Day 1 of the NBA playoffs are in the books, and what a day it was! Well, unless you were like me and underweight on Donovan Mitchell, Fred VanFleet and Jayson Tatum. Then you’re ready to sprint, not walk, to Day 2. We’ve got another four-gamer on DraftKings and FanDuel starting up at 1:30 p.m. EST, and I’m here to give you my early take on the biggest decisions of the slate, as well as a few plays I’ve got my eye on that could be difference-makers for our lineups. Let’s get into some NBA DFS picks.
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The NBA DFS Slate Starter for DraftKings + FanDuel | August 18th
Houston, You Are A Problem
For the better part of three years, I’ve treated slates with James Harden on them differently than I do any other. Why is that? Because locking him into every lineup whenever he plays works out way more times than it doesn’t.
That’s been especially true whenever Russell Westbrook sits, and we’ve already received word he’s out for Game 1 with a lingering quad issue. That means it’s all systems go for The Beard who, with Westbrook off the floor this year, sports a ludicrous 43.6% usage rate and averages 65.06 DraftKings points per 36 minutes. This just in: that’s good.
Here’s what’s not-so-good: his price tag. $11,700 on DraftKings is a hefty sum, especially considering Giannis Antetokounmpo also feels like a priority spend at $1,200 less. Value is also so hard to come by on this slate, so unless Aaron Gordon or T.J. Warren get ruled out (both currently questionable but I fully expect them to go), we’ll have to make some uncomfortable sacrifices at other positions to be capable of rostering him.
I’m leaning on locking in the raw points with Harden, but good on DraftKings for at least making us think twice with this elevated salary. FanDuel, on the other hand … nice try. At $11,500 and the only spend-up option at the shooting guard position, all-in for me in my NBA DFS lineups.
If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Get Out of the Lobby
I feel like whenever the Miami Heat have been on a slate, there’s been at least one piece of notable chalk we’ve had to discuss. With news of Kendrick Nunn being sent to the bench and Goran Dragic being inserted into the starting unit for the start of the playoffs, that ain’t changing.
As of early Tuesday morning, Dragic ($4,400) grades out for me as the highest-owned play on DraftKings by a considerable margin. He’s traditionally a fantasy point-per-minute guy, and has looked excellent since the restart: 34.55 DraftKings points in only 26 minutes of work per game.
Even before news broke he was getting the start, I expected Dragic to be popular. But now that his minutes could (and should) be elevated somewhere into the 30’s, he’s easily the best point-per-dollar option on this slate. Similar to Jordan Clarkson yesterday, I find it extremely difficult not to lock in the immense value here and differentiate elsewhere with my NBA DFS lineups.
Related NBA DFS Content
- Awesemo YouTube Channel — NBA DFS Live Before Lock
- Building Blocks: NBA DFS Picks, Values, Studs and Fades
- NBA DFS Restart Special
- DFS Review: Studying Five- and Six-Game Slates
- NBA Rankings from Alex ‘Awesemo’ Baker (PREMIUM)
- NBA DFS Projections from Alex ‘Awesemo’ Baker (PREMIUM)
- Alex ‘Awesemo’ Baker’s NBA Ownership Projections
Happy Balanced Lineups Day
I’m legitimately excited to play a slate where, quite dissimilar to the last few weeks, there aren’t an infinite number of value options at our disposal. In fact, there’s basically none.
I currently have zero players under $4,000 on DraftKings projected to reach 20 fantasy points, and unless something wild were to happen with injury news, I don’t see that changing. Bottom line: unless you feel great about clicking on names such as James Ennis, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope or Danny Green, be prepared to focus a lot of attention on the mid-range plays in your NBA DFS lineups.
Parting Words for your NBA DFS Lineups
Be sure to check Awesemo’s Ownership projections early and often today. We’re all going to gravitate towards a lot of the same $4,000-$7,000 plays, so be sure to have sensical ways to make your lineups different. One of my favorite ways to do that is by stacking a specific match-up you see staying close, especially since there’s such scarce value available to us on this slate.
Best of luck, and see you right back here tomorrow for more NBA DFS picks!