Please note the advice below is relevant for daily fantasy purposes. A player or team might be better or worse from a fantasy perspective than in real life due to matchup, price and lots of other factors. This is important to consider when constructing a roster.
Injuries play a huge role in NBA DFS on a nightly basis. Value plays on the various daily fantasy sites can arise at a moment’s notice so always, always check the starting lineups and injury news right before tipoff.
The Full Roster contests on FanDuel (FD) include a new scoring system in which the lowest score of the nine selected players is dropped, allowing users to take more risks with a punt play or two. Then, DraftKings (DK) has brought back its late swap for NBA contests.
12/21/18 NBA DFS TOURNAMENT PICKS
Friday Five: $5 entry, $375k guaranteed (DraftKings)- $100K to 1st!
Triple Threat: $33 entry, $100k guaranteed (DraftKings)- $15K to 1st!
Friday Shot: $9.99 entry, $300k guaranteed (FanDuel) – $50,000 to 1st!
Friday Slam: $77 entry, $200k guaranteed (FanDuel) – $50,000 to 1st!
NBA DFS Best Picks & Plays for Dec. 21, 2018
Best DFS guards for Dec. 21, 2018
Jrue Holiday at LAL ($9k DraftKings, $9.4k FanDuel)
Depending on how various injuries to his teammates progress through the course of the day Friday, Holiday could be in for a massive usage bump in a favorable matchup. Nikola Mirotic (ankle) is already doubtful, and Julius Randle is very questionable with the same injury. Meanwhile, Anthony Davis also sports the tag due to illness. Holiday faces a Lakers team allowing the second-most DK (46.5) and the most FD (45.5) points per game to two-guards. They’re also yielding league-worst or bottom-10 figures to the position in points (25.7), rebounds (6.6), assists (5.4), and made threes (3.0) per contest. The versatile Holiday, who’s already posting career highs in scoring and assists, is highly capable of taking advantage of all of those weaknesses in what sets up as one of the fastest-paced matchups in the NBA.
Tim Hardaway, Jr. vs. ATL ($7.4k DraftKings, $7k FanDuel)
Hardaway has already lit up his old squad for just over 49 fantasy points on either site across two games this season. He’ll be poised to do it again against a Hawks team allowing the most DK (46.6) and second-most FD (45.1) points per game to shooting guards. They’re also yielding the highest shooting percentage (47.1) to the position. Hardaway has eclipsed 30 fantasy points thrice and 40 once in the last five games. Those are numbers very much within his reach given Friday’s matchup. Additionally, the Hawks are allowing league-worst or bottom-10 figures in points (26.4), rebounds (6.5), assists (5.3), made threes (3.3), and steals (1.7) per game to SGs. In turn, Hardaway is posting career bests in points (21.2), assists (2.9), and made threes (2.9) per contest. He’s also generating his best three-point success rate since his rookie season (36.0) on a career-high 8.0 three-point attempts per contest.
Fred VanVleet vs. CLE ($5.5k DraftKings, $5.3k FanDuel)
VanVleet will draw another start Friday in place of Kyle Lowry (thigh). His price remains highly reasonable for the number of minutes he should see, as well as the matchup. VanVleet has played 38 and 31 minutes, respectively, over his first two starts in Lowry’s stead. He’s gone over 30 fantasy points once and over 20 FPs in the other game on both sites. Tonight, he faces a Cavs squad allowing the fourth-most DK (49.8) and fifth-most FD (48.8) FD points per game to point guards, along with the highest shooting percentage (47.7). They’re also yielding the fourth-most points (24.9), fourth-most rebounds (6.5), and fourth-most made threes (2.9) to the position.
Other guards to consider: Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, Damian Lillard, Victor Oladipo, DeMar DeRozan, Mike Conley, Kris Dunn, Derrick Rose, D’Angelo Russell, Lonzo Ball, Kent Bazemore, Reggie Bullock, Darren Collison
Best DFS forwards for Dec. 21, 2018
LeBron James vs. NO ($10.9k DraftKings, $11.2k FanDuel)
James is coming off scoring over 60 fantasy points on both sites against the Nets on Tuesday, and he’s also eclipsed 50 fantasy points on multiple occasions over the last 10. His usage rate remains a robust 31.5 percent, and he’ll walk into a highly favorable positional matchup Friday. The opposing Pelicans are allowing 48.8 DK and 47.0 FD points per contest to power forwards. They’re also yielding the fifth-most points (23.6), second-most made threes (2.6), and fourth-highest shooting percentage (51.1) to the position. Meanwhile, James is draining a career-high 2.1 three-pointers per contest and 52.0 percent of his 19.7 shot attempts. New Orleans’ propensity for allowing points in the paint (51.1 per game, sixth most in the NBA) also dovetails well with James’ game. He’s averaging 13.3 points per contest in that area of the floor (47.5 percent of his total scoring).
John Collins at NY ($7.8k DraftKings, $8.4k FanDuel)
Collins is one of several appealing forward choices in his general price range, and he particularly stands out due to the matchup. The Knicks have allowed the second-most DK (51.4) and FD (49.7) points per game to fours, along with the most points (24.8), third-most made threes (2.5), and fourth-most blocks (1.6). New York also allows the sixth-highest shooting percentage (50.9) to power forwards. Then, Collins is averaging 35.2 DK and 33.0 FD points for the season. He’s also eclipsed 40 DK points in six of the last seven games, a sample that includes one game over 50 and six double-doubles overall. Finally, New York comes into Friday’s contest allowing the second-most points in the paint per game (52.1). Collins counters by logging 73.1 percent of his scoring in that area of the floor (13.6 per game).
Jae Crowder at POR ($5k DraftKings, $5.3k FanDuel)
Crowder is coming off a pair of performances in which he outpaced his current price. He compiled 30 DK and 25.5 FD points against the Rockets two games ago and followed it up with 40.75 DK/37.2 FD points versus the Warriors in his most recent contest Wednesday. Encouragingly, his price has only risen modestly on either site despite those returns. That leaves him poised to be one of the best bargains of the night in a favorable matchup against the Blazers, who give up plenty of production to fours. Portland checks in allowing the fourth-most DK (50.6) and third-most FD (49.0) points per game to power forwards. Furthermore, they’re allowing bottom-10 figures in points (23.0), assists (4.1), and made threes (2.3) per game to the position. Those are all weaknesses the versatile Crowder can exploit, especially considering he’s taking a career-high 6.2 three-point attempts per game.
Other forwards to consider: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge, Kyle Kuzma, Lauri Markkanen, Aaron Gordon, Larry Nance, Jr., Jayson Tatum, Rudy Gay, Domantas Sabonis, Kevin Knox, Andrew Wiggins, Noah Vonleh
Best DFS centers for Dec. 21, 2018
Nikola Vucevic at CHI ($9.2k DraftKings, $9k FanDuel)
Vucevic will be back in the lineup and rested Friday after taking Wednesday’s game against the Spurs off due to the birth of his child. He already got to the Bulls for 49.5 DK and 48 FD points a week ago Thursday on the strength of a 26-point, 10-rebound double-double. The matchup remains just as juicy, as the Bulls allow the third-most DK (61.5) and FD (61.4) points per game to fives. Their other weaknesses against fives include allowing them 25.4 points (sixth most), 17.6 rebounds (third most), and 2.9 blocks per game (second most). Meanwhile, Vucevic is enjoying a career season, posting new highs in points (20.6), assists (3.7), made threes (1.2), overall shooting percentage (53.5), and three-point shooting percentage (40.4 percent).
Myles Turner at BKN ($7.3k DraftKings, $7.3k FanDuel)
Turner is performing like a player befitting of a higher salary. The emerging big man has been over 35 fantasy points on either site in each of his last three games. He’s also eclipsed both 40 and 50 in two other games over the last six on both DK and FD. Blocks have been an important supplemental component, as he’s recorded multiple swats in eight of his last 10. The matchup could hardly line up better for him Friday. The Nets come in allowing the most DK (64.6) and FD (63.6) points per game to centers. Those numbers are partly the byproduct of Brooklyn yielding the most points (27.8) and second-most rebounds (18.8) per contest to fives. Those weaknesses make Turner a good candidate for a double-double bonus on DK on Friday, as does the 50.8 points in the paint the Nets allow per game (eighth highest).
Cody Zeller vs. NY ($5k DraftKings, $5.3k FanDuel)
Zeller comes in averaging over 25 fantasy points on both sites over two prior meetings against the Pistons this season. The veteran also scored over 45 FP on both sites three games ago versus Knicks, and he’ll draw another appealing matchup Friday. Detroit is allowing the seventh-most points (25.0) per game to centers, along with the fourth-most blocks (2.8). Zeller is shooting a career-best 58.9 percent, making him a good match for the 57.2 percent success rate the Pistons yield to the position, which ranks as the fourth-highest figure in the league versus fives.
Other centers to consider: Karl-Anthony Towns, Andre Drummond, Rudy Gobert, Marc Gasol, Enes Kanter, Jusuf Nurkic, Dewayne Dedmon, Brook Lopez, Greg Monroe