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Friday Slate Starter: NBA DFS Strategy for DraftKings & FanDuel Lineups Today | 12/31/21

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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 seven-game slate.

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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 | Dec. 31

Omer Yurtseven, C, Miami Heat

The Heat are seriously thin at the moment. They have so many players in health and safety protocols that their last game had to be postponed. Things look a bit precarious for them on Friday too, but they should provide plenty of fantasy value if they can suit up. They are taking on the Rockets, giving them one of the best possible matchups. The Rockets rank fourth in pace and dead last in defensive efficiency, which is an excellent formula for allowing a ton of points.

Yurtseven is someone who has been getting the job done for fantasy players recently. He has managed to pay off his price tag in eight straight games, and he has been particularly strong in his past two. He has scored at least 35.5 DraftKings points in back-to-back games, which is not surprising given his spike in playing time. Yurtseven has averaging 1.11 DraftKings points per minute over the past month, and he has logged at least 32.5 minutes in both of those contests.

Yurtseven will undoubtedly have to carry another large workload against the Rockets, so expect him to own solid marks in our NBA Projections.

Marcus Morris, SF/PF, Los Angeles Clippers

Morris returned to the lineup for the Clippers two games ago, and he has wasted little time making an impact. He racked up 40.75 DraftKings points over 27.1 minutes in his first game back, and he followed that up with 41.5 DraftKings points over 38 minutes in his second.

With Paul George and Kawhi Leonard both out indefinitely, Morris will have to continue to carry the load for the Clippers. Reggie Jackson is also questionable, and his absence would result in a monster workload for Morris. He has increased his usage rate by a team-high +6.4% with Jackson and George off the court this season, resulting in an average of 1.16 DraftKings points per minute.

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Morris has gotten a bit more expensive recently, and some might balk at his increased price tag. That would be a mistake if Jackson is out of the lineup. If his projected ownership is too low, he will own a strong leverage rating in the Boom/Bust Probability tool.


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Ja Morant, PG, Memphis Grizzlies

Morant is back with a vengeance. He missed 12 consecutive games earlier this season, but he has played in each of the past five. His minutes have slowly trended upwards, culminating with 35.7 minutes in his last outing.

Morant’s usage rate has also ticked up recently. He has posted a usage rate of at least 36.1% in back-to-back games, including a whopping 46.9% against the Lakers on Wednesday. He racked up 66.0 DraftKings points in that contest, and he should continue to see a few additional shots for as long as Dillon Brooks is out of the lineup. Morant remains slightly priced down compared to his early-season salary, so he is a quality stud option Friday against the Spurs.

Morant could also provide some value in the player prop market. If his scoring prop has yet to adjust to his increased usage sans Brooks, it could be worth considering the over. Make sure to take advantage of the Awesemo Player Prop tool, which highlights the most exploitable prop bets each day.


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Our NBA daily fantasy projections are updated regularly, including whenever any relevant news breaks. Looking for more NBA DFS plays tonight and the best NBA DFS tools? View our FanDuel ownership, our Yahoo! ownership projections and our DraftKings NBA ownership projections. We also have DraftKings NBA ownership rankings, FanDuel rankings and Yahoo! NBA rankings for today's slate. Check out our DFS rankings NBA for fantasy points and values that are derived directly from Alex Baker's own most accurate NBA DFS projections.
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