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NBA Core plays 1/1/20


FYI, the main slates vary across the industry tonight. DraftKings and FantasyDraft are doing a four-game slate starting at 6:00 PM EST, while FanDuel and Yahoo are doing a three-game slate starting at 7:30 PM EST.

1a) Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers

FanDuel: $10,800, PF DraftKings: $9,900, PF/C Yahoo: $53, PF FantasyDraft: $18,200, F/C

1b) LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers

FanDuel: $11,000, SF DraftKings: $10,300, PG/SF Yahoo: $53, PG FantasyDraft: $18,100, F/C

Let’s talk about these two cats and which sites we are prioritizing them. I will preface this by saying that they are cash viable on all sites today.

Well I guess for starters, we should touch on the Lakers matchup in general. They have a 118.8 team total, which is 6.3 points higher than their season average. A lot of that has to do with the fact that the Suns, a team that started out the season red hot defensively, have slipped down to 19th in defensive rating and 21st in overall team defensive efficiency. They also play at the 10th fastest pace in the league, which is a tick up for the Lakers (18th). And we know that there are few teams in the league, if any, that have their fantasy production more concentrated than the Lakers do with the King and the Brow.

I will start with Davis, who draws the more favorable micro matchup. The Suns rank all the way down at 26th in defensive efficiency against opposing power forwards, a position that Davis plays approximately 64% of the time according to Basketball Reference. For the season, AD has gotten 1.51 FD / 1.48 DK points per minute. For a guy who has the reputation of being a volatile fantasy commodity because of his injury history, he has been remarkably consistent in his first stint with the Lakers.

LeBron is tougher to pigeon hole in terms of “defensive efficiency versus position”, so I like relying on our Defense vs. Archetype tool for him. And sure enough, he checks in with the best DK value there and third best FD value. In terms of fantasy production, LeBron has been at 1.49 FD / 1.59 DK points per minute this season.

I’m sure you see there that AD is better on FD (plus three for blocks and steals) and LeBron is far better on DK (docked less for turnovers; triple-double bonus much more attainable for him), which also just so happens to be the sites I prefer them on. AD is only $200 cheaper than LeBron on FD and at a far thinner position. LeBron is only $400 more than AD on DK, a site that he far outperforms AD on a per-minute basis (MPE on that site makes the positions matter less too).

Is there some blowout risk here in that maybe these guys don’t see the 35 minutes they are accustomed to in competitive games? Of course. But with how bad LA’s bench is, it is far less likely that you see them pull away without one or both of these guys doing the damage. Compare that to the situation that Milwaukee has against the Iowa Tim-, I mean the Minnesota Timberwolves, and you could easily see them winning by 40 without Giannis having to do much.

So to recap, I will be tagging AD on FD/Y (Yahoo’s scoring is similar to FD) and LeBron on DK/FDRFT. And to reiterate, yes, these guys are cash viable on the sites in which they are not tagged.

(Tournament pivot: Devin Booker is a guy to like in a variety of different ways tonight. He is viable in cash games, he can be a tournament pivot off of these high-end Lakers guys, and you’d probably want him in any PHO/LAL game stacks. He is coming off of two straight 50-burgers yet is still priced below $7,500 on both FD and DK. The minutes for the main Suns guys have been getting cranked up of late, with Booker specifically playing 37.5, 41, and 38 in his last three. At these upper mid tier price tags and a ceiling that needs no explanation based on his last two games, Booker is one of the better tournament plays on the slate tonight.)


The rest of the plays are better discussed by site, as once again pricing varies dramatically across the industry (not to mention there are different sized slates).

On FD, we see a bunch of Minnesota guys underpriced, with KAT (out), Wiggins (out), and Teague (doubtful) not playing. And we still have Treveon Grahamand Noah Vonleh listed as questionable too. Considering they are +17.5 on the road against the Bucks, we are going to want to target the guys that are as close to blowout proof as possible.

The first guy I am looking at is Jarrett Culver at only $4,100. On the season, he has posted a 20% usage rate. But in this same situation on Monday, he saw that climb to 24%. With the likelihood that his assist rate bumps up a little too, we should feel pretty good about Culver in cash games considering he has been at 0.82 FD points per minute on the season. They shouldn’t be shy about giving this guy plenty of run tonight considering they just used the sixth pick on him. As it stands now, we have him projected to start and to play 29 minutes.

The next guy to look at for the Wolves is Shabazz Napier at $4,800. Napier posted monster rates on Monday with all of these guys out (well, Teague was in and out): 29.6% usage rate and 41.7% assist rate. Compare that to his season numbers of 22.1% (usage) and 29.8% (assist), which has led to 0.96 FD points per minute, and the interest should be obvious here as well. Gorgui Dieng, Robert Covington, and I suppose Kelan Martin are cash game viable for the T-Wolves as well, but figuring out how much exposure you want to this team in cash games will be a tricky proposition.

Unfortunately, the price tags for these guys aren’t nearly as friendly on DK, so I will be looking elsewhere for my next Core Play. Which brings me to Nikola Vucevic, as the Magic take on the Wizards in a game that is not on the FanDuel or Yahoo main slate.

I will have interest in Vuc here regardless of whether or not Aaron Gordon suits up, but it is obviously the matchup that stands out here. How are these for some stats when it comes to wanting to take players against the Wizards?

Dead last in defensive rating. Dead last in overall team defensive efficiency. 26th in defensive efficiency against opposing centers. Worst rebound percentage in the league. Third fastest team in the league.

Yes please, Vuc!

The cheap plays on DK aren’t nearly as appealing, so we might have to take on some thinner Minnesota plays or someone like Donte DiVincenzo. As it stands now, the DK slate overall is priced rather efficiently, so roster construction isn’t exactly going to be easy.

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