They say there’s more than one way to skin a cat. I wouldn’t know personally — I’ve never been much into cat-skinning — but I’d have to imagine that some ways are more efficient than others.
The same is true for daily fantasy sports. You can use many different strategies to try and take down a large tournament, but some ways provide more expected value than others.
Both DraftKings and FanDuel are offering large guaranteed prize pool tournaments for the five-game Christmas NBA slate, so two of our NBA experts decided to tackle this issue head-on.
For the purposes of this article, let’s focus on the players should you prioritize for your FanDuel rosters. Justin Phan and Matt LaMarca rundown a 10-man snake draft to determine the players they feel are the most important for the slate.
Lets dive in.
1. James Harden (Justin)
There isn’t another player on the slate with a projected workload that compares to Harden, which earns him the top overall spot. In six games without Chris Paul this season, he’s posted an absurd 39.1% usage rate and a 56.3% assist rate. That’s translated to 62.7 FanDuel points per game.
Harden offers an exceptionally high floor, totaling at least 58 FanDuel points in five of those six games. The only concern here is a matchup against one of the league’s best defenders in Paul George, though Harden is as matchup-proof as it gets.
His price tag on FanDuel ($12,400) is far more reasonable than it is on DraftKings ($10,900), which makes it possible to go underweight on him in GPPs in favor of one of the many other studs in the slate.
2. Draymond Green (Matt)
My first pick is all about positional scarcity. Power forward is the thinnest on the slate, which increases Draymond’s appeal. He’s been more aggressive offensively over his past two games, scoring 14 points in each, and his usage rate of 20.2% in his last game was his second-highest mark of the season.
Green can pile up peripherals, so any increase in scoring is going to make him a huge value at his current salary. He’s priced at just $7,300 on FanDuel and has posted an average Plus/Minus of +5.33 with a comparable salary over the past three seasons.
3. Ivica Zubac (Matt)
There’s very little on the Christmas slate, but Zubac looks like one of the biggest exceptions. He’s played at least 32 minutes in each of his past two games and has scored at least 36.3 FanDuel points in each contest.
He should remain in the rotation for today’s contest and has the potential to handle the majority of the center minutes if Tyson Chandler is ultimately ruled out. The matchup vs. the Warriors isn’t ideal, but Zubac is impossible to ignore at the absolute minimum on FanDuel.
4. Giannis Anetokounmpo (Justin)
While Harden offers the highest floor in the slate, Giannis isn’t too far behind given the matchup. He’s owned the Knicks over the past three seasons, putting up at least 51 FanDuel points in each of the eight times he’s faced them and averaging 60.6 points overall.
The Knicks are third in paint points allowed this season, which is how Giannis makes his living. I have some concern with a 10-point spread potentially limiting his ceiling if this one gets out of hand, but there’s a very good chance that Giannis had a big hand in it, if that ends up being the case.
5. Daniel Theis (Justin)
With such a star-studded slate, finding value will be at a premium. Al Horford returned from a seven-game absence on Sunday but was on a 20-minute limit, and will likely remain on a limit Tuesday as the Celtics prioritize his long-term health.
The Celtics will need all the size they can get against Joel Embiid, especially without Aron Baynes, who’s served as the primary defender on Embiid in matchups past.
Coach Brad Stevens said Theis will continue to play quite a bit for as long as Horford remains on a minutes limit. Theis has averaged a solid 1 FanDuel point per minute this season, and given a reasonable 18-22 minutes projection, he should easily pay off his $4000 price tag at a weaker power forward position.
6. Kevin Durant (Matt)
Durant isn’t as big of a value on FanDuel as he is on DraftKings, but he still seems underpriced at just $10,300. He’s seen a price decrease of $1,100 over the past month but is coming off 67.9 FanDuel points in his most recent game. He also has an ideal matchup vs. the Lakers, with the Warriors’ implied team total of 122.0 points ranking first on the slate by a sizable margin.
Durant has also historically done some of his best work against LeBron James, averaging a Plus/Minus of +8.90 when squaring off with King James as a member of the Warriors. He’s scored at least 49.7 FanDuel points in all four of his regular season matchups, so I’m looking to anchor the majority of my teams with Harden and Durant.
7. Eric Gordon (Matt)
Gordon is one of the few players who looks like a better value on FanDuel than DraftKings given his Bargain Rating of 60%. He’s also in a nice potential spot vs. the Thunder. Paul George will likely spend the majority of his time guarding Harden, which could mean a few extra shot attempts for Gordon.
He hasn’t been nearly as successful this season with Chris Paul out of the lineup, but Gordon still ranks second on the team in usage and third in minutes per game in that situation.
While he’s been plagued by some poor shooting numbers, Gordon has big upside if his jump shot starts falling.
8. Joel Embiid (Justin)
As mentioned above, the Celtics’ frontcourt is far from 100 percent, so Embiid will be squaring off primarily against a limited Al Horford. Coach Brad Stevens has been masterful scheming against Ben Simmons and forcing him to be a jump-shooter, something he’s clearly uncomfortable doing, so the Sixers offense will have to run through Embiid.
This should be a closely contested throughout with the second-lowest spread of the day at 4 points, meaning Embiid has the potential to play upwards of 36-38 minutes.
9. Eric Bledsoe (Justin)
Bledsoe has failed to exceed his salary-based expectation in four of his past five games, but this is a get-right spot against Emmanuel Mudiay. Bledsoe has a stellar track record in this matchup, putting up 48, 47, and 46 FanDuel points the past three times he’s played the Knicks.
The same concerns about a potential blowout apply to Bledsoe as they do with Giannis, but Bledsoe still stands out at the point guard position on FanDuel with many of the alternative options a bit overpriced and far more affordable on DraftKings.
10. Emmanuel Mudiay (Matt)
I’d like to preface this by saying that I don’t believe Mudiay is a particularly good basketball player, but his fantasy production when on the court is undeniable. He’s averaged 0.97 FanDuel points per minute this season and has played at least 30 minutes in each of the past five games.
Mudiay is severely underpriced on FanDuel (95% Bargain Rating), ranking second at the PG position with 10 Pro Trends.
If you’re looking for more DFS coverage, make sure to check The Action Network’s DFS and Betting Cheat Sheet.
Pictured Above: Celtics PF Daniel Theis
Photo Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA Today Sports