This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
As the season winds down, remember three important rules for late-season NBA DFS.
- Utilize players who have the incentive to win
- Find value with teams out of contention
- Stay vigilant with late-breaking news
If you do these three things, you're already ahead of the game. The third rule is definitely more in play tonight, as the potential return of two All-Stars tops the news.
(Odds and lines are best available USA numbers and are subject to change)
Games to Target in BOLD
Games to Fade in ITALIC
WAS @ ATL (-6.5) O/U: 240.5
SAS @ BKN (-4) O/U: 233.5
BOS @ CLE (+11) OU: 219.5
NOR @ DAL (-9) O/U: 223.5
POR @ UTA (-3.5) O/U: 234.5
HOU @ LAL (-12.5) O/U: 223.5
WAS Bradley Beal (hamstring) - OUT
BKN James Harden (hamstring) - QUESTIONABLE
BKN Kevin Durant - POSSIBLE REST
BKN Kyrie Irving (face) - QUESTIONABLE
We could see the long-awaited return of Harden tonight, but I wouldn't put much stock into him unless we hear something out of Steve Nash that indicates a full workoad. The team could certainly use him, as it looks like Irving will miss, and Durant might sit as is customary on a back-to-back. This spot is definitely one of the situations to monitor throughout the day. While it's hard to say at the early hour, Joe Harris ($3,700) appears safer than any available budget pick tonight. Although his production ebbs and flows, he plays 30-35 minutes regularly and could play more if Durant rests.
BOS Jaylen Brown (wrist) - OUT FOR SEASON
BOS Robert Williams (toe) - QUESTIONABLE
BOS Kemba Walker - POSSIBLE REST
Evan Fournier ($7,200) appears to be just what the doctor ordered now that Brown is done for the year. His salary should probably be much higher, as he's put up two consecutive games with 44 or more FP while playing around 35 minutes per game. It's a back-to-back, so there is some risk for Walker to sit, which would put an already-chalky Marcus Smart ($5,800) in play as well.
CLE Darius Garland (ankle) - OUT
CLE Cedi Osman (ankle) - QUESTIONABLE
Although there's merit in firing up Collin Sexton ($7,600) on a nightly basis, this is a team to avoid. Kevin Love ($5,700) is priced better than Jarrett Allen, so he could use a bit of exposure as well.
NOR Zion Williamson (finger) - OUT
NOR Brandon Ingram (ankle) - DOUBTFUL
NOR Steven Adams (toe) - QUESTIONABLE
Naji Marshall ($5,000) and James Johnson ($4,700) should continue to start in place of Williamson and Ingram, and although Marshall put up a double-double in his last game against Memphis, his salary has jumped $700 of the last three games, and 5k might be a bit too high for him. At center, it's a toss-up between Willy Hernangomez ($5,800) and Jaxson Hayes ($5,700) if Adams is out, but Hayes is a bit more valuable with a PF designation. The rest of the team is pretty solid, and it's important to note that the now-healthy Nickeil Alexander-Walker ($6,500), although a bit expensive, is having an impact amidst the sea of injuries on the roster.
DAL Kristaps Porzingis (knee) - QUESTIONABLE
Porzingis has missed none of the team's last 10 contests, but this questionable tag signifies that we might see him on the floor against the Pelicans. He'd be a great asset if he played, but Dwight Powell ($5,900) would continue to serve as the team's starting center if he is out.
UTA Donovan Mitchell (ankle) - OUT FOR REGULAR SEASON
UTA Mike Conley (hamstring) - OUT
Although he can be frustrating at times, Jordan Clarkson ($7,600) finally paid off with a massive 41-point performance against the Warriors two nights ago. Bojan Bogdanovic ($6,400) still has the more reliable floor out of the customary group of reserves and is inexpensive relative to his production.
HOU Christian Wood (ankle) - QUESTIONABLE
HOU Kevin Porter (ankle) - OUT
HOU DaQuan Jeffries (ankle) - QUESTIONABLE
At this point, I think it's safe to say that we won't see Wood on the court again until Cade Cunningham is wearing a Rockets jersey. There's no reason to push him out there, as they know his worth, and he's assured of a large role in the 2021-22 season. Conversely, they have no reason NOT to play Kelly Olynyk ($8,300), who may or may not be in the team's plans. They have a bonafide power forward in Kenyon Martin ($7,300), who should see significant minutes tonight. We should also expect to see a lot of Khyri Thomas ($4,500), Armoni Brooks ($4,700), and possibly Anthony Lamb ($4,100) if Jeffries sits.
LAL LeBron James (ankle) - QUESTIONABLE
LAL Anthony Davis (groin) – QUESTIONABLE
LAL Dennis Schroder (COVID-19 protocols) - OUT
LAL Alex Caruso (foot) - OUT
There's incessant talk about the impending return of LeBron, but I'll buy it when I see it. Even if he does play tonight, I wouldn't expect anything monumental from him until the team is in playoff mode. The potential losses of Caruso and Davis tonight is the top news for the Lakers. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($4,700) and Talen Horton-Tucker ($3,600) would benefit in Caruso's absence, but since James is known to play point guard, he might take it upon himself to make a brief appearance. He's priced incredibly well at $8,900 but play at your own risk. If Davis is out, there could be more minutes for Kyle Kuzma and Markieff Morris.
We have five players at 10k or higher tonight, and as usual, Russell Westbrook ($12,600) leads the way. Even though Westbrook holds the highest salary we've seen for any player this season, one could argue that he's still too cheap. Since he regularly plays way above 60 FP, he could go up to 14k and still be worthy of consideration. If you're short for time, hit the lock button on your optimizers and go from there. You could pretty much say the opposite about Luka Doncic ($10,400), however. He hasn't broken 50 FP since May 1, and that's what you need to make his current salary worthwhile. He is in a great spot against the short-handed Pelicans and could see less popularity due to the recency bias, but it still seems a bit risky. We have to wait and see about Kevin Durant ($10,700), but if he plays, he's definitely worthwhile with Kyrie Irving likely out tonight.
We'll extend the elite section down to $8,000 due to the size of the slate. It's reasonable to think that Jayson Tatum ($9,500) could see north of 50 FP if the Cavs can stay within striking distance. Jaylen Brown's season-ending injury increases the probability of a potentially closer contest, and it's going to be up to Tatum to get them past the play-in game, which seems to be a good possibility at this point. Trae Young ($8,500) hurled up 51 FP in the front-end of the tilt against the Wizards, and I'd expect huge minutes and superior production from him again in this fast-paced affair. Finally, while Damian Lillard ($9,600) would normally be a chalk play, it's advisable to keep his exposure down to 10-15 percent in a toughie against the Jazz.
DeMar DeRozan, SAS ($7,900) @ BKN
The Spurs drew a tough final three games, and they need wins badly to stay in the playoff hunt. If we follow the data, he's established an on-again, off-again pattern in his scoring habits, so after a tepid game against the Bucks, we should see a better showing against the Nets. He put up 43 FP in his single game against the Nets this season, and although we'd like to see a bit more, his salary is entirely reasonable compared to what we should expect in an incentivized environment.
I placed these two standout centers next to each other due to their identical price and potentially interchangeable production. The center position is slimmer than usual tonight, and they hold the second-highest salary at the position, which at $7,600, is only seen in the smallest of slates. Gobert has a slight edge in fantasy points per minute (1.4 FP), but Capela usually plays more minutes than Gobert. Capela also has the advantage of a faster tempo and a weaker backcourt to face, which actually leads me to favor Gobert as the less popular option. The verdict? Capela for cash and Gobert for tournaments, although both should show up with at least 45 FP.
Bogdan Bogdanovic, ATL ($7,300) vs. WAS
We'll continue to hang our hat on the Hawks, as Bogdanovic has dazzled over his past five games. Over that span, he's averaged 21.8 points, 4.0 assists, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.6 steals over a median of 33.4 minutes. He's consistently hit the 5x multiplier at this salary, and his 43 FP against the Wizards two days ago is possible once again. As a side note, it's important to give John Collins ($6,800) a look as well, despite a mostly disappointing campaign this season. He managed 47 FP against the Wizards in 33 minutes on the floor, and if he can replicate something near that number, he could be very valuable at this price.
Norman Powell, POR ($6,200) @ UTA
If they utilize Powell appropriately, he could end up being the most valuable point-per-dollar Portland player in this game. Utah will obviously key on Lillard and CJ McCollum in the backcourt, leaving Powell to inflict damage if given the opportunity. His floor tends to hover in the 25 FP range, but he could still pop in a competitive matchup.
Lest we forget, things get kind of weird as the season comes to an end, so be on the lookout for odd starting lineups from teams who are out of contention. We mentioned several value options in the injury section, and of that group, Joe Harris, Marcus Smart and Khyri Thomas are my top three. Here are some additional values to consider as you build your lineups.
Tim Hardaway, DAL ($6,000) vs. NOR
In terms of consistency, Hardaway is arguably the best Dallas has to offer in recent weeks. Although a boom game is rare, his floor is very appealing relative to his salary as it sits right at the 5x multiplier. He had an abysmal game against the Pelicans back in February, but he redeemed himself with a huge 41 FP performance in their last matchup.
Eric Bledsoe, NOR ($5,900) @ DAL
Bledsoe came back to earth against the Grizzlies after a season-best 50 FP against the Hornets, and a deeper dive shows a nice framework of performances over the past month. How Bledsoe figures into the Pelicans' future plans is anyone's guess, but with injuries to Ingram and Williamson, the cream of the crop for this team is in the backcourt. Lonzo Ball ($7,700) is viable but a bit too expensive, making Bledsoe more appealing at this salary point.
Keldon Johnson, SAS ($4,300) @ BKN
After an impressive start, Johnson cooled off and fell out of favor as a fantasy performer, but his resurgent game against Bucks two days ago was an encouraging sign. He was unavailable in the Spurs' sole matchup against the Nets, so Johnson will be an unknown quantity that their shaky defense might not account for.
Davis Bertans, WAS ($3,700) @ ATL
When it comes to bargain fill-ins, you can't get much cheaper (or more volatile) than Bertans, who is a hit-or-miss guy that depends on three-pointers to be relevant. He played 31 minutes in the front end of the tilt against the Hawks and beat value with a 23 FP total. It all comes down to three-point shot volume for Bertans, and if you're looking for a way to pay up in other spots, you could do a lot worse than picking a cheap player in a speedy matchup.