Fantasy Basketball 2014: Strong Plays For January 1st

By Adam Pfeifer
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports


The last time I wrote about fantasy basketball, it was the year 2013.

It was also yesterday, but who’s counting?

Happy New Year, everyone. 2013 was a crazy year for fantasy sports, and I’m sure 2014 will be just as exciting. We kick off the new year with five NBA games this evening, and although it’s a holiday, fantasy players don’t take any breaks.

Note: FPPG allowed totals are based off FanDuel

Kevin Love, PF (vs NO)

FPPG allowed to PF: 42.99 (7th-most)

Love is coming off back-to-back monster performances, and is red hot over his last five games. During that span, he’s averaging a monstrous 32.8 points, 13.8 rebounds, four assists, 7.6 free-throw attempts and 2.4 triples per contest. That is just bonkers, folks. He is clearly making the case for MVP of both real life and fantasy, coming in as the number five player on ESPN’s Player Rater. I love him to continue his hot stretch on Wednesday night against a Pelicans defense that has been struggling as of late. This unit allows the 7th-most fantasy points to opposing power forwards, and have been vulnerable in all aspects of Love’s game. 23.8 percent of the opposition’s points come from beyond the arc (11th-most) and they also are coughing up 43.1 points from the paint per game, which is good for the 1oth-most. Minnesota plays at a very high pace, sporting the second-highest in basketball, and this game could be a fairly high-scoring affair. There’s plenty of opportunity for Love to continue his dominance tonight.

Ty Lawson, PG (vs PHI)

FPPG allowed to PG: 46.66 (most)

If there is one rule in fantasy hoops, it’s to start anyone against the Philadelphia 76ers. Their defense is quite poor, allowing the most fantasy points to point guards, the most points per game (111.5), and are also inside the bottom-10 in fantasy points to nearly every position. Lawson picked a good time to bounceback with his best game in a while, netting 26 points, adding seven assists, one steal and two rebounds. That was the highest-scoring total since the middle of November, but if you look at his game splits, Lawson is a guy who heats up as the season progresses. Well, there’s no better way to get on track than a home game against the Sixers. Both of these teams rank inside the top-10 in pace (1st and 9th, respectively), so plenty of points should be had. Meanwhile, Lawson is sinking 1.4 triples per game over his last five, and the 76ers are the worst team in the league at defending the long ball, allowing a league-high 28.3 percent of points from beyond the arc.

Lance Stephenson, SG (@ TOR)

FPPG allowed to SG: 36.59 (7th-most)

I don’t think many people realize that Stephenson leads the NBA in triple-doubles with three. In the beginning of the season, many figured he’d be just a fill-in until Danny Granger returned from injury. However, Granger has become an afterthought, as Stephenson has been playing incredibly this year. Contributing in all categories, Stephenson is averaging 13.5 points, 5.3 assists, 6.7 rebounds and 1.6 triples per contest, all while logging a healthy 35.2 minutes per game. He’s been awesome, and has really asserted himself as a must-start fantasy option. I like him a lot tonight against a Raptors defense that gives up points in many ways to shooting guards. Shooting guards are averaging the most assists per game (5.50), steals (2.09) and the seventh-most fantasy points per game against the Raptors this season.

Al Jefferson, C (@ LAC)

FPPG allowed to C: 46.69 (3rd-most)

Jefferson has been another strong contributor during the month of December. In fact, he’s posted at least 10 points and nine rebounds in every single game this month. During the entire month, he’s averaging an impressive 17.7 points, 11.5 rebounds and 1.3 blocks. Now that he is fully healthy, he is providing the Bobcats with that paint presence that they were hoping for when they brought him in via free agency. He should be the focal point of the offense in a game where they will need plenty of it. The Clippers, meanwhile, don’t pose a scary matchup for centers, allowing the third-most fantasy points to the position. They are surrendering a strong 43.3 paint points per game, which is good for the ninth-most in basketball. Opposing centers are averaging 23.04 points per game against the Clippers, which is the most among any other team. I like Jefferson quite a bit tonight.

Wilson Chandler, SF (vs PHI)

FPPG allowed to SF: 40.88 (2nd-most)

Oh, hey, Philadelphia. Still bad on defense, I see. That bodes well for Chandler, who has played well lately. Over his last five games, Chandler is averaging 16.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and two triples per contest. He is taking almost 16 shots per game and averaging 35 minutes per game during that span, so there’s plenty of volume to be had. Like I said, I like this game from a pace perspective and a high-scoring standpoint, so Chandler should benefit. A known three-point shooter, Chandler is sinking almost two triples per game on the season. Meanwhile, Sixers opponents are scoring 31.6 points from beyond the arc per game, the most in basketball.

Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.

You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.

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