Data Driven DFS: NBA 10/23

Lots of good feedback yesterday, so now I am thirsty for more attaboys! Here we go!

We have 11 freakin’ games on the board tonight and I do not want to spend four hours on this post, so we’re going to streamline the process a bit. We are going to go game-by-game because I don’t think you can really feel confident in having the right plays unless you do so, and my writing style here is to just write as I “research”, so that’s what you’ll get here most of the time. This may be a bit of a risky approach, but I am going to largely avoid teams that look way different than they did last year, just because we have no way of being confident about our projections for how they’ll play this year.

Here are your team implied totals:

Game 1: Chicago @ Charlotte

Charlotte lost Kemba Walker so there’s a ton of fantasy points up for grabs, but I have no idea who is going to take them. I’d imagine Terry Rozier does a lot of scoring for this team and Nicolas Batum ends being a much better fantasy contributor than last year, and we’ll probably see one of Bridges/Bacon/Monk/Washington become a $6K+ player, but we’re just guessing for now so I’m avoiding this situation. The Hornets have nine guys projected for more than 15 minutes to boot, and a lower total so this seems like a good option to ignore tonight.

The Bulls side is a bit more attractive with a decent 110.25 total and a tighter minutes distribution (six players projected for 85% of the minutes):

This is also pretty much the same team we saw at the end of last year. Here is the fantasy points shares for the 2018 Bulls after they acquired Otto Porter:

This is a very rough, unscientific calculation, BUT… in games where a team scored 109, 110, or 111 points last year they averaged 212 Draftkings points. Markannen’s 16% share of fantasy points would give him 34 DK points tonight and LaVine’s 13.25% share would give him 28. They are both priced right below $8K, so while these two were two of the more consistent players that I can remember last year, I’m not sure they really pop off the page right away. Otto Porter is an okay play at a pretty cheap price, but I’m guessing we’ll find some more attractive plays as we move forward. I’m off of this game on first glance. Moving on.

Game 2: Cavaliers @ Magic
Two teams that are pretty much the same as last year. Orlando was a very much above average defensive team giving up 219 fantasy points per game and playing very slow, and the Cavaliers are a bad team with a very low total, so it’s easy to scratch them off.

The Magic are better off here. Cleveland gave up an above average amount of fantasy points per game but really slowed down the other team in terms of possessions allowed. They gave up the least possessions per game in the league. Not a good sign for the Magic. The only fantasy player that is interesting in this situation for me is Vucevic at $8600. At that price you want about 45 fantasy points, here is a line graph of Vucevic’s DK totals last year with a blue dotted line drawn right at that 45 mark:

The average of all of that was 47, so I like his chances at that starting salary. He’s on my list, otherwise I’m off this game.

Game 3: Pistons @ Pacers

Two tough defensive teams who we mainly avoided last year and two pretty low totals. The Pistons are without Blake Griffin though, so that demands a quick look. The only player that looks good to me is Andre Drummond, who averaged 1.43 FPPM in games that Blake Griffin missed last year. He’s priced at $8400 and projected for 34 minutes, 34*1.43=49 fantasy points and a 5.8x return on salary there — pretty nice. The matchup is bad, but I think Drummond has a nice floor/ceiling combo there.

Game 4: T’Wolves @ Nets

Much better totals here with the Nets being the 2nd highest projected team tonight and the Wolves coming in 6th.
Wolves: We likely have a tight minutes distribution here, here’s what it looks like:

Six guys accounting for 97% of the minutes. Of course that is just a projection from, and it’s not going to be exactly right, but it’s a good sign that we can feel confident about these top six guys getting big minutes. We don’t know much about Jarrett Culver as a pro yet, and Okogie/Wiggins/Teague are very inconsistent fantasy players, so we’ll avoid them and focus on Covington/Towns.

Here is a histogram of Towns’s FPPM distribution last year with the black line being at his average value:

Good floor here from KAT with a nice ceiling as you can see how often he pushed up towards the two fantasy points per minute mark last year, and the matchup with Jarrett Allen should be a positive this year. At $10,100 Towns isn’t a lock or anything, but he’s a good way to spend $10K. As for Covington I’m less inspired after looking at what he did with the Wolves last year. At $5400 we’re looking for 30 fantasy points to make it a good game and he averaged 31 last year with the Wolves:

It’s fine, but not awe-inspiring. I suppose it’s worth noting that Okogie is projected for 25 minutes and priced at just $3500, but he’s not a guy that is going to put up a score you have to have or anything like that.

On the Nets side we have some unknowns, but a high enough total that we might want to take some risks. Kyrie should, of course, be the guy on this team, with the only other real high usage player in the starting lineup being Caris LeVert. At $8900 Kyrie could smash, so you’ll probably want him on your list but I would just rather wait and see with the new situation. I don’t have interest in anyone else either given the uncertainty, so this was a bit of a disappointment.

Game 5: Celtics @ 76ers

Low totals, new players, no obvious pricing issues… this is a stay-away from me I think. The only guy that makes sense in my head is Tatum at $6300 just because we don’t know that Kemba is going to be the same high shot attempts guy as Kyrie was. If he is more of a facilitator, I’d imagine someone on the Celtics will crush their price tag, but it’s guessing until we have some data. I’ll pass.

Game 6: Grizzlies @ Heat

Two teams that have been suppressing fantasy points for a long time. Jimmy Butler and Ja Morant are the big new names. I think Butler might be really underpriced at $7600 but that’s still guesswork. If he is the go-to ball hog guy he used to be with Miami he can easily push for 50 fantasy points, but again we just don’t know. Josh Richardson is gone so there really isn’t another proven scorer on this team, so I feel pretty good about Butler there. Bam Adebayo has a big price and a big minutes projection. Last year he played more than 30 minutes just 10 times and had these DK scores:

36, 30, 19, 34, 35, 43, 23, 49, 51, 33

Only three scores that really smashed a $7K price tag so I actually don’t have interest here when I thought I might. You could also take a gamble on Goran Dragic being more aggressive offensively this year, but I’d rather wait on that one.

Nothing interests me on the Grizzlies side as Morant is an unknown and had a preseason that doesn’t get me going for $6600 quite yet.

Game 7: Knicks @ Spurs

No chance I go near the Knicks tonight, and probably never honestly they’re something else.

The Spurs are a gross team to think about for fantasy too but they have some very low prices. DeRozan starts the year at just $7200 against a soft Knicks defense who gave up the 5th most fantasy points per game last year. He averaged 41 fantasy points per game last year which would be very strong at this price, so you have to consider him for no other reason than that, I think. That’s it for this game, but I’ll have an eye on Dejounte Murray as he returns from injury this year and is a very exciting player.

Game 8: Wizards @ Mavericks

Mavericks come in 5th in projected points against the Wizards who were one of the worst defensive teams in the league last year.
On the Wizards side we have Bradley Beal as the lone expensive option at $8800. At that price you want to get near 50 points, and here’s what Beal did after Wall’s season ended in late December:

Average value there is 49, so this price seems a touch too low for Beal. Thomas Bryant is also very interesting at $6600. Here’s what he did in his 7 games playing 30+ minutes without John Wall last year:

He averaged 45 DK points and only would’ve disappointed at that salary twice while smashing it big time four times. The Mavericks are a tough defensive team and will probably play slow, but Beal/Bryant still stand out despite the other bad news.

As for the Mavericks it’s the Doncic/Porzingis show this year but they are both priced through the roof. Those two are great players and very consistent fantasy contributors, but I’m not too into paying $9400 for Doncic right away or $8200 for Porzingis in his first regular season game back from a big injury.

Game 9: Thunder @ Jazz

Surprisingly big total for Utah here at 115.75. Mike Conley joined the team this offseason so that changes quite a bit. We also don’t know what kind of defensive team the Thunder will be with Westbrook and George gone. I’m not sure I can confidently play anybody here despite the high total. If there’s anybody it’d probably be Conley at $7500, but I doubt I end up there.

Game 11: Nuggets @ Blazers

Two good defensive teams with their main guys priced way up there. The totals are low so I think this is an easy one to scratch off as we head towards the most attractive game of the night!

Game 12: Kings @ Suns

This is your highest projected game by a good step. Both teams are pretty much the same as last year so I think we can get into it a little bit here.
These two teams were 3rd and 7th in fantasy points allowed per game last year:

Phoenix was pasted in all categories except blocks allowed. For the teams on the slate tonight they rank #1 in fantasy points against, #2 in points scored against, #4 in rebounds against, and #1 in steals against.

The Kings really just got crushed on the boards, allowing the most rebounds per game in the league. They were also #3 in points allowed of all the teams on this slate.

Yes, this data is all from last year but like I said, these teams really haven’t changed much so I think it’s unlikely that they’ll make big time defensive improvements.
Here are the projected minutes distributions:

Pretty tight rotations for these teams too so all things all looking up at this point.

With Bagley’s minutes not totally locked in for me until I see it, and the Suns being a little more exploited by guards than bigs last year, let’s focus on the back court for the Kings.

Hield and Fox combined for 33% of the teams points last year and 29% of their fantasy points. If that somehow held up and Sacramento allowed their average of 235 fantasy points tonight, you could get 78 fantasy points from these two combined, which is 5.23x return on their combined $14,900 salary.

To go further with this idea of playing them both together, I went and found all their combined fantasy scores in games they played both 20+ minutes in last year and then got the salary value at the $14,900 and histogrammed it:

Basically everything is pointing to these two being overpriced, which stinks because that was a lot of work. They definitely have big upside in this matchup but from a pricing perspective it doesn’t seem good enough for me.

I think the guy I like the most on the Kings right now is Bogdan Bogdanovic who averaged 30 DK points when playing more than 20 minutes last year. At a $4800 price tag you’re really living nicely with 30 points.

On the Suns side we have Devin Booker at $8700 which I think is a correct price. It is more enticing to play Booker when he’s in the highest projected total points scored game of the night, but he did have a good amount of disappointing games last year when he struggled with his shot:

If he plays 35 minutes tonight he’ll need to score about 1.3 fantasy points per minute to pay off the salary, and you can see how often he failed to do that last year. There is of course high upside with Booker, but he’s not the greatest cash option at such a high price.

DeAndre Ayton really has the yahtzee matchup if the Kings struggle with rebounding again this year. Of course their front court is different with Dedmon in and Cauley-Stein out, so maybe we shouldn’t assume that trend will continue in 2019. Ayton is priced at $8000 which is very high. He had some big games last year but also had a lot of games and a few longer stretches where he would’ve really disappointed at that price, so I don’t think this price is great for us.

We don’t know how Rubio will perform in this offense with Booker having the ball in his hands a bunch, but at $5800 I think there’s upside there. I’ll probably wait and see on him. Mikal Bridges is projected for close to 30 minutes at $4000, but he was a really low FPPM producer last year. I like him nonetheless for such a cheap price in this game and with the possibility of him taking a big step forward in his second year here.

All of that to say that I don’t think there are any really great plays in this game besides Bogdanovic. Certainly a few guys will put up big scores in this one, but it’s really tough to pinpoint who given the pricing. Nice job, Draftkings.

Okay that is all eleven games! Good luck to everybody!

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