Happy New Year’s Eve! We have an incredible day of sports ahead of us. There are some great college football bowl games, a couple of early NBA games, and a five-game NBA slate on tap for tonight’s FanDuel contests.
Today’s picks will feature my favorite tournament plays for the evening slate of NBA games. To play against me in the $150K NBA Slam tonight, click here.
Kyrie Irving, Cleveland Cavaliers (Salary: $7800, FPPG: 34, MPG: 38, Usage Rate: 23.3)
This pick hinges on the health on LeBron James. James is currently listed as questionable for tonight’s game, after missing last night’s game with knee soreness. In his absence, Irving took over offensively. He finished the game with 35 points, 6 rebounds and 9 assists. If LeBron is forced to sit again tonight, Irving would become the go-to player in the Cavs’ offense once again. Tonight the Cavaliers host the up-tempo Bucks in what is expected to be a fast-paced game.
Brandon Knight, Milwaukee Bucks (Salary: $6700, FPPG: 30.3, MPG: 32, Usage Rate: 25.8)
Knight has been one of my favorite tournament targets all season long. For whatever reason, he continues to be underpriced on FanDuel. He’s listed at a bargain-bin price of $6,700 tonight against the Cavaliers. Knight has 40-fantasy-point type of upside every time he takes the floor. On the season, he is averaging 18 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists per game. He should be able to post a similar stat line tonight against the Cavaliers.
Eric Bledsoe, Phoenix Suns (Salary: $8200, FPPG: 32.7, MPG: 33, Usage Rate: 24)
Bledsoe has been on a tear over his last six games, averaging 20 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 steals per game. During that stretch, he is averaging 41.5 fantasy points per game. His price has yet to reflect his recent level of production, which means that this could be the last time to target him at this price before it goes up. He draws a favorable matchup tonight against the Thunder, in a game that features the NBA Vegas odds’ highest total on the schedule tonight.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks (Salary: $6500, FPPG: 23.5, MPG: 27, Usage Rate: 20.5)
Antetokounmpo, aka The Alphabet, is one of my favorite tournament plays tonight on FanDuel. His inconsistent play and his high price tag will likely scare most people away from him tonight. That just makes him an even more appealing fantasy option. Since Jabari Parker went down with his injury, Giannis has been seeing extended playing time. He has played at least 35 minutes and has scored at least 26 fantasy points in three of his last five games. He should continue to see all of the minutes he can handle tonight against the Cavaliers.
Trevor Ariza, Houston Rockets (Salary: $5700, FPPG: 25.9, MPG: 38, Usage Rate: 17.4)
Small forward is a very thin position tonight. There are very few options that really stand out. One that does stand out though is Trevor Ariza. He is averaging 38 minutes per game this season and is still listed at a bargain-bin price of only $5,700. If he can score 30+ fantasy points tonight, he will easily reach and exceed value. That’s a feat that he can certainly accomplish against the Hornets, who are ranked below average in both defensive efficiency and rebounding differential this season.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Charlotte Hornets (Salary: $4900, FPPG: 19.2, MPG: 25, Usage Rate: 16.8)
The Hornets are going to be extremely short-handed tonight. They will be without both Lance Stephenson and Al Jefferson. That is going to open up big minutes for one MKG, who has been playing well recently. Over his last six games, he is averaging 27 minutes and 22 fantasy points per game. He may see extended playing time tonight against the Rockets, who are ranked 19th in fantasy points allowed to small forwards this season.
Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers (Salary: $5600, FPPG: 20.9, MPG: 27, Usage Rate: 14.5)
Thompson may be my favorite play (dollar for dollar) available tonight on FanDuel. He has scored at least 29 fantasy points in three straight games and gets to match up against the short-handed fron-court of the Bucks. As a starter this season, Thompson has averaged 15 points and 12 rebounds per game. He doesn’t have a particularly high usage rate in this offense, but he should be able to post another double-double tonight against the Bucks.
Cody Zeller, Charlotte Hornets (Salary: $4900, FPPG: 16.7, MPG: 23, Usage Rate: 16.5)
Al Jefferson has been ruled out for tonight’s game and he may end up missing the next four weeks of action. That should give a huge fantasy boost to Cody Zeller, who has seen his minutes take a hit over the last few weeks. Look for Zeller to immediately see somewhere in the range of 30+ minutes, starting tonight against the Rockets. This is your classic injury plug-and-play that should reward owners of Zeller handsomely tonight.
Zaza Pachulia, Milwaukee Bucks (Salary: $4900, FPPG: 17.4, MPG: 22, Usage Rate: 17.5)
Larry Sanders and Ersan Ilyasova have both been ruled out of tonight’s game against the Cavaliers, which means Zaza Pachulia will continue to see all of the minutes that he can handle. A lot of people will target Bismack Biyombo tonight, but I’d much rather pay a little extra for a sure thing in Pachulia. He has averaged 28 fantasy points per game over his last three. Pachulia is a low-risk, medium-reward fantasy option tonight against the Cavs.