Saturday features a solid 10-game slate of NBA DFS action that has significant star power as well as plenty of value available on the board. Several of the names have been recurring plays every time their teams have taken the court so far this season, it is important to not fall victim to fatigue of playing the same names again and again. The goal is to play the best plays on the board for each day’s slate until pricing changes on several of the players who have been used more frequently this season, ignoring the names and playing the numbers is the way to go. The Vegas board is a list of relatively close point spreads and low to average game totals, which should create competitive situations throughout the night, but may not yield one specific go-to game for NBA DFS scoring purposes on DraftKings and FanDuel tonight.
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 ten games on the slate, this will be a broad view of tonight’s top overall options. As always, the goal is to find under-appreciated players for the frequency with which they land in the optimal lineup in DraftKings and FanDuel DFS NBA 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, and bad chalk and shaky investments will be discussed in this space, so be sure to read the analysis and not just the headlines.
Jimmy Butler: DraftKings — $8,600 — SF | FanDuel — $9,500 — SF/SG
The full trio of stars for the Heat is trending toward the top of the Boom/Bust Tool for tonight’s NBA DFS slate but it is Jimmy Butler who truly stands out for his significant positive leverage across both sites. The star has picked up right where he left off last year over the team’s first five games, he is playing 35.2 minutes a night and posting a 1.38 fantasy point per minute rate on 27.9% usage. Last season Butler saw a 25.9% usage rate across all situations and returned a 1.36 per-minute rate. Butler is averaging 25 points and 3.2 stocks per game while contributing an 18.5% rebounding percentage and a 32.1% assist share, giving him a dynamic ability to stuff the stat sheet in several ways, even if his shot is not falling frequently. Heat forward Bam Adebayo is currently questionable tonight, Butler is a strong play across the industry regardless, but his value will pick up even further if his teammate skips, the public is not reaching Butler at nearly a high enough clip.
On the FanDuel slate, Butler ranks eighth among players of any position with a 19.5% optimal lineup appearance rate. He extends across both shooting guard and small forward on the site, giving him significant flexibility which will be needed with the availability of numerous promising guard plays on this slate. The Heat’s star has a 27.6% boom score probability and a 46.7 median projection on the blue site, but he is projected for well under 10% ownership. This gives Butler the second-highest leverage score on the slate with a whopping 12.8 in the mid-afternoon ownership update. Even if ownership creeps up as lock approaches, Butler remains an excellent option on the FanDuel slate.
The same is true on the DraftKings slate. Butler comes in at a discounted $8,600 salary on the site but can only be rostered as a small forward. He has a 19.8% optimal lineup appearance rate that lands third overall on the site but he is going under-owned on this site as well. Butler has a 7.2 leverage score that puts him atop the board in the category, making him an excellent option. He has highly valuable upside to a ceiling score on the slate as well, Butler is projected for a 46.1 median DraftKings points score and he has an excellent 37.5% boom score probability that lands second among all options, behind only center Jonas Valanciunas. Butler is the lone small forward in the top-10 by boom score probability and one of only two by optimal lineup rate, he is a strong go-to option with positive leverage across the industry this evening.
T.J. McConnell: DraftKings — $4,900 — PG | FanDuel — $5,500 — PG/SG
With Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon on the shelf tonight and Caris LeVert seemingly likely to join him, it is T.J. McConnell who sees a bounce in the numbers this evening. McConnell has averaged just 23.8 minutes and sees 15.8% usage under normal circumstances, but both are due to climb this evening. In 973 minutes in this situation since the start of last season, McConnell has seen an 18.1% usage rate and contributed 1.18 fantasy points per minute. Awesemo has the guard projected for 28.5 minutes and as one of the top value plays on the board in NBA DFS contests on both DraftKings and FanDuel tonight. McConnell posted 1.06 fantasy points per minute across all situations last season on just 14.9% usage, this year he has slipped to just 0.80 per minute so far, but we know there is talent and opportunity available in the player. McConnell has struggled mightily with his shooting so far, posting a miserable .448 true shooting percentage so far this season, his career mark is .538, and last year he was at .583. A return to form seems extremely likely, even if it does not happen tonight.
On the DraftKings slate, McConnell is the leading player at any position with a 28.1% optimal lineup appearance rate. He has eligibility only at the point guard position but his $4,900 salary is extremely affordable for the expected production. The point guard is projected for a 28.3-point median night on the DraftKings slate, but he has a 29.9% boom score probability that shows his path to a ceiling score for the low cost. McConnell will be owned by the public, he is not a secret and could trend into negative leverage territory by the time the slate starts, but as of the afternoon, he comes in with a slightly positive mark at 1.4 against his 26.7% ownership projection. This is a strong play on the DraftKings slate, even if he does carry public popularity weight.
With added shooting guard eligibility on the FanDuel slate, McConnell becomes an even stronger play. He is one of several highly optimal guard plays who crosses over both positions tonight, making it an interesting challenge to decide which players to place in which roles, but contributing to a strong possibility of creating a unique lineup. The Pacers guard is ranked fourth overall with a 27.7% optimal lineup appearance rate on the blue site. He is projected for a 28.4-point night with a 21.3% boom score probability on the slate. That number ranks 18th overall but among the top few guard plays, McConnell is an easy plug-in option for what should be reliable NBA DFS production on this slate, yet he comes in at a helpful 2.8 leverage score for his $5,500 salary. Getting to more shares of the player than what the field is picking up is advisable on the FanDuel slate.
New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans have contributed value to NBA DFS action in each of their six games so far this season, primarily coming from the absence of star Zion Williamson. Several players have stepped into the void created by Williamson’s absence, but the primary among those, Brandon Ingram, will also take a seat tonight, opening even more scoring potential for several of the other Pelicans players. As currently projected, the primary Pelicans of interest are Jonas Valanciunas, Devonte’ Graham, and Nickiel Alexander-Walker. The trio looks slightly different from site to site, with Graham rating as a better option on the DraftKings slate where he costs $6,000 at the point guard spot, while Alexander-Walker outpaces him for a $5,900 price at either shooting guard or small forward on the blue site. In both cases, Valanciunas stands shoulders above either wing option, he is the go-to play from this team once again if we can only select one.
Graham has posted a 0.94 fantasy point per minute rate on 22.2% usage in 33 minutes per game so far this season, slightly up from the 0.91 he had on 21.1% usage in Charlotte last year. He is pulling in a 9.1% optimal lineup rate with a 30.4 DraftKings point projection and a 19.1% boom score probability against just 8.7% projected ownership. He is efficiently owned by the field but can be played on the site. On FanDuel, he comes up in the optimal lineup in 6.2% of Awesemo’s simulations but will be owned by just 2.1% of the field, leaving him at a healthy 4.1 leverage score, though he has just a 9.6% boom score probability at a higher salary.
Alexander-Walker sports a 12.3% optimal lineup rate and a 17.5% boom score probability for just $5,900 on FanDuel, but he will be at a -5.4 leverage score that is eclipsed by a number of other options at both shooting guard and small forward on the slate. He appears to be a mix and match play, but not necessarily a foundational piece, given the extended ownership of the field. On DraftKings, Alexander-Walker sees even less value, coming up optimal just 5.4% of the time across both guard spots. He has posted a 0.97 fantasy points per minute mark this season that matches his production from last year, despite seeing more minutes and slightly more usage. Getting to the 12.9% boom score probability and 30.6 median projection on DraftKings is fine, but Alexander-Walker is negatively leveraged on that site as well.
Valanciunas is the big option on the Pelicans once again, he has been featured in this space several times this season and his salary has still not quite reached the point at which he will cease to be a hot NBA DFS commodity. The big center has produced an excellent 1.31 fantasy point per minute mark in 34.3 minutes per game. He has seen a 22% usage rate that is in line with his numbers from Memphis, and he is putting up a 40.2% rebounding percentage and 15.6% assist share. Valanciunas lands in the optimal lineup in 12.2% of FanDuel simulations and 15.3% of simulated DraftKings slates. He is a positive leverage play by a fingernail on the blue site, coming in at a 0.6 mark that will trend into negative territory by lock, across town he has a bit more room at 2.3, but he is a fine play even at slightly negative marks in the category. Valanciunas has a 43.7 point median projection on FanDuel and 45.2 on DraftKings, with a 35.5% boom score probability on the former site and 42.7% on the latter. Getting to additional shares of the Pelicans center is an excellent option once again tonight, perhaps for the last slate for a while if he contributes another top-end score.
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We also have Yahoo! rankings, DraftKings NBA rankings and FanDuel NBA ownership rankings for today's slate. Looking for more DFS NBA and the best NBA DFS advice? Our best DFS NBA projections are updated regularly, including whenever any relevant news breaks. View our FanDuel NBA ownership projections, our DraftKings ownership projections and our Yahoo! NBA ownership. Check out our daily fantasy sports rankings NBA for fantasy points and values that are derived directly from Alex Baker's own NBA daily fantasy projections.
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