This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
NOTE: Today's article will focus on the six-game slate available at 7 PM ET, so the following games are excluded from consideration: CLE/LAC, BOS/BKN, SAC/HOU
We've got two marquee players taking a seat tonight, and with multiple teams on the tail end of back-to-backs, we could see additional players take a seat as the day progresses. The Pacers, Trail Blazers and Timberwolves are the three un-rested teams coming into tonight's matchups.
The Vegas lines for tonight's games are all incredibly low with the exception of the PHI/MIN game (232), and the ORL/IND contest sports one of the lowest numbers we've seen in weeks (204.5). For you sports bettors out there, that's a great Over to target, but that's a different article entirely! For DFS purposes, the latter is a game I'm inclined to fade entirely, save a little play for Nikola Vucevic ($8,700) whose price has dipped to a very favorable level.
Joel Embiid (rest) OUT: Embiid will sit out for load management on Saturday, so a pivot to Boban Marjanovic ($3,500) is the best recommendation here, but expect starter Tobias Harris ($6.900) to reap some benefit. Also, Ben Simmons ($8,400) has led the way for the Sixers with Embiid off the court, sporting a 1.3 DKFP per minute average in that scenario over the past 30 days.
Kawhi Leonard (personal) OUT: Most will flock to Fred VanVleet ($5,300), and while I think he's a suitable cash value, I think his ownership will be through the roof tonight and could approach 50% in some formats. Keep away from him in your GPP builds if you want to keep things contrarian.
Zach LaVine (thigh) DOUBTFUL, Otto Porter (shoulder) OUT, Kris Dunn (back) OUT: Chicago's injury woes continue. Shaquille Harrison ($6,000) continues to be the guy here, and I think he's a better cash value target than Van Vleet. Rest assured that there will be high ownership for him.
Josh Richardson (heel) OUT, Justise Winslow (thigh) OUT: Pat yourself on the back if you rostered Goran Dragic on Thursday. We finally saw the Dragic of old, and with multiple days of rest, I'll give some considerable exposure to him tonight against the Knicks. I expect the public to go as high as 20% with him tonight, and I'll likely run in line with that in both formats.
Devin Booker, PHO vs. MEM ($9,700): This is a substantial pace-down game for the Suns, but Booker's proven to be almost matchup-proof over the past two weeks. He'll still end up widely owned despite the crowds flocking to Ben Simmons just below him, but I think Booker is the better guy to run with despite the better line. While Simmons' numbers aren't shot-dependent like Booker's, that's the exact reason why I'm more inclined to go the other way. On a team with many scoring options, Simmons' value is marginalized in a way that isn't comparable to Booker, who contributes a third of the Suns' total offense on the regular.
Reggie Jackson, DET vs. POR ($4,700): With Dragic, VanVleet and Harrison already mentioned, I'm forced to find a contrarian option for you a little lower than usual. While I think the tired Trail Blazers set up as a great matchup for Detroit, choosing the right guard here is a tricky proposition. Jackson and Wayne Ellington are doing their best Lillard/McCollum impersonation as they regularly swap decent lines between each other, but Ellington is wholly dependent on scoring totals. Jackson also has a better history against Dame and company, so I like his chances as a contrarian pick over the more popular options just above this price point.
Norman Powell, TOR at CHI ($3,700): Powell is the forgotten Leonard pivot, but I think he should see an extended run in a game that could get out of hand. Though he lags behind Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam in terms of usage with Leonard off the court, he does much better than VanVleet in that category, and their FPPM averages are almost identical over the most recent 30-day span. He's a great GPP punt that you can slot at guard or forward.
Additional guards to consider: As previously mentioned, you need to give considerable love to Dragic, VanVleet and Harrison.
Blake Griffin, DET vs. POR ($8,100): This should set up to be an excellent night for Griffin, and I settled on him as my first endorsement because I was afraid of a Siakam disappearing act, and Tobias Harris' totals are a bit too volatile for the price. Griffin didn't exactly light it up against Portland in their last matchup, but he's averaging a solid floor of 45 DKFP over the past five games and is coming off two straight double-doubles. A certain center to mentioned below is almost interchangeable with Griffin and is probably a better play to spend on, but Griffin deserves mention, if for no other reason than to amplify my concerns about the other elites around him.
Al-Farouq Aminu, POR at DET ($5,000): Aminu saw under 30 minutes in last night's game, and if you look at how Portland sizes up against the Pistons, I think Aminu's position is where they'll capitalize. He recorded a double-double in 29 minutes on Friday and has proven to be a valuable contributor in the wake of Jusuf Nurkic's horrific injury. His rebound total will be critical to his success, and there's no question that Detroit is the better rebounding team currently, but Aminu should get his share without Nurkic on the court.
Bruno Caboclo, MEM at PHO ($4,800): Just when you were thinking of stowing away Caboclo, he wakes up with two excellent games. Caboclo is one of my favorite GPP plays of the night at this price. He's put up 40-plus DKFP lines against the Thunder and the Warriors, so there's no telling what kind of damage he could inflict against the Suns. His 33 minute-per-game average over the past five games proves that they are providing plenty of opportunity for the 23-year-old, and I'm bullish on his chances tonight.
Karl-Anthony Towns ($10,400) and Andre Drummond ($9,000): OK, some of you are rolling your eyes at this, and that's fine with me. What we have here are two very exploitable situations, and I can't think of a better day to play two centers by using your utility spot. Drummond faces a new-look interior in Portland that will be understandably fatigued, and Towns will tackle the Embiid-less Sixers. If I had to make a choice, I think I'd be inclined to favor Drummond at the lower price against Kanter and Collins, but I'm going to fiddle with ways to fit both of these guys in with multiple lineups tonight.
Jonas Valanciunas, MEM at PHO ($8,000): It's funny how a little 'Q' can send ownership plummeting when there's absolutely no reason to fade him. I could see myself taking advantage of this little quirk if it stays up there through game lock tonight. Add the potential slow-pace of this game and the lack of playoff implications, and you've uncovered a hidden gem that will get lost in the conversation involving the two elite centers above.
Mitchell Robinson, NY vs. MIA ($4,900): If you were riding DeAndre Jordan in your seasonal leagues, Robinson has turned out to be your worst nightmare. Robinson has been incredibly dominant over his past four games, posting huge rebounding and scoring numbers on almost a nightly basis. With all the elite options at center tonight, many will hesitate to waste a center or utility spot here with Robinson facing the resurgent Miami defense, but the explosiveness factor for Robinson is the kind of upside we are looking for in GPPs, and his price makes him even more attractive.