Here are the top high-salary daily fantasy options for this week in the NBA:
Tuesday – PG Russell Westbrook, Thunder (vs. Trail Blazers)
This one might seem like a no-brainer, with Westbrook racking up triple-doubles at a breakneck pace and just three games on the Tuesday schedule. But while Westbrook will be a fixture in the majority of daily fantasy lineups, he’s far from a sure thing when it comes to returning value. Westbrook has had a devil of a time in three meetings with the Trail Blazers this season; while he’s averaging a healthy 35.7 points, his six rebounds and six assists per game are well below his triple-double season pace. You pretty much have to roster him Tuesday, but don’t expect 80+ fantasy points.
Wednesday – PF Paul Millsap, Hawks (vs. Nets)
Millsap isn’t exactly the sexiest DFS choice on a given night – especially one with so many games to choose from – but matchups don’t get much better than this. Brooklyn is surrendering the second-most fantasy points in the the league to power forwards – and while Millsap’s first meeting with the Nets wasn’t terribly rewarding (14 points, eight rebounds, four assists), he’s primed for a much better performance at home. Millsap has returned at least cash game value in four of his previous 10 games, and should be priced reasonably enough to allow you to stock up on at least one star player at another position.
Thursday – C Jusuf Nurkic, Trail Blazers (vs. 76ers)
Nurkic has found a home in the Pacific Northwest after being shipped out of Denver in the middle of the month; the 7-footer enters the week averaging 14.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, four assists, 1.7 steals and 1.5 blocks in six games (five starts) with the Trail Blazers. Clearly he and Nikola Jokic couldn’t coexist in the Nuggets’ backcourt, but both have thrived apart. Nurkic has returned tournament value in three of six games with Portland, and Thursday’s tilt against Philadelphia might be the last time you can get him at a reasonable price. The 76ers are worst in the NBA in fantasy points allowed to center, so Nurkic should feast.
Friday – PG Seth Curry, Mavericks (vs. Nets)
That’s no typo – we’re going with the younger Curry brother here in a plus matchup against a Brooklyn team that can’t seem to defend any position; it’s allowing a league-worst 48 fantasy points per night to opposing point guards. Curry has been showcased by the Mavericks, and it has resulted in five cash-game showings and one tournament-level value return over his last eight games – all while better than 30 minutes per night. Even if the Mavericks run away with this one, Curry should see more than enough playing time to return value on his still-reasonable salary.
Saturday – SF Kawhi Leonard, Spurs (vs. Warriors)
This was supposed to be a marquee matchup between superstar small forwards – but with Golden State stud Kevin Durant on the shelf with a leg injury, it’ll likely be Leonard squaring off against Warriors jack-of-all-trades Draymond Green. And while Green is no slouch on the defensive end, he’s no match for Leonard, who has returned at least cash-game value in six of his last 10 games and has scored 30 or more points in seven of his previous 11 contests. You’ll need to swallow hard to afford his salary, but few players in the game are more reliable when it comes to daily fantasy production.
Sunday – SF LeBron James, Cavaliers (at Rockets)
This should be fun. James and the Cavaliers will be looking to keep up with James Harden and the Rockets in a matchup of two teams that rank in the top three in the NBA in points per game. Houston allows an average of 38.8 fantasy points to small forwards, and that number rises to 40.5 points over the Rockets’ last 10 games. And there isn’t a player on that roster who can keep up with LeBron, who quietly put up 47.3 fantasy points in their first meeting Nov. 1 and is capable of so much more – particularly if Cleveland hopes to keep this one close. Roster him confidently in all formats.