Welcome back to Thursday Night DFS Dunks!  The countdown to Christmas has begun! You have 23 days to master these strategies so we can beat up on those casuals when they arrive for us on Santa’s sleigh.  We had the day off last week so let’s refresh our brains before tonight’s five-game slate.

If you’re new to this article, I break down tonight’s NBA slate and give you my starting five for both FanDuel and Draftkings.  These will be my core plays (guys I’ll be playing in my lineups with my money) for hitting the cash line in 50/50s and double-up contests.  If you’re looking for GPP winning plays you’ll have to follow me on Twitter (@TimmySperos) and then we can talk. At the end of the article, I’ll have a pool of three to five players I like that you can use to fill in the rest of your lineups. It’s important to have a process in DFS so let’s review the strategies you should be thinking about.


  1. Focus on teams with high game totals and a high pace of play. On tonight’s slate, the Suns play at a pace of 101.17 (4th fastest in the league) possessions per game and face the Pistons who are bottom ten in both defensive rating and turnovers.
  2. Select players from high game totals who play lots of minutes and have high usage rates or FPP (fantasy points per minute). Over time, when comparing two players with similar salaries, choose minutes over a hot hand. It’s the correct thing to do.
  3. NBA may be the toughest DFS sport to play for a few reasons.  Number one is time. Throughout the season players will get ruled out for rest, injury, or because they think the Earth is flat. This tends to happen shortly before lock or even after lock as we experienced last year. It’s imperative that you make yourself available for the 15 minutes before lock or you may lose some money for a simple user error.   

Ok now that you know the basics, it’s time for tonight’s slam dunks.

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Tonight’s five-game slate: 

Time 7:30 PM ET 7:30 PM ET 8:00 PM ET 9:00 PM ET 10:00 PM ET
Total 209.5 215 212.5 208.5 216

The Starting Five

Landry Shamet, PG/SG, PHX (DK $3100, FD $3800)

Shamet averages 0.77 fantasy points per minute in 18.1 mpg. NOT great numbers here. So why is he in my starting five? Devin Booker who leads the Suns in both usage rate (31%) and scoring (23 points per game) is out. At close to the minimum price on both sites, Shamet is in line for 30 minutes tonight. Detroit is turnover-prone and bad at defense so Shamet should see PLENTY of opportunities. This is a no-brainer.

Cam Johnson, SF/PF, PHX (DK $4200, FD $3900)

Did you catch on? There is a theme here. Here come the Suns. Booker played about 15 minutes in the last game vs. GSW before going out with his finger injury. Cam is the one who stepped up with the starters scoring 14 points in 29 minutes.  His usage rate of 16% isn’t anything to wow you but it’s still higher than both Crowder and Bridges (14% each). He typically acts as the second unit’s scoring wing but with Booker out he will get 5-10 more minutes a game and won’t be this cheap after tonight.

CJ McCollum, PG/SG, POR (DK $8500, FD $8000) 

Portland plays the Spurs tonight who run at the fifth-fastest pace in the league at 100.7 possessions per game. Dollar Dame is out making rap videos (he’s actually hurt) and in 35 games CJ has played without him his usage rate goes from 26% to 33.7%.  CJ has a 50-point ceiling every night and if this game is close it’s even more likely he gets there tonight. His price has gone up, but this is about what he should be at. It’s simple. When Lillard sits, you play CJ.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, PF/C, MIL (DK $1200, FD $1100) 

The Greek Freak! I could just end this blurb right there and you should know to play him but I’ll give you a few supporting arguments. Yes, he’s the highest-priced player by more than $1000 on both sites, but no one else comes close to his 1.77 fantasy points per minute. The Bucks play at the eighth-fastest pace and should be in a close game vs Toronto who has  Siakam back to go along with Fred VanVleet, who’s playing at a high level. With so much value tonight, Giannis is a lock in all formats.

Jusuf Nurkic, C, POR (DK $7000, FD $6700) 

Nurkic averages 1.31 fantasy points per minute (fourth-best for tonight’s slate). Wow, that’s elite right? Well, it’s not Giannis-Esque but yes, it’s elite. The problem is he doesn’t play big minutes. Only once this season has Nurkic played more than 30 minutes. Nurk only gets a two percent bump on usage without Lillard in the lineup but it’s something. As mentioned before, the Spurs play at a fast pace so there should be plenty of rebounds for Nurk to grab even if he only plays 27 minutes. On this five-game slate at this mid-tier price, I like Nurk a lot.

Other guys on my radar:

Feel free to hit me up on Twitter if you have any questions or need help with lineup building. Good luck tonight and I’ll see you guys next week!

Cousin Timmy