We have 11 games on the late for Saturday’s first edition of NBA DFS in the new year. 9 of those games will be included in the main slate that tips off at 7PM eastern, so that is where we will concentrate. We do have a few games with big spreads, a few with some injury news that is still unknown, and a couple with lower projected totals. It is definitely a tricky slate with a lot of ways to go, but that means more options and less overlap for fantasy. Let’s check out the games one by one and see what we like.

Oklahoma City Thunder @ Charlotte Hornets

Over/Under: 208
Line: Thunder -7

The Thunder have won 12 of their last 14 with most of those games featuring triple digit points on both sides. The Hornets are losers of 7 of their last 10 and prefer to play games that are slightly lower scoring. This game is paced up for Charlotte and a slight tick down for the thunder. OKC is an easy team to get a fantasy read on. Westbrook and Durant do most of the heavy lifting on a daily basis, so you know where the bulk of points comes from. The only other options to look at are the bigs. Ibaka is a decent fantasy player when he rebounds, blocks shots, and makes his jumper. Enes Kanter has been great lately, producing a lot of scoring for a real cheap price. Steven Adams is just a glue guy, but a cheap price and rebounds make him a viable punt. For Charlotte, it’s much tougher to nail down the big game. Kemba and Nic Batum have had most of them lately. Cody Zeller is cheap and has produced with added minutes due to the Al Jefferson injury. Overall that is about all we have here on their side. This is one of the higher totals on the day, so it should be a good source of fantasy points if OKC does not run away with it. The game is in Charlotte, so I am not as concerned with the blowout as many others will be.


Enes Kanter ($5000)
Russell Westbrook ($10700)
Cody Zeller ($5000)
Kemba Walker ($7900)

Detroit Pistons @ Indiana Pacers

Over/Under: 203
Line: Pacers -4

As far as expected pace goes, I think these two teams even each other out a bit. While Indy does play a tad faster than Detroit lately, the defense is also a tad better. Both teams have played a little above the 200 total recently, so this one seems perfectly in line. The Pacers are favored at home here, but I think Detroit is still the better team. The Pacers have lost 5 of their last seven games. They have some injures and will be dealing with them here too. Jordan Hill and Ian Mahinmi are both banged up. That could mean another 25-30 minutes and a start for a very cheap Lavoy Allen. The Pacers have been going small on the outside so far. Paul George playing the four with CJ Miles, Stuckey, Ellis, and Hill manning the 1,2, and 3 spots. That is not going to be good against this Pistons team. Andre Drummond had started the year on fire before falling back to earth a little. He has a great matchup here no matter who plays or not at Center. Indy has struggled with post men all year and I can not imagine Lavoy Allen at center makes any of this easier. Detroit plays it’s starters big minutes, so the fantasy scores are easy to pick out. The question is which of the starters has the best game?


Andre Drummond ($9400)
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($5200)
CJ Miles ($5100)
Lavoy Allen ($3900)

Orlando Magic @ Cleveland Cavaliers

Over/Under: 194
Line: Cleveland -8

I will be avoiding this game for fantasy purposes. Cleveland has a very good defense and Orlando plays a little slow. that is a big reason we see one of the lowest totals here at only 194. Even with a low total, we also see a pretty big spread in Cleveland’s favor. The blowout risk is not huge, but it is there. Kyrie Irving should be active for this game which creates a log jam at the guard spot. He is still pricey and everyone else loses minutes, so I am not thrilled with those options. Lebron is a decent cash game play, but asking for 50 from him is no easy task either. Love’s game takes a hit with Kyrie healthy and the combo of Mozgov and Tristan Thompson are not enticing either. On the flip side, we can expect a sub par game from the Magic players in this one. Vucevic has been good and so has Oladipo recently. Fournier too has reached value often. With Elf Payton back though, they all take a hit and going up against this defense takes them all out of play for me. This is a real bad game for fantasy purposes and I would probably steer clear of most if not all these guys.


LeBron James ($9700)
Victor Oladipo ($5600)

Milwaukee Bucks @ Minnesota Timberwolves

Over/Under: 203
Line: Timberwolves -1.5

This one could be a really good source of fantasy production. The Milwaukee Bucks are playing much faster recently with MCW back as the predominate point man on this team. The Bucks are now giving up and scoring over 100 on a regular basis, so that alone is a good sign of upside for this game. Minnesota has been giving up over 100, but falling just short in scoring to keep up. Both teams get solid matchups here and that is why I like the prospects for good fantasy upside from a lot of these guys. MCW and Kris Middleton have been the keys for the Bucks resurgence. Add in Antetekounmpo at the SF spot and those guys have all been producing for a square price. On the other side, with KG banged up, Karl Anthony Townes has reasserted himself as a potential Rookie of the Year candidate. He’s upped his minutes, scoring, and rebounding lately, so it all fits. Guys like Wiggins and Rubio are also starting to play better, so the Timberwolves could see an upswing, although we have not seen it yet out of them.


Michael Carter-Williams ($6700)
Khris Middleton ($6800)
Ricky Rubio ($6800)
Karl Anthony Towns ($7000)

New Orleans Pelicans @ Dallas Mavericks

Over/Under: 207
Line: Dallas -3

I’m a little surprised the spread is not bigger here. Dallas has been winning lately and doing so by scoring over 100 and giving up less than 100. New Orleans has been losing lately by giving up over 100 and falling short of that mark. It seems to me that this should be an easy 5-8 point spread in Dallas favor. They are home too, but they are coming off the tail end of a back-to-back which may be a reason for this as well. As far as fantasy goes, Zaza has been very good lately, is really cheap, and gets a matchup against a team that struggles vs. the center position. On the flip side of this one, we know where the volume is going to be. Davis and Evans dominate the ball and the shots for the Pelicans, so those should be the two top scorers on the team. Norris Cole is not likely to get the most raw points, but he’s been returning great value at a cheap price tag and is an interesting option as well.


Zaza Pachulia ($5600)
Dirk Nowitzki ($6200)
Tyreke Evans ($7700)
Norris Cole ($3800)

Houston Rockets @ San Antonio Spurs

Over/Under: 201
Line: Spurs -10

Do not let this game sucker you in. We see these two teams ready to go at it and everyone is going to want to take Dwight Howard and James Harden, but is that really smart? The Spurs have shut down all the teams they played against this year. It’s what they do. Harden will likely see some Kawhi defense here and that is a tough matchup for anyone. Teams and players tend to underperform against the Spurs, so I can not justify paying up for many if any of the Rockets today. I do like the chances for upside out of the Spurs though. They are being paced up here and expected to score 106 points. My problem with them is always figuring out who gets most of it. We know Kawhi plays big minutes, but the rest of the team is usually between 24-29. Outside of Kawhi, it’s tough to pinpoint who to target in that scenario.


Kawhi Leonard ($8500)
Lamarcus Aldridge ($6400)
Dwight Howard ($7100)
Ty Lawson ($4100)

Memphis Grizzlies @ Utah Jazz

Over/Under: 186
Line: MEM (-1)

Injury news is the big reason this game is so hard to figure. What we do know is that this should be a lower scoring, lower paced game today. We know that if Gobert and Favors are out, Gasol has a good matchup. We also know that it would tick up guys like Hood and Hayward who need to pick up the slack with Burks and the bigs on the shelf. We also know that Matt Barnes is expected back, so that hurts Z Bo and ticks down guys like Allen and Green as well. Basically what we know is we have a lot of questions about this game. The easiest way to look at it is this. If all these guys remain out, the Memphis bigs have an easier time and the Utah wings will be asked to do more. If you choose your plays based on that, it probably makes the most sense if you want to use guys here.


Gordon Hayward ($7500)
Rodney Hood ($5100)
Marc Gasol ($7200)
Mike Conley ($6400)

Denver Nuggets @ Golden State Warriors

Over/Under: 214
Line: GSW (-14)

The big question here is the status of Stephen Curry. Steph playing is a huge deal and can swing the line violently one way or the other. These two teams play at a fast pace and Denver is very loose on the defensive end. For Golden State, the big guys are banged up a little. That means we like Draymond to play a few extra minutes one way or the other. Whether or not Steph is out, he makes for a great play. If Steph is out, Shaun Livingston is a viable cheap punt and Klay Thompson gets a boost up. Those are the guys I would look at in that case. For Denver, Will Barton has been and continues to be the man for them. He is the top option I would look for on that side. Gallo and Nurkic are both scheduled to come back from injury today, so the minutes are something we need to watch in order to see how it plays out. For now though, I will stick with Barton and Lauvergne as the two guys I have seen produce lately and feel the best about.


Joffrey Lauvergne ($4400)
Will Barton ($7300)
Draymond Green ($9600)
Shaun Livingston ($4600)

Philadelphia 76ers @ Los Angeles Clippers

Over/Under: 204
Line: Clippers -11.5

This is going to be a very tough game to figure. With no Blake, we have seen Paul and DeAndre pick up the slack. Guys like Pierce and Reddick have helped too for cheap. They all have a good matchup against a low scoring and defensively challenged 76ers team, so they are all in play. We also have to worry about a potential blowout here. Philly is bad, traveling, and on the tail end of a back-to-back. They have looked better since reacquiring Ish. He and Nerlens Noel have quite a connection going and both guys have flourished. I would not mind using the Philly guys as I think they get the run regardless. The Clipper’s starters sitting out the fourth quarter of a blowout does concern me a little, so be careful if you use them heavily.


Chris Paul ($9300)
DeAndre Jordan ($7800)
Ish Smith ($7200)
Nerlens Noel ($6500)