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Daily Fantasy Basketball Strategy: January 20, 2016

From 10 games Monday to four games Tuesday and another 11 on Wednesday, the NBA schedule has been a bit unbalanced lately. With so many games on tap Wednesday, there are bound to be some excellent DFS plays on the slate. Let’s start with the Vegas lines.

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Vegas lines and totals

Philadelphia @ Orlando (-7) – total of 197.5
Miami @ Washington (-3) – total of 199
Boston @ Toronto (-3.5) – total of 201
Cleveland (-12.5) @ Brooklyn – total of 197
Utah @ New York (-2.5) – total of 187
Detroit @ Houston (-3) – total of 206
Golden State (-6.5) @ Chicago – total of 214.5
Charlotte @ Oklahoma City (-10) – total of 207.5
Minnesota @ Dallas (-8.5) – total of 197
Sacramento (-6.5) @ L.A. Lakers – total of 215
Atlanta (-2) @ Portland – total of 208.5

There are definitely a few real juicy games here, starting with Warriors-Bulls and Kings-Lakers. High totals and middle-of-the-road spreads with road favorites implies high-scoring games that will be tight until the final few minutes, which makes them prime DFS targets. Don’t forget about the other games in the 200s though, and only Jazz-Knicks looks rather unappealing compared to the rest of the slate.

POINT GUARD

Stephen Curry – Curry plays in one of the two highest-scoring games of the night, has been in good form lately and draws a top-notch matchup against Derrick Rose, who has become a turnstile for opposing point guards. A game like this is the perfect storm to fire up a stud like Curry, and I’d expect him to push for 60 fantasy points in this one.

Russell Westbrook – How creative of me to list the top two PGs as great plays. Westbrook has a nice matchup against the Hornets who, despite good season numbers against point guards, have struggled of late to contain the position. That spells doom against a player like Westbrook, and while most of the DFS world will be on Curry if they pay up for a PG, Westbrook is a great contrarian play with similar upside at a lower ownership.

Cheap risk option: Despite not making a shot Tuesday night, Cameron Payne still crushed his price tag in a win over the Nuggets. He’s been seeing some time next to Russell Westbrook these days thanks to his strong play and the Thunder’s general ineffectiveness at shooting guard. If this game devolves into a blowout, which is certainly possible with a 10-point spread, Payne would get some extra garbage time run as well.

SHOOTING GUARD

Lou Williams – You can’t pay up everywhere on Wednesday’s big slate, and SG is a position to pick from the mid tier. Williams gets a dream guard matchup with Ben McLemore and the Kings, and he has scored at least 18 points in seven straight games, with five 20-point outings mixed in. Williams has a good shot to push for 25 in this one, especially if Kobe Bryant breaks down mid-game once again.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – Caldwell-Pope is one of the more quietly effective players in the league, and much of his appeal comes from his voluminous minutes. He’s played at least 37 minutes in seven of his past 10 games and has hit value in the same number of contests, although they weren’t all the same games. A matchup against James Harden and the Rockets should allow Caldwell-Pope to get open shots, and he should add a few steals for good measure as well.

Cheap risk option: Dion Waiters blew every last bit of momentum he had after my recommendation last night, shooting 2-of-10 from the field. He’s still in a good spot Wednesday and could bounce back, but this is Dion Waiters we’re talking about. If you don’t trust him, and I wouldn’t blame you, Allen Crabbe is a nice option against Kyle Korver and the Hawks. He’s been hitting value more often than not of late, and a shooter getting hot can always carry your GPP team for a cheap price.

SMALL FORWARD

Kevin Durant – Tuesday proved that both Durant and Westbrook can blow up on the same night, and I see no reason to believe that can’t happen again Wednesday. Durant may have Nicolas Batum covering him a bit, but he’s still getting over a couple injuries and hasn’t been the shutdown defender he’s billed as of late. That leaves the door open for Durant to build off Tuesday’s huge performance.

Tobias Harris – I haven’t picked on the 76ers yet, and while much of that is because they’re playing better ball of late, the real reason is because the Magic don’t have a guard I want to use with Victor Oladipo hurt. The 76ers still don’t defend the wings well, however, which opens the door for Harris to regain his consistency. After a rough shooting stretch, Harris straightened himself out in London before returning to the U.S. to go 2-for-7 against Atlanta. I’m expecting a “get right game” from Harris.

Cheap risk option: This one is a bit too easy, as Aaron Gordon might even be moving into the Magic’s starting lineup. If he does, he’ll be the top value play of the day in cash games, barring other surprises, but even still he’s an excellent option in GPPs. He’s destroying his price tag off the bench, which is hard to do, excluding a seven-minute outing in which he was hampered by an injury. He’s been closing games of late and, like Harris, Gordon has a great matchup. He could be about to bust completely loose.

POWER FORWARD

DeMarcus Cousins – There are a lot of viable stars with good matchups Wednesday, and it’s too bad value is lacking at the time of this writing to get three of them in. Hopefully the news throughout the day opens up some cheaper plays, because Cousins is in a great spot against Roy Hibbert. Cousins has been coasting of late, and I’m not seeing any reason that doesn’t continue Wednesday.

Julius Randle – If there’s an incentive to fading Cousins, it’s the fact that Randle has a golden opportunity ahead of him if he plays through his broken nose Wednesday. The Kings don’t defend power forwards well at all, and Larry Nance is doubtful to play. That would put Randle back into the starting lineup, and he was about $1,000 more expensive as a starter earlier this year. A depressed price plus and an ideal matchup in a high-scoring game? Sign me up.

Cheap risk option: I’m going to double dip again like I did at shooting guard and suggest Nemanja Bjelica, who was on this list Tuesday as well. By no means was his production overly stellar, but it was palatable enough at his near-minimum price that pairing him with the right studs could lead to a high score. Brandon Bass could also be a good option with a few extra minutes coming his way, and if Randle happens to sit and Bass starts, he’ll probably graduate to cash-game worthy.

CENTER

Hassan Whiteside – Whiteside was Tuesday’s top center play and came through with a monster double-double, and more of the same should be expected Wednesday against Wizards, who have bled fantasy production to centers over the past month or two. Washington started the season strong inside until injuries ravaged its frontcourt, and Whiteside should be prime to take advantage after returning to full health. Erik Spoelstra won’t have the luxury of playing small and keeping Whiteside on the bench with his backcourt as beat up as it is, and safe minutes are the only thing that’s been evasive for Whiteside at times this year.

Rudy Gobert – Wednesday is a legitimate two-center night on sites that allow it, as Gobert finally looks to have turned the corner since returning from injury after a matchup with the Lakers got him on track. In his last two games, he has 32 points, 32 rebounds and seven blocks, and the Knicks haven’t defended centers well over the past three weeks. Robin Lopez has been playing well, but he’s not the rebounder Gobert is, and a big game from the Stifle Tower should be on the way.

Cheap risk option: Speaking of turning corners, Meyers Leonard is playing well enough to deserve some attention in GPPs. Over his past four games, Leonard is averaging 13 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 threes per game, numbers that more than cover his price tag even without any additional production, which isn’t something Leoanrd is known for anyway. Playing as slight underdogs at home in a game with a high total, there’s potential for Leonard to continue his upward trend.

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) Stephen Curry
2) Jordan Clarkson
3) Russell Westbrook
4) Kemba Walker
5) Ish Smith
6) Jeff Teague
7) Deron Williams
8) Patrick Beverley (if he plays)
9) Donald Sloan
10) Derrick Rose
11) John Wall
12) Rajon Rondo

SG
1) Lou Williams
2) Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
3) Jimmy Butler
4) Dwyane Wade
5) C.J. McCollum
6) DeMar Derozan
7) Avery Bradley

SF
1) Tobias Harris
2) Rudy Gay
3) Marcus Morris
4) Kevin Durant
5) Gordon Hayward
6) Chandler Parsons
7) Harrison Barnes
8) Luol Deng
9) Al-Farouq Aminu

PF
1) Julius Randle (if he plays)
2) Serge Ibaka
3) DeMarcus Cousins
4) Ersan Ilyasova
5) Paul Millsap
6) Nerlens Noel
7) Taj Gibson
8) Dirk Nowitzki
9) Draymond Green

C
1) Hassan Whiteside
2) Rudy Gobert
3) Dwight Howard
4) Nikola Vucevic
5) Jared Sullinger
6) Pau Gasol
7) Andrew Bogut
8) Jahlil Okafor
9) Zaza Pachulia
10) Jonas Valanciunas

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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