Basketball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

Austyn Varney

Daily Fantasy NBA Basketball Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - 12/20/17

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Point guard

Jeff TeagueJeff Teague FD - $6400 DK - $6100
Opponent - DEN
Proj Pts FD - 34.96 DK - 35.06

We had a solid 3-game slate last night with one of the best games on this entire season in CLE @ MIL. We now get to a fun DFS slate tonight with 12 games on the docket and a ton of different things to dive into. The first of which will be Jeff Teague and how bad the Nuggets are against point guards. They've ranked dead last all year against the position, but just keep getting worse. They've now allowed 58 FP per game over the last 10 and have shown no signs of improving. Jamal Murray is a bad defender, but it has just as much to do with the lack of rim protection the big men offer. Teague isn't the most dynamic player in the league and he's not very fun to roster as a 3rd/4th option on team, but he's EXTREMELY safe in this particular match-up. You know he's getting the 35-40 minutes and will shoot 13+ times with 7+ assists. Plug Teague into your cash games and move on. In tournaments, you can probably do better, but he's a great filler and I wouldn't switch things around to get away from him. Point guard isn't as great as usual and Teague is a phenomenal mid-priced play in every way.

Damian LillardDamian Lillard FD - $8800 DK - $8500
Opponent - SA
Proj Pts FD - 42.88 DK - 44.76

Wow, against the Spurs? Yes, and it's not even that big of a deal. With the carousel of Tony Parker, Mills, and Murray, they have ranked 3rd worst against PG's in the entire league. The only guy that can probably slow Lillard is Danny Green, but he's unlikely to play and will be on McCollum even if he does. Lillard has been insane this season and is typically sitting around 45-50 fantasy points. His price is high, but not really. Under $9k on both sites, Lillard is hitting value on a daily basis. If it stays close and Lillard plays the 35 minutes he should, he could easily get to 60 FP and be a 10% owned PG that wins you a tourney. I know the initial reaction is to ignore guys against the Spurs, but there's a legitimate reason they rank 3rd worst in all of the NBA. This isn't a hard match-up for Dame.

Jawun EvansJawun Evans FD - $3500 DK - $3800
Opponent - PHO
Proj Pts FD - 21.06 DK - 21.26

This one is a stretch, but lets at least look at it with a weak point guard position. Lou Williams missed last game and it allowed a minimum-priced Juwan Evans to pick up 28 minutes. He sucked against a Spurs squad that is pretty tough against shooting guards, but would see the Suns tonight, which is just a completely different situation as a whole. I think he's dependent on Lou Williams sitting, but could still see 20 minutes without it. He has held a 14% usage when on the floor and is getting involved in almost every possession. If given 20 or more minutes, he will hit value against a Suns squad that ranks bottom 10 against both PG's and SG's. Williams is currently on the strong side of questionable and just make sure you keep an eye out for the news article later in the day.If things turn perfectly for Evans, he could end up playing 30+ minutes and being one of the top plays on the slate.

Shooting Guard

Jordan ClarksonJordan Clarkson FD - $4800 DK - $5600
Opponent - HOU
Proj Pts FD - 24.97 DK - 25.72
Josh HartJosh Hart FD - $3900 DK - $3000
Opponent - HOU
Proj Pts FD - 20.13 DK - 20.13

Mr. KCP misbehaved himself last year and can't leave California for 25 days. If only there were fun things to do in that state. He'll be busy at a club while these 2 guys will take the bulk of his minutes. Jordan Clarkson has been relevant for a few years now and seems to go through waves of relevancy. With Caldwell-Pope taking up a ton of minutes at the 2, you can lock in both of these guys for a safe 25+ minutes. Josh Hart saw 32 minutes with KCP out last time and he has to be a top play at close to minimum-price. The Rockets are one of the worst teams in the league against the perimeter, allowing 49.6 FPPG to opposing SG's. Both Harden and Gordon are atrocious on defense and Capela hasn't been a very good rim protector this year. We're about to look at a superstar on the Rockets side and this is a game we'll be targeting a ton. Vegas hasn't dropped a line on this yet, but I'd expect around a 225 total with a 10 or 12 spread. Update - 224.5 O/U, HOU -14).

James HardenJames Harden FD - $11100 DK - $11000
Opponent - LAL
Proj Pts FD - 54.15 DK - 56.49

There's a real discussion to be had surrounding James Harden tonight. On one hand, we have a 14 point spread that could result in Harden sitting out the 4th quarter. On the other hand, we have a 225 over/under where he could easily reach 75 FP if it stays close. In a perfect world, he's low-owned and you restrict him to just tournaments. However, he may be too popular in cash games to take that approach. If he does have a good night, you could end up being left out by default and I'm not sure I'm willing to take that stand on James Harden against the Lakers. ESPECIALLY without their only good perimeter defender in Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. The defense is going to be an absolute mess and Harden will be putting up 2 FP/min without a ton of effort. If you have the salary, there's no debate on the upside. Now if you think this game does blowout, fade James Harden and go with a Hart/Randle combo. This is a game you'll probably want exposure to as I'm willing to bet 5-6 guys reach or exceed value.

Small forward

Mario HezonjaMario Hezonja FD - $4800 DK - $4700
Opponent - CHI
Proj Pts FD - 27.49 DK - 27.8
Jonathon SimmonsJonathon Simmons FD - $6600 DK - $6900
Opponent - CHI
Proj Pts FD - 35.23 DK - 35.54

The Orlando Magic are a squad that is being demolished by injury. They started the season off great, but now sit at 11-20 with only half of the starting lineup still on the court. As we sit, Aaron Gordon has been ruled out and Evan Fournier is extremely questionable. These 2 guys already see a huge boost with Gordon out and make for good plays in all formats. If Fournier is out as well, they become guys who will see 34+ minutes and be hard to ignore in cash games. Simmons is a cash game gem. He's going to see the minutes and will shoot just as much as Nikola Vucevic. His floor is a rock hard 30 against a lowly Bulls defense. Hezonja has been at 45 FP in 2 of the last 3, but threw in a nice 7 FP in the middle. He's always a volatile player, but he will get the minutes and the upside is obviously there in tournaments. He should be very popular and will be a tough mountain to get over if he goes off for 40 again.

Brandon IngramBrandon Ingram FD - $7200 DK - $6500
Opponent - HOU
Proj Pts FD - 33.68 DK - 33.94

Vegas has decided to drop a line for this game in the middle of me writing this piece and I like it. With a 225 total and a -14 spread, it'll be a matter of staying in the game for the Lakers. If they do, it'll have a big part to do with Brandon Ingram and his leadership of this offense. He's taken a huge step up this season and is now one of the top up and coming players in the entire league. He's probably going to be over $8k on both sites by the time things are said and done and I would argue this is somewhat of a discount. Even though he has only gone up so far. The Rockets are an average team on paper against SF's and Ingram has done damage to teams much better. This will be one of the faster-paced games of the month and could be a gold mine if it stays close. Ingram has a 30 point floor with a 60point upside at a fair price in a game we want exposure to. He may also get 3 or 4 extra shots and locked in minutes with KCP on state arrest.


Power forward

LaMarcus AldridgeLaMarcus Aldridge FD - $7900 DK - $7800
Opponent - POR
Proj Pts FD - 40.11 DK - 39.74

Kawhi Leonard has already been ruled out for this one and it'll be right back to LMA as the #1 option all game long. He gets a phenomenal match-up and can be locked in for 33+ minutes against a horrible Blazers interior. Aldridge has still been seeing the ball more than anyone on the court and his jumper hasn't slowed one bit. He typically sits around 30-40 fantasy points and throws out an occasional dominant 60. Against a Blazers interior with guys like Aminu, Nurkic, and Ed Davis covering him, it's certainly in the books. On paper, the Blazers are quality against PF's, but this is no typical 2017 NBA PF. Aldridge is a back-to-the-basket menace and a guy who can pull up from 3 with no issue. None of these Blazers are staying with him like they stay with a normal athletic stretch 4. He's fairly priced in all formats and is a guy I'll have a ton of in cash games. In tournaments, I think you pair him with Damian Lillard and hope this stays close. It could get interesting and is a game that will undoubtedly fly under the radar.

Kelly OlynykKelly Olynyk FD - $5900 DK - $5400
Opponent - BOS
Proj Pts FD - 35.01 DK - 35.74
Jordan MickeyJordan Mickey FD - $4000 DK - $3700
Opponent - BOS
Proj Pts FD - 23.66 DK - 22.77

James Johnson has been ruled out with bursitis for 7-10 days, so we'll have these 2 guys in our lives for about another week. Johnson takes up a lot of minutes, so you can safely project both of these guys for just under 30 minutes. These are 2 guys who were in Boston last year and you have to think they will have a little extra juice in the system because of it. The Heat simply won't give Olynyk more than 34 minutes, but he doesn't need it. He's been over 1 FP/min on the season and gets the ball a lot with the 2nd unit. As for Mickey, he's been at 23 and 27 minutes in the last 2 and put up 25+ fantasy points in both. The Celtics are obviously an extremely weak interior and it's only themselves who stand in the way of a good game. Olynyk is obviously safer, but he's more expensive and mickey offers you 30 FP upside for close to the minimum. If you need value at PF, here it is.

Taj GibsonTaj Gibson FD - $5700 DK - $5900
Opponent - DEN
Proj Pts FD - 30.75 DK - 30.31

Taj the train just keeps on chugging. As the only real veteran on this squad, he's still getting the insane minutes that Thibodeau typically sticks to the youngins. Gibson has been one of the more consistent PF's on the entire season and is still extremely fairly priced. The Nuggets are exceedingly average against the PF position, allowing 46 FP per game. Gibson is going to see close to 40 minutes once again and can be counted on for 10 shots and 25 fantasy points. The upside is there for 40 if he's feeling it and it's not a stretch against this interior that allows the 2nd most offensive rebounds. Gibson is the same safe option he is on most nights and sees a friendly match-up to boost him into a core play.


DeAndre JordanDeAndre Jordan FD - $8000 DK - $7500
Opponent - PHO
Proj Pts FD - 37.72 DK - 38.87

And now we get to Center. There are a lot of options at this position and you can't go wrong with DeAndre Jordan. He's probably the best rebounder in the league next to Andre Drummond and he's been able to grab all of them with Blake Griffin out. I mean just look at those numbers. He's hasn't been below 14 rebounds since November! He now gets a match-up with a Phoenix Suns squad that doesn't have any quality big men. It'll be the usual suspects in Monroe, Chandler, and Len that all split minutes at C and don't have a shot at being physical with DeAndre. Chandler is probably the guy who ends up out there because he can kind of rebound, but he's nowhere near the same guy he was even 2 or 3 years ago. Let alone 10. Jordan is extremely safe in all formats and I would be shocked to see him under 40 fantasy points. If it stays close, he could get to 60 without much trouble. There will be a ton of shots missed by the Suns and we know where they'll be headed. There's a lot of intriguing options at this position, but Jordan might be the safest of all.

Bam AdebayoBam Adebayo FD - $4900 DK - $4600
Opponent - BOS
Proj Pts FD - 24.79 DK - 23.84

Hassan Whiteside is not coming back anytime soon and it's forcing the Heat to let Bam Adebayo get in a rhythm. He's a strong young player who has a long way to go in polishing his game. Unless things dramatically change, he'll never put up 30 real-life points or go for a 20/20. He'll instead likely cap off at a guy like Marcin Gortat, who's in there for a double-double and a large presence. Adebayo is strong defensively and will be needed against a Celtics squad that scores the 3rd most points in the paint. Al Horford is a weak defender and Adebayo and can be penciled in for 20-25 as a floor. There are a lot of options at center and you may be scared to miss out on one of the guys who could put up 60, which is fair. Personally, I'll have him in about 25% of lineups where I pay up for a Russell Westbrook or Kevin Durant in a tournament. He'll let you spend up there and still maintain your favorite core of guys.

Nikola VucevicNikola Vucevic FD - $10000 DK - $9400
Opponent - CHI
Proj Pts FD - 46.2 DK - 47.09

If you have the funds to pay all the way up and don't love the upside of DeAndre Jordan, Nikola Vucevic is a great way to go. With Aaron Gordon already ruled out with an injury, we know where the inside looks are going. Vucevic is having the best season of his career and has been at 50+ FP way more than anyone ever thought he would be. He's turning into a legitimate superstar this is putting up stacked stat lines and 30 real-life points in the same game. He now sees a Bulls interior that is 7th worst in the game against centers. Robin Lopez is a big body, but a very immobile one at that.Vucevic is expensive and some may argue you can spend your money wiser, but he has upside and should he held below 20% owned with a stacked center position. Good luck tonight and make sure you comment below if you have any questions! Thanks!


8 Visitor Comments

  1. Really don’t like the Juwan Evans pick only because Rivers is back and I’m pretty sure sweet Lou will be back also but besides that the picks are very solid today

    • Yep, 100% agree with you. Think he’s a flier at best with everyone back. Just a weak position and wanted to include him in case anyone ends up being out. They have been very weird as of late and I wouldn’t be surprised to see someone get rested if Lou Will does come back.

  2. Agreed, a lot to sift through tonight, this is a great start as always, Austyn. Also love the sheet Chris. You are the guru of DFS cheat sheets.

  3. hello can you help me with my lineup

  4. What’s your take on the Lakers PF/C position today? Randle, Kuzma or Nance?

    • If you think it stays close, go Kuzma. Blowout, go Randle

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