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Fantasy Basketball Picks: Top DraftKings NBA Snake DFS Strategy for January 5

Matt LaMarca breaks down Tuesday’s DraftKings NBA Snake contest, which locks at 7:30 p.m. ET.

NBA: Washington Wizards at Brooklyn Nets Brad Penner-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 has put together a massive start to the season. He’s averaged 60.3 DKFP through his first six games, and no one else on the slate has averaged more than 48.8. That is a pretty massive gap.

Jokic should also benefit from playing without Michael Porter Jr. Porter Jr. has already been ruled out for health and safety protocols, and he ranks third on the team with an average of 19.5 points per game. That opens up plenty of opportunities for Jokic to increase his production as a scorer on today’s slate.

Jokic also owns an elite matchup vs. the Timberwolves. The Nuggets are currently implied for 119.25 points, which is the second-highest mark on the slate, and the Timberwolves have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing centers this season.

Kyrie Irving, G, Brooklyn Nets
NBA Snake Rank: 7th

After Jokic, Irving deserves to be one of the next two or three players off the board. He’s gotten off to an excellent start in his second season with the Nets, averaging 46.6 DKFP per game through his first six contests. He was particularly effective in his last game, finishing with 59.25 DKFP vs. the Wizards.

He’s in a tough spot today vs. the Jazz, but Irving will have the benefit of playing without Kevin Durant. Durant has been ruled out for health and safety protocols, and he’s expected to miss about one full week of action. Irving has increased his usage rate by +3.8% with Durant off the court this season, resulting in an average of 1.70 DKFP per minute. He has a chance to be an absolute monster if he keeps up that level of production over the course of a full game without Durant.


Set your DraftKings fantasy basketball Classic lineups here: NBA $700K Shootaround [$150K to 1st]


Early Round Player to Avoid

LeBron James, F/C, Los Angeles Lakers
NBA Snake Rank: 2nd

James remains the best player in basketball, but he has not had a particularly dominant start to his year from a fantasy perspective. He said that he would prioritize load management before the start of the year, and he’s lived up to his word so far. He’s averaged just 32.1 minutes per game through his first seven contests, which puts him on pace for a new career-low in that department. His fantasy production has also declined to just 48.8 DKFP per game.

There’s also the chance that James is unable to suit up tonight. He’s currently listed as questionable, and while he’s been able to play through a questionable tag for most of the season, perhaps tonight is when the Lakers finally give him the night off.

Overall, LeBron has an ADP of 4.0 in the NBA Snake format, which is too rich for my blood. I’d feel more comfortable with Irving or Anthony Davis, who are both typically coming off the board after James.

Also, make sure to avoid both Durant and Karl-Anthony Towns. Both players are ranked in the top five, but both players will not suit up on tonight’s slate.


Late Round Flyers

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

Jarrett Allen, F/C, Brooklyn Nets
NBA Snake Rank: 36th

Allen is ranked as the No. 36 option, which puts him right on the cusp of being draft in six-team leagues. He hasn’t played a ton of minutes to start the year – he’s averaged 22.9 through his first seven games – but he’s still managed a very respectable 27.8 DKFP per game. That gives him an average of 1.21 DKFP per minute, which is an excellent average for a fantasy big man.

He has a chance to take on a slightly larger workload today with Durant out of the lineup. He didn’t see a huge spike in playing time in the first game that Durant missed this season, but it’s possible that he could play closer to 25 minutes on today’s slate.

Even if he doesn’t, it’s still possible that Allen could provide excellent fantasy production as your final pick. He’s scored at least 33.25 DKFP in two of his past three games, so he’s displayed a solid ceiling even with the team at full strength.

Will Barton, F/C, Denver Nuggets
NBA Snake Rank: 38th

Barton is ranked outside the range of draftable players, but his ADP is slightly higher. He’s coming off around the 30th pick in most drafts, but I still think that’s too low.

Barton has started the past two games for the Nuggets in place of Porter Jr., and he should draw another start today. He logged 36 minutes in his first start of the season, but a poor shooting night ultimately limited him to just 18.25 DKFP. He didn’t see as many minutes in his second start, but he was able to rack up 29.0 DKFP in a comfortable win over the Timberwolves. If Barton can combine the minutes from his first start with the efficiency from his second, he has the potential to be one of the best values on the slate.

Enes Kanter, F/C, Portland Trail Blazers
NBA Snake Rank: 43rd

Kanter is someone I’d be very happy to wrap up my draft with. He has always been an excellent fantasy producer on a per-minute basis, and he’s gotten the chance to play consistent minutes with the Blazers this season. He’s played at least 22 minutes in three of his past four games, and he’s unsurprisingly scored at least 23.5 DKFP in all of them. That includes a massive 44.0 DKFP performance in his last outing.

The Blazers are also in arguably the top spot of the day vs. the Bulls. They’re currently implied for 121.75 points, which is the top mark on the slate by a comfortable margin.

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


Set your DraftKings fantasy basketball Classic lineups here: NBA $700K Shootaround [$150K to 1st]


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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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