Tonight could be a tough draw for all the non-late swap fanatics.

We have 8 games in the NBA, but there are some studs on this late with injury question marks, some of which we may not have news on prior to lock.

Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin, Kevin Durant, and loosely, Kawhi Leonard (suffered a shoulder injury is unlikely to play tonight).

The injury news could be the lead almost every night for DFS purposes, which makes no-late swap on DraftKings frustrating.

Like I said, we have 8 games on the table, and before we get any injury news there’s already some solid value out there we can look at. The premier game of the slate is Cleveland and Minnesota. The T-Wolves are a hot, young team right now and Kevin Love is in a revenge game back in Minnesota. Isaiah Thomas is back in the Cavs rotation, spreading out the offensive usage that much more.

It’s time to get on with it, here are today’s picks for Monday, Jan. 8.

Jahlil Okafor – C – Brooklyn Nets – $3,500

Analysis: I know, this seems crazy, but hear me out. He’s finally getting back into the rotation. He’s had rave reviews from his coaches about his work ethic in practice and conditioning. He’s seen 11 and 13 minutes in his first two games back on the floor for the Nets, so that’s at least a slight trend upward. Do you really think he’s not going to see more minutes moving forward? Right now, I am treating Okafor like a Mareese Speights punt flyer in tournaments – low minutes, but super high usage at an affordable price (and Okafor should absolutely see the floor). What I like most about all of this is that Okafor took 12 shots in his last outing and posted an insane 41% usage rate against the Celtics, scoring 12 real-life points and 21.75 DK fantasy points. Toronto is a good defensive team, but unless Okafor cracks the starting lineup, I like his chances against a smaller Raptors’ second unit and another super ridiculously high usage rate.

Justin Holiday – SG/SF – Chicago Bulls – $5,000

Analysis: I think this is the perfect spot to let everyone continue to ride an expensive shooter in Gerald Green for the Rockets and come down in price for a guy, Justin Holiday, who is a lock to play 30-plus minutes each time he takes the court. The Bulls’ usage rate is certainly spread out, but Holiday is coming off a struggling performance and gets a nice draw versus the Rockets, who will provide a nice pace bump for the Bulls. Holiday is a solid cash game option, he usually gets close to making value, but can also provide a 35-40 point ceiling every so often. In his past three games, Holiday has chucked 24 three point shots, making just 1-of-9 in his last outing, one of the main reasons I like him as a bounceback candidate tonight. He should also get the dreadful defense of Eric Gordon in this one as well.

Trevor Ariza – SG/SF – Chicago Bulls – $4,800

Analysis: I have been targeting SFs against the Bulls all season long and it continues to work out for my lineups. I will continue to play that guard tonight with Trevor Ariza and his matchup against the Bulls. After some spiked games with solid production, Ariza’s price started to climb and make him not as touchable for the ceiling he provides at times. Like Holiday above, Ariza logs a ton of minutes and has a decent usage rate. He got a bump in Harden’s absence, but it’s been Gerald Green that’s benefited the most from that loss. Tonight I am pivoting off Green for Holiday and Ariza as Green’s price is just too high and if he has a bad shooting night, he’s toast. Ariza on the other hand, can make up for a low-scoring output. He can snag boards and his defense allows some steal upside. Not only do I love the minutes he logs, but the main reason I like this play against Chicago is because the Bulls are top-10 in allowance of points scored, rebounds, assists and 3-pointers made. Speaking of 3s, Ariza has fired 41 3-point shots in his last 5 games. He’s only 3 for his last 17 from beyond the arc, but that just means he’s due to correct things and turn it around. Tonight would be a great start.


Jimmy Butler – SG – Minnesota Timberwolves – $8,400

Analysis: Jimmy Buckets is an all-around talent and has been a great fit for Minnesota this year. He’s a guy who can stuff the stat sheets and sometimes gets point guard duties when called upon. But as a shooting guard, Butler has one of the best matchups on the board in a game that should be the premier game of the night for DFS. Among stats allowed, the Cavs light up my model in all green. They are top-10 in allowing points scored, assists, steals, rebounds and 3-pointers made to shooting guards. Jimmy B doesn’t fire up a lot of 3s, but facing the likes of J.R. Smith and Kyle Korver defense (perhaps some LeBron too), Butler should have his way around the court tonight.

Caris LeVert – SG/SF – Brooklyn Nets – $5,200

Analysis: LeVertical is probably to return in tonight’s matchup with the Raptors (and yes, two Nets made the Value Index, the world is ending as we know it!). The tide is starting to change with LeVert on the floor. He’s been running the back up point guard and leading the second team in usage and he’s logging a ton of minutes down the stretch. I know Toronto looks like a tough opponent, but LeVert has logged fantasy point outputs of 39, 37, 38 and 35 in his past four outings, two of which were against slower, more defensive minded teams in Miami and Boston. He’s putting up a bunch of assists, getting rebounds and putting in the scoring needed to make him a triple-double upside candidate. For the season, LeVert has a 24% usage rate and is averaging 1.04 fantasy points per minute. But in those four games I mentioned earlier, LeVert has seen a 4% usage bump and has averaged 1.34 fantasy points per minute.

LaMarcus Aldridge – PF/C – $7,700 – San Antonio Spurs

Analysis: Playing in a back-to-back, on the road in Sacramento, I think we have to be a little concerned about getting “Popped” tonight with LMA. I really hope not because LMA is one of my favorite plays on the board. Kawhi should be sitting tonight, which means once against we get a useage monster against a weak Kings front court. He’s got a ridiculous 37% usage rate with Kawhi, Rudy Gay and Danny Green off the floor this season and is averaging 1.34 fantasy points per minute. Should he play in tonight’s B2B game, Aldridge, priced way too cheap and under $8K, gets to take on a top-5 team in fantasy points allowed to PFs this season and they are near the top in allowing rebounds, points scored, assists and field goal percentage to the PF position.

Nikola Jokic – C – Denver Nuggets – $8,100

Analysis: Speaking of some of my favorite plays, Jokic is another one that just seems priced far too cheap on tonight’s slate. He and the Nuggets are taking on the Warriors, who may or may not be without Kevin Durant (I am hoping he doesn’t play). This game should be one of the fastest paced games of the slate and that kind of play should play just fine into the hands of the Joker, who always has triple-double upside each night in my opinion. The only problem with this play is that Denver has so many big men playing well right now and they have a lot of shooters who eat up the usage. This is a well-rounded team in Denver, but they have some wacky usage at times due to some incoherent coaching. Jokic’s usage is at 20% this season without Paul Millsap, but he is averaging more than a fantasy point per minute. Jokic doesn’t have to score a ton to be a powerful force. His rebounding and passing helping him rack up stats in other ways. These two teams have played twice this season, and Joker is averaging just 31.5 fantasy points in those games, however he’s still the Joker, and when I see him at this price, in this kind of a paced-up game, I am a grinner and I’m a sinner….I’m a Joker, I’m a midnight toker…

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