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๐Ÿ€ Slate Starter: NBA DFS Strategy for DraftKings + FanDuel | Tuesday, 2/23

Eric Lindquist

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NBA DraftKings Picks for Thursday March 4 based on Josh Engleman's expert projections and simulations for lineups featuring Kawhi Leonard

Monday’s story was one of survival, as the low-scoring slate was full of failures up and down the pricing spectrum. Whether through injury (Maxi Kleber), blowout (Eric Gordon) or just being plain garbage at fantasy basketball (P.J. Tucker), there were plenty of landmines surrounding us at every corner. Fortunately, I think there’s some better value on the horizon for Tuesday โ€” and center is absolutely loaded again โ€” so here’s to some better basketball ahead. Let’s get to work finding some NBA DFS picks and strategies for this monster nine-game main slate on DraftKings and FanDuel.


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. 23

The Nets and Kings and the Fantasy Headache It Brings

We have seven of the nine games on Tuesday’s slate locking between 7 p.m. EST and 8 p.m. EST. While the two late-night hammers should be full of fantasy goodness โ€”especially if Russell Westbrook rests on the second half of the back-to-back โ€” the real gem of the day lies in the early window. That’s right, folks; the Kings visit the Nets in what should be an absolute barnburner, which is backed up by its absurd 242 total.

Sure, Luke Walton is an abysmal head coach who rotates starters depending on what kind of mood he’s in. But because the Kings are playing in Brooklyn and not on the West Coast, we don’t have to wait until well after lock for their injury news and starting lineup like we normally do. Theoretically, that should make our jobs much simpler when analyzing the best players to pluck for our NBA DFS lineups.

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I say “theoretically” because look at this madness from Walton against the Bucks on Sunday (courtesy of PopcornMachine.net):

Where do I even start? That’s 16 minutes of Jabari Parker (who hadn’t appeared in a game all season until this weekend) 39 minutes for DaQuan Jeffries (the day after being on an 18-minute minutes limit) and 8 minutes for Hassan Whiteside (after Richaun Holmes went from questionable-to-doubtful-to-playing in less than an hour). Cory Joseph inexplicably went from 36 minutes on Saturday to only 15 on Sunday. And of course, Nemanja Bjelica‘s name doesn’t even show up on the board because he was somehow a DNP-CD after going for 43.5 DraftKings points in 35 minutes as a starter two games before that. What I’m trying to say is, I really hope Harrison Barnes is back so some of this madness can stop.

Unfortunately, the Nets have some complicated matters of their own we need to comb through. I forgot Iman Shumpert existed until I started researching tonight, but apparently he’s probable for tomorrow. That throws a wrench into my plan to jam a bunch of Nets value, even ifย Jeff Green and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarot end up missing. I currently have him for 10 minutes, which doesn’t make him appealing by any means. But it just might nick the likes of Bruce Brown enough to make him a riskier piece of chalk than I’m willing to eat.

As badly as I want to pair the obvious studs in this game with some of the value, I have no idea who that will be until we receive word on some of these injuries. Be sure to follow @AwesemoNBA on Twitter for the latest news and updates surrounding the slate. And better yet, check out Awesemo.com/joinNBA and sign up for a package today to see Alex’s projections updated in real time. Knowing the minutes the No. 1 player in the world projects for some of these plays could very well be the path to the top of the leaderboards tomorrow, so don’t miss out.

Two Hammers Are Better Than One

While I think Kings – Nets sits head-and-shoulders above the rest of this slate in terms of pace and possessions, these late games still set up as opportunistic spots to target. There has also been a lot of unexpected news from them of late, which means, just like I do on other days ending in “y,” I’m going to make a concerted effort to keep some extra roster spots open should something random come up. Plus, there should be some quality studs and value we would target regardless of ownership anyways.

The Wizards are the main spot we need to discuss. As of now, I’m assuming Westbrook will sit for the Wizards, opening up the likes ofย Raul Neto at $4,000 on DraftKings and $3,700 on FanDuel to be one of the more popular pieces of value on the slate. His usage ticks up from 16.2% to 18.7% in 255 minutes this season with Westbrook and Ish Smith off the court, and he jumps from 0.83 DraftKings points per minute to 0.97. That kind of spike merits the popularity I’m assuming he’ll receive.

On the other side of this game, the Clippers production is easily captured by their two stars, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. Both played minutes well into the 30s in their impressive win against the red-hot Jazz and now get a pace-up spot against the Wizards, who enter on the heels of an overtime win. I doubt either are prioritized by the public, so I’ll certainly do my best to jam them in a few of my NBA DFS lineups, especially Leonard.

As far as the Blazers – Nuggets game goes, it should be the usual suspects from both teams, plus a smattering of value from the Nuggets with their laundry list of absences (I can’t write about all of them for fear of jinxing Michael Porter Jr.). Imagining Enes Kanter trying to guard Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray in the pick-and-roll already amuses me, so I will no doubt have exposure to both. And coming off a 32-point shellacking on Monday at the hands of the Suns, I’m expecting a bounce-back from Damian Lillard. His exorbitant salary should temper his ownership, making him an appealing low-owned tournament pivot (assuming he plays on the back-to-back).


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Final Thoughts for Your NBA DFS Lineups

  • I made the mistake of writing off Trae Young against the Nuggets; I will surely not be making that mistake against the lowly Cavaliers. At just $9,700 on DraftKings and $9,600 on FanDuel, he makes for a high-upside pivot off the other $10,000-plus studs on this slate.
  • This Pistons and Magic just opened to a 208.5 total. As disgusting as that sounds, Nikola Vucevic will be a popular spend-up from the Magic, and Saben Lee will be a popular spend-down for the Pistons. On a slate full of some sky-high totals, it’s weird to have as much interest in these two as I do.
  • Just play James Harden.

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