Tuesday January 19th, 2016

We’re dealing with our first light slate in more than a week, and this one doubles as one of the thinnest of the season. It’s not just that there are only four games on Tuesday, it’s that the caliber of player is also one of the lowest we’ve had on a single day all season. Forget about five-figure players (though there are two, thanks to the Thunder and Pelicans being in action). There are just four players priced north of $8,000, with Paul George and Kevin Durant joining Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook. The key to Tuesday will be hitting on the players you roster in the $6,000 to $7,000 range.

• MORE NBA: Cavs no match for Warriors | Noah injury puts Bulls in doubt

PG: Russell Westbrook ($10,500) @ DEN: It all starts, however, with Westbrook. Denver is allowing the fifth-most fantasy points per game to point guards, which is bad news when you’re going up against one of the best players in the league, who just happens to play the point. In two games against the Nuggets this year, Westbrook is averaging 22.5 points, 10 assists, nine rebounds and two steals. Oh yeah, he’s also coming off consecutive triple doubles, and has double doubles in four of his last five games. The only reason it isn’t five straight is because he was ejected in the second quarter of that fifth game.

SG: Will Barton ($6,700) vs. OKC: Barton has turned into a favorite of this column, but we had to go in another direction at the beginning of this month while he found his way through his first real slump of the season. He has at least 30 fantasy points in two of his last three games, so we can feel safe saying he’s pulling out of the tailspin. You’ll want multiple avenues of investment in this game with its 212.5 over/under, the highest on the board for Tuesday. Barton is a nice, affordable avenue.

SF: Paul George ($8,700) @ PHO: We love picking on Phoenix, which features one of the most fantasy friendly defenses in the league. The Suns have surrendered the fourth-most fantasy points per game to small forwards, so a player like George should be able to take advantage. He has yet to climb back to the heights he was at during the first six weeks of the season, but he has given fantasy owners 39.3 points per game over his last 10 contests. He has been hurt by turnovers more than the average small forward, but Phoenix’s defense took a step back when it lost Eric Bledsoe for the season.

PF: Markieff Morris ($4,900) vs. IND: The Suns may just be showcasing Morris, but that shouldn’t matter to fantasy owners. All that does matter is that he’s getting plenty of minutes, and doing well to play his way out of Phoenix. Over his last three games, he has averaged 27.7 minutes, putting up 14.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.7 steals, and 28.5 fantasy points per game. That’s a significant profit at just $4,900. Both player and team would welcome for a divorce, so you can bet on Morris getting plenty of minutes to show other teams what he can still do.

C: Nikola Jokic ($4,900) vs. OKC: Jusuf Nurkic is expected to miss his third straight game with knee and ankle injuries, opening the door for Jokic to lead the Nuggets in minutes at center. He has mostly held off Nurkic while he works his way back from injury, carving out a useful role even with the former on the floor. In the last two games Nurkic has missed, Jokic has averaged 28.3 fantasy points in just 21 minutes, a robust 1.35 points per minute. If he can get, say, 28 minutes against the Thunder tonight, that would translate to 37.7 fantasy points, a number that is within his reach in a game with an over/under of 212.5.

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