Basketball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

Ben Shushan

Daily Fantasy NBA Basketball Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - 3/17/16

Welcome to Short Slate… Wait, never mind. Eight games on Thursday. You’d think the NBA would schedule fewer games going up against The Madness. Guess that’s why I’m not in entertainment programming. At this point, only three games have posted lines. That fact, the night before the game, should tell you something (lots of roster and injury fluctuation). I get the Sixers, Grizz, Bulls, and Suns all being off the board. No idea why TOR/IND wouldn’t be up. Anyway, it seems a lot like Wednesday in that regard. But it’s really not as murky. Some clear choices should remain among the top options regardless of last-minute injury or other news. That’s nice for a change. There are still going to be last-minute punt options and unexpected production opportunities, so be around for tipoff. But the uncertainty level is nothing like it has been lately. I’ll take it. Away we go…

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Brandon KnightBrandon Knight - FD 6500 DK 6700
Opponent - UTA
FD Proj. Pts - 34.77 DK Proj. Pts - 37.04

Brandon Knight is back, starting, and playing a ton of minutes. He went 3-for-16 from the floor last time out and still managed a 4x. The matchup sucks in terms of Pace, but I think Phoenix being terrible is going to outweigh Utah having an offense from the 1950s, leading to plenty of opportunity for production. DK was nice enough to bump his salary down over 5%. That makes him the top (reliable) PP$ option at the point on Thursday on both sites. Take the minutes, the just about dead-average salary, and the high ceiling and get him in your lineup.

Shelvin MackShelvin Mack - FD 5500 DK 5400
Opponent - PHX
FD Proj. Pts - 26.42 DK Proj. Pts - 28.36

Holy Price Bump, Batman! Mack’s salary has shot up over 30% on DK in less than two weeks. His production is still dramatically outpacing his cost, though, so there’s value to be had here. I think we all feel more comfortable with him now that he has been starting and generating fantasy value for a while now. Court time running a Paleolithic offense is still court time, and the Suns are visiting, so we foresee plenty of opportunity to follow up his 5x/6x/6x/7x string with another strong outing. Pair him with Knight on FD or slide him into your generic Guard slot on DK. Either way, take the mispricing and run with it.

John WallJohn Wall - FD 9400 DK 9800
Opponent - PHI
FD Proj. Pts - 44.63 DK Proj. Pts - 45.85

If you want a high cost, high floor option for the night, Mr. Wall is the pick. Even with just 28 minutes in the Wizards’ beatdown of the Pistons on Monday, he put up a 4.5x. The DFSR system shows a high floor and lots of upside playing against the Sixers. Of course, playing Philly means there’s blowout risk, but if he only runs for 28 and puts up over 42 points, he won’t kill you. He’s also one of only two options above $9k on either FD or DK, and the best PP$ play anywhere near the top end on FD. If you have money to spend, this is a good spot.

The system likes Jerryd Bayless as a low-end option on both sites, but he has been incredibly inconsistent despite consistent minutes, so this is a tourney-only shout out.


Will BartonWill Barton - FD 5400 DK 5300
Opponent - ATL
FD Proj. Pts - 26.78 DK Proj. Pts - 27.87

I’m not crazy about this pick. Barton absolutely bombed two games ago, and did little other than score (and turn the ball over) last time out. The upside is that his price has come down about 10% in that stretch. This has obviously helped vault him to the top of the DFSR projections based on PP$ on both FD and DK. The matchup is o.k. The spread’s a little higher than I’d like to see (7.5), but I don’t sense a rout. The Hawks have an average Pace and slightly above-average DvP on shooting guards (below that on SFs). His relatively low price, the dearth of decent options at the position on this slate, and the DFSR system endorsement mean I’ll probably have him in most of my lineups.

Rodney HoodRodney Hood - FD 5400 DK 5600
Opponent - PHX
FD Proj. Pts - 25.8 DK Proj. Pts - 27.99

Not projected for quite as strong numbers as Barton, Hood is still at the top of the board for the position. He has been pretty consistent when given the court time. His expected output is based on minutes and usage rates with Gordon Hayward playing. If he sits out again, Hood’s value will soar, making him a virtual must-play. The typical Suns blowout risk is present, but Utah plays so slow I have a hard time seeing them blasting anyone out of the building. He’s pretty much a lock on FD where you need two SGs, and if you don’t trust Barton, this is your best alternative on DK.

C.J. McCollumC.J. McCollum - FD 6400 DK 6200
Opponent - SAS
FD Proj. Pts - 29.48 DK Proj. Pts - 31.22

If you want to spend a touch more on a night with so few options at the position, McCollum is viable, at least on DK. The matchup with the Spurs is, ahem, sub-optimal. Still, he’ll get his shot volume, which will help maintain a solid floor. He could also find his stroke and go off on any given night, so there’s upside potential as well. I suspect there will be high ownership on Hood in particular, so perhaps consider this a bit of a contrarian play. He always seems under-owned, but then he also seems over-hyped based on his DFS production.

Update: Definitely add Lance Stephenson to this list after the kind of minutes he saw last night. 

Baseball season is almost here. Check back soon for our MLB ebook on setting daily fantasy baseball lineups as well as our MLB DFS strategy articles coming in the next couple weeks.


Giannis AntetokounmpoGiannis Antetokounmpo - FD 10200 DK 9400
Opponent - MEM
FD Proj. Pts - 39.29 DK Proj. Pts - 40.41
There will be dollars to spend from savings elsewhere. As mentioned too many times there are few places to spend it. The Greek Freak has been so hot lately that I suspect everyone will play him, giving him an outrageous ownership percentage. He’s good enough that he’s unlikely to completely kill you. But the main point is, especially in cash games, if you don’t have him, you’ll have a hard time keeping up if he does go off. If he underwhelms as predicted, you won’t be at a disadvantage relative to most other owners. I hate having to rationalize (makes me feel like an attorney, and I already do it enough at home), but the logic is sound.

Hollis ThompsonHollis Thompson - FD 4000 DK 4400
Opponent - WAS
FD Proj. Pts - 20.9 DK Proj. Pts - 23.29

One of the nice things about DFS is you can play a Sixer and not regret it for too long. Since getting consistent minutes, Thompson has been providing consistent production. His price is way behind on FD, where he’s head and shoulders above everyone else at this position. He is also a bargain on DK, with an average expectation above 5x and among the highest PP$ options. Seems odd feeling so solid about someone on Philly other than Ish or Cov, but there you have it. If you trust the DFSR projections (if you don’t, I’m not sure why you’re here, though you’re certainly welcome to stay until you figure out they’re pretty damn good), roll with Thompson at the near-punt price, especially on FD.

Kawhi LeonardKawhi Leonard - FD 8900 DK 8300
Opponent - POR
FD Proj. Pts - 41.85 DK Proj. Pts - 43.56

Given the lack of opportunity to invest high dollars in many places on Thursday, Kawhi is one of the top options for the night. Everyone knows that a) he’s a two-way stud; b) as a Spur there’s blowout risk; and c) he could always get Pop’d (though he does less than anyone else on the team). Nevertheless, the system loves him (especially on DK with his significantly lower price), and I feel the same way about him (as a player). This is a solid spot to spend some money that can (and should) be saved elsewhere.

A quick note: Make sure and keep an eye on the Bulls, because if Pau is out again, Nikola Mirotic is a must-start across the board.


Paul MillsapPaul Millsap - FD 8000 DK 7700
Opponent - DEN
FD Proj. Pts - 38.13 DK Proj. Pts - 39.75

Derrick FavorsDerrick Favors - FD 7600 DK 7400
Opponent - PHX
FD Proj. Pts - 36.16 DK Proj. Pts - 36.62
Because we always give you options, you have to spend money, and you need two PFs on FanDuel. These guys are both relatively expensive players on Thursday, but you should have the cap space. They have very similar PP$ projections, with Favors having a bit more upside due to his slightly lower price. He’s also just more volatile in terms of statistical production. Millsap has a better matchup and is more consistent (though not the steadiest producer himself). I’ll probably go Millsap for cash games and Favors for tourneys, but I think you will be fine with either, whichever type of game you’re playing.

Bobby PortisBobby Portis - FD 3800 DK 3900
Opponent - BKN
FD Proj. Pts - 20.3 DK Proj. Pts - 20.86
If Gasol can Gibson can't go in this one then the Bulls would be left seriously short on big man options. That could leave Portis as a last man standing type coming in at really low prices. Last night when Taj went down, Bobby played 25 minutes to a 8/5/3/1/1 line. That gets it done at these salaries and he could see more run tonight.

If you’re looking for a true punt/flier, Bobby Portis is getting more minutes with the Bulls depleted on the front line. Tourney only!



Bismack BiyomboBismack Biyombo - FD 4200 DK 4200
Opponent - IND
FD Proj. Pts - 24.22 DK Proj. Pts - 24.72

If Valanciunas sits out again, you simply have to go here. Even the relatively price-inelastic FD adjusted Biyombo's salary quickly after his stint as a starter. The DFSR system likes him for an average of nearly 6x, and I think that could be conservative. The matchup is not particularly noteworthy. The Pacers play at an above-average Pace, but are also above average defending the Center position. Given the injury caveat, if he’s starting, you should be sailing with Bismack.

Al HorfordAl Horford - FD 7000 DK 6300
Opponent - DEN
FD Proj. Pts - 36.11 DK Proj. Pts - 36.75

Al Horford continues to show a hard 4x floor. His price still went down noticeably on DK, where he’s projected to be almost as strong a play as Biyombo in terms of PP$. He’s also the top option on FD if Biyombo doesn’t start. He took a minutes hit last time out because the Hawks stomped the Pacers by nearly 30. Prior to that, he put up a couple of good outings, and he just flat produces when he’s on the court. There’s a little blowout risk here, but we like him at these prices without having to really spend the whole night on the court. For Center here’s the bottom line: Biyombo starts = Biyombo plays. Otherwise, roll out Horford.

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15 Visitor Comments

  1. Had Gibson in 3 lineups last night, that hurt. What about Derozan tonight?

  2. I’m actually going all in tonight on Mack. Pairing him up with John Wall should be a good night. Hoping for an avg of 40 pts between the two. Why didn’t you guys mention Bojan? Has another solid matchup and he’s still starting. Great punt play if he gets on a roll again. Had a full days rest too. They pretty much left him in the whole game.

  3. No mention of Batum, he has been on fire

  4. Just wanna say thanks to you guys for all the hard work you do!! This is the best site hands down for info n picks! Also that optimal lineup tool is amazing…. I won my first major tournament last night and some serious cash and I feel like it’s all thanks to u guys!!

  5. i like ISH Smith way better then Brandon Knight tonight he’s averaged 36.5 fantasy points this year against washington when knight has never put up over 30 fantasy points in his career against Utah and they’re priced the same

  6. Agree Alonzo on Ish. I’ve played him every time against wiz,

    Any concerns with Bucks or Griz players tonight? No line, but wonder if this is blowout waiting to happen with Griz on back to back. I guess somebody has to play for them with only 9 bodies?

  7. Finished 6th in the 57,500 man FD Shot last night…the difference between cashing $5,000 and $163 for me was taking Harrison Barnes over Alonzo Gee…a 2.8 point differential …uggg

  8. Wayne, congrats. Shows it can be done. Any strategy to picking your team?

    • Hey Brian

      Just have to keep up to date on all injuries and rosters changes,not to mention rotations and vegas lines to name a few things – the key to my success last night was predicting that the GSW was going to crush NY (no surprise there) and therefore gave me low owned punts to move up the standings and that was important

  9. Thoughts on a repeat performance from Bojan?

  10. Mitoric a goood start with rose taking all
    The shots? Guy killed me last night.!

  11. Ya k had Gibson and mirotic. Ruined my team. It would have cashed all around. Didn’t realize rose took so many shots . Im learning the NBA game quickly. I will be prepared for that stuff from now on. Congrats Wayne. These guys are awesome. I love the optimizer. So many ways to use it

  12. Mitroic is not a must start from what i saw last night.

  13. @Brian i really just utilize the optimizer to the fullest, i see what the optimal lineup and then do my own research to swap guys out who the optimizer is high on but personally i dont think there a strong pick

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