This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
There's a five-game New Year's Day slate, but it's not one with a ton of high-priced options. Just three players – Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid and Kawhi Leonard – check in at $10,000-plus, and Embiid is questionable due to a knee injury. Emmanuel Mudiay (ankle) and Enes Kanter (back) are also questionable, leaving the door open for the likes of Frank Ntilikina, Trey Burke and Luke Kornet to get some extra run.
233.0 is the highest over/under on the day, with the 76ers visiting the Clippers. Jazz at Raptors has the lowest over/under (210.5). The largest spread is -14.0 in favor of the Nuggets, who are hosting the Knicks. The smallest spread is -1.5, with the visiting Trail Blazers expected to squeeze out a win over the Kings.
Let's dive into some options:
De'Aaron Fox ($9,100), SAC vs. POR
It's surprising how low the cost is for Fox, as his price makes him hard to avoid in both cash and GPP. Discounting the Dec. 17 contest where coach Dave Joerger benched the starters in the first quarter, the sophomore point guard hasn't dipped below 40 fantasy points in any of the past eight games. More recently, over the past six games, he has two 50-plus fantasy point outings and is averaging 47.6 FP. At this point, I feel safer putting Fox in my lineup than the two point guards above him in Damian Lillard ($9,200) and Ben Simmons ($9,800), who have averaged 37.4 FP and 40.9 FP, respectively, across their past six outings.
C.J. McCollum ($6,100), POR at SAC
It's rare that I feel comfortable using McCollum because of his periodic duds, but he averaged 34.2 fantasy points in seven away games during the month of December. At $6,100 in GPPs, we're hoping McCollum lands somewhere between 30-40 FP. That's well within his range, and I'm not too confident in the higher-priced options being worth the bump in cost. To break it down, here is what some of the top shooting guards did during the month of December: Jimmy Butler ($8,500) – 34.0 FP; Khris Middleton ($7,600) – 30.3 FP; Donovan Mitchell ($7,500) – 30.5 FP. Unless you feel very strongly about one of those other options, it's hard to justify paying up.
Danilo Gallinari ($7,100), LAC vs. PHI
Small forward is thin Tuesday, especially if you don't want to pay up for the likes of Giannis Antetokoumpo ($12,400) or Kawhi Leonard ($10,000). Gallinari feels like the only safe remaining option, as below him are guys like Nemanja Bjelica ($5,900) and Joe Ingles ($5,900), who only drop 30 FP occasionally. Not that Gallinari is exactly a consistent player, but he has the upside to at least compete with Kawhi Leonard in terms of fantasy points, having posted 40-plus FP in three of the past six games. Overall, one of the small forward slots may be worth punting on FanDuel.
Noah Vonleh ($6,200), NY at DEN
Before we discuss Vonleh, it's worth noting that if Enes Kanter (back) is out or limited, Luke Kornet ($3,800) is essentially a must-play. He's started the past two games and is averaging 32.9 fantasy points. Rostering him even if Kanter is fully available could be worth the risk. That said, Vonleh is the safer option. The fifth-year forward is having a resurgent season and has been consistent over the past five games, not dipping below 30 FP while averaging 11.8 points, 11.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.6 blocks in 33.0 minutes. Considering his mid-tier price, Vonleh is an option in both cash and GPPs, especially since his minutes should be blowout-proof.
Willie Cauley-Stein ($7,700), SAC vs. POR
While the more-expensive centers on Tuesday's slate have higher upside, they each have their fair share of performances that fall short of expectation. Cauley-Stein is no exception, but the discounted price is optimal for the rest of your lineup construction, and he still has 40-plus FP upside. The center is averaging 36.9 FP over the past six games and has seven outings with at least 40 FP, plus one performance of 56.4 FP against New Orleans.