This article is part of our FantasyDraft NBA series.
Monday night offers an ideally sized seven-game slate that has keeps lineup construction from getting too overwhelming. A key absence on the Bucks ups the fantasy value of several teammates, while a number of elite options offer plenty of firepower for tournaments in particular. With some potentially high-scoring matchups on tap, let's dive into identifying some of the most prudent investments on the night.
John Wall, WAS at DAL ($17,100): James Harden ($20,700) is certainly a consideration despite being the most expensive player on the slate, but Wall makes for an excellent pivot for those who can't quite foot the bill for The Beard. Wall recently came off a four-game stretch where he scored between 52.25 and 66.00 fantasy points, providing a glimpse at his significant tournament upside. He's been a bit "down" in the two games since, but that's still resulted in tallies of 31.50 and 38.25 fantasy points against the Hornets and Pistons, respectively. He'll be in a premium spot for a bump up in production Monday, considering the Mavericks have allowed the most fantasy points per game to point guards on the season (50.4) and over the last 10 (59.4). They've also given up the most points (26.3) and made three-pointers (3.0) to the position on the campaign, while Wall already lit them up for 23 points, 14 assists, three rebounds, one steal and one block across 37 minutes back on Nov. 7.
Jrue Holiday, NO vs. CHI ($13,400): Holiday has taken his game to a new level of late, scoring 34.00 to 52.75 fantasy points over the last seven games, a stretch during which he's generated a 23.5 percent usage rate, averaged 1.05 fantasy points per minute and shot an impressive 52.3 percent from the floor. The veteran sharpshooter draws a matchup conducive to that type of production Monday, as the Bulls have allowed 47.4 fantasy points per contest to two-guards on the season, along with the fifth most made three-pointers (3.7) and third highest shooting percentage (44.0). The fact that Chicago is playing at the third highest pace in the NBA (105.3 possessions per game) over the last three contests only serves to further Holiday's case at his reasonable price.
Tony Snell, MIL vs. PHO ($8,500): There are a number of directions one can go at this price level, including the Bulls' trio of Justin Holiday ($11,300), Zach LaVine ($10,500) and Jerian Grant ($9,700), with the latter drawing another start in place of Kris Dunn (concussion). However, Snell – a former Bull himself – checks in cheaper than all of them and should run with the first unit considering Giannis Antetokounmpo has already been ruled out for Monday's contest with his knee issue. Snell racked up 26.50 fantasy points against the Sixers in his Saturday start, and he'll be in an even better spot Monday, considering the Suns have allowed 43.6 fantasy points per game to power forwards on the season, along with bottom 10 figures in multiple other categories. Snell can space the floor effectively as well and checks in shooting a blistering 60.0 percent over his last three games, including 64.3 percent from distance.
DeMarcus Cousins, NO vs. CHI ($19,600): It's often a coin flip whether to roster Cousins or teammate Anthony Davis ($19,900), and both rank as among the safest plays for either cash or tournaments any time they're on a slate. Cousins may have the slight leg up Monday, considering the Bulls come in allowing the second most fantasy points per game (46.3) to centers over the last five games, along with the fourth most points (18.8), fifth most rebounds (12.0), second most assists (5.2) and fifth highest shooting percentage (63.0). Cousins has scored 49.75 to 64.25 fantasy points over the last five games, double-doubling in each of those contests and averaging a team-high 1.36 fantasy points per minute during that span.
Nikola Mirotic, CHI at NO ($12,300): A case could also be made for teammate Lauri Markkanen ($12,500) for many of the same reasons that make Mirotic a good play, but the latter continues to see plenty of run off the bench behind the former, checks in at a slight savings and brings more three-point upside. Mirotic is now averaging an impressive 31.36 fantasy points over 24.8 minutes on the season after a recent stretch where he scored between 28.75 and 44.50 fantasy points in eight of nine games. He could hardly draw a more appealing matchup than the Pelicans, who have allowed the second most fantasy points per game (47.2) to power forwards on the season -- including 52.7 over the last five – along with league-worst or bottom five figures in multiple other categories. That includes the second highest shooting percentage (49.0) and fifth most made three-pointers (1.9), two numbers that could spell trouble against Mirotic's career-high 48.6 percent success rate from the floor, which includes a career-best 44.7 percent figure from three-point range.
Trey Lyles, DEN vs. POR ($10,200): Lyles acquitted himself well in a start at power forward against the Suns on Friday, scoring 26.25 fantasy points over 28 minutes. He could well run with the first unit again Monday against a Blazers squad that's been particularly vulnerable to fours as of late. Portland comes in allowing the third most fantasy points per game (63.5) to power forwards over the last five games, along with the second most points (28.4), second most rebounds (18.2), fourth most made three-pointers (2.4) and sixth highest shooting percentage (50.0). The latter two figures dovetail nicely with Lyles' floor-spacing ability, a talent evidenced his career-high 50.8 percent success rate from the floor this season, including 42.2 percent from behind the arc.
Damian Lillard, POR at DEN ($16,100): Lillard's price continues to be very reasonable relative to other elite point guards, with his significant upside most recently evidenced by his tallies of between 40.50 and 52.25 fantasy points over the last six games. Lillard is sporting a robust 28.8 percent usage rate and averaging 1.30 fantasy points per minute during that stretch, and his Monday matchup could leave him poised for a similar caliber of production. The Nuggets come in allowing the fourth most fantasy points per game (48.2) to ones on the season, along with the most assists (9.5), third most steals (2.2) and second highest shooting percentage (45.0).
Khris Middleton, MIL vs. PHO ($14,900): With Antetokounmpo out again Monday, Middleton's teammate Eric Bledsoe ($14,600) is also a nice pivot against his old squad, especially considering Phoenix's vulnerability to point guards. However, Middleton once again put the Bucks' offense on his shoulders in Antetokounmpo's absence Saturday, posting 59.50 fantasy points over 40 minutes against the Sixers. Middleton is sporting a team-high 32.3 percent usage rate and average of 1.16 fantasy points per minute with Antetokounmpo off the floor this season, while the Suns have allowed 46.2 fantasy points per contest to small forwards over the last five games, a notable bump over their 38.3 seasonal figure. Moreover, the Suns are also playing at the fifth highest road pace in the NBA (102.9 possessions per game), providing Middleton with even more opportunity to provide a strong return on his mid-tier price.