NBA Daily Fantasy Helper: Wednesday 1/16/13

It's Big Men City today, with 36-year old Tim Duncan in front of the pack.

Feeling good about that L.A. backcourt double? I'm talking about our preferred lineup of Kobe Bryant and Eric Bledsoe, who yesterday each went off in their respective games to the tune of a combined 50 points, 11 assists, and nine rebounds.

Especially when paired with staying away from James Harden (only 23 points and five turnovers), our daily projections didn't do half bad yesterday. And as always, we're back for more.

Through the power of Math!, we've optimized the best possible roster for your Daily Fantasy needs, using the cost figures and scoring system from our friends at StarStreet as a guide.

As always, the full tables for today's action are available at our Daily Fantasy Projections page. But I'm here to break down the best of the best and tell you why they're so valuable.

The numberFire Optimized Roster

PlayerPositionProjected FPCostValue
LeBron JamesF47.73$17,5002.66
Tim DuncanF/C38.98$14,0002.78
DeMarcus CousinsF/C38.63$13,6002.84
Joakim NoahF/C34.65$12,1002.86
Marc GasolC36.28$12,1003.00
J.J. HicksonF/C29.08$10,2002.85
Marcus ThorntonSG21.6$7,5003.19
Devin HarrisG17.93$7,0003.18
Gary NealG17.1$6,0003.23

LeBron James - This game should give LeBron more opportunities than normal - Golden State's 93.8 possessions per 48 minutes is the fifth-fastest pace in the league. But don't set your expectations sky-high: Golden State is 11th in the NBA in defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions).

Tim Duncan - Memphis' 28th-ranked pace and second-ranked defensive rating doesn't make this the best matchup for Duncan. But the key for the big man isn't scoring; it's defensive rebounds. Duncan's reinvented himself as a bruiser down low, and his current 28.6 percent defensive rebound rate is the best mark of his 16-year career.

DeMarcus Cousins - Four of the six players that we project with double-digit rebounds are on our optimized roster today - Cousins leads all four with 11.1 projected boards. He picked up 14 against Cleveland on Monday (when we also had him on our optimized roster), but that may have just been a warm-up: the Wizards are 24th in offensive rebounding percentage and 30th in effective field goal percentage (eFG%). It'll be misses galore for Cousins to collect.

Joakim Noah - Joakim Noah, assist man? It's not as odd as it sounds. Noah has assisted on 17.5 percent of teammate field goals while on the floor, the third-highest mark on the Bulls among players that have played 30 games behind only Kirk Hinrich and Nate Robinson (the two point guards). We project him at 3.2 assists against Toronto tonight.

Marc Gasol - Gasol will usually get his points, but will he get his turnovers? Survey (or at least the stats) says yes. The Spurs are 28th in offensive rebounding, and while they don't have too many misses (second in eFG%), their extraordinarily high pace (third) should balance out Memphis' slow pace and create more opportunities.

J.J. Hickson - The only guy from yesterday's list to be repeated today, Hickson put up 19 points, 13 rebounds, and two blocks in 34 minutes against Denver. Not a bad total at all, going up against the team with the 13th-best defensive rating. Now imagine what he's going to do tonight against Cleveland's 28th overall defensive rating. Yeah, that feels good.

Marcus Thornton - He's one of the best bench scorers in the NBA, and he proved it on Monday with 20 points in 30 minutes played against Cleveland. Normally we'd take that as a one-off game, but Washington should provide plenty of opportunities as well. Opposing guard Jordan Crawford (if he plays) has the highest defensive rating on the team at 106, and John Wall's was even higher when fully healthy last season at 107.

Devin Harris - If there's a guy on this list to be wary of, it's Devin Harris. He has started each of the past three games at shooting guard for the Hawks over Lou Williams, even putting up 24 points against Utah last Friday. But that was before his 16 minute, zero point stink bomb of a start he had on Monday against Chicago. Facing a Brooklyn defense that is in the bottom half of the league in both defensive rating and opponents' eFG%, we tend more towards the former than the latter.

Gary Neal - Manu Ginobli's pain is Gary Neal's gain. With the Spurs star out of the lineup, it's Neal who figures to pick up the majority of his minutes in San Antonio. And all he needs is the opportunity: Neal's 105 offensive rating in limited minutes is tied with Tony Parker for the team lead.

Quick Hits

Your medium-sized sleeper of the day is George Hill of the Indiana Pacers. After a brief slump, Hill has returned to form, putting up at least 13 points, three rebounds, and three assists in each of his past three games. But if that doesn't wow you, maybe this will: the opposing Magic are dead last in the NBA at forcing turnovers, are 21st in defensive rating, and are putting up a net PER of -3.1 when compared with opposing point guards this season.

Your deep sleeper of the day is John Lucas of the Toronto Raptors. It's time for injury-watch again: both Jose Calderon and Kyle Lowry are questionable heading into tonight's game against the Bulls. If neither one can go, Lucas is the next best option and should see incredible minutes for the minimum price of $4000.

Stay away from Isaiah Thomas of Sacramento today. While he has indeed locked himself into the starting point guard role in Sac-Town, don't mistake that for him being fair-game, especially with a $10,200 price tag. In his past five games, despite registering 22 minutes or more in each one, he has only topped 18 points once and has never topped six assists. Plus, with Aaron Brooks slowly getting back in the fold and Jimmer Fridette continuing to be fed minutes, there's no guarantee that the starter's role will mean that much.

The game to watch today is Spurs/Grizzlies. Which pace will win out: San Antonio's up-tempo style or Memphis' slow-it-down approach? That battle should determine whether the high-priced options, including Duncan, Gasol, and Zach Randolph, indeed live up to expectations.