Matchups for Friday, Jan. 2
All times are ET.
Key: Opp. PPG = Points per game allowed to opponents. Opp. FGP = Field goal percentage allowed to opponents. RPG Diff. = The difference between team's rebounds per game and its opponents' rebounds per game.
Gilbert Arenas, PG, Wizards (knee)
Shane Battier, SF, Rockets (foot)
Carlos Boozer, PF, Jazz (knee)
Elton Brand, PF, 76ers (shoulder)
Eddy Curry, C, Knicks (knee)
Ricky Davis, SG/SF, Clippers (knee)
Luol Deng, SF, Bulls (ankle)
Mike Dunleavy, SG/SF, Pacers (knee)
Monta Ellis, PG/SG, Warriors (ankle)
Jordan Farmar, PG, Lakers (knee)
Richard Hamilton, SG, Pistons (groin)
Kirk Hinrich, PG/SG, Bulls (thumb)
Darko Milicic, PF/C, Grizzlies (knuckle)
Paul Millsap, PF, Jazz (knee)
Mickael Pietrus, SG/SF, Magic (wrist)
Zach Randolph, PF/C, Clippers (knee)
Jerry Stackhouse, SG/SF, Mavericks (foot)
Wally Szczerbiak, SG/SF, Cavaliers (knee)
Caron Butler, SF, Wizards (ankle)
Nick Collison, PF/C, Thunder (thumb)
Drew Gooden, PF/C, Bulls (ankle)
Spencer Hawes, PF/C, Kings (abdomen)
Antonio McDyess, PF, Pistons (ribs)
Tracy McGrady, SG/SF, Rockets (knee)
Mike Miller, SG/SF, Timberwolves (ankle)
Steve Nash, PG, Suns (back)
Jermaine O'Neal, PF/C, Raptors (knee)
Brandon Roy, SG, Trail Blazers (hamstring)
Joe Smith, PF, Thunder (thigh)
Rasheed Wallace, PF/C, Pistons (foot)
Start 'em, sit 'em
It's rare when the NBA has all 30 of its teams playing on the same night. What the full slate of 15 games does is save owners in daily lineup leagues some aggravation. For instance, why fret over Drew Gooden, who's supposed to return either Friday or Saturday, when you likely have another good, and healthier, option? The same goes for Tracy McGrady, who for the foreseeable future will rest one night in back-to-back situations (the Rockets visit Atlanta on Saturday). And, sadly, this also applies to one of my fantasy faves, Brandon Roy, who told The Oregonian that, although his injured hamstring is improving, he'll probably sit out again Friday. One player who looks like a go is Steve Nash. He told The Arizona Republic that he expects to play Friday. With the New Year's holiday, there frankly weren't a lot of updates Thursday, so keep checking for late word. In general, though, this is a good night to play it safe with your lineup.
With all of your healthy front-line players available, there isn't a great need to dig for sleepers, but keep Russell Westbrook in mind. One of the most-added players in ESPN.com leagues this week, Westbrook goes against the Nuggets, and Denver opponents get the 10th-most steals, 11th-most assists and fifth-most 3-pointers. The rookie is making strides in his shooting (46.2 percent in December), and he has four 3s in his past two games. The Raptors are third-worst in rebound differential, so 26-percent-owned Luis Scola is a good bet for double-digit boards in Toronto. And with Roy likely sidelined, 17-percent-owned Steve Blake should be in line for another productive night against a Hornets team that yields nearly seven 3s per game.
Neil Tardy is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.