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
LeBron James - LeBron often doesn't make it onto this list because of his high price tag, but a game against the Charlotte Bobcats is just too good to pass up. Charlotte is 29th in defensive rating (111.1 points allowed per 100 possessions), 29th in opponents' effective field goal percentage (.519 eFG%) and 29th in defensive rebound percentage (69.8 percent of chances). If there's one game where LeBron's a high value, this is it.
Dwyane Wade - Wade, meanwhile, is a mainstay on our optimized lists; he was on our top roster twice last week. And he gains the spot again here not only because of the poor Bobcats defense cited above, but also because of the poor play of Charlotte's opposing shooting guards. On the year, Charlotte has allowed opposing SGs to shoot .519 eFG% from the field, a fact that Wade should take advantage of easily.
J.J. Hickson - The Hickson v. Pekovic battle down low could pay up big for both teams on the offensive end of the floor. Hickson has been on a roll recently, and most importantly for Daily Fantasy, he's been consistent. His 6-for-11 shooting and 11 points against Utah was the 10th straight game he has posted at least 10 points and 50 percent shooting from the floor. That's the third-longest streak in the NBA this year.
Nikola Pekovic - But the Blazers are weak down low on the defensive end; opposing centers are shooting .529 eFG% against them on the year. That should benefit Pekovic, who has scored at least 14 points in each of his three games since coming back from injury. Our minutes projection may look high, but I wouldn't be concerned - foul problems are the only reason Pekovic played 24 minutes against the Clippers, and he's only averaging 2.3 fouls per game this season.
Ramon Sessions - The guard pool is weak today. Other than Wade and Bledsoe, there isn't much value out there. So it's Sessions we turn to for a makeshift answer, even if he's easily the lowest value play on our board. With at least 20 points in four of his past five games, the upside potential is there. And if the Bobcats are going to score on the Heat at all, it's through the point guard position, where Miami has allowed opponents to shoot .501 eFG% from the floor this season.
Eric Bledsoe - When will his cost finally catch up to the minutes on the floor he's playing? It hasn't happened yet. And although the Clippers are struggling as a whole right now (2-5 with Bledsoe at starting PG), that means nothing for Bledsoe's individual numbers. In his seven games as starter, he has seven double-digit point games, two 10-assist games, and an average of 2.2 steals per game. He's safe to ride until Chris Paul comes back.
Emeka Okafor - He couldn't do anything against the tough Spurs defense on Saturday, but one game does not make a trend. What does make a trend is the four games before that where Okafor had double-digit rebounds, or the four straight contests with at least 30 minutes played. The Clippers normally have a tough defense as well, but they've faltered as of late. Both the Raptors and Celtics had offensive ratings over 110 in the Clippers' last two games played.
Jamal Crawford - Despite a broken nose, Crawford still finished with 23 points, 6 assists, and perhaps most importantly, 32 minutes played against the Celtics yesterday. That gives us confidence in his potential minutes played tonight as well, going against a Wizards team that has allowed opposing shooting guards to shoot .504 eFG% from the field, the highest eFG% of any position.
Matt Barnes - Returning from his one-game suspension in which he tried to decapitate Greg Stiemsma, Barnes put up a zero-spot against the Celtics yesterday. But that lowers his value just enough to where he's a good play against the Wizards. We expect a return back to the mean for Barnes; he put up double-digit points in 11 of his 15 January games before being ejected from the Minnesota contest.
Your medium-sized sleeper of the day is Kevin Martin of the Oklahoma City Thunder. I'm surprised that the numbers didn't put Kevin Martin on our optimized roster today, but he's certainly one you're going to want to look at going against Dallas. The Mavericks are allowing opposing shooting guards to shoot .506 eFG% from the field, and Martin has posted 11 points or more in nine of his past ten games (and the other one, he was guarded by Kobe).
Your deep sleeper of the day is Nick Young of the Philadelphia 76ers. Yes, he's only a couple hundred dollars less than Kevin Martin ($8,000 for Young), but I'd still be remiss if I didn't mention him. With Jason Richardson still sidelined, Young has been picking up consistent minutes, likely more than the 25.3 minutes that we currently project him at. And tonight, he faces an Orlando team that will be without *deep breath* Jameer Nelson, Aaron Afflalo, J.J. Redick, and DeQuan Jones at the PG, SG, and SF slots.
Stay away from Shawn Marion of the Mavericks today. I understand if you like Shawn Marion and want to play him because of his .501 eFG% or his 15.6 total rebound percentage. But I don't understand if you think those numbers will hold up against Serge Ibaka and Ibaka's 102 defensive rating and 6.8 percent block rate, which is third in the NBA.
The game to watch today is Clippers/Wizards. The Clippers have been struggling to put it all together recently, and the Wizards are a strong defensive team. But with that said, those two storylines have gotten enough play in fantasy circles recently that the costs for these players may have swung too hard the other way, making them actually underrated heading into this game. Our optimized roster seems to think so: we have four players between these two teams.