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🏀 Slate Starter: NBA DFS Strategy for DraftKings + FanDuel | Monday, 3/15

Eric Lindquist



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Welcome to March Madness: NBA DFS edition. With the March 25 trade deadline rapidly approaching, the next 10 days could be full of even more wild and crazy news than normal (which is a terrifying thought). It’ll be of utmost importance to roll with the punches, keep your computer close by, and make sure the @AwesemoNBA Twitter feed notifications are turned on so Newzgod can blow up your phone whenever the chaos begins. Knowing full well how much uncertainty awaits us, let’s dive headfirst into Monday’s eight-game slate and find a few reliable NBA DFS picks and strategies for DraftKings and FanDuel to hang our hats on.

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

NBA DFS Slate Starter: Picks & Strategy | March 15

Quickley Quickly Ascending

What would appear to be Tom Thibodeau’s worst nightmare was realized on Saturday: Derrick Rose and Elfrid Payton were both out, which led to 33 minutes for Immanuel Quickley. Thibodeau has always been a notable rookie suppressor, staunchly riding his stars and veterans for outrageous minutes and sapping the fantasy value from any fresh-faced phenom. And by all accounts, a phenom is exactly what Quickley has quickly become.

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Despite averaging just 19 minutes per game this season, Quickley is averaging 1.08 DraftKings points per minute, good for the second-best rate on the Knicks (Julius Randle is first with a whopping 1.28). He is also fractionally behind Randle’s 27.9% usage rate with a stellar 26.9% rate of his own, showing he’s a plug-and-play for shot volume no matter the court time. And considering 533 of the 675 minutes he has played this season have already been with Rose and Payton off the floor, those rates feel pretty locked in for this situation.

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It only gets better for Quickley when factoring in Monday’s matchup against the Nets, who are sixth-worst in the NBA with a 113.2 defensive rating. Kyrie Irving and James Harden bleed production to point guards, giving up the 21st-most DraftKings points per game to the position. And now a run-down Rose and a pedestrian Payton will be replaced by a walking bucket in Quickley. And at just $5,600 on DraftKings and $4,600 on FanDuel, I’m giddy to roster him in bunches tomorrow.

I would not be completely shocked if Thibodeau re-introduces Austin Rivers to the rotation randomly or gives de facto starter Frank Ntilikina extended run. But the odds of that happening seem so slim with the rookie’s recent run of play, so I don’t see any way around that FanDuel tag. DraftKings there might be an argument for the fade, but until there’s more clarity on the situation in the afternoon — as well as ownership to evaluate — I’m all aboard the Quickley Express in my NBA DFS lineups.

A Near-Perfect Late Swap Slate

If you were to draw up the perfect slate for someone who specializes in late swap, this would be it. Monday is a manageable eight-gamer starting up at 7 p.m. EST; two games lock at that time, two more lock at 8 p.m., another two go at 9 p.m., and the late-night hammers tip off at 10 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. That means if there’s news that pops in the afternoon that we won’t know about until after lock, we’ll have an hour between lock times to make the most informed decisions possible with the most updated information possible.

Also, no 7:30 p.m. EST or 8:30 p.m. EST game times means there’s extra time to react to how your lineups are faring throughout the night. That half hour might not sound important, but if you’re tracking games and observing how your players are doing, any extra time to decide on the path you’ll need to take with certain lineups can be crucial. That’s especially so considering the early 7:00 p.m. EST window has the two highest-total games on the slate: Bucks – Wizards (244.5) and Kings – Hornets (239.5). I’m assuming there will be a number of plays we’ll have interest in from these teams, so having close to a full half of basketball from these games to react to could be a huge edge.

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Finally, if news doesn’t pan out the way you’d like for a specific player or situation, you’ll have plenty of options to pivot to lock times staggered throughout the night. For instance, if someone is made questionable in the 8 p.m. slot of games but then gives it a go, you won’t be left holding the bag on this slate. Simply pivot to the next grouping of games and you’ll have more than enough plays to salvage with eight teams still available to you.

The same applies if there’s super late news we’re waiting on; no matter when that news breaks, you’ll have plenty of plays to either get on or off. I can’t even come up with a hypothetical, as all the teams in the evening window appear healthy as of writing this. However, this is 2021 we’re talking about here; something will inevitably come up. But as Will Smith once said: “if you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready.” So stay ready, and let’s start this week off on the right foot.

Final Thoughts for Your NBA DFS Lineups

  • Caris LeVert is perhaps the best story of the NBA season to this point. In his debut for the Pacers, he looked a little rusty but still saw 26 minutes of playing time. His tag of $7,000 on DraftKings is irrational, but $4,100 on FanDuel should make him one of the most popular plays on the slate.
  • There’s seven $10,000-plus stars on DraftKings to pay up for on this slate. Four of them are point-guard-only, which makes the others slightly more valuable based on their positional versatility. Surprising to no one, Giannis Antetokounmpo against the Wizards is once again my favorite of the bunch.
  • Just play Draymond Green.

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