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 DFS expert Renee Miller as well as ESPN Fantasy's André Snellings and Kyle Soppe.
Players to build around
I'll have a hard time getting away from Howard tonight as the Hornets host the Brooklyn Nets, a team that plays at the sixth-fastest pace, but ranks 23rd in defensive efficiency and 19th in rebounding rate. Howard entered the break off two pretty big double-doubles, averaging 20 points and totaling 13 rebounds in each of his past two contests. His consistency and a big salary drop off from Joel Embiid make him suitable for cash games, while his upside against the league's most generous DvP matchup for centers gives him a high enough ceiling for tournaments.
The temptation was to take LeBron James here, as he's the mega star who seemingly would be motivated coming out of the All-Star break looking to continue Cleveland's positive momentum. However, I'm going slightly less obvious here with Simmons, who also looks poised to pop. He entered the break in the midst of a hot stretch, averaging 13.8 points, 8.5 assists, 8.0 rebounds, 3.3 steals and 1.3 blocks over his past four games. Plus, on Thursday he faces a Chicago Bulls squad that has struggled against elite, multi-talented big men this season. The last time he faced the Bulls, Simmons turned in a monster triple-double with 19 points, 14 rebounds, 12 assists and 3 blocks. The biggest risk to Simmons blowing up again on Thursday is teammate Joel Embiid, who also has a terrific matchup to work with.
He's not an overly appealing player to watch, but his role on this team comes with a high floor, so I'll happily build around him on a night in which he faces the third worst rebounding team and one that ranks 29th in overall defense. Sure, his offensive role isn't great, but his scoring average is up over 2.0 points per game for a second straight season and the talent around him allows him to play to his strengths (his average made shot is from 1.8 feet away). I'm viewing Adams as a double-double lock in Sacramento tonight with the potential for this game to be one of his top five of the season.
Players to fade
Renee Miller -- Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder
I love George as much as anyone, but his salary ($9,500 FD, $8,800 DK) is still inflated from when Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony were out. It's a neutral matchup for George with the Kings from a DvP perspective, but Vegas expects an easy win for the Thunder in the lowest point total game on this slate. The Kings also play at a slow pace, and all his teammates are healthy heading back from the break. Price and matchup aside, there's simply no reason to spend on George tonight; either pay up for LeBron James or Kevin Durant, save substantially with Otto Porter Jr. or DeMarre Carroll, or go for the maximum savings with a minimum-salaried David Nwaba.
There were no obvious fade candidates to my eye on Thursday. It's possible Curry could come out of the gates refreshed, but he hasn't scored more than 24 points in a game since Jan. 27, and for what it's worth his shot was still off in the All-Star Game. Considering that there are several elite fantasy scoring options with outstanding matchups on Thursday, and that Curry is still one of the highest-priced players in most DFS formats, he's easier to fade than some of his contemporaries. Now, with that said...it has to be pointed out that Curry absolutely demolished the LA Clippers the first two times he faced them this season, averaging 38 points with 5.5 rebounds, 7.5 3-pointers, 4.5 assists and 2.5 steals. Like I said at the beginning...there really aren't any obvious fades on this slate.
Kyle Soppe -- Lou Williams, Los Angeles Clippers
It's rare that I buy into a narrative enough to fade a red-hot player, but I'm not going anywhere near Sweet Lou in this spot. Despite limping to the All-Star break, the Warriors still grade out as the fifth most efficient defense in the NBA this season and the week-long layoff has me once again labeling them as a team I'd rather not oppose. Combine that with the motivation to prove that they are the top team in the league, and I believe this game has serious blowout potential. Yeah yeah yeah, I'm well aware that Williams lit up these Warriors for a 50-piece less than two months ago, but excuse me if I think a rested version of this squad will be more effective at containing him the second time around.