Fantasy Basketball 2014: Strong Plays For January 4th

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Is it wrong?

The NFL playoffs begin tonight, but is it wrong if I am more excited for some of the NBA games on tap for tonight? I mean, I’m going to watch the playoff games as any fan would, head out with the buds and grab some food, but fantasy basketball is growing on me exponentially (I’m also starting a podcast soon). Fantasy hoops is an absolute blast, and I encourage everyone to try it.

Especially the daily aspect.

Note: FPPG totals are based off FanDuel.

Damian Lillard, PG (vs PHI)

FPPG allowed to PG: 46.33 (most)

Points. All of the points. The over/under for this matchup is a whopping 224 points, which doesn’t surprise anyone who’s watched these two teams play defense. The Sixers allow the most points per game (111) while Portland allows a strong 102.6, which is the fifth-most in the league. Lillard should be one of the most obvious plays tonight against the worst defensive team in basketball, who just so happen to be dead last in defensive efficiency against point guards. Opposing ones are also logging an impressive 11 assists per game against the Sixers, which is also the most in the league. Over his last four, Lillard is averaging a healthy 42 DraftDay fantasy points per game, so tonight’s matchup should be a cake walk. The one concern is obviously the matchup in itself, as Portland is one of the best teams in basketball and the 76ers are, well, the 76ers. However, after starting 1-13 on the road this year, they’ve won three straight away from home, and if they can somehow keep this game close, Lillard will go bonkers.

Joakim Noah, C, (vs ATL)

FPPG allowed to C: 44.63 (7th-most)

Noah isn’t ever the most exciting play, but he’s quietly scored over 40 fantasy points in four of his last seven games. Over his last five games, he’s been extremely productive, averaging 12.4 points, 11 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.2 blocks per game. He may not have a better matchup than tonight against the Hawks, who haven’t been the same since center Al Horford went down. Since that happened, Atlanta has been the second-worst team at defending opposing centers, and are allowing big men to haul in around 18 rebounds per game. On the year, the Hawks are coughing up 33.5 defensive rebounds per game (36.3 over their last three), which is the seventh-most in the league. He’s a very strong, as well as very safe play tonight.

Dion Waiters, SG (@ BKN)

FPPG allowed to SG: 39.54 (2nd-most)

Waiters is a very interesting player. There’s immense talent here, a guy who can put the ball on the floor and score at will. However, he is such a streaky player, that fantasy players often tend to stay away from him. Over his last five games, he’s shooting just .372 percent from the field, and his nailed just two three-pointers. But, at only $8,050, Waiters may be a solid value play tonight against the second-worst team at defending shooting guards in Brooklyn. Point guard Kyrie Irving (knee) has already been ruled out for this game, and last game without Kyrie, Waiters took a team-high 20 shots, resulting in a respectable 17 points, followed by four rebounds and three assists. He should log at least 35 minutes in this game, in what should be a close one.

LaMarcus Aldridge, PF (vs PHI)

FPPG allowed to PF: 44.28 (4th-most)

Don’t be afraid to stack your Blazers in tonight’s heavenly matchup. I mean, did I mention the 76ers were poor on defense? Not only do they stink against point guards, but power forwards have seen their fair share of success as well, scoring the fourth-most fantasy points per game. Aldridge is a stud, and there is some serious rebound potential here. The 76ers frontcourt is very soft, surrendering 34.2 defensive rebounds per game (3rd-most) and 11.8 offensive boards per game (6th-most). Meanwhile, LA is averaging a strong 10.8 rebounds and 41.6 fantasy points per game over his last five. And although Aldridge is averaging less than a block per game, he could contribute in that department, seeing as Sixers opponents are averaging a league-leading 6.8 blocks per contest, 1.95 of which go to power forwards.

Paul Pierce, SF (vs CLE)

FPPG allowed to SF: 41.62 (most)

Don’t look now, but Pierce is starting to get his legs under him and play like the Paul Pierce we’ve grown to love. Over his last four games, Pierce is averaging a respectable 15.5 points, four rebounds and 3.5 assists. He’s logging a fair share of minutes, and could easily exploit Cleveland’s barren wasteland of a small forward position. This unit is dead last in defensive efficiency against small forwards, but also struggle at defending players from the three-point line. In fact, 25.3 percent of points scored against Cleveland have come from beyond the arc, and teams are averaging 25.8 points from long range per game this year. Pierce, meanwhile, is sinking 1.2 triples per contest, and could be in store for a very versatile line tonight.

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

You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.


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