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FanDuel NBA DFS Picks – December 18th

Monday brings the NBA DFS community a fully loaded schedule, with 10 games on tap. It’s already common knowledge that a number of key stars will be out. Joel Embiid and Draymond Green have long been ruled out, while the likes of Jimmy Butler, Derrick Favors and others are still in doubt.

Injuries could open things up quite a bit on such a huge slate, which leaves you with two choices; pick the right value plays and ignore certain spots. For me, that may start with ignoring what the Favors absence could mean and targeting what Green, Embiid and Butler’s absence could mean.

It’s projecting as a fun slate, so let’s get down to it as I piece together my favorite FanDuel lineup for GPPs on Monday night:

PG: Kemba Walker – Charlotte Hornets ($8k)

I think this could be a fun slate to go relatively “studless” and just drop down to intermediate options. Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Kevin Durant and even Ben Simmons will be tempting, but the way things unfold, I think you can create a winner without them.

That could start with Walker, who thrives at home (+3 fantasy points per game at home) and will get a beatable matchup with the Knicks (27th vs. PG). Walker has not been great lately, but he’s known to explode and that big performance is coming. He put up a 21-7-5 line against New York earlier this year and I think he can beat that in tonight’s matchup.

PG: Kyrie Irving – Boston Celtics ($8.1k)

I’m also into Irving, as I get a balanced PG pairing with two elite options who can easily get me 40+ fantasy points or far more. Irving has been hot of late, piling up 40+ fantasy points in 3 of his last 5 contests. He’s on the road tonight, but he’ll have a solid matchup against the Pacers (just 15th against point guards) in what should be an up-tempo game.

It shouldn’t hurt that Irving has oddly been better (+4 fantasy points) on the road this year, while he hung a sweet 25-6-4 line on Indy earlier this year. He’s in a great spot to excel and I wouldn’t be shocked if he and Kemba both threatened for 50 fantasy points tonight.

If you’re looking for value, I do like Jeff Teague ($6.4k), while injuries could open up more value for guys like T.J. McConnell and Yogi Ferrell, as well. I like value plays elsewhere, though, so I don’t feel obligated to take dives at PG tonight.

SG: J.J. Redick – Philadelphia 76ers ($5.9k)

I really like Klay Thompson tonight, but the CourtIQ over at RotoGrinders.com shows us he actually doesn’t perform much better despite more usage when Stephen Curry and Draymond Green are off the court. He could still pop off finally with the extra looks, but I prefer Redick, who is cheaper and virtually the same DFS player.

Redick also benefits from Joel Embiid (rest) taking a seat tonight, as he sees a solid 23% usage with Embiid off the floor and also puts up 34 fantasy points per 36 minutes when Joel isn’t on the court. Redick is wrecking, either way, as he’s put up 18+ actual points in 6 of his last 7 games. I wouldn’t be shocked to see his hot run continue tonight against a Bulls team that ranks 25th against shooting guards on the year.

SG: Jamal Crawford – Minnesota Timberwolves ($3.5k)

If I can fit in Klay I’ll consider it, but as things stand it’s not in the cards. Instead, I’ll roll with Crawford, provided Jimmy Butler (questionable) ends up sitting tonight. Butler may not play and that’d be huge news for Crawford, who averages over 30 fantasy points (per 36 minutes) and a sick 26% usage when Butler is off the court.

Crawford is a roll of the dice, but he’s the bare minimum and can pop off even in a limited role. Minnesota keeps a tight rotation, so if Butler is out, Crawford should see 25-30 minutes off the bench. Against a Portland defense that ranks just 13th against shooting guards, I’ll take my chances.

SF: Robert Covington – Philadelphia 76ers ($7.4k)

Kevin Durant ($12k) is the clear play at SF, but I like the idea of just paying down at both SF spots with some really nice value. That starts with Covey, who like other Sixers, sees a nice bump with Joel Embiid out. Covington can rack up peripherals like nobody’s business, but he also gets a scoring boost with the extra shots to go around.

Covey is looking at a nice 38 fantasy points per 36 minutes, while his matchup with the Bulls (19th vs. SF) certainly isn’t scary.

SF: Paul George – Oklahoma City Thunder ($8.1k)

The optimism is there for PG-13, too, who is trending back in the right direction after putting up 38 and 41 fantasy points in his last two games. He’s been somewhat erratic in OKC this year, but he’s still a stud with a nice role and a relatively cheap price tag.

George looks like an elite pivot off of KD in GPPs, provided he shows up as a scorer. That wasn’t really the case the first time he faced the Nuggets (who rank 5th against SF) but he still had the peripherals to push himself over 34 fantasy points. Look for him to be a little more active as a scorer this time (especially if big man Steven Adams remains out) and potentially crush this price tag.

If you want value, Omri Casspi and Shabazz Muhammad stand out the most at SF.

PF: Jordan Bell – Golden State Warriors ($4.7k)

Ben Simmons is really the only expensive PF I have eyes for, so I’m fine with fading him and going cheap with elite value plays available tonight. One is Bell, who should start and see 25-30 minutes with Draymond Green out again on Monday night.

Bell isn’t super safe, but he gets his hands in a lot of stats and sees a spike in production (37 fantasy points per 36 minutes) when Green isn’t on the court. The run, value and upside all make him a cash game lock and a difficult tourney fade.

PF: Dario Saric – Philadelphia 76ers ($6.5k)

I’d prefer to spend less to use Saric, but FanDuel sees that he’s been rock solid and Joel Embiid is out tonight. That obviously has me interested in Ben Simmons, but I think you can get really good production here and save a whopping $3.4k in the process. Maybe that’s a solid GPP pivot, but I understand the risk of fading Simmons with all the added volume.

Still, Saric is far from a poor play, as he averages 33 fantasy points per 36 minutes and sees a nice 24.9% usage with Embiid off the floor. I like his chances to produce tonight against a weak Chicago defense (21st in defensive efficiency).

C: Al Horford – Boston Celtics ($7.6k)

Last, but not necessarily least, is Horfy. Horford has been pretty stable for the Celtics and NBA DFS users this year, as he’s routinely pouring in 34.5 fantasy points at FanDuel. I think he can top that mark tonight, as he faces Myles Turner and a weak Pacers defense that ranks dead last against centers on the year.

Horford can run hot and cold, but he’s feeling it at the moment (32+ fantasy points in 6 of his last 8 contests) and has the best matchup on the board.

While I’m digging this balanced GPP team, I do have some interest in double-punting with Minnesota scrubs. If you pivot to Moose at center (I’d need Tyson Chandler to sit to do that) and Shabazz Muhammad ($3.5k) at SF, the door opens for a nice Russell Westbrook and Jeff Teague pairing.

The upside of those moves is appealing, but when you average the projections out, I’m not sure it’s absolutely necessary. In fact, fading these studs and using a more balanced team is the more contrarian route for tonight’s slate and if these guys live up to (or exceed) their projections, I love the potential of this particular lineup.

Remember, you don’t have to just copy and paste this team into your FD GPPs. While that’s an option, I always encourage you to mix and match my picks with your own favorites. If you feel like Russ, Harden or KD are an absolute must, then consider using them with a few of the options here. Either way, good luck in your FanDuel daily fantasy basketball games tonight!

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