NBA DFS Plays & Values: Droppin Dimes for Thursday, January 21st

SI NBA DFS analyst Stephen Marsella runs through his top NBA daily fantasy plays for Thursday.
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Today brings a three-game slate starting at 7:30 p.m. ET. This is after a ten-game slate that turned into nine games. Thursday night brings showcase games on national TV. These games have television timeouts, which gives the players some additional rest. Therefore, they can play a bit longer. The Portland Trail Blazers and Memphis Grizzlies game was canceled. It is a good idea to keep an eye on the status of players and games before lock as they can be ruled out or canceled.

The layout will be different on smaller slates. It will break down each game recommending top plays and values per game.

Three games start at 7:30 p.m., Pelicans/Jazz and Knicks/Warriors both start at 10 p.m.

All prices and fantasy point totals are for DraftKings but can be used for all sites.

Projections are my own. Value equals projection divided by salary. Five times value is the standard.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Milwaukee Bucks

  • Game Total: 228.5, highest on the slate
  • Pace: Bucks: 105.1, Lakers: 103.4. The Lakers get a +1.5 bump.

This is a battle between two potential NBA finals teams. Giannis Antetokounmpo (1.7) and LeBron James (1.47) are the top two fantasy points per minute players on the slate. Anthony Davis is right behind them at 1.44 FPPM. Khris Middleton is having a solid year averaging 22 points, six rebounds, and just shy of six assists. He has put up 40 or more fantasy points in six of the last seven games. Jute Holiday continues to play over 30 minutes a game and has shown some upside this year, but has been around the 25-30 fantasy mark around half the season. Brook Lopez has seen him over 30 minutes in five of the last six games. Solid value at only $5,100.

James has averaged 59.4 Draftkings points over the last three games against the Bucks. He averaged 38 minutes, 29.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 9.7 assists in that time-frame. The price has come down on James to a year low of $9,200. This is a good time to target James as his price is down, and he plays very well against the Bucks. The main focus on the Lakers will be James and Davis. I have some interest in Kyle Kuzma, who has been playing a bit better as of late. Alex Caruso and Marc Gasol are solid value plays. This game should be the most popular. I do expect Gasol to play some extra minutes tonight in this matchup.

Top Plays

  • LeBron James: Projection: 51.4 (5.6 value), ceiling: 63.8.
  • Khris Middleton: Projection: 44.7 (5.8 value), ceiling: 55.7

Secondary options: Anthony Davis, Brook Lopez, Kyle Kuzma

Value: Marc Gasol, Alex Caruso, Pat Connaughton.

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Utah Jazz

  • Game Total: 217.5
  • Pace: Pelicans: 101.5, Jazz: 101.3. Neutral

These two teams just played on Tuesday, and the Jazz won 118-102. Zion Williamson led the Pelicans with 32 points, five rebounds, and three assists, while Donovan Mitchell led the Jazz with 28 points, seven rebounds, and four assists. Rudy Gobert had a big game grabbing 18 rebounds and scoring 13 points while blocking three shots and getting a steal.

This game is between two slower-paced teams that are solid defensively, so I will have little exposure.

Top Plays

  • Rudy Gobert: Projection: 41.8 (5.8 value), ceiling: 52.6.
  • Zion Williamson: 40 or more fantasy points in five of the last six games.

Secondary options: Donovan Mitchell


  • Nickeil Alexander-Walker: Still playing minutes with both Lonzo Ball and Eric Bledsoe back. 
  • Joe Ingles

NY Knicks vs. Golden State Warriors

  • Game Total: 215.5
  • Pace: Knicks: 98.9, Warriors: 107.7, Knicks get a +8.8 bump

This is a massive pace up spot for the Knicks as the run at the league's slowest pace. They play the Warriors, who run at the third-fastest pace. This gives the Knicks players a nice boost. They also get the best matchup on the three-game slate. I love this spot for Julius Randle, and his price is down under 9K again. His production has not changed, as he has scored over 45 fantasy points in the last four games. Mitchell Robinson gets a plus matchup as well. Immanuel Quickley has been playing well, even in limited time on the floor.

Top Plays

  • Julius Randle- Projection: 50.9 (value 5.8), ceiling: 63.4
  • Kelly Oubre- shot falling and playing well as of late.

Secondary Plays: Mitchell Robinson, Draymond Green. Alec Burks

Value: James Wiseman, Immanuel Quickley, Nerlens Noel. 

Core build options

Option one

Option one

Option two

Option two

Use these as a baseline. As you can see my favorite plays are Randle and James with some Middleton. 

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