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 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 has brought back its late swap for NBA contests.
12/25/18 NBA DFS TOURNAMENT PICKS
Holiday Classic: $12 entry, $1M guaranteed (DraftKings) – $200,000 to 1st!
Sharpshooter: $3 entry, $100k guaranteed (DraftKings)
Santa Slam: $12.25 entry, $1M guaranteed (FanDuel) – $200,000 to 1st!
Snowball Shot: $4 entry, $100k guaranteed (FanDuel)
NBA DFS Top Plays for December 25, 2018
Best Guards for December 25, 2018
Steph Curry vs. LAL ($9.0k DraftKings, $9.7k FanDuel)
While it’s tempting to pay up for either James Harden or Russell Westbrook in their H2H matchup, Steph Curry is at a price point too appealing to ignore on DraftKings. The best shooter in the world remains red hot with averages of 30.2 PPG, 5.6 RPG, and 2.2 SPG while shooting 46.2% from the floor over his last five appearances. He’s capable of blowing up in this matchup. Playing at the fourth-fastest pace in the league, the opposing Lakers allow the most FPPG (43.92) and second-most PPG (22.08) to PGs this season. With Rajon Rondo (hand) back in the fold, the Lakers are likely to be even more exploitable on the defensive end. Rondo is not the same type of athlete as young Lonzo Ball. Thus, Curry is projected for 50.9 DK points, according to pro models on FantasyLabs.
Ricky Rubio vs. POR ($5.4k DraftKings, $6.7k FanDuel)
Pairing Ricky Rubio with tonight’s adversary, Damian Lillard, could be potentially profitable on today’s five-game slate. The Jazz aren’t playing with the same type of defensive fervor as we’ve seen in years past. Then, Portland is also down defensively. The Blazers yield the most PPG (22.27) and third-most FPPG (43.34) to opposing PGs this season along with the highest 3-point shooting percentage (.377) this year. Rubio had little trouble knifing through that defense for 24 points and 8 assists on 10-of-15 FG shooting last Friday and will now face Lillard and company at home, where he averages 8.6 APG thanks to improved shooting around him.
Marcus Smart vs. PHI ($4.4k DraftKings, $5.4k FanDuel)
We should have a dogfight right in the heart of this Christmas Day slate in the 5:30 p.m. EST slot. And Boston’s Marcus Smart is exactly the type of player who thrives in a playoff-like battle between Eastern Conference contenders. Smart moving into the starting lineup has been an enormous boost for a Celtics team that struggled early on. He’s finding his rhythm with averages of 10.2 PPG, 4.5 APG, and 3.1 SPG over his last six appearances. Smart is posting the highest offensive rating (114) of his career and shooting a career-best 38.4% from the floor thanks to continued work on his jump shot. He logged 30 MPG with an 18.6% usage rate over three meetings with Philly last year and is bound to see steady playing time in an effort to contain Ben Simmons and Jimmy Butler.
Other guards to consider: James Harden, Kyrie Irving, Damian Lillard, Jimmy Butler, Emmanuel Mudiay, Eric Gordon, Josh Hart, Gerald Green
Best Forwards for December 25, 2018
Paul George vs. OKC ($9.7k DraftKings, $10.3k FanDuel)
If you need to gain some exposure to the Thunder-Rockets game in the 3 p.m. EST slot, Paul George could serve as a more affordable option than Westbrook. George is actually ahead of his superstar teammate in terms of bulk production this month, averaging 31.4 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 4.6 APG, and 2.3 SPG while shooting a scorching 51.8% from the field in December. Still badly missing Trevor Ariza, Houston ranks 27th in defensive rating and 26th in opponents FG shooting (.474) this season. Chris Paul (hamstring) won’t be available to coordinate defensive switches on the floor, and the Rockets defense will likely be tilted toward the more aggressive Westbrook.
Kevin Knox @ MIL ($5.6k DraftKings, $6.3k FanDuel)
Obviously a big part of the Knicks’ future plans, Kevin Knox has finally emerged as a consistent option in Cash or GPP formats. The versatile rookie is averaging 17.6 PPG and 4.7 RPG while shooting 42 percent from the floor over his last 11 appearances. He’s also seen a huge increase since moving into the starting lineup over his last six outings. The Bucks are a soft matchup for big men, yielding the eighth-most FPPG to opposing PFs over the last 14 days. Plus, they will be without backup PF Ersan Ilyasova (nose) on Christmas. Both Knox and PF/C Noah Vonleh should be in for good games against a Bucks team that ranks fourth in pace, with Knox offering a far higher floor. Knox has a 4.16 plus/minus rating on FantasyLabs, indicating his upside as a mid-tier play.
Brandon Ingram @ GSW ($5.3k DraftKings, $6.0k FanDuel)
Strangely now listed as only a guard on DraftKings, Brandon Ingram is a great value on both DFS sites regardless of where you slot him. He’s underpriced as he returns from injury but is clearly full systems go after dropping 38 points on 14-of-29 FG shooting while logging 80 minutes over his last two appearances. His is a game to target on Christmas. Since the Warriors remain atop the league in offensive rating and both teams are top 10 in pace, this contest has the highest Over/Under (234) on the slate by a decent margin. Kevin Durant and Draymond Green have not been focused this year, and that’s led to some inconsistent defense on the wing by the champs. Look for Ingram and Kyle Kuzma to exploit those weaknesses while LeBron James facilitates.
Other forwards to consider: LeBron James, Khris Middleton, Kyle Kuzma, Joe Ingles, Noah Vonleh, Gordon Hayward, P.J. Tucker, Al-Farouq Aminu
Best Centers for December 25, 2018
Joel Embiid @ BOS ($9.5k DraftKings, $10.3k FanDuel)
Clearly the best player to target from the 76ers, Joel Embiid is moderately priced on both main DFS sites due to his recently modest production. Yet he’s capable of erupting for one of the highest scores on the slate and will be able to once again dominate the under-sized Celtics if given his usual usage. Boston ranks 26th in DvP against opposing centers over the last 14 days and 21st on the season. Embiid routinely dominated the Celtics with five straight double-doubles in the playoffs last season, and Boston center Al Horford (knee) is far from 100 percent. While Jimmy Butler is back in the lineup, Embiid is still averaging a 33.6% usage rate over his last three appearances. He has the fourth-highest ceiling (75.3 DK points) on the slate with the potential for 5.7x salary returns, per FantasyLabs.
Draymond Green vs. LAL ($6.3k DraftKings, $7.3k FanDuel)
He’s only available at the PF spot on FanDuel, but Draymond Green bears consideration in all formats on Christmas. The ultimate gamer, he tends to shine on the national stage, and he’ll be motivated as always to try and spoil LeBron’s holiday. Green is ramping up after missing multiple weeks with a nagging toe injury, averaging 9.2 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 5.4 APG, and 2 SPG over his last five appearances. Most importantly, he’s drained four 3-pointers over his last two outings, which will force the Lakers to respect him on the perimeter, opening up more opportunities for Green to make plays off the dribble. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the Lakers yield the most FPPG (50.13) to opposing PFs by far this season.
Other centers to consider: Rudy Gobert, Steven Adams, Jusuf Nurkic, Brook Lopez