• We are back on the first of February and tonight looks like it is going to be a little more relaxing than are typical Friday slates. We only have five games to break down and with so many high priced studs we are going to need some obvious value. Lucky for us, the Knicks mortgaged their team and will not have their new players available.

    To keep it simple, we are playing Knicks with some high priced studs, mixed in with one or two players from another game. The two best games to target are going to be the OKC vs. Heat game and the Rockets vs. Nuggets. Westbrook and Paul George are very much in play and should go lower owned than Harden and Jokic, but I will get to Harden in just a minute.

    Point Guard

    Allonzo Trier vs. Celtics $5,300 – We are in a similar situation as we were last night with the Mavs. None of the players involved in the trade are expected to be available leaving the Knicks with a depleted roster. I do not expect this game to stay close though, and targeting the Knicks we know will have minutes and usage is essential. Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. are gone and with Frank Ntilikina hurt it really only leaves Trier to handle to ball. Knicks’ head coach David Fizdale has talked up Trier all season as a scorer and he may have his way with the usage tonight.

    Tyler Johnson vs. Thunder $4,200 – We have a lot of high priced players on a short slate so we are going to need some value. With everything going on in New York we may not need to go to Johnson, but he feels like a solid cash play. Justise Winslow remains the better option for tournaments and his price tag of $5,800 leaves ample opportunity for value.

    Shooting Guard

    James Harden vs. Nuggets $12,900- Don’t think about this too much, if we hear Chris Paul is going to sit out tonight’s game on the first half of a back-to-back we play James Harden. If Paul plays he is no longer a must-play.

    Malik Beasley vs. Rockets $4,400 –If you are leaning towards the high priced players on OKC then Beasley may be one of your plays for value. He has taken double digit shot attempts over the last four games and his minutes seem safe the upper twenties. Without Jamaal Murray, Beasley and Monte Morris will handle to point guard duties and I’m going to lean towards the guy who will likely draw lower ownership and has a cheaper price tag.

    Small Forward

    Kyle Anderson vs. Hornets $4,400 – Anderson draws a solid matchup against a Hornets team that has struggled against athletic wings this season. His minutes are back to where they were before the injury and while he is not a scorer, Anderson has shown us he can provide counting stats across the board. If Conley sits or gets traded he becomes a near must-play.

    Mario Hezonja vs. Celtics $4,200 – Super Mario may be my favorite Knick on the board tonight. His minutes and usage should be elevated with all of the missing bodies and I am not worried about the blowout with him expected to come off of the bench. Kevin Knox is in play as well, but a like the slight discount in Hezonja.

    Power Forward

    Kenneth Faried vs. Nuggets $6,900 – This game is going to be targeted heavily and for good reason. Faried is one of my favorite plays in this game and has been nothing short of productive since signing with the Rockets. I’m not worried about Nene cutting into his minutes and let’s not forget where Faried played for most of his career and made his name as the Manimal.

    Paul Millsap vs. Rockets $5,000 – Millsap is severely underpriced and saw 34 minutes in his last game. Nikola Jokic is undeniably the force down low for the Nuggets, but Millsap has made a career off of chipping in counting stats across the board and has plenty of opportunity in what should be a close game.

    Center

    Nikola Jokic vs. Rockets $10,900 – His recent play warrants his current price tag. Jokic is in play regardless of whether or not Chris Paul plays, but if he sits I can promise I will have a lineup with both Harden and Jokic. The only man with the size to guard Jokic is Nene and he will see limited minutes at best.

    Marc Gasol vs. Hornets $7,900 – Conley is currently questionable and missed shootaround. If he sits or gets traded there is an obvious boost in usage headed Gasol’s way. As the deadline approaches it becomes riskier and riskier playing guys on the trade block, but everything I am hearing is leaning more towards Conley being moved first.

    Luke Kornet vs. Celtics $4,300 – Let’s not forget who was Fizdale’s favorite toy when he was healthy. He’s coming off of injury, so I am slightly worried about where his minutes will be, but if Kornet sees the workload he was seeing before he becomes a fantastic value play.

    Like I said earlier, I did not mention anyone from OKC because they are all squarely in play, it is just going to come down to which games you are targeting more and whether or not Chris Paul plays.

    As always you can find me on Twitter @MikeApotria with any of your questions and comments. Thank you always for the support and let’s continue smashing slates this season.

Fantasy News

  • Donovan Mitchell - G - Utah Jazz

    Donovan Mitchell went 14-for-35 from the field to finish Friday's 147-148 double-overtime loss to the Thunder with 38 points.

    Mitchell added four boards, five dimes, four 3s and one steal to his line for the night. His inefficient scoring lately has dragged his value outside of the top-150 in 9-cat over the last couple of weeks, but knowing Mitchell, he should be able to heat up sooner than later.

  • Rudy Gobert - C - Utah Jazz

    Rudy Gobert stepped up late for the Jazz on Friday and posted 26 points on 9-of-12 shooting with 16 rebounds, two assists, one steal and three blocks in a loss to the Thunder.

    Gobert is money when you're looking for those key big-man stats. He's also going to be a force come the fantasy playoffs given the Jazz's stacked schedule. Derrick Favors is a low-end option as well. He posted 24 points (10-of-11 shooting), 11 rebounds, two assists and three blocks tonight.

  • Jae Crowder - F - Utah Jazz

    Jae Crowder knocked down four 3s to finish Friday's loss to the Thunder with 20 points (6-of-14 shooting), eight rebounds, three dimes and one block.

    He was the only Jazz reserve to crack double-digit scoring. Crowder's been a solid source of threes lately, averaging 2.8 triples over his last five games.

  • Dennis Schroder - G - Oklahoma City Thunder

    Dennis Schroder played 35 minutes on Friday after missing the Thunder's last two games to welcome the birth of his child but struggled with his shot as he went 3-of-16 from the field to finish with nine points, two rebounds, seven dimes and one steal.

    Schroder is a .426 shooter from the field on the season, so we're not too worried. We're chalking this ugly shooting night to some rust. He should bounce back closer to top-120 value as he finds his shot.

  • Russell Westbrook - G - Oklahoma City Thunder

    Russell Westbrook was in the groove in Friday's 148-147 double-overtime win over the Jazz on Friday, dropping 43 points (15-of-29 shooting), 15 boards, eight assists, six triples, one block and two steals before fouling out in 43 minutes.

    Westbrook has been holding steady as a top-20 play over the last couple of weeks in 9-cat. This is the second time he's scored 40-plus points in his last five games and is looking to finish strong as we head down the stretch this season.

  • Jerami Grant - F - Oklahoma City Thunder

    Jerami Grant (sprained right ankle) returned from a two-game absence on Friday and put up a solid performance with 18 points (6-of-10 shooting), four rebounds, one assist, three treys, two steals and three blocks.

    Grant looked good as he logged 41 minutes in this double-overtime barn burner. Feel free to slot him into your active lineups and enjoy his late middle-round value moving forward.

  • Paul George - F - Oklahoma City Thunder

    Paul George shook Joe Ingles to sink the game-winning floater in Friday's 2OT win over the Jazz and ended the night with 45 points (17-of-31 shooting), nine rebounds, seven dimes, five triples and a steal.

    PG13 makes yet another case to be included in the MVP discussion with this amazing performance. Owners who trusted him late in the first or early in the second rounds of drafts are now cashing in his top-5 fantasy value all the way to the bank (and hopefullly a fantasy trophy).

  • Emmanuel Mudiay - G - New York Knicks

    Emmanuel Mudiay (strained left shoulder) returned from a 12-game absence on Friday and showed no signs of rust as he delivered 15 points on 6-of-16 shooting and a full line.

    The .375 shooting clip from the field was nasty but that's par for the course with Mudiay. It was a pleasant surprise to see him fill up the box score as he added six rebounds, one assist, two 3-pointers, three steals and a block to his line for the night. The Knicks' rotations have been a hot mess all season, so don't bank on Mudiay to deliver this kind of spread in the next one.

  • Jonathan Isaac - F - Orlando Magic

    Jonathan Isaac had a game to forget in Friday's loss to the Bulls, scoring only four points (on 1-of-6 from the field) to go with a trey, three rebounds and two steals.

    The money counters salvaged a bad night and despite this dud, Isaac has still been a top-35 play in 9-cat over his last five games. He played 31 minutes in this one so hopefully he can get back on track his next time out.

  • Dorian Finney-Smith - F - Dallas Mavericks

    Dorian Finney-Smith chipped in 13 points (4-of-9 shooting), nine rebounds, one assist and two steals in Friday's 104-114 loss to the Nuggets.

    DFS has been a top-140 play over the last couple of weeks and is a viable end-of-bench guy in standard leagues for the rest of the season. He's more of a plodder, albeit a reliable one, so don't expect too many explosive games on the horizon.