Tuesday’s main slate rings in the New Year with a limited four-game slate that has some interesting matchups and plenty of fantasy options to consider. The Raptors host the Cavs in the early game and three Western Conference matchups close out the year with the Nuggets visiting the Rockets, the Spurs hosting the Warriors, and the Mavericks taking on the Thunder in OKC. Here’s your cheat sheet by position:
Target worth paying up for: Russell Westbrook ($9,600) vs. DEN (4th)Westbrook hasn’t had to play an entire game this season without James Harden ($10,500; toe), but he has a 32.4% usage rate with Harden on the floor that spikes to 41.1% when Harden is not on the floor. If The Beard is out or limited against the Nuggets, Westbrook will need to step up and carry the load for a Rockets’ team dealing with multiple injuries to its starters. He has been on a very nice roll lately, even working with Harden, posting over 45 DKFP in six straight averaging 30.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 6.2 assists, 1.0 steals and 52.7 DKFP. He missed Sunday’s game but just for rest and should be ready to return and carry the load against the Nuggets. If Harden is out, Westbrook becomes almost must-own due to his high ceiling, but he’s worth a look based on his recent run even if Harden is able to return with him to the lineup.
Best value: Alec Burks ($5,300) at SA (13th)Burks could return to the starting lineup for the Warriors, who won’t have D’Angelo Russell (illness). Burks has been coming off the bench for most of the month, but in his four starts, he has been extremely productive. The last two times he has joined the starting five he produced 35.25 DKFP against the Jazz and 48.5 DKFP against the Timberwolves. He had 25 points, eight assists, three steals and two rebounds in that game against Minnesota and brings that kind of upside to this matchup with the Spurs.
Positional StrategyEvery position on the board for this slate will be dramatically impacted by injury news throughout the day. Luka Doncic ($11,600; wrist, back), Harden and Dennis Schroder ($6,500; ankle) are all questionable and whether they play of not will dramatically impact usage and value for each of their teams. Chris Paul ($7,200) would likely see more work if Schroder is out, giving him some nice upside as a mid-range play, and Jalen Brunson ($3,600) would instantly be a must-own if Doncic sits out. Paying all the way up for Westbrook makes sense if you can, but everything will need to stay fluid until we get more injury details.
Target worth paying up for: DeMar DeRozan ($7,100) vs. GS (22nd)DeRozan has scored over 20 points in four straight games averaging 40.1 DKFP per contest. He has been extremely efficient over that stretch shooting a blistering 40-for-56 (71.4%) from the field and adding in good non-scoring numbers. The Spurs are one of the few teams who look like they’ll have their normal rotation available, so going with their key piece should add nice stability and upside in a favorable matchup with Golden State.
Best value: Delon Wright ($4,600) at OKC (22nd)Wright had a slow start to his first season in Dallas, struggling to adjust to the new system and also dealing with a few injuries. He has settled in lately, though, and could be in for a bigger role since Tim Hardaway Jr. ($5,200; hamstring, questionable) is also battling an injury along with Doncic. Wright has had double-digit points along with at least three assists, three rebounds and three steals in each of those games resulting in at least 29.0 DKFP in each game despite only playing around 20 minutes. If he gets more time, he has a very high ceiling and could flourish if he steps in next to Doncic in place of Hardaway.
Positional StrategyLike PG, SG will be radically impacted by injuries. If Harden and Doncic play, there will still some solid mid-range options in Jamal Murray ($6,800) and Damion Lee ($6,200). Eric Gordon ($4,700), Ben McLemore ($4,400), Glenn Robinson III ($4,400) and Brunson could all end up being key value targets depending on who is ultimately ruled in or out leading up to tipoff.
Target worth paying up for: Will Barton ($6,400) at HOU (30th)There aren’t a lot of elite options in play at SF, but Barton brings some great upside and good consistency. He has at least 31 DKFP in eight of his past 11 games, producing 15.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.5 steals and 35.0 DKFP. He typically logs over 30 minutes a night and usually scores about 20 points to go with good non-scoring production. Houston’s defense has been the best matchup in the NBA for SF this season, so Barton is in a spot to thrive as a mid-range play.
Best value: Patrick McCaw ($4,200) vs. CLE (25th)McCaw has moved into the Raptors’ starting lineup with Norman Powell (shoulder) out, and he has logged big minutes over the past six contests. He has over 18 DKFP in four of those six games and posted 42.75 DKFP and 23.0 DKFP in his most recent two outings. Against the Celtics on Saturday, he finished with 18 points, eight assists and seven rebounds in his best showing of the season and followed that with a solid game Sunday against the Thunder. With a very favorable matchup against the Cavs, McCaw should be able to keep racking up fantasy points.
Positional StrategySF is thin on elite options but has plenty of value potential based on how the injuries on the slate shake out. There are also plenty of good plays around $5K-$6K, so look to the lower section of the mid-range if you can’t get up to Barton.
Target worth paying up for: Kristaps Porzingis ($7,800) at OKC (14th)In the four games Doncic missed earlier this month, Pozingis averaged 22.5 points, 13.8 rebounds, 2.8 blocks and 50.9 DKFP. If Doncic is out or limited, Porzingis will become the focus of the Mavericks’ offense and have a very high ceiling. He had a quiet game against the Lakers in his most recent game but should be able to bounce back in Oklahoma City. The Thunder rank 30th against opposing Centers, so it’s a matchup Porzingis should be able to smash.
Best value: Jerami Grant ($4,600) at HOU (27th)With Paul Millsap (quad) already ruled out, Grant should be set for another heavy workload. He started and played 33 minutes Sunday against the Sacramento Kings on Sunday and finished with 18 points and 26.5 DKFP. He has a high ceiling and multiple ways to contribute since he typically picks up good blocks and boards along with his potential to go off as a scorer. He has double-digit points in each of his past four games.
Positional StrategyLaMarcus Aldridge ($7,600), Kevin Love ($7,500) and Serge Ibaka ($7,300) all have elite upside and make good pivots if Porzingis isn’t going to be the focal point in Dallas. If you end up going super-cheap at the spot, Darius Bazley ($4,200) could get more work if Danilo Gallinari ($6,300; ankle, questionable) stays sidelined. Eric Paschall ($3,400) is also probable and brings great upside if he’s ready to take back on his full workload.
Target worth paying up for: Kevin Love ($7,500) at TOR (25th)Love missed Saturday’s game with a hip contusion but is not on the injury report for this matchup. When he has played recently, he has put up very good numbers with over 40 DKFP in four straight while averaging 21.8 points, 10.5 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 45.0 DKFP. If Love is a full go, he should get another game to showcase his value for a potential trade suitor.
Best value: Marquese Chriss ($4,100) at SA (28th)With Willie Cauley-Stein (illness) out, Chriss could get more run than usual against the Spurs and has shown this season that he can be a nice fantasy option when given the chance. He’s coming off a 16-point performance on Sunday in which he had 29.25 DKFP in only 17 minutes. The last two times he played over 20 minutes, he had 42.75 DKFP against the Jazz and 36.5 DKFP against the Knicks.
Positional StrategyNikola Jokic ($9,300) could be a safe way to invest some of the salary you saved in other spots, especially if Capela is ruled out, but he has been boom-or-bust for much of the season. His past two results exemplify this since he had 65.5 DKFP followed by just 33.0 DKFP. Ibaka, Tristan Thompson ($6,700) and Steven Adams ($5,700) are solid mid-range options as well.
Key news to monitor on DK Live:
QUESTIONABLEClint Caplea (heel)
James Harden (toe)
Luka Doncic (wrist, back)
Tim Hardaway Jr. (hamstring)
Danilo Gallinari (ankle)
Dennis Schroder (ankle)
PROBABLEGary Harris (shin)
Eric Paschall (hip)
OUTMarc Gasol (hamstring)
Norman Powell (shoulder)
Pascal Siakam (groin)
Paul Millsap (knee)
D’Angelo Russell (shoulder)
Kevon Looney (abdominal)
Willie Cauley-Stein (illness)
Hamidou Diallo (elbow)
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is z.thompson) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.