This article is part of our FantasyDraft NBA series.
The NBA kicks off 2018 with a modest but intriguing four-game slate that has an abundance of favorable individual matchups. There are also three teams on back-to-backs, including a Lakers squad that's coming off a double-overtime loss. Without further ado, let's see how all the different factors come into play with regards to lineup construction.
Kyle Lowry, TOR vs. MIL ($15,600): Lowry's fantasy-point totals have fluctuated some in the last several games, but he's nevertheless scored no fewer than 26.25 in the last nine contests. He's also been at or over 40 on three occasions and over 50 once over that stretch, while the Bucks come in allowing 60.1 fantasy points per game to point guards over the last five games, a notably higher figure than the 46.1 they've surrendered to the position on the season. Lowry is averaging 1.19 fantasy points per minute over the aforementioned nine-game span, leaving him poised for strong value in this favorable Monday matchup.
Evan Fournier, ORL at BKN ($11,500): Spencer Dinwiddie ($12,100) is also worthy of consideration at this level and in this same contest, while Brooklyn teammate Caris LeVert ($11,200) can serve as an excellent pivot just $300 down as well. Meanwhile, Fournier is in play in this same game due to an appealing matchup against a Nets squad that's allowed 47.8 fantasy points per game to two-guards on the season, along with 3.0 made three-pointers and 43.0 percent shooting. Fournier has also started to heat up again after recently returning from a multi-game absence due to an ankle injury, as he's scored 32.25 and 37.50 fantasy points in his last two contests, excellent returns on his current price. He's encouragingly played 32 and 36 minutes, respectively, in those games, demonstrating that he's apparently back at full health.
Allen Crabbe, BKN vs. ORL ($8,200): If Damian Lillard sits once again, then Shabazz Napier ($10,700) is certainly in play again as an affordable option, while Josh Hart ($9,400) is also a tournament option in what should be another start Monday. However, Crabbe is intriguing in his own right at a bargain price, considering he's seen a recent uptick in production. The young sharpshooter scored between 20.50 and 24.25 fantasy points in six of his last eight games, and while his shooting metrics continue to lag behind past seasons, Crabbe is fighting through it by remaining aggressive, as he's put up double-digit shot attempts in four contests over that span. Meanwhile, the Magic also set up as inviting targets, considering they've surrendered 48.1 fantasy points per game to two-guards on the season, along with the fifth most rebounds (7.6) and highest shooting percentage (46.0) to the position.
Karl-Anthony Towns, MIN vs. LAL ($17,700): Towns could be in for one of his more spectacular fantasy nights Monday, considering he'll catch the Lakers on the second game of a back-to-back and following a grueling double-overtime loss to the Rockets on Sunday. He already racked up an impressive 47.50 fantasy points against this same squad on Christmas Day as well, and he's scored between 39.25 and 59.00 fantasy points in the last six games. The Lakers are also one of the more vulnerable teams in the league to centers, as they come in allowing the fifth most fantasy points (39.3) per game to fives on the season – including the third most (43.8) over the last five – and the third highest shooting percentage (57.0) to the position on the season as well.
Aaron Gordon, ORL at BKN ($14,500): It can be difficult to pinpoint when Gordon is going to go off for one of his trademark explosive outings, such as his 55.75 fantasy-point effort against the Heat on Saturday night. He also racked up 48.25 against the Hawks four games prior, and those two opponents have something in common with the Nets – particularly vulnerable frontcourt defenses. That potentially bodes well for Gordon's prospects to kick off 2018, as Brooklyn allows a robust 45.3 fantasy points per game to fours on the season, including the third most (54.3) over the last 10 and fourth most (57.5) over the last five. They're also allowing the highest shooting percentage (50.0) to the position, while Gordon has shot a red-hot 53.5 percent, including 38.5 percent from three-point range, over the last five contests he's played.
John Henson, MIL at TOR ($8,700): For those that can spend up, Bismack Biyombo ($11,400) is also highly viable against the aforementioned weaknesses of the Nets frontcourt. However, Henson makes for an appealing cost-savings pivot as well, considering his bargain price and the fact he's eclipsed 20 fantasy points thrice and 30 on two other occasions over his last six games. His most recent game was the high point of that stretch, as he racked up 36.50 fantasy points versus the Thunder on Friday. Meanwhile, the Raptors come in allowing the eighth most fantasy points (37.8) to centers on the season, including the fourth most (41.3) over the last 10.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL at TOR ($20,900): Toronto has been even more vulnerable against power forwards, putting Antetokounmpo firmly in play Monday as well. The Raptors allow the eighth most fantasy points (46.1) to fours on the season, including the most (68.0) in the last five games. Meanwhile, although Antetokoumpo had reportedly been dealing with some knee soreness in recent contests, he bounced back to score 50.00 fantasy points in his most recent outing Friday. Antetokoumpo also boasts a solid track record in this same matchup, considering he averaged 24.8 points (on 58.8 percent shooting), 7.8 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.0 blocks across four games versus Toronto last season.
Jimmy Butler, MIN vs. LAL ($16,000): Like Towns, Butler should be in a position to thrive against what is likely to be a particularly tired Lakers team that just endured a double-overtime battle. Butler scored 46.50 fantasy points himself Sunday against the Pacers, and he'd compiled between 36.50 and 55.50 fantasy points in his six previous contests as well. He's averaged 28.9 points (on 53.3 percent shooting), 5.1 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 1.7 steals over that span, while the Lakers come in allowing the second most fantasy points (53.0) per game to two-guards on the campaign, including 59.3 over the last 10 and 61.6 over the last five. They're also yielding the most points (31.5) and third most made three-pointers (4.0) to the position on the season, and Butler already managed 44.75 fantasy points in this same matchup Christmas Day.