If you thought Tuesday was crazy, buckle up for what’s already shaping up to be a wild Wednesday. In fact, I can’t recall this much massive news dropping the night before for quite some time. If everything is changing on a dime already, I can’t even imagine the insanity that could ensue leading up to lock. Let’s attempt to weave through the madness together and find a few NBA DFS picks and strategies for this 10-gamer for DraftKings and FanDuel.
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 | March 3
And On the Thirty-Sixth Day, He Rested
It had been a while since I started writing something the night before that was rendered obsolete once completing it, but my luck ran out tonight. The Kings have been a matchup we’ve been targeting since day 1, and I took some time to break down LeBron James and company for their Wednesday visit to Sacramento. In fact, I was going to argue for locking in James at a small forward spot in your NBA DFS lineups since every other high-end option on DraftKings is listed at the point guard or center position only.
Well, scratch that plan. After 35 consecutive appearances to start the season, it was announced late Tuesday that James will be resting on Wednesday. As if we weren’t looking at enough insane value with the Raptors health protocols (I’ll get to that next), the late-night hammer just became a power drill. To put this in context, the most expensive option from the Lakers is now $6,400 on FanDuel (Montrezl Harrell) and just $5,900 on DraftKings (Dennis Schroder). And as a nice little added touch, Marc Gasol is scheduled to miss again due to COVID protocols, Alex Caruso left Tuesday’s game with neck spasms, and who knows with Kyle Kuzma, who was late-scratched versus the Suns. In other words, buckle up.
Let’s start with the fact that I still anticipate the Lakers to be favored in this game. These are the lowly Kings we’re talking about on the other side, so there is no thought of a blowout for me. Plus, Tyrese Haliburton has already been ruled out and Buddy Hield is questionable, so it’s not just the Lakers we could (or should) be jamming in his spot. Sacramento is currently dead-last in defensive rating this season (118.7), and the Lakers are depleted and without their defensive stalwart in Anthony Davis . It scares me to say it, but this game feels too good to fail.
So now let’s break down a few Lakers. Let’s start with the aforementioned Harrell, who has averaged 1.37 DraftKings points per minute and a whopping 29% usage in 159 minutes with both James and Davis off the floor this year. While those rates are delightful, albeit in a limited sample size, he’s the biggest wild card on this team, and it’s not close. Despite no Gasol and no Kuzma, Harrell was limited to only 18 minutes with no foul trouble whatsoever. To make matters worse, it was his first start since Nov. 19, 2019. That says two things to me: 1) They have zero interest in playing Harrell extended minutes, perhaps for an impending trade, or 2) They hate him as a person. I’m thinking the former is more likely, but who knows at this point.
Next up is the obvious Schroder, who I anticipate playing the most minutes of the bunch should he be good to go. I say that because he hasn’t played a back-to-back since returning from a 10-day absence from the COVID list in mid-February, so he’s not a stone-cold lock to be active. But as of this moment, I have no reason to think he won’t be out there. If the Lakers are willing to run him out for 38 minutes of court time like they did in Tuesday’s loss to the Suns, my guess is he’s healthy. Schroder averages just over a fantasy point per minute in his 116 minutes with James and Davis off the floor, so 38 minutes at $5,900 on DraftKings and $5,500 on FanDuel would be a bargain.
But the main event on both sites I’m expecting to be, of all people, Talen Horton-Tucker. He was hyped up beyond belief after a standout preseason but has been relatively disappointing in the first half of the year. That said, he could be in line for the most playing time of his sophomore NBA season on Wednesday in one of the best possible matchups in the league. He actually has spent the most time on the court sans Davis and LeBron (177) and has a standout rate of 1.19 FanDuel points per minute in that sample. He is $3,900 over there at the shooting guard spot where most of the active Raptors will be, which makes me curious where ownership will land in the morning. But at just $3,400 at small forward on DraftKings, he is going to be scarily highly owned (and rightfully so).
So how do we handle the plethora of value that will no doubt exist from the Lakers in this one? That is pretty easy, if you ask me: Utilize the Boom/Bust tool at Awesemo.com like crazy. Knowing where the leverage exists for these high-owned value options will be pivotal, as I expect ownership to be exceptionally concentrated for a slate of this size. We will have Lakers, Raptors and perhaps Mavericks value we’ll need to wade through, and who better to have do that for you than the No, 1 NBA DFS player in the world in Alex Baker? Check it out early and often tomorrow, and may the odds be ever in our favor.
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If you listen through the Slate Starter podcast linked above, you’ll notice we had no inkling of the James news. Instead, we were solely focused on the “will-it-or-won’t-it go” aspect of the Raptors game, which was rescheduled from Tuesday to Wednesday due to health-and-safety protocols. Which studs we’d be looking to became a little more clear cut after taping, as Kyle Lowry, Norman Powell and Chris Boucher are the only familiar faces who were announced as active for Wednesday’s tilt with the Pistons. They are going to stand out as obvious options on this slate, and as of this moment, you could get any amount of all three and I wouldn’t push back against it.
However, those are the only three I have any clue what to do with right now. Two random G-leaguers in Jalen Harris and Donta Hall are expected to be added to the roster, which could make things dicier than expected for the likes of Terence Davis, DeAndre’ Bembry and the litany of other Raptors that will be unbelievably owned tomorrow. We also have no idea what madness Nick Nurse’s replacement (Nurse is on the COVID list too) could have in store for his starting lineup.
But considering they are all under $4,000 on both sites, it’s going to be impossible not to have a ton of interest tomorrow. The matchup against the Pistons also helps, as similar to the Lakers’ situation, I expect them to open as decent favorites in the betting markets. So be sure to tune in to the Awesemo YouTube channel for all the latest news, notes and NBA DFS picks throughout the day, as I expect there to be more than a segment or two regarding these Raptors.
Final Thoughts for Your NBA DFS Lineups
- The only other value that I could see rivaling the Lakers and Raptors right now would be the Mavericks. Luka Doncic is listed as questionable, which would no doubt open up their entire roster to playability. The only pushback for me would be that most of them sit in the $4,000-and-up range on both sites, making them less favorable than some of the cheaper value that already exists elsewhere.
- I suppose I should advocate for a spend-up to plug in with all this value. How does James Harden against his former team sound? Don’t say I never did anything for you.
- Just play Karl-Anthony Towns.
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