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The NBA Slate Starter: NBA DFS Strategy for DraftKings + FanDuel | Wednesday, 4/14

Eric Lindquist



New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson's weight has been revealed following the viral picture released earlier in the week

Tuesday was pretty decent on this end with the exception of Luguentz Dort‘s outrageous 42-real point, 65-fantasy-point performance. With the slate’s phenomenal value pieces all coming through, Dort was the differentiating must-have piece to take down a tournament. It is a lesson in opening up the player pool, accounting for variance as much as possible and getting very, very lucky. Congrats to those who had Dort, but it’s time to move on to Wednesday, where at a massive 11-game slate awaits us on DraftKings and FanDuel. Let’s find a few NBA DFS picks and strategies to help take us to the top.

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Be sure to check out the Slate Starter podcast, featuring yours truly and Rynpak, to get the first look at the slate and make NBA DFS picks for DraftKings and FanDuel!

NBA DFS Slate Starter: Picks & Strategy | April 14

Your Massive Edge On This Massive Slate

Wednesday ought to be another wild one, as any 11-game slate in the Association this day and age should involve a bunch of moving parts. The Clippers are favorites in the clubhouse to run some sort of tomfoolery, the Nets may rest Kevin Durant on the back-to-back versus the 76ers, there is presumed Hornets value for a second consecutive night, and both sides of a Wizards – Kings will be rostered ad nauseam. From a positional perspective, center is once again stacked at every price tier, small forward could go any which direction between now and lock, and point guard has returned to usual self with Monstars on the top end.

It would be insincere to give a team value du jour or a highlighted position at this moment because 1) nothing stands out dramatically at the moment, and 2) it is certain to change many times over between now and lock. What is for certain, however, is late swap combined with Alex Baker’s frequently-updated projections will be the path to a huge edge on a slate of this size. Time and time again this season, unexpected news has broken post-lock and opened up some super low-owned value. And while some feel as though they’re being risk-averse by securing early game value on these large slates, there’s an argument to be made it’s actually counterproductive.

That does not mean completely banish early games from your player pool. Take Tuesday, for instance: Having 100% of Brandon Goodwin at $3,500 on DraftKings was the only way to go, and it would have been crazy to advise for anything else. But rarely is there something that spectacular at the beginning of a slate, so tread lightly early so long as it’s not giving up a free square like that. The Hornets’ value pieces will probably be a hot topic of debate based on Terry Rozier and P.J. Washington‘s statuses, and there is no denying they could set up well again tonight.

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But keep in mind that there are still 20 more teams yet to tip off after the 7 p.m. ET window of games. And having as many positions open with as much “swap-ability” as possible throughout the evening should be more of the priority. So don’t be shy to backload lineups with pieces from the aforementioned Kings – Wizards game, or perhaps even the Mavericks – Grizzlies game half an hour earlier. Both games already appear to have usable value in great fantasy environments, plus they give the flexibility to react to news all night long.

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Stay High On Young Zion

One of the great joys of this season has been doing a podcast with my good friend Rayen “Rynpak” Patnaik every evening. Within the past two years he’s ascended into one of the top players in the world by any rankings system or metric, but we’ve been talking hoops and sharing takes since well before that. While we don’t always see eye-to-eye on certain players (looking at you, Buddy Hield), we tend to agree more than not on the profiles of certain players from a fantasy and real-life perspective. And boy, did we stick our neck out on Zion Williamson early and often this season, co-signing on the take that he would a $10,000 player before season’s end, back when it was unfathomable for others to think the same.

Well, now priced at $10,100 on FanDuel and $9,900 on DraftKings, that proclamation has finally come to fruition. Williamson has been sensational in his sophomore NBA season, averaging 26.8 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists, all while shooting an absurd 62% from the field. His consistency is nearly unmatched from a fantasy perspective, averaging one of the tightest distributions of fantasy points per 36 minutes among all players. That makes sense considering he went on a streak of 25 straight games of 20-plus points before having that streak snapped on April 7 versus the Nets.

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But Wednesday’s matchup versus the Knicks looks to be Williamson’s worst matchup on paper in some time. The Knicks play at the league’s slowest pace, sport its third-best defensive efficiency and have a number of competent defenders who should make getting his way in the paint substantially more difficult than normal. Also hurting Williamson’s fantasy profile tonight is the return of Brandon Ingram, who returned from a nearly two-week hiatus and has attempted an average of 19 shots per game in his first three games back.

That being said, this could be the type of game environment where Williamson could still thrive. The upper echelon of power forward is certainly stacked on this slate, but on an 11-game slate it’s highly doubtful he’ll garner that much ownership with the worst matchup of the bunch. But should the field not respect the ceiling of Williamson that he’s flashed of late, he will become a priority similar to what a shockingly low-owned Joel Embiid was two nights ago when he dismantled the Mavericks in only 25 minutes. Make sure to check-in with Awesemo’s ownerships projections leading up to lock, but so long as Williamson is as low-owned as anticipated, he could provide some scary-good leverage on this slate.

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