Welcome back and sorry that we didn’t have any NBA DFS coverage yesterday, but our usual Friday DFS writer, Ricky Sanders was lucky enough to get to tag along with the other site he writes for (FantasyDraft.com) to meet T.Y. Hilton of the Indianapolis Colts. Unfortunately, Chris nor I were able to fill-in for him, but we’re back today and what better way to kick off my 2016 than a big nine-game slate? Yes, we won’t be going over the two earlier games because the majority of contests are for the night slate. So, let’s get right to it, starting off with the Vegas lines and projected totals.

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Vegas lines and totals

Detroit (+4.5) @ Indiana — projected total of 201.5
Oklahoma City (-6) @ Charlotte — 208.5
Orlando (+8.5) @ Cleveland — 194.5
Milwaukee (+1) @ Minnesota — 201.5
New Orleans (+2.5) @ Dallas — 208
Houston (+11) @ San Antonio — 200.5
Memphis (?) @ Utah — not yet available
Denver (+12.5) @ @ Golden Stats — 210
Philadelphia (+12.5) @ LA Clippers — 210

So, the two highest totals on the slate come with large spreads that make you fear blowout status, the Spurs/Rockets game has a lower total and also screams blowout the way San Antonio has been bullying the league and Cleveland is hefty favorites in a game with an already low total. That’s three games that you at least want to proceed with caution towards, but that’s not to say that you fade them entirely. The Grizzlies/Jazz game doesn’t have Vegas numbers out as of writing this, but you can safely assume that it will be the lowest projected total of the bunch, and aside from maybe a cheaper guy or two, I won’t be looking at spending up on any of their top priced options. I’m guessing Stephen Curry will sit again also since the Warriors are facing a sub-par team in Denver where he won’t be needed to get a win.

POINT GUARD

Russell Westbrook ($10,700) – If you want the top scoring player at the position tonight, you’re rolling with the top dollar option, Russ. I won’t bore you with why he’ll be great, you already know. I will say though, in most of my lineups tonight, I am going the cheap route at point guard, as seen below. Also, it’s crazy how quickly the cost of Ish Smith has risen. Over the past four games his price has went from $4,800 to $5,600 to $6,500 to tonight’s $7,200 tag. That’s a bit steep for me going up against Chris Paul.

Trey Burke ($4,600) – Even at a slightly higher price, Burke has hit above value for this price point in the last three games since seeing his role increase with Alec Burks out with an injury. Burke should see at least 30 minutes again tonight, and whether it’s a low scoring affair or not, Trey will get plenty of shots to once again beat value. With a lot of the higher priced point guards either having a tough matchup or in a potential blowout game, I like going cheap here and bulking up my roster in other areas.

Shaun Livingston ($4,300) – As I mentioned above, I am assuming that Steph Curry will sit tonight and that should mean another start for Livingston. Last game Shaun played 33 minutes and dished out 31 fantasy points (FPs), and against a weak set of guards tonight, I would expect similar from him tonight.

Cheap risk option: Norris Cole ($3,800) has seen his role pick up nicely since he’s gotten fully healthy and Ish Smith was traded away. Cole has played 30+ minutes the last two games for the Pelicans and he’s taken 14 shots in each of them racking up 32 and 29 FPs in those games. If you want another cheap PG, here’s one more to consider, but know that his minutes could drop without warning, thus the “risk option” tag.

SHOOTING GUARD

Klay Thompson ($7,700) – I am not going to be paying up for James Harden tonight, but I do like Klay a lot in a friendly matchup and looking at added usage with Curry out again. If this game is going to near that 210 total and the Warriors are going to pull away, Klay will be a big part as to why. I’ll be looking for at least 35 FPs from him tonight.

Khris Middleton (6,800) – I think the legend of Will Barton has a down night tonight, so I am looking more at Middleton and Andrew Wiggins in this price range at SG. Middleton has been ghost pepper hot recently putting up 50+ FPs in each of the last two games. The Middz v Wiggz matchup will be fun to watch on both ends tonight and I could see either edging out the other in FPs, but I am leaning to Khris by a narrow margin due to his advantage of being a better assists and treys guy.

Cheap risk option: With the Clippers favored to win big, I like Austin Rivers ($3,400) as a punt option against a bad Sixers team. Rivers will play around 20 minutes either way, but he could also get more minutes in the fourth if the game is out of hand. If he only plays 20 minutes you should expect 17-20 FPs, if he plays 25+ minutes, look more mid-20s FPs, which is more that suitable at this price especially with the flexibility it gives you in other areas.

SMALL FORWARD

LeBron James ($9,700) – I’m paying up at small forward tonight, personally. Bron leads the way against the Magic who he just owns every chance he gets to go at them. In two games against Orlando this season Bron has averaged 45 FPs, the most recent of those games he put up 47 FPs in 29 minutes. Nothing has changed but the day and the weather.

Kawhi Leonard ($8,500) – If the Spurs didn’t absolutely dismantle every team they played, Kawhi would be priced the same as LeBron — or maybe higher — but since his minutes do fluctuate game-to-game due to this, he’s a bargain in any game that doesn’t result in him sitting most or all of the fourth quarter. That said, the Rockets upset the Spurs on Christmas day and I expect San Antonio to be coming back at them with a vengeance. I am projecting Leonard at 45 FPs tonight and if the game stays close, he could surpass 50 as he did on Xmas.

Chandler Parsons ($5,800) – I know what you’re thinking, “Parsons has sucked the past two games and only taken 13 shots in those games combined. Well, yeah, I wouldn’t feel safe about him in a cash game, but I did want to say that I like him as a contrarian GPP (big tournament) play tonight. Everybody is pissed at this guy after his last two games, and will be looking elsewhere, that’s where you can take a shot at capitalizing on their inability to shake the recency bias.

Cheap risk option: Tony Allen ($3,600) saw the most minutes he’s seen all season in the last Grizzlies game, and while he won’t play 36 again tonight, he should see close to 30 with Matt Barnes out again due to suspension. Allen isn’t much of a scorer but delivers the defensive hustle stats that can net you 20ish FPs for cheap when he gets the PT he should tonight.

POWER FORWARD

Nerlens Noel ($6,500) – Since the acquisition of Ish Smith, Noel has been reborn back into the beastly player that we saw last season and hoped to see again this year. In the four games since Ish arrived, Nerlens has put up FP nights of 37, 39, 41 and 47. While his matchup tonight with DeAndre Jordan is a much tougher one, I still think he can surpass value as long as he doesn’t get into early foul trouble. I have him projected at 34 FPs with upside.

Zach Randolph ($6,000) – With Matt Barnes out last game, ZBo played 33 minutes and put up 17 points, seven boards and three dimes for 29 FPs. If Derrick Favors misses this game, I will probably own Randolph everywhere, if Favors is active, that will drop a bit, but he’ll still be a fine play. If Favors sits, think 35 fantasy points, if Favors plays, look more for 28.

Cheap risk option: Terrence Jones ($4,200) is one of the only cheap PF plays that I have any interest in at all. Jones should see 20+ minutes and with that should hit around the low-20s in FPs. He played 22 minutes and put up 23.5 FPs against this same Spurs team just last week.

CENTER

Andre Drummond ($9,400) – I have had unbelievably bad luck with this guy, which is shocking because if you look at his game log, his non-outstanding performances are rare. Well, those not so good nights, always the nights that I advise using him or use him myself, I swear… This time though, I just can’t foresee any way that Drum doesn’t hit it big against a beat up group of Pacer bigs. If Mahinmi plays, it maybe keeps Drummond from going for 60, but he should still put up around 50 FPs.

Karl-Anthony Towns ($7,000) – I usually go cheaper at center in my lineups, but tonight I think there are enough values elsewhere that you should pay up and get one of these two stud big men (or both). KAT is not your average rookie, he’s been absolutely superb most of the year and has averaged 39 FPs over the last six games. Greg Monroe isn’t anything to be scared away from defensively, so I think Towns will land right around that average I just mentioned again tonight.

Cheap risk option: Jeff Withey ($3,900) is the no-brainer value at this spot if Favors does indeed sit out. Withey has been a beast with both Gobert and Favors out of the lineup posting 20+ FPs in each of the last four games. If Favors is out, Withey should hit above 20 FPs again, even with a tough matchup against Marc Gasol, but if Favors does play, expect Withey’s PT to drop to 15-18 minutes and him to come up a little shy of the 20 FP level.

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) Shaun Livingston
2) Trey Burke
3) Russell Westbrook
4) Chris Paul
5) Mike Conley
6) Kemba Walker
7) Norris Cole
8) Kyrie Irving

SG
1) Klay Thompson
2) Khris Middleton
3) Andrew Wiggins
4) Jamal Crawford
5) Monta Ellis
6) Austin Rivers
7) Gary Harris

SF
1) Kawhi Leonard
2) LeBron James
3) Nicolas Batum
4) Tony Allen
5) Chandler Parsons
6) Jeff Green
7) Jerami Grant

PF
1) Zach Randolph (falls to 2 if Favors plays)
2) Nerlens Noel
3) LaMarcus Aldridge
4) Draymond Green
5) Serge Ibaka
6) Terrence Jones

C
1) Andre Drummond
2) Karl-Anthony Towns
3) DeAndre Jordan
4) Jeff Withey (if Favors sits)
5) Zaza Pacuhulia
6) Enes Kanter
7) Dwight Howard

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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