NBA DFS Matchups: Breaking Down How I Break It Down
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
The matchups for Point Guard tonight exclude a couple of the main spots we prefer to attack (at Denver, at home against New Orleans), but we still have some very nice spots to exploit. PGs at home against the Nets have been successful dating all the way back through December (93% consistency), and we all know that Stephen Curry is the weakest defender on the Warriors giving Patrick Beverley. Dennis Schroder is in a fine spot as Chicago has been bad on the road as well, giving up 4.2 points over expectation. Houston has been surprisingly bad at home (considering Beverley and his reputation as a defender). The worst Overall spot on the board is George Hill at Dallas, who give up an average of 22 FPS and 1.8 points under expectation. Lots of spots to like!
Shooting Guard is a very weak position today, with a few big names that pop up around a bunch of lame ducks. As far as matchups are concerned, the top spot belongs to Sean Kilpatrick at home against the Pelicans giving up 4 points over expectation to the 2, and the worst is Kent Bazemore at home against Chicago. We do have plenty of hidden value however, with Mario Hezonja getting a presumed start at min price with Jodie Meeks (Thumb, Dead) and Evan Fournier (Heel, Dying) both out for the contest against Milwaukee. Overall, it looks like a day to pay away the variance at this position, or take a couple shots at the backups with opportunity.
Small Forward has some fun spots, and we have the best possible situation to attack with Aaron Gordon at home against Milwaukee, which has been good for an average of 28.74 points to the opposing player and 7.8 points above expectation. We can follow that stack up with Giannis Antetokounmpo up near the top of the list as the Magic have been quite bad as well, giving up over 3 points above expectation. An interesting spot is Trevor Ariza at home against the Warriors. Although they haven't been giving up many points on average (just over 21) it's important to notice that they've still been a plus matchup, meaning they haven't been facing high priced SFs and they've still been bad. This is a matchup Ariza should be able to exploit well. Rounding out the list is Jimmy Butler in a matchup at the Hawks, who have been great against the position averaging 3.3 points under expectation. That's not to say I wouldn't use him, but temper expectations as he is very expensive now.
Power Forward is looking fantastic for this slate and I want to load up on big men in as many spots as I can! Paul Millsap sits atop the best matchup at home against a Chicago team that has been dreadful to opposing Power Forwards, followed closely by Trevor Booker on the road against the Pelicans. Both situations yield around 7 points above expectation, and Booker seems to be a solid points-per-dollar play at only $5,300. In the middle tier of matchups, we have Ersan Ilyasova and Anthony Tolliver (both against an opponent averaging 4.6 points above), but Portland has been giving more than 30 fantasy points to PFs playing at home. The worst situation we have on the slate belongs to Derrick Favors on the road against Dallas, who are giving a paltry 17.94 points on average to the position. This slate is loaded with power forwards that I want in my lineups, it'll be hard to fit them all.
Center is another spot that is just riddled with good plays. Anthony Davis has a matchup heads and shoulders above the rest as the defensively inept Nets are giving up 9.1 points above expectation to the position, and we all know Brook Lopez doesn't care at all about rebounds. Dwight Howard and Myles Turner have the next best spots against Chicago (7.4) and at the Lakers (7.1), respectively. The matchup I'm most interested in from a ceiling standpoint is DeMarcus Cousins at Memphis. Marc Gasol isn't a glass cleaner and spends most of his time in the mid-range, giving Boogie all the room he wants in the paint. We have a whole bunch of middling matchups against Mason Plumlee, Rudy Gobert, and Jonas Valanciunas. Joel Embiid draws the “worst” matchup against Portland. As you can see, there are no negative scores to be worried about and anyone is really in play.
Games and Stacks worth Pursuing
We have some real gems on the slate for tonight, including a future playoff match between the Warriors and the Rockets. The largest implied total for the night goes to the Warriors (because of course it does) sitting at 120.5, followed by the opposing rockets at 116. We then have The Pacers traveling to the Lakers with a score of 111.5. I think I like the Raptors at Hornets game the most, as both teams play fast and loose with two strong PGs to direct traffic. The team's matchup very well and it should be a great, even game to the end. I also have a lot of interest in the Bulls at Hawks, and the Bucks at Magic. Speaking of the Magic, that's where we will be stacking. The usage will be spread between a few players (Serge Ibaka, Aaron Gordon, Elfrid Payton) with so many injuries, and that's great for fantasy purposes because we know exactly who will be racking up the cash for us. I'm almost certainly avoiding the Jazz at Mavericks, and don't think I want much of the Lakers with Walton playing keep away with the starters minutes. The Kings total is low (slate low 97 implied) and without Rudy Gay, it's understandable that they won't be winning this matchup, but that doesn't mean we can't take DeMarcus Cousins and watch him carry the world on his shoulders. Looks like a good slate with a lot of paths to success, starting with the warriors and moving towards a couple different game stacks.
Top Picks for Each Position
PG: Patrick Beverley ($5600)
Patrick Beverley is playing at home in a matchup that averages an extra 5.6 points over expectation against one of the faster paced teams in the league in a high scoring affair. We always want to get exposure to high scoring games and Beverley is a cost-effective way to do so, while still garnering a fantastic spot against Curry. He's coming off games of 40, 29, 40, and 21, so we know his minimum projection is mid-20s, and he is obviously underpriced for the matchup and type of game. I'm projecting him for 31 FPS with a ceiling of 41.
SG: Mario Hezonja ($3000)
If we ever have a situation where a min priced player is thrust into a starting role, he needs to be in consideration. When Hezonja has been projected for 20+ minutes, he has responded with an average of 17 fps, which would give us a solid return on our value. If you compare that to the 25 FPS that SGs average against the Bucks, he may be able to bring us 7-8x times his salary, solidifying him as a great punt play. Oh, and I should mention that his last full game against the Bucks he scored 43 Fantasy points. Is that good? That sounds good. I'm projected 21 FPS with a low floor and decent ceiling of 31.
SF: Aaron Gordon ($5400)
I promise I'm not promoting an Orlando stack (I might be) but Aaron Gordon is too good here to be ignored. At $5400, he needs 27 FPS to meet 5x value and Milwaukee is giving up an average of 28.74 FPS to opposing SFs. They are also giving up an average of 7.8 points above expectation, which puts Gordon at just around 30, which is even better. To add a cheery on top, Gordon gets a 3% usage bump, 2% more assists, and 1 more rebound per game without Fournier or Meeks active. This is a great situation for Gordon to really go off in what should be a good game with two evenly matched teams. My projection is 32 FPS with a ceiling of 43.
PF: Paul Millsap ($7500)
Even before getting into any of the numbers, Millsap is a good play simply based on price alone. No one is going to be surprised if he puts up 40-45 FPS except for, apparently, DraftKings. Millsap gets a pristine matchup against a weak Bulls road team who has an ailing PF in Taj Gibson and a statue of a center in Robin Lopez. Being a more athletic big, he can create shots and have his way with such a heavy-footed frontcourt. The Bulls are giving up a lot of fantasy points over expectation to opposing PFs (7.2), and I expect the Hawks to show up aggressively after getting ruined by the Pistons in their last game. Trevor Booker is a close second for my top overall play, but Millsap has a much higher ceiling and a lot more floor. I have a projection of 42 with a ceiling of 52.
C: DeMarcus Cousins ($10200)
This choice would have been harder if Rudy Gay hadn't ruptured his Achilles a couple days ago (so brutal), but it's not even close at this point. Without Gay, Cousins has a 40% usage rate and boosts to his true shooting percent and effective field goal percentage. He is this entire team without Gay on the floor and is priced in the mid $11000s to reflect it. We get at least $1000 savings on someone that is going to put up monster numbers. The Grizzlies average 5 points above expectation to opposing centers when playing at home and that's with guys that are in the $5500-$6000 range. Cousins is going to have the paint to himself while Marc Gasol runs around the arc and midrange. I don't think anyone can stop him here. I'm projecting 56 FPS with a ceiling of 74.
This is a well-rounded slate with a lot of value in all the price ranges to exploit. I imagine it's going to be a high scoring night (280-300 cash line) due simply to the nature of the games and the early value we can already utilize. Early builds have led me to a construction of paying down at the guards and up in the frontcourt, although DeMar DeRozan warrants a lot of consideration in a great game with the Hornets.
As always, you can find me on Twitter (see below) 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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