Monday’s nine-game slate of NBA DFS action kicks things back into high gear with a loaded list of options for roster construction. The slate includes a few games totaled into the 220 range, giving us point-scoring upside on this year’s scale, as well as numerous excellent value and star-caliber plays from a wide range of prices and positions. There is a lot to like about how lineups come together on both DraftKings and FanDuel, particularly for large-field GPP competition on Monday night. Getting to the right mix of leverage, value and raw point-scoring upside is always the key to roster construction. On a slate such as today’s gamers can focus on a strong core of value building blocks while rotating stars to create a mix of options from which to select contest entries.
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 today. 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.
Josh Giddey: DraftKings — $6,500 — SG/SF | FanDuel — $6,200 — SG
The value plays on tonight’s slate come more from the mid-range of salary than the depths of the $3,000 price range, pending breaking news that will likely change the shape of the entire slate. Regardless of any unknown unknowns to come, Josh Giddey is likely to retain significant appeal across the NBA DFS industry this evening. Giddey has provided significant fantasy scoring potential in his first 19 games. Giddey has delivered 1.02 fantasy points per minute to this point in the season, doing so despite an anemic 46.1% true shooting percentage on 15.1% usage. He has displayed a strong passing acumen throughout, putting up a 31.7% assist share and he is a capable rebounder at an 11.3% share. Giddey has strong upside with counting statistics, his assists alone do not fit into the typical mold of a player available at the small forward position and have an advantage at the two as well. Giddey lands at a fair mid-range price on both sites this evening. He will be popular all around but seems like a solid bet as a building block piece of good chalk.
As the top overall player on the DraftKings slate by appearances in the optimal lineup in Awesemo’s simulations, Giddey lands at a 23.5% mark that outpaces the next-closest competitor by 3.3 percentage points. This helps create a situation where it is relatively easy to ignore Giddey’s -2.6 leverage score, particularly when he can be rostered at either shooting guard or small forward on the site. Giddey is carrying a sturdy 36-point median projection and he has a 33.3% boom score probability on this slate, against just 26.1% ownership. As an affordable play that can be moved around in various lineup constructions, it makes sense to get overweight to the field on Giddey this evening.
On the blue site, things get slightly murkier. Giddey has an excellent 31.8% optimal lineup appearance rate that is also the slate leader, this time by more than five full percentage points. He is eligible at only the shooting guard and costs less against a higher salary cap, which inflates both the frequency with which he lands in the optimal lineup and the public’s interest. Current ownership projections have Giddey at a 40.6% mark and he seems unlikely to decline from there, making it an interesting inflection point for the slate at a -8.8 leverage score. Giddey has a 35.5-point FanDuel projection and a 38.8% boom score probability that tops every other player on the board by roughly 10 percentage points. With a clear path to a ceiling score and a very build-friendly price tag, Giddey seems worth rostering regardless of the leverage score, though the foundational nature could change with the emergence of major value from lower salary tier in news prior to lock. It is well worth monitoring the tools for updates on the rate at which Giddey appears optimal and the degree to which the public is getting him in lineups. There is a world where some emergent value plays would push Giddey’s optimal rate down some while also deflating his ownership completely, which could create a situation where he becomes a stronger play simply on less ownership with the same originally forecasted point-scoring upside.
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Wendell Carter Jr.: DraftKings — $6,300 — PF/C | FanDuel — $6,500 — PF/C
Despite yours truly making a direct-to-camera appeal to DFS sites on a recent NBA Live Before Lock, the pricing on several key components of the young Orlando Magic rotation has simply not risen. This applies most directly to the repeatedly strong play, Wendell Carter Jr., who comes in as an excellent value with a clear path toward a ceiling score for his fair price on both sites once again this evening. Carter has posted a double-double in three straight games, posting 19 points and 11 rebounds in Saturday’s contest. He has averaged 31.3 minutes over that stretch and has flexibility between the power forward and center spots on both sites and he comes in as a slate leader in most of our probability metrics. Despite all of the flash, the field is not getting to Carter frequently enough. Carter has posted an excellent 1.09 fantasy points per minute on just 18.7% usage this season, up from the 1.05 that he put up on 18.8% usage in all situations last year. He has a 60.9% true shooting percentage and a 13.8% assist share that is excellent for a young big. Carter’s 15.8% rebounding percentage is already solid and seems to have a path for expansion based on his skill set and increasing ability. Getting to an under-owned player like this while there is still time before the salary inflation is an excellent play until the price increases.
On the FanDuel slate, Carter lands as the 14th most frequently optimal player on the entire board, but fifth among power forwards and second among eligible centers on the site. The positional flexibility he provides plays well of a number of options that allow us to rotate a series of centers who flex to the four on the blue site, this has been a frequent base of NBA DFS point-scoring upside throughout the first quarter of the season. Carter comes in with an excellent 31.9-point median projection for his $6,500 salary and he carries an 18.7% boom score probability that ranks 17th on the site. Several center-only plays on the site are ranked ahead of him for both median projection and boom score probability, including Nikola Vucevic, Karl-Anthony Towns, Jonas Valanciunas and the currently over-exposed Jakob Poeltl. With apologies to Poeltl, most of that list is from the star(ish) tier and warrants exposure in the singular center position, which makes shifting Carter to power forward in a rotation with the four players ahead of him at that position by boom score a strong play, particularly when he is carrying a 3.3 leverage score at just 10.9% popularity.
On DraftKings things are more straightforward. Carter comes in at a $6,300 price tag that has him landing in the optimal lineup in 15% of simulated slates, the sixth-highest number at any position on the slate. He is carrying a 31.7-point median projection with a 27.6% boom score probability that jumps into the three spot when sorting by that metric. Gamers are behind on Carter industrywide, perhaps falling victim to a touch of Magic fatigue. Overcoming the bias and rostering a player who has that level of probability of being a key to accessing the top of standings but still manages to fall to just 15.6% projected ownership is the sharp move. Carter has a 3.7 leverage score that demands attention given his standing in every category on the DraftKings NBA DFS boom/bust board this evening.
Jimmy Butler (Q) DraftKings — $9,400 — SF | FanDuel — $9,700 — SF/SG
Midway through writing this column, the Heat announced that Tyler Herro would miss tonight’s game, which likely inflates the overall upside of some of the Heat’s primary players, including star Jimmy Butler, assuming that he takes the court after also being saddled with a questionable tag following a bruised tailbone on Saturday. After the update to our optimal lineup simulations, Butler leaped to nearly the top of the board on both sites. Ownership is not yet refreshed, as Butler’s status is not confirmed. It is a fair assumption that Butler will be owned by a good portion of the field if he plays at all, and he seems likely to come in at efficient ownership, if not slightly negative leverage in that case. This looks like a spot at which Butler will stand as a good pay-up option in spite of that, with the ability to focus on differentiated plays at other positions. If by some miracle his current 4.4% and 3.5% ownership projections were to hold, he would likely be the best play of the year to the quarter pole, coming in at 17.1 and 13.5 leverage. These marks are going to go up, but a player who contributes 1.28 fantasy points per minute on 26.9% usage with an uptick in potential shots coming is always worth the shot. Butler has an excellent 27.5% assist percentage and may see additional ball-handling duties alongside point guard Kyle Lowry, and he provides an 8.4% rebounding share as well. Butler’s ceiling is also apparent in the fact that his per-minute mark from last year was 1.36 on just 25.9% usage. There is more to come, and it pays to be early in NBA DFS.
Butler lands at a $9,400 price with small forward eligibility on the DraftKings slate, where he is the sixth-most frequently optimal player on the board following the update. He lands in the optimal lineup in 17% of Awesemo’s simulated slates. Butler also simply has the fourth-highest median point projection of any player on the site, and he is $800 less expensive than the third-ranked player, while falling in around $2,000 less than the top two most highly projected players. Butler’s 25.4% boom score probability outpaces every player in his price tier by a wide margin, it ranks fourth on the site at any position. The three players ahead of Butler by boom score probability are Giddey, Keldon Johnson and Jae’Sean Tate, who land $2,900 to $4,600 less expensive, making them completely different plays. Butler is the go-to star option on this slate unless things change dramatically in future updates to tools.
On FanDuel Butler picks up shooting guard eligibility, adding flexibility to his arsenal of raw scoring potential. Butler comes in with a 21.5% optimal lineup appearance rate on the site, putting him sixth at any position in the most recent update. He falls in behind players who are $2-3,000 less expensive at a variety of positions, ranking him as the top star on the blue site as well. Butler is projected for a 47.1-point night with a 26.1% boom score probability that ranks seventh overall but again falls in behind only players from an entirely different salary tier. Butler does have closer competition on the site, with Paul George and Towns both coming in at greater than 20% boom score probabilities as well, so he is not the lone star option with quality. Finding a path toward rostering multiple stars with upside is a neat trick on a slate where the prime values still come from the middle of the salary board, but it may also be the key to GPP victory on the FanDuel slate this evening, Butler seems likely to be a major part of that notion.
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We also have DraftKings NBA ownership rankings, Yahoo! rankings and FanDuel rankings for today's slate. View our DraftKings NBA ownership, our Yahoo! ownership and our FanDuel NBA ownership. Our NBA DFS projections DraftKings are updated regularly, including whenever any relevant news breaks. Looking for more free NBA DFS advice and the best NBA DFS advice? Check out our DFS rankings NBA for fantasy points and values that are derived directly from Alex Baker's own NBA projections DraftKings.
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