After a nice little break yesterday thanks to the one-game slate, we’re back with a new Switch and Hedge for today’s 12 games filled to the brim with NBA DFS picks. There are some key injuries we already know like Jaylen Brown and the Nuggets’ absences and some that could be massive like the currently questionable Andre Drummond and unknown status of Paul George. And oh yeah, we will also likely get Zion Williamson‘s regular season debut. There are a lot of interesting things to discuss so let’s get to it with the Jan. 22 NBA DFS Switch and Hedge.
Be sure to read EMac’s Cash Building Blocks for more NBA DFS picks and analysis.
Also, watch today’s NBA Strategy Show with Josh Engleman and Sal Vetri.
The Smash Spot of All Clippers NBA DFS Smash Spots
Kawhi Leonard will be out tonight due to the back-to-back. Paul George may not make it back into the lineup after missing yesterday’s game due to injury. Patrick Beverley left yesterday’s game against Dallas as well with an injury. This could mean massive potential for Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell in a road game against the high-paced bad defense of Atlanta. Lou Will averages 1.5 fantasy points per minute with both George and Leonard off the floor with a 36% usage rate and 42% assist rate. Montrezl averages 1.4 fantasy points per minute with 32% usage. Both guys are underpriced for the situation and their ownership projected around 30% seems more than fair.
If George returns, he would become the most appealing option with his 1.6 fantasy points per minute. His hamstring issues could result in a minutes limit that allow Williams and Harrell room to get there. I also wouldn’t sleep on Ivica Zubac. His price is down and he puts up 1.2 fantasy points per minute without Leonard and George and a slightly less appealing 1.1 fantasy points per minute with George available but no Leonard.
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The Hawks are also cheap enough to go to, especially if George is out. That defense gets a lot weaker without one or both of the stud wings available and Trae Young, John Collins and Kevin Huerter are all priced down for this game. I’d likely favor them in that order with a faint interest in Cam Reddish. Huerter and Reddish are a little tougher to trust for me with Jeff Teague on the team. He played only 11 minutes in his debut but he slices away just enough of those guys that it may be a bit more of a risk they can approach a tournament-caliber ceiling. Alex Len may be the better option if he’s back in the lineup. He stands a chance to earn more minutes and had seen upwards of 25 minutes lately with a super reasonable price.
Zion Williamson’s Regular Season NBA DFS Debut
The day’s highest combined total goes to San Antonio visiting New Orleans with 237 points expected by Vegas. And while the game itself should be fun, the debut of Zion Williamson will be the biggest news. His price puts him in play, particularly if we get a read on his minutes limit being in the mid 20s for this matchup. But overall, his addition to this lineup would scare me off of the entire team.
Brandon Ingram’s usage already takes a turn downwards when Jrue Holiday is in the lineup. Lonzo Ball’s NBA DFS upside as a ballhandler slips as well. When you add in Williamson, who saw a ton of plays designed specifically to get him downhill in the preseason, it’s hard to see how any of the Pelicans get where they need to even if he’s only on the court for 20 minutes. Maybe Holiday can still get there since he’ll drive a lot of action for Williamson while getting something close to the 33% usage he took in his return to the lineup the other day. But I want to see how this lineup looks and see the prices come downward to buy in at any depth.
I still love DeMar DeRozan on the other side. He has yet to spike a massive upside but he continues to average 1.4 fantasy points per minute in 2020 and he would have smashed last game if he shot better than 5-for-15. He still had 31% usage and 44.75 fantasy points while coming in just two assists and one board shy of a triple-double. With the pace in this game, him reaching that triple-double today wouldn’t shock me. I still don’t mind LaMarcus Aldridge and Dejounte Murray but both will be significantly higher owned than DeRozan. I think there will be an outlier day from this group and I’d put my hat in the ring for DeRozan.
A Nice NBA DFS Spot For Boston Versus Memphis
Jaylen Brown will be out for the game so we should see more opportunity for the remaining Celtics in a pace-up spot against Memphis’s 109.3 defensive rating. You could talk me into Gordon Hayward, Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum in that order as a result. All of these guys are very reasonably priced and all will see a slight uptick in opportunity in multiple categories. The same applies for Marcus Smart, who’ll likely start, though I’d find him to be a less bankable play. But if Memphis can keep this game competitive, these guys will have a lot more upside thanks to the little bit of everything that Brown does as a scorer, rebounder and sporadic assist man.
I also wouldn’t sleep on Enes Kanter again. He may very well see extended run with Jonas Valanciunas on the other side as he did last game against the big Lakers front line. His price is up a little from that spot where I advocated for him but he still is appropriately priced for a backup big man who can spike tournament upside.
The Memphis side is less appealing. I could see a stab at Valanciunas or Ja Morant if you loaded up on Celtics but neither seems like a must-have on the slate. But Boston’s side definitely has a lot of appeal due to the matchup, pricing and Brown’s absence.
What To Do With The Nuggets’ New Class
Michael Porter Jr. is priced up but he looked phenomenal last game versus Minnesota as he earned 30 minutes with aggressive rebounding and continued hot shooting. He ended up with 48.5 fantasy points and the pace and scoring in this game could see his ability needed again. The price makes him tough but I’d want to match the field’s 10% expected ownership with the player he’s rounding into in front of our eyes. If he defends well, as he did versus Minnesota, he could start to solidify his role with Paul Millsap, Jamal Murray, Gary Harris and now Mason Plumlee out. He stole minutes from Torrey Craig in that last game and it’s possible Craig may be needed more defensively because of the Rockets’ dynamic backcourt. But it’s hard to miss out on what Porter is doing right now.
Monte Morris has also started to yield to Will Barton less and he played 36 minutes last game en route to 27 fantasy points. I like this pace-up situation for Morris. His price is reasonable and he’ll be chalky but he’s likely a safer play, albeit lower upside play, than Porter. I also wouldn’t sleep on the slight minutes increase you should expect for Nikola Jokic thanks to Plumlee’s absence. He saw 34 minutes last game with Plumlee banged up and the matchup allows him both scoring and assist opportunity.
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I’m less inclined for James Harden with a tough matchup against Denver. Their defense has not been what it was last year lately but schematically they should continue to trap and harass Harden. He hasn’t topped 65 fantasy points in his last 10 games against Denver and, on a slate of this size, I’d want a “Russell Westbrook is out so he’ll have 50% usage” level of confidence in a guy at his price tag in a historically difficult matchup. Westbrook and Clint Capela look more appealing but I’m not sure I’d view either as an absolute must-have given the massive pace-down.
It Might Be The Time For Towns
Karl-Anthony Towns was up to 35 minutes in his last game and it’s safe to say he’s back. His price is high but he’s in one of the best center matchups in the league versus Chicago and he had 30% usage last game. Towns at under 10% ownership has gigantic tournament upside. I also don’t hate Andrew Wiggins again even though he murdered a few of my lineups last game. He didn’t assist as well in that game and shot just 6-for-17 versus Denver but maybe he can put it together in a tougher than it seems defensive matchup for wings against Chicago. Shabazz Napier also seems perfectly reasonably priced, even though his upside is definitely less readily available with Towns back. He’s an interesting pivot from a far chalkier Monte Morris.
Zach LaVine is expensive but he may have NBA DFS good potential against a Minnesota defense that’s weaker with Towns. He’s up to 31.4% usage on the year and has seen upwards of 39% usage lately. This is a pace-up game and, yes, a revenge game for the former Timberwolf LaVine. LaVine averages 41.1 fantasy points against his former team and he’s undeniably a better player now than he was in those meetings. Lauri Markkanen is also decently priced but way less of a bankable upside play. It may be more interesting if he misses and we see more run for Luke Kornet and Thaddeus Young.
Watch Sacramento-Detroit’s News Closely
Andre Drummond is questionable with a hip issue. If he’s out, Christian Wood is a slam dunk play at his price tag. It’s the first game on the slate so we’ll know what’s up before lock but this is an absolute priority with Wood’s 1.2 fantasy points per minute with Drummond and Blake Griffin off the court. Derrick Rose also averages 1.5 fantasy points per minute with those guys out and, even with Reggie Jackson likely back, Rose would be they key initiator of offense for the team if Drummond misses.
Marvin Bagley also looks like a chalk NBA DFS play today on Sacramento’s side. He’s had 33.75 and 38.25 fantasy points in his last two games against much tougher Miami and Utah squads. He also got up to 38 minutes last game. He’s a strong play if Drummond is in and a stronger one if he’s out. I love De’Aaron Fox at practically no expected ownership as well. He’s been a beast this year with a 39% assist rate and 29% usage and Detroit’s defense stinks with a 109 defensive rating that would get worse with no Drummond.
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UPDATE: Bagley was ruled out just after publishing this article. His absence likely secures Nemanja Bjelica‘s minutes and would put Harrison Barnes slightly more in play for me. But more importantly, his being ruled out will affect ownership significantly industrywide. Check our ownership data for updates later today.
Buddy Hield has spiked fewer monster ceiling games than Fox but he looks well priced for the massive allotment of minutes he’s seen lately that included 42 last game. He chucked up 17 3-point attempts last game and likely benefited from Fox’s struggles, but Hield will get looks tonight. The low pace in this game won’t make it easy for all these guys and other well-priced plays like Bjelica and Bogdan Bogdanovic to get there but I’d want one or two today with how well these guys have performed in far more adverse conditions.