There is a great five-game NBA fantasy slate tonight. The Portland Trail Blazers provide plenty of value on this slate, but there is always news that will come out during this crazy NBA season. With that, NBA DFS injury news will be a big part of tonight’s process. Be sure to check the Awesemo NBA Starting Lineups page to see who is in, who is out and who is starting as news breaks, and look at the NBA DFS rankings and projections before making your NBA fantasy picks today for DraftKings and FanDuel lineups.
DraftKings & FanDuel NBA Fantasy Rankings Today
*Grades are ordered DraftKings, FanDuel. Initial grade indicates a player’s strength of output, with the value grade indicating their strength as a play in relation to their salary.
PG Dennis Smith Jr. — Grades: B, B | Values: A, A
The Trail Blazers are decimated with injuries and players in the COVID protocols right now. Nearly all of their guards are out, including Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Anfernee Simons and Norman Powell. That will open the door for as many minutes for Dennis Smith Jr. as he can handle tonight. According to Awesemo’s ownership projections, Smith is pulling absurd ownership, over 80% on both sites. He is also obviously popping like crazy in Awesemo’s Boom/Bust Tool as well, pulling the highest boom percentage on both sites. He is the best value play on the slate.
Smith has not played many minutes lately and has not been producing that well. However, when he was given extended time early in December, he had three consecutive games over 30 DraftKings points where he averaged 39.3 minutes per game. Awesemo projects Smith for 35.3 minutes tonight. The Trail Blazers go on the road to face the Nuggets, where they are 10-point road underdogs. Blowout or no blowout, Smith is one of the easiest plays on the board tonight.
C Jusuf Nurkic — Grades: A, A | Values: A, A
Not only are those beforementioned players out for Portland, but Larry Nance Jr. is out and Cody Zeller is listed as doubtful to play tonight. Jusuf Nurkic is the only player in Awesemo’s NBA DFS Rankings with an A grade and an A value. Nurkic has seen a price increase, but it is warranted. Over the last six games, Nurkic is averaging a double-double with 15.7 points and 11 rebounds per game. During that time he is averaging 32.3 minutes and 40.6 DraftKings points per game. Pairing Nurkic and Smith is a great way to start lineups.
Using Awesemo’s Boom/Bust Tool, Nurkic ranks second on both sites behind Smith in boom percentage tonight. He is also second in ownership on DraftKings. The only real concern with Nurkic tonight is the matchup against Nikola Jokic. Foul trouble is certainly on the table tonight, as Nurkic ranks fifth in the league with 3.3 fouls per game. Jokic is one of the best at getting opposing players into foul trouble. The Trail Blazers have a few other pieces that rank highly in Awesemo’s models such as Ben McLemore and Nassir Little, but Nurkic and Smith are the main focal points from this team.
C Nikola Jokic — Grades: A, A | Values: C, B
With two players on the Trail Blazers side, gamers can run it back with Nikola Jokic, who has the highest upside on the slate. Awesemo projects Jokic to score the most fantasy points on both sites tonight. He has the fifth-highest boom percentage on DraftKings and the third highest on FanDuel. Jokic has produced a mediocre fantasy output lately, but the upside is through the roof. He has under 60 DraftKings points in back-to-back games, which will not get it done at his salary.
This matchup against the Trail Blazers provides an opportunity for a massive game. They rank 29th in defensive rating this season, and they allow their opponents to shoot a league-high 47.7% from the field. The Trail Blazers allow 112.5 points per game, and 47.7 of those points are allowed in the paint. If Jokic gets Nurkic in foul troubles, it is curtains for the Trail Blazers. Will Barton will likely be back for the Nuggets, but Jokic still runs the show and is in a phenomenal spot tonight.
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PG James Harden — Grades: A, A | Values: C, B
There is so much value from the Trail Blazers that getting to both of Jokic and James Harden can be done, as crazy as that sounds. The Nets are playing on a back-to-back after they absolutely destroyed the Bulls 138-112 last night. Harden dished out a season-high 16 assists to go along with 25 points and seven rebounds. He was one assist shy of tying his career high. After three-straight games scoring below 40 DraftKings points, Harden seems back to his normal ways.
Another big reason getting to Harden is so beneficial is he will be playing without Kyrie Irving due to this game being playing at home. The Nets are in a great matchup as 7-point home favorites against the Thunder. Before Irving came back into the mix, Harden had four consecutive games where he scored over 70 DraftKings points. Harden ranks second in the league in assists and third in free throw attempts. He will have a higher usage with no Irving on the floor, and he has a lot of upside at this price tag.
PG D’Angelo Russell — Grades: B, B | Values: C, B
Recommending a player from this Timberwolves and Grizzlies game was a must, as this is by far the highest total on the slate (231.5 points). The Timberwolves come into this game winning four out of their last five. The Grizzlies trump them significantly, winning 10 straight after knocking off the best team in the league the Warriors. This game should be very up-tempo, as the Timberwolves rank sixth in pace and the Grizzlies rank 11th. D’Angelo Russell should thrive in this type of game environment. He has a double-double in three consecutive games, averaging 22.3 points and 10.7 assists per game.
Russell is averaging a career-high seven assists per game, as he has been a key catalyst this season for the Timberwolves. With Russell in the lineup, the Timberwolves have an offensive rating of 112.1, compared to just 105.6 in the 10 games that Russell has missed this season. He also improves their defensive rating as well. He will be relatively low owned tonight and is in a great spot to notch another double-double.
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Looking for more NBA DFS news and the best NBA DFS picks today? Check out our NBA fantasy rankings today for fantasy points and values that are derived directly from Alex Baker's own NBA DraftKings projections. View our FanDuel NBA ownership projections, our DraftKings ownership projections and our Yahoo! ownership. We also have FanDuel ownership rankings, Yahoo! NBA ownership rankings and DraftKings NBA ownership rankings for today's slate. Our most accurate NBA DFS projections are updated regularly, including whenever any relevant news breaks.
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