This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
NOTE: This article focuses on the eight-game slate available at 7 PM ET on Sunday, so the following early games are omitted from consideration: MIA/TOR, SA/CLE, OKC/MIN, CHA/DET, BKN/IND, DAL/MEM
It's a shame that we have to omit so many games today, but covering two different builds makes for a pretty dense article, so I'll always go to the slate that posts the largest selection of DFS contests. I can say with some confidence that it is the trickiest of the available slates, as the load-management monster could easily creep up and catch us in a couple of spots today. We've also got a few elites with injury designations and a couple of teams resting a lot of players.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (calf) QUESTIONABLE: Giannis could have played on Saturday, and despite a massive game from Eric Bledsoe, the Bucks couldn't close the deal against the Nets. Atlanta is a much easier opponent, so there is always a chance Giannis sits again for rest purposes. This is a spot to keep an eye on as we approach game lock. Bledsoe reaped the benefits from his absence last yesterday, but Pat Connaughton ($4,800) and Ersan Ilyasova ($3,500) saw extended action as well.
Nikola Jokic (rest), Jamal Murray (rest), Paul Millsap (rest) OUT: These three starters get the night off, so there's a lot of value to be had here. If we look at on/off court stats with these three players absent, Malik Beasley ($3,500) and Monte Morris ($4,300) both show some value and Mason Plumlee ($4,700) will draw the start and see a lot of action, but drilling down into usage stats shows some interesting finds if we reduce the sample size to the last 30 days.
Trae Young (rest), John Collins (rest) QUESTIONABLE: This is a confusing designation, so I guess I'd lean more toward Young and, especially, Collins being out today, but keep an eye on it anyway. Both players haven't missed much time lately, but a look at usage and FPPM in a 30-day split and excluding these two plus Kevin Huerter (back), you see big spikes from Alex Len ($5,100), DeAndre' Bembry ($5,300), Jaylen Adams ($3,400) and Kent Bazemore ($3,900), although he is battling a hip injury.
Danilo Gallinari (ankle) DOUBTFUL: Coach Doc Rivers will likely play it safe with his marquee forward today, and I'd typically favor JaMychal Green ($4,300), but he may be out for personal reason today. Consider him if he plays, but if he's out, I would pivot over to the rest of the starters.
Emmanuel Mudiay (shoulder) DOUBTFUL: Do you dare challenge the whims of David Fizdale? I'm sure I'll try, and I'll likely do it with Mario Hezonja ($5,600) first, especially if Dennis Smith (back) remains out, and I think there's some potential for the rarely-used John Jenkins ($3,500), because, well – it's such a Fizdalian thing to do.
Ricky Rubio (quad) OUT: While I like Grayson Allen ($3,500) for extended minutes here, I think you're more likely to give things over to the remaining starters, with a tip to Mitchell and Ingles. You've still got Derrick Favors and Jae Crowder out, so Rudy Gobert ($9,000) will be working overtime.
So, there's a lot of value to be had with these injury/rest designations – so many that I may even have to rename one or two favorites in my recommendations. I can't move on to them without discussing the bearded elephant in the room, James Harden ($11,700). Is he worth the price? Here's the deal, in my opinion. He has an excellent history against the Suns (77.4 DKFP average over two games), but do the Rockets really need him on the floor? I would venture to say no. Even if he sees only 25-30 minutes, he could still generate 50 DKFP with some ease, but with so many ways to get more than 5x value on this slate, it's a tough call. The only thing keeping him on my radar is the abundance of low-cost targets I can utilize to afford him.
Damian Lillard, POR vs. DEN ($9,200): If the Trail Blazers let off the gas, they could find themselves slipping as low as sixth place in the West, so while they probably can't catch the Rockets, they do need to hold on to their current seeding. As a result, I think Lillard will keep all the cylinders humming today against the Nuggets, who are sitting virtually everybody. That situation implies some blowout risk, but the Nuggets are so deep with talent I don't think that will come into play.
Lou Williams, LAC at GS ($7,000): Without Gallinari on the floor, the Warriors could have a field day against the Clippers, but you can always count on Sweet Lou to bail his team out when he's needed. He's had great success against the Clippers this season, and while his numbers haven't been too eye-popping recently, Gallinari's absence should motivate Williams to turn things up tonight.
DeAndre' Bembry, ATL at MIL ($5,300): As I said, I was bound to mention a couple of guys again, and Bembry is one of them. The Hawks have been lucky enough to keep Young on the floor most of the season, which has cast a shadow over Bembry in his third season with Atlanta. Many forget that he was a first-rounder in 2016 and was one of the best two-way players in the college ranks. He's got all the makings of a successful player in the league and could probably thrive in a better situation. If Young sits as expected, he'll get his chance to show his stuff tonight.
Kevin Durant, GS vs. LAC ($8,800): The abundance of low-priced targets allows Durant to enter the conversation for me as a guy who could easily beat value at this price. It's an almost absurdly low number for the All-Star, but it's understandable considering the load management afoot with most of the Warriors. The Clippers will be soft at his position without Gallinari, and at first glance, Durant has all the makings of a stable cash anchor if you sprinkle in low-cost guys from the Hawks and Nuggets.
Bobby Portis, WAS at NY ($6,800): With Jabari Parker (knee) questionable, there should be plenty of room for Portis to work against the lowly Knicks. While Thomas Bryant ($7,600) could cut into his production, Portis should emulate Bryant's output for $800 less.
Jayson Tatum, BOS vs. ORL ($6,100): I neglected to mention that both Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier are questionable tonight, and Kyrie can't handle the Magic by himself, so I think it's an excellent opportunity to take advantage of Tatum today. He put up 22 points against a tough Pacers defense on Friday, and I think his talents will be sorely needed against a deceptively tough Orlando squad that wants to make some noise in the playoffs this season.
Clint Capela, HOU vs. PHO ($7,500): I'm not knocking the talents of Nikola Vucevic, but when I look at his price compared to Capela's in a game where he doesn't have to contend with a topflight center, I'm inclined to spend $2K less in a spot where he might reap similar production for less. For cash, you can't get much more dependable than Capela, and over the past five games, he's demonstrated a solid 40 DKFP floor. I think he could pop for more than that tonight.
JaVale McGee, LAL vs. UTA ($6,800): McGee is the only Laker I can start with any confidence moving forward, as the rest of the lineup is just too volatile to consider as they essentially tank the remainder of their season. McGee's history against the Jazz is a bit of a mixed bag, but right now you can throw a lot of the Lakers' history out the window and focus on McGee's inherent opportunity to lead the offense in what could end up to be a lopsided matchup.
Alex Len, ATL at MIL ($5,100): This all depends on John Collins taking a seat, but I really like Len in this spot if Collins sits. Len can be hit-or-miss, but with so many Hawks out, it's just the kind of game where Len can take over. He'll be well-rested and ready for an explosive night, and I'll probably beat the public in my overall exposure to him tonight.