Seven-game Saturday brings an interesting set of NBA DFS options with only two contests totaled above 220. The Suns vs Nets (224.5) and Hornets vs Rockets (226) games are both likely to yield tremendous opportunities for fantasy production from numerous salary tiers, while the remaining five games appear less explosive on the Vegas board. Of course, there are plenty of plays from those games as well, getting to the right combination of salary and upside, with a strong eye toward the leverage column, is an excellent approach to building lineups for an NBA DFS slate like this one on both DraftKings and FanDuel. Loading up on the two most heavily-totaled games may not be the most viable approach, given the popularity of the stars and role players on all sides, but they are certainly foundational pieces that should be used in a variety of combinations.
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 seven games on the slate, the focus is on a few of the most positively leveraged plays from near the top of the probability categories. 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 the optimal lineup 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.
Immanuel Quickley: DraftKings — $4,300 — PG | FanDuel — $4,100 — SG/PG
The Knicks will be in Atlanta this evening to face a Hawks team that eliminated them from the playoffs in a wipeout of a series last postseason. New York comes in shorthanded for this contest, with both veteran point guards Derrick Rose and Kemba Walker ailing and expected to miss the game, the worst-case scenario that Knicks fans were dreading with the combination. The Knicks will also be without big men Taj Gibson and Nerlens Noel, creating a number of opportunities in the rotation. Their absence leaves a chasm of minutes and usage, as well as potential assists, that must be consumed by the remaining players. First up in that scenario is likely to be second-year man Immanuel Quickley, who captivated Madison Square Garden with his excellent play as a rookie last year. This season, Quickley has posted a 0.85 fantasy point per minute rate on 20.6% usage in his 18.5 minute-per-game role off the bench. He had a 0.93 per-minute mark on 24.6% usage last year, with a few ceiling games along the way. Quickley has a 58.5% true shooting percentage with a 19.1% assist share this season, he can be expected to contribute significantly for a cheap price in the 29.8 minutes for which Awesemo has him projected this evening.
Quickley is a standout player on both sites this evening. On the FanDuel slate, he lands as the most frequently optimal play at any position, coming in with a 30.7% probability of landing in the best lineup of the night. He is drawing attention for the low cost and clear upside, the afternoon update has Quickley projected with a 38.7% ownership share, leaving him as a -8.0 leverage play, but he is more likely to be a foundational piece in lineup constructions and should be considered “good chalk.” The Knicks guard has a 25.8-point median projection with a 36.2% boom score probability that is also slate-leading on the blue site, giving him a clear path to a potentially slate-bending NBA DFS point total tonight. He should be rostered aggressively and ahead of the field’s currently projected mark.
On the DraftKings slate, Quickley comes in with a 23.3% optimal lineup appearance rate which lands second overall on the site and second among eligible point guards. He falls in behind Kevin Porter Jr., who costs $5,800 on the slate while landing at a higher median projection. Quickley catches up via his lower salary when it comes to boom score probability, he has a 27.3-point median projection and a sharp 39.9% boom score probability that leads all players on the DraftKings slate. Quickley stands as a strong play across the industry, even at nearly 30% public popularity, he should be rostered with frequency. Getting beyond the field is a good idea at this salary, Quickley helps pay for critical upgrades at other positions and he lands at positive leverage with a 4.1 in the category. He should be considered a foundational play this evening.
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Joe Ingles: DraftKings — $3,900 — SG/SF | FanDuel — $4,400 — SG/SF
Update: The Jazz announced that Conley is now likely to play, despite the back-to-back. Ingles loses most of his upside in this case but keep an eye on the news for status confirmation closer to lock.
With starting point guard Mike Conley likely getting the night off on the second night of a back-to-back, inexpensive Joe Ingles could find himself in the starting rotation with more ball-handling duties than he has seen in recent weeks. Ingles has been a highly productive role player in this situation in the past, but his season-long numbers this year are lackluster at best. Ingles has posted a 0.68 fantasy point per minute rate this year, down from the 0.87 he put up a season ago. He has seen far less usage, getting just 12.2% of the team’s looks this year as compared to a more robust 16.2% last season. Ingles is still an excellent passer, he has an 18.1% assist percentage this season and a 5.9% rebounding percentage, while posting a true shooting percentage of 59.2%. For the very low cost and nearly 30 projected minutes, Ingles stands as a top play across the industry this evening.
At just $3,900 and with multi-position eligibility across shooting guard and small forward, Ingles ranks as the 15th most frequently optimal player at any position on the DraftKings slate. He lands as the third-most highly ranked shooting guard on the board, though several other small forward options tall ahead of him. Getting to shares of Ingles at the guard position seems advantageous, he comes with a strong leverage score at 5.4, with just 9.7% of the field projected to roster the player. For the cheap price, Ingles’ 23-point median projection is sturdy if unspectacular, he stands out for the 26.5% boom score probability that ranks 12th overall and third among all players with positive leverage projections. Ingles is another foundational value play on this slate, he should be rostered well beyond the field’s single-digit ownership.
Ingles comes in as a more expensive and somewhat less appealing play for $4,400 on the FanDuel slate, though he maintains his multi-position eligibility and has positive leverage on the site. Ingles has an 11.3% optimal lineup appearance rate and a 4.6 leverage score, making him very playable at just 6.7% projected public popularity. He has a 21.9-point median projection and a 12.8% boom score probability. Ingles is more of a mix and match play for low ownership and a cheap price, he has upside but does not vault his way into the list of the most frequently optimal plays on the blue site. It is an easy proposition to roughly double the field’s ownership on the play still, which should provide upside without overexposure.
LaMelo Ball: DraftKings — $10,400 — PG/SG | FanDuel — $9,500 — PG
One of the top stars on the slate is coming in looking like a strong NBA DFS play once again this evening. Second-year stud LaMelo Ball is off to an excellent start in following up his stellar rookie campaign. Ball has boosted his fantasy point per minute rate from 1.22 on 24.7% usage last season to a massive 1.35 on 26.6%. He is a strong multi-category contributor, posting a 53% true shooting percentage with a 34.2% assist rate and a 10.7% rebounding percentage. Ball is expensive, but the field is trailing the play to varying degrees across the industry. There is a significant ceiling score upside in rostering him as a primary pay-up option on this slate. With positive leverage on both sites, Ball is a standout option from near the top of the salary board, though his value is clearly greater on one site than it is on the other.
On the DraftKings slate, Ball stands as a strong option, but one that should be arrived at after building in a foundation of value and optimal lineup appearance frequency. The Hornets point guard lands at a 13% optimal lineup rate that ranks 18th overall on the slate and fifth among eligible point guards. Ball has the third-highest median projection on the slate at 47.8, and he comes in with a salary that is $1,000 less than the two options above him, despite the lofty heights at which he plays. His 18.9% boom score probability is by far the highest among the players projected for more than 40 raw DraftKings points this evening. Sorting the board by salary, Ball’s boom score lands as the top mark until we reach $8,100 Donovan Mitchell, who has standout value of his own but comes at a -11.1 leverage score that does not compare favorably to Ball’s 3.3. LaMelo Ball is the clear-cut best pay-up option on the slate this evening.
He is an even better play for $9,500 on the FanDuel slate. The underpriced star comes in with a 27.8% optimal lineup appearance rate, the third-highest overall on the slate. It is rare to see such a high-end expensive player coming in at that strong an optimal rate, Ball is extremely appealing on the blue site this evening. The point guard has a 46.1-point median projection with a 25.1% boom score probability that lands fifth among players at any position. The surrounding talents on the board who are carrying boom score probabilities of 25% or more are all priced below $6,000, showing the massive upside potential in the player. Ball will be owned by just 19.2% of the field as of the afternoon ownership update, giving him an impressive 8.6 leverage score to go with the outstanding probability marks. This is a top play that should not be ignored on any site, on FanDuel he is likely the best overall play on the slate.
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Looking for more NBA DFS tips today and the best NBA DFS advice? View our FanDuel ownership, our Yahoo! NBA ownership projections and our DraftKings NBA ownership projections. Check out our daily fantasy basketball rankings for fantasy points and values that are derived directly from Alex Baker's own NBA DraftKings projections. We also have Yahoo! rankings, FanDuel rankings and DraftKings NBA ownership rankings for today's slate. Our NBA DFS projections DraftKings are updated regularly, including whenever any relevant news breaks.
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