Playing daily fantasy sports can be very frustrating at time, especially if you are like me and like to test your kills in more than one sport. That is particularly true on Sundays, when my main focus is trying to establish a quality fantasy football lineup, as well as sitting down to actually enjoy the full slate of NFL games.

When that happens, sometimes – like I did yesterday – I often end up waiting too long to play in my favorite basketball tournaments and they fill up before I am able to join. That is what happened last night as the time got away from me as I reveled in the fact that my Steelers were crushing the Cincinnati Bengals.

As a result, I did not get the chance to play in the $50K NBA Swat (with the top prize of $4,000) and had to, instead, settle for playing in the $40K NBA Shot. The differences between the two leagues are rather significant, both in the prize pool, as well as the amount of players that are able to join the league.

In the “Shot,” the entry fee is $2 instead of $1, presumably to make up for the fact that this league has a reduced field of 22,988 entries. The prize pool is also reduced and the top prize is "only" $2,500. Now don’t get me wrong, I would be happy to win that top prize, something I was a mile away from doing last night!

On the other hand, last night was the night to win as the top score was extremely low, at least compared to recent nights where the top scores were well over 350. Instead, last night’s NBA Shot winner was “azzkicker” and he or she posted 287.7 fantast points. I have  topped that score on many, many occasions so it is maddening that I was not able to pull it together last night and take down the coveted first place bragging rights (as well as the healthy payday!).

In any event, after each night’s games are final, I try to take a look at the winning lineup to determine why they did so well and I did so poorly (if that is the case, as was last night). A preliminary review of the winning lineup reveals that this lineup was nothing special other than being extremely consistent on a night where many of the top players performed poorly. Of course, I say that with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight.

$40K Sun NBA Shot Winning Lineup December 7, 2014

The Winning Lineup of "azzkicker"

Point Guard # 1: Jrue Holiday –  I view Jrue Holiday as a cheaper alternative when I am looking to score 30+ fantasy points from my second point guard.  Last night was a prime example of exactly what I am looking to get when selecting him and his $7,300 salary.  Indeed, Jrue banked the winning team 37.8 points, including 22 points, 4 rebounds, 8 assists, and 1 block, and only committed three turnovers.

Point Guard # 2: Russell Westbrook – Although Russell Westbrook is very high priced at $9,800, by selecting value players like Courtney Lee and Amar'e Stoudemire (both discussed below), the winning team was able to grab him and his 41.7 fantasy points.  There seemed to be a bunch of fantasy teams using that strategy last night in order to grab Westbrook as he was 26% owned.  Lucky for them, Westbrook helped them cash by scoring 22 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assist, while being guilty of four turnovers.

Shooting Guard # 1: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – While I am not a huge fan of Caldwell-Pope, I am a fan of his occasional outbursts of high scores.  Last night his matchup was favorable and he took advantage of it, scoring 29.1 fantasy points, which would have been over 30 had he not had three turnovers.  However, he did manage 19 points, 3 boards, 5 assists, and 1 steal.

Shooting Guard # 2: Courtney Lee – Courtney Lee was a steal last night for $4,800 and relatively off of the radar (as he was only owned by 9.5% of the teams).  However, for those that were smart enough to snag him, Lee contributed 26.7 fantasy points, including 17 points, 1 rebound, 3 assists, and 1 steal.  While he is not likely to do that type of scoring consistently, Lee has earned a spot on my watch list.

Small Forward # 1: Nicolas Batum – I really like Nicolas Batum and every time I have remembered to start him, he provided my fantasy team with a shot in the arm.  Last night would have been more of the same as he scored 29.5 fantasy points by knocking down 11 points, grabbing 5 rebounds, and adding 1 assist and 1 block.  Batum did all of that without committing a single turnover.

Small Forward # 2: Chandler Parsons – Dallas scored 125 points last night so Parsons experienced a nice uptick in his fantasy points as well.  He contributed 35.5 fantasy points to the winning team, including 28 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, and 1 block.  Not bad for a player with a $6,400 salary! 

Power Forward # 1: Amar’e Stoudemire – Although Amar's Stoudemire had an off night a few nights ago, last night he was back to his stud self.  What makes this power forward so attractive, however, is the fact that he is still very reasonably priced at $5,900.  By selecting this player for your fantasy team, you are able to snag a higher priced player at a different position.  Last night, Stoudemire had 34 fantasy points, which included 16 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks, while only have 1 turnover. 

Power Forward # 2: Greg Monroe – If there was a disappointment on the winning team, Greg Monroe fit that bill.  Of course, he was on my team as well, just another reason why my team sucked so badly last night.  In any event, Monroe underperformed for his $6,700 salary, and only gave 20.6 fantasy points in return.  That score included 12 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 assists, and he was guilty of 4 turnovers.

Center: Andre Drummond – Detroit Center Andre Drummond is moderately expensive and does turn in many quality games, despite the high points needed to justify his salary of $7,700.  However, he will usually get you 30+ fantasy points, something he did last night when he brought home 32.8, including 16 points, 9 rebounds, 1 steals, and a block.  Nothing too fancy but 30+ points is welcome on my team any time (excluding, of course, Davis and anyone else over $10,000).

My Lineup For December 8, 2014

I need to get back on the winning track tonight and I think the lineup below may be the way to accomplish that as there is a healthy mix of studs and role players that sometimes play like studs.

Point Guard # 1: T. Burke - Burke is a reasonably priced point guard that I expect to get 30+ fantasy points from tonight.  He has contributed 30+ points in his last three contests, and had several 30+ fantasy point nights in December.  For his salary of $6,000, 30+ fantasy points would be absolutely welcome on my team.

Point Guard # 2: T. Lawson - Lawson is getting expensive and his salary has now escalated to $8,900.  And for good reason.  Except for December 7 (when he brought home 27.2 fantasy points), Lawson has exceeded 30 fantasy points in every contest since November 19.  In four of those games, Lawson scored more than 40 points.  If you can find some value in other places in your lineup so you can afford him, I would think adding Lawson is right move for tonight.

Shooting Guard # 1: E. Bledsoe -  I was down on Bledsoe earlier this year but he has changed my mind recently.  Bledsoe has scored 40+ points in 4 games out of his last 7.  Yes, he will occasionally drop a 20'ish fantast point night (which is not acceptable on his $7,500 salary).  However, I will take my chances tonight against the Clippers.

Shooting Guard # 2: K. Thompson - I am trying to work in a player from Golden State in my lineup any chance I get and tonight I am rolling with Klay Thompson.  At $7,900, his value is just about right for the 40 fantasy points I expect to receive from him.  His last three games have been very strong and have averaged just over 40 fantasy points.  Yes please!

Small Forward # 1: W. Chandler -  I have mixed feelings about Chandler tonight.  His salary is $5,700 and it is likely I will get 20-25 fantasy points tonight from him.  However, he has exceeded 30 twice over the past three games, missing that third time by only a few points.  My hesitation with him come from the fact that I really like Butler tonight and his lower salary of $4,200.  I am sticking with Chandler for my primary lineup, despite the fact that I think Butler is going to go off tonight.

Small Forward # 2:  G. Hayward - Gordon Hayward confuses me to death.  He is fully capable of exceeding 40 fantasy points but rarely does so.  I like his matchup tonight so I am going to pick him, despite the fact that my gut tells me to go with Butler at small forward and use the extra salary money to drop Hayward and go with Gay.  Hopefully, I will not regret it tomorrow!

Power Forward # 1: K. Humphries - 20+ fantasy points in four of his last five games, with one game going for 36.5 fantasy points.  I will take that!  However, while I think there are some better plays for a slightly higher salary, I am going with Humphries hoping he will give me 25+ fantasy points so I can afford to start Milsap.

Power Forward # 2: P. Milsap -Milsap has the ability to dominate a game. Even at his salary of $8,400, he is worth it.  He has scored over 30 fantasy points in 8 of his last 10 games.   Pretty simple. 

Center: M. Plumlee -  Finally, I needed a value Center to afford the team above.  I was going to go with Zeller just like everyone else is probably going to do.  However, I think Plumlee will be all over the boards tonight so I am predicting a double double.  Mark it down.