DFS NBA 3/11: Should You Play Russell Westbrook Tonight?

Sometimes, playing daily fantasy basketball is a meticulous effort, where you pick between several close value players in order to create that perfect lineup with the maximum projected points. Sometimes, playing daily fantasy basketball is about finding 3-4 core players, then supplementing the rest of your lineup with serviceable plays. But occasionally, there comes a time where there’s only one question to answer, and tonight is one of those times. Tonight, the only question is, “Should I play this dude who costs $13,300?”

Russell Westbrook has been on an absolute tear in his past 5 games, posting a triple-double and topping 68 FanDuel points in 4 out of those 5. His worst game was a 62 fantasy point effort against Chicago. Subsequently, his price has skyrocketed to a record $13,300.

I could simply answer this question for you, and you could be on your way making a lineup for the Super Slam tonight. But I decided to write an article on this topic because the conundrum of whether or not to play Westbrook tonight illustrates several key lineup construction strategies perfectly. Because playing Westbrook is not actually a question of whether he’s worth his price (honestly, he’s probably not), it’s a question of whether the other players in play make Westbrook worth it.


Strength of Position

One question we must answer before deciding whether to play Westbrook is: Are there two PG plays compelling enough that would make us want to pass up on Westbrook? My answer is no. Chris Paul, Steph Curry, and Ricky Rubio are all solid plays, but all slightly overpriced tonight. And in the mid to low tier, Goran Dragic, Jeff Teague, and Aaron Brooks seem good, but none are great. This could change later in the day when more injury news comes out, but as of 11:30am, I think the position is weak enough where Westbrook is a valid play. If there were two compelling PG plays, for example if Aaron Brooks was $4,000 and if there’s an injury to a key PG, then I would be less inclined to use Westbrook.


Great Value at Other Position

Another question is, can I fit Westbrook into my lineup? In order to fit him in, we need great values at other positions. While I’d prefer some solid min-salary players, we do have some quality low salary plays. Michael Beasley ($4,200) is one of my favorites, with Hassan Whiteside suspended and Chris Anderson and Udonis Haslem questionable, Beasley may be Miami’s only big man. We also have Nikola Mirotic ($5,700) going up against the 76ers.


Is Westbrook Likely the Best Player Tonight?

This is one final question to ask. It’s important, especially in GPPs, to have the highest point scorer of the night in your lineup, regardless of his price. James Harden, Chris Paul, and Steph Curry all have a chance to outscore Westbrook, but I’d say it’s relatively unlikely. He seems like a pretty good bet, although I could see Harden giving him a run.

So should we play Russell Westbrook tonight on FanDuel? I think yes, although I could go either way. All these lineup construction factors are in his favor. Just keep in mind, if you do fade Westbrook, make it a smart fade. I think a great idea for a fade lineup would be to go with James Harden and DeAndre Jordan, since no one will have Harden and Westbrook in the same lineup and Jordan should have a great game if Westbrook struggles offensively.


Should I play Westbrook on DraftKings?

Westbrook has a TRUE DIFF of ~$1,000 on DraftKings, so one might think my answer would be yes. But I actually think he’s less viable. DraftKings has two key differences to FanDuel, roster flexibility and less salary. Westbrook handicaps your lineup a lot more on DraftKings, and the roster flexibility with the G, F, and UTIL positions allows you to play more of the great mid-tier values of the day (Like Zach Randolph against the Celtics, who’s only $7,000, and Eric Bledsoe who’s only $7,600). If there were some viable min-salary plays on DraftKings, I might change my mind. I’ll keep a lookout and make sure to tweet if I see something compelling.



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View all posts by Max J Steinberg
Max J Steinberg

About the Author

Max J Steinberg Max Steinberg is a professional poker player and a top Daily Fantasy player who uses his creativity and mathematical abilities he cultivated as a poker player to win money on both DraftKings and FanDuel. He already has several big tournament scores to his name including the Victiv Bowl and countless MLB Monster wins. Follow him on twitter @maxjsteinberg.

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