Mondayís seven-game slate centers around the Pistons-Cavaliers matchup as the game with the most real-world ramifications, but our DFS options will likely gravitate to a couple of other games.
At first glance, your eyes should immediately gravitate to the late-night game as the Blazers head to the Staples Center to face the Lakers, whoíve won five straight games and will look to make it six in what projects to be the fastest-paced game on the slate. Obviously, thereís a lot to like here and since Iím limited in highlighting only two players per position I will briefly run down the pluses and minuses of this matchup. While I wouldnít call it a minus, the biggest decision is a choice between Damian Lillard ($43) or C.J. McCollum ($26) as itís rare to see both of them give you the kind of output you need. McCollum comes at a cheaper price but also carries the most risk, as his fantasy value lives and dies by his shooting acumen on any given night. As a result, I think Lillard is the way to go in cash games, but Iíd spread McCollum around in a few tournament lineups. On the Lakers end, a lot depends on the status of Brandon Ingram (hip), but Lonzo Ball ($26) and Julius Randle ($31) wonít be affected by this late call. While guys like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($23) and Kyle Kuzma ($19) will be great plays if Ingram sits, youíll need to monitor late developments to take full advantage of anyone else with absolute confidence.
Conversely, a game I would normally avoid due to the slow pace has a couple of spots that you canít overlook due to injury replacements that will offer huge value. Both Memphis and San Antonio are banged up Monday, with the most glaring example occurring in the Grizzlies backcourt. With Tyreke Evans (rib), Andrew Harrison (wrist) and Mario Chalmers (hamstring) all out, it will be up to Wayne Selden ($10) and Kobi Simmons ($10) to make an impact. If you look at the usage adjustment without those three players, Wayne Selden sees a 15 percent bump in usage and about 17 YFP more than his average, which is unmistakably better than Simmonsí output. Itís also interesting to note that Dillon Brooks ($10) and Chandler Parsons ($10) see usage and FP bumps in this scenario. With Jarrell Martin (knee) and Marc Gasol (ankle) both game-time calls, JaMychal Green ($20) also looks very compelling. Apart from that mess I see Ben McLemore ($13) getting a lot of playing time, and heís put up two straight games of 33 YFP or more in the midst of these injuries. As you can see, thereís lots of value to be had here!
As far as elite players, both LeBron James ($53) and Giannis Antetokounmpo ($49) have favorable defensive matchups, but Giannis is on the tail end of a back-to-back so I like James a little bit better against the Pistons. Neither can be faded and could be valuable cash anchors.
Kyrie Irving, BOS at CHI ($33): There are a lot of mid-level plays at this position, but in terms of cash game dependability I will gladly take Irving here. While the Bulls have some offensive firepower, they arenít all that great defensively, and Irving put up a 44 YFP game against them earlier in the season. That number establishes a decent ceiling for Irving on Monday.
Ricky Rubio, UTA vs. ORL ($22): Iíve finally come around to giving Rubio some attention, as heís proven that his more volatile stint earlier in the season is largely behind him. Orlando is giving up an average of six assists per game to opposing point guards, which is among the worst averages in this category. Thatís obviously good news for Rubio, as is the sub-par play of D.J. Augustin and Shelvin Mack on the other end.
Other guards to consider: Victor Oladipo, IND vs. MIL ($44); Elfrid Payton, PHO at MIA ($28); Goran Dragic, MIA vs. PHO ($26); Reggie Bullock, DET at CLE ($11)
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GUARD TO AVOID
Kris Dunn, CHI vs. BOS ($23): Dunn fell woefully short of projections in both games against Boston this season, and I doubt the addition of Zach LaVine will do much to help him Monday. He had a 40 YFP total in his last game so he may have slightly higher ownership. Iíd fade him and beat the field.
Blake Griffin, DET at CLE ($30): Griffin relishes the spotlight in games like this, and despite some mediocre showings in the past couple of weeks heís had great success against the Cavs in the past, as he put up 53 YFP against them in a Clipper uniform earlier this season. His supporting cast is at about the same caliber, and I think heíll serve a similar role in this game.
James Johnson, MIA vs. PHO ($15): Johnson should excel due to Miamiís current injury woes in the frontcourt and will have the luxury of facing one of the leagueís worst defenses. He doesnít need to do much to beat value here, and Iíd consider 35 YFP as a reasonable expectation. Heís already hit that number once against the Suns this season.
Other forwards to consider: Lauri Markkanen, CHI vs. BOS ($21); Rudy Gay, SA vs. MEM ($13); Jabari Parker, MIL at IND ($13); Evan Turner, POR at LAL ($10)
FORWARD TO AVOID
Davis Bertans, SA vs. MEM ($10): With the return of Rudy Gay, Bertansí value as a buy-low candidate is coming to a close, and even despite the frontcourt injuries the Spurs are facing, the low pace of this game makes Bertans an unattractive play when you consider other options at this position. Beating value at $10 is easy, but this is one of those situations where the actual benefit doesnít move the needle much.
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Andre Drummond, DET at CLE ($44): It looks like Tristan Thompson is out for Mondayís game, but I think thatís actually a minus for Drummond as Iím sure heíd rather face Thompson than Larry Nance, who is likely to start in his place. Either way, Drummond is an almost matchup-proof force to be reckoned with, as his rebounds will almost always offset his less-than-stellar scoring totals.
Hassan Whiteside, MIA vs. PHO ($22): Miami is a bit banged up so more of the offense should flow through a healthy Whiteside, who should have no trouble against Tyson Chandler and the Sunsí frontcourt. He put up 45 YFP against them earlier in the season, so that ceiling gives him great value at this price point.
Other centers to consider: Rudy Gobert, UTA vs. ORL ($32); Myles Turner, IND vs. MIL ($23); Aron Baynes, BOS at CHI ($10)
CENTER TO AVOID
John Henson, MIL at IND ($14): I donít see a rosy outlook for Henson on Monday, as heís been dealing with some injury issues and is on the tail end of a back-to-back. Heíll also square off against Myles Turner, who has turned it up since returning from injury.