NBA DFS Matchups: Bang the Drums
Welcome to my NBA DFS matchups breakdown! Here I use trend analysis from all the teams in the league and reflect upon how each position matches up to them. I will take each game on the slate and use the FantasyLabs trend tools to see the average amount of points given to each position by individual situation.
The matchups are broken down in 3 ways:
- Whether the game is being played with a home field advantage (opposing team highlighted in green) or on the road (opposing team highlighted in yellow)
- Average points given to the position above expectation, which is the average amount of points given up to the opposing player within the position that is above or below their expected output (a value derived from how they are priced) and;
- The average points given up to the position in the current circumstance (regarding home/away splits) using historical values
My data is derived using a couple guidelines:
- The data begins from the first game of the previous month (since we are in January, it pulls back to December 1st)
- It only includes players projected for at least 18 minutes, and;
- The salary range included is $3000 - $10,000 (Because most players above 10k tend to be matchup proof to some extent, and warp the data)
I'll then take all that neat information and apply it to the current slate, giving us a look at how teams have historically fared in the circumstance, as well as a baseline for how we can project the current players filling those roles. I'll then break things down, give my thoughts on the slate and the players involved, and come up with my favorite plays with games to attack using the data available. It all gets pretty awesome, I hope you enjoy!
Without further ramblings, let's look at things, shall we?
Matchups for each position
Point Guard is generally a spot that we can separate from the field, but there doesn't seem to be many spots worth exploiting on this slate. Matthew Dellavedova holds the sweetest matchup on the board on the road against the Nuggets (5.4/44%), but his performances have been less than incredible and his minutes relatively erratic. Jeff Teague on the road at Brooklyn (5.3/71%) is a much more consistent spot yielding near identical points over expectation for the month, although his price limits his ceiling a bit. It's worth noting that Russell Westbrook is priced down pretty heavily at $11,500 and plays at home against Memphis, who has been noticeably worse defensively on the road. We also have Isaiah Thomas who has finally broken the $10,000 threshold and plays at home against the Lakers. The only matchup that looks to be a nominal downgrade is Rajon Rondo on the road against the Rockets. The Pricing looks to be very tight with guards today, so pick wisely at the Point!
Shooting Guard isn't as weak as we are used to today, with some of the best scorers at the position available to pick from. Topping the matchups sheet is Bojan Bogdanovic at home against the Pacers (6.1/77%) which is no surprise considering we've been attacking the Pacers at the 2 for the majority of the season. Dwyane Wade visiting Houston (5.4/66%), Devin Booker visiting the Kings (5.3/77%), and Glenn Robinson III at the Nets (5.1/61%) all draw very favorable spots and come into today in great form. DeMar DeRozan is questionable, but because he was held out for swelling and not a setback I'm thinking he should be good to go in a matchup that has been consistently exploitable since the beginning of the year (85% have exceeded value). Evan Fournier is still underpriced coming off a heel injury that kept him out a couple weeks, but is now back into starting form and in an up-tempo home game with the Raptors. The bottom of the list in the worst game for an SG is Zach LaVine at Detroit. James Harden technically has a tough matchup, but he's the beard and it's not like that really ever matters! Overall there are a lot of options in all price ranges, you will have a lot of flexibility in your choice today.
Small Forward looks great today! Lots of good spots and worthwhile rosters, including a couple teams thin on players meaning a lot of time to go to only a couple players. Wilson Chandler is the top of the list (8.8/76%) with the best possible position for SFs on the month, and he will be soaking up a lot of minutes with frontcourt partner Gallinari out for the game. The next best matchup is Chandler Parsons up against the Thunder in OKC, who have been very generous to the position (6.9/85%) and his minutes are now staying up above 20 minutes giving him a decent floor at a very low price. We also have Caris LeVert at only $3,900, and Jimmy Butler in a nice pace up game on the road against the Rockets (1.8/63%). Aaron Gordon and Jae Crowder are now quite expensive for their assumed production with injured teammates returning and taking usage, and Trevor Ariza has just been awful from the field, so we will want to avoid them. Maurice Harkless rounds out the list with a very bad spot at home against the Mavs (-2.7/37%). You're either spending a lot of a little at SF today, with only a couple players to prioritize.
Power Forward is very low key today, with not many big names and no one to really spend on (unless you are using MME to get Cousins, of course). We have Kenneth Faried sitting atop the list with a great matchup against the Bucks (4.8/76%), but his price has risen a lot and with Jokic back it will be more difficult for him to meet value. We then have Serge Ibaka in a consistently good matchup at home against Toronto (4.7/76%), Jon Leuer in a near identical position against the T-Wolves (4.5/88%), and Ryan Anderson at home against Chicago (4.4/66%). Anthony Tolliver is still very cheap and has flashed 10x upside since Rudy Gay went down, drawing an up-pace spot at home against the Suns. Joffrey Lauvergne is one of my favorite sleepers for the day at min price against Memphis (1.2/54%). The list get really ugly after that, finishing up with Jabari Parker (-3.1/30%), Patrick Patterson (-3.2/44%), and Al-Farouq Aminu (-3.5/16%). PF looks like a great spot to save some salary today.
Center is going to be crucial for the slate today, with some very high upside players in great spots. We start at the top with Andre Drummond at home against Minnesota, in a matchup that has been just incredible for Centers (19/100%), and followed close behind by Brook Lopez at home against the Pacers (11.2/100%). If you even need to look at the other Cs on the slate, Al Horford will be popular in a fast-paced game with the Lakers (8.3/66%). Dirk Nowitzki has an interesting spot against Portland (6.9/57%) that has been less consistent but offered a high ceiling, and DeMarcus Cousins got a price decrease and draws a home game against Phoenix (6.3/75%). Karl-Anthony Towns has a fine matchup as well against Drummond, but his price is still leaving very little room for any upside. We don't have any teams that have been a negative matchup for Cs, but Toronto has been tough to find consistency at only 37% exceeding value. With C, we are playing with some of the highest upside players on any given slate. This is where you'll make your money today!
Games and Stacks worth Pursuing
What you see above you is a matrix of each team on the slate and their defensive efficiency (DE) to each individual position, arranged from best overall to worst overall. Brooklyn has ranked as the worst overall team in defensive efficiency, whereas Dallas has ranked as the best. Typically, it's a good idea to find the two teams that are the worst in DE and stack that game, hoping that they stay true to the numbers. With that in mind, I created what I call a “Stackability Score”, which adds the overall ranking of each team in a game and finds the average of those ranks. In doing this, we come up with a number between 1 and 30 that we can use to rank the games overall defensive score. The higher the number, the less defense we should be seeing. Let's look at what we have one this slate:
It looks like we will be looking to avoid the Mavs vs. Trailblazers game as they have the lowest Stackability Score at 6. The top 3 scores today are Bucks vs. Nuggets, Pacers vs. Nets, and Lakers vs. Celtics, with the Bucks vs. Nuggets being the best situation by a fairly wide margin. We can see by the DE Matrix that the Nuggets are very weak on the backcourt (30th to PG, 21st to SG), and stronger against forwards, while the Bucks struggle against the wings (27th to SG, 26TH to SF) and relatively strong against the PG. This sets up well for a 2v2 or 3v3 stack, leaving the areas they are strong to other fillers and correlated stacks in the other games.
Considering the rest of the games, the Celtics will be a slightly different team if Avery Bradley comes back, and it would be easy to see a blowout happening with the Lakers on a B2B and Boston getting their best defensive player back even in limited minutes. The Bulls on the road against Houston should be closer than people may think with the Rockets on a B2B, and we could get some really good games out of Wade & Butler if things stay close. I also really like the Grizzlies against OKC, and the Suns vs. Kings game should be close. We have a good slate with minimal blowout risk, so if you want to stack things up this slate is up your alley.
Top Picks for Each Position
Point Guard: Jeff Teague ($7500)
I'm not trying to get cute with this pick, because honestly PG is filled with landmines today. I don't trust Dellavedova's minutes/production, I don't know that I can afford Russell Westbrook (even though I really want to), and I'm a little worried about the blowout factor for IT2. So, I'm going to do what I always do and just attack the Nets! If you go over to DailyRoto's Advanced Stats page, we can see that Teague has had a bit of a usage drop over the last 5 (likely due to Paul George actually doing things lately), but is sitting at a 41.2% assist rate and an 8.3% rebound rate, both up over his season averages. The last time the Pacers faced the Nets Teague put up 57 fantasy points and is projected for 41 today. He's a safe pick that yields plenty of upside.
Shooting Guard: Devin Booker ($6800)
There are a lot of interesting spots that we could aim to exploit today, but my favorite of all is Devin Booker on the road against the Kings in what should be a pretty evenly matched game between two shaky teams. Per the Advanced Stats tool, Booker has seen increases in Usage (up 1.2%) Assist Rate (2.1%) and Rebounding Rate (.3%), and has been playing an insane 37 minutes per game over his last 5 games. He gets a matchup that has been very consistent (77% have exceeded expectation) and allowed 5.3 points over expectation to the position. His last 5 games have been 36, 33, 33.5, 33, and 34.5 giving him a very nice floor, and if his shot is really dropping we know he has 45-50-point upside. The price is fair and the matchup is good, I'll have plenty Booker in my cash game builds.
Small Forward: Wilson Chandler ($5700)
This is the easiest call of the day for me, as all the arrows point to Chandler having a monster game. First off, Chandler fits well in the game I believe has the greatest stacking potential, fitting into the position that the Bucks struggle with at SF. Secondly, Danilo Gallinari is out with a sore groin, meaning that Chandler's minutes and role are secure in the rotation. Finally, he will have half the ownership of Paul George at a much more affordable price tag, and I would be willing to bet my favorite pair of Uggs that he comes within 7 points of PG13s output. At $5700, Chandler is projected at 34 fantasy points with plenty of room to break his ceiling with a double-double. He's a lock.
Power Forward: Anthony Tolliver ($3500)
This position is hard, because there are no names that really jump of the page for me. Ibaka has a nice matchup, but his usage takes a large hit with Fournier back, and Jabari Parker has the toughest spot in my preferred stack. I'm going to go with Anthony Tolliver and punt the position so I can fit some star power in other positions. In the last 5 games, Tolliver is averaging 14.1% Usage, an Assist Rate of 6.6, and a Rebounding Rate of 10.4, and I'm aware that those numbers are rookie numbers but he's $3500 and those are all over his season averages. In his last 5 games, he has shown a floor of 6.25 and a ceiling of 35.25, so we know the bell curve is flat with him. I'm banking on the fact that the Suns have let PFs meet value over 70% of the time and that the Kings show up in a big way in their first home game in forever, and am projecting Tolliver for 21 points.
Center: Andre Drummond ($7900)
The last Center to miss value at home against the Timberwolves was Cristiano Felicio on December 13th and it was by less than a point. Since December, Centers at home have hit 40+ fantasy points 5 times and are averaging 13.6 points over expectation at a 92.9% consistency rate. Over his last 5, per the DailyRoto Advanced Stats tool, Andre Drummond is averaging 42.8 fantasy points per game and 1.4 per minute. This spot is pristine, and I'm all over it. The only other C I am considering in my teams, and only because I'm making a lot of teams, is Brook Lopez and only because he has been really good lately and still hasn't gotten a good price increase. Andre Drummond is the stone truth tonight.
I think this slate starts and ends at the Center position, and because of the lackluster options on the backcourt, I'm thinking we will have a low scoring night with a cash line around 265-270. I know people will keep going back to Yogi Ferrell (because they love a box score), but I would strongly advise against that, and we really need to watch the injury news because some high profile players (Jokic, DeRozan) are on the docket for some updates and playing time. This is a good night to stack and a solid night for cash games, so have some fun with it and enjoy the slate!
As always, you can find me on Twitter and shoot me any questions you have! I'll do my best to help all the way to lock! Good luck, and I hope you find the green!
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