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I may be making a mistake tonight. On the surface, my lineup makes sense, but I can't shake the nagging feeling that I'm outsmarting myself.
The Cavaliers have been, as expected, an extremely top-heavy team. Only three players averaging more than 27.6 minutes or 10.0 shots per game, which is just what you would expect from a team with LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. When one of those players is sidelined by an injury, it opens up a big opportunity for role players to step up and provide value. If two of them sit out, chaos could ensue.
James is already out for the next two weeks with back and knee injuries, which creates a massive hole for the Cavs. However, Love also missed the team's last game with back spasms, and might sit out Friday against the Hornets as well. That's what I'm banking on with my lineup tonight, which features Irving and three cheap Cavs who should step into larger roles.
With both Love and James out Wednesday, Matthew Dellavedova, Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson combined for 71.0 FanDuel points, while each came in at under $7,000. Add in that the Hornets are among the bottom-10 in the league in FanDuel points allowed to both point guards and shooting guards and will be missing Al Jefferson due to a groin injury, and this seems like a great opportunity for this trio to provide surplus value.
Of course, there's always the chance something throws a wrench into my plans. My luck has been truly putrid lately, with Al Horford, DeMarcus Cousins and Kevin Love all missing all or most of games this week while in my lineup.
The way my luck has gone, it wouldn't be a surprise if the Cavaliers scored 60 points and sank my night singlehandedly. However, if they can provide solid returns on investment, I'll be in a good place.
Cleveland at Charlotte
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 392.82
There are going to be a lot of big names missing from this one, which could make it a fertile ground for FanDuel value.
Brooklyn at Orlando
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 395.18
Let's see if Mason Plumlee's limited role in the last game was just a one-time thing.
Dallas at Boston
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 392.45
This one feels like it should be a high-scoring game, thought the overcrowding in both the back and front court for Boston makes it a bit tough to rely on anyone here.
Detroit at New York
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 394.85
Andre Drummond is the most expensive center in the game tonight, and that makes plenty of sense. The Knicks don't have any answer for him.
Houston at New Orleans
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 388.37
On the surface, this shouldn't be a great matchup for Anthony Davis. However, he had 64.3 FanDuel points the last time these two met, and the five blocks he got don't seem unsustainable, given the Rockets' game plan of getting to the rim as often as possible on offense.
Washington at Oklahoma City
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 374.78
Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook go up against the stingiest Fantasy defense in the league. However, Durant has 74 points in his last 59 minutes of game time, so I'm betting on him keeping this up.
Indiana at Milwaukee
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 385.75
The Bucks have been a good source for cheap value lately, given the myriad injuries they are dealing with. John Henson could be a good value, but he'd be even better as a center.
Philadelphia at Phoenix
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 408.77
The Suns just dropped 128 in regulation against a pretty good Thunder defense. There should be plenty of points to go around tonight, and I wanted more than just one Suns player in my lineup.
Atlanta at Utah
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 384.22
The Jazz allow the sixth-most FanDuel points to opposing power forwards, so Paul Millsap is a good bet tonight.
Toronto at Golden State
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 384.81
This could be a high-scoring one, as both teams rank among the top-five in offensive efficiency. I thought long and hard about putting Draymond Green into my lineup, as he is riding a three-game 30-plus FanDuel points streak.
Memphis at L.A. Lakers
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 396.42
Marc Gasol should absolutely feast against this frontcourt.
My roster for Jan. 2 at FanDuel.com:
PG Kyrie Irving, Cavaliers at Charlotte ($8,800)
PG Matthew Dellavedova, Cavaliers at Charlotte ($3,600)
SG Dion Waiters, Cavaliers at Charlotte ($4,900)
SG Jodie Meeks, Pistons at New York ($5,100)
SF Kevin Durant, Thunder vs. Washington ($10,600)
SF Evan Turner, Celtics vs. Dallas ($4,800)
PF Anthony Davis, Pelicans vs. Houston ($11,300)
PF Tristan Thompson, Cavaliers at Charlotte ($5,900)
C Alex Len, Suns vs. Philadelphia ($4,500)
Alex Len, C, Suns vs. Philadelphia ($4,500)
Len was essentially a non-factor in his rookie season, as he could barely get onto the floor amid a number of injuries. However, he has stepped his game up of late, averaging 7.7 points and 7.1 rebounds per game in nine starts. Those numbers won't blow you away, but he's also adding nearly three combined blocks and steals while playing just 22.2 minutes, and comes away with 21.9 FanDuel points per game as a result. If that's his baseline, you'll be happy with him at this price; however, the 76ers are also allowing 36.5 FanDuel points per 36 minutes to opposing centers, one of the highest marks in the league, so he's got the chance to do even more tonight.
Evan Turner, SF, Celtics vs. Dallas ($4,800)
Between Turner and the next guy, this is the kind of lineup where I just have to hold my nose and swallow, because these are not necessarily players I believe in overall. However, you can't deny that Turner can still be productive when given the chance; he is averaging 5.7 assists per-36 minutes this season, by far the highest mark of his career. The Celtics have been toying with their starting lineup a lot lately, and Turner got into the starting lineup in the most recent game and dropped 35.7 FanDuel points as a point guard. The Mavericks allow the second-most points per game to opposing point guards this season, so Turner could provide a big return on investment if he gets the chance again.
Dion Waiters, SG, Cavaliers at Charlotte ($4,900)
I've never been a fan of Waiters' game, but I like the role he's going to be playing for the foreseeable future. With LeBron James sidelined for the next two weeks, Waiters should get plenty of opportunities to come off the bench and create, and he's shown he can be productive in that capacity. Additionally, the Hornets' backcourt defense has been subpar all year long, as mentioned earlier, so Waiters won't face a lot of resistance. At a cheap price, Waiters is a worthy gamble.
Overpay of the night
Josh Smith, PF, Rockets at New Orleans ($6,900)
It hasn't worked out yet, but the Rockets' decision to take a flier on Smith still makes a lot of sense to me. However, it has been terrible for his Fantasy value, as Smith's usage rate is down to 23.2 in Houston, his lowest mark since 2009-10. Admittedly, that's still too high for a player who just can't make any shots, but for Fantasy purposes, it certainly hurts Smith's individual value. His assist rate is just 10.9 percent in four games with the Rockets as well, his lowest rate since he was a rookie. Since you don't get penalized for missed shots in FanDuel, his high-volume shooting used to be a plus. Additionally, an overlooked aspect of Smith's decline in value with the Rockets is the position switch; FanDuel now defines him as a power forward, not a small forward. There are fewer good options at small forward, so Smith is even less useful now than he once was. If his price drops about a grand, maybe you can look his way again.
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CT: It depends on what scoring format you're playing in. In a head-to-head points league, where Anderson isn't much better than a replacement-level option, I'd certainly rather have Cousins, who is one of the best centers in the game. However, it's a bit more difficult to make that call in a category-based league, where Favors' defensive abilities and Anderson's high-volume shooting might be able to make up for Cousins' overall productivity. Ultimately, I think I'd stick with Cousins, unless I really needed the depth. I think the production he provides from the center position is so much harder to replace than what Anderson can bring.
CT: Martin is going to be the more productive player in a vacuum, but that doesn't necessarily make him the right call here. Martin will provide scoring, shooting and help at the free-throw line, but that's about it at this point in his career. He's not much of a passer, and won't be asked to do so on this Timberwolves team. Olynyk, on the other hand, can be a very solid all-around option at the center position, with his passing and 3-point shooting, however he's also fighting for minutes in a very crowded Boston frontcourt. If Martin was healthy, I might give him the nod, but I think Olynyk being available for the next few weeks while Martin is out might just tip the scales in his favor.