Yahoo’s seven-game slate on Monday is a little thin in terms of elite talent, as Anthony Davis ($58) is the only player eclipsing the $50 mark. This means we’ll be able to construct our lineups with a wealth of mid-tier talent and can reach for one or two pricey players without significant impairment to our budget. The list of teams currently on the tail end of back-to-backs is also light, as Charlotte continues a road trip in the West and Portland continues an East coast road stint.
Your big question Monday is whether or not to spend up on Davis. If you haven’t been watching the Jazz lately, their stingy defense has been conspicuously absent, and they have been giving up big stat lines to centers in recent weeks. From a GPP perspective, fading Davis gives you a lot more flexibility and also will give you openings for picks that have lower ownership, but I am finding it hard to get away from him in a cash lineup. While Nikola Mirotic ($22) won’t get DeMarcus Cousins-like numbers, early indications point to him being a decent fit in the Pelicans' offense, and I’d have no problem stacking the two of them against the Jazz.
Two other teams that I am looking to load up on are the Heat and the Nuggets. The Heat are playing a Magic squad that has been among the worst in the league defensively over the past two weeks. This makes Goran Dragic ($27) a great play, and Justise Winslow ($10) also comes very cheap, as he’ll likely start over Tyler Johnson once again. The spot to monitor is at center with Hassan Whiteside ($32). If he doesn’t go, you should take advantage and pivot to Bam Adebayo ($14). Also, I like Nuggets everywhere Monday, as they’re facing a Hornets team that’s playing their third game in four nights, while the Nuggets have been relaxing during a three-game home stand. Based on Charlotte’s defensive strengths and weaknesses, I think Jamal Murray ($26) and Will Barton ($25) are the best targets, but I think there’s promise all over the Nuggets roster here.
In addition to who I’ve targeted above, I’ll now highlight two players to target at guard, forward and center with an additional list at each position that holds equal weight in my predictions. When possible, I will provide one low-salary option for each spot. Additionally, one player to fade at each position will be provided.
Damian Lillard, POR at DET ($41): Lillard has put up a couple of clunkers in the past two weeks, but it’s hard to fade this kind of talent at $41. Despite Lillard’s potential back-to-back fatigue, Ish Smith and Reggie Bullock won’t offer much resistance, and Avery Bradley’s defensive skills will be sorely missed in Detroit. I think he is a very safe bet for your cash lineups.
Avery Bradley, LAC vs. DAL ($15): Speaking of Bradley – welcome to the LA Clippers! He debuted with 29 YFP and I expect him to crank things up in one of those rare games where the Clippers are actually favored. I’ll cheat a bit here and tell you that I also like stacking a couple of Clippers tonight, as I think Tobias Harris ($25) and DeAndre Jordan ($28) will fare well. Lou Williams, however, has become a bit cost-prohibitive at $40, and though I think he’ll have a decent game, the acquisition of Bradley will hurt Williams’ value a bit going forward.
Other guards to consider: Bradley Beal, WAS at IND ($41); Jrue Holiday, NO vs. UTA ($36); Zach LaVine, CHI at SAC ($21); Tomas Satoransky, WAS at IND ($13)
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GUARD TO AVOID
Elfrid Payton, ORL at MIA ($28): The Magic are banged up at multiple positions and though Payton has played well in two of three matchups against the Heat this season, he’s in a bit of a shooting slump currently and that’s a bad sign heading into a game where the Magic will likely be throwing up a lot of shots as they struggle to keep pace.
Otto Porter, WAS at IND ($28): Porter has definitely helped pick up the slack for John Wall (knee), and he has averaged 20.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 4.7 assists over the past week. If he even hits these marks he’ll still crush value at this price, but I expect a slightly fuller stat line.
Bobby Portis, CHI at SAC ($16): There’s all this talk about Paul Zipser starting and what a great value he is at $10, but I don’t see it, sorry. I think Portis is by far the better player and I’ll take him against the faltering Kings on or off the bench at tipoff. 30 YFP is really all he needs to justify his price tag.
Other forwards to consider: Blake Griffin, DET vs. WAS ($43); Josh Richardson, MIA vs. ORL ($26); Trey Lyles, DEN vs. CHA ($19)
FORWARD TO AVOID
Al-Farouq Aminu, POR at DET ($18): Aminu is a name you often see with a higher ownership percentage than you might expect. I suppose this is due to a propensity to target Portland when they have a good matchup, but he becomes an absolute bust if he doesn’t get enough reboundsm and he'll be facing a one-two punch of Griffin and Andre Drummond crashing the boards in Detroit. This is an easy fade.
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As previously noted, AD is the man here. Adebayo becomes a great value if Whiteside is out.
Dwight Howard ($44) / Nikola Jokic ($45), CHA at DEN: This is a tough call, but I lean towards Jokic here with Howard in the midst of a brutal road trip. Still, you can’t ignore the 20-rebound game Howard had against Jokic in October. I already felt that Jokic was the weakest Nugget to endorse in this matchup, so I leave this recommendation a bit conflicted about the outcome. It’s situations like these that will likely force me to click on Davis.
DeAndre Jordan, LAC vs. DAL ($28): I think the insertion of Harris is making everyone look better, and even after a meager three-point outing Saturday, Jordan should grab a lot of boards and meet value.
Other centers to consider: Andre Drummond, DET vs. POR ($49)
CENTER TO AVOID
Dirk Nowitzki, DAL at LAC ($15): I don’t think Nowitzki will be successful in fending off Jordan and Harris in this one at the Staples Center. He will likely hit a huge milestone Saturday, as six minutes on the floor will give him 50,000 minutes for his career. I just don’t foresee many of those minutes being productive ones.