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The NBA Slate Starter: NBA DFS Picks for DraftKings + FanDuel | 1/5

Eric Lindquist

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NBA DFS picks optimal and leverage DraftKings NBA FanDuel NBA

Welcome to this Tuesday edition of the NBA Slate Starter. Today, I’m going to recap a big decision I made on Monday, as well as provide you with NBA DFS picks and strategy for the five-game slate on DraftKings and FanDuel on Jan. 5.

NBA DFS Slate Starter: DraftKings + FanDuel Picks & Strategy | Jan. 5

Paying the Piper for Pulling a Popular Payton Pritchard

One of the toughest pills to swallow when making NBA DFS picks is when you feel like you’re spot on with everything besides the highest-owned play on the slate. Brandon Ingram, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Luka Doncic and the entire Knicks organization were a huge part of my builds, which couldn’t have gone better. But my decision to pull value du jour Payton Pritchard from almost all of my lineups once Tremont Waters was announced as starting turned what could have been a massive day into a barely profitable one. What’s worse is I feel like I’ve been sprinkling Pritchard into lineups in similar spots for a week now hoping for the kind of game he put up when I wasn’t on him.

But that’s DFS; you try to make the best decisions you can and live with the result. Could I have viewed Pritchard maintaining his role on the Celtics’ second unit a good thing for his usage? Sure, but I figured Brad Stevens would stagger a lot of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum‘s minutes to make sure one was always on the court, making Pritchard’s range of outcomes wider than I’d want to invest in at 35% ownership. Plus, my lineups looked better with Waters at the minimum on DraftKings as opposed to Pritchard’s $3,700 salary, since I could jam in as much Giannis and Doncic as I desired.

My biggest mistake in hindsight, however, was going from near-lock-button amounts of Pritchard to nearly none of him. There was certainly a middle ground considering I knew his ownership would be out of control. Still, if you reverse the shooting numbers for Waters in his 24 minutes (1-for-8 from the field in 24 minutes) and Pritchard in his 32 (8-for-13), this could be a different conversation where I made a brilliant decision. But alas, it was a career night for the rookie and a humbling pill to swallow.


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Kyrie and Caris Could Go Crazy Without Kevin

Caris LeVert is one of my highest-owned pieces in best ball tournaments across the industry. My main reasoning for drafting him as much as I did was believing there would be a conscious effort to rest stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant as much as possible throughout the regular season. And if you saw any of the bubble, LeVert proved more than capable of taking over an offense if/when need be.

Which will be necessary for the Nets now, as Durant has been ruled out for at least a week. This is bad news for a team that’s dropped four of their five but superb news for the fantasy prospects of every other player on the roster. We don’t have a large enough sample size to mine out anything useful from on/off court numbers involving Durant, Irving and LeVert yet. But something tells me the latter two will see a considerable boost to their production in Durant’s absence.

That means you’re looking at them being two of (if not the) highest-owned plays on the slate tomorrow, and with good reason, considering their price tags on both DraftKings and FanDuel don’t seem to have adjusted to the news. Per usual, check Awesemo’s ownership projections early and often tomorrow. But even if they’re as popular as I expect them to be, I have a hard time not eating that chalk.

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Final Thoughts for Your NBA DFS Lineups

I’ve made mention of this a few times, but fewer games on a slate means fewer viable sub-5% plays. That means in order to get different in large-field tournaments, taking some shots on backups who are both high fantasy point per minute producers and could possibly see a random spike in minutes is a viable strategy. Two such plays I have my eye on for tomorrow are centers Enes Kanter and Gorgui Dieng.

I’m curious where Kanter’s ownership comes in at, as I suppose his recent 44-fantasy-point outing on DraftKings could make him somewhat interesting to others. But now his salary has gone way up ($5,400), which should force his ownership way down. Kanter has been splitting the center minutes in Portland down the middle of late with Jusuf Nurkic. If Nurkic gets off to another slow start, Kanter could see 24-28 minutes of run and get on top of that inflated price tag.

Dieng, on the other hand, will for sure be played by next to no one. Foul trouble against a tough Lakers interior defense is certainly on the table for Jonas Valanciunas, so extra run for Dieng isn’t too farfetched in my mind. Plus, it’s risks on volatile guys like this that could yield rewards on slates where value is scarce and low-owned plays are scarcer.


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