This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
Vegas is telling us to give the SAC/ATL game a close look with a 235 O/U, but I'm a bigger fan of the value in the DEN/NO game, which sports a 222 O/U and a lot of injury pivots. What you'll end up finding as you go down the slate tonight is a situation where the game script runs contrary to the overall talent available. Even though Vegas is pointing big arrows to these two games, I find myself pivoting to individual talent in other contests. While I think there's some value in hitting a spot or two in the games mentioned above, I don't like stacking them tonight. You're going to find pros and amateurs alike all over them, so loading up here won't get you the contrarian GPP score we're looking for tonight.
First, let's run down some of the more pertinent injuries on tonight's slate. I'm going to omit the long-running injures and a few others that ended up inconsequential in my builds.
Anthony Davis (finger) OUT, Julius Randle (ankle) QUESTIONABLE, Nikola Mirotic (calf) OUT: No real surprise here. Jahlil Okafor ($6,800) has racked up 48 and 52 DKFP performances over the last two games, and his price is beginning to reflect his immense value with the Pels' frontcourt sidelined. Those wishing to throw darts at this scenario could also find Darius Miller ($3,800) with a decent total in the 25-30 DKFP range. Randle's status is the only variable in this scenario, and if he suits up these pivots become risky plays.
Elfrid Payton (ankle) OUT: If Payton misses again, the pivot is a bit tricky. Your safe money is on Tim Frazier ($3,200), who logged 20 minutes and 32 DKFP in their last game, but Frank Jackson ($3,400) registered more time and totaled 21 DKFP on the night. The risk-averse should probably steer clear, but there's GPP value in both guys.
Kyrie Irving (hip) DOUBTFUL: Multiple reports suggest that Irving won't suit up for this game and, as usual, Terry Rozier ($6,100) should start in his place. Give Marcus Smart ($5,200) a run as well, as he racked up 49 DKFP in Kyrie's absence.
Jamal Murray (ankle) OUT: This situation is a bit messy from a DFS perspective. Will Barton ($6,800) and Torrey Craig ($4,400) found their way into the starting lineup, but Malik Beasley ($4,200) and Monte Morris ($4,5000) can come in and take over a game on any given night. While Barton looks to be the safest play, I think his price is a little high.
Jeff Teague (foot) OUT, Tyus Jones (ankle) OUT, Derrick Rose (ankle) QUESTIONABLE: Jerryd Bayless ($5,000) has rattled off four straight 30-plus DKFP games and should have a decent line if all three of these guards are out. If Rose suits up, I'm inclined to move off Bayless and fade this situation altogether.
Emmanuel Mudiay (shoulder) OUT: Remember that house down the street with the KEEP OUT and BEWARE OF DOG signs? David Fizdale lives there. Aside from Tim Hardaway ($6,000), I would avoid any pivot off of Mudiay, as there's really no way to accurately predict what Fizdale will do with this rotation on any given night.
Tyreke Evans (back) OUT: Evans' injury thins the field in the Victor Oladipo production sweepstakes, but I think Darren Collison ($6,200) will be a nightly safety here, and it's only a matter of time before Bojan Bogdanovic ($5,500) trends up with a more prominent role.
As you read this column, refer back to these pivots often – they were integral to a lot of my builds tonight.
Bradley Beal, WAS vs. IND ($8,700): Beal's the captain of a sinking ship in D.C., but you can't deny the reliable floor that he's churning out. His two games against Indy left a bit too be desired, but his enormous volume stands out, as he heaved up 38 shot attempts over those two contests. His only problem was that he only sunk 31 percent of them. He's averaging a much more respectable 44 percent from the floor over the past two weeks, so I'd expect more stability in Beal's total.
Andrew Wiggins, MIN vs. MEM ($6,500): With a trio of guards ailing in Minnesota, Wiggins is a starter who's seeing a decent boost as a result. He's coming off three straight 40-plus DKFP games and has seen lower ownership than you might expect. The ho-hum pace of the Grizzlies will always slow down opposing totals, but this scenario will upstage any tempo concerns I might have.
Marcus Smart, BOS vs. CHA ($5,200): I found some of the pivots too tantalizing to avoid in this range. Although I usually don't give injury pivots another mention, Smart is by far my favorite play below DK's median price. The public money will likely be on Rozier, but getting Smart at a discount could yield a similar, if not more prolific, total. Smart's totals are chock-full of variance to be sure, but the point guard has explosive potential when the game script is right, and you can't find a better scenario than an Irving scratch.
Other guards to consider: Rather than spell out a few players, I'm going to call attention to the UTA/POR contest and give Donovan Mitchell ($8,400) and Damian Lillard ($8,500) their due here. This duo is sitting out there plain as day, but I would bet the farm that they'll be largely overlooked tonight. This is the kind of contrarian play I was discussing earlier, where talent overarches what Vegas might be telling us otherwise.
Buddy Hield, SAC vs. ATL ($7,200): Here's a spot where I'll go along with oddsmakers. Hield has had a beast of a month, and even though I think he's priced a bit high, I can understand why his salary has leaped into the 7K range. Racking up 27 points, six assists and five rebounds against the Hawks in their last meeting should be a welcome metric when you consider Hield, and his five-game shooting average of 45 percent isn't too shabby either.
Lauri Markkanen, CHI at MIA ($6,700): I combed through the two games played between these two and upon realizing that the lines in their most recent game were better indicators, I found it difficult to choose between Markkanen and Josh Richardson ($6,300), who could very well offer a similar total at a cheaper price. I ultimately settled on Markkanen, who's spearheading a Chicago offense that is faring surprisingly well despite dropping four straight games. Over the past five games, he's averaging double-double numbers, and I think this game represents another spot that will be mostly overlooked on tonight's slate.
Thaddeus Young, IND at WAS ($5,800): You're going to run some risk with Young, but the Wizards' front line of Ariza, Green and Bryant isn't going to give Indiana much trouble. Young was right in double-double territory in both games versus the Wizards, but a source of hesitation comes from Myles Turner, who had a huge 18-point, 17-rebound game against Washington a month ago. He'll be poised to take away some output here, so I like Young as more of a GPP play.
Other forwards to consider: John Collins, ATL at SAC ($7,900)
Nikola Jokic, DEN at NO ($10,900): Making a convincing argument for a Jokic anchor is simple with New Orleans hurting in the frontcourt. If you wait until the end of your build to pick a big man, this pick will completely flip your script, but he's worth the cash you'll give up elsewhere. His five-game average is just below 50 DKFP, but I predict he'll outdo that total with a dominating night in the paint.
Jahlil Okafor, NO vs. DEN ($6,600): It's a little unconventional to follow an endorsement with the guy who'll be defending him, but this is an opportunity-based pick that will likely be a highly-owned cash play. I already mentioned Myles Turner ($6,900), and I think he'll be a great pivot here, but if you're looking for a better cash floor, you have to consider Okafor as the only healthy Pelican center worth buying.
Alex Len, ATL at SAC ($4,500): Len has been a risk-reward target all year, and he's even riskier with an injury-free Atlanta frontcourt, but if you must go low, Len's demonstrated an ability to crush value at this price. He only snagged six rebounds against the Kings in their last matchup, so if you go here, temper your expectations. I'm not a big fan of going this low at center tonight.
Centering around Jokic was tough, but I made it happen with Smart, Hield and Beasley. I also liked Smart in a build that featured Beal, Mitchell and Turner/Okafor. It's an excellent night to field more GPP lineups than usual.