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🏀 Slate Starter: NBA DFS Strategy for DraftKings + FanDuel | Wednesday, 2/17

Eric Lindquist



Free NBA fantasy picks, rankings & projections for DraftKings & FanDuel fantasy basketball lineups tonight from Awesemo's lineup optimizer today

Wednesday has a massive 10-gamer in store for us, so I’m going to skip the normal intros. And no, that’s not just because Michael Porter Jr. and Khris Middleton completely screwed my lineups, giving me nothing cool to talk about up top. With that being said, here are some NBA DFS picks and strategies for DraftKings and FanDuel that I hope propel you to the top.

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Be sure to check out the Slate Starter podcast, featuring yours truly and Rynpak, to get the first look at NBA DFS lineups for today’s slate!

NBA DFS Slate Starter: Picks & Strategy | Feb. 17

The Process or The Joker?

The MVP odds at the DraftKings Sportsbook currently lists LeBron James as the +180 favorite. While that certainly makes some sense — plus the Anthony Davis Achilles injury could only bolster the case for James —  there are two centers that sit just behind him that I’d be more willing to invest in for that award: Joel Embiid (+450) and Nikola Jokic (+500). They’re the only other players with a realistic shot, as both have had unbelievable statistical seasons up to this point.

And wouldn’t you know it, both happen to be on Wednesday’s slate, setting up for some tough decision-making for us NBA DFS folk. Center on these massive slates is almost always stacked, and on FanDuel we can only play one. Plus, on DraftKings it’s going to be hard to fit in an $11,000 Jokic and an $10,800 Embiid, no matter how bad we want it.

So what is my lean? Let’s take a closer look at Embiid first, courtesy of

Putting those numbers alongside averages of 29.6 points and 10.8 rebounds per game in just 32.2 minutes is tough not to like. Now for Jokic:

He has lower usage, an identical rebound rate, and an outrageously higher assist percentage. While I also enjoy Joker’s extra minutes and triple-double upside, he’s on the second half of a back-to-back for Wednesday. Still, I don’t expect his court time to be limited, especially because the Nuggets have zero shot without him playing as much as humanly possible.

Long story short, both project out as amazing plays. I suppose Jokic has more pieces missing, and the 76ers are full strength with the exception of Shake Milton. Plus, that back-to-back aspect I just alluded to could factor into Jokic’s projection, especially since Embiid was given a glorified day of rest in Monday’s matchup against the Jazz.

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Normally I would make the tiebreaker who has the easier opponent. But here’s the problem with that: They’re both in elite matchups. Jokic draws the weak Wizards, and Embiid I expect to rock the Rockets. So that means only one thing: You best be subscribed to Awesemo’s ownership projections, as there’s no chance I can differentiate these plays at the given moment. Sure, there are a multitude of other routes to go with the center position — I, for one, am partial to some tournament shots on Jonas Valancuinas — but these top two carry the highest ceilings, bar none. So default to the lesser-owned of the two and live with the result because that’s exactly what I plan to do at the present moment.

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The First Noel

I just updated my model for Wednesday. Maybe this is the sign of a broken model, but of all people, Nerlens Noel projects as one of the top points-per-dollar options for the entire slate on DraftKings. That creates a number of problems: 1) I just wrote up an entire segment about two other centers on the slate, and 2) he’s not one of those two.

That means we’ll have to look elsewhere for savings if we’re going to be so enamored by the studs at center on DraftKings. The Nuggets seem to stick out out as the front-runners for value du jour, as Facundo Campazzo just played a ridiculous 40 minutes and now gets a date with the Wizards. Of course, we’ll be sitting on pins and needles for the Monte Morris news because Campazzo won’t exist without his absence. But this slate will have a bonkers amount of news to break late (that’s inevitable for this game in 2021), so simply be prepared to adjust.

After all, that’s sort of the story of this NBA DFS season up to this point; if you adjust properly, you’re profitable. If you refuse to accept late-swap as a necessity, you’re most likely not. The best advice I have is to not make anything concrete until news or matchup is so undeniable you can’t fade the beneficiary. I won’t speculate on what that could be, but on a 10-game slate, I guarantee you something I have no chance at predicting at this moment will be the make-or-break factor to this slate. In other words, stay malleable, stay at your computer, and stay ready to Late Swaptimize on Fantasy Cruncher 50 times after lock.

Final Thoughts for Your NBA DFS Lineups

  • P.J. Tucker is questionable. Ray Spalding hurt his Achilles and was promptly removed by the Rockets. Christian Wood will still be out. So buckle up, folks; it’s DeMarcus Cousins time once again. I’m not even going to pretend to know what to do with the volatile big man, but get excited for more center talk on this center-centric slate.
  • I want to play Nostradamus a little bit because let’s be serious: Why would Minnesota even consider playing Karl-Anthony Towns on a back-to-back at this point? D’Angelo Russell is out for a month, the West is stacked, they have a terrible basketball team, and there’s nothing to play for. Get set for random Timberwolves chalk because it’s definitely in play.
  • Just play Jimmy Butler.

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Eric Lindquist hails from Sioux Falls, South Dakota (yes, that’s the one with Mount Rushmore). A steady diet of three SportsCenters a day at an early age led to his obsession with sports, one that 30 years later is paying dividends for him as a successful DFS player and sports bettor. Despite over half a million dollars in net career earnings, he’s most passionate about helping others achieve their financial goals, an energy you can witness on the daily in his current role as a host and analyst at Stokastic. He’s a former Division I golfer at Iowa State, wishes he was a former Minnesota sports fan, and is a proud father to a 100-pound Bernese Mountain dog named Duke that wishes he could just eat people food instead of the crap he and his wife feed him on the daily.

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