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🏀 Slate Starter: NBA DFS Strategy for DraftKings + FanDuel | Thursday, 2/18

Eric Lindquist



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The more I look into Thursday’s slate, the more I feel like there’s an outrageous number of “if/then” statements I can’t really expand upon without the proper injury news. So rather than speculating on that too much right now, I’m going to utilize today to break down one play in particular I expect to be crazy popular (and important). So let’s get to it; this is today’s Slate Starter article, helping you identify a few NBA DFS picks and plays for use on DraftKings and FanDuel.

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Be sure to check out the Slate Starter podcast, featuring yours truly and Rynpak, to get the first look at NBA DFS lineups for today’s slate!

NBA DFS Slate Starter: Picks & Strategy | Feb. 18

Open Up My Eager Eyes, ‘Cuz I’m Hassan Whiteside

For just a simple three-game NBA DFS slate, this one is anything but straightforward. A number of key cogs have already been ruled out, and there are some crucial injury situations we’ll be waiting on. For instance, Kyle Lowry is questionable (important), Kyrie Irving is probable (important) and Harrison Barnes being out should pave the way to more minutes for DaQuan Jeffries and Glenn Robinson III (not important).

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However, perhaps the most critical piece of news for this slate I believe we already have: Kings starting center Richaun Holmes will be out for the second consecutive game with knee soreness. That means prepare yourself for Hassan Whiteside Chalk Day in a way you can’t even comprehend. After the 0.001% outcome game he put on display Monday, dropping an absurd 59.7 FanDuel points in just 24 minutes of court time, there is no question in my mind Whiteside will be the mega-chalk at center tomorrow. Add in that he sits at just $4,600 on DraftKings (a more reasonable — but still too cheap — $6,000 on FanDuel) and this is basically a DeMarcus Cousins 2.0 situation.

So what in the world do we do with Whiteside? Let’s get a few things out of the way before I give my two cents. First off, his roughly 1.3 fantasy points per minute this season are going to make his projection pop, so long as you plug him in for the 23-minute allotment he received against the Nets. And while minutes for Kings bigs can be extremely volatile (just ask Marvin Bagley and Nemanja Bjelica), no Holmes should make 20-plus for Whiteside a pretty safe bet.

Secondly, I don’t think I’ve ever written up a revenge narrative in the history of this article. I find it to be noisy, weird, not data-centric and borderline insulting to say a professional basketball player wouldn’t try their hardest regardless of opponent (with the exception of James Harden, but I digress). But when it comes to Whiteside and the Heat organization, there is unquestionably some bad blood there. After three years of clashing with head coach Erik Spoelstra over performance and playing time, Whiteside was shipped out to Portland during the 2019 offseason to make way for Jimmy Butler. So while I generally opt to take storylines out of my analysis, Whiteside wanting to show out against his former team (and Spoelstra in particular) has some credence to it.

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Lastly, and this is FanDuel-specific: There are only seven active and available players at the center position. None one of them exceed $6,200, and Whiteside should easily project as the highest raw-points scorer out of them all. However, we do have DeAndre Jordan for $600 less available to us. I currently have pegged for just short of 30 FanDuel points, and those minutes are exponentially more secure. Should ownership for Whiteside get a little out of wack over there, I’m happy to stake the success of my NBA DFS lineups on Jordan outperforming him for less.

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So I guess the major question now is what to do with Whiteside on DraftKings in particular. Is there an ownership threshold where we should be looking to fade? Certainly, but I can’t tell what that is the night before. But what I can say for certain is there is more volatility to Whiteside than I’m expecting most around the industry to factor in. Even in his eruption on Monday against the Nets, his increase to 24 minutes and Bagley’s decrease to just 21 could’ve been a result of blowout run. Plus, in a close game where De’Aaron Fox would be on the floor in during crucial stretches, 15 shot attempts for Whiteside again is almost unfathomable.

In summary, Whiteside is a phenomenal point-per-dollar option. I can even see a path where Whiteside gets his first start of the season to help handle the frontcourt size of Kelly Olynyk and Bam Adebayo. But in Luke Walton I do not trust, so should Whiteside be continuing to come off the bench, I have a feeling I’ll be significantly lighter on him than the field. But be sure to check out the Boom/Bust tool, as his leverage score and optimal lineup appearance rate will be imperative tools for me to either reject or solidify that stance. It’s perhaps the most important page of data I for my process now, and it should be for you, too.

Final Thoughts for Your NBA DFS Lineups

  • I feel like it’s important to note that if Whiteside fails, Bagley was most likely the direct recipient of some extra run. Could certainly see builds where I play both, but leaning towards a group on Fantasy Cruncher where it’s one or the other in my lineups.
  • Be sure to tune into the 10-plus hours of YouTube coverage we’ll have available on the Awesemo YouTube channel. You’ll be able to hear all about the ramifications of news from the sharpest group of NBA DFS analysts in the industry in real time, so be there or be square.
  • Ownership is going to be amplified on this shorter slate, especially on FanDuel where I’m expecting a lot of overlap in lineups. Check Awesemo’s ownership projections early and often, as I’m sure there will more drastic swings in them than normal as they react to news.
  • Just play Giannis Antetokounmpo.

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