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In my first look at the schedule for Monday's games, I came away unimpressed. Each matchup had some wart that stuck out to me: the Nuggets can't stop anyone, but the Hornets can't score on anyone either; Portland-Houston features a ton of star power, but these teams have been among the league's best on defense so far.
Of course, "I don't like any of the matchups, man," probably isn't going to be a compelling reason not to turn a column into my editor, so I started digging deep. If nothing stands out on the surface, that doesn't mean there can't be something there if you look a bit closer.
Some news broke Sunday to make my choices a bit easier, though a few came with a heavy heart. Wilson Chandler's role will only grow moving forward, though it came at the expense of Danilo Gallinari's knee. Gerald Henderson and Jon Leuer should provide solid value tonight as well, if only because their respective team's starters could be forced to sit with injuries.
The biggest stumbling block for me tonight was just how many stars are stepping into seemingly tough matchups. Damian Lillard and James Harden are about as dependable as they come on a nightly basis, but this matchup has the makings of a surprise defensive struggle, based on how these teams have played. Still, I believe individual talent can win out; the fact that those two killed it in their playoff matchup last season makes it an easier call.
Between my injury replacements and my stars, I think I've put together a good lineup for tonight's action. This could be a good one for tournaments, because there is some real upside here, though it might not be a bad idea to supplement it with a few other lineups featuring other combinations, just in case. In fact, when playing in a big tournament-style league, hedging your bets with a few similar lineups should always be your strategy in a big tournament. Save the safe lineups for a head-to-head or 50/50 matchup.
Denver at Charlotte
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 397.03
Neither of these teams plays much defense, and the point guards should shred each other as a result. Ty Lawson and Kemba Walker are both good plays.
Toronto at Chicago
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 384.06
Figuring out which members of the Bulls' frontcourt will play on any given night can drive you crazy. If you don't have the benefit of setting your lineup in the late afternoon, you might be best off avoiding that one.
Portland at Houston
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 380.15
These two teams are surprisingly among the stingiest in the league so far. Lillard's got a tough matchup with Patrick Beverley, but he still shredded him 43.81 FanDuel points per game during a six-game series last postseason.
Utah at Memphis
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 379.33
As you'll see later, I'm banking on Zach Randolph sitting out. Rudy Gobert has been a trendy pick of late, but I don't like him so much tonight against this matchup, with Derrick Favors presumably ready to play a larger role.
Atlanta at Dallas
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 383.2
If Jeff Teague's injury continues to keep him out, Dennis Schroder should be a good option again. He has 46.6 FanDuel points across two starts so far.
L.A. Clippers at San Antonio
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 379.04
I don't have anyone from this one, but I'm not necessarily avoiding it. The Spurs are just so tough to gauge this far ahead of tipoff.
Sacramento at Golden State
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 387.21
Speights' ascension to Fantasy relevance has been incredible and largely unpredictable. Despite playing fewer than 26 minutes in each game, he has 20-plus FanDuel points in 13 of 24 games so far.
My roster for Dec. 22 at FanDuel.com:
PG Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers at
PG Kemba Walker, Hornets vs. Denver ($8,000)
SG James Harden, Rockets vs. Portland ($11,000)
SG Danny Green, Spurs vs. L.A. Clippers ($6,300)
SF Wilson Chandler, Nuggets at Charlotte ($5,800)
SF Gerald Henderson, Hornets vs. Denver ($3,900)
PF Jon Leuer, Grizzlies vs. Utah ($3,600)
PF Marreese Speights, Warriors vs. Sacramento ($5,200)
C Tyson Chandler, Mavericks vs. Atlanta ($6,900)
Gerald Henderson, SF, Hornets vs. Denver ($3,900)
The Hornets have already developed buyer's remorse with Lance Stephenson's contract, and Henderson showing renewed life in a larger role of late can only compound things. Henderson has 23.4 and 27.4 FanDuel points in his last two games, and will remain in the starting lineup yet again Monday, as Stephenson nurses an injury. At this price, Henderson's last two games are more than enough to make you happy, but a matchup against the Nuggets gives him room for even more, as the Nuggets allow the fifth-most FanDuel points per game on the season.
Jon Leuer, PF, Grizzlies vs. Utah ($3,600)
This is really scraping the bottom of the barrel as far as price goes, but Leuer really does have a chance to prove great value. At this price, you need to set a floor of around 15 FanDuel points, a mark Leuer hit in two of three games prior to Zach Randolph's knee injury. That he dropped 31.4 in 30 minutes Sunday in Randolph's absence bolsters his case, because you could get a huge return on investment if Randolph's knee forces him out again.
Tyson Chandler, C, Mavericks vs. Atlanta ($6,900)
Chandler is one well I've found myself going back to over and over this season. He's a tremendously reliable option for FanDuel, with at least 25 FanDuel points in 19 of 28 games, with a median score of 28.2 overall. You'll need him in the 30-point range tonight to justify this price, but there's a bit of wiggle room here, since he's just about the only center in his price range. The closest centers to Chandler in cost are Al Horford at $7,700 and Jonas Valanciunas at $6,200, so Chandler will fit into a unique hole in your lineup others might now. The fact that the Hawks are allowing 31.2 FanDuel points per-36 minutes to opposing centers only helps Chandler's case.
Overpay of the night
DeAndre Jordan, C, Clippers at San Antonio ($8,100)
Don't let the Spurs' ground-bound reputation fool you; they can handle Jordan. At $8,100, you need around 36 FanDuel points from Jordan tonight, a mark he has reached just once in four games against the Spurs over the last two seasons. He'll block a lot of shots -- averaging 4.0 per game against the Spurs -- and snag a bunch of rebounds, but this defense has also forced him into nine turnovers and just 24 points combined in that span. There are simply better center options available on this night.
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CT: Duncan's the more productive player all-around, but Ibaka's peripheral stats make up much of the gap. Duncan is almost certainly going to have a big edge in scoring, passing and rebounding, but Ibaka's new-found 3-point range is a huge weapon, especially when matched with his elite defense. Add in the time Duncan inevitably misses as a result of the Spurs' maintenance program, the answer is clear here: go with Ibaka.
@ChrisMcCray2: Which side do you like? Anthony Davis, Bradley Beal, Brandan Wright, Nicolas Batum for Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Jrue Holiday and Chandler Parsons. Nine-category, Head-to-Head league.
CT: This is an incredibly tough one to figure out. A lot will depend on your personal opinion about certain players -- do you think Beal's slow start can be turned around, or that Brandan Wright can snag 25-plus minutes in Boston or wherever he ends up when they inevitably flip him? Even a somewhat objective measure -- my Week 9 trade value chart (link: http://fantasynews.cbssports.com/fantasybasketball/story/24902943/week-9-fantasy-trade-values) -- doesn't prove helpful; both sides come away from the trade with 84 points. The only concern about this deal is you are giving up four starters for three, since I'm not convinced Wright is going to be a starter moving forward. However, getting Anthony Davis helps quite a bit there. When in doubt, "Trade for Anthony Davis" isn't a bad rule of thumb to go by at this point.