Three of the four games available Monday appear to be lopsided affairs that remind you of those No. 1 vs. No. 16 games youíre checking off in your brackets this week. The Spurs are riddled with injuries, the Grizzlies have lost 17 straight, and the Kings are, well, the Kings. The Heat ĖTrailblazers contest shapes up to be the only close game on the slate, as the other three could easily become blowouts.
While Iím sure to look at many targets in that matchup, weíll still need to take a closer look at what else is available, beginning with the elite players that come in at over $50. In three games against the Kings this season, Russell Westbrook ($56) pretty much hit his projected totals, so his floor is fairly dependable Ė although there is potential that he may be without Steven Adams tonight. If Adams doesnít go, Patrick Patterson ($10) becomes an excellent value play and is an able replacement, and I donít think Westbrookís totals will be affected much. The Kings are also on the tail end of a back-to-back, which only improve Westbrookís outlook, but also increases the possibility of a blowout.
The Bucks arenít all that great, but the Grizzlies are pitifully bad, so the potential for a blowout looms large every time Memphis takes the floor. Giannis Antetokounmpo ($51) and company are in a fight to hold on to a playoff spot and are eager to check off this easy game. I anticipate theyíll keep firing on all cylinders until they close the deal. The Greek Freak should also see a reliable floor in the 40 YFP range, but he has the potential to go a lot higher.
Finally, James Harden ($51) and company will face a Spurs team that will be without leading playmaker LaMarcus Aldridge. Houstonís frenetic pace will be slowed by the Spurs, and Harden is dealing with a sore knee that kept him out of action Sunday. The Rockets are also on the second game of a back-to-back. I canít recommend fading Harden with a straight face, but of the three elites on the slate, I like spending up on Harden the least. The slate is slim enough that youíll likely need Westbrook or Giannis to keep pace in cash lineups, and I think either player is a reliable anchor Monday, although I like Giannis slightly more when you consider the possibility of Westbrook getting some extra minutes of rest.
With those picks in mind, Iíll now highlight two players along with one player to avoid at each position. Each spot will also have a small additional list of players that holds equal weight in my predictions. Iíll endeavor to make one of my highlighted choices a deep value play on the slate.
Chris Paul, HOU vs. SA ($32): Rather than hammer away at the obvious plays, the second-best playmakers for each team have had success against their Monday opponents, and Paul is a great example. This pick is bolstered by the fact that Hardenís sore knee may hamper his potential, and Paul is supremely capable of doing most of the dirty work. Another second-best player that fits the same mould is C.J. McCollum ($26), who I like pivoting to from Damian Lillard. McCollum has fared much better against the Heat than his talented counterpart.
Corey Brewer, OKC vs. SAC ($10): Could this be a night where we see more of newly acquired Brewer? He saw 30 minutes in their last game and thatís more than enough time to hit value at this price. If this game gets out of hand Westbrook and George may give way to others, but Brewerís experience might just keep him on the floor to help guide the younger talent.
Other guards to consider: Eric Bledsoe, MIL at MEM ($27); Ben McLemore, MEM vs. MIL ($15)
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GUARD TO AVOID
Bogdan Bogdanovic, SAC at OKC ($17): A cursory glance at the Serbianís production over the past two weeks shows a smattering of inconsistent performances, largely due to ice-cold shooting. To say that heís been streaky lately would be a gross understatement, and rostering Bogdanovic is essentially placing a $17 wager that heíll get hot tonight. You can carry less risk with Tyler Johnson ($15) or McLemore at a similar price.
Khris Middleton, MIL at MEM ($28): There isnít a whole lot to offer at this position Monday, so Iím going to take Middletonís two-game stint of consistent play against the Grizzlies, although Memphis has a surprisingly stalwart record against small forwards. If Giannis isnít your high-priced anchor this is a better play, but I donít have a strong objection to stacking them.
JaMychal Green, MEM vs. MIL ($21): I hate to endorse any Grizzly given the way they are playing, but the possibility of Jarrell Martinís absence will give Green a little bump, and if you look at the numbers, Green looks to be a far better play than a lot of other options youíll find Monday. Iím taking him over guys like Trevor Ariza or Josh Richardson.
Other forwards to consider: Kyle Anderson, SA at HOU ($19); Dillon Brooks, MEM vs.MIL ($13)
FORWARDS TO AVOID
Rudy Gay ($13) / Davis Bertans ($11), SA at HOU: One of these guys will go off with LaMarcus Aldridge out, and one of them will likely tank. When faced with a difficult call like this, Iíll stay away from it completely in cash games and then take a stab at one of them in tournaments. I would field Gay as a risk/reward pick in GPPs as I think more people will flock to Bertans, but in cash Iíll fade them both.
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Clint Capela, SA at HOU ($26): Capela has had the edge over Pau Gasol in their previous two matchups, and though the Spurs will likely lean a bit more on their center with Aldridge out, I think his absence makes San Antonioís interior exploitable. The Rockets' solid defense will sniff that out, and Capela will throw out a reliable line on the offensive end.
Kelly Olynyk, MIA at POR ($13): While Bam Adebayo ($10) will draw the start for Hassan Whiteside (hip), the smart money is on Olynyk, who puts up decent lines even when Whiteside is playing. If Olynyk was a $20 play Iíd be more inclined to take Bamís value, but with their similar pricing Iím taking the more reliable floor.
Other centers to consider: Jusuf Nurkic, POR vs. MIA ($21); John Henson, MIL at MEM ($10)
CENTER TO AVOID
Willie Cauley-Stein, SAC at OKC ($20): The youngster is just getting back on the floor after an injury, and even though Steven Adams may sit tonight, I think $20 is simply too high of a price to pay for the kind of production youíll see from Cauley-Stein on a regular basis. Guys like Henson and Olynyk and even Adebayo will likely give you more for less money.