4 Players To Help Build Your Best NBA DraftKings Lineup (1/31/20)

Welcome back, everyone. Tonight we have an exciting seven-game slate full of the NBA’s top players.

Below are four of my favorite targets to help build your best NBA DraftKings lineup for tonight’s main slate.

As always, keep an eye out for news throughout the day, and feel free to contact me on Twitter with any questions.


Top Play


LeBron James (PG/SF, $10,300)

Tonight marks LeBron James’s first game since the tragic death of Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant. In what will be an extremely emotional setting, the Lakers will pay tribute to Kobe, his daughter Gianna, and the other seven lives lost last Sunday.

While it is almost always smart to fade narratives and the biases that can creep in during fantasy analysis, tonight feels different. The good news is that LeBron is underpriced for this matchup, regardless of the circumstances surrounding the game. With plenty of value available on tonight’s slate, it will be easy to fit at least one, if not two, $9,000+ players. James costs $1,400 less than Giannis Antetokounmpo and $300 less than a struggling James Harden.

In his last game against the Portland Trail Blazers, LeBron scored 61.25 DraftKings fantasy points. Tonight, the Lakers have the third-highest implied team total on the board, and they are projected to score 7.7 more points than their season average.

If he becomes extremely chalky due to his low price and the significance of this game, there is merit to taking an underweight approach in large-field tournaments. That said, LeBron is one of the best plays on tonight’s slate and makes for a great cash game anchor.


Value Plays


Jalen Brunson (PG/SG, $3,800)

Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic will miss at least the next two games with an ankle injury he suffered earlier this week. As a result, Jalen Brunson will take on a larger role tonight. On the season, Brunson has been productive when given the opportunity.

With Doncic and Dwight Powell (out, Achilles) off the court this season, Brunson is averaging 1.03 DraftKings fantasy points per minute and a 21.3% usage rate. Tonight, Brunson should see around 30 minutes in a pace-up matchup against the Houston Rockets. The Mavericks have the highest projected pace bump on the night and still project to score their season average point total, even without their best player.

DraftKings did not adjust Brunson’s price, making him the standout value on the slate. He has shown his productivity in past situations like this and should crush his low salary given his average rates. Brunson is a near lock in cash games and a potentially tough fade in GPPs.


Jonas Valanciunas (C, $6,300)

Another value option tonight is Memphis Grizzles center Jonas Valanciunas. Valanciunas is expected to see increased playing time tonight due to Jaren Jackson Jr.’s suspension. Also, rookie Brandon Clarke is listed as doubtful with a hip injury, which further thins out the Memphis frontcourt. Valanciunas has been a highly efficient fantasy player this season, exceeding five times value in two straight games, even with Jackson and Clarke active.

With Jackson and Clarke out, Valanciunas is significantly underpriced. This season, he is averaging 1.2 DraftKings fantasy points per minute without them on the court. Valanciunas’s minutes are often a concern, but he will need to play at least 30-33 minutes against the New Orleans Pelicans tonight.

Most times when rostering Valanciunas, fantasy owners hope for efficiency in his minutes in order for him to stay on the court. Tonight, efficiency will be less of a necessity because of his expected playing time. A historically productive player in an expanded role in an elite matchup is an ideal NBA DFS play, and Jonas Valanciunas fits the bill tonight.


GPP Play


James Harden (PG/SG, $10,600)

It feels crazy to write this, but James Harden makes for a great GPP play on tonight’s slate. Part of the reason for this is that there are intriguing options in his price range. LeBron James will be extremely popular tonight, and Harden costs $300 more than him. His teammate Russell Westbrook is $100 less than Harden, and Westbrook has scored 60+ DraftKings fantasy points in six out of his last seven games.

Furthermore, Harden has hit a serious rough patch lately, which will scare fantasy owners away. In his last six games, Harden has scored 50+ DraftKings fantasy points only twice, including two straight games of 36 fantasy points or less. His three-point shooting has been one of the main causes of his struggles. In his last five games, Harden is shooting 8-46 (17%) from three-point range.

It is always important to be ahead of the curve in DFS. When there is uncertainty and public doubt around a player as talented as Harden, it is generally a good time to buy low. He will break out of this slump eventually, and it could be tonight at lower than normal ownership.