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 Monday’s 10-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. 3
Anfernee Simons, PG/SG, Portland Trail Blazers
Simons missed the Blazers’ last game due to health and safety protocols, but he has already been cleared to return to the lineup. That’s excellent news for the Blazers, who will be extremely thin in the backcourt on Monday. Damian Lillard has already been ruled out due to abdominal tendinopathy, while C.J. McCollum remains out with a long-term injury.
That opens the door for Simons to draw the start at point guard. Simons has averaged just 19.42 DraftKings points in three games without Lillard this season, but he’s averaged just 24.6 minutes in those contests. McCollum was also available for each of them, so that’s not an accurate representation of Simons’ potential vs. the Hawks. He’s yet to play a full game without both Lillard and McCollum, but he’s increased his usage rate by +10.6% with both players off the court.
It’s possible that Dennis Smith Jr. could draw the start instead of Simons, but Smith is significantly more expensive. Even if he comes off the bench, I would expect Simons to grade out better in our NBA Projections.
Marcus Morris, SF/PF, Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers gave Morris the night off in their last contest, which was on the second leg of a back-to-back. However, it was purely for precautionary reasons, and Morris is not listed on the injury report for Monday’s matchup vs. the Timberwolves.
When Morris has been in the lineup, he’s been an excellent source of value recently. He’s logged at least 37.7 minutes in each of his past two games, and he’s been one of the Clippers’ primary scoring threats with Paul George sidelined. He’s increased his production to 0.97 DraftKings points per minute with George off the court this season, so he’s underpriced if he’s going to continue to see that much playing time.
It will be interesting to see what Morris’ projected ownership looks like. Stars and scrubs has been the default strategy for most of the year, so midrange options like Morris can often be overlooked. If that’s the case, he’ll grade out favorably from a leverage perspective in the Boom/Bust Probability tool.
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James Harden, PG/SG, Brooklyn Nets
Harden stands out as one of the most critical players on Monday’s slate. He’s been an absolute monster since returning to the Nets’ lineup four games ago, racking up at least 71.5 DraftKings points in all four contests. The last two were even with Kevin Durant in the lineup, so he figures to be one of the most popular studs on the slate.
Can he keep this production going moving forward? That remains to be seen, but one thing to note is his recent free throw attempts. He’s logged at least 15 in three of his past four games after struggling to get to the line earlier this season. A lot was made about the change in officiating and how it impacted Harden’s game, but it appears that might be a thing of the past.
With that in mind, Harden could provide some value in the player prop market in addition to DFS. Certain sportsbooks will allow you to wager on how many free throws a player will make, and Harden seems like a great bet in that department. For other player props, make sure to utilize the Awesemo Player Prop tool, which highlights the most exploitable prop bets each day.
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View our FanDuel ownership, our Yahoo! ownership projections and our DraftKings ownership projections. Our daily fantasy basketball projections are updated regularly, including whenever any relevant news breaks. We also have FanDuel rankings, Yahoo! rankings and DraftKings NBA ownership rankings for today's slate. Looking for more NBA DFS advice FanDuel and the best NBA DFS advice? Check out our DFS rankings NBA for fantasy points and values that are derived directly from Alex Baker's own NBA DFS projections DraftKings.
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