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NBA DFS Breakdown (Friday, Jan. 29): Buy Low on Nikola Jokic?

The NBA Breakdown offers data-driven analysis for each day’s slate using the FantasyLabs Tools and metrics to highlight notable players.

Friday features a 10-game slate starting at 7 p.m. ET.

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Point Guard

Stud

Trae Young has been absolutely rolling recently. He’s scored at least 50.75 DraftKings in each of his past six games, yet his salary has actually dropped over that time frame. He was priced at $9,600 on DraftKings vs. the Timberwolves last Friday, but you can grab him at just $9,100 tonight vs. the Wizards. That doesn’t make a ton of sense.

The Wizards stand out as an elite matchup for Young. They’ve played at the fastest pace in the league this season, and they also rank 29th in defensive efficiency. It’s hard to beat that combination from a fantasy perspective. The Hawks are currently implied for 118.75 points, which is tied for the second-highest mark on the slate.

Value

Darius Garland entered the starting lineup in the Cavs’ last contest for the first time since returning from an injury four games ago. He ultimately finished with 31.3 minutes, and he responded with 26.0 DraftKings points. His playing time only figures to increase as he gets further removed from his injury, which makes him a prime buy-low target at just $5,000. He’s averaged 0.89 DraftKings points per minute this season, so he has plenty of upside once he returns to his pre-injury workload.

Fast Break

Kyle Lowry stands out as someone who’s underpriced across the industry. He owns an excellent matchup vs. the Kings, resulting in an Opponent Plus/Minus of +2.88 on FanDuel, and he carries one of the largest workloads at the position. He’s currently projected for 35.1 minutes in our NBA Models, and he’s coming off 37.4 minutes in his last outing.

The Clippers are expected to be shorthanded once again tonight. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George have missed the past two games due to health and safety protocols, while Patrick Beverley is out indefinitely with a knee injury. Reggie Jackson has dominated in their stead, scoring at least 34.6 FanDuel points in each of the past two games. He’s one of the best pure values at point guard on FanDuel, where his $5,800 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 72%.

Shooting Guard

Stud

Fred VanVleet has scored at least 41.75 DraftKings points in each of his past three games, yet his salary has actually dropped by -$800 over that time frame. The Raptors are nearing full strength – which will hurt VanVleet’s value in the long-term – but they could be without OG Anunoby vs. the Kings. He’s currently listed as questionable after missing their last game, and VanVleet would become a very appealing target if he’s unable to suit up.

VanVleet also benefits from an elite matchup. The Kings rank dead last in defensive efficiency this season, and the Raptors’ implied team total of 117.5 ranks fourth on the slate.

Value

Seth Curry has posted a negative Plus/Minus in all four games since returning from a lengthy absence, which has caused his salary to drop to $4,400. That said, he is coming off 30.5 minutes in his last game, which is his top mark over that time frame. That bodes well for his fantasy value moving forward. Curry has averaged 0.83 DraftKings points per minute this season, so he should be able to pay off his current salary with a comparable workload vs. the Timberwolves.

Fast Break

Terance Mann is another potential source of value on the Clippers, particularly on FanDuel at just $4,500. He’s averaged 0.91 FanDuel points per minute over the past month, and he’s posted a positive Plus/Minus in his past two games. He’s also in a decent spot vs. the Magic, who rank tied for 20th in terms of defensive efficiency this season.

D’Angelo Russell has missed the past two games for the Timberwolves, but he’s questionable for tonight’s matchup vs. the 76ers. He’s an interesting contrarian option if he’s able to suit up. The Timberwolves are still playing without Karl-Anthony Towns, and Russell leads the team with a 32.1% usage rate with Towns off the court this season. He’s also increased his fantasy production to 1.19 FanDuel points per minute over the past month.

Small Forward

Stud

Joel Embiid is currently listed as questionable, and Tobias Harris would see one of the biggest bumps in value if he’s unable to suit up. He’s increased his usage rate by +4.0% with Embiid off the court this season – which is the second-highest mark on the team – and he’s averaged 1.20 DraftKings points per minute in that situation. Harris also leads the team with an average of 36.17 DraftKings points in three games with Embiid out of the lineup, despite averaging a pedestrian 30.2 minutes in those contests.

You can also make a case that Harris is underpriced even if Embiid is active. The Timberwolves have been dreadful defensively this season, particularly in games without Towns.

Value

Jeremy Lamb’s playing time has been a rollercoaster since joining the Pacers’ rotation. He’s played 28.4 minutes or more in two of his past four games, and he’s played 20.6 minutes or less in the other two.

That said, our Models are very bullish on Lamb’s playing time today. He’s currently projected for 32.9 minutes in our NBA Models, which gives him the potential to be one of the best values on the slate. Lamb has averaged 1.00 DraftKings points per minute this season, so he can do a lot of damage with that much playing time.

Fast Break

Gordon Hayward has been one of the most underappreciated assets in fantasy this season. He’s carrying a huge workload for the Hornets — he’s played at least 37.1 minutes in five straight games — and he’s currently projected for 37.3 minutes vs. the Pacers. Hayward has scored at least 43.25 DraftKings points in three of his past four games, so he’s a steal at just $7,000 on Friday.

You can add Khris Middleton to the list of underappreciated players. He’s averaged a Plus/Minus of +5.88 over his past 10 games on FanDuel, and he’s scored at least 40.1 FanDuel points in four of his past five games. Overall, his average of 1.19 FanDuel points per minute this season trails only Kevin Durant’s mark of 1.37 among tonight’s small forwards. Middleton will likely check in with much lower ownership than he should.

Power Forward

Stud

Giannis Antetokounmpo remains the most dominant force in fantasy on a per-minute basis. He’s averaged 1.65 DraftKings points per minute this season, and while that’s not as impressive as his mark from last season, it still gives him arguably the highest ceiling in the league whenever he takes the floor.

His playing time has been up recently — he’s logged at least 36.4 minutes in back-to-back games — and his fantasy numbers in those contests have been impressive. He’s finished with at least 57.5 DraftKings points in both games, including 63.0 DraftKings points in his last outing. Tonight’s matchup vs. the Pelicans is expected to be competitive, with Vegas listing the Bucks as just 6.5-point road favorites. That should mean another solid workload for Giannis, and his $10,800 salary on DraftKings comes with a Bargain Rating of 90%.

Value

Isaac Okoro has seen a nice bump in playing time with Larry Nance Jr. out of the lineup recently. He’s played at least 34 minutes in back-to-back games, including a team-high 37.3 minutes Wednesday vs. the Pistons. Nance is questionable for tonight’s contest vs. the Knicks, and Okoro would become an appealing value play if he’s ultimately ruled out. Okoro hasn’t been great on a per-minute basis during his rookie season, but anyone priced below $4,000 with the potential to play 37 minutes is worth consideration.

Make sure to monitor Nance’s status using the Labs Insiders tool.

Fast Break

DeMar DeRozan’s price on DraftKings has absolutely plummeted recently. He was priced as high as $8,900 just 11 days ago, but he’s down to $6,800 for Friday’s matchup vs. the Nuggets. It results in a Bargain Rating of 98%, and DeRozan has historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +5.05 with a comparable salary as a member of the Spurs (per the Trends tool).

Aaron Gordon is listed as a power forward on FanDuel, but he’s actually been playing more like a point guard recently. He has led the team in assists with Markelle Fultz and Michael Carter-Williams both out of the lineup, which gives him a bit more upside than usual. Gordon also stands out as one of the best pure values at the position on FanDuel given his Bargain Rating of 71%.

Center

Stud

Nikola Jokic has disappointed in back-to-back games, which has caused his salary to drop to just $10,100 for Friday’s matchup vs. the Spurs. That makes him a prime buy-low target. Jokic has averaged a ridiculous 58.2 DraftKings points per game over the past month, and that kind of production would represent massive value at his current price tag. Overall, Jokic has averaged a Plus/Minus of +7.35 with a comparable salary this season.

The Spurs aren’t an elite matchup for big men, but they’re not a team that you need to fear either: They rank just 25th in defensive efficiency this season.

Value

Cody Zeller is coming off 29.7 minutes in his last contest, which was easily his top mark since returning from injury. He ultimately finished with 37.0 DraftKings points in that contest, which was also against the Pacers. He’s too cheap across the industry if he’s going to see that much playing time again today.

Fast Break

Embiid may not suit up tonight, but he’s an interesting option if he does. He’s been absolutely dominant recently, averaging 1.61 DraftKings points per minute over the past month, and he should be able to destroy the Timberwolves on the interior. He owns an Opponent Plus/Minus of +2.86, and Minnesota simply has no one that is capable of slowing him down. Embiid’s ownership could also be a bit lower than usual since people don’t like to roster players with injury designations.

Pictured above: Nikola Jokic
Credit: Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images