Big Wednesday brings us the pre-Christmas, NBA Motherlode, an epic 13-game slate that will have more players than I can possibly type into today’s breakdown. But, we’ll try to get them all in because you gotta believe Santa would want it that way. Let’s get to it!
As always, if you have any questions, find me on Twitter @JasonWalker_72 or on the Swayy app @jaywalker72.
Boston Celtics @ Charlotte Hornets
Line: Hornets -2.5
Pace: Boston (4th), Charlotte (17th)
Offensive Rating: Boston (22nd), Charlotte (6th)
Defensive Rating: Boston (3rd), Charlotte (10th)
Net Rating Differential (The higher the differential, the more likely the blowout): 1.4 in favor of the Hornets
Amir Johnson is out and Jared Sullinger is probable for tonight. Al Jefferson remains suspended for the Hornets
As shown by their defensive rating, the C’s are tough defensively, and sneakily deflates the value of your players even as the pace is high. For example, even with Marcus Smart out and Isaiah Thomas in at PG, the Celtics have allowed the fourth fewest fantasy points to PGs over that span. So Kemba Walker and his 7.2K salary is hard to recommend on a large slate. Attacking the SF position is an alright tack against the Celtics, so maybe Nicolas Batum, though his 7.5K salary would put him at the high end of his range. Basically all the Hornets, including Marvin Williams at 5.7K, are priced up to the top end of their range and aren’t great plays except for some alternative lineups in tourneys. So, if you just have to have Hornets, target the stars (Kemba, Batum).
It’s not a great matchup for Thomas, either, but it’s hard to ignore his last three games (51.8, 42.3 and 42.3) which were in similar matchups and his 28-30% usage nightly. He’s a nightly tourney play because folks just bristle at spending 7.7K for him. Ok, it’s me, I bristle. With Amir Johnson out tonight, Kelly Olynyk would be a solid play in a slightly positive spot against Charlotte. Olynyk played 29 minutes in the last game against Minnesota and he delivered over a point per minutes (29.8 DK points).
– Kemba Walker ($7,200)
– Nicolas Batum ($7,500)
– Isaiah Thomas ($7,700)
– Kelly Olynyk ($4,600)
New York Knicks @ Cleveland Cavaliers
Line: Cavs -12
Pace: New York (23rd), Cleveland (28th)
Offensive Rating: New York (21st), Cleveland (4th)
Defensive Rating: New York (16th), Cleveland (6th)
Net Rating Differential: 7.1 in favor of the Cavs
Carmelo Anthony is questionable for the Knicks and Mo Williams is questionable for the Cavs.
LeBron James has been incredible this season. He’s averaging 49.2 DK points per game and has gone over 40 DK points in 23 of the 24 games he’s played this season. Lock, then load. Everybody else on the team is in a state of share. With Kyrie back, Kevin Love loses some usage and Irving isn’t going to playing major minutes so even his modest 6.6K salary won’t get paid off. If you had to pick a second player (and I do), I might punt center with Timofey Mozgov, who is under 4K and has games of 21.5, 27.5 and 22.5 in his last four games. I’m not saying I’m playing him, he’s just the next guy I would if I had to play a second Cavs, which is more of an indictment of the sharing mess after LeBron that it is about Mozzy.
The Cavs are the 6th best defensive team and make life worse than average on every single position. There isn’t a single place that looks great tonight over there as even Arron Afflalo’s salary has risen to 5K, but he and maybe Robin Lopez at 3.9K with Kyle O’Quinn questionable would be the targets beyond Carmelo (8.2K) if he plays. If he doesn’t, Lance Thomas would likely get the call and, at 3.9K, would be in play even against LeBron.
– LeBron James ($10,100)
– Timofey Mozgov ($3,900)
– Carmelo Anthony ($8,200)
– Arron Afflalo ($5,000)
Sacramento Kings @ Indiana Pacers
Line: Pacers -6.5
Pace: Sacramento (2nd), Indiana (9th)
Offensive Rating: Sacramento (17th), Indiana (10th)
Defensive Rating: Sacramento (27th), Indiana (8th)
Net Rating Differential: 6.8 in favor of the Pacers
Boogie Cousins in a slightly positive matchup, 213 game total and not facing an active offensive player on the defensive side. At exactly 10K, it’s going to be tough to ignore Boogie at the PF position where, even on a large slate as tonight, the landscape looks weak. While not as consistent as LeBron, he’s average 47 DKPPG himself, and hasn’t scored less than 30 in a game since 10/31…when he scored 26.8 in 15 minutes against the Clippers. I’m already dreaming of a Boogie/LeBron lineup tonight. Both Rajon Rondo and Rudy Gay seem high at 8.5 and 7.1K, respectively, especially with Gay going up against Paul George. The SG spot is an attack spot on the Pacers, so Darren Collison at 4.9K, who has played 27, 26 and 31 minutes in the last three games, would be in a good spot here.
Love, love, love Paul George in a bounceback spot here, if you consider 26.3 points against a superhuman Kawhi Leonard a low spot. George shot 1-14 and still came up with 26.3 DK points, which speaks to the solid peripherals that boost his overall value. He won’t be scoring seven points again, so at 8.9K, you’re likely getting a 10K player for a discount tonight. SG has long been a place to go at the Kings and Monta Ellis’ price has dropped to 5.5K. Ellis has been banged up lately, but his usage is still at 20% and his peripherals have been good as well, getting 14.1 DKPPG per 32 minutes on his non-scoring stats.
– DeMarcus Cousins ($10,000)
– Darren Collison ($4,900)
– Paul George ($8,900)
– Monta Ellis ($5,500)
Houston Rockets @ Orlando Magic
Line: Magic -1.5
Pace: Houston (6th), Orlando (20th)
Offensive Rating: Houston (14th), Orlando (19th)
Defensive Rating: Houston (22nd), Orlando (9th)
Net Rating Differential:3.8 in favor of the Magic
Elfrid Payton is questionable for the Magic.
If Payton is out, and CJ Watson continues to miss for the Magic, then Shabazz Napier can get a long look as a top value play tonight at PG. Napier is 3.5K and leads the team in AST% when Payton is off the floor. Nikola Vucevic has gotten 32 minutes per game over his last four games and has been banging for over 40DKPPG in that span. Nikola has a positive matchup against the Rockets and Dwight Howard and has 47.3, 42.8 and 41.8 over his last three games. I also don’t mind Tobias Harris in this spot against Houston, who has given 14% more value to the SF position this season (per DFSGold).
Scott Skiles has come in and gotten Orlando to play some solid defense, evidenced by their ninth place DEFRAT standing. James Harden is always a target, given his
33% usage and 10.5 FTA per 36 minutes rate. Other than Harden, Trevor Ariza turned in the inevitable gotcha-game with less than 10DK points against Charlotte, but is getting mid 30s minutes every night for 5.7K. Dwight Howard is 7K and playing well, but only getting 26-30 minutes per game, which limits his DK point total and makes it difficult to get to 5-6x value, even at that low number. Patrick Beverley has seen his cost rise to 4.9K, which is too high for someone who is producing 18-20 DKPPG.
– Nikola Vucevic ($7,300)
– Shabazz Napier (if Payton out) ($3,500)
– James Harden ($10,600)
– Dwight Howard ($7,000)
Memphis Grizzlies @ Washington Wizards
Line: Wizards -1.5
Pace: Memphis (24th), Washington (5th)
Offensive Rating: Memphis (26th), Washington (20th)
Defensive Rating: Memphis (20th), Washington (24th)
Net Rating Differential: 1.0 in favor of the Wizards
John Wall is questionable but swears he’s playing tonight, while Otto Porter is questionable and not nearly as sure as Wall about playing. Gary Neal and Nene are also questionable. Bradley Beal remains out.
Whew! That’s an awful lot of injuries for the Wizards who have been, themselves, awful at defense. If Neal joins Beal as out, then it’s more, more, more Garrett Temple (4.5K), who has posted 36.3 and 40.3 in his last two games and has a slightly positive matchup tonight. Marcin Gortat has been great lately, but going against Marc Gasol is always sobering. Only twice have centers posted a 40 DK point game on Memphis. One was San Antonio’s crew and the other was Andre Drummond.
Washington’s been terrible against wings this season so the Matt Barnes trek toward 6K continues its journey tonight. Barnes is already up to 5.7K, which means he’s only in play against very positive matchups, as this is against Washington tonight. Wall has long been tough against opposing points, as has Gortat against centers, meaning that Mike Conley and Marc Gasol have less than favorable matchups. I’m leaning on Gasol since his so much of what Memphis does flows through him and he just dropped 56 DK points on them in MEM on 12/14.
– Garrett Temple ($4,500)
– John Wall ($9,700)
– Matt Barnes ($5,700)
– Marc Gasol ($7,500)
Dallas Mavericks @ Brooklyn Nets
Line: Mavericks -2.5
Pace: Dallas (13th), Brooklyn (17th)
Offensive Rating: Dallas (15th), Brooklyn (28th)
Defensive Rating: Dallas (13th), Brooklyn (21st)
Net Rating Differential (Blowout Potential): 7.7 in favor of the Mavericks
Deron Williams is very questionable with a hamstring injury from Tuesday night. Devin Harris is also questionable for the Mavs. Shane Larkin is questionable but expected to play against Dallas.
If Deron misses and Devin Harris is out again, this means solid minutes, again, for Ray Felton in a positive matchup against the Nets. It would likely also pull Chandler Parsons into the starting lineup after he played only 25 minutes against Toronto last night. Zaza Pachulia has a tremendous matchup against Brook Lopez and only played 18 minutes last night, leaving him rested to take advantage against the Nets. And Dirk played 28 minutes last night, so maybe he’s good to go again. At 6.4K, there’s few more reliable scorers in cash games there for the price.
You can attack Dirk on the other end, meaning that Thaddeus Young has a good spot here at 6.8K and while Lopez is a liability defensively, he’s great offensively, scoring nearly 40 DKPPG over his last four games. Pachulia is not a pushover matchup, but Lopez has the usage and minutes on his side to clear value in this matchup.
– Zaza Pachulia ($5,700)
– Raymond Felton ($5,400)
– Thaddeus Young ($6,800)
– Brook Lopez ($6,900)
Detroit Pistons @ Atlanta Hawks
Line: Hawks -5.5
Pace: Detroit (20th), Atlanta (15th)
Offensive Rating: Detroit (23rd), Atlanta (7th)
Defensive Rating: Detroit (11th), Atlanta (14th)
Net Rating Differential: 1.5 in favor of the Hawks
Paul Millsap is questionable for the game tonight for the Hawks.
This is soooooo very much an Andre Drummond game. The Hawks struggle with active big men and Drummond should be able to take advantage of the Hawks abandonment of the offensive glass. Also, Al Horford is one of the least fouled big men in the game, leaving Andre with less foul trouble burden. With Drummond underperforming against the Heat last night, he’s in a great spot to reward those who roster him tonight. The same applies to Reggie Jackson here, too, though it’s not as intriguing of a matchup for Jackson than it is Drummond, but the Hawks PGs can lose opposing points at times and Jackson’s 30+% usage put him in a spot to excel in every game.
I expect Paul Millsap to play, but if he doesn’t, it might mean some Mike Scott tonight. Scott is a volume shooter with little peripheral value, making him pretty much a One Trick Pony in fantasy. The matchup is in place for him to get to 16-20 DK points if he plays 30 minutes, but I wouldn’t count on that much time from him, even if he starts. That leaves Al Horford (6.4K) and the backcourt, with Jeff Teague leading the way, making up the production that Millsap would leave behind. If Millsap plays, he’s the man at 7.8K, averaging 40 DKPPG.
– Andre Drummond ($9,400)
– Reggie Jackson ($7,600)
– Paul Millsap ($7,800)
– Al Horford ($6,400)
Philadelphia 76ers @ Milwaukee Bucks
Line: Bucks -10
Pace: Philadelphia (8th), Milwaukee (26th)
Offensive Rating: Philadelphia (30th), Milwaukee (25th)
Defensive Rating: Philadelphia (25th), Milwaukee (28th)
Net Rating Differential: 7.6 in favor of the Bucks
Giannis Antetokounmpo is probable for Milwaukee and Jerryd Bayless is out. For the Sixers, Kendall Marshall is expected to play and start for the Sixers at PG>
Worst secret in the world is that you can slay the Sixers inside where Jahlil Okafor lives. Greg Monroe, at 7.1K, is in a great spot to do just that. Giannis, assuming he goes back to his regular minutes, is also in a good place against a Sixers team that gives 12% of value to opposing SF. With Bayless out again, Michael Carter-Williams (6.4K) is alright to play, with games of 38.3, 32, 39.8 and 42.8 over his last four games.
Kendall Marshall could be interesting play starting at PG at 3.3K. Marshall does a great job with peripherals, especially assists, when given extended run, which means the length of MCW wouldn’t impact Marshall as much as a scorer would be affected. Jerami Grant continues to let down, but he’s still in a good spot here against Milwaukee and he’s better than this! At 4.2K, his 21.5 DKPPG average starts him in the right direction.
– Greg Monroe ($7,100)
– Giannis Antetokounmpo ($6,700)
– Kendall Marshall ($3,300)
– Jerami Grant ($4,200)
San Antonio Spurs @ Minnesota Timberwolves
Line: Spurs -11
Pace: San Antonio (27th), Minnesota (16th)
Offensive Rating: San Antonio (3rd), Minnesota (16th)
Defensive Rating: San Antonio (1st), Minnesota (18th)
Net Rating Differential: 15.1 in favor of the Spurs
The only injuries to report are the fantasy souls left behind when rostering against the Spurs. You can forget about starting wings against this team, as there is a trail of tears across the league and an average of 15-20% less production when teams face San Antonio. You can somewhat roster PG and C against SAS, so Ricky Rubio at 7K and the resurgent Karl-Anthony Towns at 7.1K could be interesting tournament plays.
On the other side, Kawhi Leonard continues to play top shelf basketball and has a reasonable 8.4K salary here. He’s averaging over 41 DKPPG and has games of 45.5 and 46.3 in his last four. Tony Parker at 5K is the other solid spot here, as Rubio isn’t great defensively and Parker, despite getting 26-28 minutes per game, has averaged nearly 25 DKPPG this season.
– Ricky Rubio ($7,000)
– Karl-Anthony Towns ($7,100)
– Kawhi Leonard ($8,400)
– Tony Parker ($5,000)
Portland Trail Blazers @ New Orleans Pelicans
Line: Pelicans -8.5
Pace: Portland (22nd), New Orleans (10th)
Offensive Rating: Portland (9th), New Orleans (12th)
Defensive Rating: Portland (24th), New Orleans (30th)
Net Rating Differential: 4.6 in favor of the Blazers
Damian Lillard is out and CJ McCollum questionable for tonight’s game. Alexis Ajinca is questionable for New Orleans.
If you missed the 3K minimum party with Tim Frazier Monday night against Atlanta, there’s a sequel potentially in the mix, though it will be at 3.6K instead. Frazier played all 48 minutes with Lillard/McCollum out Monday, and he’d still be a good play even if McCollum played and took some of those PG minutes away. Even at that DKPPM rate from Monday, he’d be a value at 30 minutes in this matchup. One word of warning is that despite the Pelicans showing a positive matchup at PG, since Tyreke Evans has been back, they’ve been top five tough against opposing points. Still, 3.6K and starting, Frazier is a solid play. Mason Plumlee hasn’t played as many minutes as wehn Meyers Leonard was out, but he’s still be productive, getting 26 DK PPG in his 28 or so minutes. He’s in a good matchup here against the mish-mash of Pelican big men. And if McCollum plays, he has a great matchup here and is a must play for assumed usage increase without Lillard with him.
Frazier held his own defensively, so it’s not automatic to play Jrue Holiday, especially since his cost has risen to 5.6K and his minutes haven’t gone up with it. Anthony Davis is in focus tonight, having just handed the Blazers at near 50 DK point effort on 12/14. Same for Tyreke Evans, who went for 52 in that same game and is coming off a 51 DK point game as well. He’s still under 8K is is the primary ball handler on the floor for the team when he’s in there.
– CJ McCollum ($6,900)
– Tim Frazier ($3,600)
– Anthony Davis ($10,300)
– Tyreke Evans ($7,700)
Denver Nuggets @ Phoenix Suns
Line: Suns -8.5
Pace: Denver (21st), Phoenix (3rd)
Offensive Rating: Denver (24th), Phoenix (18th)
Defensive Rating: Denver (26th), Phoenix (20th)
Net Rating Differential: 2.5 in favor of the Suns
Danilo Gallinari is questionable and Emmanuel Mudiay is likely out for the Nuggets.
Will Barton has taken over the minutes and usage for the Nuggets, off the bench, and has posted 58 and 40.5 DK points in his last two games. For the season, Barton has been a point per minutes fantasy scorer, but has taken it to another level. If Gallo misses again, he’s a lock at 6.8K. Gary Harris is a One Trick Pony, so when he’s not making shots, he’s not giving you anything, but he stands to get more minutes, like the 35 he got against the Lakers last night, if Gallinari misses.
Eric Bledsoe is averaging over 40 DKPPG, but has been well off that pace lately, with games of 15, 25.3 and 25.8 in his last four. He gets a large boost here against Denver and should be closer to the 49 that he put up against the Pelicans three games ago. With all the frontcourt guys sharing minutes, the only other target for PHX is Brandon Knight, who get a plus matchup here against the Nuggets undersized, patchwork backcourt.
– Will Barton ($6,800)
– Gary Harris ($4,000)
– Eric Bledsoe ($8,200)
– Brandon Knight ($7,300)
Utah Jazz @ Golden State Warriors
Line: Warriors -14
Pace: Utah (30th), Golden State (1st)
Offensive Rating: Utah (13th), Golden State (1st)
Defensive Rating: Utah (17th), Golden State (4th)
Net Rating Differential: 15.8 in favor of the Warriors
Harrison Barnes is out and Andrew Bogut expects to play for the Warriors tonight.
With Barnes out, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green have gone to another level, with Thompson averaging 8.5 DKPPG more and Green getting 15 DKPPG more. They have neutral matchups tonight against the Jazz, who are still a quality defense without Rudy Gobert, but not as oppressive. The defense has gotten really bad at SF since Gobert’s departure, so it likely means that Thompson/Green will see some of that goodness throughout the game. Other than that, Stephen Curry has the best matchup on the floor going against Jazz PGs, as if you needed more desire to roster him. Curry is averaging 53.1 DKPPG for the season.
It’ll be interesting to see how Derrick Favors plays against The Draymond Green Experience, but I don’t think you can pay 7.6K to sweat through it. But he and Gordon Hayward are the best bets if you wanted to stack this game and play some on the Utah side, as no other Jazz is averaging more than 27 minutes per game over the last four games.
– Klay Thompson ($7,200)
– Draymond Green ($9,000)
– Stephen Curry ($10,700)
– Gordon Hayward ($7,200)
Oklahoma City Thunder @ Los Angeles Lakers
Line: Thunder -13
Pace: Oklahoma City (12th), Los Angeles (13th)
Offensive Rating: Oklahoma City (2nd), Los Angeles (29th)
Defensive Rating: Oklahoma City (7th), Los Angeles (29th)
Net Rating Differential: 20.8 in favor of the Thunder
Julius Randle is questionable but expected to play for the Lakers.
This game has the biggest blowout potential of the night, with Net Differential going over 20 points in the Thunder’s favor. Add in that the Lakers played last night against Denver and didn’t rest Kobe there, and it has the makings of living up to that potential.
If it was competitive, then we’d see Russell Westbrook with a hugely positive matchup here against the Lakers points, as does Kevin Durant. When they played on the 19th, it was a blowout, with the Thunder winning by 40 points. I can’t see paying up for Westy/KD except in a flyer tourney entry, just in case the Lakers do the miraculous and keep it close enough at home. It is of note that Enes Kanter (4.2K) went for 42.5 DK points in that game.
Also important to note is that Kobe missed that game against OKC, but he might be rested in this one, though no report of that has emerged at this writing. He’s coming off a great game against the Nuggets Tuesday night, scoring 46.8 DK points. Lou Williams has sort of an insect’s game, meaning he is alright in any game condition. He’s always a 30 DK point threat. Even in blowouts, with Kobe, without Kobe, etc, #LouWillSurvive. If Kobe plays, his usage demands his inclusion here, as it did last night.
– Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, non-blowout versions ($10,400 and $10,200)
– Enes Kanter ($4,200)
– Kobe Bryant ($6,400)
– Louis Williams ($5,400)