We have a pretty appealing 11 game NBA slate to work with this first Wednesday of February. Several games are projected to top 200 points, and there are no double digit spreads. That translates to plenty of minutes for starters in a bunch of decent paced games. There will be injury news to monitor leading up to lineup lock so be sure to stay alert for updates on the status of Kevin Durant, Brandon Knight, Kenneth Faried, and James Harden in particular. As usual, these big slates provide lots of temptation at the high end of the salary range, so we bring you the value plays (typically under $5500) you'll need to fill out your lineups. Value tends to come from bad teams and you'll see that today as several games are over represented in these plays.
Jordan Clarkson ($4800): Since entering the starting lineup, Jordan Clarkson has yet to let us down. It's a small sample size, but in the past three games where he's played 34+ minutes, he's scored 27, 34, and 26 fantasy points. If Brandon Knight misses this game, I will absolutely be using Clarkson tonight. I'm somewhat more hesitant if Knight does play because he is a tough defender, but Clarkson has held his own thus far against John Wall and Derrick Rose. I consider Clarkson a pretty safe bet for 25 fantasy points tonight.
Jared Bayless ($4400): In the same game, if Knight is ruled out, Jared Bayless becomes a must play PG against the Lakers' league worst PG defense. Milwaukee is the biggest favorite of the evening (-9) so even if Knight does start, it's likely that Bayless meets value in a blowout situation where the Bucks try to protect Knight's quad. In the last month when Bayless plays at least 20 mpg (off the bench) he's averaging 24 fantasy points. That's easy value.
Advice: I've had pretty piss-poor luck with cheap PG over the past week or so, to be honest. There are good options at the top today, but to fit two elite PG you really have to punt everywhere else. Assuming you're only paying up for one PG, I recommend filling that second slot with a few different value plays to distribute the risk in going cheap at what is one of the most important positions to get right. In addition to Clarkson and Bayless, consider JJ Barea ($3900), who started last time out and will see extra minutes regardless while Rajon Rondo is sidelined. Marcus Smart ($4600) is another option tonight against the Nuggets who are ranked 25th in defensive efficiency to PG. Smart is coming off a good game as the starting PG last night, but the Celtics are really struggling to find an identity right now and no rotation is set in stone.
Avery Bradley ($4900): Avery Bradley, however, remains one of the anchors in the Celtics rotation thanks to his strong defensive presence and leadership on the floor. He's scored double digit points in his last eight games, and in five of those he scored over 15 points. He has 10 steals over that period as well for an average of 20 fantasy points/game. The game with Nuggets is expected to be close and the Nuggets give up the 5th most fantasy points to opposing SG. Although Bradley is dealing with a broken thumb, he, along with LaMarcus Aldridge, seem bent on proving that the thumb is a dispensable appendage when it comes to basketball. Bradley shot 78% and scored 26 real points Tuesday night, his highest since Nov 3, 2014, while playing through the injury. Double check the late news just to be sure that there are no after effects that might hold him out tonight.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($4800): Caldwell-Pope is more of a GPP only play tonight. It's nice that his salary hasn't risen after two terrific games, but it should remind you that he is a very volatile player. He is just as likely to go for 30 fantasy points again tonight as 12. The fact that Detroit is facing the Pacers makes it worth the risk, as they've allowed the 3rd most fantasy points to SG this season. The Pacers have improved their defensive efficiency to the position over the past 10 games which is why I say this is more of a GPP play. Even after a couple of superb fantasy efforts, he'll be low owned based on everyone's past experience with him and his off games.
Advice: The value landscape at SG is pretty barren. I like Tony Allen ($4100) in a good spot at the Jazz. He's just an incredibly consistent presence at this position, and tonight he should be able to rack up a couple extra steals (he's tied for third in the league with 2/game) against turnover-prone Utah (rank 3rd in TOV). Other than that, spending up for Harden (check the knee status), DeMar DeRozan in a great matchup with Brooklyn, especially if Kyle Lowry is limited at all by his hamstring, or Jimmy Butler in what should be a close, high scoring game at Houston is the way to go.
Jared Dudley ($4800): Injuries to the Bucks across the court have opened up more playing time for Dudley, and he has made pretty good use of his opportunities. His price has risen as a result, particularly after the last two games in which he played 34 and 38 minutes. He's averaging 27 fpts as a starter over the last week and gets to face the Lakers' shaky wing defense tonight. Dudley is more than capable of providing rebounds, assists, and occasionally steals to supplement his scoring but his peripherals aren't as consistent as we like. For his price tag though, if he starts, he's an excellent bet to hit value once again.
Joe Ingles ($4400): Last night was probably considered a disappointing night from Ingles by some who used him, but he still scored over 20 fantasy points, which he has since finding a home in the Jazz rotation. That combined with his matchup vs Memphis will probably cause his ownership to dip today. I like Ingles because he finds a way to fill the stat sheet one way or another. If his steals are down, his assist total is up, he adds a few rebounds every game and his scoring seems to be trending upward on the whole (though the bad nights will probably still appear).
Advice: Some nights I like to really save at SF, and this could be one of those nights. It's hard to argue against paying up for Kawhi Leonard against Orlando but other than that, I'm not too excited about the top options. If you want to dig down deep, consider Danilo Gallinari ($3600) who is seeing his minutes and fantasy production increase steadily since he's back from the knee injury. Or look at Kyle Singler ($3700) who has played over 30 minutes in the last two scoring 27 and 20 fantasy points. Both are risky plays in rotations where the hot hand wins but you're more than happy with 20 fpts at their salaries.
Brandon Bass ($5300)/Jared Sullinger ($6200): Bass is the bargain play, but the safer Sullinger is probably worth paying up a little bit for. Both Boston bigs are liable to take advantage of Denver's horrid frontcourt defense in this game I've already mentioned a couple of times. The Nuggets allow the 3rd most fantasy points to PF (4th most to C; Bass probably starts at the 5) while finally claiming the worst defensive efficiency to the position. Bass posted a line of 17/9/5/1/3 for 43.3 fpts two weeks ago when these teams played each other. Expecting a repeat performance is admittedly optimistic, but both these guys should thrive tonight.
John Henson ($5000): OK, it's officially pick on the Lakers day. It's not my fault FanDuel hates John Henson and won't raise his salary. Henson is one Buck that you can count on to produce when he's healthy and seeing playing time. The Bucks are extremely shorthanded in the frontcourt right now, and Henson is playing great, averaging over a fantasy point per minute. He's most recently seeing about 25 mpg, for about 28 fpts. I'll take that any day, and against the Lakers, I'd take him twice if I could.
Advice: There are also plenty of ways to spend up at the position tonight, and you'll surely want some exposure to at least Anthony Davis and Pau Gasol in great match ups tonight. The middle is full of iffy plays like Tim Duncan, David West, Kenneth Faried, and Amir Johnson who appear to be in good positions tonight, but always represent some risk/volatility.
Robert Sacre ($4000): The Bucks are a great target for opposing bigs. They're ranked 26th in defensive efficiency to C and Sacre will be the major beneficiary of that. Sacre has been playing between 20-30 mpg and averaging 20 fpts. With Jordan Hill out, the Lakers' frontcourt will be a mix of Sacre, Tarik Black, Ed Davis, and Carlos Boozer. While it may make sense to take a wait and see approach to this situation, I want some exposure vs Milwaukee and feel like Sacre is the safest of the four. Despite him starting at PF, I will not be looking at Black at all, just for the record.
Advice: I don't typically punt the lone C spot on FanDuel, but Sacre is an enticing play tonight. If you like to spend a bit more, Hassan Whiteside is a great play. I can't believe I got through this whole thing without targeting the awful Minnesota defense, but such is the state of the Miami Heat right now. Mike Gallagher wrote about them here. Nikola Vucevic should take advantage of the weak Spurs frontcourt defense if you can afford him as the most expensive C tonight.