1) Maxi Kleber, Dallas Mavericks
FanDuel: $4,400, PF DraftKings: $4,600, PF/C Yahoo: $15, PF FantasyDraft: $8,900, F/C
Kleber leading off the article is contingent on Kristaps Porzingis not playing tonight, which is what we are currently projecting to happen. Porzingis has sat out the last four back-to-backs the Mavs have had, with him last playing in the set on January 27-28.
The Mavs have usually been pretty early with their injury reporting this season (especially when it pertains to Luka or Zinger), so hopefully we have this information in enough time for those of you playing on sites without late swap (the game starts one hour after lock). That being said, information is always a little more difficult to come by for beat reporters on games that are the second night of a back-to-back.
Anyways, back to Kleber. Nothing I am going to tell you about him is going to knock your socks off (must…resist…urge…to look up…what that phrase really means). The minutes we project for him will be a bit higher than if Porzingis were available, and the rates for him will be a bit higher than if Porzingis were available (e.g. he goes from 0.82 fantasy points per minute to 0.88 fantasy points per minute when Porzingis is off the court). When you combine those two things though, it adds up to him being the best source of salary relief on the slate (well, on FD at least).
We have Kleber at 32 minutes in our initial run of projections, and that is with us also giving Willie Cauley-Stein some minutes. However, WCS missed last night’s game with an illness. If he is out again tonight, you could see a few more minutes slide Kleber’s way.
So even if you want to say that Kleber is somewhere in the middle of his season FPPM rate (0.82) and his FPPM rate without Porzingis (0.88) due to the matchup being poor (Denver plays at the second slowest pace in the league), he still comes in too cheap for cash games.
As I alluded to up above, he is definitely my favorite source of salary relief on FD, where the price tag is cheaper than it is on DK. But even on DK, he is still finding his way into all of my early builds. While we do have some extreme salary relief we will be considering on that site tonight, Kleber’s price tag is still key to our roster construction.
(Tournament pivot: Adding another body (Richaun Holmes) back into the frontcourt rotation for the Kings is a nightmare for those of us playing DFS. For example, in their last game, the Len/Holmes/Giles trio each played between 14-19 minutes, but it is the other frontcourt guy I am looking at as my pivot off of Kleber. And that guy is Nemanja Bjelica. He logged almost 30 minutes in that last game, and something around there is what you are hoping for again tonight to give him the best shot of grabbing a ceiling game. Bjelica gets you some cheap exposure to what should easily be the best game environment on the slate (NO -1; 235 o/u), and my guess is that his Projected Ownership is far lower than what we see out of Kleber (assuming Zinger sits of course).)
Thon Maker, Detroit Pistons
FanDuel: $4,000, C DraftKings: $3,100, PF/C Yahoo: $10, C FantasyDraft: $6,000, F/C
I gotta be honest, I never, ever feel good about telling someone that Thon freakin’ Maker is a must play in cash games. I am pretty sure I have tagged him a time or two in LineupHQ while on Crunch Time, as late-breaking news had put him squarely in the conversation on some slates in the past. But writing an actual blurb about him? Yikes!
The reason he is in the conversation on this slate is because the Pistons just flat out don’t have many bigs now. Obviously Drummond got traded to Cleveland a few weeks ago, but one of the guys they got back in that trade, John Henson, is now on the shelf too with an ankle sprain. As a result, the lone remaining bigs for the Pistons are Maker and Christian Wood. Sekou Doumbouya and Tony Snell will obviously play some four, but Dwane Casey is going to have to play Thon tonight whether he likes it or not (especially if the big fella on Philly makes his return).
So let’s just call this what it is: an extreme salary relief play that allows us to play other guys we want with more expensive price tags. Thon has been at 0.86 DK points per minute on the season. If you take a bunch of these relevant names off of the court in CourtIQ (e.g. Drummond, Griffin, Henson, Rose, Kennard), Thon ticks up to 0.92 DK points per minute (he probably lands somewhere in the middle of those two). If we are trying to get our 20-21 DK points and be on our merry way, we need him to get in that 23-24 minutes range.
Considering their frontcourt situation and the fact that he is coming off of a game in which he played 27.5 minutes, I think he will get the minutes we need. Whether he actually produces is a different story. There is a reason guys like him are priced this low. I will say though that he had a promising stretch of games before the All Star Break when he was actually getting a lot of minutes. If he does something like that tonight at $3,100, it is going to be difficult to cross the cash line if you don’t have him.
(Tournament pivot: Considering Thon is priced basically at the bare minimum, this seems like the perfect time to talk about Boban Marjanovic($3,000). The last game Porzingis missed (March 2nd against the Bulls), BOBAN found himself playing almost 22.5 minutes. To literally no one’s surprise, he dropped 34 DK points in that game. I mean, even people who have never watched a game of basketball in their life knew that he 10x’d that game. And keep in mind that Willie Cauley-Stein was listed as available for that game and still caught a DNP-CD. Are the minutes going to be there tonight for Boban? Is Zinger for sure going to be out? Will WCS play? If those guys are both out, you might even see me untag Thon and go with Boban as the better salary relief play. Just know that there is going to be uncertainty with his minutes regardless. When and why Carlisle deploys him is a pattern I have not figured out yet. But if we can get any kind of certainty that he will be in the rotation tonight, I think he might be worth the risk in cash games. The upside in tournaments at $3,000 goes without saying, so you really just need to play the ownership game in that format on Boban and Thon depending on how all of this news shakes out.)
De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento Kings
FanDuel: $7,800, PG DraftKings: $7,800, PG Yahoo: $32, PG FantasyDraft: $14,400, G
I feel like I have written plenty about Fox this season, but he is finding himself locking up one of my point guard slots on FD in every single build I make.
Obviously, that aforementioned game environment here is a big reason. While the Pelicans have been a better defensive team of late, their extremely fast pace easily trumps the strides they have made on defense (they are now up to second in pace in the league for the season). That is why you see the Kings with a team total (117-ish) that is about eight points higher than their season average.
Since Fox came back from his injury on December 17th, he has been at 1.24 FD points per minute according to CourtIQ. Of course, the minutes fluctuate a bit like I have talked about with him in the past here. Look no further than last game, when Walton removed him, Bogdanovic, Bjelica, and Giles three minutes into the third quarter since the Raptors opened the half on a big run. The end result was Fox only playing 30.5 minutes in what ultimately was a five-point game. Yet two games before that, Fox played over 36 minutes in a 17-point loss to the Sixers.
So ultimately, I’d say somewhere around 32-33 minutes would seem like an accurate projection. Combine that with his per-minute production (that should see a slight increase due to the pace), and we have ourselves a great point guard play on FD. How you treat him in tournaments is up to you, but you can’t argue with his consistency for cash game formats. In his last nine games, he has been anywhere between 34.4 FD points and 42.3 FD points. That will certainly do the trick for me, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him land on top of that range tonight in this game against New Orleans.
(Tournament pivot: After 18 minutes and 13.4 FD points last night in the nut matchup against Washington, it seems like the perfect time to come right back to Elfrid Payton in (what is a synonym for nut matchup?) a game against the Hawks. The ceiling here for Elf is undeniable at only $6,200, and I am extremely intrigued to see where ownership lands on him after that dud last night. In tournaments, we should be willing to embrace his volatility and hope that others let their recency bias work against them.)