FanDuel Bargain Bin
Today’s Tuesday NBA slate eases us into the new year with just five games, headlined by the debut of Isaiah Thomas with the Cleveland Cavaliers. With more than a few interesting stars on the slate tonight, we’ll look for bargain plays that offer a range of risk/reward ratios. In this column, I generally set $6000 as the bargain threshold, and I try to indicate when I think a position is particularly well-suited--or not--to using the cheap plays given the landscape of the particular slate.
Jarrett Jack and Frank Ntilikina $4700: Jack is the safer play of the two New York guards, in my opinion, but Ntilikina is starting to make some waves. Both guys’ minutes are somewhat variable, and there is some hot-hand playing going on with the Knicks. I think they’ll both be a little under-owned, because most people aren’t aware that San Antonio has been a top 10 matchup for point guards this season.
Tyler Ulis $4000: Just when it seemed that Isaiah Canaan was firmly in charge of the Suns point position, he’s playing under 20 minutes and Ulis looks like the guy again. It’s a situation you might want to avoid altogether except for the fact that Atlanta ranks so poorly in defensive efficiency while allowing the ninth-most fantasy points to point guards. The Suns have confirmed that Ulis will start tonight, adding to his appeal.
Isaiah Thomas $5500: I’m not really recommending Thomas, but it’s not every day (or season) I can write up a bona fide superstar in this column. With Kawhi Leonard, I’ve now done it twice! Thomas is one of my favorites of all time, so even though he’ll only play 10-12 minutes tonight, I couldn’t not include a quick mention.
Kent Bazemore $5800: Bazemore has a wide range of potential outcomes, but I lean toward his higher end in Phoenix. His ability to produce consistent peripherals to go with his double-digit scoring gives him a solid floor for the price. The multiple blocks and steals can quickly boost him into the 40- or even 50-fantasy point range.
Jeremy Lamb $5600: Lamb is continuing to find ways to be productive for the Hornets, even while Nicolas Batum is playing significantly more minutes than him. Like Bazemore, his double-digit scoring provides the floor, and against the league’s worst defense and third-worst rebounding rate, there’s upside for Lamb as well.
Kings $4500-$4800: I hate the Kings rotations so much, because they have good value players and it’s been nearly impossible to predict their usage as the team tries to figure out what they have and how to make it work. As I said, they are worst in the league in both offensive and defensive efficiency, so they haven’t hit upon the magic formula yet, but with Charlotte the second-best SG matchup in the league, you may want to get some exposure to Bogdan Bogdanovic, Buddy Hield, and/or Garrett Temple, in that order of priority.
James Ennis III $3800: It’ll be interesting to see how Cleveland adapts to the presence of Thomas at the point, from both an offensive and defensive perspective. Right now, Cleveland ranks 28th in defensive efficiency and they have been notoriously weak at defending opposing wings. Ennis III has played an average of over 20 MPG in the last five, and put up 16 or more fantasy points in four of those five. Ennis is a player you can slot in with LeBron James and feel pretty confident in the return on your investment tonight.
John Collins $5900: Collins is the fourth-most expensive power forward tonight, but there’s a big salary drop off between Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kristaps Porzingis and him. I like the matchups for Griffin and Aldridge, but find that pairing Collins with one of them is the way to go. Collins should do fine against Phoenix and has little to little competition for usage in the Hawks frontcourt. I consider him safe with upside.
Frank Kaminsky $5200: Given the strong play of Kaminsky lately, you could justify cheaply filling out the PF slots with both he and Collins tonight. Kaminsky and Dwight Howard should be the main beneficiaries of Sacramento’s third-worst rebounding rate, and if he can keep up the 15 points per game he’s had in the last two along with a couple blocks and steals and you have a 6X value play.
Tyson Chandler $4500: If you go cheap in cash games at center, which is a tough decision, Chandler is steadily returning about 4-6X value. Atlanta offers the fifth-best center matchup for fantasy, and as long as Greg Monroe continues to not play, Chandler should be in for his usual workload.
Deyonta Davis $3700: If you want a long-shot tournament flier on the cheaper side of the bargain bin, try Davis. He’s put together a stretch of three games on the road that have seen him steadily increase his minutes while averaging 11 points and 6 rebounds. It’s not a great matchup with DeAndre Jordan and the Clippers, but the price is right.