Only three games tonight to kick off the NBA week. With the Giannis Antetkounmpo injury, it creates some easy chalk to identify. Otherwise it is a pretty injury free slate. Fred VanVleet has been out for quite a stretch of games, and is listed as doubtful tonight. Clint Capela remains out, and Malik Monk is still suspended. That is about it for injury news. There are not blowout games expected according to Vegas tonight, and no insanely high totals. Most implied totals range from 108-114. Not a lot of games are projected to play at a strong pace, however the Nuggets-Bucks game is one that should play at the highest. The Jazz and Raptors are two slower teams who play stronger defense. All six teams tonight have some options, so there isn't any team I am strictly avoiding.
We can point to Eric Bledsoe as an immediate value tonight. He hasn't been playing great of late, and is averaging just 29 fantasy points per game over the last two weeks. However he sees a 30+% usage rate with Giannis off the floor, and has averaged over 1.40 FPPM. Bledsoe is just $5,700 on DK and $6,200 on FD. I expect him to be a pretty popular pick tonight in both formats. Staying in Milwaukee, Brook Lopez is one of the two value centers to keep an eye on. He sees a 4% usage bump with Giannis off the floor, and also averages over 1.00 FPPM. The other is Dewayne Dedmon, who gets a great matchup against the Hornets, as they rank 26th in defensive efficiency against opposing centers, and struggle on the glass as well. Dedmon's minutes should be around 20-25 tonight, and under $5,000 on both sites, this is enough for him to get the job done.
PJ Washington is under $6,000 on both sites, and is an attractive fantasy play tonight against the Hawks. They are in the bottom half against opposing power forwards, and Washington can also torch them from three. Norman Powell is still way underpriced on FD, where he is just $5,500. DK is miles ahead with their pricing, as it sits at $6,800. I prefer Powell on FD, but his production has been tremendous, averaging over 40 fantasy points in the last five games.
Khris Middleton is the other popular play tonight given Giannis is out. He sees the highest usage of any Milwaukee player when he is off the floor, and also averages over 1.40 FPPM. Middleton is certainly a cash game play to build around. Trae Young is the high priced option to build around, as he is averages over 45 fantasy points in the last ten games, and has the highest usage rate on the slate. Charlotte also ranks just 28th in defensive efficiency against opposing point guards.
I mention PJ Washington above as a value, but is also a strong cash game play. Building around John Collins and Pascal Siakam at the forward positions is also another strong way to go. Both are averaging over 40 fantasy points per game in the last two weeks, and are generally consistent players as well. Rudy Gobert’s price is starting to rise again now that his play has bounced back. He is still way cheaper than Jokic if you want that extra $1,000. I will go with him as a pay up center option, otherwise pay down for Dedmon or Lopez.
You can always make the case for Nikola Jokic and his upside. Milwaukee ranks 28th in defensive efficiency against opposing centers this season. Jokic has a 50+ fantasy point ceiling over the last ten games, but only a 30 fantasy point floor. The floor isn’t appealing for a guy at this price tag. Devonte Graham’s floor has been a bit lower, sitting at 23 over the last ten games, but still packs that 40+ fantasy point upside. Graham is in a good spot against the Hawks defense, and has had a 26% usage rate as well.
Jamal Murray has a 40 fantasy point ceiling as well, and is projected for over 30 fantasy points in our cash projections. There is some upside for him, and sitting next to Bledsoe in price should see most of the ownership deferred to him.
As far as game stacks go on a three game slate, there are not going to be a ton of options. Looking into the best upside for the price tags, the Hawks-Hornets game features two defenses that are not very good, but a lot of mid-range guys that have some upside potential. There are also the pay up plays like Young and Collins, but names like Huerter, Washington, Rozier, and Graham are also there.