Washington Wizards center Daniel Gafford
Washington Wizards center Daniel Gafford (21) in action during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Charlotte Hornets, Monday, Jan. 3, 2022, in Washington. The Wizards won 124-121. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)


Mike Shara

Only 6 games tonight, so you may have to work a bit harder to find plays you like. Remember to wait as long as possible before submitting your lineups – with a smallish schedule you need every informational advantage you can find and a lot of it reveals itself as the day goes along. No games start today until 7:30 pm ET so you have plenty of time to process any tidbits you acquire over the afternoon to make your team better. I write these articles in the morning, so a lot can change after they’ve gone to press (like finding out that OG Anunoby broke his finger in practice Thursday after I mildly recommended him for last night’s games). Keeping that in mind, here’s an early view of what looks good this beautiful a.m.


BRANDON GOODWIN, PG, Cleveland ($4,200 on DraftKings, $5,400 on FanDuel)
On a small slate night, he may be over 50% owned today, but it’s hard to look past him, especially on DraftKings. FanDuel seems to have a little better sense of how important he’s going to be for the Cavs the next little while. Caris Levert, Darius Garland and now Rajon Rondo are all out for tonight’s home game vs. the Wiz, meaning the offense will be run through Goodwin for the 35 minutes he’s probable for. Cleveland had a terrible game two nights ago vs. Detroit, but Goodwin was still a 1.25 DFS points-per-minute performer Thursday despite their struggles. I’d expect a better overall effort from his team despite the injuries – they are playing the Wizards, after all – and I’d expect Goodwin to be at the epicenter of it all. Incidentally, that’s like 5 Cavaliers point guards that have gone down with injuries this season already. Be careful, Brandon – this could be a Spinal Tap drummer kind of scenario.

NIKOLA JOKIC, C, Denver ($12,000 on DraftKings, $11,500 on FanDuel)
It’s strange (maybe even incomprehensible) that despite Jokic putting up a line of 25 points, 12 rebounds, 9 assists, a block and 4 steals against the Kings in Sacramento two days ago, his salary has gone down 500 bucks on DK despite facing the same sad-sack Sac-Town team except tonight his Nuggets are at home! It’s pretty well understood that Denver’s thin air is a big advantage vs. visiting teams, especially when you’re sucking wind trying to chase down those Jokic floor-length football passes down 11 points late in the third quarter. He’s not a sneaky pick today, per se, but he’s a fun one. You’ll just have to be sneakier with your picks elsewhere in order to be able to enjoy the riches that come your way from rostering him. Say, perhaps…

THADDEUS YOUNG, PF/C, Toronto ($3,200 on DraftKings, $4,000 on FanDuel)
FD seems a little more cognizant that Young played over 20 minutes last night for the Raptors despite their normally tight rotations. Thad didn’t have a big DFS scoring night (5 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists), but let’s be clear – no one on Toronto’s roster had a good night last. They got blown out by Charlotte by over 30 points and weren’t even in the game after the first 10 minutes. With OG Anunoby out for a bit with a finger injury, Young will likely see at least those 20 minutes again tonight and has a solid chance of outperforming yesterday’s totals. His veteran presence, playing time opportunity, strong point-per-minute averages and deeply discounted price tag make him a better pick than teammates Chris Boucher, Khem Birch or Precious Achiuwa, especially because he covers two different roster positions and the Raptors have a tough schedule of 5 games in the next 7 days, so they’ll need to rely on their bench players more than usual.

TRAE YOUNG, PG, Atlanta ($9,500 on DraftKings, $9,200 on FanDuel)
Young seems a bit underpriced on both formats today, even though he’s not exactly cheap. The Raptors will be missing their best on-ball defender today (Anunoby) and flew into Atlanta late last night after a rough loss in Charlotte. The Hawks will be well-rested and, without John Collins in the lineup, Young’s usage rates increase notably. His assist numbers drop a bit, but his scoring increases and his minutes go up a bit, too, which more than makes up for it. He played 37 minutes two nights ago vs. Chicago, and though he looked a bit rusty, it’s doubtful he has another off night tonight at home vs. a tired, shorthanded Raptors squad.

DANIEL GAFFORD, C, Washington ($3,100 on DraftKings, $3,700 on FanDuel)
Yes, I know I’ve already recommended two dudes who qualify at center, but if you’re going to want Jokic or Trae tonight, you’re going to need to save money elsewhere. If you make Thad Young your PF and Gafford your Utility guy on DraftKings, you can actually afford both of the superstars. Why would you want a nondescript center from the Wizards, like…ever? Because Washington played a double overtime game last night and then traveled to Cleveland. Kristaps Porzingis, their chief trade deadline acquisition this year, is still on the injured list and they’re going to need contributions from everywhere to cover minutes vs. the Cavs tonight. Check to see if he’s going to start the game. If he does, you’re looking at at least 24 minutes of point-per-minute player at a bare minimum salary. That works.

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