Fantasy Basketball Cheat Sheet: Best, Worst Matchups for December 18

The NBA Cheat Sheet is an article that will come your way five days a week all season with the goal of breaking down the best and worst matchups/spots at each position.
 
It’s crucial to have all the latest lineup and injury news when constructing your fantasy basketball lineups. Make sure you’re following @DKLive for every update, and also feel free to hit me up on Twitter with any comments or questions — @JulianEdlow.
 
Here’s what stands out on Tuesday’s four-game slate:
 

Defense vs. Position

Point Guard Matchups

BEST
 
Los Angeles Lakers at Brooklyn Nets, 29th
Atlanta Hawks vs. Washington Wizards, 28th
Dallas Mavericks at Denver Nuggets, 25th
 
Despite some really good matchups in the backcourt on this slate, the better value is in the frontcourt. Trae Young ($6,400) makes for a potential tournament play here given his upside. Both teams are terrible defensively, so this could make for a GPP game stack on a short slate. I much prefer finding a way to pay for John Wall ($9,800) on the other side. Wall comes in averaging 62.5 DKFP in his past three games.

WORST
 
Cleveland Cavaliers at Indiana Pacers, 1st
Brooklyn Nets vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 9th
Denver Nuggets vs. Dallas Mavericks, 15th

The injured Nuggets are one of the best places to find value on this slate. Given how few poor guard matchups we have here, you can see in the numbers above this is more of an average matchup for the position. Monte Morris ($4,700) has been a great source of value lately, averaging close to 30 minutes and more than 30 DKFP over his past five outings. Jamal Murray ($6,600) can be a hit-or-miss play but has much more opportunity with Denver’s first unit so thin right now.



 

Shooting Guard Matchups

BEST
 
Washington Wizards at Atlanta Hawks, 30th
Denver Nuggets vs. Dallas Mavericks, 29th
Brooklyn Nets vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 28th 
 
Morris and Murray can both slot in at both guard positions, helping your flexibility to roster them with Wall, or stack them both together. Bradley Beal ($8,500) could be a contrarian play as far as a four-game slate goes. Wall’s getting all the headlines with his play right now, but Beal’s been extremely consistent — 40-plus DKFP in six of his past seven (two of them with 50-plus).

WORST
 
Los Angeles Lakers at Brooklyn Nets, 2nd
Dallas Mavericks at Denver Nuggets, 18th
Atlanta Hawks vs. Washington Wizards, 20th
 
With Taurean Prince’s 28 minutes per game on the bench, there’s always going to be a little bit of value on the perimeter for the Hawks. Obviously, the matchup is actually a favorable one for the Hawks, with the Lakers owning the only truly poor SG matchup on the slate. Both Kent Bazemore ($6,300) and Kevin Huerter ($4,300) are worth considering.



 

Small Forward Matchups

BEST
 
Denver Nuggets vs. Dallas Mavericks, 29th
Washington Wizards at Atlanta Hawks, 26th
Brooklyn Nets vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 21st
 
You can add Torrey Craig ($3,600) to the list of value plays on Denver, as he’s getting significant run at a huge discount right now. Craig’s played 25 minutes in four consecutive games but seen his minutes jump even more to 37 per game in his past two. Averaging more than 25 DKFP in his past two, Craig should be one of the safest values on the slate given how many minutes we can project him for. Jeff Green ($4,800) is another one of the slate’s top values with Washington banged up, but the status of Trevor Ariza ($4,600) potentially could hurt Green. Ariza was acquired by the Wizards via trade over the weekend and could make his team debut. That said, Green’s averaging 30.5 minutes and 26.6 DKFP in his past five games.

WORST
 
Cleveland Cavaliers at Indiana Pacers, 1st
Atlanta Hawks vs. Washington Wizards, 2nd
Los Angeles Lakers at Brooklyn Nets, 11th
 
Kyle Kuzma ($7,500) has failed to reach value in his past two games, but I don’t mind rostering him with his salary on the decline. Prior to his past two outings, Kuzma was on a seven-game streak of 40 or more DKFP. LeBron James ($10,600) is someone I’ll touch on more later, but I think it’s safe to ignore that last dud in his game log. As for the Hawks, Bazemore and Huerter are both SG/SF eligible, leaving some flexibility there.



 

Power Forward Matchups

BEST
 
Washington Wizards at Atlanta Hawks, 28th
Atlanta Hawks vs. Washington Wizards, 21st
Los Angeles Lakers at Brooklyn Nets, 14th
 
Green, Kuzma and James are all players we can roster at both forward spots, but PF/C is where I think we can find the best value on Atlanta. John Collins ($7,900) and Dewayne Dedmon ($5,600) have been tremendous lately, and Washington doesn’t have the size to stop both of them. Collins consistently has been flirting with 40-plus DKFP since returning from injury, while Dedmon had his game of the year Sunday against the Nets. Brooklyn is horrible against bigs, but Washington’s frontcourt is run down enough to allow similar production to the 51.5 DKFP we saw Sunday.

WORST
 
Indiana Pacers vs. Cleveland Cavaliers, 2nd
Brooklyn Nets vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 8th
Denver Nuggets vs. Dallas Mavericks, 10th
 
Mason Plumlee ($5,400) and Juancho Hernangomez ($4,700) are both inconsistent plays, but they carry upside with the minutes they’re getting. Hernangomez is questionable with an abdominal strain, so if he sits, all these Denver values would carry even more value.



 

Center Matchups

BEST
 
Los Angeles Lakers at Brooklyn Nets, 30th
Brooklyn Nets vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 26th
Washington Wizards at Atlanta Hawks, 23rd

The Hawks’ two PF/C plays carry the most upside, but there’s plenty more value across the board. JaVale McGee $4,700) managed 34 DKFP in just 18 minutes on Saturday, but sat out Sunday with an illness. If he plays, he’s in a position to dominate the Nets. Regardless of McGee’s status, Jarrett Allen ($5,500) is in a strong spot on the opposite end of the matchup. Jarrett’s game log is all over the place, but he should earn some in this matchup given the Lakers’ size, which raises his ceiling. There likely will be more popular plays on the Wizards than Markieff Morris ($5,100), but I think Morris has the same upside as the rest of the frontcourt. Morris isn’t on the injury report after exiting Sunday’s game with a neck injury, so he should see a bulk on minutes at center with how undersized Washington continues to play.

Editor’s note: JaVale McGee (illness) has been ruled out for tonight’s game.

WORST
 
Dallas Mavericks at Denver Nuggets, 1st
Indiana Pacers vs. Cleveland Cavaliers, 2nd
Cleveland Cavaliers at Indiana Pacers, 4th
 
Larry Nance Jr. ($6,000) is the only play worth mentioning here, but he remains a great value with Cleveland’s bigs sidelined. His four-game streak of 30-plus DKFP was snapped on Sunday against Philly, but even with a difficult matchup here, Nance’s role is extremely safe. He remains about $1,000 underpriced.



 

Lineup Quick Hits

Superstar Worth Paying For

LeBron James ($10,600)— There aren’t that many options to pay up for on this slate, so if I’m playing just one, I’ll pay all the way up for James. We finally got a dud from the Lakers across the board Sunday, the second game of an East Coast back-to-back. This is a bounce-back spot in Brooklyn with LBJ’s salary taking a slight dip. You shouldn’t have a problem fitting another stud alongside LeBron, which makes the decision a little easier to eat the chalk here.

Save The Big Bucks By Drafting …

Jeff Green ($4,800) —Even if Ariza does play, he likely will slide into a similar role to what Kelly Oubre Jr. had when he was with the team. It’s Otto Porter Jr.’s injury that really boosts Green’s value. You’re getting 30-40 DKFP upside here in a terrific matchup.

Next Man Up

Denver Nuggets — I’ve thrown practically every healthy Nuggets name at you in this article, so with their injury situation, they’re the top place to find value on this slate. You can also pay up for Nikola Jokic ($9,700), who’s been called upon a bit more in recent games.



 
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jedlow) 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.