The NBA is officially back and bringing us slates like never before. Monday’s four-gamer tips off at 1:30 p.m. ET with four Game 4s, continuing with games tipping off all the way through the rest of the evening.
Worth Paying Up For: LeBron James, LAL vs. POR ($10,800)
Seeing these slates for a fourth time is quite the grind. Not a ton changes, especially at the top. If you remove the Game 2 blowout in which LeBron played just 27 minutes, he has averaged over 70 DKFP in the other two games of this series. Look for the Lakers to keep their foot on the gas. I have LeBron as the top overall play on this slate.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Goran Dragic, MIA vs. IND ($6,500)
Dragic has seen his salary skyrocket in the postseason after Miami basically moved him from sixth-man to a go-to starter. He’s averaging 38.9 DKFP in 34 minutes per game during this series and since he began the postseason at just $4,400, his salary still hasn’t caught up.
Malcolm Brogdon ($7,500) is also priced up on the other side of the matchup with Dragic, but he put forward a huge 68.75 DKFP effort in Game 3. If you want to go a more balanced approach, a game stack with Dragic and Brogdon has appeal but could also be a bit chalky.
Worth Paying Up For: James Harden, HOU vs. OKC ($11,700)
Harden’s been the exact same play for me on all four slates so far. You probably can’t afford to fade him in cash but I have no interest in tournaments. Houston’s shooters have been knocking down their shots in this series to do the damage and Harden has just been putting together average games. Harden is averaging just 56.6 DKFP in this series, losing a lot of that appeal to roster him.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Eric Gordon, HOU vs. OKC ($6,000)
Fading Harden opens up a more balanced build and Gordon’s been the more consistent point-per-dollar play in this series. The absence of Russell Westbrook (quad) has opened up a role for Gordon as the second scorer and we kind of forgot about him coming back from an ankle injury during the seeding round. Gordon has scored at least 30 DKFP in each game this series, and that’s while shooting a combined 2-for-20 from downtown in the past two games. Get a couple of those down and he’ll be set for a big game. Forward eligibility also helps fit him in almost any build.
SG is always just about rostering or fading Harden. If you play him, you’ll need to look for value at most other positions. If you fade, you can balance out more with Gordon or a cheaper option.
Worth Paying Up For: Jimmy Butler, MIA vs. IND ($8,100)
Butler is another SG stud to target with SG/SF eligibility like Gordon. Butler has been torching the Pacers in this series, including a pair of 48-DKFP games already. We know he’s going to play big minutes, get to the free-throw line and put up other numbers even if he’s not scoring well. He’s one of the safer plays on this slate.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Luguentz Dort, OKC vs. HOU ($4,000)
It feels like the Thunder might have found their “Harden stopper.” Dort has done a better job than anybody else at limiting Harden’s production this season, which isn’t worth any fantasy points but does mean he’s going to play a lot of minutes. Dort played 36 minutes in the Game 3 win, scoring 25.5 DKFP despite missing all six of his attempts from downtown. A better shooting night in the same role has easy 30-DKFP upside.
LeBron and Butler are two of my favorite stud plays on this slate, and both G/F eligible. It makes for a pretty flexible lineup build and plays like Gordon and Dort fill in the cracks to get some value.
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Worth Paying Up For: Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL vs. ORL ($11,100)
Giannis has been dominant in this series against the Magic and is probably the safest cash play on this slate. He’s going to get his but what worries me is his upside. As long as he keeps playing minutes in the low 30s, it’s tough to see him breaking 70 DKFP.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Danuel House Jr., HOU vs. OKC ($5,000)
House has now put up over 30 DKFP in back-to-back games and, more importantly, played at least 38 minutes in each of those games. It seems like House is locked into a pretty big role, which is tough to pass up at this price.
Like SG, PF just comes down to the decision to roster or fade Giannis. I prefer LeBron for tournaments but Giannis has to be the cash play. Getting LeBron and Giannis into the same lineup probably means fading someone like Butler and going all value from there down.
Worth Paying Up For: Anthony Davis, LAL vs. POR ($10,500)
AD had one of his worst halves of the season in Game 3 but came out with a huge second half against the Blazers. He finished with over 65 DKFP but if he can play like that for an entire game, he’ll have a slate-breaking performance at some point in this series.
Best Bang For Your Buck: Hassan Whiteside, POR vs. LAL ($4,800)
Portland appears to have finally caved and is starting both centers. Whiteside has scored at least 20 DKFP in each game this series, so he’s a pretty safe play but we know there’s a ton of upside if he goes off or has to play more with any teammate in foul trouble.
So while I did write up AD at center, one piece of advice I’ll give is to actually play him at forward. Center is the deepest position on the slate with the most value plays, so you might want to use the center and utility positions on doubling-down on center-only eligible plays.
OUT (Opt-out players not included)
Russell Westbrook (quad)
Domantas Sabonis (foot)
Jonathan Isaac (knee)
Michael Carter-Williams (foot)
Zach Collins (ankle)
Aaron Gordon (hamstring)
Steven Adams (knee)
Jae Crowder (ankle)
Andre Iguodala (hip)
Derrick Jones Jr. (ankle)
Rajon Rondo (hip)
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