Detroit — It’s been a little more than a year since I took the plunge into the Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) world and needless to say, it’s been an experience. As an NBA beat writer, I initially had planned to stick my toe into the shallow end of the DFS waters — avoiding the sharks that I was told were all around the community — and move on.
A funny thing happened, though.
I enjoyed it. I had nothing but positive interactions with DFS players, who only wanted the same information that I would do in my daily newspaper work. They thanked me for my time — and some offered my cuts of their winnings — and were truly appreciative that I even took the time to answer their tweets or emails.
They even accepted me into their community with open arms. It was an accidental celebrity, similar to “Return of the Jedi” when the Ewoks found C3PO.
For those of my colleagues who would listen, I even tried to smooth the waters to get more NBA beat writers to join the cause. I wanted to ease some of their suspicions about the random followers on social media who wanted to know how many minutes we’d project for Ish Smith or Thon Maker and that it wasn’t some sick hidden-camera hoax.
It’s not. There’s money in it for them and a legion of readers for any writers who dare take on the challenge of becoming DFS-friendly.
With that, I start my second season of providing DFS content for the NBA. I typically only delve into the Pistons, as I see them every day and can have a better gauge with the MOET (My Own Eye Test) Index. I do offer some insights for other teams and players around the league if I’m familiar enough, though.
I’ll repeat my standard disclaimers:
■ 1. I can’t accept any of your winnings shares — unless you hit the big one, at which time we can negotiate a DFS consulting fee.
■ 2. Respect my time: I do have a regular newspaper job and when the season gets going, it gets very demanding. Send a tweet with your question; I’ll do the best I can to answer it.
■ 3. My observations are not a recommendation of how you should set your roster; it’s just information from what I see and hear. If you lose, I don’t want to know about it. If you win, buy someone else a drink for it (exception: the big one — see No. 1).
■ 4. You can give me all the feedback you want and I’ll interact as much as I can.
General preseason observations
■ 1. New coach Dwane Casey brings a fast-paced offense that is more read-and-react than the previous years under Stan Van Gundy. Casey likes smaller lineups, so he can go with three of four guards, as he did several times in the preseason — and those groups will place a premium on quality 3-point shots and easy baskets in the paint.
■ 2. Those smaller lineups include Langston Galloway, who was one of the standouts in preseason. His DFS price generally is low, but he could see 20 minutes in Casey’s system, with the green light to shoot when he finds a good opportunity. Galloway has a quick release, so he doesn’t need a lot of space.
■ 3. I’d consider Andre Drummond almost every day. Seriously. I think he’s going to have a monster season, a continuation of his production when his assist numbers jumped after Jackson’s injury. I wouldn’t count on many added 3-pointers from him just yet, but his scoring (15.0) and rebounding (16.0) will be in line with where they were last season.
■ 4. Blake Griffin could be in for a big year as well. His DFS price tends to be higher and he doesn’t stuff the stats like he used to; his bigger impact is in finding opportunities for others.
Wednesday's fantasy focus: Pistons vs. Nets
Stanley Johnson (toe): He went from questionable to out, coach Dwane Casey announced in his pregame media session.
Fantasy slant: It’s somewhat expected, in that Casey had held him out of the lineup for the past few practices, hoping that he’d be healthy enough to go in the opener. His injury throws the starting lineup into question, because…
Reggie Bullock (illness): He’ll be a game-time decision — translation: we might not fight out anything until rosters lock — because of flu-like symptoms. Don’t even chance it — look at Langston Galloway as a cheaper option.
Reggie Jackson (groin tightness): Jackson didn’t play much in the summer and the Pistons tried to be as cautious as possible to have him ready for opening night. He had a scare in the preseason but he was fine in the last preseason game.
Fantasy slant: Casey said there are no minutes restrictions on Jackson and he should be ready to roll. My best guess on minutes is around 25-27, but there will be a lot of meshing of the lineups.
Jon Leuer (knee surgery rehab): Leuer played sparingly in the preseason and it looks like the medical staff will be cautious with him. He missed 74 games last season because of an ankle injury, so he’s still ramping up to basketball shape.
Fantasy slant: It’s unclear whether Leuer will be in the initial rotation, but as he gets his conditioning up, he’ll slide in as a backup center and power forward. Fade Leuer until there is more data to go on.
Nets: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (left adductor rehab) is questionable; DeMarre Carroll (right ankle arthroscopy), Allen Crabbe (left ankle sprain), Shabazz Napier (right hamstring straint) and Alan Williams (right ankle spraint) are out.
Players to watch
Drummond ($9,500 on DK): Drummond had his worst game of the preseason (14 points, 10 rebounds) against the Nets, who have Jarrett Allen, an energetic and basket-protecting big. I’d still project 40-45 fantasy points for Drummond.
Langston Galloway ($3,600 on DK): The increase in minutes will do him well and when he gets hot, Galloway can score in bunches. He had 24 points in the preseason game against Brooklyn. It’s preseason, but still.
Ish Smith ($4,100 on DK): Smith is good on almost any night — and at this low price, he’s almost a steal. He had 10 assists in the preseason matchup against the Nets, so that’s a gauge of how effective he can be.
Caris LeVert ($5,800 on DK): He’s another that I have a good feeling about this season, because he’s so versatile and can get fantasy points in so many categories. In the preseason game against the Pistons, he almost had a triple-double.