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Daily Fantasy Basketball Strategy: January 10, 2016

As usual, we won’t include Sunday’s early games, as DraftKings does not include them in its big tournaments. That still leaves us with a solid seven-game slate that includes a few enticing spreads.

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Vegas lines and totals

Cleveland (-15) @ Philadelphia – total of 204.5
Boston @ Memphis (-1.5) – total of 193
Indiana @ Houston (PK) – total of 207
Milwaukee @ New York (-5) – total of 201
Charlotte @ Denver (-1.5) – total of 200
Oklahoma City (-7.5) @ Portland – total of 214.5
Utah (-1.5) @ L.A. Lakers – total of 193

Thunder-Blazers and Pacers-Rockets stand out as the top two games to target, and neither is all that likely to devolve into a blowout—I guess it’s possible in Thunder-Blazers, though. Pacers-Rockets looks like one of those tightly contested games that could even push into an extra period, which means extra minutes and fantasy points for all involved. Let’s see who Sunday’s top plays are for cash-game purposes.

POINT GUARD

Damian Lillard ($8,800) – Lillard has been outstanding in his last two games, scoring 60 points while dishing out 19 assists and nailing 10 three-pointers. Russell Westbrook is a handful on defense, but opposing PGs rack up fantasy points against him as well, and Lillard should do just that Sunday.

Jeremy Lin ($5,600) – Lin enters Sunday on the heels of a nice 26-4-4 line against the Clippers on Saturday, and a matchup with the Nuggets is one to get a bit excited for. Lin had struggled in his prior three games as a starter since Nicolas Batum went down, but busted loose in a big way Saturday. Expect more of the same Sunday, just not as good, as long as Batum remains sidelined and Lin plays with his tender ankle

Mario Chalmers ($5,400) – Chalmers is an interesting case Saturday. Do you trust the opportunity in front of him, which is a near-guaranteed 40 minutes with Mike Conley and Courtney Lee doubtful? Or do you fade him considering the bad matchup with the Celtics and his struggles in his last outing before bailing himself out late? I’m going somewhere in between: He’s not a mortal lock for your lineup, especially with his price rising, but he should see enough minutes to balance out the matchup issues.

Cheap risk option: He’s been ineffective as a starter in Utah this season, but Raul Neto ($3,100) stepped up Saturday in the absence of Rodney Hood, keeping Trey Burke locked to the bench. Neto played 33 minutes and responded with 13 points, five assists and three steals. We can’t trust his role—or his play—enough for cash consideration, but he’s certainly a viable GPP punt.

SHOOTING GUARD

Monta Ellis ($6,000) – Shooting guard is the weakest position on Sunday’s slate, which is never much of a surprise. Ellis has been very solid lately, with four straight games of at least 28 fantasy points and more than 25 in eight of his past nine. His injury woes seem to be behind him, and he gets to face the much-maligned defense of James Harden on Sunday.

Lou Williams ($6,100) – Williams went off for 44 points in his last outing, his second 30-point game in his past four. It came with Kobe Bryant in the lineup as well, so even if Kobe plays Sunday, Williams has a good shot to keep it up against a Jazz team that seems likely to be playing without Rodney Hood at shooting guard due to an ankle injury.

Cheap risk option: While he’s back in a familiar bench role, Allen Crabbe ($4,400) has maintained his consistency as a scorer with double-digit performances in three of his last four and nine in the other. His price is back where it was before he started in place of Lillard, and the Thunder’s struggles against opposing shooting guards gives Crabbe some nice upside Sunday if he can nail a few threes.

SMALL FORWARD

LeBron James ($9,800) – Even though the Cavs are projected to blow the 76ers out of their own arena, James is still a solid play near the top of the SF pool. Philadelphia is bad enough that James can certainly drop 50 points in 30 minutes of action, and he cleared 40 in just 25 minutes when the two teams played in Cleveland. Expect a few more minutes on the road, which will mean a few more points as well.

Danilo Gallinari ($7,100) – Gallinari has been rolling in four games since returning from an ankle injury, scoring at least 20 points in four straight games and topping 39 fantasy points in three of four games. A matchup with the possibly Batum-less Hornets is juicy from a fantasy perspective, and even if Batum were to return, it would only knock Gallinari’s matchup a bit with Batum playing a lot at the 2. If you don’t like the idea of paying up for LeBron, and SF is pretty strong Sunday, wake up the Rooster.

Chris Johnson ($3,500) – If Hood sits, which I’m banking on at this point, Johnson becomes an excellent value play for those looking to save at SF to pay up elsewhere. Johnson won’t be as good as he was Saturday when he topped 30 DK points on 6-of-9 shooting with multiple steals and blocks, but he should pay off his price against the hapless Lakers.

Cheap risk option: While he busted hard Friday after a nice three-game run, the Spurs have a tendency to slow down inconsistent players like Derrick Williams ($3,600). The Knicks get a much better matchup against the Bucks on Sunday, and Williams has been known to explode off the bench at times. He’s worth a cheap look to see if he can leave his disappointment in San Antonio.

POWER FORWARD

Kristaps Porzingis ($6,700) – Speaking of the Spurs defense, Porzingis beat it Friday night for 28 and 11 while Carmelo Anthony was locking horns with Kawhi Leonard. Melo has a much better matchup Saturday night, but Porzingis should be the top scoring PF on the slate, as the Bucks are very giving to both small and power forwards.

Kenneth Faried ($6,000) – As long as Faried returns from paternity leave Sunday, he’ll be a top-notch play against the Hornets, who can’t defend the PF spot worth anything. Faried should be able to physically dominate Marvin Williams. If he sits, Darrell Arthur will likely start and would be a good play in Faried’s place.

Cheap risk option: This will get tiring eventually, but Trey Lyles ($3,900) remains the top cheap PF option for the third straight time the Jazz have a game. While Lyles is unlikely to score in double digits, he has 19 rebounds and five steals in his past two games, which would come real close to paying off his value even without any other stats. Surely at least a trickle of other stats should come, especially against the Lakers.

CENTER

Robin Lopez ($4,700) – Lopez has been playing outstanding basketball of late, scoring at least 26 DK points in three of his past four games and even mustering 20 against San Antonio. I’m expecting close to 30 points from Lopez on Sunday against the deteriorating Bucks defense.

Steven Adams ($4,100) – I seem to be one of the few on Steven Adams from time to time when he plays, which is fine with me as long as he stays out of foul trouble. Adams has 18.5 points or more in each of his past six games and gets a good matchup against the struggling Mason Plumlee. Saving money at center is the way to go Sunday.

Cheap risk option: There really isn’t much 20-point upside in the dregs of the center position Sunday. The only player I can even feign excitement for is Myles Turner ($3,200), but he’s not even playing 15 minutes per game. Plugging him in is praying and hoping he sees the 19.5 minutes per game he saw in his first two off the injured list, which resulted in a combined 40 fantasy points.

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) Damian Lillard
2) Jeremy Lin
3) Mario Chalmers
4) Kyrie Irving
5) Kemba Walker
6) Michael Carter-Williams
7) Russell Westbrook
8) Jameer Nelson

SG
1) Monta Ellis
2) Lou Williams
3) Arron Afflalo
4) C.J. McCollum
5) J.R. Smith
6) Gary Harris

SF
1) Danilo Gallinari
2) Chris Johnson
3) Paul George
4) Carmelo Anthony
5) Jae Crowder
6) LeBron James
7) Gordon Hayward
8) Kevin Durant
9) Tony Allen

PF
1) Kenneth Faried
2) Kristaps Porzingis
3) Serge Ibaka
4) Trey Lyles
5) Clint Capela
6) Tristan Thompson
7) Cody Zeller
8) Kevin Love

C
1) Robin Lopez
2) Steven Adams
3) Dwight Howard
4) Ian Mahinmi
5) Greg Monroe
6) Marc Gasol

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 6 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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