DRAFT Strategy Thursday
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 James Harden with your first pick, nobody else in your league can have him.
You’ll draft two guards, two forwards and one center. Leagues are 2, 3, 6, or 10 people and the draft begins when the league is full, usually within minutes. You can find more information at Draft.com or quickly join a contest from anywhere after downloading the app!
Today's slate has six games, with a lot of tired teams taking the court for the third time this week already. There are only a couple mega-stars taking the court tonight, so consider limiting DRAFTs to 2 or 3 people. Let's begin with some big picture stats and team-vs.-position matchups -- which teams have been easiest or hardest to rack up DFS value against?
Editor’s Note: With over 15,000 reviews, DRAFT is the highest rated fantasy sports app. For a limited time, DRAFT is giving Rotoworld readers a FREE entry into a real money draft and a Money-Back Guarantee up to $100! Here's the link.http://open.playdraft.com/rotoworld?draft_campaign=NBA*2018*Partner*Rotoworld-EditorsNotes
Pace: Los Angeles at New Orleans features two of the top three teams in terms of pace of play. The bookmakers have the Pelicans as double-digit favorites, which I’m not so sure of. They’re playing in their third game of a triple-back(?) tonight, making it their fifth game in six days. This should be a fun one. I’m prioritizing some of the relatively fresh Lakers over the Pelicans, but the Pels do need to keep winning if they want to make the playoffs. Pace upgrades go to Sacramento (Atlanta ranks eighth in pace) and Memphis (Charlotte ties with Atlanta at eighth). Utah in Dallas should be slow and low scoring, while Philadelphia at Orlando should be uniformly fast and higher scoring. Detroit at Houston features two mid-range teams in terms of pace, but Houston’s far-superior offensive efficiency is going to be the driver in this game.
Defensive Efficiency: Defense is the first thing to go when teams are tired, so I’m downgrading the defensive abilities of New Orleans (15th in DE) and bumping up the Lakers a bit. Memphis (20th in DE), Charlotte (16th in DE) and Philadelphia (fourth in DE) are all playing on the second half of a back-to-back and tonight is their third game in four days. Orlando gets a bit of a break there, but Philly says they aren’t resting Joel Embiid tonight. The previously rested Tyreke Evans should be fresh as a daisy for the weary Hornets, who are in must win territory. Atlanta and Sacramento both rank in the bottom eight in DE, so bump both offenses, while Detroit and Houston are both around 10th. As if there were any reason to consider drafting any Mavericks tonight, I wouldn’t against Utah’s second-ranked defense.
Positional Defense (DvP) and Scarcity
G: The drop off between James Harden and the next highest projected option, Kemba Walker, is dramatic, as it always is. Ben Simmons, Rajon Rondo, and Jrue Holiday all get good matchups tonight, but they are tired guys. The Pelicans and Hornets need the wins the most, and motivation is a factor this time of year. There are some lower tier players in good spots as well. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Jeremy Lamb, and Buddy Hield, not to mention D.J. Augustin or Shelvin Mack will be there in the last round if you want.
Advice: I’ll take Harden first overall, but then I’m okay with locking up the other positions and waiting on guard. If I get Simmons, Walker, Evans, Ricky Rubio, Dennis Schroder or Lonzo Ball as my top guard, I’m fine with it. Injury news on Chris Paul, Bogdan Bogdanovich, and Nicolas Batum will dictate my enthusiasm for Walker, Hield, and Lamb, respectively.
F: Anthony Davis is playing so well, and the Pelicans need to keep winning in the competitive Western Conference, and it’s a great matchup, but that nagging rest/injury risk has to be in the back of your mind when you consider taking Davis tonight. If I’m able to grab Harden in the first round, my next pick is going to be Julius Randle, who should play well in a good DvP matchup against the tired Pelicans. Blake Griffin is the fall-back plan if Randle is gone, but it’s certainly possible to take both in 2-3 person DRAFTs. Other forwards to target include Nikola Mirotic, Kyle Kuzma, Joe Ingles and JaMychal Green.
Advice: I do want to lock up forward pretty early tonight. Randle and any of the guys I mentioned are probably going to be there in rounds 2-3 of smaller DRAFTs. If forced by a six or ten person DRAFT, I’m grabbing Derrick Favors or Skal Labissiere late over guys like Mike Muscala or Dario Saric, who’s been playing at a low level recently.
C: Center is the tricky spot tonight. Joel Embiid is my top choice, as Houston represents one of the worst center matchups in the league. Andre Drummond has proven he’s matchup-proof a number of times, and there are sites where you can take advantage of his reduced salary relative to Embiid, but I’m passing on DRAFT. The Magic, Lakers and Pistons offer the best fantasy matchups for opposing centers tonight, in that order. Given that Dallas has the league’s worst rebounding rate, I’m bumping Rudy Gobert a little too.
Advice: If I miss Embiid, I’ll wait and grab either Nikola Vucevic, Gobert or Clint Capela. In a six person DRAFT, take a chance on Brook Lopez, who has been playing great ball lately (averaging over 20 points with nine blocks in his last three games).
These players have a great chance to outperform their DRAFT projection/ranking.
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers (43.8 projection): Embiid is here for a couple reasons. First, I do think he outscores Drummond tonight, making him my top center choice. Second, he’s averaged over 47 fantasy points against Orlando this season, and it’s not just him—the Magic give up the third-most fantasy points to opposing centers. Finally, he’s playing terrific ball lately, with over 50 fantasy points in each of his last five games except Memphis, who dominates opposing centers (fewest fantasy points allowed).
D.J. Augustin, Orlando Magic (27.7 projection): I like the Magic tonight, and Augustin is a good late round pick likely to see 30 or more fantasy points. It’s a plus guard matchup for him, he’s playing over 30 minutes per game, and has been putting up 27 fantasy points in some really tough spots (like Toronto, Boston, and Milwaukee). We know he’s capable of 40-plus and with the fast pace and tired defense of the 76ers, I think tonight is a high end game for him.
Julius Randle, Los Angeles Lakers (40.5 projection): This is a high projection, considering that Brook Lopez and Kyle Kuzma are playing well alongside Randle, but I believe in his floor/ceiling combination tonight. Randle has four 20 point double-doubles in his last five games, just missing with nine rebounds and 21 points at Indiana Monday night. He’s averaging 16 fantasy points more than his season average over the last ten days. For all the reasons I’ve already mentioned about this game, plus his personal hot streak, Randle is a must-play for me tonight.
These players may not live up to their DRAFT projection or ranking.
Harrison Barnes, Dallas Mavericks (31.1 projection): Barnes is an up and down player, but he’s been uniformly down against Utah this season. Averaging just 14 fantasy points in 30 MPG in two meetings with the Jazz this season, Barnes faces that tough challenge again tonight. He boasts the sixth-highest projection but I’d be very surprised if he ends up a top-six forward tonight.
Kemba Walker, Charlotte Hornets (43.4 projection): I know I said I’d settle for Walker in rounds 2-3, and I will, but I’m not reaching for him super early. Memphis is the slowest team in the league, so even while their defense isn’t great and they’re also on a back-to-back tonight, it’s not a good matchup for a point guard. The Hornets would like to think they have a shot at the playoffs, but deep down I think they know it’s over. Besides, Vegas thinks they win this one easily and they have enough depth if Batum returns that Walker isn’t going to need to go all out tonight.
Dario Saric, Philadelphia 76ers (26.4 projection): Saric is the 12th highest projected forward, so you could accidentally aut0-pick him in a six or 10 person DRAFT. Don’t let that happen! Despite overall good matchups, the Magic rank a lowly 26th in fantasy points allowed to power forwards. I love Embiid tonight, I love Simmons tonight, I even like Redick more than usual, but Saric has been merely mediocre in four of his last five games. He’s not consistently providing the peripheral stats he needs to reach value, something I want to see before trusting him in this format.