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Daily Fantasy Basketball Strategy: January 16, 2016

After a few days off from sharing my picks with the public—and turning some nice profits, of course when I’m not on the record—it’s time to kick back into writing gear for an eight-game Saturday. The last few days have been nearly perfect with the amount of games on the schedule, and without further ado, let’s take a look at the projected lines around the league.

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Vegas lines and totals

Boston (-1.5) @ Washington – total of 209
Milwaukee @ Charlotte (-6) – total of 200.5
Brooklyn @ Atlanta (-11) – total of 204
Portland (-5.5) @ Philadelphia – total of 208
Golden State (-7) @ Detroit – total of 214
New York @ Memphis (-4.5) – total of 190.5
L.A. Lakers @ Utah (-7.5) – total of 190.5
Sacramento @ L.A. Clippers (-6) – total of 215.5

With the exception of Knicks-Grizzlies and Lakers-Jazz, which generally lack fantasy appeal thanks to their low totals, Saturday is looking like a good night for fantasy production. Starting with the 7 p.m. games and heading all the way up to the 10:30 p.m. nightcap between the Kings and Clippers, there should be production to be had. Who are the top picks of the night? I’m glad you asked.

POINT GUARD

Damian Lillard – After a slow return from injury against the Grizzlies, Lillard has posted five straight games with at least 20 points and nine assists, including three games over 30 points and three with double-digit assists. Out of all the positions on the court, the 76ers might defend point guards the best, but that’s not really saying much when it comes down to it. Another monster performance is in the cards for Lillard.

Chris Paul – In my Wednesday piece, I wrote the following about Paul: “Paul’s price has steadily risen with Blake Griffin out, but it still isn’t high enough to reflect his recent performance.” Paul went on to torch a good defensive team in the Heat for 15 points, 12 rebounds, six rebounds and four steals in just 30 minutes of a blowout. Rajon Rondo has been getting beat by elite point guard this season, something I don’t expect to change Saturday.

Cheap risk option: After his triple-double Friday put one of my GPP teams in nice position, I’m willing to go back to Marcus Smart once again. The Wizards do a better job defending PGs than the Suns do, but there aren’t many cheap options that look great Saturday, and there certainly aren’t any others who are capable of posting triple-doubles. Give Smart a look if you want some cheap upside.

SHOOTING GUARD

C.J. McCollum – Shooting guard Saturday is straight trash, homie. McCollum has easily the top projection at the position against Philadelphia with Klay Thompson locked up with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and none of the other elite options in action. McCollum is a pretty safe choice if you’re looking to lock in a solid night at SG.

Avery Bradley – If you’re not going big with McCollum, you might as well save a bit of money, and Bradley provides that cap relief. He’s scored in double figures in all four of his game since returning from injury, pilfering multiple steals in three of those games and really coming on in his last five as he gets his groove back. Bradley’s price will rise again soon if he puts in another good performance against the Wizards.

Cheap risk option: After playing 25 minutes or less in four straight games, Jamal Crawford has seen at least 26 minutes in his last three games, responding with 18.3 points and two three-pointers a game. With a nice matchup against the Kings, Crawford is worth a GPP dart to see if he can stay hot, and his price is still depressed thanks to his struggles this year.

SMALL FORWARD

Giannis Antetokounmpo – The Greek Freak has been on a nice roll, notching three straight double-doubles and scoring over 25 points per game in his last three contests. His matchup with the Hornets isn’t a great one, but it’s not intimidating either and there’s no reason he can’t continue to play well, even if he doesn’t go for 25 and 10 in this one. He’s just 21 years old…

Al-Farouq Aminu – Aminu started the season playing great ball before cooling down for an extended period, but he’s back to playing well with three straight games in double figures and consecutive four-block performances. The 76ers get blocked the second-most out of all NBA teams and allow fantasy points by the boatload to the small forward position. Aminu is a nice value for his price Saturday.

Injury play: Derrick Williams – I’m not as convinced Carmelo Anthony sits Saturday as I was Wednesday, but Williams proved his worth against the Nets, reaching the 30-point barrier despite coming off the bench behind Lance Thomas. Williams is the perfect handcuff for ‘Melo in New York, as he can replace his volume scoring in short bursts as a high-usage player. If Anthony is out again, expect another nice game from Williams, and he’ll be worth playing even with his price jump.

Cheap risk option: There’s not much to see at the bottom of the SF slot Saturday, but Wesley Johnson has been enjoying his time with the Clippers, especially since Blake Griffin got hurt and Josh Smith took a permanent seat in the doghouse. Johnson sees steady minutes in the low-to-mid 20s and has two games with double-digit points and at least four steals in his past five. The Kings allow the third-most steals in the NBA, giving Johnson some upside Saturday.

POWER FORWARD

DeMarcus Cousins – Cousins has scored 29 points or more in seven straight games, with six games of 32 or more points and six double-doubles. I’m not sure what else I have to say, but a matchup with a Clippers team that could be starting Cole Aldrich at center only adds to Cousins’ appeal Saturday night. I don’t like him as much as Paul, Lillard or Antetokounmpo, which means I probably won’t have him in many lineups, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a great play once again.

Nene Hilario – Nene has been surprisingly productive with a starting role in place of Marcin Gortat, who seems likely to miss Saturday’s game after being in the hospital mid-week. He’s averaging over 11 points per game with more than a steal and a block in his past three, packing nice production into limited minutes due to his own durability issues. Nene is a nice value play to save money and afford the big guns, especially since the Celtics aren’t exact stout against opposing PFs.

Injury play: Kyle O’Quinn – It’s more likely than not that Kristaps Porzingis will suit up Saturday, but if he doesn’t, O’Quinn becomes an elite play at minimum salary assuming he draws the start . Even in a tough matchup with the Grizzlies, O’Quinn would be deserving of DFS attention thanks to his sparkling per-minute production. Even if he played just 20 minutes, he could easily return 6x or more on his price.

Cheap risk option: If DeAndre Jordan remains out due to illness, the corpse of Josh Smith will get a chance to build on his productive outing Wednesday, when he scored nine points and had three steals in a blowout win over the Heat. Smith has been out of the rotation lately, and would likely be again if Jordan returned, but also represents a frisky high-upside play if Jordan is looking doubtful as the day goes on.

CENTER

DeAndre Jordan – Jordan is questionable for Saturday’s game due to illness, but he’ll be in a great spot if he plays against the shoddy Sacramento interior defense. Jordan has been great without Blake Griffin around to grab a handful of rebounds from him and should be in line for another nice performance Saturday.

Al Horford – Horford had a big dud two games ago, along with the rest of his teammates, but he’s been outstanding otherwise in recent games. Brook Lopez is a stud on offense, but the Nets struggle to cover opposing centers, in big part due to Lopez’s own issues on that side of the court. Horford should be able to take advantage, and his three-point shooting ability could drag the slow-footed Lopez out of the paint more than he would like.

Injury play: Cole Aldrich – Doubling down on the Clippers against the Kings, Aldrich would be the top value play on the board if Jordan were to sit again due to injury. Unfortunately, most lineup decisions will have to be made before the time Jordan’s status is updated, and unless you want to be stuck with Kosta Koufos in your lineup, Aldrich is a bit risky currently.

Cheap risk option: After his third straight game with at least 25 minutes and a nice fantasy line, Frank Kaminsky is very intriguing at a bargain price against a Bucks team that has really struggled inside of late on the defensive end. Kaminsky can also stretch the floor and can do just about everything well but pass, giving him opportunities to accrue extra points when he isn’t scoring at a high clip.

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) Chris Paul
2) Damian Lillard
3) Reggie Jackson
4) Ish Smith
5) Donald Sloan
6) Stephen Curry
7) Jeff Teague
8) Isaiah Thomas
9) Kemba Walker

SG
1) C.J. McCollum
2) Avery Bradley
3) J.J. Redick
4) Kyle Korver
5) Khris Middleton
6) Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
7) Lou Williams

SF
1) Giannis Antetokounmpo
2) Jae Crowder
3) Gordon Hayward
4) Al-Farouq Aminu
5) Nicolas Batum
6) Jared Dudley
7) Robert Covington
8) Paul Pierce

PF
1) Paul Millsap
2) Nene Hilario
3) Cody Zeller
4) DeMarcus Cousins
5) Nerlens Noel
6) Jabari Parker
7) Amir Johnson
8) Kristaps Porzingis
9) Draymond Green

C
1) Al Horford
2) DeAndre Jordan
3) Brook Lopez
4) Greg Monroe
5) Marc Gasol
6) Jahlil Okafor
7) Mason Plumlee

As always, I’ll do my best to update this article as news breaks throughout the day if at possible and before the first game starts at 7 p.m., so follow me on Twitter @christripodi for last-minute updates and suggestions.

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