Daily Fantasy Basketball is very entertaining, especially with several injured players making their way back. It might be one of the most fun DFS games to play, as you get a pretty clear-cut idea well before games who will be out and who will play. Rarely are there many surprises. Plus, the injury report is much less vague than, say, hockey.
Many times Fantasy owners will play a guy because of his previous success, but it’s a good idea to study matchups, especially team defense and who the really poor teams are. You’ll find yourself picking on the Los Angeles Lakers, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings and Washington Wizards, among others. Generally you’re not going to want to use many players against the likes of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors, all teams which rank inside the Top 5 in scoring defense.
For more recommendations from me throughout the week, plus tips from other top industry analysts like Drew Dinkmeyer, check out DailyRoto.com for comprehensive free and premium DFS content.
WEEK 13 SUREFIRE KINGS
James Harden, SG, Houston
Upcoming Schedule – SUN at LAL, MON at LAC, WED vs. DET, FRI vs. MIL
You have to pick and choose your spots wisely when spending big on ‘The Beard’. He was terrible in Friday’s lopsided loss to Cleveland, posting just 11 points with five rebounds, five assists and three steals, but he misfired on eight of his 10 shots, committed five fouls and turned the ball over eight times, second-most this season. He will have a chip on his shoulder when the team meets the Lakers at the Staples Center Sunday, and that’s good for Fantasy Hoops players. The last time he faced down LAL, he popped in 26 points, six rebounds and six assists with just three turnovers. Normally a date with the Clips wouldn’t be that attractive, but they’re injury-plagued and Harden should find plenty of open spaces then, too. A meeting with the Bucks is also a play-on spot.
Damian Lillard, PG, Portland ($9,400)
Upcoming Schedule – SAT at PHI, MON at WAS, WED vs. ATL
Lillard is in line for a strong week, as the eastern road trip for the Trail Blazers continues into the early part of next week. A trip to Philadelphia is great news, as they have the worst scoring defense in the Eastern Conference at 105.2 points per game. They will then wrap up the trip against the Washington Wizards, the team with the second-worst scoring defense in the East at 103.7 points per game. Even a home date with the Atlanta Hawks, allowing 101.0 points per game is also pretty favorable.
WEEK 13 MID-LEVEL MUST-HAVES
Gordon Hayward, SF, Utah ($7,500)
Upcoming Schedule – SAT vs. LAL, MON at CHA, WED at NYK, FRI at BRK
Hayward might come with a mid-level price tag, but lately he has been putting up elite-type numbers. That helps when you face the likes of the Lakers, Blazers and Kings. He’ll get another crack at Los Angeles Saturday night, and he posted 25 points with three blocked shots, two rebounds, two assists and 35,5 Fantasy points against them Jan. 10. Look for similar production in this one, as he has consistently been in the 30-40 point range for most of the past two weeks.
Ricky Rubio, PG, Minnesota
Upcoming Schedule – SUN vs. PHX, TUE at NOP, WED at DAL
Rubio is coming off a poor game in OKC Friday night, as he managed just six points with two assists in a blowout loss in which none of the Wolves seemed to be feeling it. The poor game is great news for DFS players going forward, as his price tag might drop a little as a result. He faces three games against teams each yielding at least 100 points per game, with two giving up at least 105 per night. Rubio will re-gain his form, posting at least double-digit totals in assists with a steal or two, a handful of boards and eight to 12 points. He does a little bit of everything to endear himself to Fantasy owners, and he comes with a nice price.
WEEK 13 BARGAIN BIN VALUES AND CONTRARIAN PLAYS
Amir Johnson, PF, Boston ($5,500)
Upcoming Schedule – SAT at WAS, MON at DAL, WED at TOR
Johnson is a tremendous lower-priced play, as he is coming off a huge performance against Indiana last time out. Johnson posted 14 points with 18 rebounds, six assists and two steals for a whopping 50.5 Fantasy points on DraftKings. His matchup with the Wizards is a juicy one, and his game in Dallas will also be solid option. However, you’ll want to avoid Johnson, and all other Boston players, for a game against the strong defense of the Raptors.
Paul Pierce, SF, L.A. Clippers ($4,100)
Upcoming Schedule – SAT vs. SAC, MON vs. HOU, THU at CLE, FRI at NYK
‘The Truth’ is proving he still has a little bit left in the tank, but you have to be careful as a DFS owner. He is regularly seeing 20-25 minutes for the beleaguered Clips, who have had one of the most banged up frontcourts in the league of late. Pierce posted 15 points with nine boards in his last outing, hitting six of his 10 field goal chances, but the team was also without C DeAndre Jordan, who was out due to pneumonia. So Pierce had a few more responsibilities than he normally would. Still, for Fantasy Hoops, if he can net 10-12 points with a handful of boards and a steal or two, he more than pays for himself. Against a poor Kings team Saturday, and versus a very giving Rockets defense, Pierce will outperform salary expectation. However, avoid him late in the week.
Cody Zeller, PF, Charlotte ($5,600)
Upcoming Schedule – SAT vs. MIL, MON vs. UTA, WED at OKC, FRI at ORL
Zeller has really stepped up his game with Al Jefferson (knee surgery) sidelined, and he’ll continue to log heavy minutes until A.J. is back in mid-February. He is a bit of a contrarian play because he managed just five points, eight rebounds and an assist in 23 minutes, as his shot just wasn’t falling, he was handled by Anthony Davis of the Pels and he picked up three personal fouls, too. Look for things to lighten up considerably against a poor Milwaukee Bucks (103.6 PPGA) scoring defense, and the game at OKC Wednesday is also a spot to play.