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Scouting The NBA DFS - Tuesday, January 3

We break down tonight's 8-game slate of NBA action and bring you the best DFS plays on DraftKings and FanDuel

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Plays of the Day

Value: James Johnson is worth a look in all formats tonight with Justise Winslow and Hassan Whiteside ruled out for Miami. The hybrid forward is an excellent rebounder (18.2% Defensive Rebounding Rate) and he should see plenty of minutes at the 4 or even the 5 with Whiteside inactive. The Suns play at the second-fastest pace in the NBA and cough up the seventh-most FPPG (39.7) to opposing SFs along with the tenth-most FPPG (43.47) to opposing PFs, so JJ should continue to post his versatile lines and potentially exceed value once again.

Fade: Paul George has been showing signs of life lately, but is still far from an elite DFS play with weak peripheral stats and an apparent lack of effort while he’s on the floor. The Pistons are one of the best defensive teams in the NBA and it would be very surprising if they allow PG to go off in their building tonight.

Games to Target

  1. Denver Nuggets (PK) hosting Sacramento Kings (Over/Under = 214)
  2. Phoenix Suns (-2.5) hosting Miami Heat (Over/Under = 209.5)

Point Guards

Two Studs

Isaiah Thomas (BOS) vs. UTA DK:$7,400/FD:$8,100

Thomas capped an incredible December with a 52-point performance against the Heat last Friday, so it’s pretty astonishing to see his price tag continue to drop as the Celtics open 2017. Sure, the Jazz are ranked fourth in defensive rating and give up the second-fewest FPPG (37.01) to opposing PGs this season, but their defensive prowess can lapse a bit when George Hill (concussion) and the lengthy Dante Exum (ankle) are unable to play. That’s expected to be the case tonight, which should allow Thomas to operate on Shelvin Mack to start the game before knifing through everyone on the opposite team as he looks to carry Boston with another transcendent fourth quarter. IT destroyed defenses with high efficiency ratings throughout the past couple of weeks (MEM, OKC, MIA, etc.), and he could do the same against the stout Jazz D this evening.

Mike Conley (MEM) @ LAL DK:$6,500/FD:$7,000

Conley also seems under priced on DK, but unlike Isaiah, he draws a fantastic matchup tonight. The Lakers are ranked 29th in defensive rating and play at the fifth-fastest pace in the NBA, which benefits smart floor generals such as Conley. They’re giving up the sixth-most FPPG (45.25) and most APG (9.68) to opposing PGs this season, while the potential absence of Marc Gasol (ankle) could force a lot more onto Conley’s plate. The crafty lefty is sporting a 27.2% Usage Rate and averaging 0.99 FPs per minute with Gasol off the floor this season and he should become increasingly productive as he recovers from back surgery and the nagging toe injury that kept him out of one game last week. Gasol is a game-time decision and this contest tips off late, so consider Conley as more of a GPP play, who won’t necessarily kill your lineups regardless of how injury news shakes out.

Potential Value

Darren Collison ($4500/$4100) will be worth a look at this price tag if it sounds like Ty Lawson (face) and/or Rudy Gay (hip) could miss tonight’s tilt in Denver.

Longshot

Shelvin Mack ($4900/$4200) came through last night and he’s worth a look as a punt play on FanDuel. Eric Bledsoe ($7700/$7900) is posting a very high Usage Rate over his last few games and he could go off against a Heat team that’s missing it’s starting center, SF and potentially it’s PG as well.

Shooting Guards

Two Studs

Bradley Beal (WAS) @ DAL DK:$6,800/FD:$6,800

John Wall seems a bit expensive on DK, but feel free to use him at $9,600 on FD tonight if you want to get a piece of the Wizards offense. If you don’t use Wall, Beal makes sense as a cheaper component of Washington’s improving offense against a Mavericks team that is now ranked 23rd in defensive rating. Dallas gives up the eighth-most DK PPG to opposing SGs on the season and ranks dead last in opponents 3PT shooting (.402%), which certainly bodes well for a pure shooter in Beal. He came alive late during Washington’s loss at Houston last night and he’s clearly feeling confident while putting his recent ankle sprain in the rear view.

Gary Harris (DEN) vs. SAC DK:$4,700/FD:$4,700

There are several appealing mid-tier options at SG tonight, but Harris can provide a lot of salary relief on either main DFS site while potentially exceeding value once again. He’s bounced back from a couple of weak performances against the Clippers and is averaging 15 PPG over his last 3 appearances. Last night, Harris demonstrated a lot of confidence against the elite Warriors and he should be able to ride that momentum into a matchup against the Kings 22nd-ranked defense. Sacramento coughs up the sixth-most PPG (24.27) to opposing SGs and Harris has been far more reliable with averages of 16 PPG, 3.5 APG and 27.3 DK PPG over 8 appearances in Denver this season.

Potential Value

Nick Young ($4100/$4700) is worth a look as a punt play on DK. Tony Allen ($5000/$4600) might see an increase in playing time and rebounding responsibilities if Marc Gasol sits tonight.

Longshot

Josh Richardson ($6000/$5900) probably won’t be a popular play with Goran Dragic (back) expected to return tonight, but he’s still going to serve as a main part of Miami’s offense with Justise Winslow and Hassan Whiteside inactive.

Small Forwards

Two Studs

Gordon Hayward (UTA) @ BOS: DK:$8,000/FD:$8,000

Hayward remains a fantastic cash game play with his steady floor of approximately 33 FPs and he could flash some upside in a matchup with the high-scoring Celtics and his former college coach Brad Stevens. Hayward averaged 19 PPG and 5 APG over 2 meetings with Boston last year, but he’s playing much better this season with a 23.1 Player Efficiency Rating (PER) and a career-high 28.4% Usage Rate. That usage increases to 30.1% and Hayward averages 1.03 FPs per minute when George Hill is off the floor, so he’ll be a very solid play against a Celtics team that coughs up the fourth-most FPPG (40.14) to opposing SFs with Hill ruled out again tonight.

Jae Crowder (BOS) vs. UTA: DK:$4,900/FD:$5,000

Crowder has also maintained a steady floor as a cash game play, but his price tag continues to drop on both main DFS sites. He’s going to see heavy minutes tonight in an effort to contain Utah’s top offensive weapon in Hayward, especially with Marcus Smart (illness) very much questionable to suit up and Avery Bradley potentially hobbled with the same malady. Crowder is averaging a solid 11.6 PPG, 4.6 RPG and 23.9 DK PPG over his last 5 appearances and he should at least provide solid returns in a close game, with some added upside if Smart is unable to go.

Potential Value

Wayne Ellington ($4100/$4100 as SG on FD) is coming off a great game for Miami and he should start again tonight with Justise Winslow (shoulder) ruled out.

Longshot

T.J. Warren ($5000/$4900) bounced back from a dud with a huge game against the Clippers last night and now his Suns will host a very shorthanded Heat squad.

Power Forwards

Two Studs

Zach Randolph (MEM) @ LAL: DK:$5,600/FD:$5,900

Some DFSers might take a chance on JaMychal Green ($4800/$5100) or Jarell Martin ($3000/$3500) in the hopes that Marc Gasol sits out tonight’s tilt, but ZBo should be the biggest beneficiary if Gasol can’t go. Randolph boasts a team-high 33% Usage Rate and is averaging 1.16 FPs per minute with Gasol off the court this year and he draws a great matchup against a Lakers team that gives up the second-most FPPG (45.67) to opposing PFs this season. He’s been averaging 16 PPG, 6.8 RPG and 30 DK PPG despite playing just 24 MPG over his last 5 appearances and he could be closer to his per 36 minute numbers (21.3 PPG, 12.3 RPG) if he’s forced to handle more responsibilities with Gasol out.

James Johnson (MIA) @ PHO: DK:$5,500/FD:$5,400

Normally nothing more than a tournament play who has to cash in big on limited playing time, Johnson is worth a look in all formats tonight with Winslow and Hassan Whiteside ruled out for Miami. The hybrid forward is an excellent rebounder (18.2% Defensive Rebounding Rate) and he should see plenty of minutes at the 4 or even the 5 with Whiteside inactive. The Suns play at the second-fastest pace in the NBA and cough up the seventh-most FPPG (39.7) to opposing SFs along with the tenth-most FPPG (43.47) to opposing PFs, so JJ should continue to post his versatile lines and potentially exceed value once again.

Potential Value

JaMychal Green ($4800/$5100) is worth a look with Gasol potentially inactive and he’s probably going to be a solid cash game play even if Big Spain can play. Ersan Ilyasova ($5300/$6100) is an upside play with Jahlil Okafor (rest) expect to sit for Philly.

Longshot

Amir Johnson ($3800/$4000) plays an inconsistent role for the Celtics but he might be asked to match up with the stout Jazz frontcourt this evening.

Centers

Two Studs

DeMarcus Cousins (SAC) @ DEN: DK:$11,400/FD:$11,200

This position seems quite simple tonight with Cousins and Nikola Jokic facing off in the best game to target. The Nuggets skinny center is not really capable of slowing down the massive Cousins, as evidenced by Boogie’s averages of 38 PPG and 14.5 RPG over 2 meetings with Denver last season. He’s been on fire with averages of 29.4 PPG, 10.3 RPG and 3.9 APG since the beginning of November and has not played since last Saturday, so he should be well rested ahead of what is projected to be a very close and very high-scoring affair between two fast-paced teams.

Nikola Jokic (DEN) vs. SAC: DK:$6,900/FD:$7,200 as PF

He was insanely productive during his 25 minutes of run against the Warriors last night, but Nuggets HC Mike Malone seemed wary of burning Jokic out on the front end of a B2B set against the fastest-paced team in the NBA. The young center is only playing 26.4 MPG over his last 5 appearances, but he’s averaging 18.8 PPG, 9 RPG and 6 APG while routinely exceeding value at a price tag that remains modest. The Kings aren’t a great defensive team and Cousins rarely plays tough individual D because he’s concerned about foul trouble, so Jokic should be able to maintain his hot run of play in this prime matchup.

Potential Value

Willie Reed ($3900/$3500) didn’t do much at all in a spot start for Whiteside on Sunday, but he’s a good bet to meet value in an easier matchup tonight. Nerlens Noel ($3900/$4500 as PF on FD) is hovering around 20 minutes for the 76ers once again and he could see an increased role if Okafor is out.

Longshot

Jusuf Nurkic ($3100/$3700) is suddenly back in the Nuggets rotation. And although you can’t trust his playing time, he might be called upon to guard Cousins for stretches tonight.


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