Daily Fantasy Basketball Strategy: January 12, 2016
The NBA has given us just the right amount of games Tuesday, with an eight-game slate set to tip off at 7 p.m. Injuries to Anthony Davis and Kobe Bryant have the potential to seriously alter the DFS landscape for Tuesday, but first, let’s see how Vegas views the night.
Vegas lines and totals
Phoenix @ Indiana (-9.5) – total of 205
Boston @ New York (-1.5) – total of 200
San Antonio (-7) @ Detroit – total of 194
Houston @ Memphis (-1.5) – total of 198
Chicago (-3.5) @ Milwaukee – total of 204
Oklahoma City (-11) @ Minnesota – total of 210
Cleveland (-6) @ Dallas – total of 198
New Orleans (-2.5) @ L.A. Lakers – total of 202
Besides the Spurs-Pistons games, where the Pistons are nearly a complete fade (like most Spurs’ opponents in DFS), most of these games provide some sort of options on each side. Even Thunder-Wolves, which has some blowout potential, could be a fun fantasy game, especially since OKC is barely over .500 on the road (9-7) and is coming off a high-scoring loss in Portland. Now, for my top plays at each position.
Russell Westbrook – Westbrook is always in play for DFS in non-blowouts, especially when the Thunder are projected favorites in high-scoring road games. He’s gone over 60 fantasy points in two straight games against the Lakers and Blazers, and I have high expectations for Russ tonight, although I’ll rarely project a 60-point game from him with Kevin Durant healthy.
George Hill – In another game with a big spread that isn’t quite a guaranteed blowout, Hill gets to face a Suns team that has been shredded by opposing guards all season, an epidemic that hasn’t improved with Eric Bledsoe‘s season-ending injury. Hill has easily hit value in five of his last six games and is starting to play more consistent basketball of late.
Injury play: Jrue Holiday – With Davis out Sunday, Holiday exploded in a season-high 36 minutes off the bench, scoring 29 points on 11-of-27 shooting with 11 rebounds. The shot total is particularly exciting for his prospects, as Holiday wasn’t even efficient, and a matchup with the Lakers is also good reason to play him if Davis sits. With a 10:30 p.m. tip, however, it’s a risk you may want to take in GPPs only without early word on Davis’ status, although Holiday has been playing well even with The Brow active.
Cheap risk option: The bottom of the PG barrel is rough Tuesday night, but Cameron Payne has played well of late, minus a 10-minute outing against Portland the last time out. If the Thunder do get up big on Minnesota, Payne could push for 25 minutes of court time like he saw against the Lakers, and he’s averaging over a fantasy point per minute on the season. You do the math.
Tyreke Evans – Regardless of whether Davis plays or not, Evans is the top SG play of the night against the Lakers. It’s always an advantage to have a shooting guard who logs minutes at the point in DFS, even if it only accounts for one-third or half of his playing time. Evans would certainly get a nice little usage bump with Davis out, but I wouldn’t worry about playing him even if Davis is in.
Devin Booker – Not only does Booker get a good matchup against the Pacers, he’s been playing extremely well lately and is still relatively cheap. He’s scored in double figures in five straight games and seven of his past eight, and has at least 16 points in three of his past four. Play him now before his price rises even further.
Injury play: Lou Williams – Like Evans, I’m not totally off Williams if Bryant plays Tuesday, but in Williams’ case it would lead in other directions at SG. Therefore, it’s wise to wait until more is known about Bryant’s status, as he’s played before when he wasn’t expected to and sat when he was set to play. Williams is best served for GPPs until we know more, but he’s not a bad play even if Kobe is a go.
Cheap risk option: Another good guard play from the Suns-Pacers game, Rodney Stuckey is generally a hit-or-miss option. If you catch him on a “hit” night, which Tuesday against Phoenix certainly has the potential to be, he can push for 8-10x value on his price. A “miss” night, well, those can tank you, but he has the kind of cheap upside that wins GPPs.
Kevin Durant – Durant isn’t quite the play Westbrook is Tuesday night, but a matchup against Tayshaun Prince sounds extremely appealing to me. It’ll likely be tough to fit both in your lineup without going cheap everywhere else, but if you move in another direction at PG, Durant is my highest projected scorer at SF. That doesn’t mean he’s the best bang for your buck among the top options, though.
Carmelo Anthony – The best SF money can buy Tuesday is Anthony, who gets a good matchup against the Celtics in the midst of the one of the best stretches of play in his career. Averaging an un-Melo like 5.4 assists over his past five games to go along with 20.6 points and 9.4 rebounds, Anthony threatened a triple-double last time out against the Bucks. He finally trusts his teammates and looks like he’s having a blast on the court. Expect continued strong play Tuesday at the Garden.
Cheap risk option: Like PG, I’m not overly enthralled with many cheap SF options Tuesday. Stanley Johnson sticks out for his potential starting opportunity with Marcus Morris banged up, but ask anybody who started Donald Sloan against the Spurs on Monday due to “opportunity” how they did. It wasn’t pretty. Johnson is certainly more talented than a guy like Sloan, but the Spurs have slowed down way better players. He’s high-risk, medium reward.
Nikola Mirotic – Joakim Noah‘s return affected Taj Gibson (19 minutes) and Bobby Portis (11 minutes) far more than Mirotic (29 minutes), who is still starting at small forward and thriving in the Bulls’ big lineup. The second night of a back-to-back set is no time for coach Fred Hoiberg to push Noah beyond the 19 minutes he saw Monday night, so Mirotic’s minutes should remain as safe as his play is consistent. Therein lies the rub, however, as Hoiberg does have options if Mirotic struggles and he still logged over 10 minutes at the 4 on Monday.
Amir Johnson – Johnson has played well of late, exceeding value in four of his past five games with seeing 28 or more minutes in all of those. His only “stinker” (12 points, six rebounds and a block in 22 minutes) against the Bulls wasn’t even that bad, and his role has solidified with the rest of the Celtics frontcourt struggling to produce. Kristaps Porzingis is a block machine for the Knicks, but Johnson doesn’t make his living off scoring and should be able to put up another nice game on the glass and defensively in what projects as a tight contest.
Injury play: Ryan Anderson – Multiple “injury plays” from the Pelicans side are to be expected with one of the best players in the NBA potentially sidelined. Anderson played 43 minutes Sunday but was a slight disappointment, as Holiday and Evans stole the show on offense. He’ll get another chance to start against the Lakers if Davis sits, and he’ll be the top play at PF in that case. The problem again is the late start, and Anderson would lose much of his DFS appeal coming off the bench, even in a good matchup.
Cheap risk option: Barring golden opportunities, I like to target the higher-scoring games on the slate with my cheap plays, as the chances for an unheralded player going big rise. Brandon Bass has seen 20-plus minutes in three of five games as Roy Hibbert‘s backup, and Hibbert is prone to enough duds to give Bass some upside as a cheap play. Like PG and SF, PF is pretty unappealing on the inexpensive side.
Ian Mahinmi – Mahinmi has returned value in four straight games and is playing well above his price point heading into a matchup with the Suns, who have been generous to essentially the entire court lately. To afford guys like Westbrook, Durant, Evans or Anthony on Tuesday, you have to save somewhere, and center is a great place to do so with many of the top options either overpriced or facing tough matchups.
Steven Adams – Adams isn’t crushing his price quite like Mahinmi, but the Thunder center does have two doubles-doubles in his past four games. His price is on the rise a bit, but he’s still a good option against a Minnesota team that has been getting blasted by opposing centers of late. Enes Kanter hasn’t been much of a threat to him.
Cheap risk option: Tuesday just isn’t an appealing day for the little guy. That being said, Alexis Ajinca is worth a look in case Davis sits again. A great per-minute producer who just doesn’t see consistent minutes, Ajinca would be in line for at least 15 minutes and potentially 25, depending how often the Lakers run small—rarely—and how Omer Asik plays—likely poorly. If everything hits, perfect, you could get 6-8x value from Ajinca.
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.