NBA DFS Picks & Building Blocks: Scottie Barnes is Sunday’s Core Play (January 28)

Sunday provides a brief three-game featured slate, tipping off at 6 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 Scottie Barnes, Trae Young, Kevin Durant and Devin Booker.

NBA DFS Picks & Building Blocks Today: Sunday, January 28

Scottie Barnes: Toronto Raptors at Atlanta Hawks

Looking at the game logs for Scottie Barnes, it appears to have been a rough fortnight. Of course, his three “bad” games were against Boston, New York and the Los Angeles Clippers, which represent two of the top 3 defenses in the league. Barnes had 50-burgers against the Memphis Grizzlies and Chicago Bulls, so that is very much on the menu tonight.

Barnes took a major step forward this season, becoming the focus of the offense when Fred VanVleet signed with Houston. The 22-year-old is producing personal highs across the board with 20.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.5 blocks in just about half a minute more per game than last season. Pascal Siakam, O.G. Anunoby and Precious Achiuwa moving on has meant getting RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley and Bruce Brown Jr. acclimated to the offense, so each game this new group is together, we should see additional growth.

This game has a lofty 242.5 projected point total, so there are ample options from each side, in addition to Barnes. Quickley is out with a quad strain, Jakob Poeltl (ankle) is not quite ready to return and now Barrett has popped up on the injury report with knee swelling.

Jontay Porter had been getting time at the center position, but he is on the short end of the split with veteran Thaddeus Young and now dealing with an eye issue. Young does a little bit of everything, and he is still able to produce around a fantasy point per minute when given extended run.

Barrett has assumed the role of secondary scorer, and he has rattled off 20-plus points in five of the last six games. Brown has entered the starting lineup, which should give him access to 30 minutes of run, and he too has a history of being a solid fantasy option who does not need to score to be productive. Gary Trent Jr. is a wild card who could earn extra minutes if he is dialed in from downtown, and this is a “Remember Me?!” game for Dennis Schroder, who is locked into 25 to 30 minutes with Quickley on the shelf.

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Trae Young is a core building block this evening, and he seems to have recovered from his recent concussion. Dejounte Murray, Jalen Johnson and Bogdan Bogdanovic are secondary tournament targets, depending on your DFS site of choice, as well as various salary cap constraints and positional needs.

Phoenix Suns at Orlando Magic

This month the Orlando Magic have a 114.7 defensive efficiency rating, which is a top-10 mark during this timeframe. That typically has us skipping over most of their opponents, but with just six teams in the player pool tonight, that is not a luxury that is available. Speaking of availability, both Jusuf Nurkic (thumb) and Bradley Beal (nasal fracture) are questionable tonight. That would mean more usage for Kevin Durant and Devin Booker, who already have an oversized role in the Phoenix offense.

Booker laid down a monster performance on Friday in Indiana, scoring 62 points, including 29 in the first quarter. In the last two games, he has 108 points, which has resulted in an elevated salary. That in turn has his popularity at around one-third of Durant’s, making him an intriguing tournament play once again. Don’t worry about Durant; he is still an elite scorer and could just as easily drop 40 in any game as Booker.

Beal will probably play, but if he misses this game, Grayson Allen and Eric Gordon will become secondary options. If Nurkic is out, some combination of Drew Eubanks, Chimezie Metu and Udoka Azubuike will man the center minutes, with Durant always a small-ball option. The edge will go to whoever is starting between Eubanks and Metu, with Azubuike being a lottery ticket for those building 25-plus lineups. Again, this is only if Nurkic is out.

The Magic are mostly healthy, with Gary Harris being the only player expected to miss this game. That makes for a crowded rotation, so unless something funny happens prior to tip-off, Franz Wagner, Paolo Banchero and Wendell Carter Jr. are the only above-average recommendations.

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Chicago Bulls at Portland Trail Blazers

Zach LaVine and Patrick Williams are out, which means we are likely to see an eight- or nine-man rotation from Chicago. DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic and Coby White remain the most steadfast DFS selections. Dalen Terry is popping up on DraftKings ($3,200) and FanDuel ($3,900), and even with a mid-teens projection, he is a fringe option for tournaments.

Andre Drummond can always rack up points in a hurry, and depending on who is available for Portland, there is a chance that the Bulls could press their 7.0-point road favorite status early and give Drummond extra run down the stretch. Alex Caruso and Ayo Dosunmu are safer plays and they will not clog up the center position, but they lack the upside of Drummond.

Shaedon Sharpe is out, while Malcolm Brogdon (knee), Scoot Henderson (quad), Jabari Walker (knee), Anfernee Simons (ribs) and Jerami Grant (back) are all questionable, with a couple likely to sit tonight. Until we have more clarity, there are too many if/then variables to cover, but just know that gamers could be impatient or even forget to check for news for this 9 p.m. ET game if they are distracted by the NFC Championship playing out at the same time.

Additional NBA DFS Pick — Sports Betting Opportunities

Jalen Johnson is a fun fantasy player since he contributes across the box score, but tonight the under on his 8.5 rebounds prop looks ripe to target. That bet is currently available at -110, and per the true odds of -118 (how OddsShopper measures the potential expected ROI of a given wager), this opportunity has a decent 3% 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 that sharp book Pinnacle is at -126, so be a savvy shopper!

This season, Johnson is averaging 32.6 minutes and 8.1 rebounds per game, both of which represent career highs. NBA Bet Pro currently has the third-year wing projected for 34.4 minutes and 8.77 boards. This wager is likely to come down to the wire and is mostly predicated on Johnson getting above his season average for minutes. Over the last 10 games, Toronto has been the worst rebounding team in the league, with Atlanta also in the bottom quartile.

In his last nine games, Johnson has corralled nine or more caroms on three occasions (33.3%), landing on seven another three times. It is never fun rooting for unders, but that is where the value usually resides on sports books.

Here is a terrific article from Dave “Loughy” Loughran on OddsShopper breaking down why it is important to consider wagering on unders.

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Final Thoughts on NBA DFS Picks & Building Blocks Today

Check out the Stokastic NBA Process Show with Josh Engleman on YouTube, breaking down all of the key elements for today’s slate. Brought to you by BetMGM– new users, use this link to receive $158 in Bonus Bets when you bet $5 ahead of Super Bowl 58! Full details here.

Eric MacPherson
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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