- Picks for every position and price point for NBA DFS contests on January 22.
Monday in the NBA brings a nine-game slate and plenty of solid DFS value on FanDuel and DraftKings. We have a superstar sitting out, the Rockets coming off a huge win over the Warriors and other injury news that could open up a ton of value. In other words, it’s shaping up to be a real interesting night. These initial plays and our NBA Lineup Optimizer will have you well on your way to DFS success.
Team Stack Alert
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Phoenix Suns
Khris Middleton (FD: $8,600, DK: $8,700)
Projected Points: FD: 42.24, DK: 42.93
Eric Bledsoe (FD: $8,300, DK: $8,200)
Projected Points: FD: 41.7, DK: 41.95
Tony Snell (FD: $4,300, DK: $4,200)
Projected Points: FD: 19.95, DK: 20.3
Sterling Brown (FD: $3,500, DK: $3,700)
Projected Points: FD: 24.87, DK: 24.79
Honestly, this is going to look awfully similar to our Saturday game stack with the Bucks because Giannis Antetokounmpo is out again, opening up just about every possible bit of production for Milwaukee. We saw this play out on Saturday night against the Sixers, when both Bledsoe and Middleton were complete chalk plays across the industry. They combined for 38 total shots in the loss, and both were on track to cover up to 40 minutes of playing time had it not been for the blowout. With Giannis off the court this season, Middleton and Bledsoe see significant bumps in usage. Middleton is the big gainer going to 33% from 24%, while Bledsoe goes to 31% from 27%.
Middleton finished with team-highs in points (23), rebounds (14) and assists (10), with the triple-double making him the top fantasy performer on the entire Saturday slate. Bledsoe struggled from the field, going 5-for-18, but we can’t concern ourselves too much with short-term results. The structure is still in place for him to have a big game on Monday.
Milwaukee’s auxiliary pieces, Brown and Snell, become interesting because they were also on track to play around 40 minutes (39 and 38 respectively) on Saturday. They are both coming at near-minimum pricing across the industry. The only downside is that Middleton, Brown and Snell all qualify at shooting guard on FanDuel. You can only roster two at maximum.
Oh, and don’t forget they also get the very best matchup in the game against the Suns. Phoenix sports the fourth-fastest pace in the league and the third-worst defensive efficiency. Look for the Bucks to be near-unanimous cash-game plays on the Monday slate.
One last note: Malcolm Brogdon sat out on Saturday for personal reasons. If he were to return to action, he would likely force Brown to the bench for the balance of the game.
Point Guard/Shooting Guard
Jeff Teague, vs. Clippers (FD: $6,000, DK: $5,700)
Projected Points: FD: 31.74, DK: 32.05
Andrew Wiggins, vs. Clippers (FD: $6,200, DK: $6,100)
Projected Points: FD: 32.29, DK: 32.51
I like these two considerably more if Jimmy Butler were to sit again on Monday, but even he returns, Wiggins and Teague make solid core plays. Teague has been very bad of late, but that doesn’t have me discouraged from using him in this matchup. The only fundamental shift has been a bad run of shooting over the last six games, in which he has gone 37% from the field and 25% from three. These numbers simply aren’t sustainable, unless you believe there’s an underlying injury issue, which doesn’t seem to be the case. This is a fantastic buy-low spot on a player most will talk themselves out of because of recent performance. NBA players tend to regress to their historical means, and I see that as the case with Teague sooner rather than later.
Meanwhile, Wiggins does see more of a usage bump with Butler off the court, so I’m more attracted there if the Timberwolves are playing without their starting small forward. Wiggins took a team-high 21 shots on Saturday night, highlighted by a posterizing dunk over Jakob Poeltl. Like Teague, Wiggins has struggled with his shot this season, shooting considerably worse than last year. There’s not as much expected regression for him as for Teague, but he could make up the difference in shot volume if Butler sits.
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Josh Richardson, vs. Rockets (FD: $6,300, DK: $6,300)
Projected Points: FD: 32.45, DK: 32.17
Wayne Ellington, vs. Rockets (FD: $4,800, DK: $5,300)
Projected Points: FD: 27.32, DK: 29.04
The Heat are dealing with all kinds of injuries to their backcourt. Tyler Johnson has missed the last three games, while Goran Dragic sat on Saturday due to a knee issue. It stands to reason they’ll be shorthanded again on Monday, with one or both of those guards sitting. Richardson and Ellington are reasonable plays even with the Heat at full strength, and vault to core plays if the Heat are playing without their typical starting backcourt. Richardson’s versatility allows him to move over to point guard, giving him significant minutes in a few different roles. He’s averaging 15 shots per game over his last four games with 14 points, five rebounds, and five assists per contest.
Ellington moved into the starting role on Saturday, but had been operating as the sixth man up until that point. He has worked primarily as the second unit scoring threat and has been fantastic from beyond the arc, shooting 41% on more than seven attempts per game. That’s elite shooting, and Ellington relies on the scoring to hit value. His price has come up in the short term, but if he’s in the starting lineup again you can pencil him in for high-30s minutes if the game stays close (which is a big if against the Rockets).
Otto Porter, vs. Mavericks (FD: $6,600, DK: $6,300)
Projected Points: FD: 33, DK: 32.49
Porter broke out of a shooting and fantasy slump on Friday night against the Pistons, going 4-for-5 from three while also chipping in seven rebounds and four steals. His game was an example of why it pays to have a steady hand in DFS when a player’s opportunity hasn’t changed. Porter had come off a few bad games and his price had dropped quite a bit across the industry. But his role hadn’t changed, and he’s the key player in that offense behind John Wall and Bradley Beal. The matchup against the Mavericks is a slower one, but Porter’s price hasn’t fully corrected after his recent downturn. It’s still a great time to buy low.
Blake Griffin, vs. Timberwolves (FD: $8,400, DK: $8,600)
Projected Points: FD: 42.75, DK: 44.23
Griffin has been something of a forgotten fantasy commodity this season thanks to some extended injury absences and massive personnel turnover for the Clippers, but his numbers on the season are remarkably similar to last season. In fact, he’s averaging the same number of minutes, points, rebounds and assists. Really nothing about his game has changed, except the ownership percentages on a nightly basis. And yet, he’s sitting at his second-lowest FanDuel price of the season and facing a Minnesota squad that’s rated out about league-average against opposing big men. After the injuries, Griffin’s minutes have trended back to elite levels and he’s sitting as a solid cash game play at the position.
Trey Lyles, vs. Trail Blazers (FD: $5,400, DK: $5,300)
Projected Points: FD: 28.56, DK: 29.23
In a move almost everyone, except for the head coach, saw as the answer to some of the Nuggets’ efficiency issues, Mike Malone finally moved Mason Plumlee out of the starting lineup and paired Nikola Jokic with Trey Lyles in the frontcourt. Lyles had played excellently off the bench and got his chance with the first unit on Friday against Phoenix. He played well with 15 points and seven rebounds in 28 minutes. He should stick with the first team against the Blazers, who run small after Jusuf Nurkic, and expect the minutes to hold a little steadier above 30 if he can avoid foul trouble (an issue on Friday). His 42% three-point shooting gives him an added bump on DraftKings.
Rudy Gobert, vs. Hawks (FD: $7,600, DK: $7,000)
Projected Points: FD: 34.31, DK: 34.3
Gobert is still working his way back from an extended injury hiatus ,but hasn’t shown all that much rust in the last two games. He put up 20 points and 10 rebounds per game in matchups against the Knicks and Clippers, with the only real issue being foul trouble. It’s tough to tell if the 30 minutes per game are injury related, or because of the foul issues, but either way we should see Gobert’s opportunity trend back up. The Hawks represent a perfect matchup for centers, allowing 4% more scoring and 5% more rebounding than league-average to opposing bigs. Gobert should feast on the Hawks’ undersized interior with no real defensive presence.