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Daily Fantasy Basketball Strategy: January 14, 2016

Five-game slate, my favorite! This is the perfect amount of games for a DFS night. It leaves you plenty of options with 10 teams active, but it’s not so deep that you have to make six lineups just to get in all of the players you want a share of. The biggest challenge tonight is going to be dealing with the injuries or threats there of. We already know Pau Gasol, Kobe Bryant, Brandon Bass and Jerami Grant will be out, then Draymond Green (rest again?), Derrick Rose, Mike Conley, Derrick Favors and Aaron Gordon are listed as questionable and there’s sure to be more.

Inactive players who usually play solid minutes present us with cheaper value options, because those minutes left vacant have to be distributed elsewhere. Though, one thing that is frequently overlooked is the benefit you get from the other side. For instance, if Favors is out, that leaves a weaker Jazz defender on Cousins, so it may be Cousins who gets the bigger plus from Favors’ absence, not Trevor Booker/Trey Lyles who would fill in. It’s just something you always need to be sure to remember to look at when adjusting your lineups after injury/scratch news breaks.

Anyways, let’s get to breaking down this five-game Thursday night slate, starting with the Vegas lines and projected totals.

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Vegas lines and totals

Chicago (-?) @ Philadelphia — projected total of ???
Detroit (+?) @ Memphis — ???
Cleveland (+5.5) @ San Antonio — 195.5
Sacramento (?) @ Utah — ???
LA Lakers (+17) @ Golden State — 214.5

As of writing this there are three games that Vegas has yet to post numbers for, so going a little bit blind into the write-up, but I have a decent idea of where the games will land anyways, so not sweating it. The biggest total on the night will no doubt be the LAL/GSW game, but it also has a majorly lopsided spread, so to say blowout status is a possibility is a major understatement, even if Draymond sits again. The other games will all be similar totals, not too high, but not so low that you have to fade them either.

POINT GUARD

Ish Smith He’s been the do it all guy for the Sixers since the trade, and that’s shown by his lofty 29% usage rate in his nine games with Philly. While the price on Ish has risen a bit, he’s still hit what would be above value for this price (32+) in three of the last four games, and by a wide margin — 43, 47 and 48. Tonight he goes up against the Bulls who are middle of the pack at defending point guards and if Rose is out his upside would rise even more as the game would be more likely to stay closer, longer.

Kyrie Irving I will level with you, when I see a stud such as Kyrie sitting there at a non-stud price, I can’t avoid using him. I know he’s still getting back to 100%, but he played 39 minutes in the Cavs OT game two nights ago, and David Blatt wouldn’t have allowed that if he wasn’t totally confident in Irving’s health and conditioning. Irving hit the dagger shot from deep in that game, so he looks to be full go, and in a rivalry game like this, I expect him to show up big. Tony Parker is not going to be able to keep up with the young gun. While Kyrie is safer as a GPP play, I’m personally going to have him in both tourneys and cash games.

Cheap risk option: The only two cheap plays that I am looking at tonight (and I mean even cheaper than Aaron Brooks, who would be worth a look if Rose is out) would be Matthew Dellavedova and Raul Neto. Both players tend to get minutes in the low-20s, and have limited upsides, but also the potential to hit value considering how cheap they are. I likely will not roster either guy tonight unless I am desperate for a punt play, which I will try to avoid.

SHOOTING GUARD

Jimmy Butler 44 – 41 – 58 – 53 – 45 – 43 – 40 – 50. That’s the fantasy points (FPs) over the last eight games for Butler. His price is back up, but he’s still an elite talent and by far the top SG active tonight in a good matchup. I’ll be rolling with Jimmy B as my SG in most lineups and expecting close to 50 FPs.

Rodney Hood Hood has really stepped up as a key contributor for the Jazz since the Alec Burks injury. Tonight — especially if Favors is out again — Hood will be relied on to carry the offense along with Hayward, and with his lower mid-level price and upside against the Kings who allow the most FPs to opposing SGs, you have to like him.

Cheap risk option: Manu Ginobili is a tad over the price I usually target in this section, but since there aren’t any guys below him that I feel comfortable suggesting, I’m breaking my self-imposed rule. Manu is averaging 26.5 FPs despite averaging just 22 minutes in that span. The Spurs will need their sixth man to bring it tonight if they’re going to hold the Cavs down, and his style of play and non-stop hustle (even at age 38) will present a tough matchup for the Cavs wings.

SMALL FORWARD

Gordon Hayward As I said above, the Jazz lack scorers and to hang with the Kings tempo and scoring, the Utah wings are going to have to run the show, and that comes along with filling that box score up. Hayward should be a fairly safe bet for his typical range of 35 FPs, but in this matchup he has more upside to go beyond that, he put up 43 FPs the last time these teams faced off.

Harrison Barnes We’re still (as of writing this) not certain if Draymond will rest again tonight, but the way the team hinted earlier in the week is that the plan was for him to sit both parts of this back-to-back. If he does sit, Barnes will be a solid play again tonight as he was last night. Barnes is able to play at the 3 and 4 if needed, and he did some of both last night on his way to 25+ minutes and 25+ FPs. The matchup tonight is even cushier for the former Tarheel as well, so I’d project him right in the same 25 FP range due to blowout concerns.

Robert Covington This is probably a better GPP play because the minutes are no sure thing, but I liked what I saw from Covington in the last Sixers game. Bob played 32 minutes kind of out of nowhere and put up 23.5 FPs despite a tough matchup with the Cavs. Tonight the matchup is much better against the Bulls, and the upside Cov possesses if he gets 30 minutes again at this price is too huge to ignore.

Cheap risk option: Stanley Johnson has earned a decent role in the Pistons rotation now, and he sees court time in the low-to-mid-20s currently. Until the rookie ran into the devastating reality check that is the San Antonio Spurs’ defense in their last game, Johnson had hit above value (20+ FPs) for this price point in three straight games. Look for him to get back on track tonight against the Grizz.

POWER FORWARD

Nerlens Noel The Bulls have been extremely kind to opposing big men on the glass, bottom third of the league the last month, and with Pau out, it only frees that up more so. I’m a big fan of Nerlens at this price for the matchup, and as you’ll see in the next player breakdown, the matchup is even more buttery than normal. Look for Noel to hit around that 35 FP range.

Nikola Mirotic When Noah is out, I prefer Taj Gibson to Mirotic in DFS due to the Bulls needing the defensive guy in there more, but with Pau Gasol out tonight, I am looking at the guy who can help replace the 16 points that Chicago will be without. So, insert Mirotic as the guy who gets the advantage in minutes tonight over Gibson, and I expect Miro to have success against the bigs of the Sixers on the perimeter.

Cheap risk option: Not really a fan of the punt options here tonight, but if I was going to put my eggs in any basket I guess I’d choose one of two options. The first is the safer player, Boris Diaw. Diaw will likely only get you 15-20 FPs, but it’s unlikely that he’ll get much if any less than 15. The other is Bobby Portis who should see a slight uptick in minutes with Pau out, but would really need the Bulls to pull away (very possible) and him get extra garbage time minutes to truly excel.

CENTER

Andre Drummond Drummond has been sporadic lately and that’s made his price drop a little bit, to the point that I actually see value in him again. With no 50 FP showings in his last seven games, I think Drum will be overlooked tonight, despite the solid matchup and knowledge of what he is capable of on any given night. He put up 53 FPs last time against the Grizzlies, so at least in GPPs you should be giving him so looks.

Joakim Noah If I don’t pay up at center tonight, I will be taking a shot on Noah who will be starting for the Bulls tonight with Pau out. Noah should push closer to 30 minutes and despite his lack of scoring, he should load up on boards and blocks going up against Jahlil Okafor in the paint. I’ll be expecting 30 FPs from the well priced big.

Cheap risk option: Aron Baynes is almost the minimum price, yet has put up 25, 20, 15 and 28 FPs over the last four games. He should see 15-20 minutes again and likely land right in that same FP range, even higher if Drum were to land in foul trouble. He’s the only punt I’m looking to at center tonight.

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) Ish Smith
2) Kyrie Irving
3) Stephen Curry
4) Rajon Rondo
5) Mario Chalmers (if Conley is out)
6) Aaron Brooks (if Rose is out)
7) Darren Collison

SG
1) Jimmy Butler
2) Rodney Hood
3) Klay Thompson
4) Manu Ginobili
5) Lou Williams
6) Kentavious Caldwell-Pope

SF
1) Gordon Hayward
2) Kawhi Leonard
3) Harrison Barnes (if Draymond is out)
4) Robert Covington
5) LeBron James
6) Rudy Gay

PF
1) Nerlens Noel
2) Nikola Mirotic
3) DeMarcus Cousins
4) Zach Randolph
5) Kevin Love
6) LaMarcus Aldridge

C
1) Andre Drummond
2) Marc Gasol
3) Joakim Noah
4) Jahlil Okafor
5) Rudy Gobert
6) Aron Baynes

As always, stay locked to Twitter and Rotoworld for any late-breaking news the hour before the first game tips at 7 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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