NBA DFS Contrarian Picks: Joel Embiid Getting Slept on? (January 19)

The NBA has a nice seven-game slate on Friday, and with the help of Stokastic’s NBA DFS Boom/Bust tool, we are going to get into the player pool to discuss the best NBA DFS contrarian picks on DraftKings this evening. Today’s top picks start with Joel Embiid.

NBA DFS Contrarian Picks — Plays For Today

Contrarian Stud — Joel Embiid: Philadelphia 76ers-Orlando Magic

It’s always nice to be able to roster Joel Embiid at low ownership, and he’s the top contrarian stud on DraftKings at $11,500. Coming into tonight averaging 35.1 points, 11.6 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 3.0 stocks per game, Embiid has been even better than he was in last year’s MVP campaign. Embiid is currently putting up 64.9 DraftKings points per game, making him the clear top asset in all of fantasy basketball. Despite his nightly dominance, however, the field is struggling to get to Embiid in a tough spot against the Magic.

As of this writing, Embiid is only projected to be in 8.80% of lineups on DraftKings. With an optimal percentage of 12.90%, it’s clear why Embiid is such a strong leverage option for tournaments. Although the matchup with the Magic doesn’t look great on paper, Embiid rarely plays the fourth quarter in non-competitive games, and Philadelphia is only a 5-point favorite tonight. As such, it’s logical to think that he will get more of a full workload. While he’s expensive at $11,500 on DraftKings, Embiid has slate-breaking upside every time he steps on the court, and it’s clearly worth getting over the field on him in tournaments of all sizes.

Contrarian Mid-Tier — Jalen Smith: Indiana Pacers-Portland Trail Blazers

Jalen Smith is currently the highest-graded leverage play on the entire slate, coming off a monster game last night against the Kings. He finds himself in an even better spot tonight in Portland against the Trail Blazers. While he is not a spectacular fantasy producer, Smith has proven to be a solid fantasy asset in Indiana’s fast-paced system whenever he gets minutes. Although there’s a ton of uncertainty regarding Smith’s role tonight, the field isn’t getting to him at nearly the rate they should be.

Stokastic’s tools currently have Smith optimal 15.60% of the time this slate plays out on DraftKings yet has a paltry 3.10% ownership projection. Indiana is arguably the top team to target in tournaments tonight, and regardless of how the news plays out, having as much exposure to this game as possible seems like a sharp move.

Contrarian Value — Trent Forrest: Atlanta Hawks-Miami Heat

We’re back to dumpster diving a bit for cheap differentiators, and Trent Forrest certainly fills that role at the flat $3,000. With Trae Young out tonight for Atlanta, everyone on the Hawks becomes more viable in DFS. Players like Dejounte Murray and Bogdan Bogdanovic are projected for massive ownership, and even in a tougher spot against the Heat, they look like two of the best plays on the slate. While Forrest certainly doesn’t fall into that category, his price point on DraftKings allows for a roster construction that otherwise wouldn’t be unattainable.

Despite projecting for only 15.66 fantasy points, Forrest has an optimal percentage of 18.00%. The field clearly isn’t seeing things the same way, however, as he’s only projected for 6.10% ownership. While these numbers will probably even out as we get closer to lock, Forrest currently stands out as one of the highest-graded leverage plays on the slate.

Looking for more NBA DFS advice? You’ve come to the right place. Sign up for Stokastic’s NBA DFS Premium Package for access to player projections, ownership projections and Stokastic’s state-of-the-art NBA DFS simulation tools.

Matt Belman graduated from Tulane University with a degree in Consumer Behavior. He has been playing and analyzing DFS full time since 2018. He has qualified for the 2023 DraftKings NBA World Championship (5x), the 2023 DraftKings MLB World Championship (2x), the 2023 FanDuel MLB World Championship (2x) and the 2023 DraftKings NFL World Championship. You can find him on X at @fantasytipsmatt.

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