Ja Morant,DeMar DeRozan
Memphis Grizzlies' Ja Morant (12) scores past Chicago Bulls' DeMar DeRozan during the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)


Mike Shara

There have been a lot of questions coming in today so let me be very clear – no, I am not a proxy laying bets for Calvin Ridley. These early look DFS columns are written by me only. Calvin and I haven’t spoken since I found out he was laying $1,500 on 8 leg parlays at the Westminster Kennel Dog Show. That’s when I knew he was headed down a bad path and we had to take a break. 


JALEN SMITH, PF/C, Indiana ($5,900 on FanDuel, $5,600 on DraftKings)
After trading All-Star power forward Domantas Sabonis to Sacramento last month, the Pacers were suddenly left with four or five relatively unknown players vying for starters’ minutes at the 4/5 spot. Terry Taylor, Isaiah Jackson and Oshae Brissett have each had…moments of looking like they were poised to leap to the front of the line, but the latter three have all also had dud games immediately after good ones, leaving Indiana Head Coach Rick Carlisle scratching his head. The only one of them that has been steadily productive – at least from a DFS points-per-minute point of view – has been Jalen Smith. Since being acquired from Phoenix, (where he was a top ten draft pick just two years ago) for Torrey Craig (!) Smith has shown real improvement and is starting to remind folks why he had been such a high pick. Tonight he faces a Cleveland team that will be scrambling to replace an injured Jarrett Allen at center, meaning he should face easier than usual matchups. His arrow is going up, he’s available at two different spots and his price tag remains below average. I like him a lot tonight.

CAMERON PAYNE, PG/SG, Phoenix ($5,300 on DraftKings, $6,600 on FanDuel)
FanDuel represents a little bit closer to what Payne’s value will be tonight – although I still think he’s playable there. On DraftKings – where he’s only available at PG unfortunately – he is an absolute must-play. Tonight the Suns will be missing both Chris Paul (thumb) and Devin Booker (Covid protocols), meaning that Payne will be levied with even more usage, minutes and volume tonight than usual. Even at his normal levels, tonight’s matchup vs. Orlando would be a good one for him – he’s been averaging 38 minutes and 50 DFS points per game over his last five without tonight’s added circumstances. No one else on Phoenix who’s active tonight is a high usage guy except him. You can try and look elsewhere for better plays because he’ll be heavily rostered tonight (probably 75% or so) but there won’t be any available. Don’t be a contrarian just for the sake of being contrarian. 

KEVIN DURANT, SF/PF, Brooklyn ($10,300 on FanDuel, $11,100 on DraftKings)
This can’t all be about drafting scrubs – you need some stars to complete a good roster and we’ve now given Kevin Durant enough time to acclimate back to the NBA grind since returning from injury. In 21 games in Brooklyn with James Harden out and Kyrie Irving in, KD has averaged 1.5 DFS points per minute, an over 30% usage rate and a 28% assist rate – elite numbers for sure and you may have heard that James Harden got traded from the Nets recently. In his two games since returning, Durant has averaged 37 minutes and the Hornets might be the best possible opponent in the entire league for him to maximize his output against – the over/under for this game is almost 240! The Nets are still fighting for a playoff spot, so it’s unlikely they’re going to ease off on his minutes any time soon, either. 

JAE CROWDER, SF/PF, Phoenix ($5,100 on DraftKings, $6,100 on FanDuel)
I just realized/remembered that not only are CP3 and Devin Booker out for the Suns tonight, but Cam Johnson is out, too! Crowder’s minutes probably won’t be affected too much – he’s averaging about 30 per game over his last 5 – but his usage might increase as he’ll be asked to a bit more in the offensive schemes tonight, making him more of a realistic second option in a lot of sets. As savvy a vet as you could ever want on your NBA team, Crowder is a perfect option in games like this – facing a bad opponent with an undermanned roster that’s still trying to win every game possible. He’s a multi-positional DFS point-per-game player already and his salary on DraftKings is very hard to ignore, given all those circumstances.

JA MORANT, PG, Memphis ($10,700 on DraftKings, $9,900 on FanDuel)
I felt irresponsible to be adding a second superstar to today’s suggestions, but with a six game slate sometimes it’s hard to find brilliant bargains, especially with one of those games being Clippers/Warriors – where every player on both teams seems somehow overpriced. Morant being under 10 grand on FanDuel tonight seems like a bit of an opportunity. The Pelicans have been playing well lately, but like most teams they lack anyone to really interfere with Morant imposing his will in tonight’s game. His ownership is currently projected to be somewhere less than 7 or 8% and I suspect more people will be chasing after the red-hot (and similarly priced) Shea Gilgeous-Alexander, but my instinct tells me Ja is the second superstar you’d want to look at tonight. 

Latest Team / Player News