For any slate featuring three games or fewer, we break down the night by the games rather than player position. 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.
Finally, note there are Showdown slates available with different pricing and lineup structures on both DraftKings and FanDuel. In the “Showdown” mode on DraftKings, there are six utility spots with a $50k salary cap. DraftKings has also debuted a “Captain” mode in which there are five utility spots with a CAPTAIN. This specific player receives 1.5x multiplier but also costs more if deployed in that spot.
On FanDuel, the one-game contests include an MVP spot (2x multiplier), STAR (1.5x), PRO (1.2x), and two utility spots. The Full Roster contests on FD also 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.
1/3/19 NBA DFS TOURNAMENT PICKS
Big Jam: $10 entry, $425k guaranteed (DraftKings) – $100,000 to 1st!
Four Point Play: $4 entry, $120k guaranteed (DraftKings)
Spectacular Shot: $9 entry, $400k guaranteed (FanDuel) – $100,000 to 1st!
Slam: $33 entry, $100k guaranteed (FanDuel)
NBA DFS Game Breakdown for January 3, 2019
Toronto Raptors (+1.5) at San Antonio Spurs (Over/Under – 216.5)
On Tuesday, Kawhi Leonard ($8.8k, $10.3k) went off for a career-high 45 points and somehow shot over 70 percent from the field in the process. He’ll hope to ride that momentum into a clear “revenge” game against the Spurs team he apparently came to despise in recent years.
San Antonio ranks seventh in DvP against SFs and Rudy Gay (wrist) has been upgrade to questionable tonight. Regardless, Kawhi is a matchup problem for any individual defender.
As for injuries on the Toronto side, Kyle Lowry ($7.1k, $8.1k) has a chance to return for Toronto, and Jonas Valanciunas (thumb) is out for several weeks. Pascal Siakam ($6.2k, $7.0k) sees a 2.1% increase in usage (to 21.7%) and Leonard leads the Raptors with a 36.8% usage rate when those players are off the floor this season.
Serge Ibaka ($5.6k, $6.6k) has actually seen a slight dip in usage with Lowry off the floor. Still, he’s locked into heavy playing time with Valanciunas out and the Spurs running their offense through LaMarcus Aldridge.
Finally, Fred VanVleet ($5.7k, $5.7k) and Danny Green ($4.0k, $4.2k) offer decent floors with limited upside as the main beneficiaries of Lowry’s absence.
For the Raptors, this is also a revenge game for DeMar DeRozan ($7.8k, $8.8k). DeRozan reportedly didn’t want to be traded from Toronto. While he won’t play with as much vitriol, he’ll be motivated to shine against his former team.
DeRozan averaged 21.6 PPG and 6.7 APG while shooting 47 percent from the field in December and is as steady as Cash plays come. Yet with all the attention on Leonard, DDR has sneaky upside as a contrarian GPP play.
This is not an ideal matchup for LaMarcus Aldridge ($7.4k, $9.0k) against Toronto’s athletic frontcourt. He averaged only 18.5 PPG on rough 31.7% shooting over two meetings with Toronto last season.
Down the line, Bryn Forbes ($4.4k, $4.4k) and Derrick White ($4.7k, $6.1k) are both worth Cash consideration now that they’ve solidified the Spurs’ backcourt with consistent play. Forbes is an excellent value on FanDuel.
Denver Nuggets (-2.5) at Sacramento Kings (Over/Under – 227.5)
The Nuggets are getting healthier with Paul Millsap ($5.2k, $6.2k) and Gary Harris ($4.8k, $4.8k) both back in the lineup on apparent minutes restrictions.
Both are worth dart throws in GPP formats tonight in the hopes they are turned loose. Harris offers more upside against a Kings team that gives up the most PPG (24.03) to opposing SGs this year. Either Harris or Malik Beasley ($4.9k, $4.9k) should exceed value in this matchup. Sacramento also ranks 29th against PFs over the last 14 days, and Millsap offers good salary relief on DraftKings.
Jamal Murray ($7.3k, $8.0k) has appeal in tournaments formats but is a volatile option in a tough matchup with De’Aaron Fox ($7.5k, $8.7k).
Our preferred play in this contest is, of course, Nikola Jokic ($9.8k, $10.3k). His floor-ceiling combination at the center position makes him a priority play on a short slate. While Jokic likely won’t match the incredible line posted by former teammate Jusuf Nurkic against the Kings on Thursday, he’s fully capable of roasting Willie Cauley-Stein ($6.5k, $7.6k) for a huge line of his own. Jokic’s projected ceiling of 71.9 DK points on FantasyLabs is second only to Harden.
Then, Torrey Craig ($3.7k, $4.4k) has been serving as a good punt play with Harris and Millsap on the shelf and should retain value until Will Barton (hip) returns.
Denver has the third-ranked scoring defense in the NBA but gives up 108.6 PPG on the road. There is plenty of value to be found with the hosting Kings despite their being blown out in Denver back in October.
Buddy Hield ($6.3k, $7.0k) offers only slightly more upside than the far more consistent Bogdan Bogdanovic ($5.8k, $6.7k). Bogdanovic averages 17.6 PPG and 4.2 APG at home and is safe to use in Cash games.
Finally, Nemanja Bjelica ($5.3k, $6.5k) has been thriving with Marvin Bagley (knee) out and will remain a value option with great potential on DK if he can post another double-double.
Houston Rockets (+8.5) at Golden State Warriors (Over/Under – 225.5)
When these teams met earlier this season, Golden State was in the midst of turmoil with Steph Curry (groin) on the shelf. Now, Curry is healthy, and the Warriors are starting to pull out of their tailspin. Meanwhile, the Rockets have won nine of their last 10.
James Harden ($11.0k, $13.0k) has been tremendous during that span, setting a new NBA record by becoming the first player to record at least 35 points and five assists in eight straight games. He’s averaging 40.8 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 8.9 APG, 2.2 SPG, and 5.7 3PTM per game over his last 10 outings and should continue to see a massive workload with Chris Paul (hamstring) out. Fading Harden on DK makes little sense, but his price tag on FanDuel makes a fade worth consideration.
Eric Gordon (knee) is also expected to sit, and Harden averages an absurd 2.03 FPs per minute with a 50.2% usage rate when both Gordon and Paul are off the floor this year.
Clint Capela ($6.9k, $8.6k) should be Harden’s main partner on offense. The Warriors have been vulnerable in pick-and-roll sets and rank 28th in DvP against centers the last 14 days. Capela and Harden lead the per-dollar ratings for DraftKings contests on FantasyLabs.
P.J. Tucker ($4.2k, $4.4k) has become a reliable value option, and his playing time will be secure despite the expected return of James Ennis ($3.0k, $4.0k) from a hamstring injury.
With Gordon out, Danuel House ($4.3k, $4.6k) and Austin Rivers ($4.6k, $3.8k) have appeal as low-cost tournament plays.
House has earned 25-plus minutes of run in his last five appearances and owns a 148 offensive rating over his last six outings. Rivers has a modest 13.8% usage rate since joining Houston, but does have the highest per-dollar rating on FanDuel in some FantasyLabs models.
On the Warriors’ side, Steph Curry ($9.5k, $10.4k) is the most appealing option to pair with Harden. He’ll benefit from the absence of Paul, who held Curry to a modest 23.3 PPG over three regular-season meetings last year.
Klay Thompson ($6.1k, $7.4k) recently broke out of his shooting slump and offers a solid floor-ceiling combo against a Rockets team that yields the second-most PPG (23.07) to opposing SGs this season. Then, Kevin Durant ($9.2k, $10.1k) always offers upside, but the Rockets have done a decent job of containing him. Plus, his usage is down recently with Thompson and Curry heating up.
Draymond Green ($5.9k, $6.9k) is relatively cheap for good reason since his shot has appeared broken recently. Still, don’t count the ultimate gamer out in a rematch of last year’s WCF. Strongly consider Green in GPP formats on DK where he’s under $6k for the first time in years.
Finally, Kevon Looney ($3.9k, $4.3k) offers some safety as a value now that he’s clearly surpassed Jordan Bell in the rotation. Jonas Jerebko ($3.6k, $3.6k) and Andre Iguodala ($4.0k, $4.8k) should also see steady run against a Rockets team that likes to spread the floor, but both come with very low floors.