DraftKings NBA Core Plays: Friday, January 12th
Andy Means will be bringing Premium subscribers his top cash game plays and tournament pivots to build around. A former Duke basketball walk-on and now top-ranked DFS player, Andy will take an in-depth look into each of his core plays, and then blend it all together from a roster construction perspective. On weekends, the preseason maestro you all know and love, Allan Lem, takes the reigns.
Friday, January 12th
UPDATE – 3:35 PM EST
The Stephen Curry news doesn’t move the needle too much for me. If paying up for a stud, I’d rather just go all the way up to LeBron instead of Durant. I still don’t think there is a clear route to cash game roster construction tonight. My lean is to stay balanced and make Booker the highest priced guy.
For those that read this article last year, welcome back. For those that are new, thanks for reading! Here is a quick review of what I am trying to accomplish with NBA Core Plays.
First and foremost, the Core Plays I reference below are for cash game formats (e.g. 50/50, H2H, double-ups). They are the players I think you absolutely must have in your cash game lineup(s) on that day’s main slate. There is a ton of great DFS information available nowadays. However, it can also be difficult to comb through all of that information and know whom exactly to put in your lineup. After reading a lot of articles and listening to a few podcasts, you suddenly are left thinking that there are 20 guys you should be putting into your cash game lineup (“Player X is an elite play!”; “Player Y is perfect for cash games!”; “Player Z is viable in all formats!”).
My goal with this article is to actually prioritize all of those viable plays. So the first player you see listed below is who I think is the most important. The second player listed is the second most important and so on and so forth. I will usually provide 3-5 players each day. While some (or all) of the plays may seem obvious, we still want to make those plays and let our opponents be the ones to make the mistakes. Not building around this core set of players, in my opinion, is a recipe for an unprofitable night.
Since I know a lot of DFS players only play tournaments, I also provide tournament pivots off of those Core Plays. I usually try to have the pivots be from the same position, same game, or same price range. The Core Plays will usually see some of the highest ownership on the slate, so how you mix them into your lineups for tournaments is up to your own personal tournament strategy.
IMPORTANT: I will make every effort to update this article as news breaks until approximately one hour before rosters lock. So please check back throughout the day as I update my Core Plays. However, if time is tight, I will forego the analysis here and only update my tags on LineupHQ. I plan to keep the tags updated on LineupHQ all the way up until lineup lock, so always make sure to check there first. Remember, what may be a great play at 2:00 PM is not always a great play at 7:00 PM. To get my most up-to-date thoughts on the slate before lineups lock, be sure to tune into Crunch Time. Kevin Roth and I will go live thirty minutes before lineups lock, and you can watch right there in LineupHQ as you build lineups.
If you aren’t already doing so, give me a follow on Twitter. I won’t answer too many specific DFS questions (in order to protect you, the Premium subscribers), but I absolutely love just talking hoops. Let’s get to it!
1) Clint Capela, C, Houston Rockets – $7,100
To begin, Capela is a great way to get access to this elite game environment tonight, as HOU/PHO has the highest total on the board (226.5). However, that definitely isn’t the only reason we want to target him tonight.
Capela is such a good fantasy point per minute producer (1.3 per minute rate this season) that he usually crushes his salary whenever he gets upper 20’s or lower 30’s minutes. However, for a variety of reasons, we don’t always see that (which is evident by his season average of 26 minutes per game).
However, it doesn’t appear as though Coach D’Antoni has much choice tonight. Both Nene and Tarik Black have already been ruled out for tonight’s contest. That means the only body available to take backup center minutes tonight is Ryan Anderson. As a result, it would shock me if Capela doesn’t at least play low 30’s minutes tonight.
And if that alone wasn’t enough to sell you, this is about as good of a matchup as Capela can get. The Suns play at the third fastest pace in the league and are 28th in defensive rating. A few more spots each way and we are looking at the holy grail of matchups.
I love Capela in all formats tonight.
(Tournament pivot: I get the sense that Capela will be chalky tonight, so there is definitely merit to going way up or way down the pricing spectrum to differentiate yourself at the center position. Not to mention the fact of how many you can play to begin with. However, if staying in this price range, I like going back to Kevin Love tonight. I like this as a bounce back spot for the Cavs tonight after last night’s debacle in Toronto. And as it concerns Love, the Pacers have been one of the worst teams in the league this season at defending opposing centers. After last night’s disaster and being $800 more than Capela, no one will touch Love tonight. I think he makes for a great tournament play as a result.)
2) T.J. Warren, SF/PF, Phoenix Suns – $6,200
Warren will probably grab his share of minutes at the four tonight, but he should really excel when he is at the three. This season, Houston ranks 26th in defensive efficiency against small forwards.
This is almost the perfect storm for us in terms of wanting to target Warren. Except for one game in December when he was $6,100, this is the cheapest he has been since November 8th. And it just so happens to fall on a night where they are down two bodies at positions he plays.
So you are telling me that we get a buy low opportunity combined with a game where he is going to play all of the minutes he can handle? Sign me up in cash games.
(Tournament pivot: We need to keep targeting this price tag on Will Barton in tournaments because there is going to come a night where it pays off in a big way. This is the lowest we have seen his price in almost two months also, and I don’t envision many DFS owners going to the well here based on the past two box scores and a matchup against Memphis. However, Barton’s minutes climbed right back up to 34 last game; he just didn’t shoot that well. Remember, we are talking about a guy who has 50 DraftKings points upside on a given night. At this low of a price tag, you should be all over that upside in tournaments.)
3) Jamal Murray, PG/SG, Denver Nuggets – $5,800
Well, this price tag doesn’t make much sense. Despite the Grizzlies only ranking 18th in defensive rating this season, it appears opposing teams are still getting price decreases when they face them??
Unless it is an ownership thing, that is the only explanation I can offer up because Murray’s game logs certainly don’t warrant this price tag. Here are the last 10:
And along with that production comes extreme safety in the minutes. For example, in the past three games he has played 36.75, 42, and 38.75 minutes.
All of these things lead to Murray being such a great cash game play on this slate. And if you happen to catch a game where the minutes are on the high end and he has an extremely efficient shooting night, he is getting you 40-50 DraftKings points. I don’t think there is much else to add on this one.
(Tournament pivot: Rajon Rondo will always be tournament viable when he is in this price range, regardless of what team he is facing. With Portland ranking fifth in defensive rating and third in defensive efficiency against opposing point guards, I doubt many DFS owners will flock to Rondo tonight. There is a possibility that changes a little if Anthony Davis is ruled out, but that is something we will have to follow throughout the day. Regardless, I like Rondo plenty in tournaments on this slate.)
ROSTER CONSTRUCTION THOUGHTS
As far as studs to spend up on, I am very high tonight on LeBron James, Chris Paul, and Devin Booker. Who (and how many) I can fit in will obviously depend a lot on how news shakes out today. I am honestly not exactly certain how I am approaching it this early in the day.
Moving past that, there are also a handful of other great plays in the HOU/PHO game to the point it will probably be a very popular game stack in all formats tonight. That being said though, the news cycle can make a lot of these words moot. We saw that on Wednesday with how often the slate got flipped upside down. It wouldn’t surprise me if we see something similar today.
INJURY/REST SITUATIONS TO MONITOR
DeMarre Carroll is questionable again for tonight. If he is unavailable, the Nets wings all get bumps but nothing that would reach must-play territory.
Anthony Davis is listed as questionable. All of the normal Pelicans get bumps if he sits again, albeit in a difficult matchup against one of the league’s best defenses.
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