Daily Fantasy Basketball Strategy: December 30, 2015
First off, I must issue an apology to Tuesday’s slate, which I called U-G-L-Y. The Bucks, Thunder, Hawks and Rockets took offense to that and promptly lit up the scoreboards to destroy Vegas’ point totals for those games. Luckily I had a piece of guys like Kent Bazemore, Paul Millsap, Russell Westbrook, Dwight Howard and Khris Middleton to limit my own Andre Drummond-related disappointment. We’ve got 10 games on tap for Wednesday with lots of injury question marks, so let’s get to it.
Vegas lines and totals
Brooklyn @ Orlando (-7.5) – total of 199
Los Angeles Clippers (-1.5) @ Charlotte – total of 203
Los Angeles Lakers @ Boston Celtics (-12.5) – total of 205
Washington @ Toronto (6) – total of 202.5
Indiana @ Chicago (-3) – total of 201
Utah @ Minnesota (-2) – total of 192
Golden State (-8.5) @ Dallas – total of 212.5
Phoenix @ San Antonio (14.5) – total of 196
Denver @ Portland (-7) – total of 200.5
Philadelphia @ Sacramento (-9.5) – total of 212
These lines are solid for a big slate, which means there will be a lot of options available. Warriors-Mavericks and Kings-76ers are the top games of the night to target, and Golden State especially will have a few elite options if Stephen Curry sits with a calf injury. For now, assume there will be many 76ers and Kings in Wednesday’s top plays, as that looks to be a defense-optional game that may not be the typical blowout the 76ers have been involved in this year.
For the sake of this writing, I’ll assume any player listed as “questionable” who missed his team’s last game will sit again and I won’t include guys who may benefit from a player who may sit with a fresh injury. Where I can, I’ll include mentions if a top play would change based on an injury.
Rajon Rondo ($8,400) – Here starts Wednesday’s version of “Picking on Philadelphia,” starring the Sacramento Kings. Before getting in foul trouble against the Warriors, Rondo had topped 40 points in six of his past seven games. It’s hard to envision Philadelphia keeping him out of that range Wednesday. (Note: If Elfrid Payton sits for the Magic, Shabazz Napier would become a top value play, assuming he starts)
Ish Smith ($5,600) – Smith has been on one heck of a roller coaster ride this season. He went from being a great value play on days when Jrue Holiday was out to having consistent value regardless of Holiday’s status before getting rooted to the bench. A trade to the 76ers now has him as a great value once again with his price below $6,000, and a fast-paced game with the Kings should help him hit value and push for 35 fantasy points.
Cheap risk option: The Jazz have been crushed by injuries, which means Trey Burke ($4,200) is forced into a bigger role off the bench out of necessity. Alec Burks‘ absence necessitated Burke playing alongside Raul Neto for the first time this season, and more minutes can only mean more production for the former Michigan star. He’s a gunner who can get hot, but also go cold at a moment’s notice.
C.J. McCollum ($7,700) – Assuming Damian Lillard stays on the sidelines for another game, McCollum could be in for a monster night against the Nuggets. After cracking the 70-point barrier against the Kings, a team that struggles just as much against opposing shooting guards, the sky is the limit for McCollum without Lillard.
DeMar Derozan ($7,600) – The return of DeMarre Carroll has done nothing to slow DeRozan’s recent roll, and it’s unlikely the Wizards will have any more effect on that than Carroll. DeRozan hasn’t scored less than 35 fantasy points in any of his past 10 games and should roll on as a consistent option yet again. (Note: If Stephen Curry sits, bump Klay Thompson into this slot)
Cheap risk option: He seems like a player with no upside, but Hollis Thompson ($3,600) has been one of the few 76ers who’s shown up somewhat consistently of late. He’s played 28 minutes or more in his past four game with two outings of 23.5 points or more. A great matchup against the Kings might give Thompson some sneaky GPP upside, as he’s a near-lock to go low owned.
Rudy Gay ($6,900) – Welcome back to Wednesday’s “Picking on Philadelphia.” Gay hasn’t shown a high ceiling of late, but he’s consistently hovered around 30 DK points per game. Philadelphia’s power forward position is a revolving door, especially with Jahlil Okafor uncertain to play, and Gay should have no problem taking advantage of whoever the 76ers throw at him.
Omri Casspi ($6,200) – Next up, Omri Casspi! Coming off a monster game where he hit nine threes and scored 36 points, Casspi gets to face the worst team in the NBA at another position where they lack a consistent starter. This one doesn’t need too much more explanation, does it?
Cheap risk option: Starting in place of the injured Blake Griffin, Paul Pierce ($3,800) has been more effective in his two recent starts than he has all season from an efficiency standpoint. He’s been around a point per minute and should see about 25 minutes in a game that projects to be close. He’s a solid punt, albeit one with limited upside against Charlotte.
DeMarcus Cousins ($10,000) – Set to wrap up Wednesday’s show, Cousins could easily put one on against the 76ers. He’s matchup-proof at this point, so while some may say he’d rather face Jahlil Okafor than Nerlens Noel, I’m not sure Cousins cares. He very well may be heated after getting tossed from Monday’s loss to the Warriors, and the poor 76ers get to deal with an angry Boogie. (Note: If Curry sits, Draymond Green would be my No. 1 PF play)
Nerlens Noel ($5,900) – Assuming Okafor remains out, Noel should continue to look comfortable at his natural center position. Foul trouble is always a potential concern going up against Cousins, but Noel has just one game with more than three personal fouls in his past nine. He’s a disciplined defender who should be able to stay on the court, and he’s cleared 37 fantasy points in two games without Okafor.
Cheap risk option: His price is creeping up, but the upside is still there for Bobby Portis ($3,700). There’s also significant downside, but as a guy that can hit value in 15 minutes, he’s a fun GPP play. If he can find 25 minutes of court time, he has 30-point upside.
Nikola Vucevic ($7,700) – Vucevic has at least 41.75 fantasy points in five of his last six games, gets a juicy matchup against the Nets and was recently praised by head coach Scott Skiles, who isn’t one for hyperbole or even positivity. His minutes look very safe in the mid-30s, and he has 50 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists (!!) in his past two games.
Marcin Gortat ($7,100) – Gortat remains hot with at least 35 points in three of his last four games, and nobody knows who the Raptors are starting at center Wednesday. Jonas Valanciunas seems to be the favorite, and you could argue that Gortat would prefer to face JV instead of Bismack Biyombo. Either way, Gortat should be busy with John Wall dealing with the defense of Kyle Lowry.
Cheap risk option: If Tim Duncan sits again Wednesday, which seems likely, Boban Marjanovic ($3,200) has flashed elite per-minute production, scoring 52.75 fantasy points in 30 minutes over his past two games. That kind of production is amazing for his price tag and with another potential Spurs blowout on the horizon, Marjanovic could get some nice run in garbage time.
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.
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.