DraftKings NBA Core Plays: Thursday, December 7th

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.

— Click here for FanDuel Core Plays —

Thursday, December 7th

UPDATE – 2:20 PM EST

With news that Paul George and Jerami Grant are out, Russell Westbrook absolutely becomes the priority high end spend. Carmelo Anthony and Steven Adams are great plays now as well. I ever so slightly prefer T.J. Warren over Melo if I had to pick one, but honestly the correct play is to roster both of them.

1) Russell Westbrook
2) Steven Adams
3) T.J. Warren
4) Carmelo Anthony

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!

THE CORE

1) T.J. Warren, SF/PF, Phoenix Suns – $6,500

With Devin Booker out for a few weeks, this is just a silly price tag on Warren. He is going to have no choice but to pick up some of the offensive slack that will be missing with Booker sidelined. Furthermore, the minutes are probably a little more secure as well.

The matchup is mostly neutral against a Washington team that is 11th in defensive rating and 13th in defensive efficiency against small forwards. However, if the Suns decide to go real small for some reason and start Warren at the power forward, he would get a nice little bump. The Wizards rank 22nd in defensive efficiency against power forwards.

This play just makes too much sense in cash games. I will be locking in Warren tonight.

(Tournament pivot: I don’t hate the idea of rolling out Troy Daniels tonight in tournaments. If Booker’s absence means the Suns try more lineups with Ulis and James on the court together, Daniels could see more minutes than we think. And when Daniels gets on the court, he is not afraid to get up some shots. This is definitely more of a large field tourney flier for me, but he could end up being one of those extremely low owned guys that you need to take down a big tournament on such a small slate.)

2) Joel Embiid, C, Philadelphia 76ers – $10,100

This might feel a little like chasing points considering Embiid dropped almost NINETY ONE DRAFTKINGS POINTS on these Lakers in the middle of November. But the game environment is just a tad too enticing for me to pass up Embiid tonight.

This is definitely a pace-up spot for Philly; any game against the Lakers is since they play at the fastest pace in the league. To their credit though, they are eighth in the league in defensive rating. The pace bump wins though as Philly has a team total (114.3) that is 6.1 points higher than their season average (108.2). And that team total just so happens to be the highest on the slate.

I highly doubt we see Julius Randle try to cover Embiid for most of the game like we saw last time these two teams faced off. Does it really matter who guards him though? No one on the Lakers stands a chance. Embiid is an extremely safe cash game play tonight. I think he is a lock for my center position on one of the rare nights that DraftKings doesn’t have a ton of appealing options at that position.

(Tournament pivot: For me, the pivot here in tournaments is to drop down to Rudy Gobert and hope that we continue to see the minutes increase as he works his way back from injury. If he gets back up into the low or mid 30’s for whatever reason, then we suddenly have a discounted price on him. This is a massive pace-up game for the Jazz. Furthermore, the Rockets give up the second most blocks on average to the center position. This is a prime blowup spot for Gobert if he gets the minutes.)

3) Bradley Beal, SG, Washington Wizards – $8,100

What was that I just said about feeling like I am chasing points? That might feel even more so with Beal considering he just put up 59.25 DraftKings points on Tuesday.

However, the matchup is just too good for Beal tonight. The Suns play at the second fastest pace in the league, yet are dead last in defensive rating. As you might expect due to those numbers, the Wizards have a team total (111.5) that is 5.4 points higher than their season average (106.1).

Beal is in a great spot tonight and is someone I will be locking into cash games.

(Tournament pivot: A good tournament pivot at this position way further down the pricing spectrum is Thabo Sefolosha. Regardless of what happens with the statuses of Rodney Hood and Raul Neto, Thabo could see extended run tonight as a primary defender on James Harden. When he has games like he did two nights ago, where he just piles up blocks/steals, basically anything else you are getting on top of that is gravy. I doubt many give Thabo a second thought tonight as a guy to roster. We should take advantage of that in tournaments, even on a small slate.)

ROSTER CONSTRUCTION THOUGHTS

Russell Westbrook is obviously in a great spot tonight. A key decision point will be whether we jam him into cash games at this big price tag. My lean early in the day is to not go higher than Embiid, but that is certainly subject to change as I look into it a bit more as the day progresses.

INJURY/REST SITUATIONS TO MONITOR

Dario Saric and T.J. McConnell are questionable for Philly. Being that this is the first game of the night, we should absolutely have clarity on this situation with plenty of time to act on it.

Meet the Experts Content Posting Times

About the Author

  • Andy Means (meansy53)

  • Andy Means, aka meansy53, was a walk-on with the esteemed Duke University basketball team for three years before graduating in 2004. He has a Masters in Accounting from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business and has been playing DFS since 2014 – professionally since 2016. He is a featured contributor for RotoGrinders who has qualified for multiple live finals and has been a consistent top-ranked Grinder.

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Comments

  • kpotocza

    Andy, what are your feelings on 4-game slates? I know you usually recommend scaling back on 2 and 3 gamers but do you feel 4 is the “safe zone” to play the full amount? I’m always caught in between on these 4-5 gamers.

  • meansy53

    • 477

      RG Overall Ranking

    • x2

      2016 DraftKings FBWC Finalist

    • 2016 DraftKings FBBWC Finalist

    Here are my thoughts for cash games due to slate size.

    2-3 games: Don’t do it.

    6+ games: Allllllll abooooooard.

    4-5 games: Slate specific. Are you forced to roster just awful plays? Is said player only in consideration because of the nature of the slate? I tend to avoid cash games on those kinds of slates.

    However, if there are guys in good spots and also some really good cheap value plays, I am way more likely to play cash games.

    Another variable is the game environments. Like tonight, we have three really good teams to target in the 76ers, Thunder, and Wizards due to their opponents playing fast and being bad defensively (with the exception of LAL). That makes you feel good about the guys you are rostering.

    So yeah, I think I am definitely playing cash games tonight. I feel like a good amount of the guys in consideration tonight would also be in consideration on bigger slates.

    Sorry for rambling…

  • nickzylak

    Thanks meansy. I’ve always had the same question. I never do on 2-3 game slates or 4 game slates where the games all blow. But some nights the smaller slates have good games that I am fine with targeting for cash. Thanks for your input

  • LesJohns

    Rambling was perfect there, Andy. Great explanation, and much appreciated.

    I’m personally all aboard cash games today, but sitting out Gpps because of personal time constraints.

    As the core plays are all mid-to-upper tiered guys, still looking for a couple of value plays.

  • zbark2

    • 395

      RG Overall Ranking

    • Ranked #42

      RG Tiered Ranking

    It is now officially a Russ Westbrook day ha

  • Heatnation7

    why does the rotogrinders model like Caris Lavert so much? am I missing something key news wise?

  • davidfirwin

    With George out, is Melo now a lock? Also, is Felton or Abrines worth a punt with Grant out?

  • Jordanutd

    The guy I love tonight that no one is talking about is Gobert. 6200 in a pace up game against the rockets who shoot 3’s or layups and Capela hangs around the basket…. Tons of opportunities for Gobert and I don’t think people will play him yet. He played 27 minutes last game on 2nd night of back to back…

  • kpotocza

    Thanks! Great info.

  • cpchimps

    @Jordanutd said...

    The guy I love tonight that no one is talking about is Gobert. 6200 in a pace up game against the rockets who shoot 3’s or layups and Capela hangs around the basket…. Tons of opportunities for Gobert and I don’t think people will play him yet. He played 27 minutes last game on 2nd night of back to back…

    “no one is talking about…Gobert” is a tad incorrect. He literally mentions him in the article you are commenting on. lol

  • Jordanutd

    That’s why I commented here. Only place I have seen it.

  • shockeyville80

    @Jordanutd said...

    That’s why I commented here. Only place I have seen it.

    I like Capela right back on the other side. He’s had some decent games against Gobert and if the game stays close I’d think he’d see at least as many minutes as Rudy. Earlier this season he played 22 minutes vs. Utah (blowout) and scored ~29fp.

    Gobert also may not have the minutes upside we need yet as he’s just come back from injury, but that is only speculation on my part.

  • meansy53

    • 477

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    • x2

      2016 DraftKings FBWC Finalist

    • 2016 DraftKings FBBWC Finalist

    @Heatnation7 said...

    why does the rotogrinders model like Caris Lavert so much? am I missing something key news wise?

    I wouldn’t put too much stock into what it says early in the day. The guys who work on those projections are fine tuning it throughout the day, so give it a little bit of time before you dive too deep into it.

  • meansy53

    • 477

      RG Overall Ranking

    • x2

      2016 DraftKings FBWC Finalist

    • 2016 DraftKings FBBWC Finalist

    @davidfirwin said...

    With George out, is Melo now a lock? Also, is Felton or Abrines worth a punt with Grant out?

    Yes, to Melo…just put in an update.

    Felton more so than Abrines, but both for tournaments. Roberson is the cheap guy for cash games I think.

  • Arlowe84

    Can’t believe I’m saying this but does Roberson now become an elite value play tonite? This seems like his type of game to rack up a ton of peripherals!

  • meansy53

    • 477

      RG Overall Ranking

    • x2

      2016 DraftKings FBWC Finalist

    • 2016 DraftKings FBBWC Finalist

    @Arlowe84 said...

    Can’t believe I’m saying this but does Roberson now become an elite value play tonite? This seems like his type of game to rack up a ton of peripherals!

    I wouldn’t call it elite, but I might call it borderline necessary!

  • Nape

    Meansy, thanks for all info! Cash LU was awesome last night. I’m so much more comfortable doing NBA now after reading this article daily. Not necessarily for your picks, but the logic you put into it. I’ve learned how to minimize risk, and play for upside. Like last night a lot of ppl went to Mason Plumlee, I went to John Henson, because I knew he would get run against Drummond, and his skill set would afford him to reach value based on 20-25 mins. So, thanks for helping me think in that sense.

    Tonight, i’m not doing much cash, but going overweight on the field with Josh Jackson and Jordan Clarkson. I like these two to play between 20-30 mins in pace up games. I think both will have good usage with the second unit, and in Jackson’s case, help take up some of the usage left by Booker.

    Do you like the way i’m approaching this? Thanks!

  • Cdavis21

    Capela or diwindle? Same price who do you think has the better upside?

  • meansy53

    • 477

      RG Overall Ranking

    • x2

      2016 DraftKings FBWC Finalist

    • 2016 DraftKings FBBWC Finalist

    @Nape said...

    Meansy, thanks for all info! Cash LU was awesome last night. I’m so much more comfortable doing NBA now after reading this article daily. Not necessarily for your picks, but the logic you put into it. I’ve learned how to minimize risk, and play for upside. Like last night a lot of ppl went to Mason Plumlee, I went to John Henson, because I knew he would get run against Drummond, and his skill set would afford him to reach value based on 20-25 mins. So, thanks for helping me think in that sense.

    Tonight, i’m not doing much cash, but going overweight on the field with Josh Jackson and Jordan Clarkson. I like these two to play between 20-30 mins in pace up games. I think both will have good usage with the second unit, and in Jackson’s case, help take up some of the usage left by Booker.

    Do you like the way i’m approaching this? Thanks!

    Yeah, no complaints with that. I’d throw Mike James in there too. I think he commands a ton of usage tonight, as he probably gets some run at the two.

  • meansy53

    • 477

      RG Overall Ranking

    • x2

      2016 DraftKings FBWC Finalist

    • 2016 DraftKings FBBWC Finalist

    @Cdavis21 said...

    Capela or diwindle? Same price who do you think has the better upside?

    I lean Capela here but not by much.

  • LesJohns

    @meansy53 said...

    Yeah, no complaints with that. I’d throw Mike James in there too. I think he commands a ton of usage tonight, as he probably gets some run at the two.

    Do you go James>Ullis? Same exact price.

  • meansy53

    • 477

      RG Overall Ranking

    • x2

      2016 DraftKings FBWC Finalist

    • 2016 DraftKings FBBWC Finalist

    @LesJohns said...

    Do you go James>Ullis? Same exact price.

    I would

  • Cdavis21

    That’s kinda what was I thinking. Thanks man

  • jessiem

    Should of stuck with the sixers stack

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