Welcome to this Monday edition of the NBA Slate Starter. Hopefully NFL Wild Card Weekend treated you well, but it’s back to the basketball streets for the rest of the week. As always, I’m here to give you the best NBA DFS picks for DraftKings and FanDuel that I can, with a smattering of thoughts/game theory thrown in the mix for good measure. Let’s get to work.
NBA DFS Slate Starter: Picks & Strategy | Jan. 11
Philadelphia Need ‘Em
COVID affects every facet of our day-to-day lives right now, so it shouldn’t be all that surprising it’s affecting our NBA DFS slates too. Before the start of the season, the Association picked out an arbitrary number of eight active players in order for a game to be played. And on Saturday, the 76ers hit that magic number right on the head, and it resulted in the following box score (courtesy of ESPN):
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Mike Scott, who’s been nursing a left knee bruise, was made active simply so the 76ers didn’t have to forfeit their matchup versus the Nuggets. He’s been upgraded to probable entering Monday, so I’m expecting the exact same eight active players plus the massive addition of Joel Embiid. While the star center’s presence might normally be enough to get off 76ers chalk, Rynpak acutely pointed out on the NBA Slate Starter podcast that five of the nine presumed active players are bigs. That means Tyrese Maxey, Dakota Mathias, Isaiah Joe, and Danny Green are once again strong candidates to receive 36-plus minutes come hell or high water.
So, with Embiid’s high usage, no other Sixer priced above $4,800 on DraftKings or $5,200 on FanDuel and an uptempo matchup versus the Hawks, almost everyone on this team is in play. There is no doubt Maxey will come in the most owned on the heels of his Saturday 60-spot, and rookie Paul Reed seems like the odd man out for minutes among the bigs. But if you told me multiple pieces from this team shattered the slate, including a minimum-priced Scott in limited run, I wouldn’t be surprised. Buckle up, folks, and be prepared to jam or fade some uncomfortable chalk in your NBA DFS lineups.
Be sure to catch Eric Lindquist and Rayen Patnaik every morning as they get your DFS day started with the NBA DFS Slate Starter Show.
You Don’t Need Late News to Late Swap
Monday’s slate sets up with six games tipping off before 8:30 p.m. EST, with the Pacers – Kings and Raptors – Blazers nightcaps scheduled for 10 p.m. EST. As of writing this, Buddy Hield is the only player whose status is up in the air amongst those four teams. With so little injury news to wait on, a lot of casual players won’t be adjusting their lineups in that 90 minute span since there’s no risk of zeroes in their lineups.
And yet, there’s still an edge to be had by late-swapping that way too many won’t be taking advantage of. For example, while fooling around with some 3-max builds on DraftKings, I landed on these two in my last spots:
I expect Chris Boucher and Domantas Sabonis to garner considerable ownership coming off of massive fantasy outputs in their last few outings. If the early pieces of this lineup go off, there might be no need to change a thing. But if indeed I have a number of busted plays earlier in the night, there might still a way to salvage a min cash by pivoting to some lower-owned options for the late-night hammers, such as this:
Well wouldn’t you know it, these two cost the exact same as the Boucher/Sabonis combination. And most importantly, they’re a lock to be much lower-owned barring unexpected injury news. Sure, you might be drawing dead anyways and think this is pointless. But I promise that by being impartial and not pivoting, you’re giving up on expected value over the long haul. So keep refreshing Awesemo’s ownership projections leading up to lock of the final games, and gauge how risky you have to be in order to salvage a poorly-performing lineup. So remember, just because there’s no news doesn’t mean there’s no need to late-swap.
Final Thoughts for Your NBA DFS Lineups
Eight games feels like the perfect number for a Monday. While I wish we didn’t have this muddled 76ers situation, we still have 15 other teams to cherry-pick solid NBA DFS plays from. While I expect stars-and-scrubs to be the optimal build, stacking up a high-total game like Suns – Wizards could be a viable way to get different. And trust me, anything that isn’t jammed with Sixers will be different.
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