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There's always something morally questionable about "exploiting" injuries for Fantasy purposes. That doesn't mean you shouldn't do it, but it's hard not to feel a small pang of guilt when you are frantically checking lineups to see if someone is too hurt to play so you can slide their replacement in.
Trades leave little of that ethically ambiguous residue on your conscience, while bringing many of the same benefits for Fantasy purposes. That weird in-between period when teams are waiting for guys to pass physicals and report after a trade creates confusion, which is just another name for opportunity in the world of daily Fantasy. Though prices can catch up relatively quickly to changes -- see, Kevin Love's value jumping from $8,500 to $10,100 in two nights -- there is usually a delay. And that, friends, is why I have multiple players for the Knicks in my lineup tonight.
The Knicks and Cavaliers are our latest examples of this principle. Both teams also have stars dealing with lingering injuries, which just compounds the impact of their unsettled rotations. The Knicks, especially, have been decimated by defections and damage, with most of their most notable players coming into the season currently out of the rotation. Figuring out who will benefit in the aftermath of the team's decision to trade J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert Monday isn't going to be easy, and if you decide to go with them, you'll be doing a lot of guessing and then hoping for the best.
However, if you choose right and land on Quincy Acy or Cole Aldrich on a night when they put up big numbers in an abnormally large role, you'll put yourself ahead of the competition tonight. Heck, even Cleanthony Early could be worth taking a flier on, if you really want to take a swing; he played 29 minutes and took 12 shots Monday, and has at least some upside, even if he's an unknown quantity.
Nothing is guaranteed in daily Fantasy -- just ask those owners who had Smith or Dion Waiters in their lineups Monday night -- so you might as well take some chances. Wednesday's schedule, with 13 games on the way, is as good a time as any.
New Orleans at Charlotte
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 391.15
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist could be a solid option, given his impressive all-around production of late.
Houston at Cleveland
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 390.34
Kevin Love's value has caught up with his recent play, so he's no longer a bargain at $10,000-plus. That's not to say he's a bad value with LeBron James still out, but the bar has been raised.
Milwaukee at Philadelphia
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 407.07
The 76ers have really struggled against small forwards, allowing the most FanDuel points of any team to them. Though Giannis Antetokounmpo is technically a SG for FanDuel purposes, he could exploit this matchup.
New York at Washington
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 377.73
The Knicks have a plethora of cheap options who could put you ahead of the game tonight. Though I wouldn't touch him, Cleanthony Early could be a big difference maker at a bargain basement price.
Memphis at Atlanta
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 383.85
The Hawks have been running through tough opponents lately, especially Jeff Teague. Teague has at least 37.6 FanDuel points in five straight, and is a value at $8,300 if he can keep that up, though this will be a real test.
Boston at Brooklyn
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 397.43
The Celtics' frontcourt isn't the stoutest in the league, but I'm still not sure I can trust these Nets' bigs.
Utah at Chicago
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 384.73
The Bulls live near the rim, so Rudy Gobert could put together another nice game; he is averaging 2.8 blocks per game over the last five.
Detroit at Dallas
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 392.75
I'm still not quite sure what to make of the new and improved Pistons. This will be another good test, especially with Dallas' improved defense.
Orlando at Denver
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 400.87
If the Magic can keep up in the altitude, this should be a good one for Fantasy purposes.
Phoenix at Minnesota
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 405.06
The Timberwolves have been among the worst teams in the league against opposing centers, allowing 48.87 FanDuel points per game over the last 10. Alex Len is a sneaky-good pick.
Oklahoma City at Sacramento
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 396.12
The Kings are allowing the second-most FanDuel points per game over the last 10 games. I thought about going cheap with Steven Adams against a team that gets its shots rejected more than anyone, and Serge Ibaka could have a good game for the same reason.
Indiana at Golden State
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 382.85
This is a tough defensive matchup on both sides. I would stay away David West, who doesn't look like a good value for this one.
LA Lakers at LA Clippers
Combined FanDuel points allowed per game: 397.56
Chris Paul and Blake Griffin have dominated this Lakers team, and there's little reason to think they won't continue to do so. Nick Young should see a boost in playing time with Wesley Johnson out, and he has actually fared much better playing with Kobe Bryant in the lineup than without.
My roster for Jan. 7 at FanDuel.com:
PG John Wall, Wizards vs. New York ($9,200)
PG Elfrid Payton, Magic at Denver ($5,200)
SG Eric Bledsoe, Suns at Minnesota ($8,900)
SG Tim Hardaway, Knicks at Washington ($5,400)
SF Quincy Acy, Knicks at Washington ($4,700)
SF Joe Ingles, Jazz at Chicago ($4,400)
PF Blake Griffin, Clippers vs. L.A. Lakers ($10,000)
PF Serge Ibaka, Thunder at Sacramento ($6,900)
C Jusuf Nurkic, Denver vs. Orlando ($5,000)
Quincy Acy, SF, Knicks at Washington ($4,700)
You've got to take some risks if you want to come away on top in this game, and Acy represents a pretty measured one, all things considered. He costs below $5,000, despite entering tonight with three games of 24.4 FanDuel points or more. The Knicks' various injuries have given him a shot to play big minutes, and he has taken advantage of late. This isn't a great matchup against a Wizards team that just kills Fantasy value, but the price is low enough with Acy that he should still provide a good return on investment tonight, especially since the Knicks should be very shorthanded yet again.
Elfrid Payton, PG, Magic at Denver ($5,200)
The Nuggets have done a pretty good job against opposing point guards this season, but Payton is playing well enough to at least consider that a non-factor. He hasn't been the most consistent option, but has at least 24.1 FanDuel points in four of the last five, which is plenty at this cost. He generates great value with his all-around game, especially in the form of steals and assists, and fast-paced game in the altitude of Denver should suit his game very well.
Jusuf Nurkic, C, Nuggets vs. Orlando ($5,000)
I really, really wanted Nurkic in my lineup tonight. The Magic are giving up the most FanDuel points per game to opposing centers, at more than 36 per-36 minutes, and have been the second-most blocked team in the league this season. Nurkic is a massive presence near the rim, and is averaging 2.8 blocks per game over the last five games. The matchup against Nikola Vucevic might be a tough one and it could get him into foul trouble, but Nurkic has done a good job of avoiding that issue recently, racking up just two fouls over the last three games, leading to 33.7 FanDuel points per game in that span.
Overpay of the night
Kemba Walker, PG, Hornets vs. New Orleans ($9,000)
There's no question Walker has been a phenomenal option of late, dropping 98.0 FanDuel points in his last two games for the injury-wrecked Hornets. However, his value has soared as a result, and it might be tough for him to live up to expectations at this price. You need to aim for around 40 FanDuel points to justify a $9,000 price tag, and he's going against a Pelicans defense that allows about 31.4 per-36 minutes, with the tough Jrue Holiday picking up opposing point guards. Walker could certainly reach this price, but it's a bit tough to justify making him one of your two or three highest-paid players.
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@LuckytheBird: Thinking about dropping Deron Williams and adding Tony Wroten…bad move? 10-team nine-category h2h
CT: In both good and bad ways, Wroten is a total force of nature. He drives recklessly and turns the ball over incessantly, but can put up massive Fantasy numbers from time to time. Still, Williams was starting to turn things around recently, putting up 29 points and 15 assists in his last two games before going down with a hip injury. I would try very hard not to drop Williams, who still has plenty of upside, even amidst this terrible slump, but Wroten will be the more productive short-term option if you are really desperate.
CT: Even if Jackson is going to be traded -- which would surprise me -- I don't think it is likely to happen this week. That being said, I'm not sure you necessarily need to cut him either, as I said in the aftermath of the team's acquisition of Dion Waiters. This is almost certainly bad news for Jackson's Fantasy value, but this move also has a whiff of the Pacers' trade for Evan Turner last season. There's no guarantee Waiters will fit in OKC after failing to fit in Cleveland, and Jackson remains a tremendous handcuff option for Russell Westbrook, who has missed two-fifths of the Thunder's games over the last two seasons. If you desperately need a starter right now, Jackson is droppable, but I would try to find a way to hang on to him.
Waiver wire flier
Tim Hardaway Jr., G, Knicks
You're running out of chances to add Hardaway, whose ownership is already up to 57 percent in CBSSports.com leagues as of Tuesday evening. That number should only rise in the coming days, with the fallout from the team's decision to trade Shumpert and Smith. Add in the continued whispers about Carmelo Anthony's knee, and Hardaway may end up the team's go-to scorer for a long time this season. Hardaway's shooting numbers have tumbled in his second season, but he has improved his rebounding and especially his passing, and still has a pretty ideal shot distribution, with nearly half of his shots coming from 3-point range. With Anthony out, Hardaway should be able to settle in as a 15-3-3 guy long term, with plenty of 3-pointers and loads of help at the free-throw line, making him a solid starter in category-based formats.