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Daily Fantasy Basketball Strategy: December 22, 2015

I usually don’t use these pieces as a sounding board for my own bad beats, but Kevin Durant made it necessary Monday night. Sitting in 13th of 13,000-plus entrants in the late $3 Sharpshooter with 10 seconds left in the Thunder-Clippers game, I was sitting pretty at about 45x buy-in (you can do that math, I bet). One game-winning shot later, and that number dropped to about 30x and put me back in 18th. It also knocked me out of my all-night cash game with 290 points. 290!! Durant’s game-sealing block dropped me down to 20x, and here I am tilting looking at Tuesday’s slate.

But there’s no choice but to get back at it, although the NBA has “blessed” up with only four games and none that look terribly appealing from a DFS standpoint. It’s my job to find the appealing plays of the night, though, so read on if you want to put together your own “almost-there” GPP-winning team.

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Vegas lines and totals

Memphis Grizzlies (-10) @ Philadelphia 76ers – total of 195
Dallas Maverick @ Toronto Raptors (-4) – total of 196
Detroit Pistons @ Miami Heat (-3.5) – total of 193.5
Los Angeles Lakers @ Denver Nuggets (PK) – total of TBD

As you can see from the totals above, Tuesday is unlikely to be a high-powered DFS night, and you won’t need to worry about hitting 290 points and not winning your cash games (I’m still steaming). While Grizzlies-76ers has some blowout potential, I usually only worry seriously about games getting out of hand with 12-point spreads or higher, so hopefully that one stays close long enough to make some Grizzlies viable plays. The fact that it’s in Philadelphia helps matters.

POINT GUARD

Goran Dragic ($5,500) – Dragic’s scoring and distributing numbers are up across the board over his last four games, and point guard is one of the two positions the Pistons defend the worst, along with power forward—more on that later. Dragic has at least 28.5 fantasy points in his past four games and should push for 30-35 in this one.

Jameer Nelson ($5,400) – Nelson has been a recommended cash play ever since taking over for Emmanuel Mudiay, and while Nelson’s price is finally in an area where it’s likely to hold steady, a matchup with the Lakers will make any point guard appealing. He has at least 23.75 fantasy points in each of his past six games, making Nelson a nice option Tuesday as well with a good chance for a 30-point game.

Lou Williams ($5,400) – Staying with Lakers-Nuggets, Williams has a great matchup with the Denver backcourt and is carrying momentum of his own into Tuesday. Williams has at least 26.75 fantasy points in six straight, and it’s really a toss up between him and Nelson, which is why I included both. They’re the same price in the same game, and I wouldn’t blame you from taking either over the other, as I have them projected for the same amount of points.

Cheap risk option: More goodies from the mile-high game Tuesday night, as Randy Foye ($3,500) has been prone to the occasional outburst of late. Over his last six, Foye has two games with at least 28 fantasy points and fuor with 10.5 or fewer. A matchup with the Lakers at home is about as good as a matchup will get for any guard, and the chances of a boom here aren’t bad as a result. Players like Foye can be maddening, though.

SHOOTING GUARD

Kobe Bryant ($6,400) – Kobe is playing like the Kobe of old lately, although not really. He is averaging over 20 points per game, six rebounds and nearly five assists over his past four, and he’s shot at least 46 percent in each of his last three tilts. Keep riding Bryant while he’s hot, especially against a porous defense like Denver’s at a position as inherently inconsistent as shooting guard.

Jordan Clarkson ($5,500) – Jordan Clarkson has struggled a bit recently, but he’s gotten back on track with 26 points per game in his past three outings. The Nuggets defense is again a reason for this play, and I promise this whole article won’t be all Lakers and Nuggets. That’s just how the backcourt is shaking out, minus Dragic. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and DeMar Derozan are actually decent options in their own right despite tough matchups, if you want to pick from different games.

Cheap risk option: OK, maybe I lied. Gary Harris ($4,000) is still a part of Lakers-Nuggets, but he’s definitely worth a tournament shot with the hopes that he’ll play upwards of 40 minutes, which admittedly hasn’t happened in a week. Regardless, Harris has a shot to get off to a quick start against a bad defense and could carry that throughout the game. It’s unlikely both him and Foye go off, so make sure you only pick one.

SMALL FORWARD

Matt Barnes ($5,500) – Barnes has scored fewer than 32.75 fantasy points in just one of his past five games, a matchup with the Bulls, who play a “traditional” power forward. The 76ers play Nerlens Noel at the 4, and he’s horribly incapable of shooting from eight feet, let alone stretching the court. I’d have more pause on playing Barnes if there were more games on the slate or the matchup wasn’t as juicy, plus it’s hard to envision coach Dave Joerger limiting Barnes’ minutes in a game where Memphis can control how they play rather than worrying about matching up with their one-win opponent. If the minutes are there, I really wouldn’t be shocked to get 40 points out of Barnes.

James Johnson ($3,900) – In his first two starts, Johnson benefited from favorable matchups against the Kings and the Heat. In his third, he gets Dallas’ stingy SF defense, but he’s still a good bet to score in the low 20s barring some Dwane Casey shenanigans. Johnson’s run will end soon, but enjoy him at a sub-$4,000 price while it lasts.

Cheap risk option: No Lakers or Nuggets? What’s gotten into me? Stanley Johnson ($3,700) has a favorable matchup with the Heat and everybody has seen his upside on a few occasions this season. Who’s to say Johnson couldn’t pull out his third game with at least 23 fantasy points in his past five, if given the playing time?

POWER FORWARD

Chris Bosh ($7,000) – With the exception of the Mavericks, none of the teams on Tuesday’s slate are among the bottom nine when it comes to defend the PF position. With no PF beating its price with its recent play, Bosh is the top option sort of by default. His matchup against Ersan Ilyasova isn’t scary in any way, and Bosh should take more of the reigns on offense, along with Dragic, with Dwyane Wade stuck against Kentavious Caldwell-Pope‘s defensive prowess.

Kenneth Faried ($6,100) – Faried is a close second behind Bosh, as the Lakers allow the 10th-most fantasy points to PFs this season. Larry Nance Jr. and Julius Randle won’t provide much of a roadblock to success for Faried, who should enjoy a nice night in the low 30s.

Cheap risk option: I’m not quite sure what to make of the Raptors PF situation Tuesday, but Patrick Patterson ($4,100) has the best chance among cheap PFs to have a GPP-winning type of game. He played 33 minutes to Luis Scola‘s 26 on Sunday against the Kings and dropped 37 fantasy points thanks to 18 points and eight rebounds. Scola tends to play less against small-ball teams, but Dallas is a bit in between with Dirk Nowitzki. Scola got 27 minutes and played well against the Heat and Bosh, who has many similarities to Nowitzki. Rant aside, Patterson is worth a punt.

CENTER

Marc Gasol ($7,500) – The 76ers and frontcourt defense are nowhere near synonymous this season, and Gasol is primed to take full advantage Tuesday night. The Grizzlies center has two 50-point performances in his past four games, and while expecting another would be a bit presumptuous, Gasol should have no problem clearing 40 fantasy points in this matchup.

Joffrey Lauvergne ($4,400) – I recommended Lauvergne on Sunday and he burned me, but I’m going back to the well considering how well he was playing before Sunday’s dud. He’s still hit value in three of his past four games, and the Lakers don’t play anywhere near as much small ball as the Pelicans, which is part of why Lauvergne was limited to 13 minutes. Expect him to see closer to 20 minutes of court time with a good shot at a score in the mid-20s.

Cheap risk option: Another Sunday recommendation of mine, Nikola Jokic ($4,000) actually worked out as a cheap center punt and played 23 minutes to Lauvergne’s 13. Despite his bench role, Jokic has been very consistent of late, scoring at least 19.75 points in each of his last five games. He’s probably due for a dud any day now, but the Lakers aren’t exactly the ones to force it.

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.

PG
1) Goran Dragic
2) Jameer Nelson
3) Lou Williams
4) Reggie Jackson
5) Mike Conley
6) Deron Williams
7) Kyle Lowry

SG
1) Kobe Bryant
2) Jordan Clarkson
3) Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
4) DeMar DeRozan
5) Gary Harris
6) Raymond Felton
7) Dwyane Wade
8) Wesley Matthews

SF
1) Matt Barnes
2) James Johnson
3) Jeff Green
4) Danilo Gallinari
5) Marcus Morris
6) Robert Covington

PF
1) Chris Bosh
2) Kenneth Faried
3) Dirk Nowitzki
4) Luis Scola
5) Nerlens Noel
6) Ersan Ilyasova

C
1) Marc Gasol
2) Joffrey Lauvergne
3) Roy Hibbert
4) Hassan Whiteside
5) Bismack Biyombo
6) Zaza Pachuilia
7) Jahlil Okafor
8) Andre Drummond

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 7 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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