Fantasy Basketball Cheat Sheet: Best, Worst NBA Matchups for December 17

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.

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Here’s what stands out on Monday’s eight-game slate:


Defense vs. Position

Point Guard Matchups

BEST
Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Clippers, 30th
Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Sacramento Kings, 27th
Milwaukee Bucks at Detroit Pistons, 26th

Damian Lillard ($8,800) carries a questionable tag after missing practice on Sunday for personal reasons, but he is expected to play on Monday. After a couple of down games, this is a good bounce-back spot to roster Lillard at a discount in tournaments. Jeff Teague ($6,100) is questionable for this game with an ankle injury. If he plays without a minutes restriction, you could consider rostering him. If Teague is out, adjust accordingly for potential value plays.

WORST
Utah Jazz at Houston Rockets, 2nd
Detroit Pistons vs. Milwaukee Bucks, 3rd
San Antonio Spurs vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 4th

Langston Galloway ($3,400) is a potential value for you here. Outside of a weird 2.5-DKFP game against the Sixers, Galloway has scored 20-plus DKFP in four of his last five outings. He remains underpriced for the minutes he’s getting with Ish Smith dealing with a groin injury.


Shooting Guard Matchups

BEST
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Portland Trail Blazers, 26th
Oklahoma City Thunder va. Chicago Bulls, 25th
Phoenix Suns at New York Knicks, 21st

With Trevor Ariza traded away, and the pieces in return not ready to suit up yet, Jamal Crawford ($3,500) could see some extended run against one of his many former teams. We can expect at least 25 minutes here, which is tough to find at this price range — particularly for someone with high scoring upside.

WORST
New York Knicks vs. Phoenix Suns, 4th
Houston Rockets vs. Utah Jazz, 5th
Memphis Grizzlies at Golden State Warriors, 6th

I don’t think you need to fade the Knicks because they’re playing the Suns, but this does set up as a game where the production should come from the frontcourt. I don’t like either of these three spots to target an SG. James Harden $10,900) is on a ridiculous two-game run, and produced a huge game in a similar spot against Memphis. You can keep riding him in tournaments and likely get low ownership.


Small Forward Matchups

BEST
Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Clippers, 29th
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Portland Trail Blazers, 27th
New York Knicks vs. Phoenix Suns, 25th

I think we can squeeze a lot of value out of these matchups at a variety of price points. Kevin Knox ($5,700) is finally becoming the focal point of the Knicks’ offense, playing at least 33 minutes in each of his last four outings — averaging 36 DKFP during that span. Al-Farouq Aminu ($4,700) has a solid matchup and is priced very fairly. He has strong tournament upside with 30-plus DKFP in five of his last eight contests. On the other side of the matchup, Tobias Harris ($7,200) and Danilo Gallinari ($6,600) bring high-scoring upside into this one.

WORST
Memphis Grizzlies at Golden State Warriors, 6th
Houston Rockets vs. Utah Jazz, 7th
Utah Jazz at Houston Rockets, 8th

SF is a position that offers some of the best value on this slate, and these poor matchups don’t highlight any of them. These spots are all fades for me with other places to find significantly stronger plays.


Power Forward Matchups

BEST
San Antonio Spurs vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 30th
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Chicago Bulls, 29th
Phoenix Suns at New York Knicks, 28th

LaMarcus Aldridge ($8,000) broke out of a slump on Saturday, going for 49 DKFP against the Bulls. He’s in a decent spot against the 76ers, but I’d prefer paying down at PF with all the value on the board. I’ll touch on more of these plays in the quick hits, but Richaun Holmes ($4,000) is one for consideration — averaging 22 DKFP over his last six.

WORST
Houston Rockets vs. Utah Jazz, 1st
Memphis Grizzlies at Golden State Warriors, 3rd
Golden State Warriors vs. Memphis Grizzlies, 4th

Draymond Green ($6,700) had his best fantasy outing since Nov. 2 when he put together 35.5 DKFP on Friday in Sacramento, his third game back from injury. He was $8,100 prior to his injury, so there’s some value upside here if you want to chase him in tournaments. Otherwise these matchups are similar to SF. No reason to target here.


Center Matchups

BEST
Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Clippers, 29th
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Chicago Bulls, 28th
New York Knicks vs. Phoenix Suns, 27th

Enes Kanter ($6,700) sets up in a great spot here, coming off two 38-DKFP games in his last three games, both in difficult matchups. Now he gets a break against a terrible Phoenix defense, something Kanter should be able to take advantage of. Kanter scored 48.5 DKFP earlier this month against Brooklyn, which ranks similarly defensively against the position.

WORST
Utah Jazz at Houston Rockets, 3rd
Detroit Pistons vs. Milwaukee Bucks, 5th
Philadelphia 76ers at San Antonio Spurs, 7th

I don’t think Joel Embiid ($10,600) needs to be considered a fade here, as the Spurs have been pretty soft defensively as a team this season. Jimmy Butler’s ($7,400) return on Sunday capped Embiid’s upside, so with Butler expected to play again on Monday on the second night of a back-to-back, there are better plays than Embiid. But in tournaments I think you’re safe to target here.


Lineup Quick Hits

Superstar Worth Paying For

Russell Westbrook, OKC vs. CHI ($11,200) — Westbrook’s only averaging around 50 DKFP over his last four games, but torched the Bulls for 73.25 DKFP earlier this month. That game was a 114-112 win for Chicago, so look for the Thunder to be out for revenge in this one.

Save The Big Bucks By Drafting …

Nemanja Bjelica, SAC at MIN ($4,400) — Bjelica is my favorite value on the slate, averaging 36.2 DKFP over his last three games. One of those outings was 41.25 DKFP against the Minnesota team he’ll see tonight, which he averages 36 DKFP against. Marvin Bagley (knee) is out for the Kings, which led to 35 minutes for Bjelica on Sunday against Dallas.

Next Man Up

Chicago Bulls — With Zach LaVine (ankle) sitting for the Bulls, there’s a lot of production to go around for the rest of the first unit. It’s a difficult matchup against OKC, but Lauri Markkanen ($6,500) and Kris Dunn ($6,200) stand out as the guys to see the biggest bump in usage. Both of these guys went for over 40 DKFP on Saturday against the Spurs with LaVine sidelined.

*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.