I hope your Thanksgiving Day festivities were fabulous. The off-day from the NBA has my batteries recharged and ready for this pre-All-Star break run. The short break gave players a chance to get healthy. That has earned some players exaggerated salaries, and that'll definitely be a theme in the fade sections. With that in mind, let's kick things off with one of the hottest players in the NBA.
LaMelo Ball, CHA at HOU ($45)
Expectations for Ball were sky-high when he came into the NBA, and he might be surpassing them with his stellar play. The 20-year-old has scored at least 33 Yahoo points in 14 consecutive games, averaging 20.5 points, 8.1 rebounds, 8.8 assists and 1.9 steals in that span. That equates to 47 Yahoo points per game, one of the highest in the NBA. That alone makes him intriguing against anyone but facing the Rockets is a great matchup as Houston ranks first in pace and 27th in total defense.
Darius Garland, CLE vs. ORL ($26)
It makes no sense why Garland remains less than $30. Garland stepped up in the absence of Collin Sexton, leading the team in usage and scoring at least 33 Yahoo points in eight of his last 11 games en route to a 34-point average in that span. He's also averaging 36 minutes in that span and taking more than 17 shots per game, making him a good value at this salary range. The matchup is good too with the Magic ranked 24th in points allowed and 29th in defensive efficiency.
Guard to Avoid
Jalen Brunson, DAL vs. WAS ($26)
Brunson averaged 39.6 Yahoo points in three starts last week, but now he's relegated to the bench with Luka Doncic back in the lineup. That means he's capped at about 30 minutes and a limited usage rate, making him hard to trust behind this inflated price. The matchup makes it even more challenging, with Washington ranked seventh in defensive efficiency. Not to mention, Brunson is dealing with a foot injury and might be limited.
Jimmy Butler, MIA at CHI ($45)
Butler faces his former team, but the revenge game narrative is less important than how well he is playing. He averages 44 Yahoo points per game with an impressive floor — he's scored at least 32 Yahoo points in 14 of 15 games this season.
Wendell Carter Jr., ORL at CLE ($24)
Carter totaled 26 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and two blocks Friday, despite being blown out. A big reason for the outburst was an injury to Mo Bamba, who seems unlikely to play Saturday. That means more shots, minutes and rebounds for WCJ, which is big news for his fantasy value. All of that makes it hard to understand why he's only $24, especially with Carter averaging 30 fantasy points per game. Not to mention, Cleveland has lost five consecutive games and defensively can't stop anyone.
Forward to Avoid
Kyle Kuzma, WAS at DAL ($25)
Kuzma just isn't good enough to be a $25 player. That was on full display in his time with the Lakers, and it's been a bit inflated because of a hot start. The man who wears blankets as shirts has failed to crack 21 Yahoo points in four of his last five games, attempting just nine combined shots in the previous two games. That might be the most concerning thing, as he's losing opportunities to this surprisingly deep rotation. Dallas really isn't a great defense, but they're surrendering the second-fewest fantasy points to PFs this season.
Christian Wood, HOU vs. CHA ($28)
Wood has struggled at times this season, but he's a good value at less than $30. He was salaried north of $40 last season and has shown flashes of that this year. He averages 35 Yahoo points per game, dropping at least 35 fantasy points in half of his games. His best asset is this matchup, though, with Charlotte ranked third in pace and 28th in points allowed. Hornets starting center Mason Plumlee missed two of the last three games with calf strain. If he's out again, Wood should feast against this undersized frontline.
P.J. Washington, CHA at HOU ($14)
The Hornets could be without Mason Plumlee, forcing P.J. into the starting center job. That's big news for a guy who's been relegated to the bench most of the year. He totaled 24 Yahoo points in a rare start Friday for Plumlee. That's pretty much the per-minute guy we've seen all year, averaging 20 Yahoo points per game across just 19 minutes a night. That fantastic rate is terrific since he's likely looking at a 30-minute role, putting him in line for 25-35 fantasy points. That'd be quite the total from a $14 player, and it should be even easier to accomplish with the Rockets' horrific defensive numbers.
Center to Avoid
Jonas Valanciunas, NOP at UTA ($35)
This is definitely the riskiest of our fades, but this is a tough spot for JV. The biggest worry is the game script, with New Orleans facing severe blowout potential. They enter this game as a 13-point underdog, and it's possible that Valanciunas doesn't even step on the floor in the fourth quarter. That's concerning considering his recent form, with JV scoring 37 or fewer fantasy points in six of his last seven games. You need at least 37 Yahoo points from someone this expensive, and it's scary that he has to do that with so much blowout potential. The matchup is the final nail in the coffin, with Rudy Gobert the best defensive center in the NBA. In their eight matchups last season, JV cracked 34 Yahoo points only twice, and just had a dud against them on Friday night.