Detroit Pistons guard Cory Joseph
Detroit Pistons guard Cory Joseph (18) and Denver Nuggets guard Austin Rivers (25) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Jan. 23, 2022, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)


Mike Shara

A new month begins. Overall, January was a productive one for me in DFS picks, as I came out ahead despite a few absolutely brutal nights. February 1 begins the NBA’s sprint towards the trade deadline (Feb 10) and the All-Star weekend (Feb 18-20), so there will be plenty of interesting angles to keep an eye on this month and hopefully an abundance of sneaky ways to get an advantage in DFS, too. Here are a few players I’m considering using today in hopes of starting off another month on a positive note:

DEMARCUS COUSINS, C, Denver ($3,400 on DraftKings)
The Nuggets had Boogie listed as “Probable” before Sunday’s blowout win vs. Milwaukee but erred on the side of caution by keeping him on the bench with a foot issue. Ironically tonight Denver’s superstar center Nikola Jokic is “Questionable” after he sustained a foot injury in that game. If the Joker isn’t going to play tonight, Cousins is an absolute must start. However, even if Jokic does suit up, Cousins is still worth rostering. In his last two games with the Nuggets (he just joined the team two weeks ago), he has recorded over 20 DFS points per game while playing just 12 or 13 minutes. If those minutes go up tonight – and there’s a good chance they do – his value becomes undeniable. Make sure you check updates as late as possible to make sure he’s going to suit up.


KELLY OLYNYK, C, Detroit ($5,200 on DraftKings)
He missed two months due to a knee injury, returned to the Pistons’ lineup and registered 22 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, a steal and a block in just 22 minutes. Granted those lofty numbers were against a bad Sacramento team, but that’s pretty astounding productivity, especially after so much time off. Today the Pistons are at home against a New Orleans team that traveled last night and is already thin in their frontcourt due to injury. Olynyk has missed the last 10 days with Covid, but he clearly doesn’t need time to assimilate himself nor does he need to play huge minutes to be productive and his price tag on DraftKings is pretty reasonable.

CORY JOSEPH, PG, Detroit ($4,400 on DraftKings)
Tonight, the Pistons will welcome Jerami Grant back to their lineup after a 24 game absence due to a thumb injury and an all-too-predictable trip to the COVID list just as he was preparing to come back last week. His price seems steep tonight considering the long absence. However, Grant and Joseph are both players that have been mentioned in trade rumors and could be useful to contending teams looking to lengthen their rotations. Joseph is playing more minutes lately, partly due to Killian Hayes’ injury troubles, but probably also to showcase what he could do for a good team off the bench. He’s scored double-digit points in a few games recently and the Pelicans are among the NBA’s worst teams at defending the three-point shot. If he gets a few shots to fall tonight after a bad shooting night on Sunday, at that price you’re playing with house money.

NICOLAS CLAXTON, C, Brooklyn ($4,100 on DraftKings)
Tonight, the Nets have a daunting task, having to go on the road to play a Phoenix team that has the best record in the NBA and is among the leading defensive teams in the league as well. That said, Brooklyn will be without LaMarcus Aldridge (ankle) tonight and the Suns will continue to sit center DeAndre Ayton, too, so Claxton may have a nice dual opportunity in store for him tonight. He’s certainly affordable and a few weeks back he had a few huge games before injuring his hamstring and missing some time. His minutes should go up tonight, and with it so should his value and production.

PASCAL SIAKAM, PF, Toronto ($9,000 on DraftKings)
Last night against Atlanta Siakam had 25 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 blocks and 2 steals but because his team is playing the second half of a back-to-back tonight, his salary actually dropped by $600. It’s an understandable rationale by DK, but Siakam is an athletic beast who is more than capable of handling a big workload on subsequent nights. He had 59 DFS points vs. Milwaukee in the second half of a double header a few weeks back while playing 40 minutes. The Heat are missing some key players tonight, including Jimmy Butler and Kyle Lowry – and Miami also played and traveled last night. The Raptors’ rotation is extremely tight, with several players averaging almost 40 minutes per game. Siakam is used to a heavy load by now – Miami’s reserve players might not be. There’s still a good chance he has a feast tonight at home.

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