Easy Breezy: Chalk Stack
The Utah Jazz have been playing around an average pace throughout the 2018 season, ranking 16th in the NBA in pace thus far. They’ll see an uptick in pace tonight, though, as their opponents, the Los Angeles Lakers, rank third in the league in pace through 42 games. Utah only ranks 21st in the NBA in offensive rating this season, while Los Angeles surprisingly ranks eighth in the league in defensive rating. Still, the Jazz are -8 point favorites in a game set at 217 points, giving them an implied total of 112.5 points on the slate tonight.
The majority of the Utah roster will be chalk tonight, as they will be running a short rotation. Ricky Rubio, Dante Exum, Raul Neto, Grayson Allen, Thabo Sefolosha, and Tony Bradley have all been ruled out tonight. Donovan Mitchell will take over as the primary ball-handler, and his usage rating should jump well north of 30% tonight. He played that role in his last game, scoring 33 points with four rebounds, seven assists, and one steal (51.5 DK points) in 37 minutes. He is averaging 1.04 DK points per minute this season, and he has played 37+ minutes in each of his last three games. He should see similar minutes tonight, while also seeing increased usage, making him an elite option on this slate. Royce O’Neale could see the most ownership of any Jazz player tonight, though. He’s extremely cheap, and should see 30+ minutes. On the season, he’s averaging 4.0 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.1 assists (10.5 DK points) in only 15.3 minutes per game. He has been a better per minute player in Utah this season, and he simply doesn’t need many fantasy points to hit value at his current price tag. Joe Ingles, Jae Crowder, Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert, and even Kyle Korver can be considered to fill out this stack. I’m siding slightly with Favors, who is simply too cheap for his recent production. Over the last 10 days, he’s averaging 12.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.0 assist, and 2.0 blocks (27.0 DK points) in 25.5 minutes per game. He’s coming off of a tough game against the Orlando Magic, but Favors was able to score 30+ DK points in four of his last five games prior to that. He needed only 23.4 minutes to score 19.75 DK points against the Los Angeles Lakers in their only matchup this season, and Utah’s players will be forced into bigger minutes with a short rotation tonight.
NOTE: Giannis Antetokounmpo was listed as doubtful during this writing. The Milwaukee Bucks will also make up a “Chalk Stack” tonight. The top stacking options would be Malcolm Brogdon, Khris Middleton, and Ersan Ilyasova.
Important Odds: Vegas Stack
The Philadelphia 76ers and Atlanta Hawks have both been pushing the pace this season, ranking seventh and first in the NBA in pace, respectively. Philadelphia also ranks 12th in the NBA in offensive rating, while Atlanta only ranks 24th in the league in defensive rating. The Sixers are currently -12.5 point favorites in a game set at 232.5 points, and they feature the highest implied total on the slate at 122.5 points.
Joel Embiid is the top option for Philadelphia tonight. He leads the team with a 32.6% usage rating, significantly higher than Jimmy Butler’s 23.2% usage rating, which ranks second on the team. Embiid has caught fire recently, averaging 30.0 points, 14.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2.0 blocks, and 1.2 steals (59.6 DK points) in 32.5 minutes per game over the last 10 days. He has scored 60+ DK points in five of his last seven games, including a 77.5 DK point performance against the Phoenix Suns. He surprisingly struggled in his only matchup against Atlanta this season, and this could be a redemption game for Embiid. Ben Simmons is another player that has found quite a bit of success recently. He’s averaging 19.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 8.4 assists, and 1.2 steals (43.9 DK points) in 34.2 minutes per game over the last 10 days. He has scored 40+ DK points in eight of his last 10 games, including four games with 50+ DK points. Simmons needed only 26.5 minutes to score 52 DK points against Atlanta earlier this season. This is the perfect type of matchup for Simmons, who will see extra opportunities for peripheral stats because of the pace between these two teams. T.J. McConnell is coming off a bad game against the Washington Wizards, but he’s still averaging 7.0 points, 2.4 rebounds, 4.6 assists, and 2.2 steals (20.7 DK points) in 26.3 minutes per game over the last 10 days. He has also scored 18+ DK points in nine of his last 10 games. He somewhat lacks upside, but is a consistent option for a low price tag. McConnell also averaged 1.25 DK points per minute against Atlanta this season, although he played very, very limited minutes in that game. He’s expected to see minutes in the mid-20s tonight, and he makes this stack a bit more affordable.
Wildcard GPP: Low Owned Stack
The Portland Blazers only rank 18th in the NBA in pace through 42 games this season. They get a matchup against the Charlotte Hornets, who currently rank 14th in the league in pace. Portland has found quite a bit of offensive success this season, ranking 11th in the NBA in offensive rating. Charlotte hasn’t quite found the same defensive success, ranking only 19th in the league in defensive rating in 2018. The Blazers are -6 point favorites in a game set at 221 points, and they own an implied total of 113.5 points tonight.
Damian Lillard leads Portland with a 29.9% usage rating this season. He has cooled off a bit recently, averaging 19.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, 9.0 assists, and 1.4 steals (39.4 DK points) in 35.5 minutes per game over the last 10 days. He hasn’t been the most consistent option recently, but he comes with quite a bit of upside, recently scoring 53.5 DK points against the Golden State Warriors. Lillard is currently questionable with an elbow injured, and C.J. can slide into his spot in this stack if he’s ruled out tonight. Jusuf Nurkic will likely feature some ownership tonight, but he’s still likely to go overlooked. Over the last 10 days, he’s averaging 21.8 points, 12.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.4 blocks, and 1.8 steals (46.7 DK points) in 27.5 minutes per game over the last 10 days. He has scored 40+ DK points in five of his last eight games, including an 82.75 DK point performance against the Sacramento Kings. Nurkic is averaging 1.39 DK points per minute this season, and he’s expected to play around 30 minutes in a plus matchup against Charlotte tonight. Al-Farouq Aminu is another option, who comes with quite a bit of upside. He’s averaging 10.4 points, 8.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.2 blocks (28.3 DK points) in 32.0 minutes per game over the last 10 days. Aminu is still relatively low priced, and he has scored 20+ DK points in each of his last 10 games. He has flashed 40+ DK point upside over that span, and he’s averaging 27.7 DK points per game over that span. The Blazers feature an extremely risky group of fantasy options, making them the perfect team to stack in tournaments on a larger slate.
Hidden Gem: Value Guard
I have already outlined McConnell above, so I won’t go into too much detail here. He has been an extremely consistent option, scoring 18+ DK points in nine of his last 10 games. He has also scored 20+ DK points in seven of those games, exceeding value at his low price tag. McConnell gets an elite matchup against the Atlanta Hawks, who feature one of the worst defensive backcourts in the NBA. He is a player that can be used in all leagues on this slate.
Hidden Gem: Value Big
Ilyasova has found success in limited minutes this season. Through 28 games, he’s averaging 7.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.1 assists (17.6 DK points) in 19.1 minutes per game. On a per-36 minute basis, Ilyasova is averaging a 13.9/10.1/2.1/1.1/0.5 line per game. In his first 12 games of the season, Ilyasova averaged 23.2 minutes per game, and he was able to turn those into 8.7 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has been labeled as doubtful tonight, opening minutes and usage for Ilyasova. He’s expected to play minutes in the mid-20s tonight, and his usage rating is expected to increase to around 18-20% in this game. Ilyasova gets an elite matchup against the Washington Wizards, and he’s an athletic big man, who will benefit from the pace of this game. He can safely be used in all leagues tonight.
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