NBA DFS Lineup Optimizer Guide: How to Handle the Phoenix Suns (January 8)

Hey guys, Lindy here! I wanted to start up this article with the intent of talking through key parts of the main NBA DFS slate every evening. Unexpected news could always come from nowhere to rattle a slate, so don’t take this as gospel. But here are three key decision points for tonight’s slate that I’ll be factoring in so you are better prepared for what’s to come and can optimize your lineups according. Let’s get right into today’s NBA DFS lineup optimizer guide! Need more NBA DFS lineup help? Check out our NBA DFS lineup generator or our industry-leading NBA DFS simulation tools.

NBA DFS Lineup Optimizer Guide: Key Decisions for Today (January 8)

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NBA DFS Lineup Optimizer Guide: Should We Soak Up the Suns?

Over the past few weeks, DraftKings and FanDuel have experimented with removing late games from main slates. There have been slates this is a welcomed change as it saves us from sitting around for three-and-a-half hours swapping the night away — especially when there isn’t any late news likely to break. Other times, it’s the worst knowing you’d have a huge edge by being an attentive DFS-er, but are unable to capitalize on late news that breaks simply because it’s from a game that’s no longer there.

But tonight, we’ve got every game of the six in action on the main slate — both sites opted to include Suns-Clippers. And wouldn’t you know it but both teams are on the second leg of a back-to-back, and it starts a whopping two-and-a-half hours after the first five games do. That means two things: (1) thank goodness the College Football Playoff Championship Game will be on to kill time and (2) the Suns could potentially be a MASSIVE headache.

Now, I’m keeping the Clippers out of the discussion because head coach Tyronn Lue said he anticipated everyone — especially Kawhi Leonard, who has been a back-to-back rest candidate throughout his career, to play on Monday coming off their 106-103 loss to the Lakers last night. And while NBA coaches can be damn dirty liars from time to time, I’m taking him at his word for the time being. But I’d welcome any sort of debauchery Lue might pull with a surprise scratch for this reason alone: I am planning to pre-bake a lot more Suns players into lineups than the field, especially if news on star Kevin Durant’s status is not announced until after lock. That should give me extra swap-ability (fun made-up word, isn’t it?) that others won’t have to get to basically all unowned Clippers pieces in that scenario.

Let's guide you through how to optimize your NBA DFS lineup tonight. We'll break down the key decisions, including how to handle Phoenix...

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But again, the Suns are the potentially low-owned priorities here, as it’s not just Durant that is probable here on the back-to-back: Eric Gordon is probable, and Bol Bol and Nassir Little are out. That means Chimezie Metu ($4,900 DK) and/or Josh Okogie ($4,400) could become extremely viable value options, with outside shots on Keita Bates-Diop ($3,900) and Yuta Watanabe ($3,000) cracking some lineups if all four players somehow get ruled out.

We know by now Durant is kind of good at basketball and would lead to nearly all of Phoenix’s normal starters seeing less production. Devin Booker ($9,300) goes from a 1.30 DraftKings points-per-minute player to a 1.35 with Durant off the floor this season; Bradley Beal ($7,600) from 0.95 DraftKings points-per-minute to 1.01. But the biggest jump in rates I’d have the most interest in should Durant sit: Grayson Allen ($6,200) jumps from 0.81 DraftKings points-per-minute to 0.92. At his price-point and SG/SF dual eligibility, he’d be one of the best tournament plays on the board if Durant is ruled out late.

So to recap, what will I be doing tonight for this news? If Durant news doesn’t come before lock, I’ll boost my exposure to the Suns. Now keep in mind the Bucks are mega-chalk without Damian Lillard tonight, plus Zach LaVine received an early morning downgrade to questionable, joining Alex Caruso and Patrick Williams on the Bulls injury report. Should all of them miss in a prime matchup versus Charlotte and we still have no Durant news, you’re looking at the potential of insanely low-owned Suns pieces. And hey, if Durant news drops before lock that he’s playing, I’ll be happy to trim my Phoenix exposure to virtually nothing, and we’ll act like I didn’t just write a six-paragraph section about what could have happened.

NBA DFS Lineup Optimizer Guide: Bucks ‘n Bulls

A lot of this slate to me is weighing out the good chalk and the bad chalk pre-Suns news dropping, but there is no doubt the Bucks will (and should) be insanely popular tonight. With Damian Lillard out for personal reasons, Andre Jackson Jr. ($3,100) is assumed to receive the spot start. And although he projects for just 16.81 DraftKings points in Stokastic’s projections at the moment, his PG/SF multi-positional eligibility in conjunction with the cheap price tag can do a lot for your lineups.

Still, the no-doubt priorities for me (and it would appear the field) are Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,700) as a spend-up option and Khris Middleton ($7,000) in the mid-range. There is virtually no news that could drop that wouldn’t have those two arriving in a substantial amount of my lineups, whereas the same is not true of Andre Jackson Jr. due to his low fantasy output (0.64 DraftKings points-per-minute on the season).

Furthermore, this game is one of three getting underway at the 7 p.m. ET lock time, and the Bulls could potentially give us some extra punts to navigate. If all of LaVine, Williams, and Caruso get ruled out, Ayo Dosunmu ($5,000) becomes intriguing as a presumed starter, and both Jevon Carter ($3,300) and Dalen Terry ($3,700) walk into potential 20-plus minute roles. They’re both abysmal fantasy producers, but they at least give you similar access to the studs in Antetokounmpo and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ($10,400).

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Lastly from the Bulls, Coby White ($7,200) and DeMar DeRozan ($7,800) become priorities in the mid-range should LaVine be absent here. Want to know exactly how much I end up getting of them? Tune into NBA Live Before Lock on the Stokastic YouTube Channel tonight — Greg Ehrenberg and I will be breaking down this news in real-time until that game locks.


We’ll see how final ownership pans out, as there are several pieces that will be in flux until lock. But one player I see being largely ignored right now — and who could potentially be even lower-owned if Coby White and DeMar DeRozan become priorities in the 7k-range — is Heat shooting guard Tyler Herro ($7,900).

Herro has hit the ground running since returning to the lineup in mid-December: in 307 minutes since his return, he is leading the Heat with a 28.2% usage and carries a 1.15 DraftKings points-per-minute output. It’s a tough matchup against the Rockets (112.7 adjusted defensive rating on — and a slow-paced one at that, with both teams in the bottom six of possessions per 48 minutes — but that’s resulting in just 7.7% ownership currently going Herro’s way.

That 7.7% figure is less than a third than that of Kristaps Porzingis, who has an identical $7,900 price tag (different positions, though, obviously) and less than half of the chalky Jazz guards in their up-tempo matchup against the Bucks. And if everyone’s going to squeeze out Herro simply for matchup purposes, I’m going to certainly find my way to more of him than the field, and I believe you should, too.

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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