Jameer Nelson ($4200, 17.2 USG) – This is turning out to be one of my favorite slates of the year and Nelson is one of the reasons why. So many injuries have popped up over the weekend, allowing us to find value early, rather than later. Emmanuel Mudiay left Sunday’s game against Minnesota in a walking boot after injuring his right ankle, leaving the 33 year old Jameer Nelson to play all the minutes he could handle. In 38 minutes played, he scored 42.5 DK points with a stellar line of 20 points, 7 assists, 6 rebounds and 2 steals. The matchup against the Rockets owns the second highest over/under on the night at 209.5, so I wouldn’t be against a mini-stack here. Patrick Beverley is an above average defender at the position so I’m not in love with that, but Nelson should still see about 8 to 10 minutes of Ty Lawson and maybe about 36 minutes of playing time total. He’s the chalk play of the night and likely to be one of the 2 (see below for the other) highest owned players, barring some late breaking news.
Courtney Lee ($3900, 16.6 USG) – Tony Allen was a late scratch last night against the Heat and doubtful for tonight’s contest against the Wizards. Grizzlies’ coach Dave Joerger elected to tighten up his rotation and played Courtney Lee 38 minutes (earned the start in Allen’s place), despite serviceable backups all being healthy. The rumors of Joerger getting fired may have something to do with that. If Allen sits again, Lee will be getting a large plate of playing time against a Wizards team that gives up the 5th most fantasy points to opposing shooting guards (43.4) and playing the 5th fastest pace (101.2). Lee’s fantasy production is very dependent on his shooting and his ability to rack up steals so don’t expect much outside of those departments.
Matt Barnes ($4300, 16.8 USG) – “The other chalk play of the night”. Besides Nelson, Barnes figures to be in the conversation for the highest owned player. After replacing Zach Randolph in the starting lineup in Miami yesterday, Barnes blew up and scored his highest fantasy point total on the year (42.8 DK points) with 13 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and a block in 37 minutes of action. At this point in their respective careers, Barnes fits what Memphis is trying to do much better than Randolph. Barnes facilitates the ball, spreads the floor and noticeably tries more on the defensive end. Joerger has already said he intends to stick with this lineup for a bit to see how it plays out so as long as Barnes is priced this cheap and playing starters minutes, you gotta ride it. Oh, and did I mention that no other team in the league defends the SF position worse than Washington? You’ll be behind the 8-ball if you choose to go in another direction here.
Luis Scola ($4900, 20.5 USG) – Just a few days ago, I had written how underwhelming Scola has been during Jonas Valenciunas’ absence. I figured his USG rate would rapidly rise with no other player on this roster having much skill offensively down low in the paint. Maybe I spoke too prematurely. Over his last three games, Scola is averaging 16.7 points, 7 rebounds in 30 minutes (likely having to due with injuries to Carroll and Nogueira). There’s one thing about rostering Scola that irks me every time though; Dwane Casey’s refusal to playing him towards the end of games. If you’ve rostered Scola this season, you know where I’m coming from. This guy will play so well at the beginning of both halves, then you’re staring at your score tracker throughout the game and wondering if he was injured or ejected. Nope, it’s just Casey. Personally though, on a night with so much value, I’d recommend paying up at PF and SG. You don’t need to go this route for salary relief.
Alexis Ajinca ($3400, 19.3 USG) – Obvious value plays aside, this maybe my favorite on the night. Alexis Ajinca replaced struggling Omer Asik in the starting lineup on Saturday against the Bulls and played 26 min (20 DK points). This move may not have much long term value but as long as Ryan Anderson is out (stomach illness), Anthony Davis moves to PF, leaving Ajinca to play starters minutes at center. Ajinca is a guy that can fill the stat sheet with limited time, but give him anywhere near 30 min and watch out. Per 36 minutes, he averages 35.90 DK points. Also, the matchup against the Blazers is as dreamy as it gets (which is why Anthony Davis is in every lineup I have tonight). No team gives up more points to opposing centers than Portland (53.6 DK PPG) and this game owns the highest over/under on the night (211). I’m going to try to have as much exposure to this game as possible because neither team plays defense, which is what you want for fantasy purposes.