Will James Harden play tonight? That’s the big question that will help us figure out this slate. Both Harden and Clint Capela are questionable for the Rockets on the road against the Trail Blazers. Harden, who injured his thigh last week, has missed two straight games. He hadn’t been shooting the ball well prior to getting hurt, but a return tonight in a great matchup gives us some hope. Capela could also return, though his impact has more to do with value than anything.
The other notable name to watch is Victor Oladipo, who is making his season debut for the Pacers against the Bulls. Dipo hasn’t played due to a torn quad he suffered last year. He’ll be restricted, but his return impacts the value of guys like Malcolm Brogdon, Domantas Sabonis and Aaron Holiday. We do have six games to pick from, so let’s get into some core plays at each position to help you craft a winning NBA DFS lineup.
Kyrie Irving, BKN vs. DET, $9,100 — So Irving isn’t on the injury report, though coach Kenny Atkinson wasn’t sure the point guard would play tonight vs. Detroit. Irving was close friends with Kobe Bryant, who tragically passed away over the weekend, so he play Sunday against the Knicks. If Irving returns, I think it will be an emotional performance, plus he scored 45 points and 65 fantasy points vs. the Pistons last Saturday. As far as GPP plays tonight, Irving stands out as potentially a top leverage option.
Other Options: Russell Westbrook, HOU @ POR, $10,400; Ja Morant, MEM @ NYK, $7,200
Zach LaVine, CHI @ IND, $8,600 — LaVine sort of rolled his ankle last game against the Spurs, but he’s probable and shouldn’t be held back tonight. The Bulls guard is making a push to be an All-Star reserve and I ultimately think he’ll get in considering All-Star Weekend is in Chicago. Narrative aside, LaVine is deserving, he’s 14th in the league in scoring at 25.2 points per game. He’s been relatively efficient scoring the ball compared to past seasons with the Bulls. The last time LaVine faced the Pacers, he dropped 43 points on 14-23 from the field and 8-13 from downtown, one of three 40-point outings in January so far.
Other Options: Donovan Mitchell, UTA @ SAS, $8,000; Jeremy Lamb, IND vs. CHI, $5,200
Marcus Morris, NYK vs. MEM, $6,500 — Morris has really been the only consistent player for the Knicks most of the season. Since returning from a five-game absence, Morris is averaging 20.1 points and 5.1 rebounds, while taking 7.4 3PA per game. He’s shooting at 34.6% from distance, which isn’t ideal, but the volume is there. This matchup is perfect for Morris to chuck, taking on the Grizzlies, who play at the 5th highest pace in the League. Memphis is also bottom five in terms of points allowed at 115.4 per game. Morris should go overlooked a bit and is a solid tournament option.
Other Options: Bojan Bogdanovic, UTA @ SAS, $6,000; TJ Warren, IND vs. CHI, $5,800
Carmelo Anthony, POR vs. HOU, $5,900 — Melo stands out a lot more in classic contests than in Showdown. We’ve got a bit of a revenge narrative with Anthony facing the Rockets, plus Houston may be down Harden and Capela. Even if both play, Melo’s in the best game environment on the slate — the O/U is at 237, highest of the six games. I think Anthony will get a ton of usage and looks given the high pace of the game and his price generally isn’t below $6K — this is the fifth time in January this is the case.
Other Options: Domantas Sabonis, IND vs. CHI, $9,400
Jakob Poeltl, SAS vs. UTA, $5,600 — If LaMarcus Aldridge remains sidelined for the Spurs, Poeltl will be a trendy cash play. It’s not an easy matchup going up against Rudy Gobert down low, but Poeltl’s price doesn’t line up with the type of production when LMA is out. On Monday we saw Poeltl play 36 minutes, posting 16 points and 13 rebounds for 40.25 FPTs at very high ownership. These types of numbers aren’t anything surprising though. Poeltl’s averaging 10.9 points, 11.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists while shooting 60.5% from the field per 36 minutes.
Other Options: Andre Drummond, DET @ BKN, $9,700; Steven Adams, OKC @ SAC, $5,500