Basketball Lineups Daily Fantasy Expert Advice

Joel Bartilotta

FanDuel NBA Picks and DraftKings NBA Picks - Wednesday, 12/22/21

If you love chaos, NBA DFS is the perfect thing for you. This is actually one of the craziest slates I've ever seen, with Toronto, Orlando, Sacramento, Atlanta, and Cleveland all having COVID breakouts. All of those clubs have a few of their best players missing, and we're surely going to draw value from those clubs. There are a million things we need to talk about, though, so let's go ahead and get into it!

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Point Guard

Tyrese HaliburtonTyrese Haliburton FD - $8100 DK - $8200
Opponent - LAC
Proj Pts FD - 40.94 DK - 40.28

This price is getting a bit expensive, but Haliburton is worth every penny with the way he's playing. Like most of these recommendations, he's stepped into a significant role because of COVID protocols. The guys missing for Sacramento include De'Aaron Fox, Terence Davis, Marvin Bagley, and Alex Len. The Fox absence is the most important here, allowing Hali to hone in all the ball-handling duties. That has led to Tyrese tallying at least 42 DraftKings points in each of his last four games, posting a 49-point average in that span. That's a fantastic floor and an even more unbelievable average, making Hali one of the best pure plays on the board.

Ricky RubioRicky Rubio FD - $6800 DK - $6200
Opponent - BOS
Proj Pts FD - 34.96 DK - 36.17

Cleveland has been absolutely obliterated by COVID protocols, missing Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley, Ed Davis, and Isaac Okoro for this game. While most of those guys are in the frontcourt, we believe Rubio will enter the starting lineup and force Cleveland to go small. That caters to Boston beautifully, and it should lead to Rubio getting 35 minutes of play. Ricky was putting up robust numbers in that role earlier this season, averaging 34 DraftKings points per game in the 13 outings he played at least 29 minutes. That looks like the floor here, and we expect his usage and rebounding to rise with so many players missing.

Darius Garland is criminally-priced on FanDuel, sitting at just $7,200!

Shooting Guard

Buddy HieldBuddy Hield FD - $5800 DK - $6900
Opponent - LAC
Proj Pts FD - 33.35 DK - 36.03

Buddy has been a fantasy disappointment for most of his career, but all of these absences in Sacramento have allowed him to thrive. Not only did it put him in the starting lineup, but it gave him the green light to fire up shots at will. He's got a 29 percent usage rate with all of those guys off the floor, playing at least 37 minutes in three straight outings. He's also taken double-digits shots in all of those, combining for 79.5 DK points across his last two games. That's a tasty total from someone in this price range, and we certainly don't mind that LA owns a 19th OPRK against opposing SGs this season.

Delon WrightDelon Wright FD - $4700 DK - $4600
Opponent - ORL
Proj Pts FD - 25.74 DK - 25.24

This is a bit of a risky play because Wright hasn't done much this season, but we believe he will get a start at point guard here. Much like the rest of the NBA, Atlanta has been ravished by COVID, playing without Trae Young and Clint Capela. That Trae absence is critical, likely making Wright the starting point guard in his absence. This dude has been a fantasy monster in this role in the past, averaging 17.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 6.8 assists, and 1.8 steals in the 17 games he played at least 33 minutes last season. We have to believe he will flirt with 30-35 minutes in this expanded role, and that's big news for a stat-stuffer like this!

With Zach LaVine and Alex Caruso out, Coby White could be looking at a rare start and 30 minutes of action.

Small Forward

DeMar DeRozanDeMar DeRozan FD - $8900 DK - $10200
Opponent - TOR
Proj Pts FD - 48.78 DK - 49.47

It's crazy that DeRozan's price keeps climbing, and he keeps providing value. The simple fact is, DD has put his hat in the ring for MVP consideration with the best year of his career. It's easy to see why when looking at his numbers, with DeMar scoring at least 30 DK points in all but one game while reaching 34-plus in all but two. That has led to his supreme 42-point average, and it's scary to think how much usage he'll have with Zach LaVine and Alex Caruso missing this game. DD has a ridiculous 39 percent usage rate with those two off the floor while averaging 1.4 DK points per minute. Oh yeah, did we mention DeRozan is facing off with the team he spent most of his career with? He should be plenty motivated against this shorthanded Toronto team!

Lauri MarkkanenLauri Markkanen FD - $4900 DK - $6000
Opponent - BOS
Proj Pts FD - 27.75 DK - 28.77

We just mentioned that Cleveland is missing their two best frontcourt players, which should force Lauri into a prominent role. He's been held back this season because Allen and Mobley have been so good, but the rebounds and shot attempts should flow like water with both of them out of the lineup. There haven't been many minutes with those two off the floor, but Lauri does have a 25 percent usage rate in those circumstances. We also believe he's in line for 12-18 shots and 35-40 minutes with how shorthanded this team is, and it makes Markkanen impossible to avoid in this price range.

Khris Middleton has been a monster with Giannis Antetokounmpo out and should get all the usage he can handle here.

Power Forward

Kevin LoveKevin Love FD - $5700 DK - $5700
Opponent - BOS
Proj Pts FD - 34.99 DK - 38.72

If Love finds his way into the starting lineup, he should be locked into every DFS lineup out there. We like him whether he starts or not because of his per-minute averages, providing 25.8 DK points per game in fewer than 20 minutes a night. That's one of the best rates around, returning to the All-Star form we saw in years past. They've been holding him back because Mobley and Allen have been so good, but this is a great time to unleash Love and allow him to play 30-35 minutes. Even if he only plays 30 at that same rate, that average would equate to 39 fantasy points. That would be a heck of a game from a sub-$6K player, and it's not like Boston has any big men that will slow him down. If Enes Kanter gets 15 minutes on Love, we can guarantee 30-plus fantasy points.

Chuma OkekeChuma Okeke FD - $5500 DK - $5200
Opponent - ATL
Proj Pts FD - 35.89 DK - 35.38

Orlando is yet another team with a COVID breakout. This team has some injuries as well, expected to be without Jalen Suggs, Wendell Carter, Mo Bamba, Terrence Ross, and RJ Hampton for this game. That means Okeke should start and play 30-plus minutes, which he's done in the last few games. In fact, Okeke has played at least 32 minutes in three straight games, combining for 86 DraftKings points in each of the previous two outings. We don't expect him to drop 43 fantasy points every night, but 30 would get it done at this price. Facing off with Atlanta only adds to his intrigue, with the Hawks ranked 24th in points allowed and 25th in defensive efficiency.

Isaac Bonga and Yuta Watanabe could be forced into 30-40 minutes for this dismantled Toronto roster if you want to punt on either of those guys.


Nikola JokicNikola Jokic FD - $11400 DK - $12600
Opponent - OKC
Proj Pts FD - 60.92 DK - 63.26

The COVID craziness has led to the most value I've ever seen, which means we have to get Jokic into our lineup. You're going to have a ton of salary left over with all of the aforementioned punt plays, and it pairs beautifully with a beast like this. The Joker has scored at least 41 DraftKings points in every game this season, averaging 59.6 DK points per game. That's easily the best mark in the NBA and having those guaranteed 60 fantasy points is a massive boost to your lineup. He's been even better recently, scoring at least 62 DraftKings points in six of his last seven fixtures. All of that is horrifying for the Thunder, with OKC having one of the worst frontcourts in the NBA. That was on full display in his three meetings with them last year, averaging 22.7 points, 12 rebounds, 9.3 assists, and 1,3 steals per game.

Chris BoucherChris Boucher FD - $5100 DK - $5100
Opponent - CHI
Proj Pts FD - 37.14 DK - 35.99

Recommending Boucher is about as appealing as ripping off a band-aid. This guy is one of the most volatile players in fantasy, but it's not really his fault. Nick Nurse has kept his minutes in the teens all year, and it's obliterated his fantasy value. The good news for Boucher is that every Toronto player is on the COVID list, with Fred VanVleet, Khem Birch, Pascal Siakam, and Gary Trent all expected to miss this game. That means Boucher should start and be one of the team leaders in minutes played, shot attempts, rebounds, and blocks. We love all of that with this dude's pedigree, with CB averaging nearly 1.3 DK points per minute for his career. That would equate to 39 DK points if he plays 30 minutes, which should happen with how terrible this Toronto roster looks.

Robin Lopez has at least 32 DK points in back-to-back games and should receive another start here for this shorthanded Orlando team.





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