The NBA DFS Deep Dive is our primary in-depth daily fantasy basketball article, and it will be free this season. The goal of this article isn’t just to give you a few plays to plug into your lineup, but to dig a little bit deeper into why projections may (or may not) like certain players. Hopefully, after reading this article, you’ll have a better feel for the slate as a whole. Combining the context from this article with the raw data that is available in our Boom/Bust tool, Projections and Ownership Projections should allow you to build strong lineups and make the best NBA DFS picks on DraftKings and FanDuel for any format.
NBA DFS Deep Dive: DraftKings + FanDuel Picks | 1/23/21
Philadelphia 76ers at Detroit Pistons (+7): 218
I am wary of rostering Philly players on the tail end of a back-to-back. Coming off a win over Boston, a game against the Pistons presents a much lesser challenge. I think we could see Joel Embiid play slightly fewer minutes than normal. While Embiid is typically a player I will normally get some exposure to on most slates, I don’t think I am will be there today. I don’t have exposure to him in my initial builds, though a lot of this has to do with DeMarcus Cousins. With Boogie still cheap on FanDuel and DraftKings, he is easily the priority play at center today.
The only player I am getting to from the Sixers is Ben Simmons on FanDuel. I think he is a bit less likely to get limited on a back-to-back than Embiid, and he would benefit if Philly opts to go light with its star center. There is also a little bit of pricing value on Simmons since he’s priced below $8,000 on FanDuel for the first time all season. The last time Simmons had a price tag in the $7,000 range was in December of 2019.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: None
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Ben Simmons
Jerami Grant finally cooled off last night after an incredible start to the season. Going forward, I still expect him to play well although we have reached a point where the industry is caught up to his level of play. Grant is priced fairly on both DraftKings and FanDuel. In addition, his player props are finally in line with his output. Last night, Grant missed the over on his points prop for the first time in 13 games. I am not willing to climb to his current price tag in a tough matchup against the 76ers.
The only player I am getting significant exposure to from the Pistons is Josh Jackson. Jackson’s season got off to a strong start but then he got taken off track by an injury. He returned playing limited minutes and struggled to regain his form from the early season. Last night, Jackson finally started to play extended minutes again. Jackson played 31 minutes and is priced under $4,000 on FanDuel and DraftKings.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Josh Jackson
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Josh Jackson
Miami Heat at Brooklyn Nets (-7): 231
The Heat are still shorthanded coming into today’s game. Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, Avery Bradley and Meyers Leonard are all out tonight. Without Butler and Herro active, Goran Dragic and Kendrick Nunn stand to gain the most value. Of the two, I prefer Dragic. With that said, Nunn still warrants exposure. I haven’t projected him for enough minutes on the last few slates, leading me to get less exposure to him than I should have. He played 39 minutes last night, with 34 and 35 minutes in the two games prior.
In the frontcourt, Bam Adebayo is another strong play from the Heat. On FanDuel, he’s my favorite option at the power forward position. Not only does Bam gain extra usage due to the Miami missing players, the Nets’ frontcourt defense is a disaster. Without Jarrett Allen, DeAndre Jordan simply doesn’t offer enough resistance on his own. Brooklyn needs another big man, the rebounding numbers from last night tell that story; the Cavs out-rebounded the Nets by a margin of 50 to 29. The Nets should get crushed by big men until they make roster changes.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Goran Dragic, Kendrick Nunn, Bam Adebayo
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Goran Dragic, Kendrick Nunn, Bam Adebayo
I am guessing that Kyrie Irving will not play tonight. This is the tail end of a back-to-back and Brooklyn opted to rest Kevin Durant last night. Now that this team has three stars, I think we will see Irving and Durant alternate getting nights off. I am not sure what to make of the usage on this team when all three stars are active, but hopefully, we won’t have to deal with this tonight.
Assuming Irving rests, Durant and James Harden both become stronger plays. If Kyrie plays, this is a situation I will likely avoid or limit exposures. Without Kyrie, I lean towards Harden as a stronger play over Durant. Durant is having a great season but this is more due to salary and position eligibility. The guard spots are more difficult to fill tonight than the forward position and Harden is historically the better fantasy producer than Durant. For the purposes of my picks, I am currently projecting Irving as out for rest.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: James Harden, Kevin Durant
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: James Harden, Kevin Durant, Joe Harris
New Orleans Pelicans at Minnesota Timberwolves (+8): 220.5
New Orleans Pelicans
In two games since coming back from knee soreness, Lonzo Ball has played limited minutes. He saw 23 minutes in his first game back and 27 minutes in his second. For good reason, this has lowered both his price and ownership. Nobody wants to roster a player that is struggling and playing at less than 100% health. On the positive side, his minutes were a bit higher last game and I think they should go up another tick tonight. As Lonzo gets back on track, he has a ceiling although it is risky since the injury and minutes add variance to his fantasy potential. It’s a risk I am willing to take in tournaments for his price and I will come in overweight to the field with my exposure. A matchup against the weak Wolves’ defense doesn’t hurt either.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Lonzo Ball
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram
As he has since testing positive for COVID-19, Karl-Anthony Towns remains out for the Timberwolves. We have seen Minnesota attempt a few different starting frontcourt combinations to make up for his loss. No one player can fill the void but Jarred Vanderbilt is doing an admirable job and delivering fantasy value. In three starts, he’s put up two great value games and one stinker. He’s cheap enough on FanDuel and DraftKings that he’s one of my top value plays on the slate. His playing time isn’t completely secure, but I am getting exposure to him because of the chance to play close to 30 minutes as a guy who is averaging over a fantasy point per minute.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Jarred Vanderbilt, D’Angelo Russell
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Jarred Vanderbilt, D’Angelo Russell
Golden State Warriors at Utah Jazz (-7): 228
Golden State Warriors
I am not quite over the Draymond Green ejection from a couple nights ago. Playing against the Knicks, Green yelled at James Wiseman after he made a mental error. The ref thought Green’s words were directed at him, so he tossed Green from the game. The ref later admitted that he was wrong and apologized. It’s cool he admitted wrongdoing, but this doesn’t make up for the money I could have won in some of my high end lineups that had Green in them. I am sure the Warriors aren’t pleased about losing by 15 points to the Knicks after he got ejected.
More importantly, I am still willing to get exposure to Green today. He remains cheap on FanDuel and DraftKings and I have to think his fantasy production will start to pick up. Maybe he isn’t the same player he once was, but I still think of Draymond as one of the better defensive players in the league. We have seen him pile up defensive stats in the past, and he’s gone over two weeks without putting up multiple stocks in a game. He should see some positive regression there and payoff his price tag as long as the Warriors keep this game close.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Draymond Green
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Draymond Green
The one player who stand out to me from a projection standpoint is Rudy Gobert. On FanDuel, almost all of my center exposure is going to Cousins, so I won’t have much, if any Gobert exposure. Where I will get exposure to Gobert is on DraftKings. I have him projected for over 40 DraftKings points, making him my second favorite center play on the slate behind Boogie. Since we can roster more than one center on DraftKings, Gobert becomes a priority play for me on the site whereas I am not able to really get to him on FanDuel. This is the biggest difference between my FanDuel and DraftKings lineups for this slate.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Rudy Gobert
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: None
Los Angeles Lakers at Chicago Bulls (+9.5): 226.5
Los Angeles Lakers
After barely getting exposure to LeBron James or Anthony Davis this season, I am starting to come around on their fantasy potential for this season. Obviously, they are both great players but their roles aren’t quite the same this season due to the additions of Dennis Schroder and Montrezl Harrell. LeBron and AD are playing less minutes with less usage this season. What makes them viable options now is because of a pricing change. I don’t expect their production to return to levels from last season but it doesn’t need to when their prices are down over $1,000 from where they were at most of last season. Of the two, I am more apt to roster LeBron on DraftKings and Davis on FanDuel due to the positional differences.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: LeBron James
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Anthony Davis
The Bulls aren’t a team I have much interest in tonight. Wendell Carter Jr. is expected to miss his second consecutive game but this doesn’t move the needle as much as it seems like it should. Daniel Gafford started in his place last night although he only played 19 minutes. Since his price is cheap, I am getting some exposure to him, however, Gafford is far from the core play he looked like last night. In a tough matchup against the Lakers, I am not getting any exposure to the expensive players from Chicago.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Daniel Gafford
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Daniel Gafford
Houston Rockets at Dallas Mavericks (-9): 219
This is the most important game on the slate. John Wall and Christian Wood remain out for the Rockets while the rest of the pricing hasn’t moved yet since James Harden got traded. Once again, this situation makes DeMarcus Cousins the best play on the slate. He is the player I will have the most exposure to tonight. I was 100% on him yesterday and, while I won’t have him as a lock today, I am going to likely end up in the 80-90% range in terms of my exposure to Boogie. The only hesitancy I have with calling him an all in play is that Houston could slightly ease up on his minutes since this is the tail end of a back-to-back and he played a season-high 33 minutes last night.
As for the rest of the roster, I am not sure if Victor Oladipo will play. The Pacers were not willing to play him in back-to-back situations. For now, I have him playing although I think there is a decent chance the Rockets opt to rest him. Houston probably will not make the playoffs this season and there isn’t much urgency to extend players who have a future with the team. If he is out, we can look to Jae’Sean Tate as a value play. Eric Gordon would also pick up extra playing time and usage. Although Gordon is a player I will get exposure to whether or not Oladipo plays.
EDIT: We now have confirmation that Oladipo is resting and Wood remain out. However, there is a wrench thrown into the Rockets since John Wall is now listed as probable. For now, I am assuming he only plays limited minutes after a layoff. If we find out that Wall has no minutes restriction, he becomes a strong play.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: DeMarcus Couins, Eric Gordon
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: DeMarcus Couins, Eric Gordon
We have the same situation here as we had the last few games. Dwight Powell, Maxi Kleber, Josh Richardson and Dorian Finney-Smith are all out due to health and safety protocols. Without them, Jalen Brunson is starting and returning solid value in the last couple of games while playing over 30 minutes. On DraftKings, his price is on the rise but he’s still cheap on FanDuel with a $4,300 price tag. He’s one of the better value plays for me on FanDuel.
Almost all of the production on the Mavericks is coming from Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. Both of them are top plays for me on both sites. Doncic is my top option to pay up for on DraftKings while my initial builds have me coming in over the field on Porzingis. He’s one of my favorite power forward plays on FanDuel and his DraftKings price is a bit too cheap when considering he’s scored over 40 fantasy points in each of his last three games after his minutes restriction was lifted.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Luka Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Luka Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis, Jalen Brunson
Denver Nuggets at Phoenix Suns (+2): 217.5
The Nuggets are one of my least favorite teams on the slate. This game has the lowest total on the slate and we have Michael Porter Jr. back in the mix. He’s missed most of the season after testing positive for COVID-19 and now he’s back in action. The issue with this is that he’s one of the highest usage players on this roster. His return takes away shots from Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic. Both of them are priced a bit too high from increased shots they saw during the time MPJ was out. Jokic always has upside but there are better stars to pay up for on this particular slate and the center position is loaded.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: None
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: None
The Suns lost more than a game last night. Not only did they blow a big lead to the Nuggets in an overtime loss, Devin Booker injured his hamstring and is out tonight. This makes Chris Paul one of the stronger plays on the slate. CP3 and Booker have cut into each other’s production this season and we should see Paul closer to last year’s numbers now that Booker is going to miss time. With Booker off the court this season, Paul sees a 2% usage bump and scores an additional 5.41 DraftKings point per-36 minutes.
There are a few other players who stand to gain a ton from the absence of Booker. Cam Payne figures to see a bump in minutes off the bench and could even move into the starting lineup if Phoenix decides to go with two ball handlers in the backcourt. The other two big gainers are Deandre Ayton and Cam Johnson from a usage standpoint. Without Booker, Ayton sees a 3.8% bump in usage while Johnson sees a 3.5% increase. The Suns are my second favorite team to target on this slate behind the Rockets.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Chris Paul, Cam Payne, Deandre Ayton, Cam Johnson
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Chris Paul, Cam Payne, Deandre Ayton, Cam Johnson, Mikal Bridges
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