The purpose of the NBA Cheat Sheet is to inform you each day of the best and worst matchups at each position and to break down some fantasy basketball players in notable spots to perform. We’ll use defense vs. position statistics, and at the bottom, you’ll find some quick-hitting notes on lineup building.
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Defense vs. Position
Point Guard Matchups
BEST – Utah Jazz vs. Minnesota Timberwolves – The Timberwolves rank last in the NBA vs. PGs but draw a slower-paced matchup with the Jazz on Monday. Ricky Rubio ($7,100) has the matchup and the potential for a good game, but he’s a tough option to trust, failing to reach value in four of his last five games — three of those games he scored less than 18 DKFP. The narrative to go with Rubio here is that he gets a revenge game against the team he played his entire NBA career for prior to this season.
WORST – Orlando Magic vs. Golden State Warriors – The Magic rank fourth against PGs this season, which is tops on the slate. However, this matchup relies on just one thing — the health of Stephen Curry ($9,200). Curry is questionable with a thigh injury. If he’s out, Shaun Livingston ($3,500) likely would draw the start. He’d be a valuable spot play at this price even in the tough matchup.
Shooting Guard Matchups
BEST – New York Knicks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers – The Cavs look like they’ve been improving lately, but their perimeter defense is still the worst in the league (statistically against both SGs and SFs). This leaves the following Knicks wings all in play for me: Tim Hardaway Jr. ($6,200), Courtney Lee ($4,100) and Frank Ntilikina ($3,800).
WORST – Washington Wizards vs. Sacramento Kings — The Sacramento Kings surprisingly have been the league’s second-best team against SGs but have a matchup with a stud tonight in Bradley Beal ($7,300). Beal has topped 32 DKFP in six straight games, three times going over 47 DKFP, so it’s difficult to say he’s a must fade on this slate. With the Kings so weak up front and the poor matchup for him on the wing, he’s at least worth considering.
Small Forward Matchups
BEST – New Orleans Pelicans vs. Atlanta Hawks — Technically, the Cavs are the worst team on the slate at defending the SF position. However, I wanted to focus elsewhere in this space. The Hawks have been nearly as bad on the wing as Cleveland, so getting some value from the Pelicans wings is a viable option.
WORST – Milwaukee Bucks vs. Memphis Grizzlies — Memphis has been the league’s second-ranked team vs. SFs, and with Oklahoma City off tonight, that’s the best on the slate. The guy I’m looking to fade is Khris Middleton ($6,600), who, outside of the tough matchup, has averaged just 26 DKFP in two games with Eric Bledsoe ($6,100). The guy who is tough to fade? The Greek Freak. Giannis Antetokounmpo ($10,800) is 100% matchup-proof at this stage of his career.
Power Forward Matchups
BEST – Washington Wizards vs. Sacramento Kings — Our last two matchups are exactly the same for PF/C, so I’ll try and mix in some extra info. The Kings are just brutal against bigs, so that’s where Washington should look for an advantage — thus potentially limiting Beal’s usage. Markieff Morris ($4,800) is still underpriced, while Marcin Gortat ($5,200) has been struggling in fantastic matchups. This is a breakout spot for him, but he’s also been underperforming in similar spots lately.
WORST – Denver Nuggets vs. Portland Trail Blazers — The Nuggets draw the league’s toughest team against bigs tonight. That definitely bumps down Paul Millsap ($7,000) and Nikola Jokic ($8,400), but both have been very hot lately. Millsap is easier to fade, while Jokic’s versatility and ceiling keep him in play for me.
BEST – Atlanta Hawks vs. New Orleans Pelicans — Other places to look to target bigs are in the Hawks vs. Pelicans game. Anthony Davis ($11,000) and DeMarcus Cousins ($11,300) are both in a spot to potentially dominates, while John Collins ($4,700) of the Hawks makes for a GPP play.
WORST – Denver Nuggets vs. Portland Trail Blazers — There aren’t a ton of poor center matchups on this slate. However, the Trail Blazers have defended the position well. Like I mentioned above in the PF section, Jokic is still a tough fade given his versatility.
Lineup Quick Hits
Superstar Worth Paying For
LeBron James ($10,700) — There are a lot of great places to pay up on this slate that, hopefully, I’ve outlined for you. However, I’m going with some narrative street influence on this one with LeBron playing at MSG tonight. We all know that he likes to put on a show at the Garden, so this could be a night for him to let out some of his early season frustrations. Also, he’s averaging 54.8 DKFP this season, singlehandedly carrying the Cavaliers to this point.
Save Big Bucks by Drafting
Lou Williams ($5,600) — Sweet Lou has been getting huge minutes lately for the Clippers, averaging 37.5 over the past two games. Although he shot poorly on Saturday and scored just 23 DKFP, he showed us the upside on Friday, when he dropped 49.75 DKFP. His upside is far too much to ignore at just $5,600.
Next Man Up
Derrick Favors ($4,600) – No Rudy Gobert (leg) opens up a ton of minutes for the Jazz up front. Favors is the new starting center and got things going on the right note on Saturday, scoring 46 DKFP in 36 minutes, albeit in a matchup against the Nets. He’s far too valuable not to consider, as is Thabo Sefolosha ($3,700), who jumps into the starting lineup at forward. He played 32 minutes on Saturday, resulting in 31.75 DKFP.
*DKFP = DraftKings Fantasy Points
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