Happy December! The first day of the month brings us a solid six-game slate. There are some tightly contested matchups tonight, which makes for some excellent fantasy goodness, so let’s sort it all out. As always, if you have any questions, hit me on Twitter @JasonWalker_72.
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Washington Wizards @ Cleveland Cavaliers
Line: Cavaliers -9.5
The Wizards are fifth in pace in the league and the Cavs are the third slowest team. Cleveland is third in offensive rating (OFFRAT) and 13th in defensive rating (DEFRAT). Washington is sixth worst in OFFRAT and eighth worst in DEFRAT. The difference between Cleveland’s Net Rating (OFFRAT-DEFRAT) and Washington’s is 11.5 in favor of Cleveland.
Gary Neal is questionable and Nene is likely to miss the game for the Wizards while the Cavs are still without Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert, though both took part in practice Monday.
Tough going so far for the Wizards, as they have been leaking points at the wing all season. No team has aided opposing SG and SF than Washington so far this season, meaning that LeBron James and JR Smith are good to go in this one. LeBron has scored less than 41 DK points only once so far this season and has broken 60 three times. Hard to find a more solid play than the King right now.
Cleveland has been hard on every position on every team so far this season with the slight exception of the JR Smith manned shooting guard position, putting Bradley Beal in play. With Nene out, watch the lineups as they come out to see who’ll start at the four. With Cleveland’s vast size inside (Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson at PF), I’d expect to see Kris Humphries ($4,100) getting more minutes there, even though Jared Dudley ($3,000) has gotten the call more recently.
– LeBron James ($9,700)
– J.R. Smith ($5,300)
– Bradley Beal ($6,700)
– Kris Humphries ($4,100)
Los Angeles Lakers @ Philadelphia 76ers
Line: Lakers -1
The Lakers are 12th in pace, third worst in OFFRAT and third worst in DEFRAT. The Sixers are 10th in pace, last in OFFRAT and 10th worst in DEFRAT. The difference in Net Rating between these two teams is 1.5 in favor of the Lakers. Nerlens Noel is expected to be out for the Sixers and Lou Williams is expected to be back for the Lakers.
The Lakers are worst against the point guard position and second worst against centers, so Jahlil Okafor ($6,600) is in line for a nice game as is whoever is going to get the big minutes at the point guard position for Philadelphia tonight. For the last five games, it’s been Isaiah Canaan ($5,000), but make sure of who is getting that extra shift as a starter as any one of the three who could start there (T.J. McConnell and Phil Pressey being the other two) would be good plays. With Noel out, JaKarr Sampson got the start last time, but I’m all about Jerami Grant ($4,700) getting 30+ minutes off the bench. Those who read frequently know I love Robert Covington, but his salary has lept $2,300 in the last three games, and is now at $6,700, which is usually when he starts to let us all down.
On the other side, the Sixers are the worst against the PF position and second worst against SF while also being bottom ten bad against opposing centers. Julius Randle could be in a good place, but at 6.1K, he may only just make value there. Since the Lakers play three guards a lot, it’s hard to pinpoint who is going to benefit from the weak wing defense of the Sixers, but Jordan Clarkson ($5,300) could be in play for a solid gain.
– Isaiah Canaan ($5,000)
– Jerami Grant ($4,700)
– Julius Randle ($6,100)
– Jordan Clarkson ($5,300)
Phoenix Suns @ Brooklyn Nets
Line: Suns -3.5
Phoenix has reclaimed its spot as top pace team in all the land. They are also 10th in OFFRAT and seventh worst in DEFRAT. Brooklyn is the 14th slowest paced team and is second worst in OFFRAT and ninth worst in DEFRAT. The Net Rating difference between these teams is 5.4 points in favor of the Suns. Tyson Chandler is questionable for the Suns and Andreas Bargnani is out for the Nets.
The Nets have been weak defensively just about everywhere, starting at their chronic poor defensive spot, center. Brook Lopez is a whale of an offensive center, but he lacks significantly on the defensive end. Unfortunately for Phoenix, Tyson Chandler isn’t an offensive fulcrum even when healthy, and the Suns aren’t going to run plays through Alex Len if he’s playing, though at 3.2K, they don’t have to for him to provide value. The Nets have been getting better defending the SF position, thanks to extended minutes for Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. So it’ll be PG and SG, where the Nets are fifth worst and sixth worst, respectively, for the Suns to attack. And that works well considering that their two best offensive players, Eric Bledsoe ($8,300) and Brandon Knight ($7,900) are located.
On the flip side, the Suns haven’t been good themselves at defending the backcourt, bringing Jarrett Jack ($6,100) into the game and maybe even Hollis-Jefferson ($4.900) as well. Before his last game, a 21 minutes outing against the Pistons, RHJ scored 35.3, 35.3, 27.8 and 32 DK points, all while defending the toughest players (LeBron, Durant). He’s an interesting tourney play though his price has definitely risen since he began that run. Make sure he’s starting before locking him into your lineup. With or without Tyson Chandler, Brook Lopez is a play here at 7.4K due to playing in a high total game, and that neither Chandler nor Len is going to guard him well away from the hoop and he’ll be close to the basket defensively to get a decent share of help blocks and rebounds to further his total.
– Eric Bledsoe ($8,300)
– Alex Len ($3,200)
– Jarrett Jack ($6,100)
– Brook Lopez ($7,400)
Orlando Magic @ Minnesota Timberwolves
Line: Timberwolves -1.5
The Magic are the 12th slowest paced team and 13th worst in OFFRAT while being ninth best in DEFRAT. The Timberwolves are 14th best in pace, 14th worst in OFFRAT and 14th best in DEFRAT. The Net Rating difference is 1.2 points in favor of the Magic.
Ricky Rubio is expected to play after missing some games with a sore ankle while CJ Watson is questionable for the Magic.
Watching Rubio’s status is important as Karl Anthony-Towns’ effectiveness goes up with Rubio’s presence and Zach Lavine’s role would obviously decrease with news of Rubio playing. The Magic are slightly below average in defending the point guard position as well as center spots, so a Rubio-Towns combination could be viable should that particular news break. If Rubio is out, all the Levine ($5,400), who has had games of 33.3, 34.5 and 33.3 in Rubio’s absence.
The same weaknesses exists for Minnesota, putting the inconsistent Elfrid Payton ($6,100) and Nikola Vucevic ($6,600) in focus here. The Magic have spread the ball around so much this season, with usage being evenly spread between Victor Oladipo, Vucevic, Tobias Harris, Evan Fournier, et al that it’s hard to spend up for someone on Orlando. Payton is a tourney play because of his inconsistent offense leading to sporadic 40+ DK point games. Vucevic would be excellent but he’s not playing long minutes for Scott Skiles.
– Ricky Rubio ($6,900)
– Karl-Anthony Towns ($6,900)
– Victor Oladipo ($6,600)
– Elfrid Payton ($6,100)
Memphis Grizzlies @ New Orleans Pelicans
Line: Pelicans -1
Memphis is practically sprinting, only ninth worst in pace this season! They are also seventh worst in OFFRAT and 13th worst in DEFRAT. The Pelicans are seventh in pace, 14th worst in OFFRAT and second worst in DEFRAT. The Net Rating difference here is 4.3 points in favor of Memphis.
Tyreke Evans is questionable for the Pelicans but might make his 2015-16 season debut in this one.
Memphis started rough defensively but have really picked it up lately, being in the top ten in DEFRAT over the past five games. However, if one is looking for a place to go at the Grizzlies, it’s in the backcourt/wings. Ish Smith has continued to put up strong numbers but his salary has risen to nearly 7K (6.9K). If Evans does play, it negatively impacts Smith, Eric Gordon, Jrue Holiday and Evans himself as the time will be so split up in the Pelicans backcourt. Anthony Davis remains a tourney play of tourney plays. With Zach Randolph being banged up, he may not want to chase Ryan Anderson out past the three-point line, making Anderson interesting at 6.5K.
With all the injuries to the Pelicans backcourt, it’s no big surprise that they have been bad defensively there, second worst against PG and tenth worst against SG. To top it all off, they’re third worst against centers. Only the Milwaukee Bucks have been worse defensively this season, on the whole, than the Pelicans. In that, Mike Conley ($6,700), Marc Gasol ($7,100) and Matt Barnes ($4,300) are all in play.
– Anthony Davis ($10,600)
– Ryan Anderson ($6,500)
– Marc Gasol ($7,100)
– Mike Conley ($6,700)
Dallas Mavericks @ Portland Trail Blazers
Line: Mavericks -1.5
The Mavericks are 13th in pace, 15th in OFFRAT and 11th in DEFRAT. Portland, on the other hand, is the 10th slowest paced team, is ninth in OFFRAT and 12th worst in DEFRAT. The Net Rating difference between the two is 1.3 points in favor of Dallas. JJ Barea is out for the Mavericks and Chris Kaman is questionable for Portland. Damian Lillard looked awfully sick trying to give it a go against the Clippers and should be a game time decision for the Blazers.
The Blazers have been weak defending at center, where Mason Plumlee has been good for daily…on both ends, just like in Brooklyn last season. Zaza Pachulia ($6,000) is an interesting play as few likely realize he’s had 32 DK points or higher in five of his last six games. The Blazers have been slightly below average in the backcourt, too, leaving Deron Williams, who is off the minutes restrictions, a good play at $6.3K. Williams has also turned in 34.5 DK points or higher games in five of his last six. Wesley Matthews is also free from minutes restriction and is low, low salary at 4.4K. If Matthews does end up sitting on the back end of this back to back, then Raymond Felton ($3,400) is going to be a good value.
Attacking Dallas has been as simple as attacking Dirk Nowitzki and the PF position in general. Meyers Leonard is back from injury and at 4.2K, if starting and not on minutes limits (unknown as of this writing), is a good value play. Otherwise it’s still all about rostering Damian Lillard, if able to play fully after being sick last night against the Clippers, whose salary is down to 9.2K. Lillard’s usage is still super-high at 31.7% and the Mavericks are merely average against the backcourt. PLumlee at 6K is a solid play if Leonard does not start.
– Zaza Pachulia ($6,000)
– Deron Williams ($6,300)
– Damian Lillard ($9,200)
– Mason Plumlee ($6,000)