Defenses to Avoid
There aren't any matchups on Sunday that stand out as games to avoid for daily fantasy play. The Spurs are a great defensive team, but it will be hard to rule out the Kings for solid production, as they have been slowly adjusting to the new team chemistry, and it would be silly to discredit the potential damage Rudy Gay, Isaiah Thomas, and DeMarcus Cousins could do in daily games.
Offenses to Use
Philadelphia 76ers at Los Angeles Lakers: As I glanced over the schedule of Sunday's matchups, I failed to find games that may result in poor fantasy production, but my eyes began to light up as I stumbled upon something else that jumped off my computer screen. The Sixers are playing the Lakers for the first time this season. I've dreamt of the wondrous possibilities this matchup could bring. Despite each team dealing with a barrage of injuries (most recently Evan Turner, who was a late scratch Saturday, and I regretfully apologize for including him in Saturday's cheat sheet), they are stacked with players who can perform at a level higher than their price tag implies. The Sixers are the fastest team in the league in terms of offensive pace (102.10 possessions per game), and the Lakers follow closely behind at third (99.23 possessions per game). Adding onto those statistics, the Sixers are the second-worst defensive team, giving up 107.0 points per 100 possessions, and the Lakers have given up 106.3 points per game over their last four contests. Given the “shoot more, think less” offensive styles of both teams, the game could turn out to be Sunday's fantasy haven. Be sure to check tabs on players who will be game-time decisions for Sunday, namely Turner (knee), Pau Gasol (illness), and Chris Kaman (ankle). Meanwhile, don't hesitate to deploy other options on either team, as there will be a good opportunities for players to rack up colorful stats on Sunday.
Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: None
Second game of a back-to-back: Atlanta Hawks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Houston Rockets, Philadelphia 76ers
DAILY PLAYER RECOMMENDATIONS
Jordan Farmar (vs. PHI): Farmar is the Lakers' point guard for at least another week with Kobe Bryant (knee), Steve Nash (general soreness), and Steve Blake (elbow) all out. Recently returning from his own absence due to a hamstring injury, Farmar put up 16 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, and three steals in Friday's matchup against the Jazz. I won't ignore the fact that he put up just three points in his first game back Wednesday against the Heat, but the UCLA product could be a low-risk, high-reward option for Sunday. The Sixers give up 27.9 points (fifth-worst), 7.3 rebounds (fifth-worst), 13.1 assists (worst), 2.7 steals (fifth-worst), 3.2 three-pointers made (worst), 8.6 three-pointers attempted (worst), and 44.1 percent FG (sixth-worst) against opposing eligible point guards, providing Farmar with a good opportunity to put up a strong performance. Check on his status before the game, just in case his hamstring forces him to become a late scratch. As we all know, the NBA is where the unpredictable happens.
Other options: Michael Carter-Williams (at LAL), Reggie Jackson (vs. HOU), Tony Parker (vs. SAC)
Jodie Meeks (vs. PHI): Meeks has played excellently of late, averaging 15.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2.4 steals, and 2.2 three-pointers made per game over his last five contests. In a similar situation to Farmar, Meeks will have plenty of opportunity to put up a colorful fantasy line on Sunday, as he is playing an average of 39 minutes over the last five games. The Sixers give up 43.3 points (second-worst), 12.6 rebounds (worst), 10.5 assists (second-worst), 4.1 steals (worst), 1.4 blocks (worst), 5.8 three-pointers made (worst), 15.0 three-pointers attempted (worst), and 44.6 percent FG (eighth-worst) to opposing eligible shooting guards, making Meeks a happy camper from beyond the arc. His price has gone up over recent weeks, but he could produce well as a mid-priced option on Sunday.
Other options: James Harden (at OKC), Victor Oladipo (vs. ATL), Xavier Henry (vs. PHI)
Chandler Parsons (vs. OKC): Sunday's matchups create some question marks for small forwards in fantasy, as there could be unpredictable results across the board. Evan Turner (knee) would be here if he weren't a game-time call, but I'll stick with Parsons (without much confidence, I'll admit), against a shorthanded Thunder roster. Parsons is averaging 19.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.0 steals, and 1.6 three-pointers made over his last five games. While the Thunder are among the better defenses against opposing small forwards, daily game players could probably do better cutting their costs at the three, leaning towards mid-priced options rather than having to risk Kevin Durant or Rudy Gay having stinkers (which there's a good likelihood, as Rockets and Spurs hold opposing eligible small forwards to 41.9 percent and 41.5 percent FG, respectively). If Turner's good to go, he could fit the bill here, but there's a good chance he'll be limited even if he suits up, and I would be more comfortable riding the red-hot Parsons for now.
Other options: Kevin Durant (vs. HOU), Evan Turner (at LAL), Wesley Johnson (vs. PHI)
Tobias Harris (vs. ATL): Harris has been slowly returning to form as he's averaging 16.3 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 0.8 steals per game over his last four contests. He has yet to find consistency with his shot, but Harris is consistently logging 33-plus minutes per game as a starter. Harris can still be had at a decent price on some sites, and it won't be a bad idea to ride him against a Hawks team who just lost their star player in Al Horford (shoulder) for the season. Speaking of the Hawks, if you haven't figured that Paul Millsap is their main frontcourt option with Horford out, perhaps you could invest the big bucks on the forward, who has been sapping the life out of opponents over his last three games.
Other options: Paul Millsap (at ORL), Thaddeus Young (at LAL), David Lee (at CLE)
Anderson Varejao (vs. GSW): I have never been a Varejao advocate in the fantasy realm, as the center has proven to be injury prone and massively inconsistent, a complete pain to own in season-long leagues. Thankfully, daily games have allowed us to ignore our biases amongst players, especially when it comes to long-term commitment. Sticking to the topic of injury-prone, massively inconsistent centers, Andrew Bynum has been suspended indefinitely by the Cavaliers for “detrimental conduct”, and word is floating around that he could be waived. This opens the door for Varejao to produce a banana-barrage against the Warriors, who give up 18.3 points (fourth-worst), 11.1 rebounds (fourth-worst), 2.6 assists (fifth-worst), 1.4 blocks (sixth-worst),and 49.0 percent FG (eighth-worst) against opposing eligible centers. Varejao struggled in his first start on Saturday, posting just six points, eight rebounds, and two assists in 29 minutes of action, but his price tag hasn't caught up to his potential as the new starting center of the Cavaliers. Deploy him if you're up for a high-risk, high-reward play.
Other options: Dwight Howard (at OKC), Spencer Hawes (at LAL), Pero Antic (at ORL)
Russell Westbrook (knee) had surgery on his knee and is out until after the All-Star break.
Al Horford (shoulder) sustained a full tear in his pectoral, and is out for the season.
Kobe Bryant (knee) is out for approximately five more weeks.
Steve Nash (general soreness) is out without a timetable to return.
Steve Blake (elbow) is out for approximately four more weeks.
Andrew Bynum (suspension) is expected to be released by the Cavaliers.
Patrick Beverley (hand) is out for the next three-to-five weeks.
Omer Asik (thigh) is out without a timetable to return.
Arnett Moultrie (ankle) participated in team drills and could return in January.
Evan Turner (knee) missed Saturday's game and is questionable to play on Sunday.
Arron Afflalo (ankle) played through a sprained ankle Friday and is probable to play on Sunday.
Pau Gasol (illness) is a game-time decision on Sunday.
Chris Kaman (ankle) is a game-time decision on Sunday.