Monday’s NBA slate is on the quiet side. There are six games to choose from, and the main slate on DraftKings kicks off at 7 p.m. ET.
Let’s dive into some of my favorite plays at each position.
Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers at Detroit Pistons ($11,600) – Lillard is priced as expensive as he ever has been, but he’s been worth every penny of late. He’s scored at least 52.0 DKFP in eight of his past nine games, and he’s had plenty of ceiling performances during that stretch. That includes a massive 93.0 DKFP against the Rockets, but he has three other outings with at least 63.5 DKFP.
Lillard is in a great spot for another ceiling game on Monday. He draws an elite matchup vs. the Pistons, who have slipped to 28th in defensive efficiency, and the Blazers’ implied team total of 117.5 ranks fourth on the slate.
More importantly, the Blazers are still dealing with a host of key injuries. Jusuf Nurkic remains out of the lineup, while Anfernee Simons’ status is TBD. Lillard has increased his usage rate by +8.2%, with Nurkic, Simons, and Josh Hart off the floor this season, resulting in an elite 1.78 DKFP per minute. To put that in perspective, Nikola Jokic – who is expected to win his third consecutive MVP – has averaged 1.77 DKFP per minute this season. As long as Simons remains sidelined, Lillard is worthy of this lofty price tag.
Tyrese Maxey, Philadelphia 76ers at Indiana Pacers ($5,500) – Since Maxey returned to the lineup following an injury absence, he has spent most of his time coming off the bench. However, he’s started each of the team’s past three games, and he’s responded with three big performances. He’s scored at least 26 points in each, and he’s racked up 32.25, 38.0, and 46.5 DKFP in those contests. Ultimately, Maxey has averaged 36 minutes, 23.1 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 4.2 assists in 25 games as a starter this season. If he can provide that type of production on Monday, he’ll be well worth his $5,500 price tag.
Other Options – James Harden ($10,100), Trae Young ($9,400)
Cam Reddish, Portland Trail Blazers at Detroit Pistons ($4,300) – Reddish is another player who figures to benefit if Simons remains out of the lineup. Reddish has struggled to find consistent playing time in the NBA, and he lost favor in both Atlanta and New York. He was acquired by the Blazers before the trade deadline, and he has been given a new lease on life. In his eight games with the Blazers, he’s shooting a career-best 47.9% from the field and 38.2% from 3-point range, resulting in an average of 24.75 DKFP per game. He’s scored at least 22.0 DKFP in six of his past seven games, and he’s gone for at least 30.75 in three of his past six. That includes his most recent contest, where he played 37.1 minutes. Reddish would be looking at another expanded workload if Simons is sidelined, and he could do some damage vs. the Pistons.
Other Options – Killian Hayes ($5,300; questionable), Shaedon Sharpe ($3,500)
Brandon Ingram, New Orleans Pelicans at Sacramento Kings ($8,600) – Ingram is coming off one of his worst games in recent memory Friday vs. the Warriors, finishing with just 29.25 DKFP in 37.6 minutes. Still, his fantasy arrow is pointing up. He’s been significantly more aggressive offensively since returning to the lineup on Jan. 25th, increasing his usage rate to 35.4%. His usage rate was at just 26.9% before that stretch, so he’s unsurprisingly seen an uptick in scoring.
Ingram is in a fantastic bounce-back spot Monday vs. the Kings. While Sacramento has won a lot of basketball games this season, they have still been one of the best possible matchups for fantasy purposes. They’ve played at the sixth-fastest pace and rank merely 26th in defensive efficiency, so their games tend to be extremely high-scoring. The total on this contest currently sits at 237.0 points, which is the top mark on the slate.
Marvin Bagley, Detroit Pistons vs. Portland Trail Blazers ($5,500) – It may be odd to consider Bagley a stud, but it’s warranted on Monday’s slate. Bagley will always have the burden of being the player drafted before Luka Doncic, but he has always been a capable fantasy producer. He’s taken things to another level recently, racking up 1.40 DraftKings points per minute in four games since returning to the lineup following an injury absence.
The Pistons’ frontcourt is also decimated by injuries at the moment. Jalen Duren and Isaiah Stewart both remain out of the lineup, while the newly acquired James Wiseman is questionable. If Wiseman is unable to suit up, the Pistons will have no choice but to give Bagley a heavy workload. He racked up 34.1 minutes in their last contest and responded with 48.25 DKFP. That’s the kind of ceiling that he provides with 30+ minutes, so he’s way too cheap at $5,500.
Other Options – Jimmy Butler ($8,900), Aaron Gordon ($6,000)
Trey Murphy III, New Orleans Pelicans at Sacramento Kings ($4,400) – The Pelicans are another team dealing with plenty of injuries at the moment. Zion Williamson and Larry Nance Jr. both remain out with long-term ailments, while Josh Richardson has been ruled out for personal reasons. Jonas Valanciunas is also questionable, so the team doesn’t have a ton of able bodies in the frontcourt.
With that in mind, it’s not surprising that the Pelicans have leaned a bit heavier on Murphy of late. He’s racked up 37.8 and 32.0 minutes in his past two contests, and he’s responded with 24.0 and 27.25 DKFP. Murphy didn’t even shoot particularly well in those contests, knocking down 9-24 shots from the field and 6-19 from 3-point range. Murphy isn’t the greatest per-minute producer, but he should be able to make up for it through sheer volume in an elite matchup.
Other Options – Hamidou Diallo ($4,900), Keegan Murray ($4,600), Matisse Thybulle ($4,200)
Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers at Indiana Pacers ($11,300) – It feels like Embiid and Jokic have been available on the same slate virtually all season, leaving DFS players with a difficult decision at the top of the pricing spectrum. While Jokic has been the better option for most of the year, Embiid gets the nod on Monday.
Embiid has hit a tiny dry spell recently, failing to return value in three straight games. However, it’s not like he’s been a huge bust in those contests, and he scored at least 60.5 DKFP in his three games prior. He remains one of the league leaders in usage and scoring, and he’s capable of racking up peripherals as well.
Embiid draws an outstanding matchup Monday vs. the Pacers. They rank 10th in pace and 25th in defensive efficiency, and the 76ers’ implied team total of 120.0 ranks second on the slate.
Other Options – Jakob Poeltl ($6,400), Clint Capela ($6,100)
Mike Muscala, Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers ($3,300) – The Celtics haven’t asked too much of Muscala since acquiring him at the trade deadline, but that figures to change on Monday. Robert Williams is going to miss 7-10 days with a hamstring injury, while Al Horford figures to rest after playing nearly 50 minutes on Sunday. That doesn’t leave the team with a ton of options at center against a Cavaliers’ squad that plays two traditional big men.
Muscala has been a solid contributor when given a chance to play significant minutes. He’s averaged 0.89 DKFP per minute this season, and he racked up 31.0 DKFP in his only start with the Celtics. He played 43.8 minutes in that contest, and while I wouldn’t expect that much playing time vs. the Cavaliers, he’s certainly worth considering at a near-minimum price tag.
Other Options – Trendon Watford ($3,600), Trey Lyles ($3,500)
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is mlamarca) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.