This article is part of our Yahoo DFS Basketball series.
It's hard to think of a more competitive first round than the one we've been dealt so far this year. It feels like almost every series is competitive, with only two of them looking like potential sweeps. Unfortunately, two of those are happening here, but it should force these losing teams into some big minutes. We also have the Portland-Denver series, which looks like a near guarantee for seven games the way those clubs are trading off blows. There's a lot to discuss, though, so let's get into it!
Ben Simmons, PHI at WAS ($33)
We had Simmons in this section last weekend, and we're going right back to the well for all the same reasons. We talked about how good of a matchup this is for Big Ben, and that's been on full display in the first two games of this series. Simmons has 28 points, 24 rebounds, 25 assists, three steals and two blocks in the first two games against the Wizards. He's done that despite sitting the fourth quarter of Game 2, proving just how valuable this matchup can be to an athlete like this. We say that because Washington plays at the fastest pace in the NBA, catering beautifully to a stat-stuffing beast like Simmons.
Monte Morris, DEN at POR ($13)
Denver has been trying to cope without Jamal Murray and Will Barton, leaving this backcourt extremely thin. While players like Facundo Campazzo and Austin Rivers stepped up in Game 2, Morris is the most important guard coming off the bench. In the first two games of this series, MM is averaging 25 Yahoo points per game across 28 minutes a night. That minute total is all you can ask for from such a talented player, with Morris posting a 24-point average in the 17 games he's played 30-plus minutes. That might not sound like much, but it's a fantastic total from a $13 player. Not to mention, Portland ranked 29th in defensive efficiency ratings in the regular season.
Guard to Avoid
Kendrick Nunn, MIA vs. MIL ($15)
Nunn was brilliant at times this season when he filled in for a shorthanded Miami team, but now that this team is fully healthy, we simply can't trust him. He was actually relegated to bench duties in Game 3 in favor of Goran Dragic, dropping 8.7 Y! points across 17 minutes of play. It's not like he was playing well before that in this series anyway, failing to crack 15 fantasy points in any of the three games. All of that is really concerning against an elite defense like Milwaukee, and he could play even less here with Miami battling for their lives.
Bradley Beal, WAS vs. PHI ($41)
It would be hard to imagine Russell Westbrook playing here after how beat-up he looked in Game 2. If that's the case, Beal could be looking at 25 shots, 40 minutes and a 40 percent usage rate. This year, Beal has a ridiculous 39.9 percent usage rate with Westbrook off the floor, averaging 1.5 Y! points per minute. He's also scored at least 47 fantasy points in the six games without Russ, generating a 55-point average in that span. We'd honestly like BB even if Russ does fight through his injury, with Beal scoring at least 44 Yahoo points in the first two games of this series.
Royce O'Neale, UTA at MEM ($13)
Nobody will get excited about putting O'Neale into their lineup, but he's way too valuable to be this cheap. The simple fact is, Royce plays way too much to be a $13 player. We're talking about a guy who played 32 minutes a night during the regular season, posting a 36-minute average in the first two games of this series. That led to a 29-point gem in Game 2, a superb total from such an affordable player. What's equally as important is that he's scored at least 17 Yahoo points in all six of his meetings with Memphis this year, which is quite the floor from a $13 player.
Forward to Avoid
Joe Ingles, UTA at MEM ($20)
If you've been following my work, you knew this was coming. Ingles is a stud when he's starting but is far less desirable when coming off the bench. In fact, Jingles has a 28-point average across 31 minutes in his 31 games as a starter while providing 21 Yahoo points across 26 minutes in his 38 games coming off the bench. That's particularly worrisome with Donovan Mitchell back in the fold, making Ingles impossible to trust at $20.
Nikola Jokic, DEN at POR ($53)
Out of all the expensive players on this slate, Jokic is easily the best option on the board. We say that because he's been the best player all year, leading the NBA with 55 Yahoo points per game. He's actually been even better the last two months, averaging 1.63 Y! points per minute with Murray and Barton both off the floor. That's bad news for one of the worst defenses in the NBA, with Joker dropping at least 54 fantasy points in all three games of this series.
Jusuf Nurkic, POR vs. DEN ($29)
Nurk was on his way to a monster line in Game 2 but fouled out with nearly six minutes remaining. He still finished with 13 points, 13 rebounds and six assists, dropping 40 Yahoo points. That's the guy we've seen for a month now, averaging 39 Y! points per game across 26 minutes a night in his final 17 outings. He did a lot of that damage in limited minutes, but he's clearly ready for a full workload now, playing 32-plus minutes twice in this series. We also love that he gets to match up with Jokic, who happens to be one of the worst defensive centers in the NBA.
Center to Avoid
Jonas Valanciunas, MEM vs. UTA ($33)
This is a super risky fade, but there are just too many good center options to use Jonas. We already mentioned Jokic and Nurkic, but Joel Embiid, Bam Adebayo and Rudy Gobert are all brilliant picks as well. That leaves JV on the outside looking in, failing to crack 35 fantasy points in his last three games. That alone is worrisome, but it's absolutely horrifying when you see that he has a matchup with the best defensive center in our game.