This article is part of our NBA DFS Breakdown series.
Warriors at Pelicans (-4.5)
Contrarian Gambles: Any Warriors bench players, maybe anyone on the Warriors in general at this point?
The Warriors have been absolutely destroyed so far, not having led for a single second of the 2019-20 season. The only Warriors player averaging more than 27 fantasy points is Steph Curry (33.4). It's hard to recommend anyone from Golden State given what's been going on. At the same time, if Curry/Russell/Green manage to bounce back, you're getting them at an excellent discount.
Though the Pelicans haven't gotten a win yet, they've been truly competitive, even without Jrue Holiday the past two games. Ingram, Ball and Hart are all averaging over 30 fantasy points. The Warriors are entering this game as the worst defense in the NBA, so a Pelicans stack should be chalky.
Hornets at Clippers (-15.5)
Value Options: Patrick Beverley, essentially any Hornets rotation player
Contrarian Gambles: Ivica Zubac
The Clippers are coming off of a strange loss to the short-handed Suns, but I'm not sure how much we should really look into that. They've established themselves as an elite team, and they'll be host to a handful of chalky cash game options every time they're on the slate. If this turns into a blowout, we could see some extra Zubac minutes.
Charlotte has five players averaging between 20-30 fantasy points, and Zeller is leading the way with 42.6 FP. The Hornets are incredibly balanced, in a way that's both bad in real life and extremely frustrating for DFS. The Clippers' defense is weakest at center, so Zeller might be the best play on the team.
Thunder at Rockets (-10.0)
Contrarian Gambles: None
The Thunder have gotten off to a nice start despite low expectations. Gilgeous-Alexander seems like he put plenty of work in over the summer, and he's averaging 42.0 FP in the first three games of the season. Paul and Gallinari haven't quite found their strides yet, but this could be a solid buy-low opportunity for guys that we know can put up 40 FP on any given night.
Surprisingly, Westbrook (59.0 FP) is racking up better stats than Harden (41.8 FP), but I don't really expect that to last. The Rockets, and Thunder for that matter, have a very thin rotation. That makes Tucker, House and Gordon solid options for a stars-and-scrubs cash build almost every game.
Cavaliers at Bucks (-15.0)
|Dylan Windler||F||Lower Leg||Out||11/10/2019|
The Bucks have no injuries to report
Contrarian Gambles: Any non-Love or -Thompson Cavaliers
Love and Thompson appear to be the two points of reliability on the Cavaliers. Nobody else on the team has posted 30 or more fantasy points in a single outing. The closest is Nance, who went for 28 FP in the opener in Orlando. If you're an Osman fan, this is probably your best chance at rostering him at probably 1% ownership considering he's coming off a 1.2 FP performance in 27 minutes – really strange for someone who can actually do some playmaking.
Antetokounmpo has been dominant. The only other two players on the Bucks that are accounting for at least 10% of the team's fantasy points are Middleton and Lopez. Maybe this is the bounceback spot for Bledsoe, who has been playing with a rib injury and should be getting healthier with every game.
76ers (-4.5) at Hawks
Contrarian Gambles: Al Horford if Embiid plays
Keep an eye on Embiid's status for this one. If he's out, Horford and Harris become better plays. The former is averaging 0.6 more FP/min (equivalent to 22.6 more FP/36 minutes) with Embiid off the court, while the latter is garnering an extra 0.3 FP/min in that scenario. Ben Simmons has actually seen his usage decrease in non-Embiid minutes.
Young is accounting for a ridiculous 24% of the Hawks' fantasy points, while John Collins is the only other player in double-digits with 15%. That pairing will be a valid stack all season, though this might be a sketchy matchup for it given the 76ers' defensive upside. It's hard to trust anyone else on Atlanta for legitimate fantasy production.
Trail Blazers at Spurs (-6.0)
|Jusuf Nurkic||C||Lower Leg||Out||2/1/2020|
The Spurs have no injuries to report.
Contrarian Gambles: Bazemore instead of Labissiere or Mario Hezonja if Collins is OUT
It would be surprising if Collins was able to take the court Monday. The two biggest beneficiaries of his off-court minutes this season have been Labissiere (1.1 more FP/min) and Bazemore (0.3 more FP/min). Bazemore has actually seen the most non-Collins minutes of anyone on the Blazers. That's followed by Mario Hezonja, but Hezonja is actually putting up 0.5 fewer FP/min with Collins off the court.
The Spurs have been balanced to start the year, with five players accounting for 10% or more of the team's fantasy points. The Blazers aren't exactly a strong defensive team in the backcourt, so Murray, Forbes and DeRozan are probably the better plays compared to Aldridge or Gay. Though maybe Aldridge will get up against his former team.
Bulls (-1.5) at Knicks
Contrarian Gambles: Otto Porter
The main news with the Bulls at the moment is that Porter's minutes are being limited due to a hip pointer. He hasn't logged more than 28 minutes in a single game this season. LaVine and Markkanen have been carrying the team, while everyone else has provided some nice supplementary play. White and Carter are the two other players who have totaled more than 10% of the Bulls' fantasy points.
Smith is expected to be out for the Knicks, and Robinson flourishes when the former is off the court. In non-Smith minutes, Robinson is averaging 1.7 more FP/min. Robinson himself is battling an ankle injury, which has kept him under 20 minutes per game so far. If he can get closer to 25 against the Bulls, he could be in for a big performance. Barrett and Randle are each averaging 15% of the Knicks' fantasy points, leading the way.
Nuggets (-5.5) at Kings
Contrarian Gambles: None
The Nuggets have gotten off to a strange start, beating the Trail Blazers by eight on the road but then barely beating the Suns in a low-scoring overtime affair. I'm not sure how much we can look into the latter game. For now, we should probably hang onto most of our preseason expectations as far as playing time, usage, etc.
The Kings will continue to be without Bagley. Dedmon has seen the biggest usage bump, with a rate of 27.7 percent with Bagley off the court. Fox and Bogdanovic have each gotten a double-digit boost in usage with Bagley off the court. Fox, Barnes and Hield are the players who have totaled at least 10% of Sacramento's fantasy points through three games.
Jazz (-4.5) at Suns
Contrarian Gambles: None
Only three players are averaging at least 10% of Utah's fantasy points – Mitchell, Bogdanovic and Gobert. Conley and Ingles have been struggling, but they're due for some positive regression. Gobert appears to be in an excellent spot here against backup centers.
Frank Kaminsky has been by far the biggest beneficiary of Ayton's absence, seeing a usage bump of 14.4 percent and an extra 0.8 FP/min. Booker has gotten a small 2.7% bump in usage. It wouldn't surprise me if that increases more. This won't be an easy matchup for anyone on the Suns, however, as the Jazz project to be one of the best defensive teams in the NBA.
Pacers (-2.0) at Pistons
Contrarian Gambles: None
The Pacers, without Lamb, weren't able to get much going during Saturday's game, as they managed just 99 points against the Cavaliers. I really don't have much confidence in any of Indiana's role players stepping up without Lamb, and the only two players with a greater than 20% usage with him off the court are Brogdon and Sabonis. Brogdon might be the safest bet here. He's averaging 52.1 FP/36 min.
Meanwhile, Jackson is doubtful for the Pistons. Rose has an absurd 36.8% usage with Jackson off the court this season. He's probably the best value play in this game. Only he, Drummond and Kennard are averaging at least 10% of the Pistons' fantasy points.
Magic at Raptors (-4.5)
Contrarian Gambles: Marc Gasol (he's been pretty bad so far)
The Magic have been getting balanced contributions, with five players – Vucevic, Fournier, Gordon, Isaac and Fultz – averaging at least 10% of the team's fantasy points through two games. The Fultz/Augustin situation should probably be avoided, but it's acceptable in a stars-and-scrubs cash game build if it comes to that for some reason.
The Raptors have been the same way, with Siakam, Lowry, VanVleet, Ibaka and Anunoby accounting for at least 10% of the team's fantasy points. The first three have shown the most upside, accounting for at least 20% of the Raptor's fantasy points during at least one of their first three games.