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DraftKings Preview: Best Value Plays 11/11

Fantasy expert Cody Taylor looks at six sleeper players who are very good value plays on DraftKings tonight.

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One of the best things about playing fantasy sports is being able to trash talk about how great your lineup performed. But it’s a bit tougher to dominate when a salary cap is factored in like on DraftKings. Building a stacked team is tougher when you only have $50,000 to spend on players.

That’s where we come in. We’re going to help you as you build your team each Wednesday. The most important thing in DraftKings is finding great sleeper players who will produce without breaking the bank. Each Wednesday, we’ll tell you which relatively inexpensive players could perform well for your fantasy team that night.

These are favorable plays due to matchups, injuries to other players, recent production and other factors. Here are six sleeper players to target tonight as you play in our Basketball Insiders DraftKings league:

PG: Ish Smith, New Orleans Pelicans – $4,800

Smith’s journey this season has been remarkable. The Pelicans signed Smith the day before their regular season started, and just 24 hours later  he had 17 points, nine assists, three steals and two rebounds against the Golden State Warriors in their debut. Smith has benefited from an injury to Pelicans starter Jrue Holiday, who is on a 15-minute restriction until January and has yet to be cleared to play in back-to-back games. Smith has filled in nicely behind Holiday and is averaging 29 fantasy points per game. He has recorded three-straight games with at least 30 fantasy points.

New Orleans played last night, which means Smith could get the start in place of Holiday on the second game of a back-to-back (as he did on Saturday). Either way, he should see plenty of minutes as he’s proven himself to be the team’s main point guard option with Holiday on a minutes restriction. Smith is averaging 27 minutes on the season and is coming off of his best game of the year, recording 17 points, 12 assists and three rebounds for 43.3 fantasy points last night. He’s a player who should fill up the stat sheet, as he’s averaging nine points, 8.1 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game. He’s worth a look tonight given his likely high usage rate.

SG: Kent Bazemore, Atlanta Hawks – $5,200

Bazemore is a player to keep an eye on tonight, especially if you don’t want to break your budget on James Harden. Bazemore has a very favorable matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans, a team that is giving up the most points in the league per 100 possessions at 110.3 points. He’s another player who’s going to fill up just about every category on the stat sheet, as he’s averaging 11.8 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.1 steals per game.

Bazemore is averaging 27.2 fantasy points per game and is coming off of a 31 fantasy point outing on Monday against a Minnesota Timberwolves defense that ranks sixth in the league. He dropped nine points, six rebounds, five steals, three assists and a block in 31 minutes in that game. Considering the scoring system rewards two points per steal and block, 1.5 points per assist and 1.25 points per rebound, Bazemore should be strongly considered tonight.

SG: Jeremy Lamb, Charlotte Hornets – $4,300

Lamb is averaging 21.8 fantasy points per game and is looking to build on that after a successful outing last night in which he dropped 18 points and four rebounds against the Minnesota Timberwolves. In six games this season, Lamb has produced five games with at least 20 fantasy points.

Lamb’s first season away from Oklahoma City seems to be just what he needed to turn his career around. Lamb appeared in just 47 games last season with the Thunder and averaged only 13.5 minutes per game, but he is already seeing a healthy bump in minutes as he is averaging 21.5 per game and has more than doubled his scoring output to 13 points per game. Lamb is worth starting as a cheap option on most nights.

SF: Joe Johnson, Brooklyn Nets – $4,800

If you throw out Johnson’s 7.5 fantasy point performance in the Nets’ second game of the season, he’s averaged nearly 27 fantasy points per game. Johnson’s scoring production this season has been hit or miss thus far, but he’s finding other ways to make up for it. On the season, he’s averaging 10.3 points, five rebounds and nearly four assists. He dropped eight points, nine rebounds, six assists and one steal in the Nets’ last outing on Saturday. Players who can fill the stat sheet are steals in DraftKings.

Despite being on a winless team, Johnson still remains a reliable option who’s averaging 30 minutes per game and seems like a sure thing to get you between 20-25 points. Johnson and the Nets will be squaring off tonight against a Houston Rockets team that ranks 30th against opposing small forwards, so Johnson will be a good value tonight.

PF: Marvin Williams, Charlotte Hornets – $5,500

Williams is averaging 28.4 fantasy points per game so far this season and has flashed great potential. He is averaging 32.3 minutes per game for the Hornets, so he is playing the majority of each game and producing while on the court. DraftKings offers bonus points for players who post double-doubles and Williams is one of 24 players who has posted at least three double-doubles thus far this season.

The Hornets’ offense is scoring the sixth-most points per 100 possessions and is running smoothly. Williams has had four games scoring in double digits, and had a season-high 17 points last Thursday against Dallas. His numbers don’t jump off of the page, but he’ll provide your team with solid production at a reasonable price. He’s turned in five games with at least 27 fantasy points and should be a solid add tonight against a New York Knicks defense that ranks 26th against opposing power forwards.

C: Meyers Leonard, Portland Trail Blazers – $4,200

Leonard has quietly put together some solid performances this season and has really come around during his last three outings. You might might be reluctant to roll with Leonard on a night when DeMarcus Cousins, Andre Drummond, DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard are playing, but you could grab Leonard on the cheap and have splurge elsewhere.

Leonard started off the season a bit slow as he was dealing with an ankle injury, but he appears to have gotten past the injury. Over his last three games, he’s averaged 14 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 31 minutes of action, which has translated to 24.5 fantasy points per game. Portland faces off tonight against the San Antonio Spurs – a favorable matchup at the center position as the Spurs rank 20th against opposing centers.

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We encourage you to give these players a look as you build your starting lineups for tonight. Here are three contests you can enter now:

$300K Shootaround: This $3 league features $300,000 in prizes and a $20,000 first-place prize. Also, if this is your first time playing DraftKings, the $3 entry fee will be waived.

Massive $5 Double Up: This league costs $5 to enter and the top 50 percent of teams double their entry fee to win $10. Basketball Insiders highly recommends these leagues. Even though there isn’t a huge first-place prize, you can consistently win in these leagues and the money adds up. Just be smarter than half of the field and you double your money.

$400K Shootaround: This $20 league features $400,000 in prizes and a $50,000 first-place prize.

Cody Taylor is an NBA writer in his fourth season with Basketball Insiders, covering the NBA and NCAA out of Orlando and Miami.

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