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Tuesday's NBA slate is a strange one for Fantasy players and not just because there are just five games on the way. The short schedule doesn't help, but it is exacerbated by the teams and matchups, which introduce a big element of uncertainty.
Just look at that schedule. Can you trust the Grizzlies and Spurs while setting up your lineup, given how much they have rested their stars in the past? And with Blake Griffin being reintegrated into the rotation, can you really find much value in the Clippers, especially going against the Hornets' tough defense?
Three of the 10 teams come into Tuesday with significant questions, which just makes you want to default to the safest options possible. I immediately identified James Harden and Anthony Davis as the stars I wanted to build my lineup around, so that is exactly what I did. Building around two $10,000 players is tough, but the short schedule actually provides some help in this regard.
Given the dearth of good options, it's going to be very difficult to build a lineup without at least one weak spot. I've got a few here -- Kosta Koufos and Marco Belinelli -- but there is a chance these two could provide a solid return on investment, based on situations beyond their control. If the Spurs and Grizzles, playing on the first and second half of back-to-backs respectively, opt to rest some starters, Koufos and Belinelli could see huge roles in favorable matchups.
The only players above $9,000 beyond Harden and Davis are on the Clippers, and I'm not crazy about that situation against the Hornets. If I had to settle for some sub-optimal options surrounding them, at least I got what I consider to be the best of the elite guys into my lineup.
Memphis at Detroit
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 385.7
The Grizzlies have been liberal with their rest, so there could be the potential for big value if they opt to sit some of their starters..
San Antonio at New York
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 387.0
This could be a perfect opportunity for Gregg Popovich to rest his stars, so keep a close eye on the Spurs' lineups before setting your own.
Orlando at Houston
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 397.5
Elfrid Payton is putting up huge numbers lately and I'm not sure Patrick Beverley is enough to slow him down, given how much he can do even if his scoring is limited..
Milwaukee at New Orleans
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 383.7
Michael Carter-Williams is starting to find his way in Milwaukee, totaling 120.1 FanDuel points over the last three. He is starting to fill up the box score again and might be underpriced based on his recent returns.
Charlotte at L.A. Clippers
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 384.6
This could be an interesting matchup for DeAndre Jordan, as the Hornets are the best defensive rebounding team in the league. He does so much of his damage on the offensive glass, but that might be limited in this game.
My roster for March 17 at FanDuel.com:
PG Tony Parker, Spurs at New York ($6,500)
PG Alexey Shved, Knicks vs. San Antonio ($6,000)
SG James Harden, Rockets vs. Orlando ($10,800)
SG Marco Belinelli, Spurs at New York ($3,500)
SF Khris Middleton, Bucks at New Orleans ($6,800)
SF Jeff Green, Grizzles at Detroit ($5,000)
PF Anthony Davis, Pelicans vs. Milwaukee ($12,300)
PF Josh Smith, Rockets vs. Orlando ($5,500)
C Kosta Koufos, Grizzlies at Detroit ($3,500)
Khris Middleton, SF, Bucksat New Orleans($6,800)
It took a while, but Bucks coach Jason Kidd's rotations have settled down, at least on the perimeter. Middleton has consistently played a huge role for the Bucks of late, with his minutes peaking at 38.2 through the first seven games of March, and he has upped his production to 31.8 FanDuel points per game as a result. That alone makes him a good value at this price, especially since there are so few other good options at the position Tuesday. Middleton is the second-most expensive small forward in the pool, and one of just four over the $6,000 barrier. Given his role and recent play, Middleton is the safest of the lot, even with a somewhat questionable matchup in New Orleans.
Tony Parker, PG, Spurs at New York($6,500)
It isn't totally surprising that Parker is starting to turn things aorund, though I'm not sure anyone expected him to play quite this well after looking severely limited early in the season. Parker is looking rather spry all of the sudden, averaging 36.8 FanDuel points per game in the month of March thanks to a big jump in his scoring and assist production. There is always a risk that Parker will get a night off from coach Gregg Popovich, so keep an eye on the Spurs' plans on the first night of a back-to-back. However, if Parker does get the start, he should provide plenty of value at this price against a very weak Knicks defense.
Marco Belinelli, SG, Spurs at New York($3,500)
Belinelli hasn't topped 20 FanDuel points since before the All-Star break, so this is a tough one to rely on. However, there doesn't seem to be much value available on Tuesday's slate of games, so I'll take a chance on Belinelli getting a larger role with Manu Ginobili sidelined by an ankle injury. This is a great matchup, as the Knicks are the worst team in the league at defending the 3-point line, so Belinelli could get loose and provide a spark off the bench. If having Belinelli in your lineup allows you to snag two stars, the risk might be worth it.
Overpay of the night
Chris Paul, PG, Clippers vs. Charlotte ($10,200)
Paul hasn't received quite enough credit for how well he did while carrying the Clippers in Blake Griffin's absence, though Fantasy players are surely aware. He averaged 44.4 FanDuel points per game in the 15 games Griffin missed, and was well worth a price north of $10,000. However, he was down at 39.7 prior to that stretch, and had just 35 in Griffin's first game back. Not only does Paul take on a smaller scoring load with Griffin back, but he does less playmaking, with Griffin racking up five assists of his own every game. At $10,000, Paul makes a lot less sense with Griffin around and his price will probably stabilize closer to $9,000. That's where I will snatch him up again.
CT: If I am looking long-term, I might consider dropping Mirotic for Kanter, though I also want to see a prognosis for Serge Ibaka's return. Right now, all we know is he is going to have some sort of procedure performed on his knee, but there really aren't any other details available. If it turns out that Ibaka is going to be out for the rest of the regular season -- which seems likely -- Kanter is going to have a big role to play for the Thunder as they chase a playoff spot. Mirotic's Fantasy value doesn't quite have an expiration date, per se, but the looming returns of Taj Gibson and Jimmy Butler will definitely leave Mirotic with a smaller chunk of minutes moving forward. If news comes out that Ibaka is out for the rest of the season and you are looking beyond, say, the next week, it might not be a bad idea to snag Kanter.
CT: As always, the story on Wright is that he just needs minutes. He has long been a per-minute star, but has never averaged as many as 19 per game. With Alex Len dealing with an ankle injury that looks like it could cost him a significant amount of time, Wright should see more playing time in the coming games, so I would go with him. He is averaging 9.4 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.0 blocks and 1.2 steals while shooting 57.1 percent over the last five games, and probably has more upside than Johnson. At the very least, Johnson should be there waiting for you if Wright busts, so you might as well just go with the upside Wright brings.
Waiver Wire flier
Steven Adams, C, Thunder
Enes Kanter is going to be the main beneficiary during Ibaka's absence, because he can most closely replicate Ibaka's contributions for the Thunder on offense. However, Adams is still going to have to play a big role down the stretch, contributing defense and rebounding, and he should see more minutes than ever before. He has been limited to just 22.9 minutes per game since returning from a hand injury, and there have to be some concerns about aggravating the injury if he is thrown into too big a role. But the Thunder likely won't have much of a choice. He is averaging 9.8 points, 12.1 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per-36 minutes since his return, and could be a starting center option as long as Ibaka is out.