You can get the first weekend of 2019 off to a good start with the first 10-game slate of the new year this Friday. With 20 teams on the floor for fantasy basketball, there are lots of great options in the player pool. If you invest in some of the top names on the slate like Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,700) or Russell Westbrook ($11,300), you might find yourself in need of some value plays to balance out your salary cap. Don’t worry, though, there are some really nice plays available for under $4K on the slate as well, and here are my favorite four options to help you with your super-saver shopping.
SF/PF JAMES JOHNSON, MIA VS. WAS, $3,900I still love that Johnson stayed under $4K for another game and that it turns out to be a tasty matchup with the Wizards. A week ago, Johnson’s price was on the rise as he appeared to be nearing full strength after starting the season late due to a groin injury. He had posted more than 22 DKFP in four straight games and played 29 minutes against the Raptors on Wednesday. However, over the past week, Johnson has battled an illness that limited his work Friday and kept him sidelined Sunday. He returned Wednesday but only had to play 17 minutes in the Heat’s rout of the Cavs. He quickly had 11 points, two assists, a steal a rebound and 18.75 DKFP.
As he gets back to full strength after the illness, look for Johnson to resume his upward trajectory as a key part of Miami’s starting lineup. His defensive numbers have been a bit spotty this season, but his multi-category potential gives him nice upside while also limiting the risk in rolling him out in your lineup.
PG/SG DANTÉ EXUM, UTA at CLE, $3,900Exum had a promising December and has emerged as a key part of the Jazz’s second unit. He has played at least 15 minutes in nine of his past 10 games, averaging 9.4 points, 3.9 assists, 1.7 rebounds, 0.5 steals and 18.5 DKFP per contest. He has been especially effective lately with more than 23 DKFP in four of his past six games. One of those games was a spot start for Ricky Rubio ($6,100; foot, questionable), who is battling foot soreness coming into this matchup with the Cavs. If Rubio is out, Exum will be the top bargain and almost a must-play, but even if Rubio is active there is a good chance Exum will get more time — especially if the game gets lopsided.
The Aussie guard hasn’t ever quite realized his potential since being take No. 5 overall in the 2014 NBA Draft, but he still has upside when given extra run. He’s the best backcourt bargain of the night, so make sure to monitor Rubio’s status closely as we approach tipoff.
C ED DAVIS, BKN at MEM, $3,700Davis has been effective off the bench for much of the season for the Nets and continues to turn in great rebounding numbers in limited minutes. He has averaged 8.5 rebounds to go with 5.8 points and 1.1 assists in 20.1 minutes per contest over his past 10 games. He has more than 24 DKFP in three of his past four games and is coming off 28.5 DKFP in just 17 minutes against the Pelicans, when he had six points, 12 boards, two steals and a block.
The veteran big-man got Saturday’s contest off as a load management day, and in that contest Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (abductor) left early with an injury that will keep him out again in Memphis. With Hollis-Jefferson sidelined, there should be more time and usage for Davis, who is a solid bargain at center if you decide to pay up in other spots.
SG/SF DANIEL HAMILTON, ATL at MIL, $3,400Usually, my bargain bin picks tend to include a lot of rookies and young options, but Hamilton is the only non-proven rotation contributor in my top four this Friday. The 23-year-old from UConn has been given an expanded role in the Hawks’ past two games, and Hamilton has not thrown away his shot, posting 20.0 and 18.75 DKFP in starts against the Pacers and Wizards, respectively. He played a career-high 21 minutes Wednesday and finished with eight points, seven rebounds and an assist.
Before his past two games, Hamilton put up strong numbers in the G League with the Erie BayHawks, averaging 18.3 points, 11.0 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 34.3 minutes in four contests. Coach Lloyd Pierce has praised Hamilton for his length and defensive versatility, which gives him multi-category upside if he keeps getting around 20 minutes per contest. Kent Bazemore (ankle) and Taurean Prince (ankle) are expected to remain out against the Bucks, so Hamilton is in line for a third straight start.
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