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 Thursday’s five-game slate:


Point Guard Matchups

Charlotte Hornets vs. Sacramento Kings, 29th
Toronto Raptors vs. Phoenix Suns, 26th
Sacramento Kings at Charlotte Hornets, 20th

With Kyle Lowry out for rest purposes, Fred VanVleet ($5,400) is one of the stronger plays on the slate. He is likely to start at point guard for Toronto and he is averaging 27.84 DKFP in 16 starts this season. He also comes with a ton of security since he’s scored at least 20 DKFP in all of his starts. For GPPs, Delon Wright ($4,600) is a sensible pivot off VanVleet. Wright is a high variance play and scored a whopping zero fantasy points against the Celtics last night, but he averaged 30.63 DKFP in his two prior games.

Philadelphia 76ers at Indiana Pacers, 1st
Indiana Pacers vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 2nd
Los Angeles Lakers at Oklahoma City Thunder, 5th

The matchup between the 76ers and Pacers features two of the better defenses in the Eastern Conference, but there is still potential for some value here. Joel Embiid ($10,100) is questionable to play and Ben Simmons ($9,200) is a viable option if Embiid is out. Simmons scores 48.76 DKFP per 36 minutes with Embiid off the court. Lonzo Ball ($6,400) has stepped up recently with LeBron James (groin) out of the lineup, but he can be faded with value at the point guard position in a tough matchup against the Thunder, who are tied for first in defensive efficiency.

Shooting Guard Matchups

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 28th
Los Angeles Lakers at Oklahoma City Thunder, 23rd
Denver Nuggets vs. Chicago Bulls, 19th

Even though the Thunder are stout on defense, the one position they struggle against is shooting guards. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($4,700) moved in the starting lineup last game and is going to start again tonight. He scored 27.75 DKFP in 31 minutes last game and is a source of value again tonight. Gary Harris ($5,200) has struggled to stay healthy this season and is questionable to play tonight due to a hamstring injury. He is a viable tournament option on the off chance that he ends up starting without a minutes restriction. Malik Beasley ($4,900) should get the start if Harris out again.

Philadelphia 76ers at Indiana Pacers, 1st
Indiana Pacers vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 4th
Toronto Raptors vs. Phoenix Suns, 5th

Even though the matchup is poor from a DVP standpoint, Danny Green ($4,800) is in play tonight. The Raptors are going to have to lean on him with both Lowry and Leonard resting tonight. Green comes into tonight in good form with at least 26 DKFP in three consecutive games.

Small Forward Matchups

Charlotte Hornets vs. Sacramento Kings, 28th
Denver Nuggets vs. Chicago Bulls, 26th
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 24th

Paul George ($9,800) is one of the best options to pay up for tonight. There is cheap value at almost every position tonight, but small forward doesn’t have quite as many options as other positions. A blowout is a bit of a concern with the Thunder favored by 10 points, but George scored 53.5 DKFP when these teams met a couple of weeks ago.

Indiana Pacers vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 4th
Sacramento Kings at Charlotte Hornets, 8th
Phoenix Suns at Toronto Raptors, 17th

Nobody is a standout play from this list of teams, but the matchup for the Suns is easier than the numbers indicate since Kawhi is not playing. Kelly Oubre ($5,200) has broken out since being traded to Phoenix and is averaging 37.5 DKFP in his last four games.

Power Forward Matchups

Indiana Pacers vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 27th
Denver Nuggets vs. Chicago Bulls, 26th
Phoenix Suns at Toronto Raptors, 22nd

There are higher upside plays at power forward, but Thaddeus Young ($5,800) looks like a fairly safe play for cash games. Young needs 29 DKFP to hit 5x value, which he has done in five of his last six games. He is going to lose out on a bit of playing time with Myles Turner ($6,700) back from a shoulder injury, but Young played 28 minutes even with Turner back last game.

Toronto Raptors vs. Phoenix Suns, 3rd
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Lakers, 6th
Philadelphia 76ers at Indiana Pacers, 8th

Not only is Embiid questionable for the 76ers, but Wilson Chandler ($3,800) is also on the injury report with a respiratory infection. In recent games that Chandler missed, Jonah Bolden ($3,300) moved into the starting lineup for Philly. He is only averaging 22.5 minutes as a starter, but he is a decent per-minute producer, so he is putting up an average of 21.1 DKFP in his starts. We can ignore Bolden if Chandler plays, but Bolden is chalk if he finds himself in the starting lineup. Serge Ibaka ($6,500) is a strong play for Toronto. He leads the Raptors with a 27.4% usage rating when Lowry and Leonard are off the court.

Center Matchups

Toronto Raptors vs. Phoenix Suns, 28th
Denver Nuggets vs. Chicago Bulls, 27th
Charlotte Hornets vs. Sacramento Kings, 26th

Nikola Jokic ($10,600) should have his way with the Bulls when he is on the court, but how long will Denver need him to be on the court? The Nuggets are favored by a slate-high 13.5 points, so a blowout is a major concern. With that said, it is notable that these teams played a game decided by one point when they met earlier in the year. Jokic finished a single assist shy of recording a triple-double.

Chicago Bulls at Denver Nuggets, 3rd
Philadelphia 76ers at Indiana Pacers, 6th
Los Angeles Lakers at Oklahoma City Thunder, 8th

There is value in the Bulls’ frontcourt with Wendell Carter Jr. out due to a thumb injury. Bobby Portis ($4,600) is first in line to pick up extra minutes and production. Despite playing just 18 minutes per game, Portis averaged 22.1 DKFP over his last four games. Portis should see extended playing time tonight and he scores 1.11 DKFP per minute for the season. We only need 21 minutes for him to be expected to hit 5x value at his current per-minute production.


Superstar Worth Paying For

Devin Booker, PHO at TOR ($7,800) — The best value of the night is on the Raptors with Kawhi and Lowry out, so it makes sense to run back cheap Toronto plays with Devin Booker. Booker is a bit priced down for the matchup, but it is not all that imposing a spot with the Raptors missing their two stars.

Save The Big Bucks By Drafting …

Bobby Portis, CHI at DEN ($4,600) — Why does every player ahead of Portis on the depth chart always get injured? Last year he punched Nikola Mirotic in the face, earlier in the year Lauri Markkanen injured his elbow and now we have Wendell Carter Jr. dealing with a thumb injury. Playing in front of Bobby Portis is a curse and he is always destined to find himself in a bigger role due to injuries.

Next Man Up

Fred VanVleet, TOR vs. PHO ($5,400) VanVleet is going to be one of, if not the, highest owned players on the slate. He will take over point guard duties from Kyle Lowry in a strong matchup against the Phoenix Suns. Phoenix enters tonight ranked 28th in defensive efficiency.

I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is gehrenberg) 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.