January 4, 2017, 2:55 pm
This evening we have a reasonably sized seven game slate. I would suggest budgeting some extra time in front of the computer before lock due to the amount of significant injuries impacting nearly every game. I will give a game by game breakdown with the information we have so far, making sure to touch on the injuries in each matchup.
HAWKS @ MAGIC +3.5 (206.5)
I’ll admit that this is a matchup that I might typically overlook, however, after combining for 251 points in their last meeting I am certainly paying attention now. Both teams are close to full health and provide some very interesting plays.
For the Hawks I am looking no further than Paul Millsap, Dwight Howard, and Dennis Schroder. A very reasonably priced Millsap (especially on DK) makes for not only one of the best cash and GPP plays of the game, but likely the entire slate. He has recently been playing as many minutes as he can handle, while shooting the ball 20 times a game and collecting lots of peripheral stats along the way.
Like Millsap, Dwight carries a nice price tag and should see little resistance this game. He makes for a great cash and GPP play although I might prefer him on sites where you can play multiple Cs. Although my least favorite of three, Schroder still makes for a strong play in a matchup where he greatly exceeded value in the last meeting. I would reserve Schroder for GPPs due to the strength of some potential value guard plays.
Although I do expect the Magic to compete tonight, there aren’t many plays here that I’m willing to roll the dice on. Elfrid Payton and Nikola Vucevic make for the strongest plays, both coming off the bench. Elf had his best game of the season in their last meeting and I would not be surprised to see a repeat given Schroder’s leaky defense. Vuc makes for a better play on DK, where he has crushed value the last 3 games, but can be safely deployed on either site given the potential of this game.
THUNDER @ HORNETS – 2.5 (208.5)
The Thunder and the Hornets come in ranking sixth and seventh in defensive efficiency, making it difficult to target either team. Vegas has this game at the third highest total of the night but I would be lying if I said there were clear cut plays.
Russell Westbrook simply isn’t human, coming into his 36th game of the season still averaging a triple double. He will be in the conversation on every slate that he is a part of, regardless of matchup. He puts the team on his back every game and I have no issue playing Russ in any format today. Steven Adams is the only Thunder player I am looking at outside of RWB, but it is a very hard look.
Adams is coming off of a monster game vs the Bucks and I expect him to have another strong showing vs the Hornets, with only sprinkled Roy Hibbert minutes between him and the hoop. Enes Kanter has been a very popular play in the absence of Victor Oladipo, however, his minutes seem to be trending downwards with Oladipo back which makes him too risky for me.
On the Charlotte side of the ball we have the price tags of both Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum steadily rising. Kemba should have the better matchup of the two as RWB has been spending his energy on the opposite end of the court. It has become a little harder to roster Kemba who is Priced at 8.2 on DK and 8.4 on FD, however, the recent uptick in shots certainly has me buying for GPPs.
This might be a good time to jump off the Batum train as he should draw Roberson, who is not an easy matchup. The return on Marco Belinelli immediately cuts into the minutes of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Jeremy Lamb, likely eliminating them from any fantasy relevancy. If you are looking for value, Tyler Zeller will be missing his second game in a row and we should see Spencer Hawes continue to be the main beneficiary at close to minimum salary.
BUCKS @ KNICKS +1.5 (212.5)
Coming in at the second highest total of the night, this matchup looks to be jam packed with plays. It is important to monitor the status of Kristaps Porzingis (currently doubtful) as he greatly impacts both sides of the ball. This is likely THE game to target this evening.
We have seen Giannis Antetokounmpo’s price increase over the past few weeks as he has been playing out of his mind. If Kristaps Porzingis sits, we should see almost no rim protection from the Knicks, allowing Giannis to do whatever he pleases. He makes for a great cash and tournament play on any site. Jabari Parker has been playing close to 40 minutes a game lately and that should not change tonight. Jabari makes for a great play regardless of whether or not KP sits, though it would certainly be ideal if he did not play.
With Matthew Dellavedova sidelined, Malcolm Brogdon should be a popular play once again (and for good reason!). Brogdon’s minutes appear to be quite secure and he now finds himself against the Knicks who have been bottom 3 in fantasy points allowed vs SGs this season. It might be wise to reserve Brogdon for tournaments on DK, however, he is a surefire cash play on FD where he is still extremely cheap (although designated as point guard).
Rounding out the Bucks is Greg Monroe, who has seen a notable spike in minutes the past few games. Monroe has been a monster producer per minute this year and has now seen 27+ minutes in 3 of the last 4 games, after only averaging 20 the five games prior. Monroe makes for a phenomenal play and might be my favorite play of this game, which is saying an awful lot. Give him and additional bump if KP sits, allowing Monroe to have his way down low.
It is hard to break down the Knicks’ side of the ball without Porzingis news, given how important he is to the team. Although KP said he hopes to play, Coach Hornacek said he is much closer to doubtful and that should be the more reliable source. Assuming he does not play, the rest the Knicks players all get huge boosts.
Carmelo Anthony instantly becomes a great cash and tournament play on both sites, coming with what is likely to be a high ownership percent. Derrick Rose will certainly be a popular play in the event that Porzingis sits, however, there are likely much stronger PG plays on the board. For those looking to roll the dice, Joakim Noah makes for an interesting play. Noah has stepped up his rebounding in a large way without KP and could see 25+ minutes in a nice matchup. If Porzingis does happen to play, he becomes quite interesting on DK where he has a very cheap price tag.
BULLS @ CAVALIERS -6.5 (205.5)
This might be the most interesting game of the night if we had the necessary injury news in advance but unfortunately, it may not come until after lock. In this game we are waiting on Dwayne Wade on the Bulls side, with all of the big 3 in LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love all questionable for the Cavs. Without the proper news I might try to stay away from this game given how many different ways it could play out.
Although it is unlikely that we see all 3 studs play for the Cavs, I would be looking to play whoever suited up as they will heavily relied on. Given their workloads, it would enter them into the cash lineup conversation right away. If we do not get news from the Bulls before lock then I would only be considering Jimmy Butler, who would enter near must play status if Wade sits as he carries a ~40% usage rate without Wade and Rondo on the floor.
GRIZZ @ CLIPPERS -1.5 (198.5)
Coming in at the lowest total of the slate and riddled with injuries, I do not have any interest in this game at all and plan on fading entirely.
With Blake Griffin and Chris Paul out the Clippers remain a skeleton of their usual team. The trio of Raymond Felton, Austin Rivers, and Jamal Crawford have stepped up in their absence but I think it is too risky trying to pick who will go off, especially since all three players now carry elevated price tags. Deandre Jordan has been playing better as of late, but should mostly be avoided without Chris Paul on the floor.
The Grizzlies are on the second leg of a B2B, coming off of a rather embarrassing loss to the Lakers last night. While Mike Conley and Marc Gasol are the usual targets, both are coming off of recent injuries and have the potential to have their minutes limited.
HEAT @ KINGS -8.5 (201.5)
What would normally look like a fantasy friendly matchup may have its upside limited by some tired play as both teams are on the second leg of a back to back. This is another game that should be monitored up until lock as there are injuries on both sides.
For the Heat, Goran Dragic is the only player that I would feel comfortable playing without injury news. It is important to note that Dragic is coming off an injury himself and could be limited if the game gets out of hand. Justise Winslow and Hassan Whiteside have already been ruled out tonight, while Tyler and James Johnson (both missed last night’s game) remain questionable. If James Johnson sits again, be sure to have exposure to Willie Reed who posted a massive 22 point 18 rebound game last night.
Playing without Rudy Gay, the Kings return home after a relatively easy win last night against the Nuggets. DeMarcus Cousins should be able to have his way tonight regardless of who takes the floor for the Heat. The only real question is whether or not this game will stay competitive long enough for Boogie to get his full allotment of minutes.
I would not be surprised to see the King’s run away with this game, making Boogie more of a GPP play for me. Last night we saw Darren Collison explode, he should be a plug and play tonight if Ty Lawson (questionable) is forced to miss his second game in a row.
TRAILBLAZERS @ WARRIORS -15.5 (224.5)
As is true most times that the Warriors take the court, this game has the highest total of the night at 224.5. It is scary avoiding the highest total of the night but I will be treading with extreme caution as this is all but guaranteed to be a blowout with Damian Lillard looking very doubtful to suit up.
Coming off a 40 point explosion, C.J. McCollum will be focal point for the Blazers. Up to $8600 on DK, McCollum has likely reached unplayable status for me in a game that should only last 3 quarters. McCollum is slightly lower At $8000 on FD, where he might make more sense as shooting guard is very bare. Given the likelihood that this game blows out, I would not be looking to roster any other Portland Blazers.
Similar to the Blazers, it’s tough to pay for any of the Warriors tonight given how early this game should be over. That being said, if you are trying to get exposure to the highest total then I would look to both Draymond Green and Klay Thompson who have both been incredibly consistent while carrying reasonable price tags. Power forwards have been absolutely destroying the Blazers and I fully expect that to continue for the entirety of Draymond’s time on the floor. Klay’s monster minutes and shot volume put him squarely in play as well.