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Fantasy Basketball Picks: Top DraftKings NBA Snake DFS Strategy for January 7

Stan Son breaks down Thursday’s DraftKings NBA Snake contest, which locks at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Washington Wizards v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

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 Thursday’s five-game 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

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Favorable Early Round Targets

Luka Doncic, G, Dallas Mavericks at Denver Nuggets
NBA Snake Rank: 2nd

Doncic got off to a slow start this season, as he failed to eclipse 50.0 DKFP in each of the first four games, with one output even below 25.0 DKFP. On a per minute basis, he was averaging 1.39 DKFP per minute. For perspective, he posted 1.66 DKFP per minute last season. However, his conditioning and legs weren’t under him yet, so good times were sure to come.

Well, in the last game against the Heat, Luka broke out and went for 58.75 DKFP. Halle-f’ing-Luka!! He now gets a matchup against the Nuggets, who are tied for 28th in defensive efficiency and boost the fantasy points per minute of opposing point guards by 11.31%.

DK Sportsbook has the Mavericks as 3-point underdogs, so the game should be competitive. Luka is garnering a usage rate of 37.3% on the season, so if the game is going to remain close, he’s going to be an instrumental reason why.

Joel Embiid, F/C, Philadelphia 76ers at Brooklyn Nets
NBA Snake Rank: 7th

On the season, Embiid is averaging 1.55 DKFP per minute. He hasn’t had a game below 40.0 DKFP and has gone over 60.0 DKFP two times. The floor/ceiling combo is one of the best in the game.

He now faces a Nets team that boosts the fantasy points per minute to opposing centers by 3.69%. In his lone game last season against Brooklyn, Embiid produced 39 points, 16 rebounds, two assists, two steals and five blocks for 69.5 DKFP. It’s a different year, different team and different coach, but Jarrett Allen and DeAndre Jordan are still the centers on the Nets.

DK Sportsbook has this game close, with the 76ers favored by 1.5 points, so Embiid should play a ton and have many opportunities to produce fantasy goodies. On the season, he’s garnering a 28.8% usage rate and hoisting up 15.1 shots per game.


Early Round Player to Avoid

Kyrie Irving, G, Brooklyn Nets vs. Philadelphia 76ers
NBA Snake Rank: 6th

Editor’s Note: Nets PG Kyrie Irving (personal) has been ruled out for tonight’s game vs. the 76ers.

I hate having to write up Kyrie in this section because I do like him. I just like the other players better in the early rounds, so it is what it is. Please don’t throw internet tomatoes at my head if he balls out.

Without Kevin Durant on the court, Kyrie is averaging 1.67 DKFP per minute. He put up 51.5 DKFP in the first game Durant did not start alongside him. The usage rate is 30.6% and he’s hoisting up 20.0 shots per game. Can I change the heading to “Players I Like” instead? I kid.

The 76ers are 7-1 on the season, primarily due to their league-leading defensive efficiency. The fantasy points per minute boost to opposing point guards is 1.44%, but much of that is a result of rebounds and assists. When it comes to scoring and three-pointers, the 76ers are excellent, negating scoring by 16.82% (4th) and three-pointers by 30.45% (1st).

Kyrie is going to get his because he will have the ball in his hands so often, but the matchup could make it difficult to produce a ceiling outcome.


Later Round Fliers

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.

Bruce Brown, G, Brooklyn Nets vs. Philadelphia 76ers
NBA Snake Rank: 90th

The starting lineup for the first game without Durant was Irving, Brown, Allen, Jeff Green and Taurean Prince. Brown played 23 minutes and contributed six points, six rebounds and five assists, good for 20.5 DKFP. That game was a laugher, though, as the 76ers dispatched of the Jazz rather quickly. As a result, it’s likely Brown could’ve approached 30 minutes of playing time if the game was competitive. On the season — granted in only 36 minutes of action — he is averaging 0.8 DKFP per minute.

The 76ers boost fantasy points per minute to opposing shooting guards by 14.53% and Brown isn’t just a spot-up shooter, so he has multiple paths to producing fantasy goodies.

Willie Cauley-Stein, F/C, Dallas Mavericks at Denver Nuggets
NBA Snake Rank: 83rd

This is all predicated on if Cauley-Stein starts or not. Rick Carlisle tweaked the starting lineup last game, with WCS at center, and he produced 15 points, seven rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block in 24 minutes for 30.75 DKFP. Carlisle did say that the starting lineup will be fluid and based on matchups, so with Jokic on the menu, there’s a good chance WCS sees another start.

Gary Trent, G, Portland Trail Blazers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
NBA Snake Rank: 76th

It’s scary relying on one-dimensional players like Trent who don’t contribute much outside of points because when they are cold, all you see are snowflakes. With that said, when he’s hot, Trent will heat check until he can’t heat check anymore.

He put up 36.75 DKFP while 7-for-11 shooting from downtown back in December against the Lakers, so there’s ceiling. DK Sportsbook has the Trail Blazers favored by 9.5 points with a healthy O/U of 233, so the environment could be a good one. Finally, the Timberwolves are 28th in defensive efficiency and boost the fantasy points per minute to opposing shooting guards by 19.11%.

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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is sontzu) 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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