NBA DFS Picks Breakdown (Monday, Dec. 26): Keep Rolling With the Pelicans

Monday features a seven-game slate starting at 7 pm ET.

Let’s dive into some of the top plays on the slate using the FantasyLabs tools and metrics.

Also, don’t forget that for large-field tournaments, you can utilize our Lineup Optimizer to effortlessly create up to 150 lineups, or use our Lineup Builder if you like to hand-build your lineups.

Note: Projections and Leverages Scores/Ratings may change throughout the day after this article is posted. The NBA DFS landscape changes quickly.

Consult the NBA Player Models directly for any updates as we get closer to lock. Use the PrizePicks promo code LABS to get a $100 sign-up bonus for NBA player props.

NBA DFS Point Guard Picks

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The day after Christmas always comes with a bit of a hangover, and that’s true in the NBA. Most of the league’s top superstars are in action on the 25th, so they get the night off on the 26th. That means the stud options aren’t quite as strong as they are on most slates.

However, D’Angelo Russell has played well for the Timberwolves recently, and he should continue to benefit from the absence of Karl-Anthony Towns. He’s increased his usage rate by +1.3% in 10 games without Towns this season, and he’s averaged just under 36 minutes per game in those contests. Russell has averaged 1.06 DraftKings points per minute over the past month, but his ceiling is significantly higher than that. He racked up 48.75 DraftKings points in his last contest thanks to 21 points, seven rebounds, and 10 assists, so he has plenty of upside at $7,400.


Value

Mike Conley stands out as one of the best options in the backcourt on Monday. The Jazz drew one of the best possible matchups vs. the Spurs, who rank eighth in pace and dead last in defensive efficiency. Utah is currently implied for 120 points, the third-highest mark on the slate, and Conley owns an Opponent Plus/Minus of +9.64 on DraftKings.

Conley hasn’t played particularly well following an extended injury absence, but he’s still averaging 0.91 DraftKings points per minute this season. He’s playing around 28 minutes per game at the moment, so that gives him appeal in a potential shootout.


Fast Break

LaMelo Ball has been a stud since returning to the lineup for the Hornets, posting a positive Plus/Minus in seven straight games. He’s had at least 45.0 FanDuel points in each of his past four, and he’s averaged a stout 1.33 FanDuel points per minute over the past month. Ball has gotten a bit too expensive, but he remains firmly in play on FanDuel. His $8,900 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 98%, and his 11 Pro Trends are tied for the most at the position.

With Cade Cunningham officially done for the year, Killian Hayes has a chance to cement his spot in the Pistons’ future plans. He’s had a wide range of outcomes recently, but the highs have been very high. He’s gone for at least 34.0 FanDuel points in three of his past six games, giving him plenty of upside at just $5,700.

NBA DFS Shooting Guard Picks

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Zion Williamson was initially expected to return to the lineup on Monday, but he has been downgraded to doubtful due to return to competition conditioning. Brandon Ingram remains out of the lineup, so CJ McCollum should once again take on an expanded role. He’s been outstanding for fantasy purposes of late, posting a positive Plus/Minus in five straight games, and he’s seen a massive boost in value with Williamson and Ingram off the floor. He’s increased his usage rate by a team-high +4.9% and his assist rate by +6.2%, giving him far more upside than usual.

McCollum has gotten priced up across the industry, but his matchup vs. the Pacers make up for it. They rank third in pace and 21st in defensive efficiency, and the Pelicans’ implied team total of 121.5 ranks second on the slate.


Value

The Bulls are currently playing without Alex Caruso, and they team opted for a very tight rotation in their last contest. They played just eight players, with Come on Dosun finishing with 32.7 minutes. Dosunmu has averaged 26.5 minutes per game this season, so that represents a sizable increase in playing time.

Dosunmu has played at least 32.7 minutes in back-to-back games, and he has exceeded salary-based expectations in both. That includes 27.75 DraftKings points in his last contest, and he has the potential for a similar effort vs. the Rockets. They rank just 28th in defensive efficiency this season, so it’s a phenomenal matchup.


Fast Break

Trey Murphy is another potential option for the Pelicans. He’s coming off more than 39.5 minutes in their last outing, and he responded with 36.25 DKFP. With Williamson and Dyson Daniels doubtful and Herb Jones out, he should be locked into another massive workload.

The Blazers lead the slate with a 122.0 implied team total, and Keon Johnson is a way to get some exposure to them at a minimum price tag. He hasn’t played a ton of minutes, but Johnson has averaged 0.94 DraftKings points per minute over the past month. He’s currently projected for 18.7 minutes in our NBA Models, and that should be enough to return value vs. the Hornets.

NBA DFS Small Forward Picks

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The Clippers are another team with an excellent matchup on this slate. Detroit ranks 29th in defensive efficiency, and the Clippers will also be playing without Kawhi Leonard. He’s been ruled out due to injury management, so the rest of the roster should see a boost on Monday.

Paul George stands out as one of the biggest beneficiaries. He’s seen a team-high +2.5% usage bump in games without Leonard this season, resulting in an average of 43.13 DraftKings points per game. George also has an average salary of more than $9,600 in those contests, so he’s a bit cheaper than usual at $9,000. Given the matchup, there’s plenty of merit to paying up for George on a slate without a ton of star power.


Value

With the Pelicans now looking very shorthanded, Naji Marshall becomes the top value option at small forward. He averaged 0.87 DraftKings points per minute over the past month, and he racked up just under 34 minutes in the team’s last outing. He responded with 32.5 DraftKings points, and Marshall has averaged 32.44 DraftKings points in 16 career games with at least 30 minutes of playing time (per the Trends tool).


Fast Break

Patrick Williams is another potential cheap option at the position. He’s playing all the minutes he can handle for the shorthanded Bulls, and he’s currently projected for 34.7 minutes in our NBA Models. Williams isn’t the greatest per-minute producer, but that’s a ton of playing time for someone who costs just $4,600. He’s also posted a positive Plus/Minus in seven of his past nine games on DraftKings.

DeMar DeRozan leads the position with 12 Pro Trends on FanDuel, where he is slightly underpriced at $8,500. He’s posted an average Plus/Minus of +5.87 over his past 10 games, and he can do some damage against the Rockets.

NBA DFS Power Forward Picks

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Lauri Markkanen has had a phenomenal first season in Utah. The former no. 7 overall pick has had a slow start to his career, but the change of scenery has helped him unlock some of his natural abilities. He averaged 22.8 points through his first 32 games, which puts him on pace to shatter last year’s average of 14.8. Markkanen has also averaged 1.19 DKFP per minute over the past month, and he racked up 51.75 DraftKings points over 35.8 minutes two games ago. Ultimately, he has plenty of upside at his current price tag in a juicy matchup vs. the Spurs.


Value

Jabari Smith was the no. 3 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, and he has quietly started to make an impact. He’s increased his production to 0.88 DraftKings points per minute over the past month, and he erupted for 45.5 DraftKings points in his last outing. Smith has also increased his usage rate to 21.9% across his past five games after averaging a 17.3% usage rate in his first 26 contests. If he can maintain his elevated usage, he has the potential for even better fantasy numbers moving forward.

Smith would also benefit if Eric Gordon is ultimately ruled out. He’s currently questionable with a thumb injury, and Smith has increased his usage rate by +2.3% in games without Gordon this season.


Fast Break

Jeremy Sochan is another rookie who has started to play much better. He’s posted a positive Plus/Minus in three straight games on DraftKings, including at least 33.75 DraftKings points in back-to-back games. He’s displayed some quality passing chops for a big man, handing out at least three assists in six of his past eight games, and he’s posted a usage rate of at least 22.1% in four straight contests.

Jerami Grant stands out as a solid value on FanDuel, where his $7,000 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 70%. Grant hasn’t been quite as productive since Damian Lillard returned to the lineup, but his salary has dipped by -$1,200 over the past 10 games. Grant has averaged a Plus/Minus of +4.51 with a comparable salary this season, so he’s an appealing buy-low target.

NBA DFS Center Picks

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The Bulls should be a very popular option on Monday, and Nikola Vucevic might be their top target. The talented big man has often been the third wheel in Chicago’s “big three,” taking a backseat to DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine. However, Vucevic has still been an excellent source of value recently, exceeding salary-based expectations in seven of his past nine games. That includes each of his past four contests, and Vucevic has scored at least 43.5 DraftKings points in three of them.

That makes him simply too cheap at $7,500 for a matchup vs. the Rockets. Houston has been surprisingly good against opposing big men this season, but Vucevic’s ability to stretch the floor makes him a tough matchup for any opponent.


Value

Andrew Drummond is also in play for the Bulls at center. One of the most notable happenings from their shortened rotation was that Vucevic and Drummond played alongside each other for 11 minutes in their last contest. That allowed him to crack the 20-minute threshold for the first time since November 13th.

The prospect of Drummond getting a few additional minutes at just $3,300 makes him really enticing. He’s historically been an elite per-minute producer, and he’s averaged 1.26 DraftKings points per minute this season. That’s the top mark among Monday’s centers.


Fast Break

Bam Adebayo has been ruled out for the Heat, which is going to create some value in their frontcourt. Orlando Robinson is currently projected for 26.3 minutes at just $3,200, which makes him one of the best per-dollar options on the slate. He draws a tough matchup vs. Rudy Gobertbut he’s a tough value to pass up.

Walker Kessler has filled in nicely for Kelly Olynyk as Utah’s starting center. He’s averaged 1.16 DraftKings points per minute over the past month, and he’s racked up at least 25.5 DraftKings points in six of his past seven games. He has been priced up across the industry, but he’s coming off 32.4 minutes in his last outing. If he continues to see that much playing time, he’s still not nearly expensive enough.

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