NBA DFS Primer: Saturday (1/15)
Saturday is going to be an exciting day for DFS. The NFL playoffs kick-off, and we get a nine-game NBA slate packed with superstars. It should be a fun one, so let’s go ahead and get things started.
The Primer is a first look article filled with all the information you need to help get your lineups rolling. We’ll begin with the schedule and odds to highlight which game environments stand out. We follow that up with the injury report, which we know in the COVID-19 era it is more important than ever to pay close attention. Then we shed light on some of our top plays of the slate, including core building blocks, GPP candidates, cash game considerations, and salary relief targets. We’ll always wrap up with our advantageous pricing segment, which uncovers price discrepancies between FanDuel and DraftKings.
This nine-game slate is going to be a beast to try and conquer. So without further ado, let’s jump into another edition of the NBA DFS Primer brought to you by FantasyPros.
Schedule and Odds
- POR @ WAS (-7) O/U: 217.5
- NOP @ BKN (-7) O/U: 228
- NYK @ ATL (-3) O/U: 213.5
- CLE @ OKC (+5) O/U: 210
- PHI @ MIA (-2) O/U: 207.5
- CHI @ BOS (-4.5) O/U: 219.5
- LAC @ SAS (-2.5) O/U: 218
- LAL @ DEN (-4) O/U: 224.5
- ORL @ DAL (-10.5) O/U: 208
- C.J. McCollum (not injury related) OUT
- Cody Zeller (knee) OUT
- Norman Powell (COVID-19) OUT
- Larry Nance Jr. (knee) OUT
- Damian Lillard (abdomen) OUT
- Davis Bertans (foot) GTD
- Bradley Beal (COVID-19) OUT
- Zion Williamson (foot) OUT
- Kira Lewis Jr. (knee) Out for the season
- Nicolas Claxton (hamstring) GTD
- LaMarcus Aldridge (foot) OUT
- Joe Harris (ankle) OUT
- Kyrie Irving (not injury related) OUT
- Cam Reddish (ankle) OUT
- Kemba Walker (knee) OUT
- Luka Samanic (heel) GTD
- Derrick Rose (ankle) OUT
- Kevin Knox II (not injury related) questionable
- Jalen Johnson (ankle) questionable
- Clint Capela (ankle) questionable
- Rajon Rondo (hamstring) questionable
- Ricky Rubio (knee) Out for the season
- Collin Sexton (knee) Out for the season
- Vit Krejci (ankle) GTD
- Isaiah Roby (COVID-19) GTD
- Kenrich Williams (COVID-19) OUT
- Shake Milton (back) OUT
- Matisse Thybulle (shoulder) GTD
- Danny Green (hip) questionable
- Markieff Morris (not injury related) questionable
- Marcus Garrett (COVID-19) questionable
- KZ Okpala (wrist) questionable
- Victor Oladipo (quadriceps) OUT
- Bam Adebayo (thumb) OUT
- Alex Caruso (foot) OUT
- Zach LaVine (knee) GTD
- Derrick Jones Jr. (knee) OUT
- Javonte Green (groin) OUT
- Tyler Cook (ankle) OUT
- Patrick Williams (wrist) OUT
- Marcus Smart (COVID-19) questionable
- Justise Winslow (COVID-19) OUT
- Luke Kennard (COVID-19) OUT
- Isaiah Hartenstein (ankle) GTD
- Paul George (elbow) OUT
- Jason Preston (foot) OUT
- Kawhi Leonard (knee) OUT
- Derrick White (COVID-19) questionable
- Tre Jones (COVID-19) questionable
- Zach Collins (ankle) OUT
- LeBron James (abdomen) GTD
- Dwight Howard (knee) GTD
- Carmelo Anthony (back) GTD
- Kendrick Nunn (knee) OUT
- Anthony Davis (knee) OUT
- Rodney McGruder (not injury related) OUT
- Will Barton (neck) GTD
- Vlatko Cancar (foot) OUT
- Michael Porter Jr. (back) Out for the season
- P.J. Dozier (knee) Out for the season
- Jamal Murray (knee) OUT
- Mo Bamba (toe) questionable
- Wendell Carter Jr. (hamstring) questionable
- Markelle Fultz (knee) OUT
- E’Twaun Moore (knee) OUT
- Jonathan Isaac (knee) OUT
- Michael Carter-Williams (ankle) OUT
- Willie Cauley-Stein (personal) OUT
- Kristaps Porzingis (COVID-19) OUT
The injury report can change at any minute, and all player statuses are subject to change whether they’re on the injury report or not. Paying attention to as much news as possible is crucial to long-term success in DFS. It can also give you a severe leg up on anyone in the field who fails to do so. Once the later game information becomes available, be sure to take advantage of late swapping. Late swap allows you to get off the chalk and plug-in value plays that may not have been expected or get to a high upside play in an attempt to take one last run at the top of the leaderboard. Keeping up with all the news and information that comes out can be a lot to manage, but it’s essential.
Joel Embiid (C-PHI): $11,400 DraftKings, $10,600 FanDuel
Embiid is playing as good of basketball as anyone on the planet right now. This Philadelphia offense runs entirely through the big man, and they’re only going to go as far as he’ll take them. He boasts an incredible usage rate of 35.7%, which none of the other 76er’s even come close to reaching. To put things in perspective, Tobias Harris is the closest full-time player to Embiid’s usage, coming in at 24.0 percent. I like getting to Embiid’s solid floor and tremendous ceiling on a nine-gamer, especially on FanDuel.
James Harden (PG/SG-BKN): $11,200 DraftKings, $10,300 FanDuel
James Harden has been catching stride these past few games after going through a little bit of a scoring slump. For now, we know we’re not going to get Kyrie Irving at home games. So, anytime the Nets are playing in New York, James Harden and Kevin Durant will get a bump. With Irving off the floor, Harden has logged 1.39 DraftKings points and 1.33 FanDuel points per minute. The Nets face off against the New Orleans Pelicans tonight, who are 24th in the league with a 111.4 defensive rating. We could get a ceiling game out of James Harden tonight.
Darius Garland (PG/SG-CLE): $7,900 DraftKings, $8,100 FanDuel
We have seen Garland’s salary drop significantly on both DraftKings and FanDuel, but I’m unsure what prompted such a drastic decrease. This season, the young guard has played excellent for the Cavaliers and has been handed the keys to this back-court since Ricky Rubio (knee) and Collin Sexton (knee) went down for the season. Garland’s salary on DraftKings has only come up a $100 after dropping a triple-double three nights ago and scoring 50 plus DK points in back-to-back games. Garland is too cheap, in my opinion, and he should once again be able to return six to seven times the return on investment.
Cash Game Considerations
Anfernee Simons (PG/SG-POR): $7,200 DraftKings, $7,500 FanDuel
Simons has led this Portland back-court during the absences of all-stars Damian Lillard (abdomen) and C.J. McCollum (non-injury related). He has gone for 45 or more DraftKings points in four of his last five appearances. Given his newfound role, Simons has an incredible floor for cash games. He’s displayed 60 point upside already this season, so we know the ceiling is there as well. As long as he’s going to be in a primary option in this offense, I’m going to continue to ride the wave.
DeMar DeRozan (PF/SG/SF-CHI): $8,500 DraftKings, $8,000 FanDuel
DeRozan will be one of my favorite plays on this nine-game slate. Zach LaVine (knee) isn’t traveling with the team tonight after suffering a knee injury in Friday’s loss to the Warriors. With Lavine off the court, DeRozan’s usage rate jumps up to 36.3% from 30.3%. He goes from 1.18 DraftKings points per minute to 1.30. DeMar will have the ball in his hands a ton, which will lead to a solid floor with through the roof upside.
Spencer Dinwiddie (PG-WAS): $6,800 DraftKings, $6,900 FanDuel
Bradley Beal (COVID-19) is once again going to be out after re-entering the NBA’s health and safety protocols. Dinwiddie see’s a bump across the board when Beal is off the court. He goes from under a fantasy point per minute player with a 20.6% usage rate to scoring 1.16 fppm on DK and 1.12 fppm on FD while his usage jumps to 25.1%. His rebounding, assist, and field goal percentage all rise. Dinwiddie will give you more than enough production in a cash game tonight, making him a viable GPP play, as well.
Kyle Kuzma (SF/PF-WAS): $8,100 DraftKings, $8,700 FanDuel
Kuzma is another player that greatly benefits from Bradley Beal (COVID-19) being off the basketball court. I will target him on DraftKings more than I will on FanDuel because of his salary, but he’s a viable GPP option on both sites. Kuz has scored 40 plus DraftKings points in his last eight appearances, and it’s hard to find a path to him not hitting that threshold again tonight. Kuzma isn’t the most exciting player to roster, so I expect his roster percentage will stay relatively suppressed. Combine that with no Bradley Beal, along with triple-double upside, and you have an excellent GPP candidate in Kyle Kuzma.
Dejounte Murray (PG-SAS): $10,600 DraftKings, $10,500 FanDuel
Dejounte Murray has become an elite fantasy basketball player and has been on a tear recently. He’s been astounding in his past two games, where he’s scored 30 points in both of them, putting up a triple-double and a double-double. He is by far the best player on this Spurs team with his outstanding 1.38 fantasy points per minute on both sites. He should be able to continue his stellar play tonight against a Clippers team who ranks towards the bottom against the point guard position with an OPRK of 28th on FanDuel. Murray is a phenomenal GPP option this evening.
Lonzo Ball (PG-CHI): $7,000 DraftKings, $6,800 FanDuel
Lonzo and the Chicago Bulls are coming off two absolute poundings from the Nets and Warriors, where both teams hung 138 points on them. I expect we get an all-out effort from the Bulls players tonight as they try to turn things around and get back to form. We know Zach LaVine (knee) is already ruled out, which will open things up for Lonzo to take on some added opportunity. With Lavine off the floor, Lonzo becomes an over a fantasy point per minute player. At 219.5, this game against the Celtics has one of the higher totals on tonight’s slate, so Vegas is expecting a good amount of scoring, making this an appealing game environment to target. There will be plenty of options tonight, but I think Lonzo Ball could go overlooked even though he’s in line for some added usage and fantasy points.
Herbert Jones (PF/C-NOP): $4,600 DraftKings, $6,100 FanDuel
I’m out on Herbert Jones on FanDuel, but I’m all in on DraftKings. Under $5,000 is entirely too cheap. There should be better options that open up as news begins to roll in today, but I like Jones as a value option from a first look standpoint. We know in NBA DFS, minute and opportunity are two of the more important things we’re looking for in a fantasy player. Herbert Jones checks both boxes at a discounted price tag on DK, playing 30 plus minutes every night, leading to plenty of opportunity. He’s shown close to 50 fantasy point upside this season, and while I don’t expect him to get there tonight, I do expect he will easily pay off his $4,600 salary on DraftKings.
Ben McLemore (SG-POR): $4,800 DraftKings, $5,200 FanDuel
McLemore has scored over 30 fantasy points on both sites the past two games, and he should continue to see plenty of opportunities again tonight. His price has come up significantly, but not high enough that I don’t think you can play him. I’ll gladly take my shots on a player in the 5K range that’s going to see around 30 minutes and can give me 30 plus fantasy points.
Montrezl Harrell (C-WAS): $4,500 DraftKings, $5,100 FanDuel
I will be getting some exposure to Montrezl on DraftKings tonight for sure. $4,500 is too cheap for a 1.24 fantasy point per minute player when Bradley Beal is off the floor. He’s pretty much splitting the minutes 50/50 with Daniel Gafford, but if Gafford were to get in foul trouble or see fewer minutes, then Harrel could become a smash play. Either way, Harrel can put up fantasy points in bunches, so even at just 25 minutes a game, he can pay off a $4,500 salary fairly quickly.
- Joel Embiid (C-PHI): $11,400 DraftKings, $10,600 FanDuel
- Montrezl Harrell (C-WAS): $4,500 DraftKings, $5,100 FanDuel
- Herbert Jones (PF/C-NOP): $4,600 DraftKings, $6,100 FanDuel
- Kyle Kuzma (SF/PF-WAS): $8,100 DraftKings, $8,700 FanDuel
- DeMar DeRozan (PF/SG/SF-CHI): $8,500 DraftKings, $8,000 FanDuel
- James Harden (PG/SG-BKN): $11,200 DraftKings, $10,300 FanDuel
- Joel Embiid (C-PHI): $11,400 DraftKings, $10,600 FanDuel