NBA Core 4: March 3

Happy Friday!  We are welcomed with a nice 10-game slate tonight.  It is basically a nine-game slate since Memphis and Dallas has an O/U of 190!  However, let’s get right to it with my core plays that will highlight two guards and two forwards that I am locking into my lineups tonight on FantasyDraft.

Gordon Hayward ($14,000)

One of my favorite things to take advantage of in NBA DFS is the Utah Jazz player pricing.  The low pricing is mainly due to them playing at the slowest pace in the entire league.  However, tonight Utah plays at home against the fastest paced team in the league the Brooklyn Nets!  Rodney Hood is out for tonight’s game with an injury and although you may not think that’s much of a benefit elsewhere, well it is for Gordon Hayward.  With Hood off the floor this season, Hayward’s usage rate jumps to 31.7% as he averages 1.17 FPPM.  He will be well rested as the Jazz got blown away at home versus the Minnesota Timberwolves last game 107-80.  Hayward only played 25 minutes in that game, which is a blessing in disguise in my opinion as the Jazz were playing their fourth game in six nights and needed a break.

There is no doubt a blowout risk in this one as the Nets are 3-25 on the road this season and are last in almost every defensive category imaginable.  The Jazz are currently favored by -13.5, but planning for a blowout is never a good idea.  Over the last 12 games the Nets are 1-11, however in those 11 losses, nine of them have been under double-digits.  Do not fade this amazing situation just because Hayward may miss his last rotation of the night.  The situation is too good with Hayward priced at $14,000 on FantasyDraft and he’s been proving why he’s one of the best small forward’s in the league.  Brooklyn is the punching bag of the NBA this season and to target players against them has paid off big time.  They are last in opponent’s points per game and first in pace.  Those statistics alone are a recipe for disaster.

D’Angelo Russell ($13,000)

Losers of five straight games, the Los Angeles Lakers are employing full youth movement.  With Lou Williams out of the mix, it’s time to finally see D’Angelo Russell get the minutes he has deserved.  He has played an average of 33.7 MPG since Williams departure, which is so much higher than his season average of just 27.0 MPG.  Another thing Russell has increased since Williams left, is his field goal attempts (FGA).  He is averaging 19.7 FGA’s over the last three games, which again is much higher than his season average of 13.2 FGA’s.  During that stretch Russell is averaging 23.3 PPG and 6.0 APG and has led the Lakers in usage rate with 32.9% while averaging 1.20 FPPM.  The best part is that he still comes at a price of $13,000 on FantasyDraft!  If he continues this pace, he may not get much cheaper.

As for his matchup tonight as a point guard, it doesn’t get much better than playing against one of the worst defensive point guard’s in the league in Isaiah Thomas.  Many times Thomas is switched onto a shooting guard as Avery Bradley guards the opposing point guards.  Even though that may totally happen, is D’Angelo Russell at that type of caliber yet?  That’s up for debate.  Russell has never been one to shy away from a shot and given the volume that he is playing with lately, the matchup won’t matter.  Boston is currently 19th in DvP vs PG’s this season as they are allowing 47.01 FantasyDraft points to opposing PG’s.  Russell is shooting much better at the Staples Center than on the road this season, especially from 3-point range.  His percentage increases from 32.0% on the road to 38.6% at home.

Kristaps Porzingis ($12,300)

Over the last two months, I would not have expected Kristaps Porzingis to be in any recommendation for me outside of a pure tournament play due to how inconsistent he has been this season.  However, he is coming off of a good game in Orlando where he poured in 20 points and gobbled up nine rebounds.  He still hasn’t found his shooting groove in a little while as he’s only shooting 37.5% from the field in his last four games.  However, to be honest what trumps everything is the incredible matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers.  Everyone crushes the 76ers!  Over the last three games, Philadelphia is 28th in most points allowed in the paint.  That definitely is not Porzingis’ bread and butter as he ranks just 77th for the entire league in points scored in the paint, but he’s still 7’3” and can basically score wherever he wants.

Many people were burned by the assumption that Kyle O’Quinn was going to draw the start last game.  He was announced the starter earlier in the day, but Porzingis started and I would expect that trend to continue tonight.  Why is this matchup so amazing against the Philadelphia 76ers?  Well, if you haven’t seen the YouTube clip of Jahlil Okafor yet, do yourself a favor and give it a watch!  Without Joel Embiid on the floor, the 76ers have absolutely no rim protector.  Okafor is 66th among 70 centers in defensive real plus-minus this season and Dario Saric is 69th out of 92 power forwards.  Philadelphia plays much better at home this season, which will make this game even more competitive.  It’s not often you find one of the best young players in a matchup this good with only a price tag of $12,300 on FantasyDraft.

DeMar DeRozan ($16,400)

The most expensive player of the core four tonight will be DeMar DeRozan.  With Kyle Lowry out for another month or so, the Raptors will lean on their other All-Star guard.  This is a rare situation in which the Toronto Raptors and the Washington Wizards are basically playing a double-header.  These two teams matched up two days ago with the Wizards coming out on top 105-96 in Toronto.  Tonight’s matchup will be in Washington where the Wizards are a very impressive 25-8 this season.  DeRozan has received a $800 price decrease on FantasyDraft as he’s now down to $16,400!  The discounted price in a home matchup against a team he has destroyed this season is something we need to take advantage of.  DeRozan has averaged 32.0 PPG, 4.5 RPG and 3.5 APG against the Wizards this season.  Sign me up!

With Kyle Lowry off the floor this season, DeRozan has a 42.9% usage rate and averages 1.37 FPPM.  Lowry was the league leader in minutes per game with 37.7 and that is transferring over to DeRozan for the rest of the month.  Over the last four games sans Lowry, DeRozan has averaged 34.3 PPG and 6.25 RPG while shooting 49.4% from the field.  He also is taking 22.3 FGA’s per game and is averaging 36.0 MPG.  All of those stats are above his season average which is something I love to target.  I can’t think of a better situation to roll out DeRozan than tonight with his cheap price tag.  Tonight’s game will be very competitive as Toronto is one game behind Washington for the third seed in the Eastern Conference.  They have split the season series so this game will give the winner the tie-breaker in playoff scenarios.

With the core four in your lineup on FantasyDraft, the remaining salary is $11,075/player which gives plenty of options.  Good luck with your lineups tonight!  Find me on Twitter @tyschmidt4 and check out our great NBA content at!

Tyler Schmidt

Tyler Schmidt

Good luck with your lineups tonight. Find me on Twitter @tyschmidt4 and check out our great NBA content at DFSDatalytics! Tyler is from Bloomington, MN.  He went to Augsburg College in which he played basketball for 4 years and graduated with a bachelor's degree in MIS.

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