The Slate Starter is a daily first look at to get your daily fantasy basketball lineup-building process started before lock tonight. Each day, we will go through some of the best NBA DFS picks, top stacks and optimal lineup construction for DraftKings and FanDuel. Be sure to check Awesemo’s NBA Starting Lineups page, as it will be updated throughout the day as the NBA injury reports are released and breaking news surfaces. Let’s dive into some players who stand out as key options on Friday’s nine-game slate.
Want to see how your lineup stacked up against yesterday’s winning NBA DFS lineups on DraftKings, FanDuel and Yahoo? Check out Awesemo’s Optimal Lineup Review, which uses Fantasy Cruncher Rewind to analyze the winning plays from the night before.
NBA DFS Picks & Optimal Lineup Construction | Jan. 7
Jordan Clarkson, PG/SG, Utah Jazz
The Jazz are going to be massively shorthanded on Friday. They have already ruled out Donovan Mitchell, Mike Conley, Rudy Gobert, Bojan Bogdanovic, and Joe Ingles, leaving the team without five of their most important players. Clarkson, Rudy Gay, Royce O’Neale, and Hassan Whiteside are also questionable, so the Jazz could be without arguably their top nine players.
If Clarkson is available, he should be asked to carry a huge workload. He has increased his usage rate by +8.3% with Mitchell and Conley off the court this season, resulting in an average of 1.11 DraftKings points per minute. Clarkson has played at least 30 minutes in six games this season, and he has averaged 33.0 DraftKings points in those contests. It is reasonable to expect 30-plus minutes from Clarkson if he is active.
Expect Clarkson to own one of the top marks in our NBA Projections.
Jalen Brunson, PG/SG, Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks have one of the best matchups of the day vs. the Rockets. They have played at the third-fastest pace this season, and they rank just 29th in defensive efficiency.
The Mavericks’ injury situation should also create some DFS value. Luka Doncic is doubtful, while Kristaps Porzingis is in health and safety protocols.
That is excellent news for Brunson, who has thrived with Doncic out of the lineup this season. He has increased his usage rate by +3.3% in 14 games without his star teammate, and he has averaged 36.25 DraftKings points in those contests. Brunson’s price tag has also come back to reality recently, decreasing by $900 over the past two games.
The reduced price tag and elite matchup make Brunson a very appealing matchup. However, make sure to monitor his projected ownership. If it is too high, he will own a negative leverage score in the Boom/Bust Probability tool.
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Nassir Little, SF/PF, Portland Trail Blazers
The Blazers’ matchup vs. the Cavaliers is not nearly as friendly as the Mavericks, but they should also provide solid fantasy value on Friday. They are still playing without Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, and Larry Nance Jr., which opens up a ton of minutes and shot attempts for the rest of the lineup.
Anfernee Simons has been the primary target for the Blazers recently, but he has gotten pricy. Little stands out as arguably the stronger option at just $4,800 on DraftKings. He has averaged 0.88 DraftKings points per minute over the past month, and he has logged at least 33.8 minutes in back-to-back games. His fantasy performance was a bit disappointing in his last contest – he finished with just 22.0 DraftKings points – but he was a pedestrian 4-12 from the field. That makes Little a prime bounce-back target on Friday’s slate.
Little could also provide some value in the player prop market. He scored 22 points two games ago, so he has the potential to improve upon his 10 points from his last outing. With some better shooting luck, he should be able to hit the over on his scoring prop. For more player props, make sure to take advantage of the Awesemo Player Prop tool, which highlights the most exploitable prop bets each day.
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View our FanDuel ownership projections, our DraftKings NBA ownership and our Yahoo! NBA ownership projections. We also have DraftKings rankings, Yahoo! NBA ownership rankings and FanDuel NBA ownership rankings for today's slate. Our NBA projections DraftKings are updated regularly, including whenever any relevant news breaks. Looking for more DraftKings DFS NBA and the best free NBA DFS tools? Check out our NBA fantasy rankings today for fantasy points and values that are derived directly from Alex Baker's own daily fantasy basketball projections.
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