The Friday slate features nine games for NBA DFS today, but only one that cracks into the 220 and above game total range. The West Coast nightcap between the Raptors and Kings takes that honor as the night’s highest total with a 220.5, while the rest of the board lands between 208.5 and 216, with several contests slated to be tight games. The potential for NBA DFS point scoring is spread throughout the early games, and some early inactive news has a few plays standing out on the board for both value and upside. Getting to a solid blend of stars and value players in lineups should be a relatively straightforward task on this slate, finding the right combination for both leverage and scoring is another task entirely.
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 nine games on the slate, the focus is on the top overall plays on the board. 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. 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.
James Harden: DraftKings — $11,200 — PG | FanDuel — $9,900 — SG/PG
With his Kevin Durant officially sidelined for Friday’s contest, James Harden is in-line for a major opportunity for NBA DFS point production on this slate. Harden has provided just 1.26 fantasy points per minute across all situations this season, down from the 1.43 that he posted on 28.3% usage last season. In 109 minutes without Durant on the floor this season, Harden has posted a more familiar 1.55 fantasy points per minute and his usage jumps from 26.8% to 29.9%. Overall, Harden averages 34.4 minutes a night and provides a 61.5% true shooting percentage and a 40.1% assist rate. The point scoring will likely go up, and he may see a minor dip in assists without one of the best players on the planet on his side, but Harden seems like a strong option across the fantasy industry tonight.
Harden is priced up on the DraftKings slate with Durant coming into the day banged up. Harden is at a lofty $11,200 price and slots into the point guard position only, a far cry from how he looks across town. Despite the beefy price tag, Harden ends up in the optimal lineup a spectacular 21.8% of the time on the DraftKings slate, though the public is currently over-extending for Harden by a bit. Harden has a 24.3% ownership projection that is leaving him with a -2.5 leverage score in early returns. That mark is highly playable for the expected production. Harden has the raw scoring potential to post a slate-bending score, and he is coming up as one of the most likely options on DraftKings. He looks to be on solid ground by boom score and median projection as well, where he has a 54.5-point expectation and a 25.9% boom score probability, though that mark ranks just 16th on the site. Harden makes a fine play from the star tier on the DraftKings slate tonight. Even if his leverage number trends further into negative territory, the raw scoring potential is very real.
The story is slightly different on the FanDuel slate, with the outlook coming up even rosier. Harden comes in with multi-position eligibility across both guard spots and he is inexplicably priced at just $9,900. This would have been an interesting play prior to Durant’s confirmed absence, now it stands out for value. Harden lands in the optimal lineup in 33.2% of simulated slates, the fourth-ranked player overall and easily the top-ranked player with a median projection above 50. Harden has a 50.5-point projection and an excellent 34.9% boom score probability that ranks sixth overall on FanDuel, third among point guards and fourth among shooting guards. Harden is by far the best player out of the group of guards atop a list that includes Brunson, Jordan Poole, Patty Mills and Gary Payton Jr., all of whom rank as more value plays. Harden is the highest-ranked player in both his price and projection tiers when sorting by boom score probability. He is a strong play at this price despite a -6.4 leverage score. The broken price is driving Harden’s value. He is easily $1,000 less expensive than he should be for this opportunity.
Harden is one of the players highlighted in Adam Scherer’s NBA DFS Deep Dive where he breaks down the best overall plays for tonight. Check out what is drawing Adam to Harden tonight.
Jalen Suggs: DraftKings — $3,800 — PG/SG | FanDuel — $4,700 — PG/SG
With a low price and a reasonable expectation of minutes and production, Orlando rookie Jalen Suggs is pulling in both a respectable optimal lineup rate and positive leverage across both sites in the early afternoon update. Suggs has averaged 27.9 minutes a night over his first 14 NBA games, providing 11.4 points per game with a 19.7% assist percentage and a 5.0% rebounding share. Suggs has posted a 0.76 fantasy point per minute mark thus far, despite seeing 24.7% usage. He needs to dramatically improve upon his current 42.6% true shooting percentage to gain relevance. The struggles are keeping the public away from Suggs to a great extent, however. He comes up with positive leverage on both sites and he is a major value play on DraftKings, while landing as more of a mix and match piece on the blue site.
When running optimal lineups earlier, Suggs was showing up as a great cash game option, which you can see in our DraftKings NBA cheat sheet today.
Suggs has a 17.5% optimal lineup rate on the DraftKings slate, ranking him fifth from the top among players at any position. He is the second-highest-ranked guard play behind Jalen Brunson who tops the board and provides an immense value of his own. Suggs costs just $3,800 and has multi-position eligibility on the site, giving him significant flexibility and utility in lineup constructions. Suggs is slated for just 23.7 points in his median projection, but he has a healthy 31.7% boom score probability against the low salary and less than 10% of the field is projected to be on the play. This gives Suggs a slate-leading 7.7 leverage score and makes him leap off the page for value on the DraftKings NBA DFS slate tonight.
On FanDuel the higher price has Suggs landing in the optimal lineup in just 6.8% of Awesemo’s simulated slates. This is also partly due to extremely different pricing on a number of other premium players at both guard positions, lineup construction from site to site is very different for this slate. With a 6.8% optimal lineup rate, Suggs’ main appeal is that he is projected for less than two percent public popularity, giving him a playable leverage score of 5.5. He has a 23-point median projection and a more encouraging 12.4% boom score probability on the site, but ultimately there are a number of better picks. Suggs is a playable, mix-and-match guard on the FanDuel slate tonight, but he is not the go-to value option that he is across town.
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Saddiq Bey: DraftKings — $6,100 — SF/PF | FanDuel — $6,100 — SF
A frequently playable option from the mid-range this season, Detroit’s Saddiq Bey comes up as an interesting fit across both sites once again tonight. Bey is averaging 0.90 fantasy points per minute on 20.9% usage in his 32.5 minutes a night this season, up from the 0.80 he put up on 18.2% usage last season. Bey has been seeing a steady complement of minutes and he is slated for 33.2 in Awesemo’s projections tonight, giving him a clear path to salary-based upside everywhere. Bey has posted a 14.8% assist percentage and a 9.8% rebounding rate this year. He averages 14.1 real points per game despite just a 47.5% true shooting percentage, there is clear upside to come but Bey remains a relatively inexpensive piece for what he can provide on the basketball court.
On the FanDuel slate, Bey comes in as a $6,100 option at only the small forward position. He has a 15.2% optimal lineup rate that ranks 11th overall on the site and third among eligible small forwards, making him one of the top options positionally, particularly when the two players above him provide multi-position flexibility as well. Bey has a sturdy 30.1-point median projection with a 17.7% boom score probability, but the field is behind the curve on his quality once again. The public is projected for just 13.1% exposure, leaving Bey with a targetable 2.1 leverage score that has appeal in his salary range.
Bey was also popping in our FanDuel NBA cheat sheet when running simulations in our NBA DFS lineup optimizer.
On DraftKings Bey picks up eligibility at power forward for the same price against a lower overall cap. He lands in the optimal lineup in 13.9% of Awesemo’s simulations for the slate, ranking him 10th overall and third among options at either forward spot. Bey has a 31.1-point median projection and he is carrying a strong 21.2% boom score probability, but again the public seems reluctant. Bey’s 3.6 leverage score ranks 15th overall on the site and eighth among players projected for more than a 30-point median NBA DFS score on the DraftKings slate.
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We also have Yahoo! NBA ownership rankings, FanDuel NBA ownership rankings and DraftKings ownership rankings for today's slate. Looking for more NBA DFS picks DraftKings and the best NBA DFS picks? Our DFS basketball projections are updated regularly, including whenever any relevant news breaks. Check out our daily fantasy basketball rankings for fantasy points and values that are derived directly from Alex Baker's own most accurate NBA DFS projections. View our FanDuel ownership projections, our Yahoo! ownership and our DraftKings NBA ownership.
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