The DraftKings Roster Build (3-19-18)

What’s up, everybody? I’m usually joined by Kevin Roberts here, but he’s out today. As usual, I’m going to go through each of the five primary positions and break down some of my favorite plays at each of them. Kevin normally handles the FanDuel side of things, which means this will be DraftKings-oriented today.

I typically break things down from a cash game perspective, but now that we’re in the season’s late stages, I’m generally looking at things through a GPP lens. Things like rotations and playing time are less predictable with so many teams tanking and dealing with injuries at this point, so there’s inherent risk in playing at all right now. As such, I think the line between cash plays and tourney plays is blurry at this point in the season.

Anyway, here’s how I’m looking at Monday’s slate.

Antonio Blakeney, PG, Chicago Bulls ($3,200)

I touted Blakeney in this spot on Saturday, and he contributed about 18 DK points in 27 minutes of action against the Cavs. While that’s not quite what I was hoping for, it is encouraging to see him logging steady minutes. Considering his price tag hasn’t budged since, I’m highly interested in going right back to the well here tonight for just $200 over the minimum.

There are a number of viable point guard values tonight, so I’m also looking at more chalky guys like Quinn Cook and Cam Payne. Blakeney is considerably cheaper than either of them tonight, though, and he makes for one of the best salary relief plays on the board in my opinion.

Blakeney has cracked the 20-DK point barrier just once in four games since joining the rotation, but he doesn’t have to go completely nuts to make him worth a roster spot. With Payne taking Kris Dunn spot as the starting point guard, Blakeney will serve as the backup shooting guard behind David Nwaba with Zach LaVine injured. Justin Holiday returned to the starting lineup in LaVine’s spot the other night, but he logged just 17 minutes.

The majority of the minutes will go to Blakeney and David Nwaba, with Jerian Grant playing a handful of minutes behind Payne. Blakeney has been aggressive, which we have to like. He averaged 32 points per game in the G League this season, and he’s not stopped gunning since getting promoted. He’s shooting under 40% from the floor in the last four games, but it’s encouraging to see that he chucked 14 shots last time out.

If a few more of those start to fall (he made just 4 of the 14 against Cleveland), he’ll crush the value on his price tag. It’s also helpful that the Bulls will be going up against a fellow tanker in the Knicks, who have struggled to defend guards all season long.

I’m not expecting him to blow up, but Blakeney feels like a decently safe play. You won’t find many guys near min price that will play minutes in the upper-20s. I’m happy to take my chances here.

Jeremy Lamb, SG/SF, Charlotte Hornets ($4,200)

With Nicolas Batum sidelined, we have Jeremy Lamb Chalk Night once again. Sometimes, there’s merit to fading chalk plays in tournaments. Nothing is guaranteed in DFS. A guy like Jeremy Lamb feels plenty safe, but he’s certainly not a lock to be the best value play on the board.

Sometimes, though, eating the chalk is the way to go, even in GPPs. Just look at Quinn Cook the other night. The guy was 45% owned in tournaments, yet he was almost a necessity for cashing that night considering he went bananas. If you miss out on a 45% chalk play that goes off, you’re on the outside looking in.

So, I’m going to go with the flow here and play Jeremy Lamb in almost 100% of my lineups in all formats. He’s a lock for cash games, as his price is too low for his upside. He averages about 22 minutes per game when he’s a reserve. In his 14 starts this season, he’s averaging 31 minutes.

We don’t know for sure that Lamb is starting, but there’s reason to believe he will. Steve Clifford trolled us all by starting Treveon Graham in a recent game when the team was without Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, but we can probably chalk that up to Clifford thinking that Graham is a more suitable small forward. I could be wrong, but it looks as though Lamb has started every game Batum has missed this season.

Lamb has a usage rate of nearly 27% and averages 1.02 fantasy points per minute this season with Batum off the floor. The matchup tonight with the 76ers isn’t ideal, but I’m playing a $4,200 Lamb if he’s getting a minimum of 30 minutes just about every time, regardless of opponent. I’m just playing the chalk in this spot.

Denzel Valentine, SG/SF, Chicago Bulls ($5,700)

I was overweight on a ton of Bulls the other night. One of the few exceptions was Denzel Valentine, who made it onto just one of my lineups. Whoops! With LaVine out, Valentine logged 39 minutes and went absolutely berserk against the Cavs, finishing with 34 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists. He also went a sizzling 8-11 from three-point range. Quite the oversight, indeed.

Well, I won’t be missing the boat on him tonight. I don’t expect Valentine to transform into Steph Curry out there again, but his price only saw a $500 hike. He’s extremely playable again tonight at just $5,700 considering he looks to have a very safe minutes floor.

LaVine, Dunn and Lauri Markkanen are out again, while Noah Vonleh is questionable after missing the last game. With Holiday and Robin Lopez on the fringes of the rotation, there are about 45 shots out there for the taking. Valentine was happy to take 20 of them last time out.

In 470 minutes without LaVine, Dunn or Markkanen out there, Valentine has averaged exactly 1.00 DK points per minute this season. The usage rate is just 23%, but it was obviously considerably higher than that the other night. Valentine is a confident player, and he thinks he’s the focal point of the offense with so many other key rotation cogs sidelined.

He’s going to garner quite a bit more ownership than he did two nights ago, and with good reason. The Bulls may have only nine warm bodies again tonight, but three of them (Lopez, Holiday, Grant) aren’t a threat to play a ton. As a result, the other six are going to get a minutes boost.

There won’t be much defense played in this game against New York, so Valentine should be in for another strong outing.

Buddy Hield is another name I’m seriously considering with Bogdan Bogdanovic out.

Al Jefferson, PF/C, Indiana Pacers ($4,300)

UPDATE: With all the value on this slate and the news that Turner is back I’m just moving from Jefferson to someone like LeBron or Giannis at PF. If you’re looking for a cheaper option, JaMychal Green for $5,700 in a golden matchup with Brooklyn with Marc Gasol out becomes my primary target. You can also look to guys like James Johnson, Kyle Kuzma and Robert Covington (GPP only). Bobby Portis Is also in play.

There was a time in the not-too-distant past when Al Jefferson was one of my favorite guys to roster in DFS. The guy was a per-minute beast during his days in Utah and Charlotte, but injuries have worn him down a bit. Now, he’s a third-stringer for the Pacers.

However, Big Al has taken a trip in the wayback machine in the last couple of games. He hasn’t played a ton this season, but he’s been thrust into rotation duty with the Pacers short-handed in the frontcourt. Domantas Sabonis has missed the last two games, and he’s out again tonight. Myles Turner is listed as questionable after missing the last game with an ankle sprain.

If Turner comes back, my interest in Jefferson obviously wanes considerably. The 25 minutes he logged two games ago was directly correlated to Turner leaving early with the ankle sprain. If Turner returns to the lineup, Jefferson’s minutes upside is extremely limited. Plus, this matchup against the Lakers screams a game that could go small.

Al has averaged an elite 1.11 DK points per minute in about 445 minutes of playing time this season. The majority (368.2, to be exact) have come without Turner or Sabonis out there. He hasn’t logged a single minute on the floor this season alongside Turner, either.

If Turner is in, Jefferson becomes a deep GPP flier at best. If Turner remains out, Jefferson instantly becomes one of the best value plays on the board with that useful F/C positional flexibility on DK.

Just keep an eye on the news. I’ll update this later if we learn that Myles is back.

Andre Drummond, C, Detroit Pistons ($8,900)

There are quite a few high-end center spends available tonight, but none of them seems to be gaining a ton of momentum from an ownership perspective. Of those at the top, though, Andre Drummond stands out as the clear best play, in my opinion.

The Pistons have been playing miserably depressing basketball for quite some time, which puts Drummond’s minutes in peril on occasion. Detroit has been on the wrong end of a number of blowouts, and Stan Van Gundy will pull the plug early if there’s no hope of a comeback. As a result, Drummond has seen 30 or fewer minutes three times in the last 10 games.

That said, he plays minutes in the upper-30s whenever games stay competitive, and when he’s able to stay out of foul trouble. Detroit’s recent schedule has featured a slew of brutal matchups against the likes of the Raptors, Jazz, Blazers and Nuggets. Tonight, they get a cushy game with one of the tankers, the Sacramento Kings.

We’ve been able to target centers against Sacramento all season long. This is one of the worst rebounding teams in basketball. Willie Cauley-Stein is an athletic seven-footer, which means you’d think he’d be a great rebounder. At this stage of his career, he’s not. Zach Randolph has been a double-double machine over the course of his career, but verticality isn’t exactly his strong suit at 36. He also doesn’t really play enough minutes to be much of a factor on the glass.

Andre Drummond should have a floor of 20 rebounds in this spot. In the only other meeting between the teams this season, Drummond finished with 16 points and 19 boards. It’s not quite 20, but I will take that if we can get it tonight. That previous game did come back in November when Blake Griffin was plying his craft in Los Angeles, but we’ve seen that Griffin’s presence hasn’t negatively impacted Drummond’s hunger for boards. Just look at the last game, when he gathered 22 caroms in the loss to Portland.

Drummond’s inconsistent scoring means his floor is fairly low, but I expect him to feast tonight against a Kings team playing for nothing. The Pistons are still technically in the playoff race, so I don’t expect any sort of shenanigans from SVG. With all the value on the board, it’s easy to play Drummond alongside one of the super expensive guys like LeBron James or Giannis Antetokounmpo.


Slotting Blakeney, Lamb, Valentine, Big Al and Andre into your lineup leaves you with a tasty $7,900 per remaining roster spot with which to play. As I just said, it’s easy to fit LeBron or Giannis in, if you so choose. As of now, I have no real lean regarding which of the two I prefer in cash games.

Good luck!

About the Author

  • Taylor Smith (tcsmith031)

  • Taylor Smith is a native Texan (required by all fellow Texans to report this at all times) and a Southern California-based sports writer. He specializes in MLB and NBA while dabbling in a few other sports like a true degen when the other two are out of season. He has written about DFS in the past at Bang The Book, and you can find some of his previous work on SB Nation and FanRag Sports.

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