We’re back for another edition of the Value Index. Tonight’s NBA slate has 8 games for us to build our lineups, but I can’t say I feel this is a very solid set of games.

As the NBA regular season comes to an end, we’ve seen a trend of teams resting players or limiting minutes. We’ve seen some efforts to tank (shutting down veteran players, playing backups more minutes, etc.). It makes roster construction difficult at times, especially with the late scratch news when we don’t have an opportunity to late swap.

DraftKings changed its late-swap policy heading into the 2016-17 season. Perhaps it was a move to coincide with its potential merger with FanDuel, who does not have late-swap options. While a bold move and I personally love the idea of not having to watch for news all night, it is quite tilting when you lock your lineups and less than 2 minutes later one of the focal points of your lineup is ruled out. Even though the team had all day to announce the scratch, sometimes we don’t find out until it’s too late.

Perhaps there is a compromise to this idea. One, you could allow late-swap. Two, you could allow contests for both late swap and no late swap, or three, there could be an option for swapping one player per lineup past lock. The third option, at least, could incorporate both ideas, yet not leave us tilting when LeBron is ruled out on a whim, for example.

Anyway, I am glad baseball is coming up. No more no late swap on DraftKings (I live in Texas, can’t play FanDuel). I hear there is talk that DraftKings may not have no late swap in basketball next year. But hey, when’s that merger happening?

So on to tonight, let’s get to it!

Jeff Teague – PG – Indiana Pacers – $6,500

Analysis: Jeff Teague isn’t a flashy player (though that’s one slick cross over in the gif), but he seemingly gets the job done most nights. Tonight Teague gets the best one-on-one defensive matchup on the board against Isaiah Thomas and the Celtics. Boston has been middle of the road in fantasy points per game allowed to PGs, but Thomas is rated as the worst defender in all of basketball. With Paul George and a swath of shooting guard options for the Pacers, we shouldn’t see Avery Bradley guarding Teague. In two games this season, Teague has averaged almost 40 FPPG. His floor is around 30 fantasy points and at $6,500, Teague’s 1.01 fantasy points per minute this season plus his matchup should have him making value easily.

Nicolas Batum – SG – Charlotte Hornets – $6,900

Analysis: Batum has become an Index favorite of late, hasn’t he? Even with the offensive resurgence of Marvin Williams, I am certainly not going to shy away from Batum tonight against Orlando. The blowout factor is certainly there, considering the Magic are not trying to win games at this point. But what we do know is that the Hornets are trying their damndest to snag a playoff spot. Batum has faced the Magic three times this season and is averaging 40+ fantasy points per game so far. Kemba is the usage hog on this team, but Batum is the one with the discounted price. Evan Fournier and Jodie Meeks aren’t going to be able to stop Batum, the only thing that might contain the Frenchman is the blowout factor.

LeBron James – SF – Cleveland Cavaliers – $11,100

Analysis: The good thing about Cleveland is we know exactly where fantasy production is going to come from night in and night out. The bad thing is that I am not sure I have gotten LeBron right at all this season. I am recommending him at SF because I am not a fan of really anyone else. LeBron is priced like he is playing without Kevin Love. I am basically wanting to pay up for the high floor and the raw points rather than hitting 5x salary or better. While it’s a possibility LeBron goes bananas, I just like all other SF options a lot less. The Nuggets will be shorthanded, but have a tight rotation, home-court and the Joker, so I like their potential to keep this game close. Plus, I am not convinced Kevin Love is going to see his usual amount of minutes just yet. Sometimes you just got to take the points.

Ersan Ilyasova – PF – Atlanta Hawks – $5,500

Analysis:  Atlanta sucks. Seriously. Records aside, I think they are the worst basketball team in the NBA.Yes, they have a winning record and yes, they are vying for a playoff spot. One thing is missing and that’s consistency. They are either getting blown out or they are competing in games you think they would get blown out in. Tonight is one of those games they should get blown out in. The only thing is that Washington never blows out anyone. In the Wizards last 10 games, they have either been the victims of a blowout loss or have won by no more than 8 points. So there is a lot of hope that Atlanta somehow can do enough to keep things close for awhile despite missing Paul Millsap and Kent Bazemore. Ersan, acquired from the Sixers in a trade, has been asked to step in and take over starting PFduties. He still hasn’t hit 30 minutes in either start, but that’s because the Hawks can’t stay in games. Ersan has a great matchup against fellow stretch 4, Markieff Morris and a matchup he has excelled in this season already, scoring nearly 40 fantasy points in his lone meeting with the Wizards. With Millsap and Bazemore off the floor, Ersan has a 23.5% usage rate. While that’s not as high as we would like, the sample size is only 105.5 minutes. However, he is average more than a fantasy point per minute. Ersan is in a great blowup spot, especially if he gets hot from beyond the arc.

Enes Kanter – C – Oklahoma City Thunder – $5,100

Analysis: You have to play a center against Philly every time they are on the schedule. I am going with Enes over Steven Adams (so fire up Steven Adams as a hedge). Kanter commands the usage over Adams at 29% and is averaging 1.14 fantasy points per game. The Sixers have been getting torched by centers, giving up 57 FPPG this season and 63.6 FPPG in their last 10 contests. With or without Okafor in the Sixers’ lineup, Kanter should crush this matchup like he did earlier this season, when he recorded 37.5 DK points.

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