We're getting close to All-Star Break time. The action's heating up, and so are our numbers. Need an edge in Daily Fantasy? We've got what you want.
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
Josh Smith - Trade rumors? It's not like his play is being effected. At least 19 points in five of his past six games, as well as a recently-broken streak of five straight double-digit rebound games, shows that the consistency is there. Facing off against Dallas and their 20th defensive rating, 28th offensive rebound percentage, and 19th defensive rebound percentage means the stats opportunities will be as well.
Chris Paul - 25 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds against the Heat? I think it's safe to say that he's healthy. And that's a good omen going the 76ers and Jrue Holiday, whose 106 defensive rating is the second-highest of any Sixer in the main rotation, behind only Nick Young.
Monta Ellis - Oh Monta Ellis, how it hurts to stick with you, even through your cold stretches. His eight point outing against Detroit may have pushed his cost just low enough to be a great value, however. The Washington Wizards defense is surprisingly strong, but the one weakness they have is at shooting guard. Opposing SGs are shooting a .500 effective field goal percentage (eFG%) against them there this year, making the Wizards a solid bet to get Ellis back on track.
Kemba Walker - The Celtics may still be winning with Rajon Rondo out, but it's not because of guard defense: Jason Terry, Leandro Barbosa, and Avery Bradley have the three highest defensive ratings (in that order) on the team. And while the Bobcats may be inefficient offensively (28th offensive rating), Kemba Walker's a sure bet to get his looks. He has only put up less than 10 shots in six of his 50 games this season, and he went from Dec. 28 through Feb. 4 scoring every game in double digits. Despite a recent slump, expect a regression to the mean.
Nikola Pekovic - Add Andrei Kirilenko to the miles-long injury report for Minnesota, but that should only open up even more opportunities for Pekovic to shine. So should Cleveland's .524 eFG% allowed to opposing centers and their -3.8 Net Player Efficiency Rating (Net PER) at that position this season.
Carlos Boozer - The main question for Boozer has to deal with is his minutes: will he see 32 on the floor, as he did Friday against Utah, or will it be more like the 22 minutes he saw against Denver just one day prior? With Joakim Noah currently questionable for tonight's game, I lean more towards the former. And if those 29 minutes we project for Boozer is accurate, then he turns into one of tonight's best value plays, with double-digit points in each of his three games since returning from injury.
George Hill - I'll never understand why Hill is always so criminally underrated cost-wise. Before only scoring nine points (*gasp*) against Toronto on Friday, Hill had gone 14 straight games in double-digits. He's averaging six assists per game over his last four contests, and he occasionally picks up rebounds as well (five last Wednesday). And you don't trust him going against Brooklyn's 17th defensive rating and 21st defensive eFG%?
Jamal Crawford - I think 27 points in 37 minutes yesterday should put to rest any fears of Crawford's minutes decreasing with Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups coming back into the fold. And facing a Sixers team where Nick Young's 108 defensive rating is the highest on the squad should allow Crawford yet another game of wide open looks.
Ben Gordon - Say what you want about Gordon, but he's not afraid to shoot the ball. Despite coming off the bench and never playing more than 30 minutes, Gordon has put up at least 10 shots in eight of his last nine games. Against the Celtics, though, we expect those shots to fall. As stated earlier, Terry, Barbosa, and Bradley aren't exactly defensive monsters, and shooting guards are averaging 20.2 points per game against Boston this year (highest of the five positions).
Your medium-sized sleeper of the day is Nate Robinson of the Chicago Bulls. I never like to argue with the optimized roster algorithm, but quite frankly, I have no idea whatsoever how he's not on our optimized roster today. With Kirk Hinrich out, the $8,000 Robinson should easily be getting a majority of the floor time for Chicago. And based on his current streak of 12 straight double-digit games and 8.6 assist per game over his last five, that playing time should be deadly against San Antonio.
Your deep sleeper of the day is Leandro Barbosa of the Boston Celtics. Coming in at a cool $7,500, Barbosa has seen playing time out of necessity recently for the Boston Celtics. Against the Charlotte Bobcats, his scoring ability should come in handy: Charlotte is 29th in defensive rating and allows opposing guards to shoot .516 eFG% against them this season.
Stay away from Tony Parker of the San Antonio Spurs today. The most expensive player on the board, Parker is not nearly worth the value. Nate Robinson has a surprisingly strong 103 defensive rating, the Bulls as a team are fourth in the NBA with a 101.9 defensive rating on the season, and they allow the opposition to shoot only .466 eFG% from the field, second-lowest in the NBA. With Duncan and Ginobili still out, Parker's main assist go-to-guys are gone as well. He'll get some stats for sure, but just not enough equal to his cost.
The game to watch today is Clippers/76ers. With the full team now healthy in Lob City, it interests me to see how the rotation and minutes played is going to shake out. I'm also excited to see whether Chris Paul is going to see his value shoot up once again, and whether the lack of a Jason Richardson is going to mean Jamal Crawford has a chance to shine. Although he's not on our optimized roster, Blake Griffin is a solid value today as well.