Chicago Bulls' DeMar DeRozan,
Chicago Bulls' DeMar DeRozan, center, looks to pass under pressure from Cleveland Cavaliers' Lauri Markkanen, left, Evan Mobley, behind, and Jarrett Allen during the second half of an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022, in Chicago. The Bulls won 117-104. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

SNEAKY NBA DFS PLAYS FOR JAN. 23

Mike Shara

Yes, it’s NFL Divisional Round Weekend, so maybe you’ll have to have the TV on beside your laptop for a few hours this afternoon because there are a number of good games to watch (Dallas/Memphis, Golden State/Utah) and some compelling options in NBA DFS play that you should keep at least one eye on. It’s always nice to finish the weekend with a win, especially if you had some money on the #1 seeds yesterday. Yikes. Let’s see if we can’t get back on the horse today, shall we?

DEMAR DEROZAN, PF, Chicago ($8.900 on DraftKings)
He’s not exactly inexpensive, nor is this in any way a ‘sneaky’ pick, but his circumstances seem to be ideal for him today so he leads things off. The Bulls just lost PG Alex Caruso (again) for two months after Grayson Allen’s brutal foul broke his wrist on Friday, so Chicago is without him, Zach Levine and Lonzo Ball for the foreseeable future. DeRozan is a down-ballot MVP candidate this season and is going to have to prove it over the next while. Look for him to log heavy minutes and be given a lot of scoring opportunities against a porous Orlando defense today. He played 38 minutes on Friday vs. Milwaukee, had 46.5 DFS points and yet somehow his salary went down a bit today in what should be a more rewarding matchup. Take advantage.

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FRED VANVLEET, PG, Toronto ($8,800 on DraftKings)
Raptors Head Coach is basically playing without a bench these days, levying huge minutes to his core players every night – with the players’ approval. FVV has been a chief beneficiary of that tight rotation – he’s averaging a preposterous 41 minutes per game over his last 5. On Friday vs. Washington, he responded with 21 points, 12 assists, 2 blocks(!), 2 steals and a rebound with just one turnover. Tonight Toronto faces an injury-plagued Portland team playing the last game of a 10-day road trip the day after a Saturday night off in “Miami North”. VanVleet’s DraftKings salary was as high as $10,000 just over a week ago and he’s done nothing to warrant a reduced salary since. He’s a lock for about 40 DFS points per night with a puncher’s chance at 50 or 55.

GARY TRENT JR., SG, Toronto ($4,800 on DraftKings)
All of the same factors that make VanVleet such a good buy might even be more true for his partner in the Raptors’ starting backcourt. Trent Jr. seems undervalued tonight but it is understandable – he returned on Friday after missing two weeks with ankle inflammation, played 29 minutes and had admittedly mediocre results. His salary dropped almost $1,000 dollars for today’s game, but his rhythm and conditioning should be improved and he’s facing a weaker opponent at home in a very tight rotation that all but guarantees him big minutes. Before being injured he was a great source for points, cheap steals and low turnovers. If he’s back to his old self, he’s an even cheaper source today.

WENDELL CARTER JR, PF/C, Orlando ($6,700 on DraftKings)
Back to back Juniors! In his last three full games before he injured his hamstring, Carter Jr. was averaging 43 DFS points and playing approximately 35 minutes per game. He just returned to Orlando’s lineup on Friday after missing 7 games, scoring 19 points with 5 rebounds in just 19 minutes against the Lakers. He may well be back in the starting lineup tonight, but even if he isn’t you have to assume his minutes will increase either way. As a bonus, WC2 might play with a bit of added intensity tonight against his old team and the dude he replaced on his new team (Nikola Vucevic). For a motivated dude whose salary was as much as $1,300 higher less than a month ago, this seems a strong investment for today.

RODNEY MCGRUDER, SF, Detroit ($3,400 on DraftKings)
The Pistons attempted to trade McGruder to Denver about two weeks ago and the trade fell through due to some questionable results from Bol Bol’s physicals (he’s now having foot surgery).  Clearly Detroit would still like to unload him to a contender before the February 10 trade deadline so he’s going to get a little more playing time than normal on an otherwise young, rebuilding team. The Pistons are missing Jerami Grant, Kelly Olynyk, Frank Jackson and possibly Killian Hayes today vs. the Nuggets, so there are definitely minutes available for him. McGruder is a savvy, sixth-year pro who went undrafted and had to fight his way to a spot in the league so he’s unlikely to be overwhelmed in this scenario. He may even thrive, given a chance to showcase himself for a playoff bound team.  In his last three games he has averaged 26 DFS points. At his current salary, that’s all gravy.

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