Fantasy Basketball Cheat Sheet: Best, Worst Matchups for January 3

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 Thursday’s three-game slate:
 

Defense vs. Position

Point Guard Matchups

BEST
Denver Nuggets at Sacramento Kings, 29th
Sacramento Kings vs Denver Nuggets, 21st
Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors, 10th
 
James Harden ($11,000) just keeps pouring it on with Chris Paul (hamstring) out of the lineup, and took things to another level when Eric Gordon (knee) missed Houston’s last game. Harden extended his streak of games with 40 or more real points to four games on New Year’s Eve, and the 82 DKFP were his fourth game with 70-plus DKFP in his last 10. He’s the place to start your lineups on this short slate.

WORST

San Antonio Spurs vs. Toronto Raptors, 6th
Golden State Warriors vs. Houston Rockets, 7th
Toronto Raptors at San Antonio Spurs, 8th

The Spurs provide a couple of decent value options given the lack of targets on the slate, but we’ll be touching on them later. Stephen Curry ($9,500) could make for a low-owned GPP play with the other players on this slate. Harden should be a very popular play, while the revenge narratives flying around in San Antonio is sure to get a lot of attention.



Shooting Guard Matchups

BEST
 
Toronto Raptors at San Antonio Spurs, 15th
San Antonio Spurs vs. Toronto Raptors, 13th
Denver Nuggets at Sacramento Kings, 11th
 
Obviously, DeMar DeRozan ($7,800) has made it clear he intended on being in Toronto long-term and was blindsided by the offseason trade that shipped him to San Antonio. DeRozan enters Thursday’s game averaging 47 DKFP over his last five games, and he has plenty of motivation to show his old team what it moved on from. Unlike some “revenge narratives” that we try to force from time-to-time, there’s real bad blood here.

WORST
 
Sacramento Kings vs. Denver Nuggets, 1st
Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors, 3rd
Golden State Warriors vs. Houston Rockets, 9th
 
Aside from being able to roster Harden at either guard position, the only other play I’d consider here would be Klay Thompson ($6,100). After a really poor start to the season overall, Klay has put out 36 and 42 DKFP outings in two of his last three — playing just 25 minutes in the other game, which was a blowout victory over the Suns.



Small Forward Matchups

BEST
 
Denver Nuggets at Sacramento Kings, 24th
Toronto Raptors at San Antonio Spurs, 23rd
Sacramento Kings vs. Denver Nuggets, 19th
 
The only thing missing from DeRozan’s revenge motivation on this slate is that he won’t be playing in the previous city that he spent his entire NBA career. Kawhi Leonard ($8,800) has that narrative. Kawhi did force his way out of town, so the disdain for the organization might not be there, but as un-human as he can come off at times, anyone would like to have a good game in this spot. The matchup actually sets up well for him, so expect a discounted Leonard to be extremely popular in his return to his former stomping grounds.

WORST
 
Golden State Warriors vs. Houston Rockets, 8th
San Antonio Spurs vs. Toronto Raptors, 11th
Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors, 14th
 
Much like Curry, Kevin Durant ($9,200) is as sneaky a play as he can be on this slate. Harden, Leonard and DeRozan are obvious plays, and it’d be tough to fit that trio. The Warriors will be overlooked, and are well worth stacking.



Power Forward Matchups

BEST
 
San Antonio Spurs vs. Toronto Raptors, 22nd
Denver Nuggets at Sacramento Kings, 16th
Sacramento Kings vs. Dallas Mavericks, 10th
 
LaMarcus Aldridge ($7,400) has been heating up over the last few games, but his salary is still in the same ballpark it had been. Averaging over 50 DKFP in his last three contests, LMA makes for a great play on this slate. Davis Bertans ($3,800) would make for strong value assuming Rudy Gay (wrist) remains sidelined, as expected.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Gay (wrist) has been upgraded to probable for tonight’s game.

WORST
 
Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors, 2nd
Golden State Warriors vs. Houston Rockets, 5th
Toronto Raptors at Sacramento Kings, 6th
 
Add Draymond Green’s ($5,900) name to the Golden State stack if you’re going to go that route in a tournament. His salary is extremely affordable, and a bounce-back performance is due sometime soon.



Center Matchups

BEST

Denver Nuggets at Sacramento Kings, 26th
San Antonio Spurs vs. Toronto Raptors, 20th
Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors, 17th

Clint Capela ($6,900) is down $1,100 in a span of just two games, but he has exceeded value for his current price tag in eight of the last 10 games. He’s well worth a look with the discount we’re getting here. Nikola Jokic ($9,800) could be another good tournament play. His price pivots nicely off Kawhi, and The Joker is coming off a 70-DKFP performance with a tremendous matchup on this slate.

WORST
 
Sacramento Kings vs. Denver Nuggets, 3rd
Golden State Warriors vs. Houston Rockets, 7th
Toronto Raptors at San Antonio Spurs, 8th
 
I think targeting the centers in the better matchups makes more sense on this slate, but the Raptors have been playing well enough to give us some mid-priced considerations. Pascal Siakam ($6,200) and Serge Ibaka ($5,600) are both in play against the Spurs.



 

Lineup Quick Hits

Superstar Worth Paying For

James Harden ($11,000) — While the storylines are all going to be about the Raptors visiting San Antonio, that’s the second place you want to look to target on this slate. The fantasy storyline is all about the insane numbers Harden’s been putting up. You can’t find this type of safety anywhere else for your lineup — Paul and Gordon ruled out, Harden attempting nearly 20 free throws per game over his last three.

Save The Big Bucks By Drafting …

Paul Millsap ($5,200) — Millsap has been back in the rotation with the Nuggets for two games, returning from an eight-game absence due to a broken toe. He struggled in just 14 minutes in the first game, but he played a dominant 22 minutes against the Knicks on New Year’s Day — a 16-9-2 line for 34.25 DKFP.

Next Man Up

Bryn Forbes ($4,400) — Nobody necessarily got injured to thrust Forbes into the spotlight, but he’s now played 30-plus minutes in four straight games and scored 20-plus DKFP in seven straight. If those minutes continue, expect his production to do the same, regardless of matchup.

*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.