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With just five games on the schedule tonight, I wanted to stack my roster with the two biggest names around Tuesday, Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. Of course, the two of them combine for more than 37 percent of your FanDuel lineup budget, so I had to get creative tonight. Luckily, there were a lot of directions I could go in.
Davis and Cousins rank first and third, respectively, in FanDuel scoring this season, and recently combined for 98.7 points in a recent head-to-head matchup, so that seems like a fair place to set our expectations.
In order to get in the money on most nights in the big tournaments, I've found you want to get to around 270 points, so Davis and Cousins get us a good chunk of the way there, assuming they live up to expectations. However, you need to hit on a few cheap guys in order to make this strategy worth it, and I think I've identified the right ones.
Five of my nine players come in at $6,100 or less, with three players costing $4,100 or less tonight. However, each of those five players is currently riding a hot streak or likely to see an increase in playing time. Mario Chalmers, Austin Rivers and Nikola Mirotic are covered below, so I'll go into my justifications for Aaron Brooks and Wilson Chandler briefly.
Brooks has been a bit of a disappointment this season, especially with how much time Derrick Rose has missed with various injuries. However, the Bulls could be without both Rose and Kirk Hinrich tonight, which would leave Brooks as the last and best option at point guard. Chandler is a bit less risky because he has carved out a solid role in Brian Shaw's rotation, and really just needs to keep his solid recently play up to be worth the cash. Chandler is averaging 29.9 FanDuel points per game over his last five.
This is a risky lineup, but it doesn't feel that way to me -- my begrudging inclusion of Josh Smith notwithstanding. There is big upside across the board here, and the risk seems fairly low, given the roles my bargains could be staring at.
My roster for Nov. 25 at FanDuel.com:
PG Mario Chalmers, Heat vs. Golden State ($6,100)
PG Aaron Brooks, Bulls at Denver ($4,100)
SG Klay Thompson, Warriors at Miami ($7,900)
SG Austin Rivers, Pelicans vs. Sacramento ($3,500)
SF Josh Smith, Pistons at Milwaukee ($6,900)
SF Wilson Chandler, Nuggets vs. Chicago ($5,300)
PF Anthony Davis, Pelicans vs. Sacramento ($12,000)
PF Nikola Mirotic, Bulls at Denver ($3,700)
C DeMarcus Cousins, Kings at New Orleans ($10,300)
Nikola Mirotic, PF, Bulls at Denver ($3,700)
It's only been a few hundred minutes, but it seems pretty clear Mirotic can play in this league. His ability to stretch defenses and put the ball on the floor from the power forward position is a rare skill, even in a league increasingly bent toward the perimeter. With Taj Gibson out and Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah still likely facing limited minutes on a back-to-back, Mirotic could play solid minutes tonight, against a Denver team that is still one of the worst in the league, defensively. Mirotic has scored in double figures in two of the last three games, and could have another solid showing for cheap tonight.
Mario Chalmers, PG, Heat vs. Golden State ($6,100)
With this choice, you're hoping the Heat continue to proceed with excessive caution regarding Dwyane Wade's hamstring injury, because Chalmers has been simply incredible in Wade's absence. He is averaging 33.9 FanDuel points per game over the last six, production you're usually paying at least $7,000 for. If Wade and Norris Cole's injuries continue to linger, he should be a great play, even against a very good Warriors' defense.
Austin Rivers, SG, Pelicans vs. Sacramento ($3,500)
Rivers is kind of a punch line around the league, but he has quietly improved his game since the second half of last season. Now, with Eric Gordon sidelined indefinitely with a shoulder injury, he is going to get a chance to show that in a larger role. The fit in the starting lineup is a bit awkward, but Rivers could be productive enough to at least make sense as a bargain basement pick. The bar he needs to clear to justify this price is pretty low tonight.
Overpay of the night
Kenneth Faried, PF, Nuggets vs. Chicago ($6,000)
After a big summer that saw him star on Team USA, the Nuggets rewarded Faried handsomely with a long-term contract extension. However, the relationship between him and coach Brian Shaw still appears pretty rocky, and Faried has struggled to find playing time for the Nuggets at times. He is coming off an eight-point, one-rebound performance against the lowly Lakers, and has played more than 30 minutes just twice in the team's last seven games, while averaging a paltry 21.2 FanDuel points over that stretch. Faried got off to a similarly slow start least season, and is a threat to post a huge double-double on any given night, but you really can't rely on him right now.
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We've hit this point hard between columns and podcasts recently, but yes, you should absolutely pick up Chalmers. He's one of the most improved players in the league, and is probably the team's second-best offensive option when Wade sits out. He should have value even when Wade gets back, and he should be viewed similarly to Reggie Jackson long-term. Pierce is probably the steadiest option among the three presented here, which makes him the easiest to discard. Asik's center eligibility and Dieng's tremendous upside make them worth hanging on to, while Pierce is somewhat replaceable. He's the guy to drop.
I like Davis' role the most, especially for a points league. He may never live up to the hype his per-minute numbers usually create, but Davis has a knack for producing when given the chance. He is dealing with an ankle injury right now, but could be back before Carlos Boozer, and should have a solid role waiting for him.
Waiver wire fliers
Austin Rivers, G, Pelicans (10 percent owned)
As stated above, Rivers has improved his play perhaps more than more realize. His shooting percentage has improved in each of his three NBA seasons, and he has become a pretty efficient scorer, largely due to his ability to draw fouls at a high rate. He isn't a great passer or playmaker, but is averaging 3.8 assists per-36 minutes and is about to step into a larger role. Given how top-heavy this Pelicans team is, you probably should expect him to score much more than a dozen points per game, but that might be enough to make him Fantasy relevant, if he adds a few assists. If you want to speculate on a guard, there are worse places to look.