This article is part of our NBA DFS Breakdown series.
With such a small slate, it pays to be contrarian in GPPs. Most of the elite talent will have sky-high ownership rates, while there will likely be a consensus of value options. Finding the right blend of chalk and contrarian is the hard part, since there are only three places to look.
Let's dive in:
Hawks at Pistons
Spread: Pistons -1.5
Young and Collins are the main cogs in the Hawks' offense, and stacking them could pay off. They could easily combine for 90 fantasy points on a good night. Len has shown plenty of upside in the past, though it's unclear if coach Lloyd Pierce has faith in his backups. If so, that could limit Len to minutes in the mid-20s. With Kevin Huerter expected to be on a 15-minute restriction, Reddish will draw the start. He's certainly a value option, but I'd rather look toward Bembry, who looked excellent in the preseason. Parker is worth a flier for some salary relief.
The Pistons are on the second half of a back-to-back set, which makes me nervous to put a lot of faith in their team Thursday. But Detroit playing yesterday also means their price tags haven't adjusted, and there's some value to be had. We also have data for them, which is important. Four players on the Pistons had a usage rate of at least 25% – Rose, Kennard, Morris and Drummond. Drummond had an absolutely monster game against the Pacers, dropping 81.6 fantasy points.
Bucks at Rockets
Spread: Rockets -1.5
Contrarian Options: None
We know who the Bucks are. Antetokounmpo will dominate the box score and have sky-high usage, while Middleton and Bledsoe play 2A and 2B roles. Lopez's ability to hit threes and block shots always makes him a strong upside play. If Bledsoe ends up on the shelf, Middleton and George Hill should see increased usage. Pat Connaughton might be able to sneak into 20 fantasy points in that scenario.
I'm not really worried about Westbrook stealing Harden's usage, but Westbrook himself looked like he was having a hard time adjusting to his new team during the preseason. Still, he's probably a lock for 40 fantasy points, so playing him in cash games is fine. I'd hesitate in GPPs. Capela has gotten better every year and is a constant threat for 45 fantasy points. Gordon can get hot from three. Tucker can hit some threes and has solid defensive upside.
Clippers at Warriors
Spread: Clippers -1.5
Contrarian Options: Ivica Zubac, any Warriors bench player
The Clippers looked fantastic against the Lakers on opening night, and I wouldn't be surprised if they won this game by double-digits. The four players to exceed a 20% usage rate against the Lakers were Kawhi Leonard, Lou Williams, JaMychal Green and Montrezl Harrell. Leonard led the way with 47.7 fantasy points. I like the Clippers' role players in this matchup more than I like Leonard, since I assume he'll be checked by Draymond Green.
Anyone outside of Curry, Russell and Green on the Warriors is a gamble. The Warriors have one of the most shallow benches I've ever seen. One of Curry or Russell will be getting the Beverley treatment. Maybe Kawhi checks the other one? That could shut down the entire Warriors offense. The safest play could be Green. Chriss makes for a value flier, since he looked good in preseason and the Warriors are desperate for any competent depth (not that he's gotten that label in previous seasons).