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 – Houston Rockets vs. Cleveland Cavaliers – If you’re a regular reader of the Cheat Sheet, you know that the Cavs have been the worst defense vs. all three wing positions on many slates. Spoiler alert — that’s the case again today. James Harden ($10,700) comes at a fair price tag after dominating Utah for 83.5 DKFP on Sunday. It’s impossible to sit down and build a lineup without considering Harden right off the top.
WORST – Toronto Raptors vs. New Orleans Pelicans – The Pelicans rank eighth in the NBA vs. PGs, which is tops on this slate. That gives us a good reason to fade the already slumping/inconsistent Kyle Lowry ($7,000). Averaging just 12.4 actual points per game this season, Lowry just hasn’t been himself, and I want no part of him with the need for at least 35 DKFP from this spot.
Shooting Guard Matchups
BEST – Houston Rockets vs. Cleveland Cavaliers – At the SG spot we’ve got Eric Gordon ($6,500) for Houston. He’s obviously in a terrific spot like the rest of the Houston wings, but the only thing to scare you away here is the price. He might be a little too expensive for me, but if he fits into my lineup, I have a lot of interest.
WORST – Denver Nuggets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder — OKC tops the SG defense on the slate at fifth overall. This takes Gary Harris ($5,300) off the radar for me, as he’s been inconsistent and is in a bad spot after performing well in a great matchup vs. the Nets. Will Barton ($5,700) is the guy that remains in consideration for me after a couple big games, but beware the pace will slow down in this one.
Small Forward Matchups
BEST – Houston Rockets vs. Cleveland Cavaliers — And finally we have Trevor Ariza ($4,700), who makes for a great value play against this incapable Cavs D. Going back to Tuesday when Cleveland played the Bucks, the trio of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Malcolm Brogdon all exceeded value and scored more than 150 DKFP combined. You can roll with all three of these Houston wings in your lineup on Thursday with confidence. A cheaper alternative is P.J. Tucker ($3,700), but I prefer Ariza.
WORST – Sacramento Kings vs. Philadelphia 76ers — Philly brings the top defense vs. both forward spots on this slate, and the Kings don’t boast much up front. The young guard duo they have always intrigues me, but SFs like Bogdan Bogdanovic ($4,000) and Justin Jackson ($3,200) aren’t in play for me in this matchup.
Power Forward Matchups
BEST – Los Angeles Lakers vs. Washington Wizards — The Wizards rank 27th against PFs this season, which gives the Lakers some value, even on the second night of a back-to-back. Kyle Kuzma ($6,200) actually sees his salary rise after a terrible game in Boston on Wednesday, but he could be a nice bounce-back candidate to roster in GPPs. My eyes are drawn to Julius Randle ($4,800), though. The Lakers don’t seem to want to take the training wheels off, but even in limited minutes, Randle is just too productive. In just 21 minutes on Wednesday, he produced a double-double and dropped 37 DKFP. This is a very good spot for him just a night later, and he should still be fresh.
WORST – Sacramento Kings vs. Philadelphia 76ers — Philly’s been tremendous against PFs, but Zach Randolph ($5,200) has been doing his thing lately. Exceeding value in three straight, I can’t blame you if you want to give him a try on Thursday, but my focus will be more on the Cleveland vs. Houston matchup. Any other Kings PF is an easy fade.
BEST – Philadelphia 76ers vs. Sacramento Kings — The Kings rank 28th vs. the center position, and they’ll have their hands full against a fresh Joel Embiid ($8,000) after he had a night of rest on Tuesday. Embiid is averaging 48.3 DKFP in his last three outings and is yet to score less than 38 DKFP in a contest this season.
WORST – Houston Rockets vs. Cleveland Cavaliers — The Cavs are actually good at something, and that’s been defending centers, where they rank third in the league. That puts Clint Capela ($6,400) in a tough spot on paper, but I understand the appeal of playing him. Capela makes for more of a GPP play because I like so many other Rockets better, but he’s certainly in consideration.
Lineup Quick Hits
Superstar Worth Paying For
James Harden ($10,700) — Don’t overthink it. Harden has a dream matchup at a low salary coming off a scorching hot game. He’ll likely be popular, but Harden is so hard to avoid in this matchup.
Save Big Bucks by Drafting
Julius Randle ($4,800)/Trevor Ariza ($4,700) — Both of these guys popped up in matchups, so I don’t need to explain to you why they’re in good spots. These are the types of guys you need to get into lineups to afford the big name players tonight. Both are under $5K with 30+ DKFP upside, which is ideal.
Next Man Up
Download DK Live – No big names were supposed to be out early in the day on Wednesday, and by the time lineups locked we got news that Kevin Durant, Kristaps Porzingis and Al Horford all were sidelined. Make sure you stay glued to DK Live leading up to this slate. News could break.
*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.