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The NBA Slate Starter: NBA DFS Picks for DraftKings + FanDuel | Friday, January 22nd

Eric Lindquist

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NBA DFS Picks an Strategy for DraftKings and FanDuel with the Slate Starter first look at the day's news, notes, lineups and injuries with DeMarcus Cousins

Friday is the official one-month mark of this young season, so we celebrate by partaking in this massive 11-game slate over on DraftKings and FanDuel. Let’s get right to identifying a few NBA DFS picks and strategies in hopes of having an outing like Rynpak last night, as my Slate Starter podcast co-host had a nice little second-place showing in the big $15 on DraftKings.

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NBA DFS Slate Starter: Picks & Strategy | Jan. 22

Super-Centered on DraftKings Centers

First of all, Happy DeMarcus Cousins/Daniel Gafford chalk day everyone. While I fully anticipated the former to have his day or two in the sun this season, never in my wildest dreams did I anticipate typing “Gafford” and “chalk” in the same sentence without “not” in between them. But hey, 2021 has been every bit the wild ride 2020 was thus far, so this is normal by comparison.

The only hole you can poke in the Cousins play tomorrow with Christian Wood already ruled out would be the uncertainty of minutes. I’m 99.9% sure he’ll be starting, so it’s simply a question of how long he can maintain. In his only other start this season against the Pacers, Cousins saw 23 minutes of run on his way to a quick 40-spot on DraftKings at $4,300. He’s only $100 more expensive than that today, and one would assume in a better place physically to see an increase to those minutes. So, with a 26.5% usage rate on the year and the absence of Wood/departure of James Harden, I’m expecting big things from Cousins on Friday night.


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As for Gafford, we could be looking at yet another piece of center chalk with Wendell Carter Jr. currently listed as doubtful. The second-year second-rounder has performed decently in his mere 14 minutes per game, but his only venture into 20s in minutes this season resulted in 29.25 DraftKings points against the Wizards at the stone minimum. He sits right around there again on Friday with a $3,100 salary, making him perhaps the highest-owned play of the slate should he get the starting nod.

Here’s the thing: So long as they’re both starting, I anticipate a lot of lineups that will look exactly like the one above. And both the Bulls and Rockets games start right at the 7 p.m. EST lock time, so we’ll certainly have that news. But I’m just not sold on Gafford being the center you want to plug into your lineups at such a loaded position with upside at every price tier. He sports a measly 9.8% total rebounding percentage and just a 13.2% usage rate on the season, which in my eyes makes him a play that could fail far more than I anticipate the public giving him credit for.

That’s why I’m extremely curious to see what Alex Baker grades out Gafford at for tomorrow, as well as what his leverage score ends up being on the Boom/Bust tool. If you don’t have those features, head over to awesemo.com/joinNBA to find a myriad of offerings at multiple price ranges to fit your NBA DFS needs. You won’t be disappointed.

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Forward-Thinking on FanDuel Power Forwards

With Wood and Jayson Tatum already ruled out for tomorrow, power forward is now the only position on FanDuel with no $10,000-plus spend-ups to go get. In fact, Domantas Sabonis is the only option listed above $9,000 ($9,300), which should make it pretty easy to get whatever you want at the position. Add in that Gafford is listed exclusively at power forward over there at the minimum, and it’s pretty easy to see what the public’s preferred build will be for tomorrow. That’s why in tournaments I’m anticipating I’ll have some serious exposure at the position to some perceived riskier plays in Chris Boucher and Marvin Bagley.

The Boucher thing I can’t wrap my head around because every time I tune into a Raptors game he pops off the screen. His minutes are unpredictable in such a way where at $7,800 on FanDuel, you could be looking at a completely dead lineup if Nick Nurse woke up on the wrong side of the bed. However, in all but one matchup he’s eclipsed the 25-minute mark in this season, Boucher has gone off for 40 or more fantasy points on FanDuel. With Alex Len‘s meaningless minutes out of town and Pascal Siakam questionable, I sure hope the field is scared off by Boucher’s dud on Wednesday.

As for Bagley, his coach doesn’t exactly seem to love him either. The 2018 No. 2 pick hasn’t always gotten a fair shake, being benched multiple times down the stretch of close games in favor of a better defensive lineup. But with a salary that just dropped $400 down to $5,800 despite an increase in minutes and production in recent games, I’m happy to take more than a few chances on a near point-per-minute fantasy producer at low ownership. Make sure Hassan Whiteside is ruled out again before committing to that play too heavily.

Final Thoughts for Your NBA DFS Lineups

  • I repeat: Center is absolutely loaded on DraftKings. Playing two in almost every tournament lineup feels like the way to go on this slate.
  • Kevin Durant is the only member of the Nets’ new big three I have any interest in for Friday. He grades out as the least affected, and on FanDuel he can give you a different lineup construction as a pay-up option at a weak small forward position.
  • Just play DeMarcus Cousins.

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