FanDuel NBA Picks – January 18th

Yesterday’s NBA DFS picks got off to a really bad start, as Kawhi Leonard was ruled out (basically for forever) and Jordan Bell really burned me by getting hurt almost immediately. Bell was a chalk value pick and over 40% owned in pretty much all formats, but a 0 is tough to overcome, no matter how many people roster the guy.

I got off of Leonard myself and hopefully you did the same. Unfortunately, Bell sunk my teams before the night even got started and there’s very little that is worse than that in daily fantasy basketball.

On the bright side, the logic behind Jonas Valanciunas paid off. He dropped a sweet 17 and 16 double-double, while guys like Stephen Curry, Spencer Dinwiddie and Blake Griffin all worked out nicely. Paul George turned in a classic sack daddy performance, while Tyrone Wallace and Zach Lavine didn’t really deliver as elite value plays.

Lavine did say he’s ready for more run moving forward, however, so he’ll be a value pick worth monitoring in the near future.

Last night’s picks didn’t work out, but I did manage to steer clear of epic disasters like Russell Westbrook and Anthony Davis (29 fantasy points!). Unfortunately, with Bell on my roster, I had literally no chance of doing anything.

I get to start all over on Thursday’s small 4-game slate, though. James Harden is back (25 minutes cap) and LeBron James dominates the pricing, so let’s dive in and see which studs and value picks could make a GPP winner at FanDuel:

PG: Isaiah Thomas – Cleveland Cavaliers ($5.7k)

The Cavs don’t play on Friday, so IT2 should be all systems go tonight. He also logged 32 minutes in his last game against the Dubs, so run and potential rest are not big concerns here. With that, he’s simply too cheap to fade on such a small slate.

There are better point guard options and Thomas has shown considerable rust, but he has a lot of upside at this low price. That, and the Cavs will be at home against a bad Magic team that ranks dead last at stopping point guards. Chalky or not, IT2 is bound to erupt eventually and this is his best spot to do that yet.

PG: T.J. McConnell – Philadelphia 76ers ($5.1k)

There are certain players I am rarely on the right side of. McConnell is one of them, but I’m not taking the bait on Jerryd Bayless starting for the injured J.J. Redick.

Not only is Redick out, but Ben Simmons has seen his run dip, as well. That’s all bound to help T.J., who has put up 32+ fantasy points in his last two games and racks up all kinds of stats when he’s on the floor.

Boston on the road is a tough matchup, but McConnell’s run and production should be safe off the bench. This has me fading some elite PG options, but this isn’t the position to spend on tonight.

SG: Evan Fournier – Orlando Magic ($5.7k)

I really don’t want to stack this Magic vs. Cavs game too much, seeing as it sports the worst spread on a small 4-game slate. However, Orlando did give the Cavs a tough fight last time and Fournier has a nice matchup here. The Cavs are a bottom 5 defense, after all, and rank just 22nd against shooting guards.

Fournier comes into this matchup in strong form, as he just went off for 32 actual points in his last game. You can’t demand that again, but he’s a solid price, has a good matchup and SG is really weak. James Harden is back, but he’s on a 25 minute cap and I’m not overly interested in paying $8.3k for C.J. McCollum.

Fournier has some upside in this matchup and feels like a core play for me on this slate.

SG: Andrew Wiggins – Minnesota Timberwolves ($6.2k)

Wiggins feels like a really fun pivot off of Jimmy Butler, who I think will be super high owned tonight. All Wigs does is score, but Butler should see a lot of P.J. Tucker, while Wiggins should be able to do as he pleases.

Houston doesn’t have imposing defenders at the two spot and it shows up in their horrid 27th place ranking against shooting guards on the year. Wiggins will be low owned because of his shaky floor, but he actually offers value and solid upside in this fast-paced matchup.

I don’t necessarily love paying down at SG, but the only guy up top I feel bad about fading is Victor Oladipo. His price tends to be a bit inflated, though, so I doubt I’ll lose any sleep over it.

SF: Jaylen Brown – Boston Celtics ($5.7k)

Brown was fine enough the last time I vouched for him, so I don’t mind going back to the well tonight. His home date with the 76ers isn’t amazing, but with both Kyrie Irving and Marcus Smart banged up, he could be hoisting plenty of shots.

The offensive role is solid on paper tonight, while Philly isn’t amazing (14th) against small forwards. Brown actually spends a lot of time at shooting guard, too, and they rank just 23rd there.

If Brown can produce as a scorer, I’m confident he can deliver a huge game tonight. He tends to bring in solid peripherals and also plays his best ball at home at the TD Garden.

SF: LeBron James – Cleveland Cavaliers ($12.5k)

I know Jimmy Butler is the better value, but I can’t fade King James on this slate. Honestly, my overall hope is that Vegas is overvaluing Cleveland and the Cavs don’t blow out Orlando. Instead, the Cavs let the Magic hang around and this game goes nuts. It certainly did the last time these two faced off, so there is optimism here with two really bad defensive teams.

That, and due to Cleveland’s struggles and LeBron’s steep price, I think ownership will tilt to Jimmy Butler, who is a full $2.5k cheaper. At least a good portion of the DFS community will see that as too much value to bypass. They might be right, but GPP-winning lineups need some contrarian thinking.

Hopefully attacking this Magic/Cavs game is not a popular strategy due to the spread and Butler disappoints.

PF: Aaron Gordon – Orlando Magic ($7.5k)

I said I don’t want to load up on this game. I don’t want to, but the pricing almost demands it and the last time the Magic and Cavs faced off, they combined for 258 points. Gordon specifically went nuts (30 actual points) and has a tasty matchup (Cavs rank 28th against PF) on the table.

Cleveland is projected to win easily and Orlando does have issues on the road, but I’ll bet the Cavs keep struggling, just like they have been for weeks now.

PF: Khem Birch – Orlando Magic ($3.9k)

Who? I know, Birch is a nobody, but he poured on 34 fantasy points in just 18 minutes his last time out. Jonathan Isaac and Nikola Vucevic both remain on the shelf, too, while fellow big man Marreese Speights could miss more time with a personal issue.

I don’t have major interest in Birch if Speights is back, but if he’s out Birch could again be looking at 18-20 minutes off the bench. Orlando probably won’t mind seeing what they have in him, while he could get even more run if Vegas (Cavs favored by -10.5) is right about this gaudy spread (although I hope not).

There is zero reliability here, but Birch is a fun GPP try. Just make sure Speights isn’t playing.

C: Kevin Love – Cleveland Cavaliers ($7.5k)

Whoops. I really didn’t want to load up on a game that could easily be a blowout, but hey, if this lineup is going to be super contrarian because everyone is scared off of this game, I actually like that. Cleveland has not been some elite team lately and as bad as the Magic can look at times, they actually have a lot of talent.

I won’t be that shocked if this ends up being a great DFS game to target and obviously I have interest in a solidly priced Love because of that. Love is out of his rut, as he’s put up 38+ fantasy points in two straight games. Tonight he faces a bad Magic defense (22nd versus centers) that he’s averaging 36 fantasy points against through two games this year. Something close to that would suffice on this slate.