CJ McCollum ($4800) – So LaMarcus, Robin, Aaron, Nicolas and Wes are all gone. Who’s left besides Damian? CJ McCollum. Portland will be giving us lots of DFS values throughout the year but none more than CJ. McCollum had a stellar preseason with averages of 18.3 PPG, 4.4 APG and 2.6 RPG. If I had to predict right now a MIP (Most Improved Player), it would probably be CJ. Gerald Henderson is sidelined, meaning McCollum will likely get the nod to start at SG to begin the season. I’d prefer it if he wasn’t a PG option on DraftKings with the position being so deep but if you need a flex and cap relief at the guard position, he provides some serious upside. It doesn’t hurt that he’ll be going up against a New Orleans team on the tail end of back to back road games to open up the season. As long as DraftKings keeps his price under $5000, I’ll assure you that you’ll see his name pop up again and again in this column.
Langston Galloway ($4000) – NY signed Arron Afflalo this offseason to help stop the bleeding in their backcourt, but he’s listed as doubtful for the season opener. Welcome to the repeated nightmare known as the New York Knicks. The thing is though, as of now we don’t know who will be starting in his place. It’s either going to be rookie Jerian Grant, Sasha Vujacic or Langston. Vujacic is likely to get the nod but that does’t mean he’s going to do much with that opportunity. Galloway had respectable numbers last year when inserted into the starting line up (12.0 PPG, 4.4 RPG and 3.4 APG in 41 starts). It should be noted that Carmelo missed most of those games but my guess is that Fisher feels comfortable with that familiarity in this offense and gives him most of the minutes of the 3 players mentioned above. He’s a high risk/high reward player whenever given an opportunity.
Jae Crowder ($4300) – Boston is a DFS wasteland. There’s literally not one position on that team that’s solidified. It doesn’t mean that they’re a bad team (They’ll make the playoffs this season for the second straight year). It just means that Brad Stevens doesn’t care about your fantasy lineups. But here’s the thing with Crowder: If he gets minutes, he’ll find ways to contribute to your team. The kid has great peripherals. He doesn’t do anything great but does everything well. Word is leaking that he’s gonna win the starting small forward job over Evan Turner and that’s a good thing. He’s just fundamentally sound and extremely efficient. It’s what young teams like the Celtics build their foundation on.
According to Synergy Sports data, Crowder allowed only 21 points on 44 total plays defended. What’s more, opponents shot only 22.5 percent against him, including two shutdown-caliber performances against Carmelo Anthony. Of the 130 players who defended at least 40 plays this preseason, Crowder ranked first allowing only 0.477 points per play.
Maybe more noteworthy was Crowder’s offensive exploits. He took only 26 shots this preseason, but generated 50 points. Synergy data graded him at a team-best 1.282 points per play overall. For all players with at least 35 offensive plays finished this preseason, Crowder ranked No. 2 behind only Washington’s Otto Porter (1.373 points per possession) out of whopping 250 qualifiers.(ESPN)
You know what? He’s right. No one was more surprised than me during last years NBA draft seeing Randle slip all the way down to pick #7 after he was touted to be a top 3 pick throughout the entire 2013-2014 college season. GM’s around the league were caught off guard when they’d heard he’d need surgery on his right foot moving forward, so he slid all the way down to the Lakers. Randle insisted that he was fine but he wasn’t. About 6 months after Randle was already ruled out for the year with a broken leg that he suffered on opening night, he eventually did have to get surgery on that same foot that he insisted was fine.
Fast forward to now. Julius looks healthy and possessed. He’s averaged 19.7 PPG and 9.6 APG per 36 during the preseason with a juicy matchup against a thin MIN front line to open up the NBA season. The Lakers front court is thin. They will unleash Randle right from the opening tip.
Meyers Leonard ($4500) – As mentioned above, Portland will give us plenty of value moving forward. Meyers does’t have to worry about playing behind Robin Lopez or LaMarcus Aldridge anymore. The job is all his. He started all 7 of the Blazers preseason games with a respectable stat line of 10.4 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 2.0 three pointers, 0.9 steals and 0.7 blocks in 27 minutes. A starting center who can hit 3 pointers? I’m sold. Don’t overthink this one, he’s the ultimate value play.