The start of the 2020-2021 NBA regular season is less than a week away, and if you're like us then your fantasy basketball draft is coming up.
Next week is going to be an exciting one. Not only do we get Christmas, but we get the return of the NBA after a very short offseason. That means you only have a few days to prepare for your fantasy basketball draft, and we know you're already busy wrapping gifts and baking cookies.
The NBA has already given us an early present by giving us a great slate of games on Christmas Day, including Zion v. Jimmy, Steph v. Giannis, and Luka v. LeBron.
Now let FindBet give you an early Christmas gift, as this article should help you prep for your draft by giving you some targets in the mid-to-late rounds that we think will provide upside and consistency throughout the fantasy season.
Here are five of our top sleeper picks for fantasy basketball this year. We present to you: A Fantasy Basketball Carol.
Ghost of Fantasy Past
John Wall Houston Rockets PG
It's easy to forget the past, and if you asked me about most anything from two years ago I would have trouble recalling much. Well it's nearly been that long since we last saw John Wall play a regular season game in the NBA. However, Wall hasn't been forgotten during his absence due to multiple injuries.
Wall has been referred to quite often while rehabbing from a torn Achilles under one of the worst contracts in the NBA that he signed while still a member of the Washington Wizards. Now with the Rockets, Wall has been looking great in preseason actions so far.
John Wall has impressive debut with Houston Rockets | NBA Preseason Highlights www.youtube.com
While some of the explosiveness may be gone, Wall looks quick, and his shooting seems to be improved since the last time we saw him play, which continues a trend we saw prior to his injury. A perennial threat to go for 20 points and 10 assists while adding steals and three pointers, Wall is being severely overlooked in fantasy drafts right now.
With the trade rumors swirling around James Harden, Wall could end up being THE guy in Houston if Harden is traded. Even if Harden stays, the ceiling for Wall is high considering his skill set compliments Harden as an off-ball player, too. If you load up on big men early in your draft, don't sleep on John Wall.
Ghosts of Fantasy Present
Montrezl Harrell Los Angeles Lakers PF/C
If you didn't learn anything from the ghost of fantasy past, let the ghosts of fantasy present enlighten you. Start with Montrezl Harrell, the reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year, from his 2019-2020 performance. Last year with the Clippers, Harrell averaged 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game as the top option off the bench.
Montrezl Harrell using all of his 7"4 wingspan! https://t.co/ntXx2fOTeX— 🏀 (@🏀)1608180758.0
Still in L.A. but now sporting purple and gold, Harrell finds himself in an even better situation than he was last year. The Lakers shed both Dwight Howard and JaVale McGee, opening up more opportunity for minutes for Trez. The Lakers brought in veteran big man Marc Gasol, but Harrell will likely see minutes at center, power forward, and small forward this season. Frank Vogel likes to play around with lineups, and Harrell provides the kind of versatility that his new coach likes.
Harrell has already proven he can do a lot with a little, and now in a slightly better situation playing for the defending champs, we expect big things from Harrell this year. Certainly a lot better than his late round projections in most fantasy drafts. Consistency is king, and that's what Trez will bring.
Clint Capela Atlanta Hawks C
Capela is another player we like because of the consistency that he can provide. Last year he was limited to just 39 games played due to injury, but during that time he averaged 13.9 points, 13.8 rebounds, and 1.8 blocks per game. That's near elite production at the center position. Sure you would like more scoring, but in today's NBA any center that can get those numbers night in and night out is valuable.
Hold on... Clint Capela must’ve bought some VC during the offseason. When did he unlock these moves? 👀🔥 https://t.co/PljsjfmlDg— Da Kid Gowie (@Da Kid Gowie)1607900273.0
Also take into consideration Capela benefits from having Trae Young absorbing most of the opposing defense's attention throughout the game which allows Capela space to work in the paint. We may see the Young to Capela lob become the new CP3 to Blake Griffin ally-oop combo everybody tunes into to see.
Capela would have finished eighth in blocks and second in rebounds if he played enough games to qualify last year, and Atlanta should be a better team this year. There will be a handful of centers taken before Capela, but if you can grab him in the mid rounds, then it will allow you to stock up on guards and elite shooters early in your draft.
Ghosts of Fantasy Future
Isaac Okoro Cleveland Cavaliers SF
So far the ghosts of fantasy basketball have tried to teach you about remembering the past and the importance of consistent performance. Let the ghosts of fantasy future give you some hope in the late rounds of your draft in case you are feeling a little hum-buggy about how your draft develops.
There may not be a hotter rookie in the preseason right now than Cleveland's Isaac Okoro. Let's start by tempering your expectations, though, as he will not likely be starting in the preseason, as the team is resting some starters, including Kevin Porter Jr. The good news, however, is that we've seen Okoro do it all so far. He can score with confidence, hit shots from the perimeter, and has shown good vision for a raw rookie.
Hold on... Clint Capela must’ve bought some VC during the offseason. When did he unlock these moves? 👀🔥 https://t.co/PljsjfmlDg— Da Kid Gowie (@Da Kid Gowie)1607900273.0
The Cavs have a bevy of young talent to sort through, including Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, and the aforementioned Kevin Porter Jr, but nobody's spot is guaranteed. It may behoove the Cavs to put Okoro into the mix early since he's riding a hot streak, and if he succeeds, then he could keep his spot for the season. A late round flyer on Okoro could be a move that puts you over the top in 2021, and who doesn't need a win after this year?
James Wiseman Golden State Warriors C
One thing we know is that the future is not guaranteed. One of the biggest fish in the NBA rookie pond was Wiseman. He lands in Golden State who has future hall of famer Steph Curry returning from injury. The Warriors should immediately get back in the playoff picture in the Western Conference after suffering through an uncharacteristic poor season under Steve Kerr.
James Wiseman showing off the range 👁 (via @warriors) https://t.co/Dt75Wh9GjL— Def Pen Hoops (@Def Pen Hoops)1607719671.0
Curry and Klay Thompson were sorely missed last year, and the Warriors will again be without Thompson who sustained another injury and will miss the entire season for the second consecutive year. The Warriors traded for Kelly Oubre Jr and will hope for improvement out of Andrew Wiggins.
Coming back to Wiseman, we have never seen a Warrior team under the Kerr-Curry regime operate with a big man of Wiseman's pedigree. We had a glimpse of what the offense could look like with a legit scorer in the middle during the short era of Demarcus Cousins, but he was recovering from injury and never looked 100%. Wiseman is fresh and he oozes talent the way Razor Ramon oozed machismo in the mid 90s.
12/16/95: Razor Ramon graces us with his version of The Night Before Christmas. https://t.co/RyCTTK114n— OVP - Retro Wrestling Podcast (@OVP - Retro Wrestling Podcast)1608157812.0
The inside-outside threat should not only help Steph Curry find space to spot up, but it will bring a new element of a dangerous pick and roll game between the two. Wiseman will probably be the first rookie selected in your fantasy draft, but it won't be until all the teams in your league have their starter.
Once you see the last team fill that position, if you want Wiseman, don't wait. Smash the "Draft Player" button quickly, as he won't last much longer. After seeing the success that DeAndre Ayton has had in Phoenix early in his career, don't be surprised if Wiseman is the next in line to burst onto the NBA and fantasy scene this year.
It's another eventful week in the NFL.
Four teams -- the Jets, Falcons, Saints, and 49ers -- are the first teams to get a bye week. After Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers narrowly escaped Thursday Night Football with a 28-22 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, the reigning Super Bowl champs are the first team with five wins in the league. Who will join them on Sunday? We know that we'll get at least a second five-win team since the 4-1 Ravens are hosting the 4-1 Chargers. That is going to be an epic battle, so let's start with that clash of AFC contenders. Welcome to our Week 6 NFL Best Bets.
Playing on the road is a difficult task for any team, but if any team can escape with a victory, it's Justin Herbert and the Chargers. This isn't the Chargers of the last decade. This team is winning the close battles. Herbert is playing at an MVP level this season and already has led this team to big-time wins over the Kansas City Chiefs and Cleveland Browns -- two of the top teams in the AFC. This L.A. team is deep at the skill positions, can rush the passer, has an improved offensive line and a great young coach. What's not to like?
All that said, Lamar Jackson seems to be playing as he did during his 2019 MVP campaign. Not to mention, Marquise "Hollywood" Brown is actually catching passes. He eclipsed 100 yards last week and scored two touchdowns (including the game-winning catch in overtime). Simply put, this is a tough team to bet against. It did take last-second heroics for the Ravens to beat the winless Lions and a pretty pedestrian Colts team. Overall, Baltimore hasn't faced a test like this yet this season. Take the points and the better overall squad. Chargers may win this game, but if they don't, they are not going to lose by more than a field goal.
PICK: Chargers +3.5
It's been a tough start to the season for the Chiefs. They had great odds to return to the Super Bowl and are now last in the AFC West heading into Week 16 with a 2-3 record. They desperately need this game. This is a great opportunity for the Chiefs to prove they are still elite by defeating a team that made the postseason last year on the road. The Chiefs are going to turn it around against a Washington defense that is allowing the sixth-most passing yards and second-most passing touchdowns this season. Patrick Mahomes is going to blow up. Tyreek Hill is going to dominate. Travis Kelce is going to continue to provide a steady source of receptions down the middle of the field. As long as the Chiefs' offensive line holds against Chase Young, it's going to be a long day for Washington's defense. Betting on Mahomes to right the ship isn't a really difficult choice.
PICK: Chiefs -6.5
Yes, the Texans are one of the worst teams in the league. Betting on them on the road against a divisional rival might seem crazy at first. However, the Texans are 7-3 against the spread as underdogs in their last 10 games. Plus, the Colts are emotional after completely giving away the game against the Ravens in which they blew a 22-3 lead late in the game. This is going to cause a bit of a hangover in that locker room. When New England suffered a terrible loss against Tom Brady and the Bucs, the Texans managed to cover the spread the following week. Look for history to repeat itself. Texans coach David Culley has Houston playing hard in spite of its lack of talent and quarterback Davis Mills appeared to take a step forward last week against the Pats. Houston has played pretty good pass defense, too. The Texans have allowed only seven passing TDs this season.
PICK: Texans +9
Sunday night will be an interesting matchup to watch as Geno Smith will make his first start in four years as the Seahawks travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers. I hate betting on Ben Roethlisberger, but it's hard to envision the Seahawks covering the spread without the services of Russell Wilson. And as much as I think Big Ben should hang up his cleats, you have to give him credit for the way he dominated a solid Broncos defense last week. Roethlisberger looked better than he did earlier in the season and was able to get the ball to his playmakers -- Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and running back Najee Harris. Seattle's defense is one of the worst in the league and their secondary is even worse than their front seven. Look for the Steelers to light up Seattle in the passing game.
PICK: Steelers -5
Both of these offenses can put up a lot of points, though they go about it very differently. The Browns are a run-heavy team, and even though they will be without the services of Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt is more than capable of getting the job done. Meanwhile, Arizona's offense runs through electric quarterback Kyler Murray. Murray is able to move the chains with his legs but he isn't afraid to toss the ball either. He loves getting his guys involved and his weapons are elite in DeAndre Hopkins, Rondale Moore, and Christian Kirk.
The Browns are coming off an 89-point slugest with the Chargers and hit the OVER in their other game against a high-end offense in a 33-29 loss to the Chiefs. Meanwhile, the Cardinals have scored 30-plus points in four of five games this year. Smash the OVER.
PICK: OVER 49.5
Week 2 of the NFL was full of breakout performances, thrilling finishes and potentially the start of the Justin Fields era in the NFC North as the Bears' win over the Bengals finds them in first place in the division.
We cap off the week with a Monday Night Football showdown between the Packers and the Lions with the winner finding themselves tied for first in the North. The Packers put up an absolute dud of a performance last week against the Saints in Week 1 while the Lions looked surprisingly effective while playing catch-up against the West-leading 49ers. The expectations for these two teams couldn't have been further apart coming into the season but with matching 0-1 starts on the books, I think there are a couple of interesting props and roster construction angles to exploit.
NFL DFS Showdown Picks
*Prices are from DraftKings
Captain: TE T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions ($9,600) ($14,400)
I'm normally not a fan of playing a tight end in the captain spot, but T.J. Hockenson is not your average tight end. He finished 2020 with an elite 18% target share in the Lions' offense and picked up right where he left off in Week 1, finishing with an 18.2% share on 50 routes run last week. Hockenson has always carried premium TD upside as a red-zone target but what was most encouraging about last week was that he ran nearly 55% of his routes out of the slot, leaving him a matchup against Chandon Sullivan, who's allowing a 67% catch rate in his coverage. In a game where the Lions are projected to be down early, expect Hockenson to get fed once again. His red-zone utilization gives him enough juice to take the captain's chair in my builds.
Core Consideration: QB Jared Goff, Detroit Lions ($10,000)
Two principles I take into Showdown slates apply to this play. Generally speaking, if I have a pass-catcher as my captain, I'm finding a way to get their QB into a flex spot. The second is that your build needs to tell a story. Mine is that the Packers come out with something to prove after getting embarrassed in Week 1 and that we'll likely see upwards of 50 pass attempts from Jared Goff as he attempts to mount a comeback. Goff is a surprisingly effective passer when getting good protection and this unit gave him a clean pocket on 86.7% of snaps last week. Expect that to continue tonight as Goff will continue to feast in garbage time.
Contrarian Play: WR Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers ($2,000)
I still chuckle at the thought of the return of Randall Cobb being on the short-list of demands from Aaron Rodgers in the midst of his holdout. I do, however, think there is something to be said about the importance of chemistry between a quarterback and his receiver and I expect that in a typical game (which Week 1 was not), Aaron Rodgers is going to find his spots to get Cobb involved. In a game script that figures to have the Packers up by a healthy margin, not many are going to look at the tertiary passing options for Green Bay and I think a $2,000 Randall Cobb could sneak in a handful of receptions at single-digit ownership..
Salary Relief: WR Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit Lions ($2,400)
This one fits perfectly into my narrative for the game as well. In a game where the Lions are likely to flirt with 50+ pass attempts and coming off a week where St. Brown ran routes on 75% of the team's passing plays, I will be overweight on Amon-Ra tonight. Lining up in the slot on 74.5% of plays means St. Brown will primarily see coverage from Chandon Sullivan, the most favorable of the options GB lines up in their defensive secondary. Expect St. Brown to see his target volume increase tonight. If Detroit can be more effective in getting to the red zone, he carries decent scoring upside with the way he's utilized in this offense. Plus, who doesn't love the extra motivation of playing against their big bro?
Monday Night Football Best Bets
Taking a look at the wagering side of this game; before we determine anything else we must ask ourselves what we think of these Green Bay Packers. I tend to look at last week's performance as the exception and not the rule. With that being the case, I am laying the 11.5 points and taking GB tonight. Over the past six seasons, oddsmakers have been fairly sharp when it comes to these larger spreads and NFL teams cover double-digit spreads more than 55% of the time. The total for tonight is sitting at 48.5 and given the somewhat surprising ability of the Lions to make up ground last week, I am confidently on the "over" side of that line.
Picks: Packers -11.5, OVER 48.5 points
Taking a look at the prop market, I am again mainly investing in the "GB Blowout" narrative:
D'Andre Swift: OVER 28.5 Receiving Yard
Coming off a 65-yard performance in a very similar game script, this one feels like a no-brainer. Swift averages nearly 8 yards per reception so this really boils down to whether you think he catches more than 3 passes. I certainly do and I'm confidently on the OVER for this prop. FanDuel is currently carrying the best odds at -110.
T.J. Hockenson: Anytime TD
I'm not the biggest fan of these "to score" props, but I'll break from the norm with this one. I am projecting the Lions to at least have a go at it in this game and there simply isn't a scenario where that doesn't involve a score for Hockenson. +220 odds at FanDuel sort of feels like stealing given that I see this game going over the 48.5 total.
AJ Dillon | UNDER 8.5 Rushing Attempts
I know that the betting public is forecasting a fairly comfortable win for the Packers, but let's not get carried away. AJ Dillon would have to nearly double his career average for carries to get to this number. Plus, it's a bit unlikely that this game gets so far out of reach that Green Bay brings in their backups. Even last week when they did bring in the second-stringers, Dillon only saw 4 carries. I'm expecting Aaron Jones to have a monster day on the ground, as evidenced by my Saturday article.
Week 1 is in the books and it's time to move on to the best bets in Week 2.
If you listened to my article earlier this week, you would have started 1-0 for taking the Giants with the points against Washington in that thriller of a matchup Thursday night. Now, let's dive into Week 2's best NFL bets.
Tennessee Titans/Seattle Seahawks Over 54
The Seahawks' offense was high-flying in the first half last week. Because the Colts never really threatened the outcome of the game, the Seahawks were able to take the air out of the ball and finish the game with an easy win while only scoring seven in the second half. While both the Titans' defense and offense looked atrocious, expect Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry to have big bounce-back weeks and make this an epic high-scoring game. This has all the makings for a shootout in which both teams put up 30-plus points.
Cincinnati Bengals +2.5 @ Chicago Bears
Until that Monday night game, the Bengals had the honor of winning the craziest Week 1 game over the Vikings in overtime. The Bears' defense, which is supposed to be their strength, looked awful against the Rams, including one of the most blown coverages you'll ever see on Cooper Kupp's long touchdown. It was simply an awful week for the Bears. I don't think it gets any better until they remove Dalton and promote Justin Fields. If they don't do that prior to game time, the Bengals will run away with this one.
Los Angeles Rams -3.5 @ Indianapolis Colts
Coming out of Week 1 the Rams looked great on both sides of the ball. Matthew Stafford had a great first game, going 20 for 26 with three touchdowns. The Colts... They didn't look that great on either side of the ball. While Carson Wentz's overall numbers didn't look bad, most of the yardage and one of his two TDs came in the fourth quarter as they were chasing from two or more scores back, never actually threatening to win the game. I'm leaning towards the Rams winning this in a blowout and would consider alternate spreads.
Arizona Cardinals -3.5 vs. Minnesota Vikings
Kyler Murray appears to be a man on a mission to avenge last season's bitter ending after absolutely torching the Tennesee Titans in Nashville. The Vikings' defense, who hasn't been as formidable as years past, is going to have their hands full with Kyler. Last week they allowed Joe Burrow to complete nearly 80% of his passes, and Burrow isn't a threat to run nor has a receiver as talented as DeAndre Hopkins. If the Vikings offense doesn't step up and make this a shootout, things could get ugly in Phoenix.
Dallas Cowboys + 3.5 @ Los Angeles Chargers
Dak Prescott looked great in Week 1 and if there were any issues with his shoulder after throwing 58 times, he had 10 days to get healed up again and ready for the Chargers. I can almost guarantee, whenever the Cowboys go to play either Los Angeles team in their stadium, that there will be more Cowboys fans than LA fans. So while they aren't playing in Jerry World, they'll have more fan support. My concern for Justin Herbert and the Chargers is their efficiency in the red zone. His most potent weapons in Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler become less effective as they get closer to the goal line. That leaves Jared Cook and Mike Williams as your bigger bodies in the red zone, which isn't ideal. The Cowboys have a decent chance to win this one outright, but you can take the points for some cushion.
- Cowboys ML (+160)
- Titans +6.5 (-105)
- Steelers ML (-225)
- Rams -3.5 (-110)
Five Props To Consider
- Calvin Ridley OVER 6.5 receptions (+115)
- Tyrod Taylor OVER 34.5 Pass Attempts (-105)
- Aaron Jones OVER 88.5 combined yards (-115)
- Nick Chubb OVER 17.5 carries (-120)
- James Robinson OVER 9.5 carries (-125)
All five of these props have an excellent chance at hitting. I like the idea of wagering a three-leg prop parlay with the last three props listed (Jones, Chubb and J-Rob). Thanks me on Monday.