Although it is just the preseason, NBA is back! To break down NBA preseason DFS picks for your lineups you need to first have the right information. The process to succeed in preseason is a bit different than in the regular season as every team’s minutes are a bit of a mystery. Therefore, the key is to rely heavily on the reporting of each team’s beat writers to lead you in the right direction. Whereas teams settle into rotations in the regular season that are then altered by coach’s feel or injuries, there is no regular rotation in the preseason. Guys are held out for rest or minor injury habitually and coaches also decide to just limit minutes to keep players fresh.
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Tonight, a few writers have already dropped a few helpful tidbits:
Updated Heat injury report for Friday in Washington:
• Ellington (Ankle) – Doubtful
• Adebayo (AC Joint) – Out
• J. Johnson (Sports Hernia) – Out
• Jones, Jr. (Shoulder) – Out
• Lee (Knee) – Out
• Waiters (Ankle) – Out
Josh Richardson no longer listed on injury report.
— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) October 5, 2018
— Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) October 4, 2018
— PelicansHoops (@PelicansHoops) October 4, 2018
Nikola Mirotic told me his achilles is feeling much better and he will play tonight against the Knicks.
— Daniel Sallerson (@dsallerson) October 5, 2018
Casey wouldn’t say who is or isn’t playing tonight. But Griffin worked out awfully hard after shootaround. So if I had to guess, I’d guess no. https://t.co/yggIXVw2Du
— Keith Langlois (@Keith_Langlois) October 5, 2018
Spoke to @KyleAnderson5 briefly after @memgrizz shootaround this morning. He was on court in practice gear with team today, but will still sit out tonight against the Hawks to rest sore heel. Again, being told it’s nothing serious and more of a rest precaution. https://t.co/KYeuZ7v0fx
— Michael Wallace (@MyMikeCheck) October 5, 2018
I haven’t heard anything about whether any #Pistons starters will rest tonight. I would guess that Jackson and Griffin would sit again.
Drummond and Johnson played extensive minutes Wednesday and likely will be limited. Make your #DFS selections cautiously tonight.
— Rod Beard (@detnewsRodBeard) October 5, 2018
Tyler Johnson will not play tonight due to a migraine.
— Anthony Chiang (@Anthony_Chiang) October 5, 2018
Spoelstra says Richardson will play if 100 percent. If there is pregame tenderness, will wait until Monday.
— Ira Winderman (@IraHeatBeat) October 5, 2018
Emmanuel Mudiay will start at point guard alongside Tim Hardaway Jr., Kevin Knox, Lance Thomas and Enes Kanter tonight.
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) October 5, 2018
With the limited information available early in the day, picks/plays may change throughout, and they will be updated in this article accordingly (plus I will be in the DailyRoto slack chat discussing plays as they change as well). Here are the players who are looking like building blocks on tonight’s seven-game slate:
Kevin Durant, Warriors, $8,500 DK/$10,600 FD – Both Stephen Curry and Draymond Green are out for the Warriors, leaving Kevin Durant to soak up the usage. With Curry/Green off the floor last year, Durant managed a hefty 36.1-percent usage rate and average 1.49 DK fantasy points per minute (FPPM). Amazingly, Durant even led the team in assist rate (27.4-percent) with those two off the floor as he sort of took on the Green point-forward role without the team’s other superstars. For those who love narratives, Durant is back in Seattle and destined to run the offense by himself. All signs point to Durant being the ideal spend of the night.
Anthony Davis, Pelicans, $8,200 DK/$12,000 FD – Judging by the prices here, Anthony Davis is a vastly superior play on DK tonight, but the Pelicans are reportedly going to run close to a normal rotation. Arguably the number one player in fantasy basketball is set for almost a full workload and he is not priced as such. Enes Kanter is not known for his defense (to be polite) so Davis will enjoy both an athleticism and talent advantage on him down low. Lock him in alongside Durant if possible. Note: Elfrid Payton and all the Pelicans starters are rather enticing as well with their minutes being predictable.
Hassan Whiteside, Heat, $7,800 DK/$6,900 FD – Unlike Davis, Whiteside looks like a superior play on FD but ideally all of the expensive players can be fit alongside one another on DK once news breaks and deems some cheap plays as viable. Whiteside ranks second in the preseason with 14.0 rebounds per game (behind only Andre Drummond) and the team will be without Bam Adebayo tonight. The only concerning aspect to Whiteside’s value tonight would be the looming Jimmy Butler trade and whether or not he would be included in such a deal. Assuming he plays, expect him to play minutes in the upper-20s against a team he dominated on a per-minute basis in 2017: 1.26 FPPM and two 42-plus fantasy point outings in three games.
DeAndre Ayton, Suns, $6,600 DK/$7,200 FD – After Suns coach Igor Kokoškov stated he would only play his starters 15 minutes heading into the first game of the preseason, Ayton ended up playing 30 minutes and finishing with 24 points (PTS), nine rebounds (REB) and one assist (AST). In game number two, Ayton’s minutes increased to 34 and he dropped a 21-16 double-double with three blocks (BLK) on the “New Zealand Breakers.” Obviously, tonight’s matchup is tougher against the Trail Blazers, but the team appears committed to developing Ayton as much as they can in the preseason. At this price point, Ayton is a scary fade for a guy likely to approach 35 minutes yet again.
Value (will update this portion as news becomes available because punts will definitely emerge):
Rodney McGruder, Heat, $4,600 DK/$3,500 FD – I am a little hesitant to write up McGruder despite how cheap he is across the industry because Josh Richardson is back after not playing last game. However, both Derrick Jones Jr. and Marcus Lee are out after playing last game and Richardson is no lock for his typical minutes coming off a left thigh contusion that cost him the first two preseason games. Fantasy owners playing McGruder will be banking on his minutes remaining in the mid-20s after he rode those sort of minutes to 12 PTS, three REB and three AST last game. Note: Tyler Johnson is out so he is now a borderline cash lock.
Marvin Bagley III, Kings, $5,200 DK/$4,800 FD – If needing a cheaper alternative to the likes of Davis/Whiteside/etc., look no further than rookie Marvin Bagley III who rebounded from a poor opener last game to the tune of a 19-10 double-double in 31 minutes versus the Lakers. As is the case for Ayton, the team may as well keep playing him big minutes to see how he fares, as this is valuable time for him to adapt to the pace of the NBA game before the regular season starts. No Green for the Warriors only helps ease the matchup for Bagley III and he should be the safest bet on the team to approach 30 minutes once again on Friday. Just to cover all the bases, the Kings did play last night, so if his minutes did get trolled for any reason, it would be because the team played last night. If that fact is enough to scare you off him in cash then that is certainly justifiable.
Others to Consider: Nikola Mirotic, DeAndre’ Bembry (Taurean Prince is out), Dennis Schröder (better for FD), Emmanuel Mudiay (now that he is starting), Quinn Cook and Elie Okobo (better for GPP with unsure minutes)