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Daily Fantasy Basketball Strategy: January 22, 2016

Nine games on the slate tonight including a Pacers/Warriors matchup that totaled 254 total points in the previous meeting. You better bet I want exposure to that game on a night with a surprising amount of value already available prior to the inevitable late news explosion. Without further ado, let’s get to grinding…

Point Guard

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“The Play”: If at all possible, Stephen Curry is the building block to build around on tonight’s slate. Considering the track meet that broke out last time, it’s not surprising Vegas has the Warriors listed as the top team implied total of the night at over 114 projected points. Both teams rank top seven in pace so do not expect to see much slowly developing offense. The transition game will be a big part of each team’s offense and Curry excels in both transition passing and shooting (from long range). The reigning MVP averages just under 30 real points per game (PPG) and 51.73 fantasy points per game (FPPG). If he produced exactly his average in terms of fantasy points tonight, he would be at almost exactly five times value at his $10,400 price. Due to the pace of this game, I expect him to come closer to the 59.8 fantasy points he dropped on Dec. 8 versus the Pacers on the heels of a 29-10 double-double. For cash games, he’s the absolute safest play on the board yet he still possesses the upside necessary to win tournaments as well.

Other Options: Assuming you just cannot make the budget work with Curry, Deron Williams is the likely cheaper alternative as he draws a matchup against Russell Westbrook and the Thunder. Something about the matchup brings out the best in Williams as he has scored at least 39 fantasy points in each of his previous three meetings against Westbrook across two teams (Mavericks and Nets). There is a chance Dirk Nowitzki is deemed inactive which would increase Williams’ usage percentage beyond his 26 percent in the last meeting versus Oklahoma City. By comparison, his season average currently sits at 22.1 percent. Isaiah Thomas is still an enticing option although Marcus Smart’s role has begun to expand once again (he’s an option as well) especially against an aging Derrick Rose. Also Joakim Noah, the Bulls’ best rim protector, will miss the remainder of the season making it easier to take Rose to the bucket. The aforementioned Westbrook is always in play especially in a fast-paced game against Dallas and Chris Paul has been an absolute monster since Blake Griffin went down. Save this bunch other than Williams for GPPs because Curry is your man if you’re spending up.

Shooting Guard

“The Play”: Did I mention I love the Warriors tonight? Typically I am skeptical of Vegas and like to make my own lines but Vegas and I are on the same page here. Indiana’s weakness defensively all season has been at the shooting guard (SG) position and Klay Thompson exploited that weakness in the previous meeting. Thompson took 21 shot attempts en route to 39 real points with seven rebounds (REB) and six assists (AST) which led to 61.75 fantasy points. It only took him 34 minutes to accomplish this monster line. While I wouldn’t expect another 60-plus fantasy point explosion, it’s certainly not unrealistic to predict another monster game. With Rodney Stuckey and George Hill out, some combination of Monta Ellis, Glenn Robinson III, Chase Budinger and C.J. Miles will attempt to guard him. Good luck.

Other Options: Alright so I’ve already highlighted two Warriors but how about a Pacer? You think I’m going to say Monta Ellis but I actually prefer Ellis in GPP-only…and I love him in that format. However, the safer bet to reach value tonight in my opinion is Joe Young. In spite of not reaching 20 minutes played in each of his last two ballgames, he has scored at least 25.75 fantasy points in each. The worry was the return of George Hill but he is already listed as out. While Young’s matchup against the long, athletic backup Shaun Livingston isn’t an easy one, I think his floor is around 15 fantasy points (about eight points and five assists). If he proves the last few games were not flukes and he can get it done against Livingston, he should hover around 25 fantasy points yet again. Also, if the Pacers get blown out which many expect they will, Young should play in garbage time as well. I like this situation for him because it gives him a lot of ways to reach value at just $3,500 and I’m absolutely okay with him in cash games. Jimmy Butler has dominated the Celtics in each of the previous two meetings so do not worry about the tough individual matchup against Avery Bradley. Assuming he is active, Jeremy Lamb will benefit from Nicolas Batum sitting out and is viable in all formats. Last, but not least, you can never forget about James Harden especially without Dwight Howard.

Small Forward

“The Play”: Coming off of a semi-disappointing game, those who were burned by Giannis Antetokounmpo may choose to lean in a different direction tonight. Do not follow their lead. In his previous four games, Antetokounmpo did not dip below 38.25 fantasy points and double-doubled in each. On Friday, the Milwaukee Bucks will face a Rockets team that struggles to defend both forward spots. Considering Antetokounmpo is a bit of a hybrid, this is good news because he won’t face much resistance regardless of what position he is playing at the moment. The Rockets are the eighth fastest-paced team which is conducive to Antetokounmpo’s style. In track meet type games, Michael Carter-Williams tends to sit more and Jerryd Bayless comes in to play on the wing. Antetokounmpo then takes over a lot of the ball-handling duties and will drive and kick to Bayless, Khris Middleton, etc. Between ball-handling and his rebounding prowess, there are many ways Antetokounmpo falls into value tonight. With his skill-set in this game environment, I think the odds of him going off are likely as well so I will be looking at him in all formats.

Other Options: We’re talking about the small forward (SF) position here so all of the usuals are in play. Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George are all viable in both formats and I probably want shares of each in multi-entry. The preferred cash option of the three is Anthony whose price has dropped recently and George in tournaments due to the game environment. Otherwise, I do not love any of the cheap options. Jae Crowder is consistent, Gordon Hayward is around Antetokounmpo’s price so it’s hard for me to justify and Chandler Parsons’ DFS value revolves around whether or not Dirk Nowitzki plays tonight. If Nowitzki sits, I can see using Parsons in all formats, although he will be guarded by the much bigger and more athletic Kevin Durant.

Power Forward

“The Play”: Haha, I was just reading last week’s article and it began like this: “Milwaukee is absolutely terrible defensively against the power forward (PF) position (they rank 29th in efficiency versus the position) so there is maybe no safer bet for 40 fantasy points tonight than Paul Millsap.” As fate would have it, I am picking on the Milwaukee defense yet again but more so because Terrence Jones has emerged as one of the best values on the slate. Jones has started for Howard five times this season and has registered at least 25 fantasy points in each game. He will now start for Howard against one of the worst defensive teams against his position. What more needs to be said?

Other Options: Speaking of teams missing important pieces, the Hornets will be without Al Jefferson, Nicolas Batum and Cody Zeller tonight so Marvin Williams’ role should expand by default (as well as his minute allotment). Chris Bosh will have to carry the team on his back as Dwyane Wade and Hassan Whiteside have already been ruled out. His usage percentage should be crazy and all the rebounds will be his so I love him in all formats. Draymond Green is viable in all formats though I prefer the guards. Although I already mentioned Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker makes a ton of sense tonight as well, but I do not want both in cash. Therefore, I’ll be reserving Parker for GPP only against the Rockets’ league-worst PF defense.

Center

“The Play”: Spend up at the center position tonight because Pau Gasol is in a great spot. Gasol’s minutes have been on the rise without Joakim Noah; they’ve risen from 30.8 per game to 33.1. Boston simply has no one who can guard Gasol even on their best day and it has shown in two meetings this season. Gasol dropped a 16-15 double-double in the first game and a 17-18 double-double in the second…both included four assists sprinkled in. Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley are excellent perimeter defenders but the paint is Gasol’s to dominate. It’s no surprise Boston ranks in the bottom half of fantasy points allowed to each frontcourt position and they stand no chance of stopping Gasol yet again tonight. I’ll take the over on 40 fantasy points for Gasol which is why he’ll be a staple in all my cash lineups across all sites.

Other Options: As is the case most games these days, Zaza Pachulia is extremely viable because he’s a rebounding machine, and now Nowitzki may not play. Even if he does, the pace of this contest against the Thunder should increase his rebounding opportunities which should only help. Last night, DeAndre Jordan failed to reach 30 fantasy points but that will not happen two straight games especially sans Blake Griffin. Robin Lopez is in trouble against the Hoopers’ mom. Frank Kaminsky is my favorite value at the position as he stands to benefit even more than Williams due to the absence of Zeller and Batum. I think he pushes 30 minutes with an uptick in usage and effectiveness. Otherwise, Nikola Vucevic, Brook Lopez, Kelly Olynyk, Spencer Hawes, Myles Turner and Boban Marjanovic are all worth tournament looks but I do not have faith in any for cash.

Good luck tonight! Grind on…

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