Basketball Picks Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

Austyn Varney

Daily Fantasy NBA Basketball Picks for FanDuel and DraftKings - 12/21/17

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Point guard

Kyle LowryKyle Lowry FD - $8500 DK - $8600
Opponent - PHI
Proj Pts FD - 40.05 DK - 41.77

After a jam-packed Wednesday slate with FP coming in every direction, we enter a solid Thursday with more games than usual.Unfortunately, these games aren't very fun. Maybe you disagree, but try finding 15 guys to write about here that aren't dependent on injury news. You can't. We'll get to some interesting situations with Porzingis questionable and Embiid fully expected to miss. We'll start off with Toronto, though, who'll be facing the 76'ers on the road in the Wells Fargo Center. The Raps handily beat the Hornets last night and it allowed Lowry and DeRozan to get some rest. Lowry finished with just 24 minutes and should be good to go for a full stretch, even on a B2B. The '6ers have given up the 8th most FP to PG's in the league, but rank 2nd worst over the last 10. T.J. McConnell and Jerryd Bayless are just worthless defenders that rely on interior help and are missing it with the injury to Embiid. Lowry typically sits around 40 FP and I'd personally be shocked to see any less than 35. This game will almost guaranteed stay close and both teams should be ready to run a full complement of minutes. Lowry is always one of the safer plays on the slate and has to be considered a top play against a Philly squad we've been targeting all year long.

Kyrie IrvingKyrie Irving FD - $8700 DK - $8700
Opponent - NY
Proj Pts FD - 39.49 DK - 40.48

It's never a tough task to fall in love with Kyrie Irving in DFS. He only seems to come through with a solid game every. single. night. For a guy with a load of volatility as a Cavalier, it's insane to see him with this level of consistency. He's the conductor of this offense and locked into such a safe role of 30-34 minutes and 20%+ usage. He now gets to see the Knicks, who happen to rank 5th worst against PG's with 48.6 FPPG allowed. Jack and Ntilikina are 2 guys that have less than a 0% chance of staying in front of Kyrie and I almost expect them to switch a Courtney Lee or Lance Thomas if he gets hot. He'll have his FP by then anyways and can produce just fine with whoever switches on to him. This game is going to stay close and Irving is a stone cold lock for 35 fantasy points with the upside for sooo much more. Take Point guard as a blessing as it doesn't get any better from here.

Kris DunnKris Dunn FD - $7800 DK - $7300
Opponent - CLE
Proj Pts FD - 34.77 DK - 33.89

I don't why I'm such a fan of this guy, but it's been amazing to watch him finally have the chance to run an offense and not have his career dwindle because of lost opportunity. This is a guy I thought would be an All_Star since watching at Providence and he's now showing a lot of flashes in the NBA from his college game. If you had the luxury of watching Dunn a few years ago, he wasn't really a scorer. He would put up 20-25 on most nights with horrible Big East defenses, but focused on the defensive side and pushing action. He was one of the best players in the country and broke all kinds of defensive records. What I'm getting at is that he's now transitioning this extremely effective do-it-all PG style to the NBA and it's working. He's stuffing the stat sheet every single night and typically reaching 30-40 FP. He's only 23 years old, but the heart of this Bulls offense by force and I don't think he has any plans of letting up anytime soon. The cabs rank 6th worst in the league against PG's and the Bulls will need a huge performance out of Dunn to keep this close.  

Shooting Guard

Tyreke EvansTyreke Evans FD - $7800 DK - $7600
Opponent - PHO
Proj Pts FD - 37.11 DK - 37.66

Shooting guard is plain ugly. We're going to be looking at the 2 top guys and I'll hopefully be adding a value option once one of them surfaces. We kick it off with Tyreke Evans and the Grizzlies, who face off with the Suns in what will be one of the fastest games they play all season long. Evans is the guy who should benefit most as he's the main ball-handler with Mike Conley out. He's coming off of a minor injury, but played 38 minutes last game, so I see nothing to worry about. The Suns have some of the absolute worst perimeter defenders and it's why they rank in the bottom 10 against all 3 of PG, SG, and SF. They play at the league's fastest PACE and have been allowing perimeter guys to go nuts on a nightly basis. Tyreke Evans is having a career resurgence and this game is going to do nothing but help. At a position without any depth, a 40 FP floor and 60 ceiling sounds quite nice. His price is nothing to be worried about as he only needs you about40 in cash games. Against the Suns, I don't think that will be a huge issue.

DeMar DeRozanDeMar DeRozan FD - $8800 DK - $8800
Opponent - PHI
Proj Pts FD - 40.11 DK - 40.56

We already looked at Kyle Lowry at PG and it's almost impossible to ignore DeRozan here once you start looking at what we have lower in price. The match-up with the 76ers is just so safe for these prolific perimeter scorers as the 76ers have 0 warm bodies that can cover them. DeRozan also saw limited time last night and finished with just 29 minutes. He's ready to go for a full stretch here and should be in there for 35-40 minutes if it stays close. Vegas currently has this game empty, but I'm suspecting a 213-219 total with a very tight spread. DeRozan is as good as you'll find at this position and will like be over 50-60% owned because of it. I do slightly prefer Tyreke is Lowry is already in my lineup. 

Small forward

LeBron JamesLeBron James FD - $12300 DK - $11900
Opponent - CHI
Proj Pts FD - 57.55 DK - 60.2

Big shocker, but LeBron is a guy to be paid attention to with 5 games on the slate. I know he's very expensive, but there isn't a guy on the slate who should come close to him and there are plenty of value spots to get there. James is still having arguably his best statistical season ever and is putting up 60 FP a night like its breathing. The Bulls are obviously a very lackluster defense and will try their best with guys like Justin Holiday and Denzel Valentine. I actually think they shut LeBron down all night long and hold him to 35 fantasy points. Just kidding. See how stupid it sounds? LeBron is a lock in cash games and I'll have a hard time getting away from him anywhere.  A 50 FO floor with a 98.5 ceiling sounds like some fun on a 5-gamer without many stars. 

Courtney LeeCourtney Lee FD - $5500 DK - $5400
Opponent - BOS
Proj Pts FD - 27.45 DK - 27.53

Jaylen BrownJaylen Brown FD - $5700 DK - $5500
Opponent - NY
Proj Pts FD - 25.84 DK - 26.09

Both of these guys are the same price and I don't think one is a very clear option above the other. They'll likely match-up for a lot of the game here and it's one that's expected to stay close and be relatively high-scoring. On paper, both of these teams are good against the 3. They are both strong defenders, but probably won't cover each other for most of the game as they'll typically cover the best perimeter talent on the opposing squad. The position turns ugly after LeBron James and you won't find any safe pivots to go with. The entire position is full of volatility and I'm these 2 are some of the safest as far as I'm concerned. They'll both see 30+ minutes, 10 shots, and plenty of court time with 2 bad rebounding teams on the floor. Both Brownd and Lee are in play at a SF position that leaves everything to be desired.


Power forward

Michael BeasleyMichael Beasley FD - $6300 DK - $5200
Opponent - BOS
Proj Pts FD - 33.03 DK - 33.67

This one is pretty simple. If Kristaps Porzingis is out again, play Michael Beasley in cash games. He's going to play 33-38 minutes and shoot 20+ times. If Porzingis plays, he'll be right back to 20 minutes and a meaningless role at his current price. This is simply one of the weirdest players in the NBA and I actually did take flack for saying he was a guy that could put up 40 FP night in and night out given the opportunity. I think he has now proven that true and is showing teams what they probably should have developed at age 23. He's extremely talented on the offensive side and is going to put up points on anyone. The Celtis frontcourt is scrappy, but they don't rebound well and allow the 7th most points in the paint. Beasley is a lock if Porzingis is out and the opposite if he's in.

LaMarcus AldridgeLaMarcus Aldridge FD - $7500 DK - $7700
Opponent - UTA
Proj Pts FD - 37.5 DK - 37.06

Let's first get rid of whatever pre-conceived notions we have on the Jazz. Without Rudy Gobert, they play a lot faster and struggle against interior scorers. LaMarcus Aldridge is still the man on this offense and is taking close to 20 shots on most nights. The only real concern here is the PACE of the game. These 2 teams are both slow and I wouldn't be surprised to see a similar score to the Spurs game with Portland just last night. With that being said, Aldridge is a lock for a double/double with the upside for so much more. He played 35 and 34 minutes in a B2B less than a month ago, so I feel like it's reaching to worry yourself with that. Popo icy has given Aldridge the keys to the offense and he's done a solid job. He's worth the price at a position that offers a whole lot of lackluster options with upside and a 10 FP floor. I'll try to get up to Aldridge. 

Jayson TatumJayson Tatum FD - $5500 DK - $5800
Opponent - NY
Proj Pts FD - 26.12 DK - 26.32

Tatum dislocated his finger last game, but finished it up with a solid 25 fantasy points in just under 30 minutes. There's no structural damage to the finger and comes into this game probable. For one, he's too cheap. This is a $6k PF in a match-up with a Knicks squad that may be short-handed. LIke Beasley, I like Tatum a lot more with Porzingis out. He's not the best defender on earth, but is surely a lot better than what Michael Beasley has to offer. Either way, they've ranked 7th worst against PF's in the entire league and can be considered as safe as anyone. With just 5 games on this slate, we know the options aren't ideal and we have to work around certain things. Value at PF isn't easy to find just yet outside of Beasley and Tatum is a safe 25+ FP with the upside for much more.


Marc GasolMarc Gasol FD - $8300 DK - $8200
Opponent - PHO
Proj Pts FD - 41.69 DK - 41.93

If anyone can give me a real reason to fade Marc Gasol tonight, I'm begging you to. This seems like the perfect spot for the guy and his price is a bit too friendly. We all know good and well how atrocious this Suns defense and how fast they play. It'll be one of the slower teams around in the Grizzlies that benefit. They also rank 3rd worst against centers in the NBA, which has only gone down since the addition of Greg Monroe. Gasol and Tyreke are the only guys on this offense dictating the ball and Gasol is getting involved in almost every possession without Conley. He's one of my favorite plays on the entire slate and I couldn't fathom fading him in cash games. With a spread of just 1.5, it's almost guaranteed to stay close and be one of the higher scoring affairs of the year for the Grizz. 

Jonas ValanciunasJonas Valanciunas FD - $5900 DK - $5400
Opponent - PHI
Proj Pts FD - 28.62 DK - 28.66

The minutes are always going to be shaky with Jonas Valunciunas, but he is always producing when given the opportunity. He's been at well over 1 FP/min on the season and has a ton of upside against a Philly team that should dictate his size. In the last 3 games that Toronto has decided to give Valunciunas over 25 minutes, he went for 42, 35, and 42. This is a guy who's willing to put up 40 FP a night, but just isn't going to get those type of minutes. You have to project him for around 20 as a floor and 25 fantasy points in turn. Anything else is just gravy at $5k and I think there's a higher chance than most nights that he sees those 25+ minutes and has another big game. The 76ers are a mess at PF/C right now and have allowed 54.3 FPPG over the last 10 (Second worst).  Good luck tonight and make sure you comment below if you have any questions! Remember, this isn't the most appealing slate we're working with here.


5 Visitor Comments

  1. How you expect someone to fit in all those high salaries guys with no value suggestions? you just point out the obvious not really giving much help.

  2. Demetrius…the true value plays come throughout the day as injury situations become clear. Value suggestions at this point are meaningless.

  3. This is why there is another article released later in day when injuries and values open up. Cheers!

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