This article is part of our Yahoo DFS Basketball series.
While it's sad to see the summer months firmly in our rearview mirror, the good news is that October brings the start of the NBA season. We have two games to tip things off Tuesday, bringing us a limited set of options for the Yahoo DFS slate. Let's dive into the matchups and try to start things off on the right foot with a winning entry.
Kyle Lowry, TOR vs. NO ($24): The defending champs were left with a gaping hole on their roster after Kawhi Leonard departed for the Clippers. With Leonard in the fold last year, Lowry averaged only 14.2 points per game to go along with a 19.6 percent usage rate. His usage rate was his lowest mark across seven seasons with the Raptors, so expect that number to be on the rise with Leonard no longer in the picture. Despite the Pelicans experiencing a significant roster overhaul during the summer, they should play at a fast pace once again after playing at the second-fastest pace (103.9 possessions per game) in the league last season.
Fred VanVleet, TOR vs. NO ($15): Leonard wasn't the only key departure for the Raptors since Danny Green is also no longer on the team. Whether VanVleet starts or comes off the bench, he should take on a significantly larger role. He averaged 14.9 points, 3.2 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.3 three-pointers across 23 games in which he logged at least 30 minutes last season, leaving him with plenty of upside at this price.
Guard to Avoid
Rajon Rondo, LAL at LAC ($24): While the Raptors lost some key players from their team last season, the Lakers brought in a lot of new talent to try and get back to the playoffs. They have several viable options at point guard, including Rondo, Quinn Cook and Alex Caruso. The shooting guard position is deep, as well, with Danny Green, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Avery Bradley all in the fold. The Lakers have also stated they intend to have LeBron James run the point more this season, which could lead to fewer minutes for Rondo. To make matters worse, Rondo is currently battling a calf injury that might impact his availability for this contest. Even if he does take the floor, Lowry has a much more stable role and can be had at the same price, making it difficult to make an argument for deploying Rondo.
LeBron James, LAL at LAC ($49): It's not difficult to make a case for using James in DFS whenever he is on the slate. Although the Lakers suffered a disappointing campaign in which they didn't make the playoffs, the bright side is that James received some added rest during the summer. With the potential for added play making responsibilities this season, James could be in line for a monster performance out of the gate in a matchup between two teams who were inside the top-seven in the league last year in pace of play.
OG Anunoby, TOR vs. NO ($10): Anunoby hasn't received many opportunities to shine during his young career, averaging 20 minutes per game in each of his first two seasons in the league. That should change this season with him in line to start. He certainly closed out the preseason on a high note, scoring 18 points to go along with six rebounds and an assist in 28 minutes against the Nets. At the minimum price, he could be well worth the risk.
Forward to Avoid
Maurice Harkless, LAC vs. LAL ($15): Despite Paul George (shoulder) set to miss the start of the season, the Clippers have excellent depth. It's difficult to see a path for Harkless to average more than the 24 minutes a game that he did with the Blazers last year, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him play even fewer minutes. He's only averaged at least 10 points per game in one season of his career, back when he was playing 29 minutes a night for the Blazers during the 2016-17 season. While he's not expensive, his limited upside doesn't make him very appealing.
Anthony Davis, LAL at LAC ($54): Well, we've already had one injury scare with Davis, who ended up with a minor thumb injury during the preseason that won't limit his availability for this matchup. There is no question that his ceiling is as high as any player in the league, especially from a fantasy perspective. If you can deal with the anxiety that comes with his injury history, he's someone to build your entry around.
Derrick Favors, NO at TOR ($20): One of the many new faces on the Pelicans is Favors, who has spent most of his career with the Jazz. He averaged only 23 minutes a game last season, but should see more playing time with his new squad, especially with the need for his rebounding since Zion Williamson (knee) is out. While facing strong defenders in Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka isn't the most ideal matchup, his role should still be significant enough to make him a viable mid-tier option.
Center to Avoid
Marc Gasol, TOR vs. NO ($18): Despite there being a lot of minutes up for grabs at shooting guard and small forward for the Raptors, the same can't be said at center. With Pascal Siakam set to play a lot at power forward, Gasol and Ibaka will be left to handle the center spot. After being dealt to the Raptors last season, Gasol averaged only 9.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 0.9 blocks in 25 minutes a game. In a game that could feature a lot of small lineups from the Pelicans, Gasol is risky.