FNTSY SportsGrid RotoExperts
NBA DFS Matchups: Numbers Don’t Lie
Print Friendly

Welcome to my NBA DFS matchups breakdown! Here I use trend analysis from all the teams in the league and reflect upon how each position matches up to them. I will take each game on the slate and use the FantasyLabs trend tools to see the average amount of points given to each position by individual situation.

The matchups are broken down in 3 ways:

  • Whether the game is being played with a home field advantage (opposing team highlighted in green) or on the road (opposing team highlighted in yellow)
  • Average points given to the position above expectation, which is the average amount of points given up to the opposing player within the position that is above or below their expected output (a value derived from how they are priced) and;
  • The average points given up to the position in the current circumstance (regarding home/away splits) using historical values

My data is derived using a couple guidelines:

  • The data begins from the first game of the previous month (since we are in January, it pulls back to December 1st)
  • It only includes players projected for at least 18 minutes, and;
  • The salary range included is $3000 – $10,000 (Because most players above 10k tend to be matchup proof to some extent, and warp the data)

I’ll then take all that neat information and apply it to the current slate, giving us a look at how teams have historically fared in the circumstance, as well as a baseline for how we can project the current players filling those roles. I’ll then break things down, give my thoughts on the slate and the players involved, and come up with my favorite plays with games to attack using the data available. It all gets pretty awesome, I hope you enjoy!

Without further ramblings, let’s look at things, shall we?

Matchups for each position


Point Guard is stacked to the brim with big names and good matchups for this slate, and it might be my favorite position overall for the day. Damian Lillard jumps off the page with not only the best matchup by +/- over the last month at +10.3, but also a surprisingly (suspiciously) low price tag of only $7,800. Next, we have Tony Parker traveling to New Orleans, where PGs have had the most consistent success (87% for the month), Kyrie Irving in a home game against Brooklyn who couldn’t defend a folding chair, and Dellavedova on the road against a Toronto team that is in disarray without DeMar DeRozan. Elfrid Payton is still a cash game staple playing 38 minutes a game with an extremely thin back court, and John Wall (although expensive) has been in great form in close games. There are lots of paths to success at this position today, take your pick!


Shooting Guard is, as usual, pretty weak. We usually look for value here to punt with so we can have studs in the higher upside positions, and we have plenty to choose from on this slate. Manu Ginobili draws the nicest matchup on the board on the road against New Orleans (6.1 above expectation), and Dion Waiters (who is just grossly expensive for someone named Dion Waiters) travels to Chicago to take on a surprisingly forgiving Dwyane Wade (5 above expectation at 80% consistency). C.J. Watson is a fantastic value saver on the road against Boston in an up-tempo game, and Nicolas Batum is relatively cheap (has reached over 8k in salary this year) in a matchup that has been very consistently profitable (88% consistency). The nice part about this position today is that besides Iman Shumpert at home against Brooklyn (more on that later), there aren’t many matchups that we should be looking to avoid. Overall, the slate will be about Paying for Harden or Punting here for a lot of players.


Small Forward has a lot of surprisingly valuable options, and a couple players that seem to be mispriced for their typical production/projection. The top of the group is DeMarre Carroll at home against the Bucks, who have been a spot to attack with Small Forwards for the better part of the season due to Jason Kidd cross matching his personnel. They top the boards with 10.6 points above expectation at an 87% consistency rate, and it’ll be hard not to just attack that and move on. LeBron James is at home against Brooklyn, so that’s all I really should have to say. Jimmy Butler was $9,100 just a few nights against and now plays at home against a Miami team (5.6 above expectation, 75% consistency) that will try to guard him with Rodney McGruder and Wayne Ellington. Carmelo Anthony is only $7200 which is just too low for someone with his typical shot count and usage rate, and Kawhi Leonard should be back from his “Hand Injury” (sure) to take on the Pelicans who have been a train wreck defensively at home. This list is rounded out by 4 or 5 matchups that I really don’t have much interest attacking, but Giannis Antetokounmpo can absolutely be impossible to block and always warrants GPP exposure.


Power Forward has some very juicy spots to exploit, and plenty of usable value across all the applicable price points. Jared Sullinger has been inserted into the starting lineup as of late, but we can assume he goes back to the bench now that Patrick Patterson is back. That’s a good thing, as his usage rate should increase along with minutes, while he stays at $3,000. Trevor Booker is second on the list on the road against Cleveland (seeing a trend?) and Paul Millsap is very cheap at $7,200 at home against a weak Wizards front court giving up almost 5 points above expectation in January. LaMarcus Aldridge has the most consistently lucrative matchup on the road against the Pelicans (83%), and Serge Ibaka should match up with the Likes of either Jonas Jerebko or Kelly Olynyk against Boston (3.4 above, 72% consistency). Kristaps Porzingis is only $6,200 which is some sort of weird joke that I’m laughing at and I don’t know why. The list finishes up with Zach Randolph and Ryan Anderson in some very bad matchups, yielding -3.6 and -4 points below expectation to the PF, respectively. Lots of mid-range (and upper mid-range) to roster here today, and we have the punts to make it work elsewhere.


Center has been a spot to use as often and in as many spots as possible these last couple slates, and today is no exception. Topping the position in matchups is Al Horford who draws a pristine spot at home against Orlando who has been giving up 14.1 points over expectation at a 100% success rate (Bonkers), followed by Tristan Thompson at home against the Nets (more talk of that matchup). Hassan Whiteside has just been awful (and is questionable) but has a fantastic matchup on the road against the Bulls who, like Orlando, have been consistently profitable to attack in January (100% consistency). Mason Plumlee and Myles Turner have basically the same spot and similar price, as do Robin Lopez and Clint Capela. There is not a single spot to avoid here, although there are obviously a couple guys that should be higher on your list. Watch the injury news because if Whiteside sits, It’s Willie Reed day. Oh, and last but not least, Anthony Davis is only $9,700 tonight (that’s uhh… really really really cheap for him).

Games and Stacks worth Pursuing


What you see above you is a matrix of each team on the slate and their defensive efficiency (DE) to each individual position, arranged from best overall to worst overall. When we have two teams in the bottom 5 or 10 in overall DE, it’s usually a pretty good idea to stack them to take advantage of a game with little defense involved. It just so happens that this slate features the 30th overall and 28th overall playing each other, which means we get the Brooklyn Nets playing…… The Cleveland Cavaliers? I was a little caught off guard by that. The Cavs have been 28th in the league in defensive efficiency in the month of January, having given up no less than 100 points to any team all month and no less than 115 points in the last 5. No, I don’t know if I’m saying to stack the Nets, because I think that qualifies as an insane statement. But what I am saying is that while a lot of people assume this will be a blowout and avoid the Cavs starters, I’m going to be all over them. Especially LeBron who is a pissed off freight train on a losing streak. I’m also interested in the Raptors, Celtics, and Spurs as good stacks with solid overall matchups. Also, how do you just look past Anthony Davis at $9,700? The dude projects 55+ on a nightly basis and has a ceiling of 80 or so FPS. I get the injury risk, but that’s a gross misprice. One thing I want to point out is how good the Hawks D has been, because it all starts with good D. Just ask Dwight Howard, he’ll tell you all about it.


Top Picks for Each Position

PG: Damian Lillard ($7800)
Damian Lillard tops all matchups with a game at home against Memphis, who are giving up 10.3 points above expectation at a great 80% consistency for the month. People typically associate the Grizzlies with slow pace and good defense, but they’ve had a hard time holding teams down on the road this season, dropping 4 spots down the ladder in overall defensive efficiency. The Grizzlies back court has been their weakest area and rank 18th against PGs, and Lillard comes at a discount to exploit it. Using DailyRoto’s advanced tools, we can see that Lillard has experienced a usage drop over his last 5 (32%-27%), which is worrisome, but at $7,800 we get a matchup giving double digit points over expectation at as consistent a rate we could ask for. I’ll be loading him up with confidence.

SG: Nicolas Batum ($7300)
At Shooting Guard, we usually want to punt and find salary relief, but when we have a prime matchup to exploit I don’t mind paying up a bit to avoid the volatility. Batum hasn’t been incredible lately, but we know he has some huge upside. He has multiple 50 point games this year, and is priced down at $7,300 in killer spot. The Knicks have let opposing SGs meet value at MSG in 88% of games in January, and average 3.6 points over expectation during the span. Interestingly, they rank 6th in Defensive Efficiency to the position, but a closer look reveals that they rank 14th at home, giving a bit of an explanation (home/road splits FTW). Batum is a guy that can score in a lot of ways, and over the last 5 games has experienced a 6% usage bump to sit him at 27%. This should be a good game between two evenly matched teams, and I expect Batum to be a big reason why it stays close.

SF: LeBron James ($10200)
I could go on and on about how bad Brooklyn is defensively… or the losing streak… or the rumors around Cleveland… or blah, blah, blah… LeBron is an athletic freak of nature, playing pissed off at home, will be “guarded” by Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert, and face little to no rim protection. Sold.

PF: Ersan Ilyasova ($5900)
There are lots of players that I want to take at this position, but the first on my list will be Ilyasova, who takes the cake for a couple reasons. First off, Houston is dead last in Defensive Efficiency to PF (thank you for not being sick anymore, Ryan Anderson). We just saw them get pummeled by Jabari Parker a couple games ago, and even Jerebko had quite a fantasy score from their recent bout. Ersan experiences a nice boost to usage (3.3%) and Assists (2.5%) without Embiid on the floor, and his price has stayed low because of a game of foul trouble. At $5900, he has averaged 33 FPS over his last 5 (per DailyRoto’s advanced stats) and projects for well over 36 (6x salary) when we account for Houston’s average points given above expectation. I will certainly have some of Paul Millsap and Kristaps Porzingis in Tournaments, but in cash Ersan is my favorite option.

C: Al Horford ($7000)
Now, to be fair, I love a lot of Centers today, but no one has a more lucrative situation than Horford, and he isn’t priced near high enough for his recent production. Orlando is 22nd in Efficiency at defending the 5 and 25th overall and they are giving up an insane 14 points over expectation and have not had a single center miss value the entire month. Horford has averaged over 37 FPS a game in the last 5 with a higher usage rate (22.5) and rebound rate (14.8) than his yearly averages, and hasn’t had a significant enough price hike to match. In a game that should be fast and loose, Horford should eat offensively. Even if he doesn’t shatter value, at $7,000 you only need 35 for 5x and he has hit that mark 6 times, and has not been below 30 the entire month.

Closing Thoughts

It’s going to be interesting to see how people treat Anthony Davis at an egregiously low price point. You’re basically going to make the lock or fade decision and then build around that. Even outside of the Brow, there are lots of great options that are underpriced including Melo, PorginzGOD, Millsap, Otto Porter, Whiteside (if he plays). It’s one of the best night’s I’ve seen for MME in a pretty long time and I’m really excited to build for it. Expect a decent cash line from medium priced builds, and if value opens with Whiteside out or the Orlando situation clarified, be prepared to need 300 for min cash. Regardless, this is a fun, open ended slate!

As always, you can find me on Twitter and shoot me any questions you have! I’ll do my best to help all the way to lock! Good luck, and I hope you find the green!