1) Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
FanDuel: $9,300, C DraftKings: $9,900, C Yahoo: $49, C
My very immediate takeaway from Monday’s game is that Embiid played 37 minutes. That is absolutely huge for someone who is as good as he is on a per-minute basis. If you recall from our discussion about him on Monday, I had noted that he was at 1.52 FD points per minute on the season and 1.59 FD points per minute without Simmons.
The next thing I noticed is that Embiid’s usage rate was not nearly where we would have expected it to be (especially without Simmons) on Monday. Prior to the hiatus, his usage rate was at 36.8% in 531 minutes without Simmons on the court. On Monday though? 29.9%.
We could sit here and argue all day whether that was due to Embiid himself, Brett Brown, or Brad Stevens, but I’d be shocked if it is anywhere near that low in Game 2. The Sixers just can’t win this series if Embiid doesn’t dominate (on both ends of the floor, in fact). And while I don’t always put a lot of stock into what is said by coaches and players in the media, it is hard to read these quotes and think he only gets 15 shots again tonight.
Here is the funny part though. He still got 50.7 FD / 53 DK points despite having that ‘low’ of a usage rate! That is what happens when you get a fantasy producer at his level that is playing so many more minutes than normal. Remember, we are talking about a guy here who only averaged 29.5 minutes per game in the regular season.
On the two main sites, the price tags went opposite directions from what they were on Monday. On FD, it came up $800, but it is still pretty drastically too cheap for a player of his caliber expected to play this many minutes. On DK, it came down $400 to the point he is now below $10,000.
While I will understand there are plenty out there who might want to prioritize other players based on the FPTS column from Monday’s game (Donovan Mitchellanybody!), I plan on starting my cash game builds with The Process. In my opinion, he is flat out too cheap if he is going to play upper 30’s minutes.
(Tournament pivot: The straight-line pivot here is pretty obviously going to be Nikola Jokic, as he is the same price as Embiid on FD and just $200 cheaper on DK. It feels like these two guys have been on every slate together since the bubble started, and making the right decision between them has carried a lot of weight on previous slates since they are always priced in the same tier and are the same position. You should feel comfortable always targeting the lower owned of the two in tournaments, and I feel pretty confident in saying that will be Jokic today. If you want someone a little cheaper, I prefer Rudy Gobert ($7,800) on FD and Kristaps Porzingis ($8,900) on DK.)
Jordan Clarkson, Utah Jazz
FanDuel: $5,100, SG DraftKings: $4,700, PG/SG Yahoo: $17, SG
I hate to be a broken record here, but I still think this price tag for Clarkson on DK is too cheap even though it increased by $900 from Monday’s game.
The minutes in that game were really good to see, as he got up to 34 in regulation (39 due to the overtime). I was expecting 32ish, so that was extremely promising. The fact of the matter is that, with Conley and Bojan out, Clarkson is pretty clearly one of Utah’s five best players available (Mitchell, Gobert, Jingles, Royce being the other four). For all of his warts, the guy plays hard and can put the ball in the bucket. So even though he will likely stay in his reserve role in Game 2, he is in line for plenty of minutes just like in Game 1.
Considering the heater Mitchell went on in that game, Clarkson’s usage rate was lower than expected. That being said, Mitchell had a 43.9% usage rate on Monday, so everyone’s was lower than expected! The larger sample shows that Clarkson is at a 27.3% usage rate in 404 minutes without Conley and Bojan on the court this season, so I expect it to come back up at least a little bit in today’s game (it was at 21.1% on Monday). Yes, Mitchell is going to shoulder a lot of the load since it is the playoffs, but it’d be kind of foolish to expect him to use that many possessions again today.
At around a fantasy point per minute and another 32-34 minutes, I will go back to the Clarkson well once again. I certainly wish he was $3,800 like he was last game, but there aren’t exactly many salary relief plays you are going to feel good about on this slate. So, I might as well hop back on this Clarkson roller coaster and get prepared for another uncomfortable ride.
(Tournament pivot: I really like Seth Curry as the tournament pivot on DK at just $3,600. He got up to 33 minutes in that game on Monday. And while some of that can be attributed to Porzingis getting the boot in the second half, I also think they are going to need his shooting out there and just hope they can survive his defensive limitations. A hot shooting game and a handful of other ancillary fantasy stats could lead to him getting 30+ DK points, and we’d absolutely take that on a four-game slate that is lacking any standout cheap plays. Curry is even on my radar for cash games too.)
Kemba Walker, Boston Celtics
FanDuel: $6,900, PG DraftKings: $6,800, PG Yahoo: $22, PG
After Jamal Murray put up 55.5 FD points on Monday—and is only $600 more expensive than Kemba—I am guessing most will poo-poo this call. And while you can obviously pair Murray with Kemba if you so choose, I am prioritizing Kemba first.
(Note: While Murray did see increased usage and assist rates in Game 1, his shooting efficiency in that game was pretty absurd. His true shooting percentage this season was at 55.9%, and it was all the way up at 82.7% in that game. And he also got an extra five minutes due to the overtime. So while he is absolutely viable in cash games at a thin point guard position, don’t go expecting another 55 FD points!)
While none of the Celtics see huge per-minute bumps without Gordon Hayward(who is out for several weeks due to that ankle injury), Kemba sees the highest amongst the main Celtics players (tied with Brown at roughly +0.04 FD according to CourtIQ). The main reason to like Kemba today is because the price tag hasn’t fully recovered from when he was on all of those minutes limits at the start of the seeding games. If you recall, he was between $4,500-$5,500 on FD for a lot of those games when he was on a very strict minutes limit, and it is slowly crawling back up to the normal levels we saw during the regular season (often $7,500-$7,900 range or so).
Now though, that minutes limit is gone and the Celtics just lost a key player. Kemba was right around 34.75 minutes in Monday’s game, so I think a minutes projection of 35-36 is appropriate for this one. So even if we are conservative and put him around 1.1 FD points per minute (1.14 in the CourtIQ query linked above), $6,900 is clearly too cheap for mid 30’s minutes.
I certainly understand if there is some skepticism around rostering Kemba, especially with that Murray game log staring you directly in the face for not that much more salary. Obviously, you are free to roster whoever you want. But I am just here to tell you who I would be playing and the reasons why, and my FD builds are leading me towards Kemba being my first point guard in on FD.
(Tournament pivot: It is tough to make an official tournament pivot call without knowing Projected Ownership. If Monday’s game hadn’t happened, I’d want it to be Jamal Murray because he is going to fall behind guys like Kemba and Kyle Lowry in projection systems. But my guess is that Murray’s monster performance on Monday is going to be fresh in everyone’s head, which could lead to inflated ownership. So if Projected Ownership does in fact look enticingly low for Murray, he’d definitely be my guy. But if you aren’t looking at that Lowry/Murray/Kemba trio, you are forced to look cheap. The next closest guy in salary to those three is $4,400 (Curry). I think I will go with Monte Morris as the guy to target in large-field GPP’s (I probably like Curry more, for the record, but I wrote about him above), as I just don’t think many will flock to him despite a good fantasy performance on Monday. It was telling that Malone trusted him to close in that game, even though you can make the argument it was partly due to Craig fouling out (Dozier was also closing in OT though). Regardless, the guy is only $3,900 and absolutely no one is going to roster him on this slate. There are paths to him getting 30 FD points, and I’d be thrilled with that at a rather thin position. If your other (upgraded) positions crush, it could vault you up the leaderboard in a big way.)