NBA DFS Breakdown: Can the Nuggets Stop James Harden?
NBA DFS Breakdown: Can the Nuggets Stop James Harden?

This article is part of our NBA DFS Breakdown series.

We have eight games Monday, including a highly-charged matchup between the Rockets and the visiting Nuggets. There aren't too many elite-tier players available, however, with just four players checking in over $10,000. Let's take a look at some of the extremes from a game-script point of view:

Highest over/under: ORL at SAC (223.5)
Lowest over/under: SA at DET (213.5)
Largest spread: NY at POR (-11.5)
Smallest spread: DEN at HOU (-1.5)

Here's a breakdown of each matchup, using FanDuel's pricing and scoring:

Spurs at Pistons

Over/Under: 213.5
Spread: SA (-3.5)
Cash Plays: Blake Griffin ($9,600); LaMarcus Aldridge ($8,600) Derrick White ($5,800); Rudy Gay ($5,500); Reggie Jackson ($5,400); Reggie Bullock ($4,700); Bryn Forbes ($4,500); Davis Bertans ($3,900)
GPP Plays: Andre Drummond ($9,300); DeMar DeRozan ($8,300); Rudy Gay ($5,500); Luke Kennard ($3,600)
Notable Injuries
Spurs: None
Pistons: Jon Leuer (knee) - Probable; Zaza Pachulia (lower leg) - Out; Ish Smith (groin) - Out

This contest has the lowest expected total on the slate, so it's not an ideal target for DFS. And though the Spurs have won four of its past five compared to the Pistons four losses over the past five, San Antonio is hardly favored considering its 6-12 record on the road. Still, each team has a variety of players with relatively high floors, like Blake Griffin (at least 45.8 FP over the past three games) and LaMarcus Aldridge (at least 35 FP in five of the past six games). The usual mid-tier role players are in play for cash as well, with Rudy Gay and Reggie Jackson expected to hit at least 20 FP.

Three players stand out as GPP targets. Andre Drummond has gone for 50-plus FP three times in the past 30 days, while DeMar DeRozan has reached the same threshold six times in the past month. Rudy Gay's upside is worth gambling on as well, as he's eclipsed 40 FP twice since Dec. 7, and the veteran has averaged 25.1 FP in road games over that stretch.

Nets at Celtics

Over/Under: 219.0
Spread: BOS (-9.5)
Cash Plays: Kyrie Irving ($9,000); Al Horford ($6,200); Jarrett Allen ($6,200); Jayson Tatum ($6,000); Marcus Morris ($5,000); Marcus Smart ($4,900)
GPP Plays: Kyrie Irving ($9,000); D'Angelo Russell ($8,200); Spencer Dinwiddie ($5,900); Gordon Hayward ($5,700); Marcus Morris ($5,000); Jaylen Brown ($4,500); Rodions Kurucs ($4,300) Ed Davis ($4,200); Shabazz Napier ($3,900)
Notable Injuries
Nets: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (hip) - Out; Allen Crabbe (knee) - Out; Joe Harris (ankle) - Out; DeMarre Carroll (knee) - Out
Celtics: Marcus Morris (neck) - Probable; Robert Williams (groin) - Questionable; Aron Baynes (hand) - Out

This matchup has the second-largest spread on the day, with oddsmakers predicting a potential blowout in Boston. The Celtics are 13-5 at home and have won three of its past five games, while the Nets are 10-10 on the road but have won each of the past three contests, taking down New Orleans, Memphis and Chicago. Of note, Kyrie Irving will be making his return following a two-game absence due to a left eye injury. Conservative DFS owners may stray away from using him in cash, which is understandable, but I think he can be viewed as playable in cash and tournaments. The point guard is averaging 46.1 FP at home over the past 30 days and has eclipsed 50 FP three times in those 12 outings.

D'Angelo Russell has been cooking during Brooklyn's past three wins, posting at least 40 FP in each. The same can be said for Jarrett Allen, who hasn't dipped below 30 FP in three games. Meanwhile, Spencer Dinwiddie can't find a rhythm, as he hasn't posted more 23.3 FP since the day after Christmas. With both Joe Harris and DeMarre Carroll sidelined, Shabazz Napier and Rodions Kurucs figure to see extra run. Boston is a little tough to read with Irving and Marcus Morris expected to return, as players previously exceeding value may regress to the mean. Terry Rozier will return to the bench and probably see the biggest dip in role. Gordon Hayward's production will be something to monitor, as the forward has totaled 83.9 FP over the past two games.

Grizzlies at Pelicans

Over/Under: 214.0
Spread: NOP (-5.5)
Cash Plays: Anthony Davis ($12,500); Jrue Holiday ($8,700); Julius Randle ($8,500); Mike Conley ($8,100); Marc Gasol ($7,600); JaMychal Green ($4,300)
GPP Plays: Anthony Davis ($12,500); Jaren Jackson Jr. ($6,900); Kyle Anderson ($6,600); Elfrid Payton ($6,000); Garrett Temple ($3,700)
Notable Injuries
Grizzlies: Dillon Brooks (toe) - Doubtful; Jevon Carter (knee) - Questionable; Chandler Parsons (Coach's Decision) - Out
Pelicans: E'Twaun Moore (quad) - Questionable; Nikola Mirotic (ankle) - Out

Both of these teams are looking for a jolt of energy. The Grizzlies are 3-12 since beating the Pelicans on Dec. 7 and hold an 8-12 record on the road, while the Pelicans have alternated wins and losses over the past five, but are an impressive 13-6 at home. The Grizzlies even tried to shake things up with a trade, acquiring wing Justin Holiday, who posted 7.4 FP in 20 minutes during his team debut. Despite having the second-lowest over/under on the slate, this matchup can be targeted for cash games, as the Grizzlies and Pelicans, despite struggles, have established cores.

Some role players can be targeted in GPPs, including Jaren Jackson (34.6 FP over the past three), Kyle Anderson (40-plus FP twice in the past four) and Elfrid Payton (33.9 FP in his second game back from injury). Anderson's upside seems especially favorable relative to his price, but he comes with the highest risk.

Nuggets at Rockets

Over/Under: 215.5
Spread: HOU (-1.5)
Cash Plays: James Harden ($12,900); Nikola Jokic ($10,400); Clint Capela ($9,000); Mason Plumlee ($5,000); Danuel House ($4,800); Austin Rivers ($4,500)
GPP Plays: James Harden ($12,900); Nikola Jokic ($10,400); Jamal Murray ($7,700); Paul Millsap ($6,500); Gary Harris ($6,200); Austin Rivers ($4,500); P.J. Tucker ($4,300); Gerald Green ($3,800)
Notable Injuries
Nuggets: Will Barton (groin) - Out
Rockets: Chris Paul (hamstring) - Out; Eric Gordon (knee) - Doubful

There is only one loss between these teams since Dec. 27, with the Nuggets sitting at the top of the Western Conference, while the Rockets have climbed up to fifth. Houston's home-court advantage (13-5 at the Toyota Center) seems to be the reasoning behind their -1.5 odds over the Nuggets (10-8 on the road). Both of these squads are being lifted by their stars – James Harden and Nikola Jokic. Harden has gone full MVP Mode since securing a win over the Lakers on Dec. 13, averaging 40.8 points, 9.3 assists, 6.9 rebounds and 2.0 steals. Meanwhile, Jokic's past four games have been excellent, with the center averaging 26.8 points, 11.8 rebounds, 9.0 assists and a combined 3.5 steals/blocks.

For the Rockets, Clint Capela has been impressive over the past two, posting a combined 109.9 FP against Golden State and Portland. Austin Rivers (25-plus FP in two of the past four) and Danuel House (20-plus FP in six straight games) also represent enticing DFS options. Notably for Denver, Paul Millsap has posted 35-plus FP twice over the past three, while Gary Harris most recently posted a high of 34.7 FP since returning from his injury.

Jazz at Bucks

Over/Under: 222.0
Spread: MIL (-5.5)
Cash Plays: Giannis Antetokounmpo ($12,100); Rudy Gobert ($8,000); Khris Middleton ($7,300); Derrick Favors ($6,000); Malcolm Brogdon ($5,900); Joe Ingles ($5,800); George Hill ($3,800)
GPP Plays: Giannis Antetokounmpo ($12,100); Donovan Mitchell ($7,700); Eric Bledsoe ($7,000); Ricky Rubio ($6,400); Malcolm Brogdon ($5,900); Brook Lopez ($5,500); Jae Crowder ($4,400); Raul Neto ($3,500)
Notable Injuries
Jazz: Thabo Sefolosha (hamstring) - Out; Dante Exum (ankle) - Out
Bucks: D.J. Wilson (hip) - Questionable

The Bucks are modest 5.5-point favorites after winning four of its past five games and carrying an 18-4 record in Fiserv Forum. The Jazz have won three of the past five and are an even 10-10 on the road. But Utah will face Milwaukee without Dante Exum, who had finally found consistency, averaging 24.8 FP from Christmas through Jan. 4. Raul Neto will presumably fill in as backup point guard behind Ricky Rubio, though he should only be considered a GPP flier considering he's posting less than 1.0 FP/min.

The usual suspects are in play for Utah, but it's worth mentioning Derrick Favors' play as of late. He's been a cash game staple all year, but he's vaulted in GPP consideration by posting at least 30-FP in three of the past four games, including 37.8 FP against the Raptors on New Year's Day. Milwaukee has been its usual self too, with Giannis always in play, while Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe have 40-plus FP upside.

Lakers at Mavericks

Over/Under: 223.0
Spread: DAL (-8.0)
Cash Plays: Luka Doncic ($7,700); Brandon Ingram ($6,900); JaVale McGee ($6,500); Josh Hart ($6,200); Harrison Barnes ($5,600); J.J Barea ($4,500)
GPP Plays: Luka Doncic ($7,700); Brandon Ingram ($6,900); Lonzo Ball ($6,900); DeAndre Jordan ($6,800); Josh Hart ($6,200); Harrison Barnes ($5,600); Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($5,500); Dennis Smith Jr. ($5,100)
Notable Injuries
Lakers: Kyle Kuzma (back) - Questionable; LeBron James (groin) - Out; Rajon Rondo (hand) - Out
Mavericks: Dirk Nowitzki (rest) - Probable

The line on this game may tighten up if Kyle Kuzma is available, though it's worth noting the Mavericks are dominant at home, having lost just three games at American Airlines Center all season, compared to Los Angeles' 8-11 road record. Neither team has played well lately, however, with the Lakers securing one win in the past five and the Mavericks notching two victories over the past handful. Either way, this matchup also has the second-highest over/under on the slate, which means a DFS stack isn't out of the question.

For the Mavs, the return of Dennis Smith Jr. over the past six games has deflated Luka Doncic's upside, as the rookie hasn't hit 40 FP since Smith got back on the floor. Despite being $6,800 due to inconsistency, DeAndre Jordan's upside remains tough to ignore, having posting 40-plus FP five times in the past 30 days. For the Lakers, during Kuzma's first absence, four players – Brandon Ingram, JaVale McGee, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Lonzo Ball – posted between 30-35 FP. During Kuzma's second absence – a blowout loss to the Timberwolves – nobody on the team posted more than 27.0 FP (Lance Stephenson).

Knicks at Trail Blazers

Over/Under: 221.0
Spread: POR (-11.5)
Cash Plays: Damian Lillard ($9,200); Emmanuel Mudiay ($6,100); Noah Vonleh ($6,100); Kevin Knox ($5,900); Al-Farouq Aminu ($5,800)
GPP Plays: Jusuf Nurkic ($9,500); C.J. McCollum ($6,800); Tim Hardaway Jr. ($6,300); Emmanuel Mudiay ($6,100); Noah Vonleh ($6,100); Enes Kanter ($6,000); Luke Kornet ($5,200); Evan Turner ($3,900)
Notable Injuries
Knicks: Mitchell Robinson (ankle) - Out; Frank Ntilikina (ankle) - Out
Blazers: Maurice Harkless (knee) - Probable

Oddsmakers have given this matchup the largest spread on the slate, noting blowout potential. The Knicks have lost four of its past five and have claimed just six wins on the road, while the Blazers have won three of its past five and is 15-7 in Moda Center. As a result, deploying players from Portland carries some risk, as the bench unit could get heavy run in the fourth quarter.

DFS owners still looking to extract some value from Portland at minimal cost could deploy Al-Farouq Aminu (30-plus FP in three of the past seven) and Maurice Harkless (30-plus FP in three of the past four). The Knicks' main storyline from a DFS perspective is the center situation between Luke Kornet and Enes Kanter. Kornet has seen his minutes decline since drawing his first start Dec. 27 against Milwaukee, while Kanter's minutes have gone up since that point. It's not exactly clear how David Fizdale will handle the center position moving forward. But until it seems resolved, both are exclusively GPP options.

Magic at Kings

Over/Under: 223.5
Spread: SAC (-5.5)
Cash Plays: Nikola Vucevic ($9,700); Nemanja Bjelica ($6,100); Terrence Ross ($4,600)
GPP Plays: Nikola Vucevic ($9,700); De'Aaron Fox ($8,100); Willie Cauley-Stein ($7,500); Buddy Hield ($7,400); Aaron Gordon ($7,200); Bogdan Bogdanovic ($6,600); Evan Fourneri ($5,500); D.J. Augustin ($5,000); Justin Jackson ($4,400)
Notable Injuries
Magic: None
Kings: Iman Shumpert (finger) - Questionable; Marvin Bagley (knee) - Questionable

Most of us weren't expecting this game to have playoff implications, but here we are, with both the Magic (7-11 on the road) and Kings (10-10 at home) just two wins out of the eighth seed in their respective conferences. Neither team has performed well lately, though, with the Kings losing four of the past five, while the Magic have lost two of the past five.

The Magic are unappealing in DFS outside of Nikola Vucevic (50-plus FP four times in the past 30 days) and Aaron Gordon (40-plus FP three times in the past 30 days). Sacramento has essentially the opposite problem, with almost too many options to choose from. Five players – Nemanja Bjelica, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Buddy Hield, Willie Cauley-Stein and De'Aaron Fox – all average over 27 FP with highs of at least 41 FP. During Saturday's competitive loss to Golden State, Cauley-Stein, Hield and Bogdanovic each posted at least 40 FP. DFS owners running multiple lineups have the advantage here, being able to get exposure to essentially the whole team, as some combination of the aforementioned five athletes are bound to exceed value.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alex Barutha
Alex writes primarily about the NBA for RotoWire. His work has appeared on CBS Sports, Bleacher Report and other sites. He enjoys both year-long and daily fantasy. Vince Carter and Alex both first dunked during their respective sophomore years of high school.
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