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With nobody playing Wednesday, tonight's schedule is pretty overwhelming for FanDuel purposes. We've got 11 games on the way, and all of the big guns are out tonight, for one last pre-Christmas bash.
Most nights, you can pick from one or two five-figure players, but we've got pretty much everyone available tonight, with eight players coming in at $10,000 or more, and another at $9,800. However, you might face what psychologists refer to as "The Paradox of Choice" tonight, where too many options ultimately leads to an unexpected, deflated feeling.
With so many elite players to choose from, the pressure to guess right is higher than ever. There are some good choices for buy-low options tonight, which should lead the way to a nice stars-and-scrubs lineup, but the issue is going to come with figuring out which stars to go with. Stephen Curry and LeBron James have the best matchups of the 10k Club, while the usually reliable Anthony Davis has his work cut out for him with the tough Pacers frontcourt.
With so many stars of relatively equal value on the board, I'm going with the best matchups, so Curry and James will have to lead me to victory tonight. That's not a bad duo to ride into the mini-break Wednesday.
Minnesota at Cleveland
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 402.33
The Cavaliers' defense is soft enough that Mo Williams and Shabazz Muhammad could continue their solid play at decent dollar values.
New Orleans at Indiana
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 388.9
Anthony Davis averages just 13.3 points and 9.7 rebounds per game in three career matchups against the Pacers, with just a 37.0 percent mark from the field. I'll bet he bests each number tonight.
Boston at Orlando
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 388.9
The Celtics dropped 109 on the Magic last week, but that was pre-Rondo trade. Still, Kelly Olynyk thrived off the bench in that matchup, and his recent play suggests he should be able to do so again.
Chicago at Washington
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 375.1
John Wall averages his fifth-lowest assists per game mark against the Bulls in his career. Of course, this isn't the stingy Bulls' defense of old, so who knows how much that matters?
LA Clippers at Atlanta
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 380.62
It's a lot to ask of a young guy, but Dennis Schroder's continued solid play makes him a decent pick, even against the Point God in Los Angeles.
Philadelphia at Miami
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 398.03
With Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade both likely out, this is a good chance to load up on Heat role players. I've got two, and nearly went with Luol Deng too.
Charlotte at Milwaukee
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 392.31
Coincidentally or not, Kemba Walker's best stretch of the season has come with Lance Stephenson out. I was steering clear earlier in the season, but I think he's a solid value now.
Portland at Oklahoma City
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 379.81
Three of the eight $10,000 players come from this game, which features two of the nine stingiest defenses in the league when it comes to FanDuel scoring.
Dallas at Phoenix
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 386.48
The last time these two teams matched up, they combined for 224 points in a regulation Mavericks win. Why should tonight be any different. This is a good game to target.
Golden State at LA Lakers
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 398.07
The Warriors have made a habit out of blowing teams out, and they could do so again tonight. Might not be a bad idea to target some Warriors role players.
My roster for Dec. 23 at FanDuel.com:
PG Mario Chalmers, Heat vs.
PG Stephen Curry, Warriors at L.A. Lakers ($10,500)
SG Nick Young, Lakers vs. Golden State ($5,400)
SG Rodney Stuckey, Pacers vs. New Orleans ($5,500)
SF LeBron James, Cavaliers vs. Minnesota ($10,300)
SF James Ennis, Heat vs. Philadelphia ($3,700)
PF Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks at Phoenix ($7,100)
PF Kenneth Faried, Nuggets at Brooklyn ($5,200)
C Mason Plumlee, Nets vs. Denver ($6,400)
Mario Chalmers, PG, Heat vs. Philadelphia ($5,600)
Chalmers has been a bit cold of late, shooting just 36.0 percent from the field over the last five, yet he is still averaging 11.4 points per game, thanks to his impressive ability to get to the free-throw line. Chalmers is enjoying arguably the finest season of his career, and continues to put up big numbers as a starter. He is averaging 31.9 FanDuel points per game in his 10 starts. It wouldn't be a surprise at all if Dwyane Wade sits out tonight's game, so Chalmers should take advantage of a stellar matchup.
Nick Young, SG, Lakers vs. Golden State ($5,400)
This one is entirely context dependent, but Young could be in line for a bigger-than-usual role tonight, for reasons you will read about a bit more later. If Kobe Bryant does need to sit out, Young is the obvious candidate to take a step forward, given how much his game overlaps with Kobe's. Young is averaging 22.4 points and 3.6 rebounds per-36 minutes for the season, and could get free reign in a game that might be over early. He doesn't do much besides score, though he showed last season he is capable of dishing out a few assists by accident at times.
LeBron James, SF, Cavaliers vs. Minnesota ($10,300)
You can hardly suggest James is undervalued at this cost, but he just might be the best of the 10K Club tonight. The Timberwolves allow the third-most FanDuel points in the league per game overall, and the fifth-most to opposing small forwards as well. Everyone's going to have at least one of these super-expensive players in their lineup tonight, so you'll need to make sure you choose the right one. I think LeBron's it.
Overpay of the night
Kobe Bryant, SG, Lakers vs. Golden State ($8,900)
Bryant's been a lightning rod for criticism this season, but you can't accuse him of not giving his all. The 36-year-old has yet to miss a game for the Lakers, and has logged 147 more total minutes than any of his teammates despite coming back from two major leg injuries. Whether he should be taking it easier is a question for another time, but he's giving just about everything he has for this Lakers team that is hurdling headlong into another lottery trip. Both Bryant and head coach Byron Scott have voiced concerns about Bryant's health lately, with Scott hinting that he will look to limit Bryant's minutes and even get him an extra day or two off at times. There's no guarantee he will sit out Tuesday, but it would make sense, since the Lakers will want him as close as possible to full strength for a big matchup against the Bulls Thursday. Don't be shocked if he sits this one out.
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CT: It's not crazy, no. It might be a bit of an overreaction, because there's no way you would've made this trade six weeks ago, however Green has reached a really incredible level of performance this season. It's really a question of what you value: Green's all-around solid play or Parsons' volume contributions. Unless you really need Green's defensive contributions, I wouldn't go for this one, but it's not as crazy as it first seems.
CT: Selling high on Butler isn't the worst idea, since he may not be able to sustain quite this scoring pace if the Bulls can ever get healthy for a sustained amount of time. But I'm not sure this is the right deal for you; Curry has an argument for the top spot in category-based leagues, and LeBron really isn't all that close to him now. However, my trade value chart from last week gives a slight edge to the LeBron/Wall side, so if you can handle the drop in 3-point and free-throw shooting, it's not a bad move. You're still getting two top-10 players back.
Kyle O'Quinn, F, Magic
O'Quinn is averaging 0.5 3-pointers, 9.1 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.5 steals and 2.3 blocks per-36 minutes on the season, and really impressed in a six-game stretch as the starter in place of Nikola Vucevic earlier in the season. He's starting next to Vucevic in the latest shakeup to the team's rotation, which means he probably won't give you a huge volume of production, but his all-around skill set should be helpful nonetheless. If O'Quinn can get 25-plus minutes every night, it wouldn't be at all surprising to see him contribute two blocks, two assists and a steal every night; with that kind of all-around production available on the waiver wire, points and rebounds are just a bonus. His role is by no means assured, given how much Orlando has changed things up, but taking a flier on him in any category-based league deeper than 12 teams is advised.