🏀 Slate Starter: NBA DFS Strategy for DraftKings + FanDuel | Thursday, 3/4

You can’t win them all, but it would have been nice to win even a little bit back on Wednesday. I felt like I made some strong late swaps into the likes of Kyle Kuzma, Buddy Hield and Kent Bazemore. But the ensuing web of pivots cost me almost all of my exposure to Dennis Schroder, who promptly buried me. Fortunately, I have one more shot at redemption, and what better way to head into the All-Star break than a sizable nine-gamer to sink our teeth into? Without further ado, this is your Slate Starter article for Thursday, which will be filled with NBA DFS picks and strategies to kickstart your process 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 4

Playing Poker with The Joker

Before we get going today, I just wanted to say a quick thank you to all the loyal readers and listeners of the Slate Starter through the first half of the NBA DFS season. It’s astonishing how much has changed for all of us within the past year, but being given the privilege to work and participate in this community has certainly been the highlight of it all for me. I hope my passion and enthusiasm for this crazy game of NBA DFS is apparent in everything I’ve written to this point, but all I’m doing is trying to match the energy you’ve all shown me with your thoughtful questions and kind messages. I just wanted to say how grateful I am for each and every one of you, and let’s keep this momentum going through the NBA Finals and beyond.

Now let’s sink our teeth into Thursday’s nine-gamer, which features a lot of the same themes as the past few slates. There is cheap Raptors value to blindly stab at. There is an obvious late-night Thor’s hammer in the Kings – Blazers matchup. There is a shaky Kawhi Leonard situation, which hopefully this time around is addressed before lock.

And last but far from least, there is my personal first-half MVP, Nikola Jokic, living on his own planet at the center position. I suppose on DraftKings there are a number of power forward/center-eligible plays that could reduce the need to jam him in, most noticeably Giannis Antetokounmpo. Giannis actually projects out nearly 8 points better for me in his high-paced Memphis matchup, so it might be less of a talking point over there.

But on FanDuel Jokic is all the way up to $11,600, making him the most expensive center option by an eye-popping $4,100. In an effort to spread out his ownership (and account for the tear he’s been on), FanDuel bumped up his price and moved Nerlens Noel to center. While that might sway some to pay down — and I admit, if Bam Adebayo sits, I’ll want exposure to a $4,400 Kelly Olynyk — but I don’t know how often I can stomach doing that when I look at this:


Not to get too box-score watcher-y, but this is absolutely ridiculous. On the year, Jokic goes for 27.3 points, 11 rebounds and 8.6 assists per game. That is outstanding, but it actually pales in comparison to his last two outings: 38 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists a night. That is other-worldly production that makes him my favorite spend-up of the day.

For me the only question here would normally be his ownership. But the single-center situation on FanDuel makes it nearly impossible to imagine going elsewhere with the bulk of my exposure. Sure, point guard is loaded on the top end like it normally is, and power forward has Giannis glaring at us too. There are also always strong center options at every price point on a slate of this size.

However, there’s no $9,000-plus shooting guard I’m thrilled about rostering, and small forward could be a “punt-by-default” situation should Leonard and Jimmy Butler miss again. That makes an average outcome for Jokic a strong possibility to end up optimal. I’ll be utilizing the boom/bust tool like crazy to check that theory in the morning. But as it stands, I’m likely to be all in on Jokic as if he were pocket aces in NBA DFS form.

Pocket aces lose sometimes, but I’ll live with the result, as getting it in good is always the goal.

Lowest Total, Most Interest?

Wednesday was full of shocking performances, from T.J. McConnell‘s triple-double with steals to Buddy Hield actually having a pulse again. But nothing could have prepared me for the beatdown the Jerami Grant-less Pistons unleashed upon the Raptors. I don’t care that Toronto was short-handed or that the Pistons shot the lights out; it was still an outrageous outcome.

Obviously, if Grant plays on Thursday, a lot of my interest in Wednesday’s popular Pistons pieces will be reduced. But despite this being a game sporting the lowest total on the slate by a considerable margin (210.5), it’s astonishing how much interest I have in plays on both sides of the ball. Nerlens Noel, Julius Randle and Derrick Rose stick out from the Knicks, while Detroit has half their roster underpriced for the sort of production we saw from them against the Raptors.

Not to plug myself even more than I already do, but I’ll be filling in as writer of the the Deep Dive article for Thursday’s slate. For more in-depth analysis on this low-total, high-interest spot for me, be sure to check it out. The format’s been switched to position-by-position recently, which I find to be a great change since the game-by-game breakdown is so accurately addressed during the Deeper Dive show on the Awesemo YouTube channel. So while this game would appear ugly by simply glancing at the total, I expect I’ll have plenty of viable plays from it for you; simply stop on by in the afternoon.

Final Thoughts for Your NBA DFS Lineups

  • I don’t know how many different ways I can say it: Utilize late swap. If you had semi-dead lineups like me and didn’t at least attempt to switch out Talen Horton-Tucker for a lower-owned, similarly projected Bazemore, you’re killing your bankroll slowly. Fight for every dollar, whether you think it’s pointless or not (because it’s not).
  • Zion Williamson is officially matchup-proof. I don’t care that this is the Heat, I’ll be over the field again.
  • Just play Will Barton.

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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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