Which players should you build around and which players should you fade in DFS as we tip off tonight's NBA action? Our experts have the answers.
Today's panel includes ESPN Fantasy's André Snellings, Kyle Soppe, Joe Kaiser, Jim McCormick and DFS expert Renee Miller.
Players to build around
The Houston Rockets have the best offense in the NBA, scoring 115.6 points per 100 possessions while the Minnesota Timberwolves rank third in that category at 113.8 points. Thus this game shapes up to be an offensive firefight, especially considering the Timberwolves also rank 25th in team defense, allowing 110.5 points per 100 possessions. Further, Minnesota has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing shooting guards over their last 10 games. Put it all together, and the tea leaves are right for Harden, the frontrunner in the MVP race, to have a huge game on Tuesday night.
If you are of a certain age, picking on the Spurs may seem like a no-go, but it's a viable strategy until we get to the All Star Break. Listen, no one is going to doubt Coach Pop, but San Antonio has lost four of their last five games and in those losses their opponents are shooting 49.5 percent from the field. Their struggles have coincided with a nice little Nuggets run, as Denver has won four of their last five and Barton has shot 61.5 percent in those victories. I think his scoring is stable and given that he has averaged at least 8.0 assists-plus-rebounds in four straight months, there is also a level of versatility here that is appealing given the mid-level price point. Lastly, don't overlook the freshness factor; the Nuggets have not played since Saturday while the Spurs are playing their third road game in four days.
Gasol put up 15 points and 15 rebounds on the Jazz on Monday, adding six assists and two blocks to the turn-back-the-clock type of performance. He's priced at $6,000 or below on both sites and, if he can handle the second night of a back-to-back at the age of 37, is a potential value against Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets.
Jim McCormick -- Pau Gasol, San Antonio Spurs
Gasol is modestly priced tonight, especially on DraftKings, and yet is fresh off a game in Utah that saw him deliver 15 points, 15 boards and six assists as the team's offensive centerpiece. LaMarcus Aldridge is shut down until after the break and Gasol has enjoyed a spike of 5.3 more fantasy points per game with both Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard sidelined. Further, the Denver Nuggets are 26th in defensive rating with 112.3 points allowed per 100 possessions over the past 10 games. A choice matchup, increased usage and reasonable pricing combine to make Gasol a solid building block for Tuesday's slate.
This is the game everyone not watching the Olympics will be tuning into tonight. It will be even more exciting if Russell Westbrook plays, but George is the player I'm locking into lineups. A nice discount from both LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo, PG13 gets the day's best matchup with the Cavaliers, who allow the most fantasy points per game to opposing small forwards. He scored 36 points against them earlier in the season, and has stepped up nicely with both Carmelo Anthony and Westbrook out of the lineup with sore ankles. With 100 points and 11 steals during his last three games, not to mention his standard numbers in the rebound and assist columns, George has been rewarding those who use him. The salary increase is deserved and I am confident George has another 50-fantasy point effort in him tonight.
Players to fade
Although DeRozan is coming off a strong game, in his three previous contests he's managed only 12 points per game on 31 percent shooting to go along with 4.3 assists and 3.3 rebounds. The scariest part for DeRozan's output is that the Raptors won all three of those games, as they are playing excellent team ball and much of the production has been spread around. Combine that with a tough matchup against a strong Miami Heat defense that has allowed the eighth-fewest fantasy points to opposing shooting guards over their last 10 games, and DeRozan is not worth a high salary DFS slot on tonight's slate.
This rare "fade vs Kings" situation speaks to just how little I trust Barnes these days. The seemingly good matchup has inflated his price tag and I just don't know how you can feel good about him returning value tonight. Barnes' shooting is spotty (44.9 percent from the field this season, his lowest since 2013-2014) and he's not exactly getting others involved... four total assists in his past six games (194 minutes played). That's tough to do. The Kings also quietly rank as an above average defense against opposing small forwards this season and considering that Barnes underwhelmed in this very spot 10 days ago (18 points, one assist, two rebounds), I'm not investing tonight. Josh Richardson and Kyle Anderson are two players priced just below Barnes on both FanDuel and DraftKings that I would much rather roll the dice on.
George's recent run (29 points or more in three-straight games) has moved his salary up into the $10,000 range on both sites, and normally that would be fine in a matchup against a Cleveland team that's played some of the worst defense in the league this season. However, the Cavs look different now - they are younger and more athletic and have a few guys with something to prove - and there's a strong chance their defense won't be as bad for the rest of the season. Heck, they held Boston to 99 points on Sunday. If I'm paying up for someone tonight, it won't be George.
Jim McCormick -- Andrew Wiggins, Minnesota Timberwolves
The floor is fairly stable with Wiggins thanks to consistent shooting volume, as he'll rarely dip below 20 fantasy points. The ceiling, however, is quite low; he's topped 34 fantasy points (on DraftKings) just twice over the past 17 games. Without substantial defensive or distribution upside, I'm fading Wiggins' somewhat hollow statistical profile and spending on similarly priced wings such as Will Barton and Josh Richardson instead.
Renee Miller -- Goran Dragic, Miami Heat
Dragic has a history of bounce-back games, but if there's a guard I'm not willing to take a chance on tonight, it's him. Coming off one of his worst efforts of the season (six points, two rebounds, three assists in 27 minutes), possibly due to a sore hand that affected his shot (and everything else too apparently), he now faces one of the best defenses in the league. Toronto has steadily climbed to third in the league in defensive efficiency, while reaching fourth in offensive efficiency. This Raptors team is on a tear, and feels different than the one Dragic torched for 50 fantasy points earlier in January (which took him 39 minutes, a mark he's yet to hit since). Given his high salary ($7K on FanDuel) and erratic performances this month, I'm fading Dragic in favor of a similarly priced Dennis Smith Jr. or paying up for a star like Chris Paul tonight at PG.