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DraftKings DFS NBA Strategy Advice: Thursday (1/21)

Jan 21, 2021

LeBron James has never seen his price this low.

We’ve got a three-game slate on tap headlined by the Lakers and Bucks at 7:00 PM on TNT. After that, it’s the Knicks and Warriors and Pelicans and Jazz both tipping off at 10:00 PM. The Lakers and Bucks both haven’t played since Monday, so LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Giannis Antetokounmpo are all well-rested heading into a primetime game, but should you roster them? As always, make sure to maximize roster flexibility by using those G, F, and UTIL spots for guys playing in the late games. Below you’ll find my favorite value plays, studs worth their salary, and notable players to fade. Let’s roll!

Most Value Per Dollar

Players expected to generate the most value relative to salary.

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Point Guard

Name (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Jrue Holiday (MIL) vs. LAL $6,600 ⭐⭐⭐ LOW
Immanuel Quickley (NY) @ GS $4,100 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ MEDIUM

Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer has shown a propensity to play his starters heavy minutes in close games. The Lakers vs. Bucks game Thursday night has a spread of -1.5 in favor of the Lakers. Milwaukee has played three straight close games, and in those games, Holiday put up 38.3 fantasy points in 36 minutes per game. He’s averaging 1.07 fantasy points per minute, which would equate to almost 39 fantasy points against the Lakers if he sees 36 minutes. He’s a fantastic value, even at $6,600.

The Kentucky rookie is quickly becoming the Knicks’ go-to scorer off the bench. In his last five games, Quickley is averaging 13 shot attempts in 23 minutes per game. He has scored 29 or more fantasy points in three of his last five games. In those three games, the Knicks scored over 100 points as a team. The Warriors play at the 3rd-fastest pace in the NBA, making this a “pace-up” game for the usually slow-paced Knicks. While Alec Burks is set to make his return after a four-week absence, Austin Rivers is doubtful to play in this one. Expect Tom Thibodeau to ease Burks back into the rotation, leaving a ton of minutes available for Quickley in what could be a high-scoring affair against a Warriors team playing on the second night of a back-to-back.

Shooting Guard

Name (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
RJ Barrett (NY) @ GS $6,900 ⭐⭐⭐ MEDIUM
Joe Ingles (UTA) vs. NO $4,300 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ MEDIUM

Barrett is starting to heat up, and he’s playing with a level of consistency of late that was non-existent earlier in the season. He’s produced 40+ fantasy points in two straight games and has scored 20 or more points in three of his last four games. As mentioned in the Quickly write-up, the Warriors’ fast-paced offense (107.8 possessions per game) presents a “golden” opportunity to roster Knicks players, who are used to playing at a glacial pace compared to Golden State. In fact, the Knicks play at the slowest pace in the NBA, with just 98.9 possessions per game. It might look like a tough matchup on paper for Barrett, but the sub-7K price-tag is too good to pass up.

Somehow, Ingles’ salary dropped from $5,000 to $4,300 after posting 26.3 fantasy points on Tuesday against the Pelicans. He made 5-of-6 threes in just 19 minutes in what was his first game back in nine days. With a game under his belt, expect Ingles to see closer to his season average of 25 minutes in the second game against New Orleans. He is a sharpshooter, and the Pelicans are bottom-10 in the NBA in opponent three-point percentage allowed (37.8%). $4,300 is just a tad too cheap for a guy who can put up 30+ fantasy points on any given night (he has done so twice in 10 games this season).

Small Forward

Name (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Khris Middleton (MIL) vs. LAL $7,600 ⭐⭐⭐ LOW
LeBron James (LAL) @ MIL $9,200 ⭐⭐⭐ LOW

Don’t overthink this one. Middleton has been on fire the last two weeks. He’s put up 40+ fantasy points in six of his last seven games and is averaging 44.3 fantasy points in his last two games. I’m bullish on the Bucks’ big three of Holiday, Middleton, and Giannis Antetokounmpo (touched on later) Thursday night against the Lakers in a game with a projected point total of 228.5.

You might be wondering what James is doing in the value section. Well, his salary has never been this low at just $9,200. He’s ranged from $9,600 to $10,300, but his price-tag fell due to a lackluster performance in his last game against the Warriors when he produced a season-low 33.3 fantasy points. Throw that performance out the window, and LeBron has 50 or more fantasy points in almost half of his games played this season. More on him in the studs section, but expect a bounce-back performance from the King in a primetime matchup against Giannis and the Bucks Thursday night.

 

Power Forward

Name (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
Zion Williamson (NO) @ UTA $7,700 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ LOW
Draymond Green (GS) vs. NY $5,500 ⭐⭐⭐ MEDIUM

Williamson was the lone bright spot for the Pelicans in their first matchup with the Jazz Tuesday night. With Royce O’Neale on Brandon Ingram and Rudy Gobert on Steven Adams, the Jazz had no choice but to put Bojan Bogdanovic on Zion, which led to 32 points on 14-of-19 shooting. If Utah uses the same defensive assignments, Williamson is going to have his way once again. He’s also averaging 42.2 fantasy points in his last six games. $7,700 is Zion’s lowest salary since the first game of the season when he was $7,500.

After a slow start, Green has quietly produced 31+ fantasy points in 28 minutes per game in three of his last five games. He isn’t scoring a ton, but he’s been contributing in a variety of other ways, averaging 5.6 rebounds and 8.4 assists in his last five games. He comes with some risk, as we’ve seen a few sub-20-point performances from Green, but if he hits that 30-point threshold like he’s done in three of his last five games, he’ll be good for 5.8x value Thursday night against the Knicks. 

Center 

Name (TEAM) OPPONENT PRICE MATCHUP RISK
James Wiseman (GS) vs. NY $4,500 ⭐⭐⭐⭐ MEDIUM
Brook Lopez (MIL) vs. LAL $5,100 ⭐⭐⭐ MEDIUM

Wiseman can be a little hit or miss depending on the matchup and whether or not he can remain out of foul trouble. Lately, he has been able to stay mostly out of foul travel, and Steve Kerr has rewarded him by keeping him on the floor. Wiseman has played 25+ minutes in three of his last four games and has subsequently produced 32+ fantasy points in two of those four games. Mitchell Robinson and the Knicks are giving up the 6th-most fantasy points to the center position, and this is a matchup the Warriors may be able to take advantage of Thursday night. If he can stay out of foul trouble, Wiseman is a good bet to hit at least 6x value.

Lopez’s minutes are trending in the right direction. He’s played 30+ minutes in his last three games and has averaged 31.3 fantasy points per game. As mentioned in the Jrue Holiday write-up, Mike Budenholzer tends to play his starters heavy minutes in close games. This one has a little revenge factor to it as well for Lopez, who played a season for the Lakers back in 2017. All he needs is a little over 30 fantasy points to hit 6x value, which should be very attainable in what is projected to be a close, high-scoring affair. 

Studs Worth Their Salary

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo (MIL) $10,500: Superstars tend to shine under the brightest of lights. Thursday night’s matchup between the Bucks and the Lakers is just that, a potential NBA Finals preview, one might say. Antetokounmpo has gone for 31 and 34 points in the Bucks’ last two games against the Mavericks and Nets, two teams with perennial superstars in Luka Doncic, James Harden, and Kevin Durant. The Bucks are coming off two full days rest, meaning we should see a fully healthy and energized Giannis on Thursday night. Don’t fade the Greek Freak in a statement game against the Lakers.
  • LeBron James (LAL) $9,200: James and the Lakers haven’t played since Monday night, in a game they lost to an inferior Warriors squad. Coming off two full days of rest, LeBron and company will be hungry for a win against one of the best teams in the NBA. Here’s what James averaged in two games vs. Giannis and the Bucks a season ago – 29 points, 10 rebounds, 9.5 assists. Don’t bet against the King in primetime vs. Milwaukee.
  • Anthony Davis (LAL) $9,400: The same that was said for LeBron can be said for AD. In those same two games against the Bucks last season, Davis averaged 33 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 2.5 assists. This season, Milwaukee is playing at the 8th-fastest pace in the NBA, which bodes well for AD’s style of play. Fresh legs, bright lights, and a high scoring affair are sure to bring out the best in the two Laker superstars on Thursday night. 
  • Rudy Gobert (UTA) $7,200: The matchup against Steven Adams doesn’t look great on paper, as the Pelicans rank 4th in the league in fantasy points allowed to centers, but Gobert had his way in the teams’ first matchup on Tuesday night. He went for 13 points and 18 rebounds (six offensive) with three blocks on his way to 46.5 fantasy points. He’s averaging 42 fantasy points in his last three games, and at $7,200, Gobert will hit 5.5x value even if he produces just 40 fantasy points against the Pelicans on Thursday night.

Notable Players to Fade

  • Stephen Curry (GS) $9,600: The Warriors are playing on the second night of a back-to-back amidst seven games in 11 days. Head coach Steve Kerr might decide he wants to manage his superstar’s minutes in a winnable game against the Knicks. Not to mention New York plays at one of the slowest paces in the NBA. While I generally love Curry, I’m not in love with the pace-down game and the possibility his minutes could be limited Thursday night. Additionally, the Knicks are the best in the league at guarding the perimeter, holding teams to a league-low 31.2% from three-point range. Fade Curry and roll with LeBron and AD at a similar cost. 
  • Brandon Ingram (NO) $8,500: Ingram’s last three games leave a lot to be desired. While he’s still averaging nearly 20 points per game, he’s only averaging three rebounds and 3.3 assists in those three games. In his last game, he produced just 30.3 fantasy points against the Jazz as he was held in check by one of the league’s best defenders in Royce O’Neale. He has a second date with O’Neale on Thursday night, making him a fade for me.
  • Dennis Schroder (LAL) $6,300: Schroder is fresh off scoring a season-high 25 points in a loss to the Warriors on Monday night. He finished with 38.9 fantasy points in that game after averaging just 12 points per game in his previous four games. Coming off a loss, I fully expect Schroder to take a backseat to LeBron and AD in a primetime game against Giannis and the Bucks.

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