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.
1/1/19 NBA DFS TOURNAMENT PICKS
New Years Toast: $19 entry, $500k guaranteed (DraftKings) – $200,000 to 1st!
Four Point Play: $4 entry, $125k guaranteed (DraftKings)
New Years Shot: $9.99 entry, $450k guaranteed (FanDuel) – $100,000 to 1st!
Slam: $55 entry, $150k guaranteed (FanDuel)
NBA DFS Top Plays for January 1, 2019
Best Guards for January 1, 2019
Damian Lillard @ SAC ($8.7k DraftKings, $9.2k FanDuel)
The Kings have been a fantastic pairing partner for scorers, as they play at the second-fastest pace in the league and cough up the third-most PPG (116.8) this season. And Damian Lillard is one of the safest bets when it comes to a player leading his team in scoring. Lillard might be faded frequently on this short slate after C.J. McCollum stole the show with 35 points in a win over the Sixers Sunday. Lillard averaged 31.8 PPG and 7 APG while shooting 50.6% from the field over four meetings with the Kings last season and could be asked to perform heroics with Portland (-1.5) only slightly favored on the road.
Sacramento has faced the seventh-most 3PTA (33.6) per game this year, and Lillard is shooting a career-best 40.3% from downtown. Lillard has a projection of 46.2 DraftKings points with a potential ceiling of 63.5 DK points tonight according to models on FantasyLabs.
Lou Williams vs. PHI ($6.5k DraftKings, $6.4k FanDuel)
Shortly before Christmas, the Clippers got their best source of offense back, and Lou Williams is flashing his upside. The perennial Sixth Man of the Year candidate dropped 85 points over three shootouts with the Warriors, Kings, and Lakers before handing out seven assists in a slower-paced matchup with the Spurs.
Now he’ll face a Sixers team that yields the third-most FPPG (38.5) to opposing SGs this season and plays at the seventh-fastest pace in the league. Philadelphia has faced the third-most FGA due to that pace and has routinely given up slate-changing lines to playmaking guards. Despite his role as a veteran coming off the bench, Sweet Lou is the best playmaker in the Clippers backcourt. At that reasonable price tag on FanDuel, Williams has the potential for 5x salary returns per models on FantasyLabs.
Fred VanVleet vs. UTA ($5.5k DraftKings, $5.5k FanDuel)
Finally, Fred VanVleet broke his span of 16 consecutive misses from the field, finishing with 10 points, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds over 33 minutes in Sunday’s win. He’s likely to remain in the starting lineup while Kyle Lowry deals with back spasms. VanVleet could draw an improved individual matchup with Ricky Rubio returning to replace the more athletic Dante Exum at PG.
Despite his shooting woes, VanVleet has scored in double figures in six straight games and is handing out 8.1 assists per 100 possessions in Toronto’s improved offense. VanVleet can offer a very solid floor as a value option on FanDuel.
Other guards to consider: Jamal Murray, Jimmy Butler, Eric Bledsoe, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Malik Beasley, T.J. McConnell, Trey Burke
Best Forwards for January 1, 2019
Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. DET ($11.6k DraftKings, $12.4k FanDuel)
Between Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin, one of the Pistons big men is likely to produce a noteworthy line in a matchup against the Bucks. You could rotate either of them with Giannis Antetokounmpo in GPP formats and hope to hit a huge combined total. Regardless, Giannis is a premier play against a Pistons team that ranks 26th in opponent 2-point shooting (.537) this season. The Pistons simply couldn’t stop him in a recent meeting. The Greek Freak went for 32 points on 15-of-21 FG shooting in Detroit two weeks ago. After a brief lull, Antetokounmpo is playing at an MVP level once again with averages of 30.7 PPG, 12.9 RPG, 7 APG, and 5.3 STL/BLK per game over his last three outings. His projection of 59.4 DK points per FantasyLabs is the highest on the slate.
Pascal Siakam vs. UTA ($6.1k DraftKings, $6.6k FanDuel)
After a string of quiet games, Pascal Siakam resumed his breakout campaign with 20 points and 12 rebounds in a win over the Bulls Sunday. He could continue to see an increased role tonight with Kyle Lowry (back) likely out and Kawhi Leonard looking ahead to Thursday’s return to San Antonio. Utah is a great matchup for the lightning-quick Siakam. Slow PF Derrick Favors will have no chance of containing him in transition. The Jazz allow an above-average 21.17 PPG to opposing PFs and rank 18th in DvP against the position over the last 14 days. Utah is also dead last in DvP against opposing SFs, indicating the rare vulnerability of Quin Snyder’s unit against slashing wings such as Siakam.
Nemanja Bjelica vs. POR ($5.2k DraftKings, $5.9k FanDuel)
He’s been a boom-bust option throughout most of the season, but Nemanja Bjelica is worth consideration in any format for as long as Marvin Bagley (knee) is out. Bjelica is rocking a career-high 118 offensive rating and shooting 44.9% from 3-point range with the Kings this season, so efficiency has not been an issue.
Tonight the Kings (+1.5) are marginal underdogs at home in a contest with a 230-point Over/Under. They’ll face a Blazers team that ranks 27th in opponent 3-point shooting (.371) this season and coughs up 114.1 PPG on the road, compared to 107.5 PPG at home.
Other forwards to consider: Ben Simmons, Blake Griffin, Tobias Harris, Kevin Knox, Al-Farouq Aminu, Joe Ingles, Maurice Harkless
Best Centers for January 1, 2019
Montrezl Harrell vs. PHI ($6.8k DraftKings, $7.3k FanDuel)
While Joel Embiid is expected to play tonight after missing Sunday’s game with knee soreness, he’s been giving up a ton of production to opposing centers. Marcin Gortat and Boban Marjanovic are unlikely to defend Embiid very well, so Montrezl Harrell is the best candidate to lead the Clippers rotation down low. He’s averaging 17.8 PPG and 6.1 RPG while playing 28 minutes or fewer in his last eight appearances and averages 22.1 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per 36 minutes this year.
The Sixers are coughing up the most FPPG (49.76) and PPG (21.47) to opposing centers this season, and Embiid may be moving even slower than usual on defense if at all bothered by his sore knee. On FanDuel, our preferred options at center are Nikola Jokic and Andre Drummond. Brook Lopez could serve as a potential value.
Luke Kornet vs. DEN ($4.6k DraftKings, $3.8k FanDuel)
Even in a blowout loss, Luke Kornet and the rest of Knicks starters were given steady run Saturday. Clearly, this team is moving toward the future, and if Kristaps Porzingis (ACL) is left on the shelf or potentially traded before next season, Kornet could step in as a new-age center capable of stretching the floor. He’s drained 14 threes with 46 points over his last three appearances.
Plus, the opposing Nikola Jokic isn’t necessarily going to run him off the 3-point line. Denver yields the third-most PPG (20.83) and fourth-most FPPG (46.06) to opposing centers this year. At 7-foot-1, Kornet has had little trouble accumulating stats with per 36-minute averages of 17.1 points, 6.6 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 1.3 blocks over two years in the league. He’s shooting a scorching 46.7% from long range this year and will become an even stronger value if Enes Kanter (back) is out tonight. Kornet could be the best bargain on the slate with the potential for 6.2x salary returns on FanDuel according to FantasyLabs models.
Other centers to consider: Nikola Jokic, Andre Drummond, Willie Cauley-Stein, Brook Lopez