NBA DFS Primer: Sunday (1/23)
Sunday brings us a sizeable nine-game slate to tackle, which means there’s a lot of information to sift through.
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 is more important than ever to pay close attention to in the COVID-19 era. Then we shed light on some of the slate’s top plays, including core building blocks, GPP candidates, cash-game considerations, and salary relief targets. We’ll always wrap up with the advantageous pricing segment, which uncovers price discrepancies between FanDuel and DraftKings.
A slate of this magnitude is no walk in the park, but it’s a challenge we’re prepared to take on. So without further ado, let’s jump into another edition of the NBA DFS Primer brought to you by FantasyPros.
Schedule and Odds
- POR @ TOR (-8) O/U: 213.5
- CHI @ ORL (+3) O/U: 215.5
- LAL @ MIA (-2.5) O/U: 216
- ATL @ CHA (-3) O/U: 235.5
- PHI @ SAS (+1.5) O/U: 220
- MEM @ DAL (-4) O/U: 218
- DET @ DEN (-11) O/U: 218
- BKN @ MIN (-3) O/U: 236
- UTA @ GSW (-4.5) O/U: 220.5
- Lonzo Ball (knee) OUT
- Alex Caruso (wrist) OUT
- Zach LaVine (knee) OUT
- Patrick Williams (wrist) OUT
- Terrence Ross (knee) questionable
- Anthony Davis (knee) questionable
- LeBron James (abdomen) probable
- Tyler Herro (COVID-19) OUT
- Kyle Lowry (personal) OUT
- Markieff Morris (conditioning) OUT
- P.J. Tucker (calf) questionable
- Damian Lillard (core) OUT
- Nassir Little (knee) probable
- Larry Nance Jr. (knee) OUT
- Norman Powell (personal) OUT
- Dennis Smith Jr. (ankle) probable
- Cody Zeller (knee) OUT
- Khem Birch (nose) OUT
- Bogdan Bogdanovic (knee) OUT
- Kevin Huerter (hip) questionable
- Jalen McDaniels (ankle) OUT
- Seth Curry (ankle) OUT
- Shake Milton (back) OUT
- Ben Simmons (personal) OUT
- Matisse Thybulle (shoulder) OUT
- Sterling Brown (foot) OUT
- Steven Adams (ankle) questionable
- Kyle Anderson (COVID-19) OUT
- Desmond Bane (COVID-19) OUT
- Dillon Brooks (ankle) OUT
- Brandon Clarke (back) questionable
- Tyus Jones (COVID-19) OUT
- Nicolas Claxton (hamstring) questionable
- Kevin Durant (knee) OUT
- Joe Harris (ankle) OUT
- Paul Millsap (personal) OUT
- Patrick Beverley (ankle) questionable
- JaMychal Green (COVID-19) questionable
- Jeff Green (quadriceps) questionable
- Jamal Murray (knee) OUT
- Michael Porter Jr. (spine) OUT
- Luka Garza (conditioning) OUT
- Jerami Grant (COVID-19) OUT
- Killian Hayes (hip) questionable
- Frank Jackson (conditioning) OUT
- Kelly Olynyk (COVID-19) OUT
- Draymond Green (calf) OUT
- Andre Iguodala (hip) OUT
- James Wiseman (knee) OUT
- Bojan Bogdanovic (finger) probable
- Rudy Gobert (ankle) questionable
- Donovan Mitchell (concussion) OUT
- Hassan Whiteside (conditioning) questionable
- Trent Forrest (hip) questionable
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 unexpected value plays or get 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 can be a lot to manage, but it’s essential.
Ja Morant (PG – MEM): $9,600 DraftKings, $9,600 FanDuel
Morant is playing as well as any basketball player on the planet right now. Any price below $10,000 is too cheap for the Memphis point guard, so I’ll gladly take the discount on a player with Steph Curry and Luka Doncic level upside. Morant has scored 30-plus raw points in each of his last two games, including a double-double against the Bucks with 67 DraftKings points. Morant plays up to his competition, so expect another ceiling performance against Doncic and a Mavericks playing excellent basketball.
Jusuf Nurkic (C – POR): $8,600 DraftKings, $8,200 FanDuel
C.J. McCollum has returned to the Portland rotation, but Nurkic continues to be an excellent DFS option. Like Morant, Nurkic is too cheap for what he’s producing. He has gone for 40 or more fantasy points in his last four games with two 62-point outings on DraftKings. Nurkic has played 204 minutes this season with Lillard off the court and McCollum on it. During those minutes, he has a 23% usage rate with 1.28 fantasy points per minute on DraftKings and 1.30 on FanDuel. Nurkic is an excellent option on a large slate and should have little issue paying off his price tag.
Nikola Jokic (C – DEN): $12,200 DraftKings, $11,900 FanDuel
Touting the best fantasy basketball player on the planet feels like cheating, but I couldn’t leave Jokic out of this segment. He’s arguably the best core option to build lineups every night. The only argument against Jokic you possibly could have is his hefty salary, especially on DraftKings. Still, he’s worth every penny.
Jokic has had four consecutive triple-doubles, including 93 DraftKings points against the Clippers on Wednesday. You’re going to have to need some exposure to a player approaching a 100-point ceiling. The only question is, how much Jokic do I roster tonight?
Cash Game Considerations
Joel Embiid (C – PHI): $11,000 DraftKings, $11,200 FanDuel
Embiid should be a popular pay-up option at center tonight. Paying down from Jokic to Embiid will likely be a popular strategy because he has similar upside. Embiid has scored 55 or more DK points in six of his last eight outings and has gone for 50 or more FD points in that same span. Embiid has a phenomenal 36.7% usage rate and averages over 1.50 fantasy points per minute. He draws a great matchup against the Spurs, who do not defend centers well. The Spurs carry an OPRK of 26th on DK and 28th on FD. Embiid is an excellent option for cash and tournaments tonight.
Stephen Curry (PG – GS): $10,900 DraftKings, $9,800 FanDuel
Curry will be hard to get away from on FanDuel, especially in cash games. He was in a bit of a slump to start the month, but Curry has climbed his way out as expected. He has scored 40 or more FanDuel points in his last three outings, and while his shot is starting to zero back in, he still isn’t shooting at his typical efficiency numbers. He’s 10-of-29 from behind the arc in his last two games, but it feels like a vintage shooting night is coming for Chef Curry. Either way, he’s a go-to option tonight, especially on FanDuel.
Rudy Gobert (C – UTA): $9,000 DraftKings, $8,900 FanDuel
Gobert is questionable with an ankle injury. If he does play, I’ll use a good amount of him in both tournaments and cash. With Donovan Mitchell (concussion) already ruled out, Gobert is the engine that makes this Jazz team run defensively and offensively. Gobert isn’t a high-usage player, but he gets a slight bump from 18% to 21% with Mitchell off the court. As a result, Gobert has returned five times or more the return on investment in his last four games, exactly what you’re looking for in cash games.
He now gets a Warriors team with an excellent defense. Still, they’re going to be without Draymond Green (calf), the primary catalyst to their defensive efforts. Gobert is again in an excellent spot to return a nice ROI for anyone investing in The Stifle Tower.
Terry Rozier (PF/SG – CHA): $7,700 DraftKings, $8,000 FanDuel
Rozier is a sneaky cash option and a solid GPP play as well. At his salary, we need Rozier to score around 40 or more fantasy points on both sites to get a proper return on investment for cash games. He has accomplished that feat in his last seven outings, so he’s about as safe of a cash option there is. Additionally, he’s produced over a fantasy point per minute player and gets a pace-up matchup against the Atlanta Hawks, who are second in the NBA in pace of play. Rozier is one of my favorite plays on the slate.
James Harden (PF/SG/SF – BKN): $11,700 DraftKings, $11,000 FanDuel
There are a ton of viable pay-up options on tonight’s slate. With Harden’s salary close to Jokic on DraftKings, I assume most players would go all the way up to Jokic rather than deploy Harden. FanDuel is a slightly different story, but I still don’t think either will be highly rostered due to their hefty tags, making Harden one of the better GPP options.
Durant (knee) remains sidelined with an MCL sprain and will miss four to six weeks while in a rehab program. Kyrie Irving will be available for the Nets since they’re on the road, another element that could suppress Harden’s rostered rate. Yet even with Irving playing, Harden bolsters a 30.1% usage rate with Durant off the court. The Nets face a bottom-10 defense in the Timberwolves, who carry a 74 defensive rating and a 23rd OPRK against shooting guards on FanDuel. Harden can blow a slate wide open any time he steps on the court, and he’s in an excellent spot to do so tonight.
Nikola Vucevic (C – CHI): $9,100 DraftKings, $9,000 FanDuel
With Zach LaVine (knee) missing time, Vucevic has taken on a more prominent scoring role playing second fiddle to DeMar DeRozan. He’s taken full advantage of the added opportunity, posting a double-double in three of his last five games. His usage jumps up to 24.1% without LaVine, and he’s scored 1.31 fantasy points per minute on DK and 1.36 on FD. If you believe in revenge narratives, Vucevic goes up against his old team in the Orlando Magic, who are 25th in points allowed. Vucevic and the Bulls’ offense are in a great spot.
Russell Westbrook (PG – LAL): $8,400 DraftKings, $7,700 FanDuel
Westbrook is about as volatile a GPP option as you can play right now. There are plenty of players who project better than the Lakers’ point guard on a nine-game slate. That’s one of the exact reasons I’ll take a few shots on him.
Westbrook has the arsenal to put up a triple-double any night and blow this salary out of the water. There’s no doubt his recent play warrants this price, but he’s previously cost over $10,000, which speaks to his ceiling. Westbrook is coming off a double-double against Orlando, scoring over 45 fantasy points. Maybe that’s the confidence boost he needed to get going and string together multiple good fantasy performances. I’ll take my chances on the veteran point guard on FanDuel and DraftKings because I know he can demolish these price tags.
Jalen Suggs (PF/SG – ORL): $5,500 DraftKings, $6,200 FanDuel
FanDuel got Suggs’ salary pretty spot on, so I’ll probably come in below the field over there. On DraftKings, however, there is plenty of value to squeeze out of his $5,500 salary. While his efficiency metrics still need to improve, Suggs is starting to get used to the NBA game, flashing some high upside and potential over the last couple of games. Entered back into Orlando’s starting lineup, he has logged 33 and 34 minutes in the last two games. In his last game, he put up 46 fantasy points Friday against the Lakers, marking the best performance of his young career. Suggs has the team’s highest usage rate at 26.3%, so I’ll continue to ride the rookie guard’s hot hand.
Patrick Beverley (PG/SG – MIN): $4,400 DraftKings, $6,400 FanDuel
Beverley is another example of a price discrepancy between the two DFS sites. He’s a “no” for me on FanDuel, but an absolute “yes” on DraftKings if he plays. He’s questionable with an ankle injury, so Beverley will likely have to test it out during warmups before deciding to go or not tonight.
Besides the last game, where he only saw six minutes before exiting with the ankle injury, there isn’t any reason for such a drastic salary decrease. Before that game, Beverley had scored 25 or more DraftKings points in seven of eight contests with 23.8 points in the one outlier. Beverley is a more-than-viable value option if he plays tonight. If he sits, expect more minutes for Jaylen Nowell and Malik Beasley.
Kevon Looney (C – GS): $5,200 DraftKings, $5,000 FanDuel
With Draymond Green (calf) sidelined since January 5, Looney has admirably given the Warriors excellent production from the five. He’s not a great scorer, but he’s an excellent rebounder who will add a couple of blocks and assists too. On the nights he can get his offense going, though, you get games as he had against the Pacers where he posted a 13-point, 15-rebound double-double with 39.3 DraftKings points. His salary is reasonably set, but the minutes and opportunity have been there, so he will have plenty of chances to pay it off.
- Stephen Curry (PG – GS): $10,900 DraftKings, $9,800 FanDuel
- Patrick Beverley (PG – MIN): $4,400 DraftKings, $6,400 FanDuel
- Jalen Suggs (PG/SG – ORL): $5,500 DraftKings, $6,200 FanDuel
- Russell Westbrook (PG – LAL): $8,400 DraftKings, $7,700 FanDuel
- James Harden (PG/SG/SF – BKN): $11,700 DraftKings, $11,000 FanDuel