Last night only featured two games to choose from, but tonight, the other 26 NBA teams will be in action. This means it will be more comfortable in some ways and more difficult in others to set your daily fantasy lineups. We’ll embark on this journey together like Ash and Pikachu.
I started this series yesterday. Remember the rules!
We’ll give playable and non-playable (to me, anyway) NBA athletes at each tier based on their dollar worth, which generally ranges similarly from Yahoo, DraftKings, FanDuel. Two choices will be made from each category: One to play (yah, 👍) and one to stay away (nah, 👎), except for the final one. You’ll see why.
For those of you who need a little extra to finish your Christmas shopping, we’re all in this together.
Tier 1 – Elites
👍 Ben Simmons, PG/SF, Philadelphia 76ers
Luka Dončić is priced at over $11,400 on FanDuel, $10,000 on DraftKings, and $53 on Yahoo. He’ll be a favorite all season long, but in terms of value, Simmons should fill the stat sheet against the defensively challenged Wizards. Last time he went head-to-head with Russell Westbrook, he emerged with 29 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists, four blocks, and three steals. At his price, it would be a rewarding haul if he were to replicate that performance tonight; plus, it saves you a few dollars to fill some other areas, which we’ll get to.
👎 Jayson Tatum, PF/SF, Boston Celtics
Tatum is incredible, but that price tag is a little too steep here, more specifically, too risky, considering he’ll be opposite the Bucks. Sure, it was just preseason, but he’s coming off a 9-for-30 stretch over his last two games. Let’s see that turnaround first. Additionally, there are just better value-options around or below these same prices tonight, like Jimmy Butler, Domantas Sabonis, Bam Adebayo, and Devin Booker.
Tier 2 – Middle-Tier
👍 DeAndre Ayton, C, Phoenix Suns
With Kristaps Porzingis out, take advantage. Ayton’s looked good in preseason, and now he’s with the Point God leading the way, so he’s poised for a career year in Phoenix. He’s cheaper than Andre Drummond and Nikola Vučević by $6 on Yahoo and just under $1,000 on DK and FD, and should produce similarly against the Dallas Mavericks.
👎 Julius Randle, PF/C, New York Knicks
Randle shot 13-for-41 against the Indiana Pacers’ combination of Myles Turner and Sabonis last season, averaging 13 points over three games. He did pull down 37 rebounds during those contests, but half came in one outing alone. He may bully his way to a decent stat-line by the end of the night, but I wouldn’t feel great playing him over lower-priced Christian Wood, Michael Porter, Jr., LaMarcus Aldridge or John Collins tonight.
Tier 3 – Sleepers
👍: DeJounte Murray, PG, San Antonio Spurs
Incredible value on someone who will reach the $30/$7,000 mark later this season. Murray faces Ja Morant and the Memphis Grizzlies tonight. He rewarded fantasy players who trusted him last year while healthy after missing 2018-19 with a torn ACL. Murray was limited to just 25.6 minutes per game but averaged nearly 11 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1.7 steals. With less of a minutes restriction, ideally around 30, expect improved all-around stat-lines and good value early on.
👎 Robert Covington, PF, Portland Trail Blazers
The well-traveled Trail Blazer will make his Portland debut tonight against the Utah Jazz. Covington may seem like a steal at this number, but given how many moving parts are in Portland, you’ll want to steer clear of guys like him and Carmelo Anthony until their roles become more defined. Plus, Utah is not fun to play against defensively. Don’t hold me responsible if he accounts for five steals, though. 🙃
Tier 4 – Rookies
👍 Deni Avdija, SF/PF, Washington Wizards
The 2020 No. 9 overall pick has a “good chance” to be a starter, according to Wizards head coach Scott Brooks. Avdija arrives at very friendly pricing, and although he’s up against the 76ers, among rookies, he may be worth an upside play if he starts. LaMelo Ball, tantalizing as he is, is also worth a look here as he faces the Cavaliers.
👎 Obi Toppin, PF/SF, New York Knicks
Too risky. We must see how he fits with others in a regular-season environment first. And similar to the previously mentioned Randle, the Pacers’ defense is a rough jumping-off point for him, and really, all of the Knicks.
Tier 5 – Fuck it
👍 Hassan Whiteside, C, Sacramento Kings
More of a Fuck It play on DK and Yahoo, but Whiteside, for all his faults, is a double-double threat even in limited minutes. We’ve often looked up to see Whiteside record 14 points and 15 rebounds in 22 minutes, or something close to those numbers. Even if his role is limited in Sacramento, expect his stat-hunting to result in inflated positive numbers all season. The Kings have the Denver Nuggets today.