It was a rough weekend in the NBA with multiple issues due to the pandemic, significant injuries and players taking time off for personal reasons. All that turmoil has resulted in changes to the rotation for almost every team with some teams stretched extremely thin. The NBA plans to continue to press on, though, and there’s a nice eight-game fantasy basketball slate lined up for Monday.
With all the question marks, make sure to follow @dklive on Twitter and download the DK Live app to stay up-to-the-minute with all the latest news leading up to tipoff. Entries will lock at 7:00 p.m., when four of the eight games get started. The others fill in throughout the night with a pair of tipoffs out West closing out the evening at 10:00 p.m. Of the 16 teams in action, only the New York Knicks and Toronto Raptors are playing for the second day in a row, while the Cleveland Cavaliers, Indiana Pacers and Philadelphia 76ers have to be strategic in their workload management since they turn around and play again on Tuesday.
As you build your lineups for this 16-team slate, check out the four players below, who I think are poised to step up and outproduce their affordable salaries with big games to start the workweek.
PG Tyrese Maxey, Philadelphia 76ers at Atlanta Hawks, $4,700
The 76ers are still expected to be extremely short-handed when they visit the Hawks on Monday night even though they will have more than the seven players they were forced to play with on Saturday against Denver. Maxey stepped up in that contest and carried the team, as the first-round pick from Kentucky had 39 points, seven rebounds, six assists, two steals and 61.25 DKFP. He was actually coming off his best performance of his rookie season with 27.75 DKFP in his previous game on Thursday in Brooklyn and is quickly establishing himself as a nice part of the Sixers’ future.
Whatever his long-term outlook is, Maxey should at least stay very busy in the short-term. The 76ers already ruled out Ben Simmons (knee) for this game in addition to Shake Milton, Seth Curry, Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle and Vincent Poirier, who are all out due to health protocols after Curry reportedly tested positive for COVID-19. Joel Embiid ($9,800) and Mike Scott ($3,000) are expected to return to give the Sixers a little more depth, but Maxey should still carry the load in the backcourt. He gets a good matchup to do it in as well since the Hawks have given up more DKFP per game to PGs than any other team in the NBA so far this season.
C Moritz Wagner, Washington Wizards vs. Phoenix Suns, $3,600
The Wizards won’t have Russell Westbrook (quad) for this matchup with the Suns, but they will likely get Bradley Beal ($9,900) back, meaning Raul Neto ($4,600) and Ish Smith ($4,400) should get Russ’ minutes but not necessarily his production. Instead of looking in the backcourt, I’m actually looking to Washington’s frontcourt for some value in this matchup after Washington lost starting center Thomas Bryant (knee) for the season on Saturday. In that game against the Heat, Wagner played a season-high 20 minutes and hit a pair of 3-pointers on his way to 26.25 DKFP on 13 points, seven rebounds, a steal and an assist before fouling out.
Moe is expected to share time at center with Robin Lopez ($4,100), but he has been the more fantasy-friendly option of the two, especially since RoLo hasn’t even been grabbing many rebounds in his time this season. Wagner had a very nice stretch at the beginning of last season with the Wizards but then injury and a limited role forced him back to bargain status. If he gets more opportunities and can keep his foul issues under control, he could be poised for a bit of a breakout in his third season out of Michigan.
PF James Johnson, Dallas Mavericks vs. New Orleans Pelicans , $4,100
The Mavericks have been another team that has been hit hard by shortages due to players testing positive for COVID-19 and that could open the door for more time for James Johnson. Maxi Kleber ($4,900) is technically still officially questionable despite reports on Sunday that he tested positive. Whether he is in or out, Dorian Finney-Smith, Josh Richardson and Jalen Brunson are all out for this matchup due to another situation. With those three absent and Kleber playing, Johnson logged 26 minutes on Saturday against the Magic and produced 28.25 DKFP on 12 points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block. The veteran has shown he can stuff the stat sheet when given extra run, and he should be able to get enough minutes to offer a good return even if Kristaps Porzingis ($8,200; knee, questionable) is ready to make his season debut. Porzingis would likely be on a minutes limit if available, so Johnson should still get a chance to bring his toughness and across-the-box-score production to a larger role in what should be a fun game against the Pelicans. He is averaging 1.0 DKFP per minute this season and has hit that mark in six of his past seven contests.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Tonight’s Mavericks-Pelicans game has been postponed because the Mavericks don’t have eight eligible players.
PG/SG De’Anthony Melton, Memphis Grizzlies at Cleveland Cavaliers, $3,800
The Grizzlies have been getting solid production from Melton, who could continue to work his way into the backcourt mix as the team continues to adjust to the giant loss of Ja Morant (ankle). Tyus Jones ($6,000) has been filling in admirably, but Melton and rookie Desmond Bane ($3,700) have also shown intriguing upside. Melton missed four games due to health protocols but has been working his way back into action over the past three games.
On Thursday, Melton had a season-high 14 points to go with five rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block in 22 minutes for 25.75 DKFP. He’s had over 18 DKFP in each of his three games back with at least 1.3 DKFP per minute in each of those contests. The Cavaliers come into this contest short-handed in the backcourt with Darius Garland (shoulder), Danté Exum (calf) and Matthew Dellavedova (concussion) all ruled out and Collin Sexton ($6,800; ankle, questionable) having missed each of the past two games. While Damyean Dotson ($4,900) has filled in nicely, the workload has been draining and could allow the Grizzlies to attack from the backcourt, resulting in a big game from Melton.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jetsfan196) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.
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