Friday night features a big 11-game NBA DFS slate that has a handful of games totaled in the 220s for a change. The higher-scoring affairs should create a significant amount of fantasy production from all sides. With plenty of names to choose from at every salary tier, there are abundant options for lineup construction tonight. There are several standout plays on both sites hours in advance of lock, with a few strong values already floating to the top and several underpriced second-tier players with significant roles emerging as interesting options. Getting to the right mix of upside, leverage and optimal lineup frequency is a tough trick on a slate of this size. Building from a highly optimal positively leveraged foundation and rotating in scoring pieces at other positions is a sound approach to lineup construction.
This space will always focus on the factors mentioned above, but at times we will call out plays that are over-owned, taking the opportunity to discuss the potential pivots. With 11 games on the slate, the focus is on several of the strong mid-range and value plays. As always, the goal is to find players who are under-appreciated for the frequency with which they land in the optimal lineup in DraftKings and FanDuel NBA DFS projections and simulations.
NBA DFS Optimizer Leverage Leaders Today
These picks are made utilizing the Boom/Bust Tool, specifically analyzing the optimal lineup rate, leverage score and boom probability. Check out Alex Hunter’s Boom/Bust Tool article, where he breaks down some of the top boom and bust candidates from Awesemo’s expert projections. The optimal lineup rate represents the frequency at which a player appears in Awesemo’s simulated DraftKings NBA and FanDuel NBA slates. The leverage score is the difference between the optimal lineup rate and projected ownership, while the boom probability indicates a player’s likelihood of hitting a ceiling score. It is important to remember that not all of these NBA DFS picks are highlights, at times we will discuss plays that are outright bad or come at such aggressively negative leverage that they are rendered bad in this space, so be sure to read the analysis and not just the headlines.
Harrison Barnes: DraftKings — $7,400 — SF/PF | FanDuel — $7,400 — SF/PF
While he is a solid rotation player who produces a strong per-minute rate for his typically fair price, Harrison Barnes is a rare visitor to this space, largely because he is so frequently well placed in the salary tiers. Barnes is a mid-range option who emerges somewhat today given the questionable status of a number of teammates. Depending how things break, this play could increase or decrease in quality as lock approaches. Keeping a specific eye on the status of Tyrese Haliburton, whose absence would create a void of scoring and opportunity in the starting lineup and Terence Davis in the second unit, will help inform the quality of the Barnes play. Across all situations in his 12 games this season, Barnes has been a foundation of consistency for the Kings. He averages 1.02 fantasy points per minute on 20.7% usage over 36.7 minutes per game. He has an excellent 66.4% true shooting percentage and a 10.4% assist rate with an 11.1% rebounding percentage. Barnes is a quality option who will not break the bank on either site, and he is currently clinging to positive leverage across the industry.
Barnes lands as the player with the third-highest optimal lineup rate on the large DraftKings slate, popping up in 13.7% of the top lineups in simulated slates. He has a $7,400 salary and multi-position eligibility between both forward spots while carrying a solid 37.4 median projection. Barnes’ 22.2% boom score probability is not explosive, but it reflects the nature of today’s slate. That mark ranks 15th overall, but the 27.2% held by Isaiah Stewart lands third at any position, meaning we are dealing with a very tight probability space with a lot of similar options for ceiling scores. Barnes provides the advantage of currently projecting for lower ownership than a number of other options, his 11.8% public popularity projection leaves an appealing 1.9 leverage score that ranks second highest among players with better than a 10% optimal lineup rate on the DraftKings slate. If news breaks the right way, Barnes could become an invaluable foundational piece.
The story is a bit less exciting on the blue site, where Barnes comes in at the same price and positional flexibility against a more friendly salary cap but lands as part of a long list of quality plays that rank similarly on the site. He is projected for a 35.6-point night on FanDuel but his boom score probability of 18.5% ranks 42nd overall while his optimal lineup rate is a 25th-ranked number on the board. Barnes is slated for less than 10% ownership which leaves a healthy 3.3 leverage score. The fact that his 11.2% optimal lineup rate differs from the top-ranked player in the category by fewer than 10 percentage points is also encouraging. Many of the more frequently optimal plays ranked above him fall into similar or lower mid-range salaries while projecting for similar production, there are few standout stars who look better, which makes Barnes an important part of the churn when creating lineups for the FanDuel NBA DFS slate tonight.
Patrick Beverley: DraftKings — $4,200 — PG | FanDuel — $4,800 — PG
Patrick Beverley comes in looking like a solid option for value across the industry with a sub-$5,000 price on both sites. Beverley is slated for around 30 minutes in Awesemo’s projections for this evening, which is up from his season-long mark of 26.2 over his first eight games. Beverley has seen an average of 30 minutes over the teams’ recent run of games, getting 35 the last time out, so the expectation is a reasonable one. He is locked to that position on both sites, but he comes at a strong discount for the expected run and potential production. This year Beverley has 0.93 fantasy points per minute, which exceeds expectation at this price. He has a 55.9% true shooting percentage, a 28.8% assist share and is providing a strong value point on both sites tonight.
On FanDuel Beverley has a 13.8% optimal lineup rate that sits eighth among all players and third among eligible point guards. Both options above him also have eligibility at shooting guard tonight, meaning they can all be rostered together in rotating configurations if so desired. His seventh-ranked boom score probability of 30.1% indicates the potential upside he has at this low cost. He currently has just a 0.50 leverage score that will likely shrink into negative numbers as lock approaches, but the value is enough to overcome a bit more public ownership. However, if his projection trends from the current 13.3% to more than 25% we can begin to consider other options.
Beverley stands out as a stronger play on DraftKings, where he is the top overall option with an 18.3% optimal lineup rate. His salary is reduced to a laughable $4,200 with eligibility at just the point guard spot on this site as well. Beverley is projected for a 27.2-point night on DraftKings, with his 37% boom score probability also leading all players on the slate. Beverley is projected for 20.6% ownership, a mark that exceeds the optimal lineup rate and seems likely to climb, but the value at the extremely low cost is far stronger than the negative effects of his popularity. Patrick Beverley is a strong foundation piece for DraftKings NBA DFS lineups today.
Adam Scherer is also targeting Beverley as one of the best value plays on the slate tonight, and he breaks down all of the optimal NBA DFS picks for DraftKings and FanDuel in his NBA Deep Dive.
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Al Horford: DraftKings — $7,600 — PF/C | FanDuel — $7,300 — PF/C
Despite a strong start to his season, Celtics center Al Horford has yet to see his price increase to significant levels, and he is projected for extremely low popularity on a slate where he ranks in an interesting position relative to the top overall plays on the board. Horford has averaged 26.3 minutes over the team’s last three games, and he is projected for a 27.6-minute night this evening. He has averaged 1.3 fantasy points per minute this season with a 53.8% true shooting percentage and an excellent 18.7% assist share with a 14.6% rebounding percentage. Horford has dominated while on the court for Boston during his early-season renaissance. If the public is asleep at the switch, it helps push him from good to great play status across the industry.
Horford’s 7.5% optimal lineup rate leaves something to be desired on the surface, but it is important to remember that the scale goes only to 18.3% at the very top of the board this evening. Horford’s rank should be ignored; the actual percentage puts him very much on a plateau with many other plays that he is outpacing in terms of point-per-dollar upside and ownership. Horford is carrying a 35.8-point DraftKings projection and a 14.6% boom score probability but just a 0.5% ownership projection this evening. That mark leaves him with a terrific 7.0 leverage score that leads the slate among players at any position. Horford is not in a smash spot, but as someone to rotate into multiple positions for a relatively fair price and strong leverage, he is an excellent mix-in option.
The same is true on the FanDuel slate. Horford is a solid player whose optimal lineup rate drops into the 11th-place spot on the blue site at 13%, though his rate is in a similar level position to many other options, just as it was on DraftKings. Horford stands out once again for his leverage score, sitting at an 11.3 mark that leads the slate by nearly four full points. Horford is carrying a 37.1 FanDuel point projection and a 27.6% boom score probability that also ranks 11th overall. Getting to a variety of lineup combinations will be critical on a night where many plays look the same.
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View our Yahoo! ownership projections, our DraftKings NBA ownership projections and our FanDuel NBA ownership. We also have Yahoo! NBA rankings, FanDuel NBA ownership rankings and DraftKings rankings for today's slate. Looking for more NBA DFS picks Yahoo! and the best NBA DFS tools? Our NBA projections FanDuel are updated regularly, including whenever any relevant news breaks. Check out our daily fantasy sports rankings NBA for fantasy points and values that are derived directly from Alex Baker's own NBA DFS projections.
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