5 Players Who Can Help Your Jan. 15 FanDuel NBA Lineup

This post features the top five picks for today’s FanDuel NBA games based on their relative cost.

With 18 NBA teams in action, it may seem like a Herculean labor to narrow them down to five building blocks, but fortunately the schedule makers have provided us with a few standout mismatches to help set the stage for this new format.

In addition, James Harden‘s Houston Rockets have a tall task ahead of them with the Cleveland Cavaliers in town, and Jimmy Butler‘s Chicago Bulls will be on their fourth game in five nights when the rested Dallas Mavericks pay a visit, so it might be a good idea to fade those 2-guards and look for value plays in that category instead.

With that in mind, here’s a snapshot of the best cornerstones for your DFS roster based on their fortuitous match-ups and their price points:

(5) Brook Lopez, Brooklyn Nets ($8,600) vs. Portland Trail Blazers: Lopez continues to be one of the few bright spots in the Nets’ dumpster fire of a season. That said, he has a surprisingly low floor so the matchup has to be weighed carefully before deploying him, especially at the center position where there can be a tendency to look for value on the cheap (not sure if this is because of a tendency to fill the position last or because there is only one slot, but the phenomenon seems to exist).

Last season Lopez averaged 26.5 PPG in two meetings with Portland, which was well above his 17.2 PPG overall, and he is coming off a 43.1 fantasy point night in his last outing so there shouldn’t be concern about lack of continuity under interim coach Tony Brown. Since the Trail Blazers are sixth-worst overall against opposing pivots on FanDuel NBA, this could be an opportunity to consider splurging on him.

(4) Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans ($10,400) vs. Charlotte Hornets: Davis appears to be safe to deploy again after making a successful return from his latest injury with 44.5 fantasy points in his team’s surprisingly one-sided victory at Sacramento on Wednesday. After a day to rest, Davis and company welcome a Hornets squad to the Crescent City that has been far worse on the road (4-13) than at the Cable Box (14-7), a paradox that was typified by an 0-4 road swing followed by a convincing victory over the Atlanta Hawks at home in their last outing.

In their two-game series last season, Davis averaged 28.0 PPG and 12.5 RPG, both of which exceeded his 24.4 PPG and 10.2 RPG for that campaign. Charlotte is middle of the road vs. PFs on FanDuel NBA, so they’re not terrible but given the Brow’s recent success and the fact that he’s facing the “bad” version of the Hornets tonight the stage could be set for “full pterodactyl” mode again.

(3) Paul George, Indiana Pacers ($8,800) vs. Washington Wizards: George’s floor seemed to get too low in December to merit trust for a while, but he is starting to show signs that he is still the player who came out of the gate smoking to start the season, with four 45-plus fantasy point games in his last eight outings. While a 50 percent chance of returning value is far from automatic, tonight should be a suitable time to roll the dice on him.

One of the highlights from his initial success was a 40-point effort against Washington shortly before Thanksgiving. While George’s productivity has fluctuated since then, the Wizards have managed to stay consistently horrible at defending opposing 3s, as they’ve continued to hold the worst mark on Fanduel NBA in that regard. Tonight George should have an opportunity to flirt with the high ceiling that captured the fantasy world by storm in the early going, and at his current price you can still pair him with an elite player in the $10K neighborhood without becoming cap-strapped in the process.

(2) Isaiah Thomas, Boston Celtics ($8,600) vs. Phoenix Suns: Thomas has been on quite a roll lately, averaging 32.3 (actual) points over his last three contests (with two 50-plus fantasy point nights in that span), and he has a tasty matchup with one of his former teams tonight, as the Suns are second-worst overall vs. opposing point guards and dead last over their past five games on FanDuel NBA.

Although he started out the season as the team’s sixth man, Thomas took over the starting role when incumbent Marcus Smart was injured and he hasn’t relinquished the promotion, as Smart’s steady increase in minutes since his late December return seems to have come primarily at the expense of other players.

After being traded from the Suns to the Celtics last season, Thomas got the last laugh when his 21-point, seven-assist night (off the bench) helped power his new team to a five-point victory. The two teams have gone in opposite directions since then, as Boston has continued to justify its surprising playoff appearance from last season, while the Suns have cratered amidst key injuries and general lack of chemistry.

The potential return of Brandon Knight from his food poisoning bout shouldn’t impact Thomas’ performance since his counterpart’s defensive rating of 107.2 is probably what has driven his team’s ineptitude vs. PGs in the first place.

(1) Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder ($10,500) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves: Westbrook should be itching to get back on the court after getting ejected in Wednesday night’s romp over the Mavericks’ b-squad due to multiple altercations with the diminutive J.J. Barea.

Although tonight’s meeting with the T-Wolves’ first stringers may seem similarly imbalanced on paper, I recommended Westbrook on Wednesday for the teams’ initial meeting and he made me look good with a stat line of 22 points, seven boards, 11 dimes and three steals as the Thunder won by just five points.

In addition to the previous rationale provided, the Lobos are actually better on the road (7-11 vs. 5-17 at the Discount Center) so if they were able to hang with the highly-powered OKC offense where they typically play worse (we’re comparing relative levels of mediocrity, but still…) it stands to reason that Minnesota should continue to be competitive in the rematch at Chesapeake Energy Arena, despite the Thunder’s daunting 18-5 home record.

Prior to getting chucked versus Dallas the former Bruin was averaging 54.4 FPPG over his past three contests (including the win in Minneapolis) so he merits strong consideration as long as he can keep his cool this time out.

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