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The NBA Slate Starter: NBA DFS Picks for DraftKings + FanDuel | 1/12

Eric Lindquist

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NBA DraftKings Picks DFS Daily Fantasy Basketball Tuesday January 19 2021 Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

What a wild and wacky Monday we had across the daily fantasy landscape, but trust me when I say the weirdness is just getting started for those playing on DraftKings and FanDuel on Tuesday. There is a lot to get to today, so let’s get right into the NBA DFS picks and strategy for Jan. 12.

NBA DFS Slate Starter: Picks & Strategy | Jan. 12

Recapping (and Reeling From) Last Night

One of the worst parts about writing NBA content uber early is that what you say can be rendered irrelevant at any given moment (usually right after you hit “publish”). Even worse, at the drop of a hat your opinions on a situation can change from what you previously stated to something completely different, and it’s not always possible to relay your new thoughts to those who already consumed your content. But as many times as I feel guilty for having a changed take and having it work out for me, there are equally as many times I’m thankful the original source material nails something that I then overthink for myself when a new piece of information comes to light.

Which brings me to this Monday’s 76ers situation. I wrote up yesterday how much more interest I had in their guards (specifically the rookies who would have to eat extra run no matter what) and remained lukewarm on the frontcourt aside from Joel Embiid due to the uncertainty around how those minutes would be divvied up. However, the starting lineup rolled in less than five minutes before the 7:30 p.m. EST tip-off, and Mike Scott was in it. I disregarded this news for my FanDuel lineups since I liked the pay-up power forward options more (and didn’t have enough time to re-crunch lineups on both sites). But on DraftKings, despite all of my concerns over his minutes, usage and injury, I jammed him in as much as I could purely because he was a minimum salary starter on a nine-man team. After all, how could someone at $3,000 really kill you?


Be sure to catch Eric Lindquist and Rayen Patnaik every morning on the Slate Starter podcast, either on the Awesemo YouTube Channel, or the Awesemo NBA DFS Podcast feed.


The answer is by getting only 9 fantasy points, that’s how. And it wasn’t just that I got more of Scott, but it significantly reduced my exposure to Dakota Mathias and Isaiah Joe since I had a rule set up to get a max of three Sixers in any lineup. That means the vast majority of my builds had Tyrese Maxey (yay), Embiid (nay) and Scott. If you know how they played, it should come as no surprise to that this was by far my biggest losing night of the NBA DFS season so far.

There are multiple lessons, starting with “don’t,” to be mined out of this situation. Don’t throw hours of research out the window to jam in fool’s gold value. Don’t assume a lifelong backup in his 30s with a bruised knee is now some magical must-have just because he’s starting. Don’t submit a crunch without reviewing it to make sure the plays you liked before the news are still there and haven’t been drastically lowered to make way for your punt play. And most importantly, don’t make late swaps for the sake of making late swaps.

But the one bright side: At least there wasn’t any time to relay these bad ideas to you.


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Here We Go Again (At Least On DraftKings)

For the first day I can recall this season, DraftKings and FanDuel have a different number of games listed for their main slates. DraftKings’ six-gamer tips off at 7 p.m. EST, while FanDuel is only offering five that begins half an hour later at 7:30. Whenever there’s an earlier island game like there is on DraftKings on Tuesday, it’s usually sharp to avoid it altogether and keep the roster spots open in hope of late-breaking news. That way you can swap onto great values at substantially reduced ownership compared to where it would be if that news had come out before lock.

But assuming this Heat – 76ers game plays tomorrow, avoiding this game is simply not an option. While the Sixers side could be back to somewhat normal pending negative COVID tests and Ben Simmons knee being good to go, the Heat side are now the ones depleted to their core. By my count, there will be only nine available Heat players available to play, with Tyler Herro the most expensive of those options at only $6,700. In fact, there are amazingly only three players on this team with salaries above $3,300 (Herro, Kelly Olynyk and Duncan Robinson).

So this closely mirrors the 76ers situation from Monday, and the Heat might actually make for better fantasy targets. There’s no spend-up a la Joel Embiid to eat up usage at a massive price tag, and most of these players are actually good. I’m also currently expecting primarily a seven-man rotation, with Gabe Vincent and Max Strus sprinkled in for good measure. That makes it pretty easy to predict who’s going to be getting a bulk of the minutes, and hence where production is going to come from.

Bottom line, the only two ways you don’t have a bunch of Heat exposure on this slate is 1) you’re crazy, or 2) you’re only playing on FanDuel. Otherwise it feels rather clear cut to mix and match all of these pieces with your preferred studs. To help you figure out which ones should be at the top of your priority list, be sure the catch the Deeper Dive and Live Before Lock shows on the Awesemo YouTube channel.

Final Thoughts for Your NBA DFS Lineups

I decided to do my final thoughts bullet-point style today:

  • I’m pretty over the LeBron James and Anthony Davis permanent questionable tags. I assume they both will go but wouldn’t mind one sitting to have some extra late-swap opportunities show up (particularly for FanDuel).
  • For a game with just a 217 total, I love the Spurs – Thunder game. DeMar DeRozan already ruled out gives us value on the San Antonio side, and the Thunder prices aren’t scaring me off yet (with the exception of Hamidou Diallo). Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Al Horford make for by far my favorite bring-backs with Spurs pieces.
  • Play Kevin Durant.

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