Happy Martin Luther King Day, y’all.
Week 13 kicks off on this memorable holiday, as we celebrate the life of a great man, while also celebrating some darn good basketball. I’m writing this on Sunday night in order to get this published in time for the afternoon games. That’s right, folks. Monday has 10 total games, but four of them occur during the afternoon, the earliest being one o’clock.
Let’s do it.
Note: FPPG totals are based off FanDuel scoring.
John Wall, PG (vs PHI)
FPPG allowed to PG: 46.29 (30th)
Ladies and gentlemen, the Philly Bump.
The 76ers are playing tonight, which means that their league-worst defense can be exploited quite a bit. And why not start with one of the league’s best point guards, no? Wall has been terrific all season long, averaging 20.2 points, 8.6 assists, 4.2 rebounds, 1.9 steals and 1.2 triples per contest. Those numbers are good enough for him to rank as the number nine overall option on ESPN’s Player Rater, and the fourth-best point guard. Volume has been Wall’s best friend this season, as the Wizards star is averaging a whopping 98.9 touches per game, which is the second-most in the NBA. He is also logging 37.2 minutes per game (11th-most). He’s a must-start option against the 76ers, who are coughing up the most fantasy points per game to point guards. The position is also posting the most assists (10.29) and blocks per game against Philly. Wall typically kills the Sixers, and in two games against them this year, he is averaging an impressive 25 points, 7.5 assists, 3.8 rebounds and two steals. The Sixers league-leading pace will bode well for the athletic Wall, who loves to get out and run.
Jimmy Butler, SG (vs LAL)
FPPG allowed to SG: 40.98 (30th)
The only team that can compete with the level of the Sixers’ suckness on defense is the Lakers, who are allowing the second-most points per game on the season. They are also coughing up the most fantasy points per game to opposing shooting guards.
Enter Jimmy Butler.
Butler hasn’t exactly had a ton of mind-blowing fantasy outings, but there is too much volume and matchup goodness here to ignore. The guy is averaging a ridiculous 42 minutes per game over his last five, and has really benefited from the Luol Deng trade. Butler is a guy who is capable of scoring 20 points, but has really provided some peripheral stats as of late, which is perfect for a matchup against the worst rebounding team in basketball. However, Lakers opponents are also averaging a strong 25.2 assists per game, which is the second-most in the NBA. Butler’s price isn’t too bad at all, and I think this game remains competitive.
Nicolas Batum, SF (@ HOU)
FPPG allowed to SF: 37.43 (23rd)
Batum continues to be one of the most underrated fantasy options in the game today. Does he score 30 points? No, not very often. Does he have the appeal of the star players? No. However, he posts stats in nearly every statistical category, which is incredibly appealing to me.
Averaging 13.4 points, 5.4 assists and 6.8 rebounds per game, Batum seemingly flirts with a triple-double every night, similar to Lance Stephenson of the Pacers. Over his last five games, he’s posted one triple-double (his second of the season) and during that span, he is averaging a gaudy 13.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 7 assists and 1.6 triples per contest. I love his matchup against the Rockets, who are in the bottom half when it comes to defending the small forward position. Both of these teams rank inside the top-10 in pace, so there should be plenty of possessions for Batum in this one. I like his rebounding potential in this game, seeing as the Rockets are allowing the third-most offensive rebounds per game (12.5). I like his chances of getting a double-double in what should be a relatively close, high-scoring affair.
Anderson Varejao, PF/C (vs DAL)
FPPG allowed to C: 42.96 (16th)
On some sites, Varejao is eligible at the power forward position, so I’m placing him here, strictly because I’m quite fond of him tonight. Wild Thing continues to haul in rebounds at a high rate, grabbing 14 per game over his last five outings. His 17.7 rebound chances per game are the 6th-most in all of basketball, as he is converting on 58 percent of those chances. I expect him to see plenty of chances and success in a matchup against the undersized Dallas frontcourt, who are allowing 11.6 offensive boards per game (8th-most) and 32.6 defensive rebounds per game (12th-most). Opposing centers, meanwhile, are grabbing a healthy 14.77 rebounds per game against Dallas, which is good for the 5th-most.
Joakim Noah, C (vs LAL)
FPPG allowed to C: 49.29 (30th)
He’s not sexy at all when on the court, but the fact remains that Joakim Noah puts up numbers.
One of the best rebounding big men in basketball, Noah hasn’t failed to grab double-digit rebounds since way back on the 16th of December. Noah is seeing a healthy 17.6 rebounding chances per game this year, which is one behind the aforementioned Varejao. Over his last five games, he’s doing it all, averaging 16.6 points, 15.5 rebounds, 4.4 assists, two blocks and 1.4 steals.
Meanwhile, it doesn’t get better for an opposing center than LA, who are allowing the most fantasy points to the position, but are also coughing up the most offensive and defensive rebounds per game (13.1 and 35, respectively). As you might expect, centers are averaging a league-leading 15.81 rebounds per game against the Lakers, so Noah should thrive in this one, like so many less talented centers have done all year long. The Lakers high pace will allow Noah to see more possessions than usual, as Chicago plays at the third-slowest pace.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.