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Daily Fantasy Basketball Strategy: December 20, 2015

Sunday’s NBA slate is split into two, with three early games and four starting at 5 p.m., but as we usually do, we’re going to stick to the late games where DraftKings is offering the bigger tournaments. That leaves us with another somewhat short slate like Saturday night, with multiple competitive and reasonably high-scoring games on tap, giving DFS players a lot of options.

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Vegas lines and totals

Milwaukee Bucks @ Phoenix Suns (-6) – total of 204
Atlanta Hawks @ Orlando Magic (-1) – total of 201
Sacramento Kings @ Toronto Raptors (-5) – total of 207
New Orleans Pelicans (-1) @ Denver Nuggets – total of 206

No games with an over/under below 200 is always a good sign for a slate from a fantasy perspective, with Sunday being no different. All the games should be relatively competitive too, and we won’t have any likely blowouts to worry about with two games projected to be neck-and-neck. Half of the teams playing are excellent DFS targets at multiple positions as well.


Michael Carter-Williams ($6,000) – Back in the starting lineup and playing much more efficient basketball than he was earlier this season, Carter-Williams gets an uptempo matchup with the Suns that fits his preferred style of fast-paced, transition basketball. Carter-Williams is getting more shots close to the basket and has shot over 50 percent from the field in four of his past six games. He’s in a good spot Sunday.

Jameer Nelson ($5,200)Emmanuel Mudiay is still out for the Nuggets, making Nelson a viable cash-game play even with his rising price. He’s been a lock for 25 fantasy points as a starter and gets a good matchup against the Pelicans, who can’t stop opposing guards this season. Both Nelson and Carter-Williams are excellent PG plays Sunday.

Cheap risk option: I’m unlikely to punt the PG spot with good mid-tier options available, but Cory Joseph ($4,000) is a decent low-priced option against the Kings, who have been starting a small lineup for a few weeks now. Joseph usually sees about 30 minutes of court time in those types of games, which gives him a shot at a productive night despite his recent struggles from the field (5-for-26 in his past four games).


DeMar DeRozan ($7,200) – DeRozan has thrived with DeMarre Carroll out of the lineup, and Carroll is not close to a return at this point. Derozan has scored at least 35 fantasy points in six straight games and has 43 in back-to-back games. A matchup with the Kings, who don’t defend the SG position well, should play into his hands for success Sunday.

Tyreke Evans ($7,600) – Evans has had two slow games in a row after a consistent stretch since returning from injury, but a matchup with the Nuggets should be a good cure for what’s ailing him. He hasn’t looked for his shot as much as usual but should have the opportunity to be more aggressive from the start in Sunday’s game, as Jameer Nelson won’t be able to stay in front of Evans when he plays the point before Jrue Holiday comes in.

Cheap risk option: There’s always a good deal of risk when it comes to playing Terrence Ross ($4,100), but he’s hot from beyond the arc with 10 three-pointers in his last two games. He came off the bench and played just 25 minutes against the Heat, and it’s not yet known whether that will be a permanent arrangement. Even so, there’s a chance he continues his torrid streak against the Kings.


Tobias Harris ($6,200) – Harris is one of the more consistent players in the NBA and has scored at least 25 fantasy points in seven of his past eight games. Kent Bazemore is having a nice year, but he’s no stopper and shouldn’t prevent Harris from hitting value in Sunday’s game.

James Johnson ($3,600) – Johnson may not start Sunday’s game, as his spot start Friday could have been matchup-based against the Heat, but he’s a great value play if he does stay with the first five against the Kings, who have issues defending nearly every position on the court. Keep an eye on the lineups as this 6 p.m. tip approaches.

Cheap risk option: After seeing 64 minutes over his past two games, T.J. Warren ($4,400) is back on the radar as a flier pick. Coach Jeff Hornacek played him a lot a few games ago against the Warriors with the Suns in catch-up mode and gave Warren some extra minutes in Phoenix’s last game to build on his momentum. If that happens again Sunday, Warren could pay off against the Bucks, who struggle to defend forwards despite the presence of Giannis Antetokounmpo.


Jon Leuer ($5,800) – Speaking of the Bucks’ struggles on defense, Leuer is an enticing PF play Sunday. He’s been as consistent as they come over his last eight games, scoring 25-plus fantasy points in seven of them with the lone exception coming in a blowout loss to the Warriors that saw Leuer play just 14 minutes. That won’t happen Sunday, which makes him a rock-solid cash play in a good matchup.

Kenneth Faried ($6,000)Anthony Davis is great, but power forwards playing against the Pelicans have found their fair share of success this season. Faried can be a bit of an up-and-down player, but the projected pace of this game and the Pelicans’ struggling defense are enough to vault him into cash consideration with the top options at the position not enjoying plus matchups Sunday.

Cheap risk option: He defines boom or bust, but when Channing Frye ($3,800) booms, he gets you 30 fantasy points. It’s always about whether or not his shot is falling on any given night, and there’s really no method to his madness based on matchups. That being said, the Hawks don’t defend PFs very well and Frye has the upside to put together a good game. He could also put up a zero, but that’s life in Frye’s world.


Nikola Vucevic ($7,100) – The Hawks are an average team when it comes to defending centers, with Al Horford being more of a true power forward than a traditional 5. Vucevic is coming off a 25-point, 11-rebound game against the Blazers and while a repeat is unlikely, he’s a solid bet to return value on his price.

Joffrey Lauvergne ($4,400) – Lauvergne doesn’t always see minutes in the 20s, but he seems to produce regardless and has 37 points and 31 rebounds in his past three games, with two double-doubles, in 21 minutes per game. A good matchup against a struggling Omer Asik shouldn’t slow him down, and another low-end double-double is a realistic expectation for Lauvergne.

Cheap risk option: Speaking of Denver centers, Nikola Jokic ($3,900) has been consistently productive while splitting time with Lauvergne. Both are excellent per-minute producers, so this play doesn’t even have to be considered a hedge against Lauvergne; both can return value in the right matchup. Jokic has 19.75 fantasy points or more in four straight, and there’s always an outside chance at a 30-point performance.

Cash Game Ranks

This isn’t necessarily an order of who will score the most DraftKings points. Rather, the rankings are aimed to find the best price, value and production combo to help you win cash games, also taking into account potential ownership levels for each player.

1) Jameer Nelson
2) Michael Carter-Williams
3) Dennis Schroder
4) Elfrid Payton
5) Jrue Holiday
6) Kyle Lowry

1) DeMar Derozan
2) Tyreke Evans
3) Eric Bledsoe
4) Gary Harris
5) Eric Gordon
6) Will Bartno
7) Khris Middleton

1) James Johnson
2) Omri Casspi
3) Giannis Antetokounmpo
4) Tobias Harris
5) Kent Bazemore
6) Rudy Gay
7) Danilo Gallinari

1) Jon Leuer
2) Kenneth Faried
3) DeMarcus Cousins
4) Jabari Parker
5) Anthony Davis
6) Paul Millsap

1) Joffrey Lauvergne
2) Nikola Vucevic
3) Bismack Biyombo
4) Greg Monroe
5) Al Horford

As always, stay locked to Twitter and follow me @christripodi, where I’ll do my best to break down the implications of any late scratches or lineup changes before the first game tips at 5 p.m. EST. I’ll also update this article as news breaks throughout the day if at all possible, but I will usually update via Twitter first.


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