. Jayson Tatum was the most impressive guy on the floor for me. His jump shot was silky smooth, he was breaking guys down with his dribble, and he was all over the court. His final line was 23 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, and a steal. Terry Rozier also provided a real spark off of the bench for the Celtics. He had a game-high +22 in the +/- category and gave the Celtics 11 points, 8 rebounds, an assist, and a block off the bench in 27 minutes.
In the second game of the night, it looked like the Warriors were going to run away with things at halftime. During the first half, the Thunder looked lethargic and out-of-sorts without Russell Westbrook on the floor. Paul George was playing hard defensively, and had 4 first-half steals, but couldn’t get into a rhythm offensively. Coach Donovan must have given a hell of a half-time speech, though, as they came out of the locker room with a fire under their butts. George hit his first few shots and assisted on a big three-pointed by Dennis Schroder, which gave the Thunder a 1-point lead early in the third quarter.
The game was exciting through the end, and I’m glad the NBA is back!
Let’s go ahead and dive into this huge Wednesday slate. I want to make a very important note here to get things started. I’m writing this article early, and the NBA is notorious for having late-breaking news that significantly impacts fantasy decisions. I have a busy day on Wednesday and am unlikely to be able to post many (if any) updates once this article is published. Please make sure to do your due diligence and keep an eye out for updates before finalizing your lineup decisions!
Also please note that research is based on Fanduel pricing and rules. Much of this information will easily translate for Draftkings, but it may not all be a direct 1:1 correlation.
The New York Knicks are going to provide one of the best value spots of the slate at PG with both Trey Burke and Frank Ntilikina listed as starters. Ntilikina will actually be starting the game at small forward, which comes as a surprise to many who expected rookie Kevin Knox to be the starter. Ntilikina’s minutes are questionable, but at a $3800 salary, it won’t take much for him to return great value. It’s likely that he will see 25+ minutes, and he’s a 0.71 fantasy-point-per-minute guy. Burke is an even better value, as he will see about 28 minutes and is a 1.07 FPPM player.
If you’re spending up a bit more at point guard, I like a pair of guys matched up against each other in D’Angelo Russell against Reggie Jackson. Both of these guys are reasonably priced at $6700 and $6100 respectively. Russell has a 31.1% average usage rate while Jackson is at 27.1%. Both guys should see 33+ minutes, and with their usage and production, both guys should be great point/$ plays.
At this position, the value is too good along with much better studs at other positions for me to want to pay all the way up to the top end guys. I will not have any PG that has a higher salary than Russell on any of my teams.
I am interested in rookie Trae Young, who will start for the Hawks Wednesday night. He was a scoring machine in college and should be an exciting player to follow this year. I think his name recognition has driven up his price, and $6100 is a bit more than I’m going to be willing to pay on opening night, I think, but I might squeeze him into a lineup or two just in case.
Other guys to look into if you’re looking for some more options:
- Jamal Murray
- Ricky Rubio
- Dennis Smith Jr
- Ish Smith
James Harden is going to be hard to ignore in a nationally-televised matchup against the Pelicans, in a game where his team has a slate-high implied total of 118. You’re going to pay for him, though, and there is a LOT of value throughout this slate, so $11,700 is a hard pill to swallow. I can see Harden scoring 55-60 fantasy points pretty easily, with a ceiling as high as anyone. I can’t talk you out of using him, but I don’t see him making my main lineup. I actually think Eric Gordon from the same team is more likely to 5-6x+ his salary, at only $5700 with a similar minutes projection. At the end of the day, though, the goal is to score the most fantasy points, not necessarily having the best salary-based value, so if you have the salary available to get to Harden, do it.
Wesley Matthews is not typically an exciting fantasy asset, but he’s attractive at $4700 against the Suns. This should be a pace up game for the Mavericks, and Matthews should be on the floor for 30 minutes or so. This game should be tightly contested, and I like Matthews to put up a good performance.
Other guys at SG that I like at this point include:
- Caris LeVert
- Buddy Hield
- Victor Oladipo
- Kent Bazemore
- Khris Middleton
- Donovan Mitchell
- Devin Booker
I want to play Giannis Antetokounmpo, and he is definitely the type of player who could have a 100 fantasy point type of game and break a slate, but I don’t think a game at Charlotte is when he has that type of game. $12,000 is too much, as I think he’ll score between 50-55 fantasy points, which would be a good performance, but not enough to justify the price tag when you’re trying to win a tournament.
The guy to spend up for at SF is Kawhi Leonard, who will be settling in with his new team in Toronto. Leonard offers $2400 in salary savings versus Giannis, coming in at $9600, and should have similar fantasy production. Leonard is the stud I’ll be most likely to spend up on Wednesday night.
The other guy at this position that really stands out to me above the rest is Taurean Prince against the Knicks. He was really starting to come into his own towards the end of last season, and I think this Hawks team has a lot going for it in a vulnerable Eastern Conference.
Other guys I’ll have some interest in include:
- Josh Richardson
- Tyreke Evans
- Andrew Wiggins
- Carmelo Anthony
- Kyle Anderson
- Will Barton
- Rudy Gay
- E’Twaun Moore
- Joe Ingles
I’m in the same position with Anthony Davis as I am with Giannis. They’re both superfreaks with slate-breaking upside, but $12,400 is too rich for my blood. I do like that Davis is going to be in a high-scoring game against the Rockets, but I just don’t think it’s likely he scores enough fantasy points to justify his price tag.
Similar to the pivot down from Giannis to Kawhi at SF, I like the pivot down from AD to LaMarcus Aldridge at PF. You’ll save $4200 in salary, dropping down to $8200, and you’ll probably give up ~10 fantasy points, but have a much better point-per-dollar return. I definitely think Aldridge is the best option in his price range compared to Kevin Love or Blake Griffin.
Kelly Olynyk looks like one of the best value options regardless of position on the slate. I actually like the entire Heat frontcourt against the Magic. Olynyk is a hustle guy who can score when needed but has a safe floor because he puts up rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. At $5400, I think he’s a real steal.
Here are some of my other PF targets:
- Ryan Anderson
- Aaron Gordon
- Ersan Ilyasova
- Thaddeus Young
- Derrick Favors
- Montrezl Harrell
- JaMychal Green
Nikola Jokic is the guy to spend big bucks on if you’re going with a stud at Center. He’s under $10k and has similar upside to guys like AD and Giannis. I don’t know that I’ll be able to get him onto my main team, because I don’t expect to have that kind of salary available for my center, but he’s a good value.
I mentioned the Heat frontcourt above with Olynyk, and I’m equally interested in Hassan Whiteside. There was a time when he was coming off the bench and being called Hassan Godside as he got like 3 fantasy points per minute. I watched this guy get a triple-double with 19 points, 17 rebounds, and 11 blocks. There are times when he seems uninterested or unmotivated. I have questions about his work ethic and his will to win, but $6900 is too low of a price for a guy with this kind of upside, especially when he’s going up against a poor defensive frontcourt. This seems like a pricing mistake to me, and Whiteside is going to be the Center I use the most. I am a bit worried about Bam Adebayo eating into Whiteside’s opportunity, but I think Whiteside sees 30-32 minutes and Adebayo sees 24-26. Adebayo is another guy who could provide nice value at $4100, but I think Whiteside is the guy to target here.
The other guy who I think may be priced wrong is Willy Hernangomez for the Hornets. He’s about a 1.3 FPPM guy and should see over 20 minutes on Wednesday, so at a $4000 salary, it would be hard for him NOT to go 6x or better.
Other guys that I’ll be looking at are:
- Enes Kanter
- Alex Len
- Jonas Valanciunas
- Marc Gasol
- Rudy Gobert
- Clint Capela
- Andre Drummond
- DeAndre Jordan
This is our first big slate of the NBA season. Hopefully this article helps you narrow down your player pool and makes building lineups more manageable. See you at the top of the leaderboards! Good luck!