Yahoo Plays and Strategy for Saturday, January 7

There’s something crazy going on in the NBA right now. We’re getting to a point where these defenses can’t match up with the offenses, leading to ridiculous stat lines. We’ve had more 40-point games than ever, and we have to assume they’ll keep rolling in with how special these guys are on the offensive end. That said, we only have four games on Saturday’s slate, leaving fewer opportunities to hit that threshold. Even so, there’s still plenty to discuss, so let’s get started with one of my favorite guards in the NBA.

Guards

CJ McCollumNOP at DAL ($36)

Injuries have pummeled the Pelicans, but it’s forcing McCollum into a monster role. Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram are both nicked up, leaving CJ to run the show. The former Portland guard has a 32 percent usage rate with those two guys off the floor, averaging nearly 50 Yahoo points per game in the last seven outings they’ve missed. The matchup with Dallas can be daunting, but McCollum has maintained a 40-point average against them in their last three matchups.

Markelle FultzENT at GSW ($23)

It’s been a long road for Fultz to get to this point, but we’re starting to see why he was the top pick in the 2017 draft. The stat-stuffing guard has scored at least 24 Yahoo points in 10 of his last 11 games, averaging 34 Y! points per game in that span. That’s all you can ask for from a $23 player, and it’s encouraging that he’s doing that damage despite struggling with his shot from him. Facing the Warriors is lovely, with Golden State ranking 27th in points allowed while surrendering the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing PGs.

Guard to Avoid

Jalen SuggsENT at GSW ($16)

This former Top-5 pick will be a good player at some point, but he’s impossible to trust for DFS. What makes him so scary is the rest of this roster, with Fultz and Cole Anthony ahead of him on the totem pole at the point guard position. That led to Suggs playing just five minutes off the bench in his return from an injury, and it’s unlikely he’ll sniff anything close to 20 minutes for the next week. We do think this kid will be good in the near future but wait until this price drops or this roster thins out.

Forwards

LeBron JamesLAL at SAC ($48)

King James is the greatest player my young eyes have ever seen, and it’s wild what he’s doing in his 20th year. The 38-year-old has scored at least 36 Yahoo points in every game this year, averaging over 50 fantasy points per game. His recent form is even more ridiculous, averaging 38.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 8.3 assists across his last three outings. That’s no surprise since he’s taken over this offense in the absence of Anthony Davis, flirting with a 40 percent usage rate in that stretch. This 24th-ranked Kings defense won’t slow him down, with James collecting 57 Yahoo points in their most recent meeting.

Patrick Williams, WHO vs. UTA ($12)

Williams isn’t necessarily a great fantasy producer, but this forward is playing too much to be this cheap. The 2020 Top-5 pick is playing nearly 35 minutes a night over his last nine games, generating a 24-point average in that span. That’s a tantalizing total from a $12 player, and this 21-year-old kid is only scratching the surface of what he could become. A matchup with the Jazz is marvelous, too, with Utah ranked 23rd in points allowed and 25th in defensive efficiency. All you need is 20 fantasy points for Williams to be a good value, which he feels like a lock in this substantial role.

Forward to Avoid

Herbert JonesNOP at DAL ($17)

One would assume that Jones would be an immense value with Zion and Ingram both injured, but this guy just doesn’t produce from a fantasy perspective. He’s one of the best defensive players in the NBA, but he’s one of those guys who’s better at real-life basketball than at fantasy. That’s evident in his stats, averaging just 21 Yahoo points per game this season. He’s got that average in nearly 30 minutes a night and hasn’t cracked 20 fantasy points in the last three games without those studs. That’s even more horrifying against the Mavs, who rank sixth in total defense while playing at the slowest pace in the league.

Centers

Nikola Vucevic, WHO vs. UTA ($28)

It’s hard to understand why Vooch remains below $30. This guy has been closer to $40 for most of his career from him, and he’s been playing like that recently. The big man has at least 35 Yahoo points in 10 of his last 11 games, totaling a 42-point average in that span. That’s impossible to find from a sub-$30 player, especially since Vooch dropped 60 fantasy points on Friday night! He should keep that fantastic form against Utah, who surrenders the second most fantasy points to opposing centers.

Jonas ValanciunasNOP at DAL ($23)

We’ve seen two different types of Valanciunas this season. We’ve seen the crappy one who barely plays when this roster is at full health and the beast who goes off when everyone is injured. That’s great news here because we already talked about how Ingram and Zion are out. There’s also a chance Larry Nance Jr will be rested in this B2B, and that should guarantee JV 25-30 minutes. The big man has played at least 25 minutes in 22 games this season, averaging 35 Yahoo points per game in those outings. That’s no surprise with the boost in usage, and this Dallas frontcourt is one of the worst in the NBA. Their snail-like pace is also beneficial for a bulky big man like this!

Center to avoid

Walker KesslerUTA at CHI ($16)

This rookie looks awesome in limited minutes, but his workload is too small for him to be a trustworthy option. The big man has played 17 minutes in back-to-back games, relegated to bench duties with Kelly Olynyk returning to the lineup. Seeing a rookie’s minutes go in the wrong direction is terrifying, especially since he has 21 or fewer fantasy points in five of his last six games. Chicago is a concerning matchup, too, surrendering the eighth-fewest fantasy points to opposing centers this year.

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