This article is part of our DFS College Basketball series.
DraftKings early slate has just three games, so differentiating may be difficult. These conference semifinal rounds don't lend themselves to a plethora of plus matchups, but they do bring familiarity. My winning strategy is going with known top options and taking swings with some higher upside role players.
Jeremiah Davenport, G/F, Cincinnati ($6,500 DK, $5,100 FD)
This game flirts with the highest total on the slate depending on where you look, and Wichita State checks in as the statistically worst defense at 119th per KenPom. I'd have no issues building around Keith Williams ($7,300 DK, $6,500 FD) as the Bearcats' alpha, or stacking these two, but Davenport may have equal upside with a lower tag. Davenport has averaged 34.25 DKP across his last three, and he rarely leaves the court, with Friday's 33 minutes being his fewest in five outings.
Josiah-Jordan James, G/F, Tennessee ($6,200 DK, $5,700 FD)
All about opportunity for James. We're assuming John Fulkerson ($4,900 DK, $4,900 FD) will miss the game after Friday's vicious elbow to the head, and that likely results in James seeing 30-plus minutes in a variety of roles. Alabama is terrific defensively (8th in efficiency) but the also play at the nation's fastest pace, which should afford James and the Vols some additional possessions at worst.
Eli Brooks, G, Michigan ($5,000 DK, $4,700 FD)
Brooks seems to represent stability. Sans a game where he saw only four minutes due to an ankle injury, he's returned 4x in seven of nine (including a 19.25 DKP outing against Illinois). His minutes are stable at 30-plus in all nine of those games, and while there's a minimal ceiling, the floor appears terrific for the price. He went for 22 DKP in an earlier meeting with the Buckeyes, and that's all we need here.
Herb Jones, G, Alabama ($8,000 DK, $7,300 FD)
Jones is the highest-priced guard on the docket, and he's provided 4x on this price just three times in his last 10 outings. Alabama put up 85 points Friday with relative ease, but its leading scorer had just 13 points, and only two scored in double-digits. The Tide's depth is tremendous, but it's a detriment to fantasy success. Jones is certainly capable of going off, but as the slate's top-priced guard facing a Volunteers' fourth-ranked defense, the path to a big game appears bleak.
Mike Smith, G, Michigan ($6,900 DK, $4,900 FD)
I understand the limited slate, but the price here has risen far beyond potential return with Smith coming off of a whopping 15 assists Friday against Maryland. Before yesterday's 53.25 DKP showing, Smith hadn't topped 25.75 DKP in his previous nine. That outing conveniently came against Ohio State, but given his game log, how do we see a path to 4x here, with the Buckeyes checking in at 233rd in tempo?
Kyle Young, F, Ohio State ($5,200 DK, $4,700 FD)
The limited slate forces me to get cute. I'm expecting Young to miss this game due to a blow to the head, which makes him an obvious omission from lineups, and also makes CJ Walker ($5,900 DK, $5,200 FD) an obvious target strictly based on likely minutes played. Walker has been a nice all-around option lately, posting at least five rebounds in three straight and 16 total assists in his last three to go along with 27 points and six steals.