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Daily Fantasy Basketball Strategy: January 11, 2015

After writing five days straight last week, it was really nice to get a break over the past four days. I feel feel refreshed once again which was needed after being on-point with three day’s write-ups in a row before getting absolutely throttled (mainly due to late scratches, injuries and other madness that is unpredictable) on Wednesday night. That’s the hardest part about writing up DFS articles, you feel great when you’re on point and have a winning night, but when you have an off night (no matter if it was due to craziness or not) you really feel like crap and forget about the good nights. That’s what motivates us here to work as hard as we do though. Going by the analysis and really thinking, instead of just writing it off the cuff, is why I have faith in what we do here. Despite that hard work, there will always be down nights, that’s just sports, man. If it were easy, we’d all be getting rich off this game, but since it’s not, you know we’ll all be buying up some Powerball tickets trying to land the life of a billionaire this week (If you win, don’t forget about your boy Zack over here!).

OK, enough with the intro, let’s dice up this three-game NBA slate we have on tap tonight. I like smaller slates over larger slates, but three games can still present challenges. I wish there was just between four and six games every night, but then I’d probably miss the 10-game night madness. Let’s start with the Vegas numbers.

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Vegas lines and totals

San Antonio (-14) @ Brooklyn — Projected total of 193
Washington (+8) @ Chicago — 206.5
Miami (+12.5) @ Golden State — 205.5

Welp, it’s a three game slate, so I can’t tell you to totally fade a game, but I surely can advise you not to go overly heavy with Spurs/Nets players, definitely no stacking that game, not even as a contrarian plan. The other two games have decent sized spreads also, but they’re expected to be a good bit higher scoring and are less likely for early blowout status. The Spurs may be up on the Nets by 20+ at half. Let’s move on to the top plays and values at each position.

POINT GUARD

Stephen Curry ($10,500) – I have John Wall and Steph finishing fairly close tonight (Curry projected at 47 and Wall at 42), but there’s just more upside on that projection for Curry, so I’m paying up the extra $1.1K. I don’t need to sell you on Curry, he’s the best fantasy player in the world right now, so he’s an option every night, let alone a night with just six teams in action.

Derrick Rose ($6,000) – In the mid-range, I am going with D-Rose over Goran Dragic and Tony Parker. Rose takes on John Wall who is a tough defender, yet the Wizards are middle of the pack as far as fantasy points (FPs) allowed per game to opposing point guards. In three games against Washington last year, Rose averaged 35 FPs and actually shot 51.7% from the field, which seems crazy when you think of Rose who has shot just 40% from the field between last season and the start of this one. Let’s hope he steps up for a big conference game tonight.

Cheap risk option: Donald Sloan ($3,700) would be my guy here even if it were a large slate, so on a small slate like this he’s my true diamond in the rough play of the night. When Jarrett Jack got injured a week ago, most scrambled to add Shane Larkin in season long leagues, but I was adding Sloan if either, because simply put, he’s just the better player. Sloan filled in well last season for 21 games while George Hill was out for the Pacers, and I expect him to do the same for Brooklyn until they make a trade. Sloan hasn’t been named the starter for Monday’s game as I write this, but he started the second half for them Saturday night and whether off the bench or starting, he’s a fine value play on this small slate. I’ll live/die by him tonight at this price expecting no less than 15, but an upside of 30.

SHOOTING GUARD

Jimmy Butler ($8,300) – I’m not sure whether to start selling you on Jimmy B by talking up his 41+ FPs in each of the last six games, 47.4 FPs per game in that span, or that the Wizards are terrible against shooting guards. I guess I just started with both, so there you have it. Butler is my favorite play of the night, if the cover photo didn’t give that away.

Dwyane Wade ($6,600) – Somebody is going to have to keep the Heat in this game against the Warriors, and that guy is their star who won’t have Draymond Green guarding him most of the night, D-Wade. Wade lives for the big games, so while they’re not going to win, he’ll be on a mission to at least keep them in it. That’s a tough chore, but he should play over 30 minutes and net you over 30 FPs on the night at a fair price. (Update: Now uncertain to play tonight. Says he’ll “try to play” but that’s scary. Keep tabs here. Gerald Green value up if out.)

Cheap risk option: Gerald Green ($4,100) has played 34 minutes in each of the last two games for the Heat. He may be their sixth man, but he plays a big time role for the team with his off the bench scoring and aggressiveness on both ends. Look for him to hit above value (20+ FPs) tonight at this price.

SMALL FORWARD

Otto Porter ($6,300) – I feel like I’m an Otto jinx (get it?) whenever I mention Porter as a top play, but he’s put up 30+ FPs in three straight games and going up against the Bulls who are bottom-three in the league at FPs allowed per game to small forwards. I will absolutely own a lot of Otto tonight who should match-up well against either Nikola Mirotic or Doug McDermott. Don’t expect him to have a huge fantasy night, but right around 30 give or (more than likely) take a couple. Still a fine play on a small slate, especially for those going with more of a balanced lineup tonight rather than studs-n-duds.

Harrison Barnes ($5,400) – What from the past few games encouraged me to list Barnes as a top play even on a small night’s slate? Nothing really, but it’s not all about what a player has done lately. Barnes is playing his mid-20 minutes, getting around seven shots and calling it a night, but the Heat don’t have a player good enough to stop Barnes. Also, Klay will be dealing with Wade all night, so Harrison is due for a game where he’s looked at to step up a bit. He’s a bit risky for cash games, but I think Barnes can get you around 25 FPs tonight and has upside as a low-owned GPP (big tournament) play.

Cheap risk option: Luol Deng ($4,300) is the cheapest guy that I’d consider at this position tonight, but that doesn’t mean that he’ll be in many (if any) of my lineups. He’s just getting enough minutes to potentially beat value at this cheap price if you decide to pay up elsewhere and go cheap at SF.

POWER FORWARD

Draymond Green ($10,000) – Yeah, he’s had three triple-doubles in the past five games and averaged 52 FPPG over the past seven. He’s obviously a top play any night he’s active regardless of matchup. Green plays anywhere from SF to PF to C, so they put him where he’s set to dominate and help out defensively. I see him playing mostly PF tonight and matching up with Bosh, leading to a nice points and boards double-double with nice assists as usual. I won’t totally fade in GPPs, but I do think going another route in tournaments may be the way to chance it if you want to go against the majority a bit and pray he is just solid not terrific. He’s a great cash game play though.

Chris Bosh ($7,800) – I hate the power forward options tonight, I really do. As I just mentioned, I think Bosh gets a heavy dose of Dray tonight, and that’s never ideal, but with Thaddeus Young in a blowout game plus bad matchup, playing time for Taj Gibson and Nikola Mirotic up in the air with Noah possibly returning, there’s really just nowhere safe to go outside of Draymond. Bosh will still be taking a lot of shots and can try to force his way to the foul line if all else fails. He’s the next guy I’d look at here, but surely has a risen risk/reward flag.

Cheap risk option: Boris Diaw ($3,900) is about the only cheapie I’d look at if any here tonight. PF is truly a mess, but everyone has to deal with it, so… Diaw will see around 20 minutes and we can just hope he hit above 15 FPs at this low price and that the higher priced players he helps us afford pan out big.

CENTER

Pau Gasol ($8,200) – I really, REALLY wish Pau was listed as a PF tonight, that’d make my life so much easier, but instead center is the opposite of PF, with plenty of attractive options. Pau is in the best situation of the bunch though, for sure. Brook Lopez may not get the minutes needed to pan out due to the blowout, otherwise he’d be a terrific option. I have Pau projected at 46 FPs tonight, that’s 10+ more than any other center tonight.

Marcin Gortat ($6,700) – On the other side of that game, I really like Gortat to have a strong showing tonight against Chicago. The Bulls rank dead last in FPPG allowed to centers and Tat is averaging 33 minutes and 32 FPs over the last six games, not to mention six double-doubles in the last seven games. He seems a real bargain tonight at this price and my projected 34 FPs. (Update: Game-time decision tonight. If he’s out the Wiz are a huge mess aside from Wall.)

Cheap risk option: Marreese Speights ($3,400) has put up 17+ FPs in four straight games and should get to see some garbage time play in this game as well, he’s a solid punt option. Also, with the Spurs projected to get up big, early, you should consider Boban Marjanovic ($3,300) tonight, especially as a GPP punt play. Boban is averaging 25 FPPG when he plays 15 minutes or more the past four times he’s done so. The Nets are really poor and the Spurs are really great, so extended garbage time is almost assured.

Cash game rankings:

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) Stephen Curry
2) John Wall
3) Derrick Rose
4) Donald Sloan
5) Goran Dragic
6) Patty Mills

SG
1) Jimmy Butler
2) Dwyane Wade (game-time decision)
3) Klay Thompson
4) Gerald Green
5) Manu Ginobili
6) Garrett Temple

SF
1) Otto Porter
2) Kawhi Leonard
3) Harrison Barnes
4) Luol Deng
5) Joe Johnson
6) Andre Iguodala

PF
1) Draymond Green
2) Chris Bosh
3) Thaddeus Young
4) Nikola Mirotic
5) Taj Gibson

C
1) Pau Gasol
2) Marcin Gortat (game-time decision)
3) Hassan Whiteside (game-time decision)
4) Brook Lopez
5) Boban Marjanovic
6) Andrew Bogut

As always, stay locked to Twitter and Rotoworld for any late-breaking news the hour before the first game tips at 7:30 p.m. EST. I’ll do my best to update this article as news breaks throughout the day, but the best way to get the latest is always to follow me on Twitter @BigZack44, where I’ll do my best to break down the implications of any late scratches or lineup changes.

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