Monday in the NBA brings us a brief reprieve from NCAA March Madness with an interesting landscape of injury news and late-season playoff implications. We’ve got two team stacks along with a number of good matchups on the schedule. Plug these plays into our NBA Lineup Optimizer and you'll be on your way to winning on FanDuel and DraftKings.
Team Stack Alerts
Chicago Bulls vs. New York Knicks
Denzel Valentine (FD: $6,300, DK: $5,700)
Projected Points: FD: 29.32, DK: 30.58
Cameron Payne (FD: $4,900, DK: $4,700)
Projected Points: FD: 31.66, DK: 31.11
Bobby Portis (FD: $7,000, DK: $7,100)
Projected Points: FD: 37.59, DK: 38.3
Congratulations Universe, you win. Recommending a Bulls’ stack to start this thing off feels like entering some kind of Bizarro World. And yet here we are late in the NBA season with teams in full tank mode. The Bulls are right on board with that strategy. After accidentally winning four of seven games, they got wise and decided to start sitting everyone (in addition to the guys they were already sitting). Zach Lavine, Kris Dunn, and Lauri Markkanen are all out again Monday giving us a clear sense of where the minutes will go in their stead considering we saw the same situation Saturday against the Cavaliers.
Valentine was the clear winner, posting an absurd 34 points, seven rebounds and six assists in 39 minutes. The scoring was an outlier considering he shot 73% from three, but the minutes are there and he’s had solid fantasy production when given the opportunity. He sees an 18% price increase on FanDuel and 9% on DraftKings, though the outsized opportunity makes up for it. Don’t expect the same kind of scoring, but he’s still a high-floor play against a bad Knicks defense.
Meanwhile, Cameron Payne drew the start for Kris Dunn and finally saw a substantial minutes increase after coming back from a prolonged injury timetable. He was excellent against Cleveland with 13 points and 10 assists while also getting up six threes. He’s arguably the best bargain on the slate considering his price barely moved slate-over-slate. The Knicks have been below average against opposing point guards all season and more minutes out of Emmanuel Mudiay and Trey Burke doesn’t help those defensive stats in the slightest.
Finally, Portis is something of a GPP upside play off the bench. Few other players in the NBA have his kind of per minute fantasy upside, with the minutes as the only question on a night-to-night basis. I like him much more if Noah Vonleh is ruled out again, but it’s tough to trust him at these prices in cash games. From a tournament perspective though, he’s firmly in play.
Golden State Warriors vs. San Antonio Spurs
Draymond Green (FD: $8,500, DK: $9,600)
Projected Points: FD: 45.01, DK: 46.33
Quinn Cook (FD: $5,200, DK: $4,500)
Projected Points: FD: 25.37, DK: 27.29
Nick Young, vs. Spurs (FD: $5,500, DK: $5,000)
Projected Points: FD: 26.83, DK: 28.16
The Warriors have been ravaged by injuries in the short term. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant are all set to miss anywhere from a few games to extended time with a variety of ailments. That’s left the team paper thin and opened up crazy opportunity for their deep bench guys. Green has seen a dramatic usage increase in the short term, averaging 17 shots per game over the last two, nearly double his season average. The minutes are rather stable, but there’s no denying the increased scoring opportunity with the Warriors big three off the court.
Meanwhile, Cook and Young are getting nearly all of the backcourt run. Both touched up against 40 minutes on Saturday against the Suns. Cook went nuts from the field, putting up 17 shots and finishing with 28 points, four rebounds, and four assists. Young went for 20 points and seven rebounds. Now, remember, that was against the Suns: the worst defensive team in the league. The Spurs are a different animal and we can’t expect the same kind of scoring volume. But I still see this as an opportunity for all three considering the Warriors need to fill the minutes and have no issues running the latter two into the ground waiting for the varsity squad to get healthy.
Point Guard/ Shooting Guard
Goran Dragic, vs. Nuggets (FD: $6,700, DK: $7,300)
Projected Points: FD: 35.84, DK: 36.96
It’s always quite difficult predetermining the Miami Heat rotations because Erik Spoelstra changes things on the fly as much as any coach in the game. It makes for, at times, nail-biting moments around the starter’s minutes because they aren’t necessarily set in stone. But Dragic ranks as one of the “safer” Heat plays night-to-night mostly because he rarely loses significant time to matchups. On Monday he faces a Nuggets team allowing 4% more scoring than league average to opposing point guards thanks in large part to Jamal Murray’s struggles on that end. They’ll also be without their best backcourt defender in Gary Harris. This makes for a solid time to buy on Dragic, especially on FanDuel.
Will Barton, vs. Heat (FD: $6,200, DK: $6,300)
Projected Points: FD: 33.53, DK: 34.06
Speaking of Gary Harris sitting, Will Barton grabbed the start on Saturday against Memphis (an inexplicable loss by the Nuggets) and saw 34 minutes. He played poorly, shooting 3-12 from the field while turning the ball over four times. But he’s in a bounce-back spot on Monday and could crest up towards 40 minutes if playing well. Mike Malone has had no problem running Barton damn near the whole game in the right spot, and last game’s court time seems like the floor. He’s something of a jack-of-all-trades fantasy-wise and hasn’t been afraid to put up shots with the first unit (12 per game, a career high). Miami isn’t a perfect matchup, but Barton’s prices don’t reflect the starter role.
LeBron James, vs. Bucks (FD: $12,700, DK: $11,700)
Projected Points: FD: 59.32, DK: 61.69
Giannis Antetokounmpo, vs. Cavaliers (FD: $12,000, DK: $10,800)
Projected Points: FD: 56.57, DK: 57.53
Here’s where the biggest lineup decisions will be made tonight. We get both James and Giannis in the same price tier and matched up against each other in a game that matters for East playoff seeding. The Cavs have been an M-E-S-S lately, suffering injury after injury, reverting back to their “no defense” status from earlier in the season and relying on LeBron to basically do every single thing on the court. Luckily, he’s been up to the task, averaging 29 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists over the last five games (Cavs are 2-3 in that stretch), with 25 or more shots in each of the last two. We are likely buying at peak pricing for James, but on a night with so much middle/low tier value cropping up, fitting his salary isn’t any kind of stretch.
The case for Giannis has as much to do with the young superstar’s talent as it does with the opponent. He’s been exceptional in the short term (and all season as well) putting up a 35 point, 11 rebound, seven assist line in the last two and getting back to his 40 minute-per-game averages that spoiled us early in the year. But he also gets the aforementioned Cavaliers who, even for their trade deadline moves, still rank third-to-last in defensive efficiency. They’ve allowed more than 105 opponent points in ten of the last eleven games. It’s a close call between these two titans, but I slightly prefer Lebron.
Jeremy Lamb, vs. 76ers (FD: $4,800, DK: $4,200)
Projected Points: FD: 29.27, DK: 29.34
With Nicolas Batum ruled out for Monday, Lamb stands ready to enter the starting unit and pick up significant shooting guard minutes. The last time Batum sat (back in December), Lamb played 33 minutes and got up a team-high 17 shots (including seven threes). His bench minutes push up against value on these prices, meaning when he figures to run with the starters he’s all but a lock for cash games. The only thing that makes it close is guys like Valentine, Young and some other value that’s crept in along the edges.
Power Forward/ Center
Julius Randle, vs. Pacers (FD: $7,400, DK: $8,300)
Projected Points: FD: 44.67, DK: 47.0
The Lakers continue to play late-season spoiler, firming up their rotations, running starters and giving potential playoff teams hell down the stretch. It’s been fun to watch and few other players have had the kind of on-court and fantasy impact that Randle’s displayed over the last month. He’s been downright fantastic, averaging 23 points and 10 rebounds in March and double-doubling in his last four games. Luke Walton’s distrust of Randle’s effort and post defense is a thing of the past. The FanDuel price is a borderline joke considering his recent play.
Bam Adebayo, vs. Nuggets (FD: $3,600, DK: $4,900)
Projected Points: FD: 24.08, DK: 23.68
My reservations on Dragic extend to Adebayo (and really the rest of the Heat) as well. Just because Bam is starting for Whiteside doesn’t necessarily mean he’s locked into seeing the lion’s share of center minutes. But he’s coming near the minimum on FanDuel against a Denver team allowing 5% more scoring than league average to opposing centers. The DraftKings’ price is a little closer considering the minutes' uncertainty, though the multi-position eligibility helps.
Two Notes: If Larry Nance is ruled out again, then Jeff Green becomes a borderline must play at his prices. The same can be said of Al Jefferson if Myles Turner is ruled out. Two things to keep an eye out for throughout the day.