Fantasy Basketball Cheat Sheet: Best, Worst NBA Matchups for New Year's Day

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 this New Year’s Day five-game slate:


Defense vs. Position

Point Guard Matchups

BEST
Philadelphia 76ers at Los Angeles Clippers, 30th
Portland Trail Blazers at Sacramento Kings, 29th
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Detroit Pistons, 24th

Damian Lillard ($8,700) feels underpriced given the matchup in Sacramento. Dame’s had a few rough outings lately, but the spot is very favorable for him on the road against one of the top paced teams in the NBA.

WORST

Los Angeles Clippers vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 3rd
Detroit Pistons at Milwaukee Bucks, 5th
Utah Jazz at Toronto Raptors, 6th

Ricky Rubio ($5,800) and Reggie Jackson ($4,800) don’t have the best matchups, but check in at very affordable salaries. Consider them a couple of the top values on the slate if you can’t clear out enough space for Lillard.


Shooting Guard Matchups

BEST
Sacramento Kings vs. Portland Trail Blazers, 26th
Denver Nuggets vs. New York Knicks, 19th
Philadelphia 76ers at Los Angeles Clippers, 18th

If you rostered Jimmy Butler (6,900) on the last slate he played on, you were let down big time with just 18.75 DKFP in a blowout loss to Portland. The good news is it keeps his salary extremely affordable in a huge matchup upgrade against the Clippers. Butler exceeded value against the Clippers earlier this season.

WORST
New York Knicks at Denver Nuggets, 1st
Toronto Raptors vs. Utah Jazz, 2nd
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 5th

Lou Williams’ ($6,500) scoring ability keeps him in play on any slate, and a matchup against one of his former teams isn’t a place you need to fade him. Lou Will’s been hot lately, scoring over 40 DKFP in four of his last six games. He’s a high-upside GPP play.


Small Forward Matchups

BEST
Philadelphia 76ers at Los Angeles Clippers, 28th
Sacramento Kings vs. Portland Trail Blazers, 27th
Portland Trail Blazers at Sacramento Kings, 25th

Moe Harkless ($3,700) is on track to play in this game after suffering a knee injury. He’s averaging 34 minutes and over 29 DKFP in his last two games, leaving him as one of the strongest value plays on the entire slate.

WORST
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 4th
Toronto Raptors vs. Utah Jazz, 10th
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Detroit Pistons, 11th

While I prefer the savings on Butler, Kawhi Leonard ($8,900) is in a very strong spot as well. The matchup isn’t all that terrible, but combined with two consecutive poor games, Kawhi’s salary is on a steep decline. This is the time to pounce.


Power Forward Matchups

BEST
Denver Nuggets vs. New York Knicks, 30th
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 28th
Detroit Pistons at Milwaukee Bucks, 25th

If you want to reach on a play like Blake Griffin ($8,500) on a slate like this with no standout studs, that’s a fine GPP strategy. But on the whole, there aren’t any plays you need to capitalize on in these matchups.

WORST
Toronto Raptors vs. Utah Jazz, 1st
New York Knicks at Denver Nuggets, 9th
Sacramento Kings vs. Portland Trail Blazers, 11th

Pascal Siakam ($6,100) and Serge Ibaka ($6,000) both bring 30-40 DKFP upside, even in a matchup against Utah. Toronto will need their size against Utah’s frontcourt, so these guys could also see more minutes.


Center Matchups

BEST
Philadelphia 76ers at Los Angeles Clippers, 27th
Portland Trail Blazers at Sacramento Kings, 25th
Toronto Raptors vs. Utah Jazz, 24th

Jusuf Nurkic ($7,500) checks in at an affordable salary, and has been rolling of late. Nurk has scored 47 or more DKFP in two of his last three, and is averaging over 37 DKFP in his last six games. The pace against the Kings should help Nurk have a big game.

WORST
New York Knicks at Denver Nuggets, 2nd
Detroit Pistons at Milwaukee Bucks, 3rd
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Philadelphia 76ers, 4th

Andre Drummond ($8,600) could wind up being a popular play on this slate. While there are signs that point to him being in a good spot, he just hasn’t preformed in this matchup this season. Drummond’s faced the Bucks twice and averages just 27 DKFP, so I’m fading him here.


Lineup Quick Hits

Superstar Worth Paying For

De’Aaron Fox, SAC vs. POR ($8,200) — Much like Drummond, Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,600) hasn’t played well in this matchup all year — averaging less than 45 DKFP against Detroit. I like going for some of the cheaper studs on this slate like Lillard and Butler, but Fox has been on a tear himself since that weird game where the Kings benched their starters in the first quarter. Look for him to keep the 40-plus DKFP streak rolling.

Save The Big Bucks By Drafting …

Moe Harkless, POR at SAC ($3,700) — As things stand, you’re not going to find better value than Harkless on this slate, He’s providing about eight times value, so once we confirm he’s playing, you’ll want to lock him in.

Next Man Up

Keep an eye on DK Live — No big injury news has altered the slate yet, but there are a couple of potential spots that could. DK Live has you covered there with not only the news, but analysis on how to react.

*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.