The NBA gets another busy week off to a strong start with a seven-game fantasy basketball slate this Monday. The Pacers and Sixers meet in Indiana in the early games as the only matchup between two teams in playoff position, but we do get an intriguing late game as well since the Cavs are visiting LeBron James ($9,500; illness, probable) and the Lakers. Even though there aren’t many matchups between top-tier teams, there are plenty of good options to consider as you build your fantasy roster.
If you find yourself short of salary as you fill your final spot or two, check out these four options available for under $4K this Monday. They should be able to offer some solid production while allowing you extra salary to pay up in other places.
VALUE OPTIONS TO CONSIDER
PG RAJON RONDO, LAL vs. CLE, $3,900While it looks like James will return from his one-game absence and possibly even be joined by Anthony Davis ($9,400; glute, questionable), Rondo still has too much upside to pass on for under $4K. He stepped up with a throwback game while Davis and James were sidelined Saturday with 21 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists and 51 DKFP in 33 minutes against the Thunder.
Even before that, though, he was starting to show signs of rounding into good form. He had 19.75 DKFP in his previous game against the Mavericks with 10 points, five boards and three assists in 24 minutes, and he had double-digit assists on his wah to 26.25 DKFP in 23 minutes against the Knicks in the game prior to that. Rondo is questionable for this contest with a strained finger, but he sustained that injury in the first half and was still able to complete his big game Saturday. The Cavaliers have been awful against PGs all season and should be a good matchup for Rondo to continue working his way into a larger role for the Lakers. He probably won’t get the usage he enjoyed Saturday but still makes sense.
PF/C CODY ZELLER, CHA at POR, $3,800Zeller’s playing time has been up and down over the past month or so since he returned to the bench. He has only averaged 20.4 minutes over those 11 games but still has chipped in 11 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists. He did get a bunch of extra run on Sunday in his most recent game since Bismack Biyombo ($4,300) was dealing with an injured nose. Zeller responded with 15 points, eight rebounds and five assists for 34.0 DKFP in 30 minutes.
If Biyombo is out or limited, Zeller will become a must-start, but he’s worth a look even if Biyombo is a go since he gets a great matchup against the Trail Blazers. Portland has been bad defensively against opposing big men all season. Even in his reduced role, Zeller has been very consistent with at least 10 points in seven of his past eight games and over 19 DKFP in seven of his past nine. Unless Biyombo is out, his ceiling is somewhat capped by his role, but he is unlikely to totally bust on you, making him a solid big-man option to consider at this price.
PF/C CHRISTIAN WOOD, DET vs. NO, $3,700If you’re looking for upside and can sacrifice some consistency, Wood is an option to consider in the middle, as well. He continues to produce monster games when given expanded minutes, but he also has a tendency to disappear from coach Dwane Casey’s rotation at times. He came through with 17 points, 14 boards and 47.5 DKFP on Saturday against the Bulls in his most recent game but only had 7.5 DKFP in the preceding matchup against the Cavs, showing how volatile his production can be.
Wood gets a matchup against his former team on Monday night as the Pelicans visit the Motor City. He had 16 DKFP in 15 minutes against them earlier this season but could get more run and production if things go his way in this meeting. He has put up at least 20 DKFP in five of his past seven games and should keep getting work with Blake Griffin (knee) out. Wood and Sekou Doumbouya ($4,900) could be the frontcourt of the future if Andre Drummond ($10,300) is traded as rumored, so the Pistons should continue to get a long look at Wood in the coming months.
PG/SG DANTÉ EXUM, CLE at LAL, $3,400When we last saw Exum, he was going off for a career-high 28 points in 24 minutes against the Timberwolves on his way to an impressive 37.25 DKFP just over a week ago. Since that game, Exum has been sidelined by an unfortunately-timed illness and forced to miss three games. He is considered probable for this game against the Lakers, though, and will try to pick up where he left off.
Before getting sick, he has appeared in six games for Cleveland since being traded for Jordan Clarkson. In those six games, he averaged 10.3 points, 2.0 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 16.4 DKFP. However, he could be returning to a bigger role since Kevin Porter Jr. (knee) is out for a while, leaving Exum as the top volume scorer in the second unit. He’s very inexpensive but comes with the good upside he showed before getting sick.
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