NBA DFS Plays for Monday, 12/23: Nikola Night
Our Friday article would have been flawless if it weren’t for a dud from Chris Boucher. We discussed how risky it was to pick him though and it’s actually the second time this season that he’s ruined one of my articles. So, that’s retired him for the time being but we’re going to continue to bank off of increased roles because of injury. With that in mind, let’s get into our 12/23 NBA DFS plays!
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12/23 NBA DFS Point Guards
Elfrid Payton, NYK vs. WSH
DK ($5,100) FD ($5,200)
Payton has always been a producer when given the minutes and it’s becoming clear that the new regime in New York wants to ride him as their starting point guard. He actually got his first start of the year on Saturday, dropping a season-best 37 FanDuel points across 27 minutes of action. This is a guy who has regularly stuffed the stat sheet throughout his career too, averaging 27 fantasy points across just 22 minutes of action this season. Now that the minute’s cap is lifted and Payton is starting, he should be ready to provide monster value. Not to mention, he faces a Wizards club who sits dead-last in points allowed and defensive efficiency here.
Ish Smith, WSH at NYK
DK ($4,500) FD ($4,500)
With Isaiah Thomas suspended (fan altercation) the next two games, Smith should find himself as the starting point guard yet again. He excelled in that role earlier this year, scoring at least 22 fantasy points in all five starts while averaging 27 DK points across 32 minutes a game. We’ve become accustomed to numbers like that from Smith throughout his career and he’ll provide fantastic value as long as he receives the minutes. That’ll surely be the case here and we love that big role against a 25th-ranked Knicks defense.
12/23 NBA DFS Shooting Guards
R.J. Barrett, NYK vs. WSH
DK ($5,500) FD ($5,500)
Using players against Washington is always a good idea and it makes a volatile player like Barrett somewhat trustworthy. Let’s begin with that opposition, as the Wizards surrender the most fantasy points in the league to opposing SGs this season. That matchup is spectacular for a guy who’s shown 40-point upside on multiple occasions this season while posting a 27-point average for the year. His big games this season have come against teams like the Warriors, Hawks, Bulls, Hornets, and Nets, indicating that he’s always more comfortable against an inferior defense and that’s most definitely the case here.
Damion Lee, GS vs. MIN
DK ($4,300) FD ($4,300)
Don’t look now but Lee is establishing himself as one of the Warriors’ best players right now. Steve Kerr definitely notices that, starting him in three-straight fixtures. That has led to him averaging 25.3 DraftKings points per game across 30 minutes of action in that span which is monstrous production from a player at $4,300. Getting to face Minnesota might be the best part of this play though, with the T’Wolves sitting 27th in total defense.
12/23 NBA DFS Small Forwards
Andrew Wiggins, MIN at GS
DK ($8,400) FD ($7,600)
With Karl-Anthony Towns missing this game, Wiggins should be in for a big night. That’s about 20 shots, 35 minutes and a 27 percent usage rate out of the lineup, leaving Wiggins to feast. With Towns off the floor, Wiggins has a usage rate north of 30 percent and dropped 47.5 DK points in the most recent game without him. We obviously love the matchup too, as this should remain a close game against a 26th-ranked Warriors defense.
Harrison Barnes, SAC vs. HOU
DK ($5,500) FD ($4,700)
Barnes was in this article on Friday and he provided us with another gem. While he never goes off, scoring 37 FanDuel points at $4,500 is truly brilliant, equating to nearly 9X value. The $200 price bump simply wasn’t enough, especially when you consider that Barnes is averaging just shy of 30 fantasy points per game for the year. Any guy who’s playing 30-plus minutes and averaging that much fantasy production should be above $6,000. All of that doesn’t even take into consideration that he faces a Rockets team who sits third in pace while surrendering the fifth-most fantasy points to opposing small forwards.
12/23 NBA DFS Power Forwards
Serge Ibaka, TOR at IND
DK ($7,700) FD ($7,900)
With Marc Gasol and Pascal Siakam both injured, it appears that Ibaka is in line for one of the biggest roles of his career. That was certainly the case in the first two games without them, averaging 24 points, 11.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game across 33.5 minutes. That’s over 44 DK points in each of those outings and there’s simply not much else left on this roster to take away his minutes, rebounding and rim protection. While we did say we’re retiring Boucher, he’s also in consideration because they need some big men to come off the bench against this stout Indians frontline.
Kevin Love, CLE vs. ATL
DK ($7,400) FD ($6,500)
Love has been in my articles a lot and we seem to always have a good notion on when to use him. The thing that’s lowered his price tag is the Cleveland blowouts but we try to only recommend him in close games. That’s just what we have here, with the Cavs entering this matchup as a 1.5-point favorite with a total of 229. That close spread and high total make Love very intriguing, with Atlanta sitting 28th in points allowed and 29th in defensive efficiency. He’s been hot recently too, averaging 37 DK points per game across his last six fixtures which is actually not far off of his impressive season averages.
12/23 NBA DFS Centers
Nikola Jokic, DEN at PHX
DK ($9,100) FD ($9,500)
Jokic is really starting to find his groove and recent results tell us that he should be a five-figure player. Not only has he scored at least 41 DK points in eight-straight games, but Jokic is also averaging 22.8 points, 10.3 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game in that span. That’s the stud that we saw last season and we can’t argue with a 40-point floor in the $9,000-range. Getting to face Phoenix is the icing on the cake, with the Suns allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing centers this season. In his two games against the Suns this year, Joker is averaging 51 DK points per game, if you needed any more incentive.
Nikola Vucevic, ORL vs. CHI
DK ($8,200) FD ($7,700)
Vucevic has been undervalued ever since he came back from injury and it’s hard to understand why these DFS sites are keeping him right around $8,000. We’re talking about a guy who averaged 45 DK points per game last season and has pretty much that same total since the opening month this year. The biggest reason we love him today is this matchup against Chicago, with the Bulls allowing the second-most fantasy points to opposing centers this season. In four games against them last year, Vucevic averaged 21.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 1.5 steals and 2.5 blocks en route to about 50 DraftKings points per game.
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