An extremely busy Saturday at shopping malls is also action-packed in the NBA, with 13 games. Two are matinees, playable only in 4:00 EST Early and All-Day contests at DraftKings. Let’s try to whittle down the other 11 to a few with the most potential in daily fantasy.
The schedule maker was a Grinch for a few teams who not only gave up Christmas Day with their families to entertain us, they must lace ’em up again tonight. The Pelicans lost a tough one to Miami in overtime. Cleveland also came up short in a battle with the Warriors; it won’t be easy to play their best again in Portland on zero rest.
The Bulls looked sharp winning in Oklahoma City; now it’s a back-to-back for them in Dallas. I was surprised that the Rockets beat San Antonio and shocked by the low score. The Spurs will need their depth tonight against Denver, while Houston must visit New Orleans. Although the Clippers handled the Lakers easily enough, the rested Jazz will be a challenge.
I’m not suggesting you ignore every player from all those teams. Anthony Davis $10200 and James Harden $10400 might trade buckets all night if defenders are fatigued. Just keep it in mind as you look for bargains.
Plays of the Day
The Early $60K Sharpshooter is only a $3 buy-in (FREE with your initial deposit at DK) where the top 4,625 finishers (from up to 22,988 teams) win cash. First place is worth $4,000 and it closes at 4:00.
After playing nine games without two starters, the Raptors will be at full strength in Milwaukee. DeMarre Carroll $5500 (knee) and Jonas Valanciunas $5600 (hand) practiced yesterday and are ready to return. Their presence will make the first unit better while restoring Bismack Biyombo $5300 and Terrence Ross $4100 to more suitable roles. Kyle Lowry $8500 and DeMar DeRozan $7600 are still the best DFS targets. John Wall $9600 leads the Wizards into Brooklyn in the other Early matchup.
Our focus is the 7:00 evening action. Damian Lillard $8800 (foot) is hoping to return, but Chris Paul $8700 is the safer PG play in the high-salary bracket. Jeff Teague $6300 rested and at home against the Knicks is solid value. With Deron Williams (hamstring) doubtful, J.J. Barea $4300 should start again; his 32-point, 11-assist performance on Wednesday thrilled fantasy owners and Mavs fans.
At SG, if you don’t want to pay retail for Harden, try C.J. McCollum $7200, who will get better shots (and nearly as many) if Lillard suits up. My bargain pick is Rodney Hood $4600, whose last three are very encouraging.
SF is not the easiest call. Never dismiss LeBron James $10000 or Kawhi Leonard $8600, though both may be rested late if their teams are in control. Paul George $9100 is in a 6-for-33 shooting slump, long overdue for a big game but difficult to use with confidence. I like Jae Crowder $5900 and Marcus Morris $5600 as they square off in Detroit. Either or both could be a bargain.
Davis is the #1 fantasy PF whenever he is on the floor. Kristaps Porzingis $7400 was terrific in defeat on Wednesday (23 PTS, 11 REB, 4 AST) but that was with Carmelo Anthony $8200 (ankle) sidelined and Melo is likely to return. Paul Millsap $7600 has been playing with a sore ankle, which explains two relatively quiet games; the time off should help. For a bargain, Taj Gibson $4900 is trending in the right direction and rookie teammate Bobby Portis $3500 is in the rotation at least until Joakim Noah (shoulder) gets back.
At C, Andre Drummond $9200 is well worth the money. The Pistons won 119-116 in Boston ten days ago when Amir Johnson $4400 (foot) and Jared Sullinger $5800 (back) were healthy. Amir remains questionable and Sully was far from 100% on Wednesday. My second choice is Nikola Vucevic $7300 and among several bargains with upside, Nikola Jokic $4200 gets the nod over Kelly Olynyk $5000.
If there were more ultra-cheap guys with genuine upside, I’d consider a stars-and-scrubs lineup. This one has only one Premium player, three from the Midrange and four Bargains without using anyone who costs less than $4300. It’s well-balanced and the floor is reasonably high — possibly better in 50-50 or head-to-head competition than in tournaments.
|PG||Chris Paul $8700||Jeff Teague $6300||J.J. Barea $4300|
|SG||James Harden $10400||C.J. McCollum $7200||Rodney Hood $4600|
|SF||LeBron James $10000||Kawhi Leonard $8600||Jae Crowder $5900|
|PF||Anthony Davis $10300||Paul Millsap $7600||Taj Gibson $4900|
|C||Andre Drummond $9200||Nikola Vucevic $7300||Nikola Jokic $4200|
The Fantasy Spin features DFS advice every day of the NBA season. Follow Kent Williams @SheridanFantasy for updates.