This new column covers daily rankings and strategy for Draft.com's DFS games. If you aren’t familiar with DRAFT, it’s an innovative DFS game with a live draft feature -- instead of building within a salary cap, you're participating in snake drafts that typically last 2-5 minutes. The scoring system is identical to FanDuel, and anyone you draft is yours alone -- if you take LeBron James with your first pick, nobody else in your league can have him.
Below, I will highlight several players who are projected too high/low on DRAFT’s default rankings. This should provide insight to potential values and avoidable land mines for your squad. We will then parse through some game theory and overall strategy for tonight’s DRAFT slate.
Best of luck and happy drafting!
These players have a great chance to outperform their DRAFT projection.
Damian Lillard – G – Portland (DRAFT Projection: 39.7 FP)
Take notice, as most DRAFT users will probably recognize Lillard’s underrated projection despite his red-hot ways. A high-scoring home matchup vs Oklahoma City (who is on a road back-to-back) makes matters even better. As a result, I’m prioritizing Lillard to fourth overall on the pre-draft rankings, positioning him behind LeBron, Westbrook, and Harden.
Kyrie Irving – G – Boston (DRAFT Projection: 34.4 FP)
The matchup doesn’t look great from a defensive efficiency standpoint, as Houston ranks fourth vs PGs on the season. However, this is a prime-time statement game for Kyrie and company. Irving has notched some remarkable efficiency as of late, collecting 144 fantasy points over just 82 minutes in his past three games (1.76 FP/minute & 48 FPPG). While that rate will likely drop in this matchup, Kyrie’s minutes and opportunities should extend with Boston asking him to take control this evening. I’ll take Irving over Chris Paul tonight, promoting him to fourth in the guard pecking order (behind Westbrook, Harden, Lillard).
Rudy Gobert – C – Utah (DRAFT Projection: 36.9 FP)
This raw projection seems fair for Rudy, but I wanted to highlight his upside in this matchup. Sacramento has been terrible against opposing centers this season, ranking 28th in defensive efficiency in that category. The also rank 27th in overall rebound rate. On top of that, big man Willie Cauley-Stein is doubtful tonight, creating an even larger mismatch (and fantasy opportunity) for Gobert … Drummond and Jokic are clearly the top two centers of this slate, but Gobert provides an excellent fallback option in this beautiful draw. In other words, I won’t reach for Jokic or Drummond in three (or larger) person leagues, knowing Gobert could reasonably provide similar upside.
Aaron Gordon – F – Orlando (DRAFT Projection: 31.5 FP)
Gordon has routinely surpasses this projection since returning following the All-Star break. In fact, he has notched 43, 37, and 54 fantasy points respectively over the past three games. He has a confident matchup against a hobbled Memphis frontcourt that has been struggling in overall defense as of late. I’ll take Gordon ahead of Blake Griffin tonight (more on that situation later).
Larry Nance Jr. – F – Cleveland (DRAFT Projection: 25.1 FP)
This player spotlight caters to leagues with four or more people. There’s a substantial drop-off at the forward position, following players like LeBron, George, Randle, Gordon, and Griffin. My initial advice suggests prioritizing the forward position while trying to snag two of those guys. However, that may not be possible in larger leagues. In that case, you’ll be taking a chance with players projected at 30 fantasy points or lower. Larry Nance Jr is someone who could provide meaningful upside despite a rather modest projection. The game environment vs Denver looks good, and Nance has posted 33+ FP in three of his past seven contests (including 45 FP at Memphis).
These players may not live up to their DRAFT projection.
Blake Griffin – F – Detroit (DRAFT Projection: 36.0 FP)
I must seem like a hater, as Blake Griffin has been labelled overrated in nearly every DRAFT Strategy column I have written. Granted, he bounced-back nicely while playing up in pace yesterday at Orlando (39 FP). However, a back-to-back road set at Miami could regress Griffin’s production somewhere closer to the 23 FPPG in four previous games. I’ll easily take Paul George or Aaron Gordon at the forward position over Blake.
Paul Millsap – F – Denver (DRAFT Projection: 31.2 FP)
Millsap could realistically achieve this projection, but it would require some excellent efficiency. To be clear, I’m not telling you to completely ignore Millsap in your DRAFT leagues. Instead, I would implore you to realize the substantial drop-off at the forward position. LeBron, George, Gordon, Randle, and Griffin represent the top two tiers of the position. Then Millsap and Nance come into play (maybe Brandon Ingram if he suits up). I would much rather snag two of the top four forwards (especially in 2-4 person leagues) than have to rely on Millsap or others in this range.
Lonzo Ball – G – LA Lakers (DRAFT Projection: 33.2 FP)
I understand Lonzo Ball has been terrific lately, repeatedly displaying the ability to surpass this 33 FP projection. However, the Spurs are a sound defensive club (2nd in team d-eff, 10th vs PGs, 7th best in assists allowed). It’s also worth mentioning that Lonzo’s upside comes from the volatile category of steals. We can’t rely on that every night, especially against a San Antonio team that ranks 10th in turnovers per possession.
I already stressed the importance of snagging elite forwards on this slate. If you haven’t already, go ahead and read Paul Millsap’s write-up to get a clear picture of my approach to this position.
I’m willing to wait for a center tonight. The position is relatively deep, and you only need to roster one of them. Rudy Gobert, Nikola Vucevic, and Clint Capela make for plausible alternatives to Jokic and Drummond. However, the drop-off comes after Capela in my opinion, so don’t wait too long in deeper leagues.
Keep your eye on questionable players. Tyreke Evans and Brandon Ingram are the main guys to watch. Evans would make for a solid pick (remember, no Marc Gasol for Memphis) if he’s listed as a “full go”. Ingram would provide some much-needed depth to the forward position if he’s playing without restrictions. I’d look to him right behind the aforementioned wave of LeBron, George, Randle, and Gordon – potentially even taking him ahead of Griffin.