Fantasy Basketball Cheat Sheet: Best, Worst Matchups for December 21

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 Friday’s 10-game slate:

Defense vs. Position

Point Guard Matchups

Indiana Pacers at Brooklyn Nets, 29th
Memphis Grizzlies at Sacramento Kings, 27th
Charlotte Hornets vs. Detroit Pistons, 26th
I’m not crazy about any of the plays in these spots, but Mike Conley ($7,900) stands out as the top play of the group. The Kings play at the fastest pace in the league, and while Memphis tends to try and grind games out, they’re not going to have a choice but to speed up in this one. Conley is listed as probable, so we’ll need to await official confirmation he’ll play through a sore hamstring. But he’s been battling through it in all but one game recently, and he’s scored 40-plus DKFP in three of his last four.

Brooklyn Nets vs. Indiana Pacers, 1st
Chicago Bulls vs. Orlando Magic, 4th
Boston Celtics vs. Milwaukee Bucks, 5th

I think we can find a stud and value play despite the matchups here. The Bulls and Celtics are both run down with injuries right now, leading to extra production from their stars and extra minutes for players at the end of the bench. Kyrie Irving ($8,700) is down $400 in salary after a 62 DKFP game on Wednesday — a game Boston lost and scored just 103 points in. He’s in a tremendous spot on this slate with a very close point spread against the Bucks. Shaq Harrison ($3,200) is a nice way to save some salary on the Bulls. He played 26 minutes and scored 21 DKFP in his last game, just about 7X value for his current price point.


Shooting Guard Matchups

New York Knicks vs. Atlanta Hawks, 30th
New Orleans Pelicans at Los Angeles Lakers, 29th
Los Angeles Lakers vs. New Orleans Pelicans, 26th
Both of the games featured here should be very high scoring, so I like them for fantasy purposes, but just not at the SG position, unfortunately. In the Pelicans case, they just don’t have any appealing SG plays, but this is a team we’re going to need to monitor the injury report on. New Orleans’ three best players are either questionable or doubtful for this one. The Lakers are in a very strong spot here, but the value will be taken away with the potential returns of Brandon Ingram ($5,600) and Rajon Rondo ($5,000) — both of whom practiced Thursday after lengthy injury stints. For the Knicks, salaries have just been adjusted too much in anticipation for this matchup. You could roster Tim Hardaway Jr. ($7,400) in a tournament, but he’s up $900 since his last game. On the other hand, THJ has dominated his former team for almost 100 total DKFP in two games this season.

Indiana Pacers at Brooklyn Nets, 2nd
Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics, 4th
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Utah Jazz, 6th
Eric Bledsoe ($6,700) is a potential PG/SG play to make up for a somewhat lacking position. Contrary to Hardaway, Bledsoe’s salary is down $900 despite averaging over 36 DKFP in his last five games.


Small Forward Matchups

San Antonio Spurs vs. Minnesota Timberwolves, 30th
Utah Jazz at Portland Trail Blazers, 29th
Los Angeles Lakers vs. New Orleans Hornets, 27th
DeMar DeRozan ($8,000) hasn’t reached value in five games, a span we’ve now seen his salary come down by $1,200. This makes for a great time to target a bounce-back game in tournaments with a scorer like DeRozan. Prior to his cold stretch, DeRozan had dropped 48 or more DKFP in three straight contests. As always, LeBron James ($10,900) is worthy of anchoring your lineup, regardless of which Lakers wind up returning to the lineup.

Brooklyn Nets vs. Indiana Pacers, 2nd
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Utah Jazz, 7th
Detroit Pistons at Charlotte Hornets, 8th
I almost said this spot is a full fade for all three teams because I hate typing Rodions Kurucs’ ($3,700) name so much, but I have more integrity than that. He’s flashed 20-25 DKFP upside, playing as many as 30 minutes against Washington. With the Nets injured on the perimeter right now, there’s some value to at least consider here.


Power Forward Matchups

Atlanta Hawks at New York Knicks, 29th
New York Knicks vs. Atlanta Hawks, 28th
Orlando Magic at Chicago Bulls, 26th
PF looks like the deepest position on the slate in the early going. Each of these teams has one of the top plays on the slate. John Collins ($7,800) has scored 40-plus DKFP in six of his last seven outings, flashing a 57-DKFP ceiling. Kevin Knox $6,000) is a Knick that’s at least safer to target than Hardaway. Since New York increased his role six games ago, the rookie’s averaging 37.3 minutes and 32.8 DKFP. Jonathan Isaac ($4,100) makes for a deeper value, but he has seen a bump in minutes recently. He scored 26.75 DKFP against the Bulls just eight days ago.

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Utah Jazz, 1st
Toronto Raptors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers, 3rd
Sacramento Kings vs. Memphis Grizzlies, 4th
There are too many good plays on this slate, so no need to force any plays into your lineups. All of these spots make for a full fade for me.


Center Matchups

Indiana Pacers at Brooklyn Nets, 30th
Orlando Magic at Chicago Bulls, 28th
Memphis Grizzlies at Sacramento Kings, 25th

Nikola Vucevic ($9,200) missed a game for a personal matter, but participated in practice Thursday and is already with the team in Chicago. He’s averaging more than 50 DKFP in his last two, which includes a double-double against these Bulls. Marc Gasol ($7,700) stands out as a potential GPP play, coming off over 40 DKFP in his last game and averaging about 35 DKFP in two games this season against the Kings. With the style the Kings play, there’s always a high ceiling for their opponents.

Toronto Raptors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers, 2nd
Brooklyn Nets vs. Indiana Pacers, 4th
Boston Celtics vs. Milwaukee Bucks, 6th
I mentioned all the injuries with the Celtics, and two of their most prominent ones are Al Horford (knee) and Aaron Baynes (hand). That’s going to leave a lot of minutes for both Daniel Theis ($4,000) and Robert Williams ($3,800). Theis has shown a higher ceiling when he went for over 50 DKFP against the Bulls a couple of weeks ago, but I think the rookie is in the safer spot here. In the last two games without Baynes and Horford (if you count Baynes exiting in the first quarter on Wednesday), Williams is averaging 30 DKFP in 25 minutes. There’s 10X value potential here.


Lineup Quick Hits

Superstar Worth Paying For

LeBron James ($10,900)— If Anthony Davis ($11,700) does play, he’s in a really good spot. But we don’t know yet that he will, and he’s also been brutal with his locker room visits lately. I don’t feel I can trust him right now, which probably puts him in line for a monster game. We know exactly what we’re getting in LeBron, who will be looking to take advantage of one of the league’s worst defenses and stop a two-game losing streak in a return home from a road trip.

EDITOR’S NOTE: James is a game-time decision for tonight vs. the Pelicans.

Save The Big Bucks By Drafting …

Emmanuel Mudiay ($6,200) — The Hawks are horrible on defense, play at a fast/reckless pace and Mudiay has been on an absolute tear. Playing 33.1 minutes and scoring 38.6 DKFP per game over his last five, Mudiay is one of the top plays on this slate.

Next Man Up

Follow DK Live — We’ve already been over several next man up scenarios here, so there’s plenty of value for you to capitalize on. But we also have a handful of very fantasy relevant names that remain questionable. Things will change on a slate this size, and staying up to the minute with that news is how you’ll gain your edge — make sure you follow DK Live in order to be on top of everything.

*DKFP = DraftKings Fantasy Points

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.