NBA DFS Picks Breakdown (Monday, Dec. 26): Keep Rolling with the Pelicans

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Monday features a slate of seven games starting at 7pm ET.

Let’s dive into some of the best plays using FantasyLabs tools and metrics.

Also, don’t forget that for big field tournaments, you can utilize our Lineup Optimizer to easily create up to 150 lineups, or use our Lineup Builder if you like to build your lineups manually.

Note: Projection and leverage scores/ratings may change throughout the day following the publication of this article. The NBA DFS landscape changes quickly.

Consult NBA player models directly for updates as we approach lockdown. Use the PrizePicks promo code LABS for a $100 NBA Player Signup Bonus.

NBA DFS Point Guard Picks

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The day after Christmas always comes with a bit of a hangover, and that’s true in the NBA. Most of the league’s superstars will be in action on the 25th, so they’ll have the night off on the 26th. This means that pin options aren’t as strong as they are on most boards.

However, D’Angelo Russell played well for the Timberwolves recently and should continue to benefit from the absence of Karl-Anthony Cities🇧🇷 He has increased his usage rate by +1.3% in 10 games without Towns this season, and has averaged just under 36 minutes per game in those competitions. Russell averaged 1.06 DraftKings points per minute last month, but his ceiling is significantly higher than that. He racked up 48.75 points on the DraftKings in his last contest thanks to 21 points, seven rebounds and 10 assists, so he has a big lead at $7,400.


Value

Mike Conley stands out as one of the best options in the backcourt this Monday. The Jazz drew one of the best possible matchups against the Spurs, who rank eighth in pace and last in defensive efficiency. Utah is currently implied to be at 120 points, the third-highest mark on the list, and Conley has a plus/minus +9.64 opponent on the DraftKings.

Conley has not played very well after a prolonged injury absence, but he is still averaging 0.91 DraftKings points per minute this season. He is playing around 28 minutes per game at the moment, which makes him attractive in a potential penalty shootout.


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LaMelo ball has been a stud since returning to the Hornets lineup, posting a plus/minus in seven straight games. He has had at least 45.0 FanDuel points in each of the last four, and has averaged 1.33 FanDuel points per minute over the last month. Ball got a little overpriced, but he’s still firmly in the game on FanDuel. His $8,900 salary comes with a 98% Bargain Rating, and his 11 career trends are tied for position.

With Cade Cunningham officially done for the year, Killian Hayes has a chance to cement his place in the Pistons’ future plans. He has had a wide range of results recently, but the highs have been very high. He’s managed at least 34.0 FanDuel points in three of his last six games, giving him quite the edge at just $5,700.

NBA DFS Pitcher Picks

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Zion Williamson was initially expected to return to the lineup on Monday, but he was downgraded to doubtful due to his return to competition conditioning. Brandon Ingram remains outside the lineup, so CJ McCollum must once again assume an expanded role. He has excelled for fantasy purposes as of late, posting a positive Over/Under in five straight games, and has seen a huge increase in value with Williamson and Ingram off the court. He increased his use rate by +4.9% and his assist rate by +6.2%, giving him a lot more perks than usual.

McCollum has risen in price across the industry, but his matchup against the Pacers makes up for it. They are third in pace and 21st in defensive efficiency, and the Pelicans’ team implied total of 121.5 is second on the list.


Value

The Bulls are currently playing without Alex Caruso, and his team opted for a very tight rotation in their last contest. They only played eight players, with Ayo Dosunmu ending with 32.7 minutes. Dosunmu has averaged 26.5 minutes per game this season, which is a considerable increase in playing time.

Dosunmu played at least 32.7 minutes in consecutive games and exceeded salary expectations in both. That includes 27.75 points by the DraftKings in his last contest, and he has the potential for a similar effort against the Rockets. They are only 28th in defensive efficiency this season, so it’s a phenomenal matchup.


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Trey Murphy is another potential option for the Pelicans. He comes from over 39.5 minutes in the last match and responded with 36.25 DKFP. With Williamson and Dyson Daniels doubtful and Herb Jones out, he should be stuck in another massive workload.

The Blazers top the list with an implied team total of 122.0 and keon johnson it’s a way to get some exposure to them for a minimal price. He didn’t play many minutes, but Johnson averaged 0.94 DraftKings points per minute over the last month. He’s currently projected for 18.7 minutes in our NBA models, and that should be enough to return value against the Hornets.

NBA DFS Small Forward Picks

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The Clippers are another team with an excellent matchup on this list. Detroit ranks 29th in defensive efficiency, and the Clippers will also play without Kawhi Leonard🇧🇷 He has been ruled out due to injury management, so the rest of the squad should get a boost on Monday.

Paulo Jorge stands out as one of the biggest beneficiaries. He has seen a +2.5% usage increase in games without Leonard this season, resulting in an average of 43.13 DraftKings points per game. George also has an average salary of over $9,600 in these competitions, so he’s a little cheaper than the usual $9,000. Given the matchup, there’s a lot of merit to paying for George on a slate without a ton of star power.


Value

With the Pelicans now looking very shorthanded, Naji Marshall becomes the highest value option in the small forward. He averaged 0.87 DraftKings points per minute last month and racked up just under 34 minutes in the team’s last game. He responded with 32.5 DraftKings points, and Marshall averaged 32.44 DraftKings points in 16 career games with at least 30 minutes played (according to the Trends tool).


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Patrick Williams is another potential cheap option in the position. He’s playing every minute he can for the Bulls shorthanded, and he’s currently projected for 34.7 minutes in our NBA models. Williams isn’t the biggest per-minute producer, but that’s a lot of playing time for someone who only costs $4,600. He also posted a positive Plus/Minus in seven of his last nine games for DraftKings.

DeMar DeRozan leads the way with 12 Pro Trends on FanDuel, where he is slightly under the $8,500 price tag. He has posted a +5.87 Over/Under average over the past 10 games and could do some damage against the Rockets.

NBA DFS Power Forward Picks

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Lauri Markkanen had a phenomenal first season in Utah. The former No. 7 overall has had a slow start to his career, but the change of scenery has helped him unlock some of his natural abilities. He is averaging 22.8 points through his first 32 games, which puts him on pace to break last year’s average of 14.8. Markkanen also averaged 1.19 DKFP per minute last month and amassed 51.75 DraftKings points in 35.8 minutes, two games behind. Ultimately, he has a lot of upside at his current price in a juicy match against Spurs.


Value

jabari smith was the third pick in the 2022 NBA Draft and has quietly started to make an impact. He increased his production to 0.88 DraftKings points per minute last month and broke out to 45.5 DraftKings points in his last outing. Smith has also increased his usage rate to 21.9% over his last five games, after averaging a 17.3% usage rate over his first 26 contests. If he can keep his usage high, he has the potential for even better fantasy numbers in the future.

Smith would also benefit if Eric Gordon ends up being discarded. He is currently questionable with a thumb injury, and Smith has increased his usage rate by +2.3% in games without Gordon this season.


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Jeremy Sochan is another rookie who started to play much better. He posted a positive Plus/Minus in three consecutive DraftKings games, including at least 33.75 DraftKings points in consecutive games. He has displayed some quality passing for a big man, dishing out at least three assists in six of his last eight games, and has posted a usage rate of at least 22.1% in four straight contests.

Jerami Grant stands out as a solid value on FanDuel, where his salary of $7,000 comes with a 70% bargain rating. Grant hasn’t been as productive since Damian Lillard returned to the lineup, but his salary dropped -$1,200 over the last 10 games. Grant averaged an Over/Under of +4.51 on a comparable salary this season, so he’s an attractive low buy target.

NBA DFS Center Picks

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The Bulls should be a very popular option on Monday, and Nikola Vucevic can be your main target. The talented big man has always been the third wheel in Chicago’s “big three”, taking a backseat to DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine🇧🇷 However, Vucevic has still been an excellent source of value recently, exceeding salary expectations in seven of his last nine games. That includes each of his last four contests, and Vucevic scored at least 43.5 DraftKings points in three of those.

That makes it simply too cheap at $7,500 for a match against the Rockets. Houston has been surprisingly good against big name opponents this season, but Vucevic’s ability to stretch the ground makes him a tough fight for any opponent.


Value

Andre Drummond it’s also up for grabs for the Bulls at center. One of the most notable developments of their reduced rotation was that Vucevic and Drummond played side-by-side for 11 minutes in their last contest. This allowed him to break the 20-minute time limit for the first time since 13 November.

The prospect of Drummond getting a few extra minutes for just $3,300 makes it really enticing. He has historically been an elite producer per minute and has averaged 1.26 DraftKings points per minute this season. That’s the top score among Monday centers.


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Bam Adebayo was ruled out for the Heat, who will create some value in their frontcourt. Orlando Robinson it’s currently projected to run at 26.3 minutes for just $3,200, making it one of the best per-dollar picks on this list. It draws a tough vs. Rudy Gobertbut he’s a hard value to pass up.

Walker Kessler filled well for Kelly Olynyk as Utah’s departure center. He averaged 1.16 DraftKings points per minute last month and has amassed at least 25.5 DraftKings points in six of his last seven games. He was quoted across the industry but is trailing 32.4 minutes in his latest outing. If he continues to see that much playing time, it’s still not expensive enough.

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