Fantasy Basketball Cheat Sheet: Best, Worst Matchups for January 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 Friday’s seven-game slate:

Defense vs. Position

Point Guard Matchups

BEST

Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Clippers, 27th
Portland Trail Blazers vs. New Orleans Pelicans, 25th
Orlando Magic vs. Brooklyn Nets, 24th

PG is actually one of the thinner positions on this slate, which is rare. I’ll probably wait to see if any better value opens up here, but these matchups give us two guys to pay up for. Damian Lillard ($8,600) has a great matchup against the Pelicans, a team that allowed 147 points to the Warriors in their last game. Lillard tagged them for 45 DKFP earlier in the season, so he’s a safe play to reach value. Stephen Curry ($10,000) feels to be worth the extra cash here, though. Steph’s been rolling lately, and he faces a poor Clippers’ defense that he scored 57.5 DKFP against in his lone matchup this year.

WORST

Brooklyn Nets at Orlando Magic, 3rd
Memphis Grizzlies at Boston Celtics, 5th
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Golden State Warriors, 6th

D’Angelo Russell ($7,300) is the lone play we can pull out of these matchups. He could make for a better point-per-dollar play than Curry and Lillard, which is attractive at a cheaper overall salary. Russell’s had some inconsistencies, but he also brings 50-plus DKFP upside.



Shooting Guard Matchups

BEST

Detroit Pistons vs. Miami Heat, 29th
Portland Trail Blazers vs. New Orleans Pelicans, 28th
New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Trail Blazers, 25th

Again, the best matchups don’t always highlight the best plays on the slate. Evan Turner ($4,300) is an option to consider for a value play here. The pace of play should play right into Turner’s game, as he dropped 35.5 DKFP against the Pelicans the first time these two teams faced off.

WORST

Cleveland Cavaliers at Utah Jazz, 1st
Minnesota Timberwolves vs. San Antonio Spurs, 5th
Orlando Magic vs. Brooklyn Nets, 6th

I’d much rather slide Russell over to SG or target someone like Andrew Wiggins ($6,000) than force someone in just because they have a better matchup. Wiggins has been seeing a ton of volume recently, yet we can get him for $1,000 less than he was priced just two games ago.



Small Forward Matchups

BEST

Portland Trail Blazers vs. New Orleans Pelicans, 30th
San Antonio Spurs at Minnesota Timberwolves, 29th
Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Clippers, 26th

In two games against the Clippers this season, Kevin Durant ($10,100) is averaging just a hair under 70 DKFP. Given the way the Warriors are scoring right now, KD has to be in consideration as one of the top studs to target on this slate.

WORST

Miami Heat at Detroit Pistons, 3rd
Detroit Pistons vs. Miami Heat, 5th
Brooklyn Nets at Orlando Magic, 7th

Josh Richardson ($5,900) would be by lone consideration here. His salary dropped after a terrible game against the Bucks, but if you scroll through his game log, Richardson’s generally good for 30-35 DKFP. This matchup is more encouraging that the numbers suggest, as Richardson scored 48 DKFP against the Pistons the only time he faced them this season. Just make sure to check @DKLive because he is missed shootaround and is listed as questionable due to an illness.



Power Forward Matchups

BEST

Detroit Pistons vs. Miami Heat, 23rd
Orlando Magic vs. Brooklyn Nets, 22nd
Miami Heat at Detroit Pistons, 21st

Blake Griffin ($8,700) and Aaron Gordon ($6,400) both set up as very strong PF plays. Griffin’s been very up-and-down lately, but his price is down $800 since he got his revenge on the Clippers. Now he faces a Miami team he’s already scored 55 DKFP against in a game this year. Gordon is a cheaper alternative, and while even less consistent, he brings a nice ceiling for his price tag. Gordon’s salary dropped $600 after he scored just 26 DKFP in his last game, but averaged over 40 DKFP in his previous three games.

WORST

Cleveland Cavaliers at Utah Jazz, 1st
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Golden State Warriors, 2nd
Boston Celtics vs. Memphis Grizzlies, 3rd

PF is one of the deepest positions on the slate, so even the poor matchups give us some potential plays. While Montezl Harrell ($7,200) and Al Horford ($6,000) both moved back and forth between PF and C, they’re both targets worth considering here. Horford’s coming off a strong game at home, he and scored 33 in this matchup in Memphis earlier in the season. Danilo Gallinari ($6,700) is another consideration given his success against the Warriors — averaging 35.5 DKFP in two games. With his salary slashed due to a poor game, we now get a discount on his in a matchup he’s thrived in.



Center Matchups

BEST

Orlando Magic vs. Brooklyn Nets, 30th
Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Clippers, 29th
Cleveland Cavaliers at Utah Jazz, 23rd

These matchups represent three crucial, yet very different targets on this slate. Nikola Vucevic ($9,400) should be one of the safest plays on the slate. He’s super consistent in general, while the Nets are consistently terrible against any talented big. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Ante Zizic ($3,700) makes for the best value on the entire slate — more on him later. Then there’s the wild card — DeMarcus Cousins ($5,500) in both his season debut and team debut for the Warriors. There are two totally separate narratives we can go on with Boogie. He’s cheap and his team will be excited to have him on the floor and get him involved. But he’s also a big man coming back from one of the toughest injuries there is to bounce back from. If you roster him, just beware his floor is probably more dangerous than his ceiling is rewarding.

WORST

Utah Jazz vs. Cleveland Cavaliers, 1st
Brooklyn Nets at Orlando Magic, 4th
San Antonio Spurs at Minnesota Timberwolves, 5th

LaMarcus Aldridge ($7,600) could be an under-the-radar target, but he feels to be in a good spot. His salary is down $700 since his last game, but prior to that, he’d been putting up some big numbers. LMA averages over 36 DKFP against the Wolves in three games this season, and that’s playing less than 30 minutes per game.



Lineup Quick Hits

Superstar Worth Paying For

Anthony Davis ($11,700) — With no James Harden on this slate, AD is the obvious choice. He’s been on a run of his own lately, scoring 72 or more DKFP in three of his last four games. Unless you’re going with one of the Warriors, AD makes a ton of sense, particularly in cash.

Save The Big Bucks By Drafting …

Aaron Gordon ($6,400) — There’s not a ton of cheap value on this slate, but plenty of mid-priced plays to consider. Of that group, I like Gordon the most. I mentioned the numbers earlier, he’s not only been playing well lately, but he faces a Brooklyn team that really struggles to defend size. With the defense focused on Vucevic, Gordon could be in for a monster game.

Next Man Up

Ante Zizic ($3,700) — Zizic has been playing very well lately, scoring 20-plus DKFP in three of his last four games — two of them with 31.5 and 32 DKFP. Now with Tristan Thompson (foot) not expected to play, we should see Zizic forced into even more minutes. At just $3,700, he’s must play in all formats.

*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.