NBA Core Plays: Thursday, December 6th

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 great Justin Van Zuiden takes the reigns.

Thursday, December 6th

For those that read this article the past few years, welcome back. For those that are new, I appreciate you stopping by! 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 slate.

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 throughout the day until approximately one hour before rosters lock. So please check back often as I update my Core Plays. Remember, what may be a great play at 2:00 PM is not always a great play at 6:00 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 there in order to keep everything behind the paywall, so hit me up on our RotoGrinders Discord chat if you have any specific questions. I will try to get to everything as time permits. Now let’s get to it!


This is definitely one of those slates where I am not going to spend a bunch of time telling you ‘why’ someone is a good play. As it stands now, we only have plays that are less bad than other plays.

All three games have totals that are basically between 215-217, with two of the games having huge spreads (both Boston and Portland are -13). Minutes in those two games are going to be a major crapshoot. The game with a tight spread (Utah is -2 at home versus Houston) features the second slowest team in the league (Houston) and the 10th slowest (Utah).

We have one piece of injury news we are waiting on. CJ McCollum is questionable with an ankle injury. I am going to write this assuming he is playing (played in 80 > 80 > 81 regular season games the past three years), but will touch on some late swap strategy below for DK.

As I have done a few times before on slates like this, I am just going to mix it up and talk about each site specifically. It goes without saying that this should be a night to dial it way back on your bankroll from a cash game perspective.


I feel best about starting my builds on FD with a little bit of salary relief from Evan Turner. The Trail Blazers are right there with the Celtics for the highest team total on the slate (a shade under 115), and the thing about Turner is that we are never banking on a ton of minutes in any game for him to meet value. He only averages 26 minutes per game on the year, crossing the 30-minute threshold in just three of the 23 games he has played.

His rotation also makes it less likely he gets his minutes taken way out from under him if the game does blow out. He subs into the game halfway through the third quarter for his second half stint and continues on into the fourth quarter. A guy like Damian Lillard plays the whole third quarter. If the game is out of hand by the time he is ready to come back in for the fourth quarter, he must not see his last rotation at all.

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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 displays his extensive basketball knowledge as the lead host of our top premium show – NBA Crunch Time.

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