NBA DFS Picks & Building Blocks: Jayson Tatum and Friends Make For Fantasy Goodness (January 15)

Monday brings a five-game featured slate tipping off at the usual time of 7 p.m. ET on DraftKings and FanDuel. There are several options in the player pool worth analyzing to find the top NBA DFS building blocks and NBA DFS picks, including some intriguing playing time situations that provide steady value options. Let’s dig into the NBA DFS picks and core plays like Jayson Tatum.

NBA DFS Picks & Building Blocks Today: Monday, January 15

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Jayson Tatum: Boston Celtics at Toronto Raptors

The Raptors have seen a major drop in defensive efficiency since they traded O.G. Anunoby to New York. In the eight games without Anunoby, Toronto has allowed 124.6 points per 100 possessions, which is the third worst in the league during this stretch, and it is nearly 4 points below the Washington Wizards for the season-long low. Of course, that will be hard to catch, but the difference certainly is telling, with the Knicks posting a 103.5 defensive efficiency rating in the seven games with Anunoby — the best in the league.

That helps Jayson Tatum, but so does the absence of Jaylen Brown (knee), who has been ruled out for tonight. Tatum is averaging 1.33 fantasy points per minute this season, with a 1.27 rate alongside Brown and a 1.45 rate when rolling solo. Derrick White goes from 0.99 to 1.25, and even Jrue Holiday sees a 5% increase in his per minute efficiency.

Sometimes it really is just this obvious, and with the Celtics 6-point road favorites, we should see Boston push for the victory, as they need to bank wins in the Eastern Conference. One last thought on the C’s: Sam Hauser becomes the extreme punt play across the DFS sites.

It is harder recommending any of the Raptors as core plays against a tough defense, but Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam, Immanuel Quickley and Dennis Schroder check in as neutral tournament targets on DraftKings, with the first two also getting that designation on FanDuel.

The center position is interesting, as Thaddeus Young started the last three games with Jakob Poeltl (ankle) out and, of course, Precious Achiuwa dealt to New York as part of the Anunoby deal two weeks ago. In the first two starts, Young performed well with a fantasy point per minute, though foul trouble got to him in the last game and he played just five minutes.

Jontay Porter basically split the center minutes with Young on Wednesday, and he earned the larger share on Friday with Young in foul trouble, even starting the second half over the veteran and rolling up a career-high 34 fantasy points. This is probably a 26-20 split with the starter getting the slight edge and the backup lurking in the wings. This is not an easy matchup tonight, but it is worth understanding the variables since this is one of the more intriguing value plays. Though on FanDuel, Porter will cost the center slot, while Young is a power forward.

Indiana Pacers at Utah Jazz

Tyrese Haliburton has been out for three games, and in that admittedly small sample size, while the Pacers have dropped about 7 points of offensive efficiency, they have improved by about 10 points per 100 possessions on defense and actually have a +5.6 net rating in these games. That is above their +2.8 seasonal average.

Utah also has tightened things up on defense over the last 10 games, allowing 112.5 points per 100 possessions but still playing at a top-5 pace. Aaron Nesmith (shin) missed the last game and is questionable tonight; otherwise there should be a full complement of Pacers. If Nesmith is out, it should do enough to boost T.J. McConnell, Bruce Brown Jr. and even the enigmatic Andrew Nembhard into tournament consideration. If he is in, then most of Indiana is relegated to tournament differentiation status, aside from Myles Turner, who is one of many center options.

Jordan Clarkson should thrive tonight, and he has seen a steady 31 minutes per game off the bench over his last five outings. He is getting ample usage and offensive chances as it seems the team is showcasing him for a potential trade over the next six weeks. Even with his salary ticking up, this game environment has him squarely in play for one more go at the brass ring.

Lauri Markkanen has been living up to his nickname of The Finnisher, and Finland’s own has five games of 40-plus fantasy points over the last seven and three of 50-plus. Keyonte George is a dart throw, having produced a pair of 30-fantasy-point efforts, sandwiching two duds.

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Additional NBA DFS Pick — Sports Betting Opportunities

Jacob Gilyard has been thrust into duty as the starting point guard for the Memphis Grizzlies. Even with him having that mantle, we should be looking at his under 18.5 points + rebounds + assists (PRA) prop, which is currently available at +100. Per the true odds of -115 (how OddsShopper measures the potential expected ROI of a given wager), this opportunity has a sweet 7% expected ROI as a function of the inefficient line.

It is crucial to take advantage of OddsShopper to look at all the available lines since that can easily be worth another 2% to 3% for your ROI, even on perfectly neutral bets, based on how the different books value things. To demonstrate this very concept, look below — you can see “sharp” book Pinnacle is all the way down at -128, which is a dramatic swing.

NBA Bet Pro has Gilyard projected for 31.5.8 minutes, 9.24 points, 2.78 rebounds and 7.00 assists for 19.02 PRA, which is above the 18.5 threshold we are hoping he fails to surpass. Currently Memphis is without Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, Marcus Smart, Derrick Rose and now Jake LaRavia, plus Jaren Jackson Jr. is questionable with a knee issue that kept him out of the last game. The main knock against Gilyard is that he is not much of a scorer. Even though he was a five-year starter at Richmond, his best year was his second season when he averaged 16.2 points per game. In his next three campaigns, he managed just 12.9 points per game — across 91 contests.

The only worrisome part is that he does have a career high of 12 points in a game where he was 4 of 6 from downtown. He should get seven or eight assists and a couple of rebounds, so we are hoping he scores fewer than 7 or 8 points. This season he has tallied 8.1 points per 36 minutes, and there really are not that many scorers left on this roster, so he could take it upon himself. That is a risk but one I am willing to take tonight.

Final Thoughts on NBA DFS Picks & Building Blocks Today

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Eric "EMac" MacPherson won the 2007 Fantasy Baseball grand prize (trip for two to the MLB All-Star game) in the Roto format on ESPN. He won again in 2008, this time in the H2H format. As one of the early adopters of daily fantasy sports, EMac has been providing content for baseball and basketball as well as both professional and college football since 2012 for a variety of websites including DraftKings Playbook, FanVice, RotoWorld, Daily Fantasy Bootcamp, and RotoGrinders. He is well into his third decade of fantasy sports and has a wealth of knowledge and experience. Follow him on Twitter @EMacDFS or contact EMac by emailing [email protected].

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