NBA Daily Fantasy Helper: Monday 12/28/15

Look for Chris Paul to put the Clippers on his back with Blake Griffin sidelined for the next few weeks.

If you've never played daily fantasy basketball before, it's time to start. Unlike traditional leagues, you're able to select the players you want on that specific day only, giving you a different squad to root for each and every NBA night.

Today's lineups can be found here. The information below is to help you understand why particular players are being picked, because we don't want you going into the night completely blind. We want to help you. Keep in mind, however, that things often change up until tip-off, so make sure you're refreshing the optimal lineups as close to the start of games as possible.

Let's get to it.

The Best of the Best

LeBron James - You don't need me to tell you that King James is one of the best players on the planet. He's having another outstanding campaign through the first 27 games of this season, scoring 25.8 points to go along with 7.6 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 1.4 blocks per game. He currently ranks 10th in our player power rankings with an impressive 10.1 nERD while ranking inside of the top 10 in the league in scoring, playing time (36.1 minutes per game), Player Efficiency Rating (25.9) and Usage Rate (33.6%). Tonight, the four-time MVP gets the pleasure of facing off against a Suns' defense who will be without their best defender in Eric Bledsoe, having given up the fifth most fantasy points per game to opposing small forwards on the year. James is an elite daily fantasy option nearly every night and tonight is no exception.

Chris Paul - Blake Griffin will miss at least the next two weeks with a torn quad tendon, which means Paul will be forced to step up in a big way. The Clippers' floor general has already been on a tear as of late, averaging 18.7 points, 9.9 dimes, 2.9 boards and 2.6 steals per game with 7 double-doubles in his 11 outings since returning from his own injury. He's amassed a 25.6% Usage Rate over that span, which should absolutely skyrocket with Griffin and his team-leading 29.9% rate out of the picture. Although he draws a tough matchup against John Wall tonight, Paul should see a significant boost in both playing time and production as the focal point of the Clippers offense and his price remains at a very reasonable $9,000 on both FanDuel and DraftKings. Do not hesitate to plug the Clippers' star into your lineup in all formats.

Top Mid-Range Values

Nikola Vucevic - The Magic big man comes into tonight scorching hot. He's scored at least 20 points in five consecutive games while tallying three double-doubles over that span. Vucevic has averaged 22.8 points, 9.4 boards, 3.2 assists and a block per game over his last five outings and, most importantly, he is finally consistently seeing minutes in the mid-30s, playing at least 34 minutes in every single one of those games. With a dream matchup against a Pelicans squad that ranks 29th in the league in both Defensive Rating (110.1) and opposing points per game (197.1) while giving up  the second most fantasy points per game to opposing centers, Vucevic makes a tremendous play tonight.

Brandon Knight - As I already mentioned, the Suns will be without their star combo guard Bledsoe tonight. Bledsoe currently leads the team in scoring (20.4 points per game), assists (6.1 per game) and Usage Rate (27.3%), however, Knight is second on the team in every single one of those categories and only by a small margin. With his back-court mate unavailable to play, Knight should see a huge uptick in both playing time and usage while acting as the go-to-guy for the Suns offense. With Kyrie Irving back in the Cavaliers' starting lineup, the Suns' point guard gets a plus matchup as long as Iriving is on the court and should reach value easily tonight.

Basement Ballers

Ish Smith - Now that he is back on the 76ers, Smith finds himself once again in a starting point guard role. In his first game back with Philadelphia, the journeyman guard scored 14 points with 5 assists, 2 rebounds, a steal and a block while playing 31 minutes and should see a similar workload tonight. Although the Jazz have been one of the best defensive teams in the NBA this season, the one position they have struggled to slow down is the point guard, giving up the 10th most fantasy points per game to opposing point guards over their last seven games. Smith is not priced as a starter at just $4,500 on FanDuel and $4,800 on DraftKings due to his role in New Orleans, so tonight is the time to take advantage of this buy low opportunity while you still can.

J.J. Barea - Deron Williams is questionable to suit up tonight. If we were to sit out tonight, Barea would draw his third consecutive start at point guard for Dallas. In those two previous starts, the Mavericks' veteran point guard has averaged 29 points and 8 assists in 37 minutes of action. He draws a plus matchup against Michael Carter-Williams and his less-than-stellar 108 Defensive Rating and still costs just $4,100 on FanDuel and $5,000 on DraftKings. Even if Williams were to play tonight he would more than likely be limited, which means Barea should see more than enough action to hit value regardless.