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Daily Fantasy Basketball Strategy: January 9, 2016

With the two early games Saturday not including in DraftKings’ big tournaments, we’ll focus on the five-game night slate, which still has many good options when it comes to DFS plays. Let’s dive right in.

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Vegas lines and totals

Washington @ Orlando (-2) – total of 198
Brooklyn @ Detroit (-11.5) – total of 194.5
Toronto (-9) @ Philadelphia – total of 202.5
Miami (-1.5) @ Utah – total of 183
Golden State (-6.5) @ Sacramento – total of 222

That Warriors-Kings line is absolutely juicy, with limited blowout potential and an extremely high total. That game will be very popular in cash games and tournaments, and the Raptors are in a good spot against the 76ers as well. Heat-Jazz, on the other hand, is a battle of the NBA’s two slowest teams on the season, so the first team to 90 could easily win. That’s not a recipe for DFS success.

POINT GUARD

Kyle Lowry ($8,600) – Kyle Lowry started slow Friday night against John Wall and the Wizards, but packed a ton of production into the final three quarters and has at least 45 fantasy points in five straight games. It’s hard to imagine Ish Smith and the Philadelphia defense slowing Lowry’s roll Saturday.

Rajon Rondo ($8,400) – Like Lowry, Rondo comes into Saturday hot, just over a smaller sample size. He has three straight games over 43 fantasy points and plays in what projects as easily the highest-scoring game of the night against the Warriors. With the game in Sacramento, he should see a full complement of minutes, and Stephen Curry could bow out with a shin issue at any time to make Rondo’s life easier on defense.

Cheap risk option: The 76ers are always a great matchup, which makes Cory Joseph ($3,600) an intriguing cheap option. His minutes are back up in the mid-20s with DeMarre Carroll out, and Terrence Ross‘ injury could open up even more time for Joseph, who can get you 20 points at a bargain price and help you pay up elsewhere.

SHOOTING GUARD

Klay Thompson ($8,000) – Thompson was a top target of mine Friday, and nothing has changed Saturday. He’s scorching hot with 36 or more points in three of his last five games and at least six three-pointers in four of those. A high-scoring matchup with the Kings is unlikely to be the game that cools Thompson off.

DeMar DeRozan ($8,000) – DeRozan busted a four-game mini-slump with 35 points against the Wizards on Friday and a DFS score over 50. With the Raptors traveling to face the 76ers, who lack defense at almost every position, DeRozan has a nice chance to stay hot along with Lowry.

Cheap risk option: Coming on lately, Ian Clark ($3,700) has been a nice surprise off the Golden State bench. He’s cleared 15 fantasy points in six of his last seven games, including three with at least 23. If the Warriors are careful with Stephen Curry on the second night of a back-to-back, Clark should benefit as a good per-minute producer.

SMALL FORWARD

Rudy Gay ($6,900) – Small forward is the weak point of Saturday’s slate, and with Gordon Hayward slumping of late, Gay is the top high-priced play by default. Omri Casspi‘s return is a small concern for his usage, but there should be plenty of opportunities to go around for the Kings as they try to keep up with the high-flying Warriors. Despite his tendency to disappear, the floor feels higher with Gay than most of the position Saturday.

James Johnson ($3,700) – Johnson is set to draw another start and with Terrence Ross potentially out Saturday, he could have an extra few minutes coming his way. After busting in his first start against the Cavs, who play great defense on SFs thanks to LeBron, Johnson has reached value twice in a row and remains a decent cash play while his price is under $4,000. Head coach Dwane Casey may have almost no choice but to give Johnson 25-plus minutes in an ideal matchup.

Cheap risk option: After a great finish Friday in Brooklyn when he played the final 16-plus minutes to help Orlando to a win, it’s possible Aaron Gordon ($3,900) has earned more playing time in Scott Skiles’ chaotic rotation. He’s scored 20-plus fantasy points in three of his past four games and if Gordon is ever unleashed in a 30-minute role, he has the skill set of a fantasy darling. In a good matchup with the Wizards, he could be a DFS darling Saturday even with just 20-25 minutes.

POWER FORWARD

Draymond Green ($10,000) – Coming off another triple-double Friday, his fourth in his last five games, Green remains a nearly unfadeable force in DFS play. Facing the small-ball Kings means Green should have his way once again, whether it’s at the three-point line, the high post or wherever, really. Pay for Dray and you should have a nice day.

DeMarcus Cousins ($10,200) – I hate suggesting two options over $10,000 at the same position, but PF is very top heavy Saturday. Cousins is a great play in his own right but I think Green is the easy choice between the two, as his matchup his better and his team is favored to win. Going with Cousins over Green in a GPP isn’t a bad call, though, and if you want to fade both, Luis Scola ($4,700) should see good minutes against a 76ers team that doesn’t employ a stretch 4.

Cheap risk option: Going back to the well from my Thursday pick, Trey Lyles ($3,700) is the best play among cheap PFs despite his price jumping $300 and a tough matchup against Miami. This pick assumes Derrick Favors remains out Saturday, but PF is slim pickings after the top guys. Lyles is the best of a very risky cheap lot.

CENTER

Andre Drummond ($8,900) – Drummond hasn’t played to his price lately, but he gets a nice matchup with the Nets to try to get back on track. If you have money left to pay up for somebody at center, pay all the way up and grab Drummond, who should score in the low-mid 40s Saturday night.

Jonas Valanciunas ($5,500) – No, I didn’t just list the entire Raptors starting lineup—I left off Scola. Well, sorta. Valanciunas is underpriced for the skills he brings to the table, and the only risk here is that Toronto backs off him a bit on the second night of a back-to-back. Even if he splits minutes with Bismack Biyombo, Valanciunas still looks like a very good bet for at least 25 points Saturday. With most of the top center options either struggling or facing tough matchups, save some cash with Jonas and pay up elsewhere.

Cheap risk option: With Andrew Bogut‘s minutes being watched carefully and Festus Ezeli a minimal part of the rotation even after returning Friday, Marreese Speights ($3,400) might remain relevant for a few more games. Even in just 15 minutes Friday, Speight managed 16.75 points and has hit that mark in four straight games despite seeing over 20 minutes just once. If Speights get any extra burn Saturday, he could hit big.

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) Kyle Lowry
2) Rajon Rondo
3) Reggie Jackson
4) Goran Dragic
5) John Wall
6) Ish Smith
7) Stephen Curry

SG
1) Klay Thompson
2) DeMar DeRozan
3) Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
4) Victor Oladipo
5) Garrett Temple
6) Dwyane Wade
7) Rodney Hood

SF
1) James Johnson
2) Jared Dudley
3) Tobias Harris
4) Rudy Gay
5) Otto Porter
6) Gordon Hayward

PF
1) Draymond Green
2) DeMarcus Cousins
3) Luis Scola
4) Quincy Acy
5) Thaddeus Young
6) Nerlens Noel
7) Chris Bosh

C
1) Jonas Valanciunas
2) Andre Drummond
3) Marcin Gortat
4) Jahlil Okafor
5) Nikola Vucevic
6) Brook Lopez
7) Hassan Whiteside
8) Rudy Gobert

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.

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