DraftKings NBA Core Plays: Wednesday, February 14th

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 —

Wednesday, February 14th

UPDATE – 3:07 PM EST

We have some value open up in Atlanta with news that Ilyasova, Schroder, and Bazemore are all out. My favorite of the Hawks are Malcolm Delaney and John Collins. I slightly prefer Delaney to Tyler Dorsey because of his much higher assist rate (they should be pretty close in usage). Dorsey is of course fine for cash games as well if you need that salary relief.

Taurean Prince is definitely viable too. I think you are playing at lease one of he and Royce O’Neale. I have untagged O’Neale now because those guys are pretty close for me.

Lastly, I have tagged Anthony Davis instead of Andre Drummond, as it is extremely easy to get all the way up to him now.

1) Donovan Mitchell
2) Anthony Davis
3) Malcolm Delaney
4) John Collins

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) Donovan Mitchell, PG/SG, Utah Jazz – $7,900

I am going to write this as if Ricky Rubio sits out again tonight. He has missed the past two games with a hip injury, and it just makes sense for the Jazz to let him get an extended recovery with the All Star Break looming. I can always circle back around with an update later in the day depending on what news we get from shootaround, but Mitchell would be cash viable at the very least anyways if Rubio does play based on the matchup.

So if Rubio does indeed sit out, we have to lock in Mitchell in cash games at $7,900. In addition to the (potential) Rubio absence, we can’t forget either that Joe Johnson and Rodney Hood are out of town too. Those are three pretty important wings/guards that Mitchell does not have to share the ball with. Let’s start out this little exercise by just looking at Mitchell’s minutes and rates for the whole season.

Season: 32 minutes per game, 29% usage rate, 19% assist rate, 6.2% rebound rate

Next, let’s see what CourtIQ tells us regarding the court time Mitchell has this season with Rubio, Johnson, and Hood off of the court:

330 minutes, 36.7% usage rate, 1.29 DraftKings points per minute (0.27 increase!)

And finally, let’s look at the minutes and rates for each of the past three games without these three guys playing (Rubio played about a half of the first one).

02/09/2018 vs. Charlotte: 39 minutes, 31.1% usage rate, 15.8% assist rate, 9% rebound rate

02/11/2018 vs. Portland: 37 minutes, 34.4% usage rate, 9.3% assist rate, 8.2% rebound rate

02/12/2018 vs. San Antonio: 38 minutes, 37.6% usage rate, 26.7% assist rate, 10.2% rebound rate

Looking at all of these huge bumps he gets, it should come as literally no surprise that his DraftKings output in those three games were the following:

41, 39, 48.25

And here is the thing; he shot terribly in all of those games! He had a 45% true shooting percentage in two of them and 37.5% in the other. He shoots 54.5% on the season. We can always expect efficiency to go down as usage goes up, but I don’t expect it to dip that much.

And when teams play the Suns, efficiency usually goes up. Considering I have written a novel already about Mitchell on his own, I don’t need to dive too deep here as to why we love the matchup against Phoenix (we know this already anyways).

Dead last in defensive rating.
Third fastest team in the league.
Dead last in defensive efficiency against opposing backcourts.

Please Utah, sit out Rubio tonight!

(Tournament pivot: I like going up to Bradley Beal in tournaments, and he even popped up into a few of my cash builds. I have no idea what is going to happen tonight with the Washington point guard situation (see below), but Beal should be in line for some more ball handling duties with Tim Frazier (at the least) almost certainly out tonight. That should help his assist rate a little bit, which helps push his ceiling a little higher. We saw what kind of ceiling he has against OKC a few weeks ago when he completely takes over the offense (72.5 DraftKings points). If their backcourt is depleted tonight, we could see him try to do something similar against the Knicks. I absolutely love Beal for tournaments tonight.)

2) Royce O’Neale, SF, Utah Jazz – $4,300

If we are going to assume Rubio is out for Mitchell, we can assume the same thing for Royce. And he of course benefits from Johnson and Hood not being on the team anymore too. I know Royce was a letdown on Monday, but I am going right back to the well here in the matchup against Phoenix.

Royce is one of those rare scenarios in that he sees rate DECREASES in the absence of all of these guys. In 270+ minutes he has been on the court without Rubio, Johnson, and Hood, his usage/assist/rebound rates are all down 1%-2%. As a result, the fantasy point per minute rate is down to about 0.75 (a slight 0.05 decrease). This is due to the fact that he is mostly sharing the court with higher usage guys (Mitchell) and better rebounders (Gobert, Favors).

However, the minutes he should play tonight still make him a good cash game play at this price tag. He has played 33 and 38 minutes the past two games since entering the starting lineup. Royce looks just fine for cash games even at that 33 mark, and that doesn’t even factor in the boost in efficiency he should almost certainly get against that same Phoenix defense we just discussed above.

Plenty of people said he was a bad play the other night; I disagree. Several others will say he is a bad play again tonight; I disagree. Assuming Rubio sits out again, Royce will be in my cash game lineup unless some better cheap value opens up on this slate (which is entirely plausible considering we have 12 games).

(Tournament pivot: With the price tag back down below $6,000 after a disappointing fantasy performance on Monday, I like pivoting to Josh Jackson in tournaments in this difficult matchup against Utah. The guy has flipped some sort of switch over the past month or so, and that is reflected in his fantasy outputs. In six of his last 10 games, he has recorded between 31.5 and 46.25 DraftKings points. That kind of ceiling remains there tonight as long as Devin Booker remains out (which we should expect him to). And with this matchup against Utah, I suspect he goes a tad overlooked tonight even though he has been a popular guy to roster lately. I would happily get some exposure to him in tournaments tonight on this massive 12-game slate.)

3) Andre Drummond, C, Detroit Pistons – $10,600

If you haven’t stopped reading after the Royce plug, then I might be risking losing even more of you right now with Drummond here again in this space. He was a bit of a letdown on Monday as well in the sense that he ‘only’ got us 44.75 DraftKings points at $10,100. However, the micro matchup is significantly better tonight against Atlanta. As such, Drummond has been my highest spend so far in my lineup builds as of early this morning.

Drummond disappointed on Monday basically because he didn’t score enough points; 21 rebounds obviously ain’t too shabby. However, he only had a 41.9% true shooting percentage that game, and it is 56% on the season.

The numbers say he should be a little better in that regard tonight against Atlanta. While they don’t play as fast as New Orleans, they are a worse defense overall (25th in defensive rating) and against centers (24th in defensive efficiency against that position). In addition, here are more stats that make me like Drummond tonight.

Atlanta gives up the fifth most rebounds on average to centers. (Drummond averages the most rebounds per game in the entire league)

Atlanta gives up the third most steals on average to centers. (Drummond averages the most steals per game amongst centers in the entire league)

Atlanta gives up the sixth most blocks on average to centers. (Drummond averages the fifth most blocks per game amongst centers in the entire league)

I know it usually isn’t a popular stance to take these days, but Drummond is an extremely safe allocation of our salary cap for cash games tonight.

(Tournament pivot: This will sound repetitive too, but I think Blake Griffin is the tournament pivot here. That is especially so if Drummond happens to become chalky (he was 30+% on Monday, but it was of course a much smaller slate). Blake finally shot the ball better on Monday, but his assist rate came tumbling down and the blowout cost him about three and a half minutes of game time. Although he hasn’t shown it yet in his limited time with Detroit, I do think there is profit potential here at only $9,000 in this great matchup against Atlanta.)

ROSTER CONSTRUCTION THOUGHTS

The places to spend way up disappear a little bit when you consider Russell Westbrook is facing Memphis and James Harden and the Rockets are massive favorites against the Kings. Both of those guys are still fine options, but they probably slide down the totem pole a bit in my opinion.

I would absolutely love to get Anthony Davis against the Lakers if I could, but again, my initial builds lead me towards Drummond. Could I get Davis instead of Drummond if a few more values open up? Sure. Do I want him no matter what over Drummond if I can get him? Perhaps. Can I play both if this 12-game slate gets crazy with value? I hope! Ok, now this is for sure sounding like Monday all over again…

INJURY/REST SITUATIONS TO MONITOR

Ricky Rubio is listed questionable yet again for this matchup against the Suns. Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, and Royce O’Neale all get the bumps here if Rubio sits out.

Washington could very well be without a point guard, with Tim Frazier likely to be out (nasal surgery) and Tomas Satoransky questionable. Depending on whether or not they sign a point guard, Bradley Beal would probably handle the bulk of the ball handling here mixed in with Jodie Meeks and their wings (Porter, Oubre).

Devin Booker, Tyson Chandler, and Troy Daniels are all listed as questionable for the Suns. Booker certainly sounds closer to doubtful. If he sits out again, Josh Jackson, T.J. Warren, and Elfrid Payton get the biggest bumps here. Dragan Bender will get a boost if Tyson Chandler sits out.

JaMychal Green is questionable for tonight’s game against the Thunder. If he sits out, Jarell Martin would get a nice bump.

Draymond Green is listed as questionable, but it sounds like he is closer to probable.

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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

  • mrchrislevin

    Hi Meansy, thanks for all you do! Playing late slate only which is rare for me (mostly because if I play the main slate on Valentine’s Day, my wife might kill me). What advice would you give to nail a late slate, particularly this one? Thanks again!

  • meansy53

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    @mrchrislevin said...

    Hi Meansy, thanks for all you do! Playing late slate only which is rare for me (mostly because if I play the main slate on Valentine’s Day, my wife might kill me). What advice would you give to nail a late slate, particularly this one? Thanks again!

    Load up on Jazz!

  • davidfirwin

    If Green and Looney are both out, is there a value option you like in the Warriors’ front court especially since Bell is not playing either? It seems like they all have their minutes capped no matter what, but just thought I’d ask. If Nurkic is out, would the Warriors go small and perhaps give the minutes to Casspi?

  • rroopinsurance

    Good Stuff this morning Meansy, If Nurk is out tonight ( which I think he is ) How about Ed David or even the Kid Collins? Seems both would play 20+ mins?

  • imalosah

    I’d suggest west if both of them sit.

  • bignish

    @meansy53 said...

    Load up on Jazz!

    Touche! Fellow Duke grad here Meansy (Class of 2011), love your article.

    Are you a little worried about Jazz starters not playing in the 4th quarter here with how good they’ve been lately and the large spread? If not, I think Joe Ingles should approach lock status too at only $6100. His playmaking ability without Rubio is impressive and I don’t see his hot shooting being deterred by this Suns defense. He should be priced around $7500 imo without Rubio in the fold and Hood/Johnson no longer on the team.

    Also, what about Isaiah Thomas for only $5800 vs the Pelicans? He should see minutes in the low 30s, is in one of the highest paced environments imaginable (with how fast the Pellies are playing without Boogie), faces a bad defense and should be motivated to prove himself. IT3 will be closer to around $8K on DK by season’s end imo unless his hip flares up again.

  • rroopinsurance

    I see you have tagged Royce, I also believe he is a good option, but what about his new teammate Jae Crowder, he is the same price and also saw big mins in the last game, even in a blowout should probably play a couple extra minutes getting used to his new teammates, also is more involved offensively than Royce ( will take more shots and 3s on draftkings ), thoughts?

  • rroopinsurance

    @bignish said...

    Touche! Fellow Duke grad here Meansy (Class of 2011), love your article.

    Are you a little worried about Jazz starters not playing in the 4th quarter here with how good they’ve been lately and the large spread? If not, I think Joe Ingles should approach lock status too at only $6100. His playmaking ability without Rubio is impressive and I don’t see his hot shooting being deterred by this Suns defense. He should be priced around $7500 imo without Rubio in the fold and Hood/Johnson no longer on the team.

    Also, what about Isaiah Thomas for only $5800 vs the Pelicans? He should see minutes in the low 30s, is in one of the highest paced environments imaginable (with how fast the Pellies are playing without Boogie), faces a bad defense and should be motivated to prove himself. IT3 will be closer to around $8K on DK by season’s end imo unless his hip flares up again.

    Bignish thanks for this post, I wasnt thinkin IT that much, but I believe you are 100% right about him tonight, gonna load up

  • bignish

    @rroopinsurance said...

    Bignish thanks for this post, I wasnt thinkin IT that much, but I believe you are 100% right about him tonight, gonna load up

    You’re welcome, good luck!

  • Kmasonbx

    With Frazier out and Sotoransky looking unlikely to play how many minutes would Meeks have to play to get you interested at 3800?

  • sonic999

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    West 20 min max no thanks

  • rroopinsurance

    Hawks are in a tough spot, but now sitting, Ilyasova, Schroeder and Baze, I believe the beneficiaries will be Prince, Dedmon, J.Collins, Delaney and Dorsey, does that seem right? And how would YOU rank em? I think :
    1 Dedmon
    2 Prince
    3 Collins
    4 Delaney
    5 Dorsey

  • Kmasonbx

    @Kmasonbx said...

    With Frazier out and Sotoransky looking unlikely to play how many minutes would Meeks have to play to get you interested at 3800?

    So much for this, Sotoransky is in.

  • meansy53

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    @davidfirwin said...

    If Green and Looney are both out, is there a value option you like in the Warriors’ front court especially since Bell is not playing either? It seems like they all have their minutes capped no matter what, but just thought I’d ask. If Nurkic is out, would the Warriors go small and perhaps give the minutes to Casspi?

    Regarding the Nurkic part, I think they might do that anyways.

  • meansy53

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    @rroopinsurance said...

    Good Stuff this morning Meansy, If Nurk is out tonight ( which I think he is ) How about Ed David or even the Kid Collins? Seems both would play 20+ mins?

    Both fine for tournaments I’d say, but the Hawks value renders it irrelevant in cash games I think now.

  • meansy53

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    @bignish said...

    Touche! Fellow Duke grad here Meansy (Class of 2011), love your article.

    Are you a little worried about Jazz starters not playing in the 4th quarter here with how good they’ve been lately and the large spread? If not, I think Joe Ingles should approach lock status too at only $6100. His playmaking ability without Rubio is impressive and I don’t see his hot shooting being deterred by this Suns defense. He should be priced around $7500 imo without Rubio in the fold and Hood/Johnson no longer on the team.

    Also, what about Isaiah Thomas for only $5800 vs the Pelicans? He should see minutes in the low 30s, is in one of the highest paced environments imaginable (with how fast the Pellies are playing without Boogie), faces a bad defense and should be motivated to prove himself. IT3 will be closer to around $8K on DK by season’s end imo unless his hip flares up again.

    Nice! (and thanks for making me feel old)

    Yes, there is some blowout risk here. I didn’t think the spread would be THAT high when it came out. No way I am fading Mitchell at that price tag though.

    I definitely have different feelings than you about locking in Ingles in cash games at $6,100!

    Agree on IT…love his price tag tonight on DK.

  • meansy53

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    @rroopinsurance said...

    I see you have tagged Royce, I also believe he is a good option, but what about his new teammate Jae Crowder, he is the same price and also saw big mins in the last game, even in a blowout should probably play a couple extra minutes getting used to his new teammates, also is more involved offensively than Royce ( will take more shots and 3s on draftkings ), thoughts?

    I do like Bae Crowder tonight, but I prefer Royce (and Prince now also) over him in cash games.

  • meansy53

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    @Kmasonbx said...

    With Frazier out and Sotoransky looking unlikely to play how many minutes would Meeks have to play to get you interested at 3800?

    Sato looks good to go now, as I am sure you already saw. Just didn’t want you to think I was ignoring the question!

  • meansy53

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    @rroopinsurance said...

    Hawks are in a tough spot, but now sitting, Ilyasova, Schroeder and Baze, I believe the beneficiaries will be Prince, Dedmon, J.Collins, Delaney and Dorsey, does that seem right? And how would YOU rank em? I think :
    1 Dedmon
    2 Prince
    3 Collins
    4 Delaney
    5 Dorsey

    Delaney, Prince, Collins (slightly behind Prince due to more minutes volatility) is the clear first tier for me.

    Dorsey, Dedmon, Muscala follow in the next tier.

  • meansy53

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    @Kmasonbx said...

    So much for this, Sotoransky is in.

    Whoops, this is what I get for going through questions from the top down…

  • YAPPYKAPPY

    in reference to the hawks ranking question.. I am having a hard time deciding between Delaney and Dorsey. I feel like Dorsey has more upside here. HQ has them both projected for 30 mins with Delaney projected for 24 points and Dorsey at 23 points. I just think Delaney sucks personally but that’s just me(that’s why you’re the expert and not me lol). Are you ranking Delaney higher on volume or what is it?? Help me Yodi!! :) As always you are the bomb in these situations!! This would be for cash or gpp either way

  • DaRealDro901

    Meansy, early 2 game slate at 6:30 (IND BKN , WAS NYK), who would you load up on? I have 5 WAS players playing. You think that’s too much?

  • DaRealDro901

    Joe Johnson just signed with the Rockets and will be available to play tonight. You think he’ll start off tonight with a lot of minutes?

  • meansy53

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    @YAPPYKAPPY said...

    in reference to the hawks ranking question.. I am having a hard time deciding between Delaney and Dorsey. I feel like Dorsey has more upside here. HQ has them both projected for 30 mins with Delaney projected for 24 points and Dorsey at 23 points. I just think Delaney sucks personally but that’s just me(that’s why you’re the expert and not me lol). Are you ranking Delaney higher on volume or what is it?? Help me Yodi!! :) As always you are the bomb in these situations!! This would be for cash or gpp either way

    I am ranking Delaney ahead of Dorsey because of what I said in the update. Everything should be pretty similar for them (minutes, usage), but Delaney has the much higher assist rate.

  • meansy53

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    @DaRealDro901 said...

    Meansy, early 2 game slate at 6:30 (IND BKN , WAS NYK), who would you load up on? I have 5 WAS players playing. You think that’s too much?

    Washington, Dipo, M Turner sound good to me

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