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 Joe Kaiser, André Snellings and Kyle Soppe as well as DFS expert Renee Miller.
Players to build around
Drummond is averaging 17.8 rebounds during his past 10 games and hasn't been impacted in that department by the arrival of Blake Griffin. He faces a Hawks team that is thin and relatively inexperienced in the frontcourt, with Dewayne Dedmon usually limited to around 25.0 MPG., and all you have to do to see Drummond's upside is look at what he's done in his three previous matchups against the Hawks this season - 17.7 PPG, 18.0 RPG, 5.7 APG and 2.3 BPG.
Mitchell is making waves as a possible Rookie of the Year candidate and his salary shows just how much he has improved in the last month or so. I believe you have to pay up for a rock solid shooting guard tonight, either Mitchell, Victor Oladipo, or DeMar DeRozan, perhaps. I chose Mitchell because he's the least expensive option of the bunch, and facing the league's best SG DvP matchup. No one allows more fantasy points to opposing SG's than the fast-paced Suns, and Mitchell is part of the reason. A couple weeks ago, he scored 40 real points against them! The Jazz are also home, where Mitchell has averaged a few more fantasy points per game. Coming off a week in which he's averaging 26 points in 38 MPG, I like Mitchell and the Jazz to come up just as big again tonight.
This is a risky build pick, with Thomas in a new location after a poor return from injury got him traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, Thomas had a solid debut with the Lakers, has a limited number of games in which to impress before Lonzo Ball returns, and is clearly motivated to put up big numbers and re-establish himself as an impact player in the league prior to his impending free agency. This is also a favorable matchup, as the New Orleans Pelicans are one of the worst defenses in the NBA with 109.5 points allowed per 100 possessions (21st). Further, the Pelicans have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing point guards this season.
Kyle Soppe -- Isaiah Thomas, Los Angeles Lakers and Jae Crowder, Utah Jazz
Better late than never for a pair of former Cavaliers, especially if you're like me and think that the ownership percentage on these two players will be lowered due to their struggles in Cleveland. Thomas said that his first game with the Lakers felt as if he got his powers back, and I'm buying in. He was a 40-45 point player on a nightly basis last season, and while I think it will take some time for him to get back to that level, his current price is a significant bargain against a bottom five team in defending point guards. As for Crowder, he joined a Jazz team that was rolling (eight straight wins) and had no real reason to work him into the fold while everything was going well...yet he has still played 62 minutes in his two games. To me, that speaks as to how valuable of a piece they believe he can be and I'll gladly take that to the bank against basically a glorified G-League team in the Phoenix Suns right now. Phoenix has allowed at least 112 points in every game this month and if Utah flirts with that number, Crowder is going to be a strong play.
Players to fade
Horford's production has fallen off a bit in recent weeks (11.0 PPG during the past five games) and tonight he faces a taller big man in the form of DeAndre Jordan, who won't make Horford's life easy on the offensive end or on the glass. Horford, who has averaged only 27.5 MPG during the past two games, will likely need a lot of assists and blocks to reach his salary value on Wednesday, and that makes him too risky on this massive 12-game slate.
Renee Miller -- Josh Hart, Los Angeles Lakers
I love this game tonight, and I love what Hart had been doing with Lonzo Ball out, but if the Isaiah Thomas debut was any indication, he's now the odd man out. I don't want to read too much into one game, but Hart's production, even from the starting role, dropped precipitously Saturday night and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is playing very well (for less salary than Hart on FD). The extra few days Thomas has had to work with the team worries me a bit too so I don't see Hart being part of my plans on this 12 game slate. Apologies for my blatant disregard of the Valentine's Day narrative (things aren't looking good for Denzel Valentine being in my lineups tonight either).
Hardaway Jr. has had an up-and-down season, but with Kristaps Porzingis out I really expected him to step up on offense and help carry the Knicks. Instead, he has struggled mightily of late, averaging only 8.9 points (25.8 FG%, 64.3 FT%), 3.6 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 0.7 3-pointers over his last seven games. In addition, his Wednesday opponent the Washington Wizards have allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to opposing shooting guards for the season, as well as over their last 10 games.
Over the course of a long season teams must pick and choose their spots to get their stars some rest and this very much feels like one of those spots. Houston is on the second night of a back-to-back against what might be the worst team in basketball before a nine day hiatus... yeah, I think they'll be OK without a heavily used Harden. Even if you believe that Harden will want to end the first half with a big performance, consider that his points, assists and rebounds are all down at least 12.4 percent from his season averages when he's played the night before. Given his massive salary, this presents a level of risk that I'm not willing to take. On a 12 game slate with a pair of offenses that I am very interested in targeting (Lakers and Jazz), rostering Harden requires making sacrifices elsewhere that I simply don't think are worth it.