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Fantasy Basketball Picks: Top DraftKings NBA Snake DFS Strategy for January 12

Matt LaMarca breaks down Tuesday’s DraftKings NBA Snake contest, which locks at 7:00 p.m. ET.

NBA: Oklahoma City Thunder at Brooklyn Nets Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA season is in full swing, and DraftKings has released a new fantasy format for the current season. Snake Draft contests are now available for the NBA in addition to the NFL, including for Tuesday’s NBA slate.

If you’ve ever played season-long fantasy before – either for NBA or any other sport – you’re likely familiar with how a Snake Draft works. In short, for these contests, once the allotted number of entries are filled in a contest, the draft will begin one minute later. The entrants are assigned a random draft order and will commence in that order. The player with the first pick gets dibs on everyone while the player with the last pick will get a double pick, as it’ll end the first round and thus begin the second.

Roster requirements for lineups: G – 2, F/C – 2, Util – 2

Visit the DraftKings NBA lobby to view all the available NBA Snake contests!


Favorable Early Round Targets

Nikola Jokic, F/C, Denver Nuggets
NBA Snake Rank: 1st

Jokic is the highest-ranked player on the slate, and it’s hard to imagine selecting anyone over him. He’s coming off two straight down performances, but he wasn’t really needed in either contest. The Nuggets recorded comfortable victories in both games, so Jokic saw reduced playing time in both.

That said, he should bounce back if tonight’s game vs. the Nets is more competitive. Jokic has averaged more fantasy points per game and minute than any other player on the slate, which gives him elite upside every time he takes the floor. The Nets are also a strong matchup, allowing the fourth-most points per game in the paint this season.

Kevin Durant, F/C, Brooklyn Nets
NBA Snake Rank: 8th

After Jokic, you can make a strong argument that Durant deserves to be the next player off the board. He wasn’t limited in his first game back in the lineup, finishing with 58.25 DKFP over 38 minutes vs. the Thunder. He also had his trademark efficiency working, scoring 36 points on just 21 shot attempts.

He should be asked to carry another large offensive workload vs. the Nuggets. Kyrie Irving will miss his fourth straight game for personal reasons, and Durant has thrived in that situation so far this season. He’s increased his usage rate by a team-high +5.6% with Irving off the court, resulting in an average of 1.55 DKFP per minute.

The Nuggets also represent a solid matchup. They rank 17th in terms of defensive efficiency to start the season, and the Nets’ implied team total of 115.5 is the second-highest mark on the slate.


Early Round Player to Avoid

Joel Embiid, F/C, Philadelphia 76ers
NBA Snake Rank: 5th

Embiid is a player that you’re going to have to take a stance on. The 76ers are currently scheduled to take on the Miami Heat, but there is a solid chance that this game doesn’t actually play. The Heat only have six players that aren’t on the injury report or in health and safety protocols, and they need to have a minimum of eight active players for this game to take place. They currently have three players listed as questionable – Kelly Olynyk, Meyers Leonard, and Gabe Vincent – and they’ll need at least two of them to suit up for this game to play.

There’s no late swap in the Snake format, so if you roll the dice on Embiid, you’re stuck with him. If this game gets postponed, you’re not going to get any points from your first-round pick. That makes him too rich for my blood as the No. 5 ranked player.

I would be more comfortable taking him towards the back end of the first round. If he falls to the 10th or 11th pick, it’s worth discussing if his upside outweighs the cancellation risk. Earlier than that, you can grab a player with comparable upside who doesn’t carry the same concerns (Anthony Davis, Domantas Sabonis, Andre Drummond, etc.).

Also, make sure to remove Irving and Bam Adebayo from your draft boards. Both players have been ruled out, but both players are still being drafted.


Late Round Flyers

It should be noted that these players are ranked below the threshold of players that would be drafted. This section tries to exploit players who are in favorable matchups and are down the rank list.

Darius Bazley, F/C, Oklahoma City Thunder
NBA Snake Rank: 40

Bazley has not been the most consistent player this season, but we’re not looking for consistency in this format. We’re looking for upside, and Bazley offers plenty of that at his current ADP. He’s ranked outside the range of draftable players in the six-team format, and his ADP of 34.7 means he’s likely to be available with your last pick of the draft.

Bazley is coming off back-to-back games with 18.25 DKFP or less, but he scored at least 35.5 DKFP in each of his three prior contests. That kind of upside gives him the ability to outscore every other player in this range, which is extremely valuable.

Damyean Dotson, G, Cleveland Cavaliers
NBA Snake Rank: 64th

The Cavaliers are extremely banged up at the moment. Darius Garland, Kevin Love, Kevin Porter Jr., and Dante Exum all remain out of the lineup. At the same time, Collin Sexton is questionable after missing the past three games due to an ankle injury. It does seem like Sexton is close to returning – he was listed as a starter on Monday before being scratched late – but Dotson should still have a solid role with the Cavs even with Sexton back in the lineup. He’s finished with at least 26.5 DKFP in three straight games, and he’s displayed a ceiling of more than 40 fantasy points over that time frame.

Isaiah Joe, G, Philadelphia 76ers
NBA Snake Rank: 76th

I’m not going to lie; Joe is someone I had never heard of until a few days ago. He emerged for the 76ers when they played with just seven players on Saturday vs. the Nuggets, and he logged nearly 45 minutes in that contest. The 76ers also relied on him Monday vs. the Hawks, and he finished with 32.0 DKFP over 28 minutes. Philly is still going to be missing a large chunk of their rotation if their game vs. the Heat is played as scheduled, so Joe should once again be looking at a solid role off the bench.

Joe carries the same risk that I mentioned earlier with Embiid, but it’s much easier to roll the dice on someone who is not coming off the board in most drafts. His Snake draft rank of 76 puts him on the fringe of being drafted in even 12-team formats.

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is mlamarca) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.

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