2014 winner of the FSWA’s Baseball Article of the Year award. He followed that up by being one of the three finalists for the FSWA 2015 Basketball Writer of the Year award. Benjamin was a featured writer for the DraftKings Playbook, a podcast host and writer for RotoWire, a daily fantasy expert at Scout Fantasy and one of the featured writers and webcast hosts at RotoCurve. He is a frequent guest on Sirius XM Fantasy talking about both season long and daily fantasy sports topics.
- Vegas: Pistons -9.5, 209
- Nets: 6th pace, 16th scoring, 24th points allowed
- Pistons: 21st pace, 24th scoring, 7th points allowed
Nets: Tough spot for them on the road on the tail end of the back-to-back. I am less interested in the Pistons numbers here because the team is vastly different with the addition of Blake and the subtraction of Bradley and Harris. It’s too early to really tell how things will play out, but they did play to a 200+ total with Portland, a 218 total with Miami, and a 206 total against Memphis since Blake came in. Those are three teams that are considered on the slower side with solid defenses. Those are the teams allowing the 3rd, 5th, and 8th fewest points. I mention this because since Blake came over this is by far the best spot the Pistons have had. The Nets are a top 6 team for pace and a bottom 6 team in points allowed. I do expect this game to be fast-paced and higher scoring than Vegas does. The one thing that could hurt it is if the Nets get blown out. The Nets have some injury issues here. Caris LeVert, Quincy Acy, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson are all questionable. This creates a couple of things we should discuss. D’Angelo Russell is still only playing about 20 minutes and with LeVert out, the only other PG option is Dinwiddie. He should easily see 30+ minutes again here and he played really well last night. With RHJ and Acy banged up, we have a very thin frontcourt for the Nets. Jarett Allen saw his half a game at center yesterday and so did Jahlil Okafor. What I talked about and saw though was a little Demarre Carroll at the 4. It gives him more minutes and a higher chance for rebounds, although the matchup is tough today. Guys like Allen Crabbe and Joe Harris will see a lot of time on the wings here and I wouldn’t doubt we see some overlap with Dinwiddie and Russell if LeVert is out too. I don’t like this spot, but if Acy, LeVert, and RHJ remain out, the rotation is so thin we should see 30 minutes from all of these guys. I wanted to mention that the Zeller trade opens up minutes for Allen and Okafor. Okafor is only $3500 and has put up 25 fantasy points anytime he sees 24 minutes of action. I think that is what we get from him going forward and 25 for $3500 on DK is a nice punt option.
- Vegas: Cavs -6.5, 222.5
- Cavs: 12th pace, 5th scoring, 26th points allowed
- Magic: 7th pace, 15th scoring, 28th points allowed
Cavs: Should be a great spot here for the Cavs as Orlando plays fast and is bad on defense. In fact, both teams are bad defensively and this should be a good high scoring back and forth game. I expect the Cavs to win, but the game being in Orlando could help keep it close enough for multiple guys to go off here. So with Love out, the scoring falls on LeBron James and Isaiah Thomas. LeBron is the main guy here. He’s playing huge minutes. He’s expensive as hell and here’s a fun fact for you, he has not gone for 6X since Isaiah Thomas starting playing more. That’s a pretty alarming stat. I’m not saying LeBron can’t go off, just that he’s played double-digit games with IT2 so far and so far he hasn’t. Now, this is the matchup you would expect that to turn around as the Magic are giving up tons of points and speed up the Cavs, but LeBron is no slam dunk today. Isaiah Thomas is also not even playing 30 minutes a night yet. He’s a tad under that in most of his recent games. Production wise, he has not returned over 35.25 points, so 6X today would be his new season high. He did have his best game since returning from injury against the Magic a few weeks back and the matchup is ideal. IT gets really tough to like anything else from there though. You are getting just under 30 minutes from the rest of this team. D Wade has upside, but not consistently playing enough minutes or having a high enough floor for cash. Tristan Thompson is playing more, but where’s the upside there? Jae Crowder? Kyle Korver? I mean JR Smith is at least playing minutes if you want to hang your hat on something. Channing Frye has been the best producer per minute since the love injury, but he barely sees 20 minutes. Outside of IT2 and LeBron, the game logs all look the same for the rest of the Cavs. 20-28 minutes, mostly games around 18-24 fantasy points with a once every week or so break out to the high 20s, low 30s. What this is telling me is that any of these secondary pieces can be the guy on any given day, but none of them are to be trusted in cash as they miss value more often than they make it. I can see sprinkling one or two of these guys around a LeBron or IT2 on game stacks, but other than that, I can’t see using any of them.
- Vegas: Pistons -2.5, 211
- Blazers: 16th pace, 18th scoring, 8th points allowed
- Pistons: 21st pace, 24th scoring, 7th points allowed
Blazers: So at first glance, this seems like a tough spot due to the numbers, but the Pistons are a different team after the trade. Blake has played two games so far and the normally slow paced and lower scoring Pistons have played to a 206 total with the very slow paced Memphis Grizzlies and then a 218 total to the slow-paced and good defense of the Miami Heat. That makes me think this could be a little better spot than it appears based on the numbers. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are the two guys seeing the most minutes and scoring the most fantasy points here. If this pace does get hot and heavy, those are the guys most likely to benefit. McCollum has been especially aggressive lately, averaging 20 shots per game over his last four. He is still $2000 cheaper than Lillard and I prefer him tonight. I like Lillard too but would rather spend up elsewhere. I do not love the rest of the team though. Jusuf Nurkic could be needed to see more minutes today, but he never gets near 30. It is why you can use him in a GPP, because he does have upside into the 40s, but the minutes always keep me off of him. He has some really bad games mixed in with the good. Al Farouq-Aminu is a decent cash game option. He lacks a ceiling, but the price remains pretty fair for a guy who gets you 25-30 a night. The sneaky play here is Moe Harkless. I like him if Shabazz Napier is out. Turner has done nothing lately and we did see Harkless pop last game. If Napier is out, that gives Harkless more court time and he could produce. I actually wanted to play Turner, but his game logs and recent performances have been dreadful.
- Vegas: Hornets -3, 210
- Pacers: 19th pace, 12th scoring, 11th points allowed
- Hornets: 11th pace, 14th scoring, 13th points allowed
Pacers: Myles Turner looked good last game and got up to 33 minutes. He now finds himself back on the injury report with a knee issue. It was an elbow that kept him out before, so this is a new injury, but one that has him listed as questionable again. If he sits, it’s easy to know what to do because we just saw this scenario. Domantas Sabonis and Thad Young both get a bump in minutes due to the lack of other big bodies. If Turner plays, I’m off all three of them as they eat into each other’s potential for upside. The top fantasy producer for the Pacers is Victor Oladipo. Oladipo is pricey and this is not a great matchup. The teams played the other day and he put up 40 DK points. That sounds like a good number, but Oladipo is so expensive that it was barely over 4X. No one else here really excites me. Darren Collison is pricey and this is not a great spot for him either. Bojan had a big last game, but that was not his norm and the other guys like Lance Stephenson or Cory Joseph do not see enough minutes for me to love. If Turner plays, I likely have zero exposure to this one. If he sits, Thad and Sabonis become interesting.
- Vegas: Raptors -3, 215
- Raptors: 10th pace, 3rd scoring, 10th points allowed
- Wizards: 14th pace, 9th scoring, 13th points allowed
Raptors: The Raptors are favored on the road here in a game with a pretty nice total. The Raptors are pretty healthy. The only issue I see is CJ Miles who missed the last game. He’s a nice player, but not a main cog that really opens up much for other guys. The main production from the Raptors tends to come from the backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. DeRozan has been very good this year. He can basically get his shot anytime he wants and does a good job of getting to the free throw line to score points. I also like the price drop on him. At one point he was over $9K and now he is below $8K on DraftKings. That is a big move. Kyle Lowry has also seen his price drop down to the low $7K range. That is a nice price for him as well. The Raptors are projected for about 110 points today, so there is production to be had. Jonas Valanciunas is a GPP play. He has games where he barely sees 20 minutes and other games where he goes for 8X and 40+ fantasy points. His upside wins GPPs, so he is worth a look on a short slate like this. The upside has been lacking, but the price is down and the minutes are creeping back up for Serge Ibaka. Ibaka is more of a high floor cash guy at this discounted price, but he has flashed upside before. I would rather use him in cash or on game stacks though. He’s not a core GPP play unless I needed the salary and he was the guy who fit. Those are the four guys who see the most minutes here. Lowry, DeRozan, and Ibaka see about 35+ a game and Valanciunas when needed is just shy of 30. He is a big per minute producer though and has put up 40 fantasy points playing half a game before.