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NBA DFS Optimizer Picks Tonight for DraftKings & FanDuel Lineups Al Horford | Monday 3/21/22

Terry McBride

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Monday’s NBA DFS action tips the week off with a 10-game slate that features three contests with game totals in excess of 230 points. From the earliest group of games on the schedule, the Pelicans – Hornets game is the current slate-leader at 234.5, just a half-point above the Wizards – Rockets game on the board in Vegas. The third contest in that range tips off at 8:30 as the last game of the quick sprint of an NBA night. The Timberwolves will be in Dallas battling the Mavericks in a game with a 230-point total and just a two-point spread in favor of the hometown squad. That contest and the other two most highly totaled will have numerous options for fantasy basketball scoring, but the other games should not be ignored. The Lakers – Cavaliers game has star power and a 227-point total while the Jazz and Nets duel at a 229-point mark, dropping a number of other quality plays onto the board. From the lower-end, the Celtics – Thunder is carrying just a 216 total and the matchup between the Heat and Thunder rides a 215.5 but features premium star potential and quality value plays. Overall, the slate shapes up with several high-quality approaches when using the NBA DFS lineup optimizer for building lineups on both NBA DFS sites tonight.

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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 10 games on the slate, this article will focus on the top probability plays on the NBA DFS Boom/Bust Tool. 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 Picks for DraftKings & FanDuel Lineups

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 optimizer 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.

Al Horford: DK $5,900 — PF/C | FD $5,400 — PF/C

With a few important pieces missing in action for the Celtics on Monday, in this case primarily big man Robert Williams, several role players leap to greater prominence for NBA DFS potential on tonight’s slate. Not the least of these is veteran Al Horford, who has been a sturdy elder statesman on whom the still-young Boston squad can rely. Horford has played an average of 28.8 minutes a night this season, he is projected for a minor uptick to 31.3 which should be more than enough time to pay off his low salaries across the industry. The 1.01 fantasy points per minute that Horford provides on just 15.2% usage cannot be overlooked, he is an excellent contributor who creates fantasy points in all categories. In addition to his 55.5% true shooting percentage, the veteran has a sharp 15.9% assist rate and a 12.8% rebounding percentage across all situations. On tonight’s slate, Horford could easily be asked to handle the additional workload in both of those counting stats. While Horford is not low-owned on either site, he comes with at worst efficient ownership that can be targeted.

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On the DraftKings slate, Horford actually has a strong grip on the positive leverage hand-hold, landing at an excellent 4.1 leverage score against his 16.5% popularity. As just a $5,900 option at either power forward or center, the field is simply not getting to the Boston big with enough aggression, soaking in the additional shares is an advisable approach with the fairly low raw ownership, particularly when factoring in the probability metrics. Horford ranks second among all players with a 20.6% optimal lineup appearance rate, only teammate Derrick White stands above him on the DraftKings board. White benefits from the absence of Marcus Smart tonight, he should be a significant value at $4,700, but his 31.4% optimal lineup rate comes at -3.7 leverage. Pairing the Celtics values is a fine approach, the leverage situation boils down to about a wash, meaning it could be a unique start to building lineups in some instances. Horford is expected to contribute a strong median score for his salary, the 34.1-point NBA projection leaves little room for doubt about his potential trajectory toward a ceiling score. At 37.51%, Horford sits behind White by boom score probability on the DraftKings slate as well, with superstar Luka Doncic and rotation piece Kyle Kuzma wedged between White and Horford on the board. A strong argument can be made for rostering the top of the board as it sits by boom score probability, only White and Doncic are at negative leverage, with the Dallas star drawing just 15.5% popularity. The remaining mid-range and value plays can fill a few positions with both high probabilities and positive leverage scores before returning to the upper echelon for another star play.

Horford ranks fourth on the FanDuel slate, where he picks up popularity at a lower price against the higher cap, with the same positioning at both the power forward and center positions. The situation hits the board somewhat differently with 31.1% of the field projected to include Horford in lineups, he is technically at -0.9 leverage, but adding shares of the productive big man to lineups is by no means a mistake in this situation. Horford is projected for a 34.56-point median score on the blue site, outpacing White by a handful of fantasy points, despite the guard’s appearance ahead of Horford by optimal rate. With Doncic and Kuzma occupying the top two spots in on the board, the same argument for rostering a cross-section of players from atop the optimal and boom score probability categories is a sound approach. Kuzma comes with a 6.1 leverage score on FanDuel, he can help differentiate, but he will not be a purely unpopular play at 26.7% ownership. When rostering Horford in combination with Kuzma, Doncic, White, or any of the most frequently owned players, getting different in other positions in a lineup build will be critical. Horford contributes a 30.2% optimal lineup appearance rate on the site and his massive 51.15% probability of hitting his salary-based required ceiling score is the top mark at any position on tonight’s FanDuel NBA DFS slate. Horford should be rostered at the field’s level at a minimum and it is easy to justify exceeding that public weight across the industry.

Drew Eubanks DK $5,800 — C | FD $5,600 — C/PF

A consistent piece of the recent Portland rotation as the post-deadline version of the depleted squad limps to the finish line, big man Drew Eubanks has made his way into NBA DFS lineups on several recent slates, to varying effectiveness. Eubanks is a 0.99 fantasy points per minute player across all situations this season, but he has slipped to just 0.89 in 297 post-deadline minutes, while Trendon Watford ascended to a 0.97 mark in his 352 frontcourt minutes. Watford is also on the board, but at a higher price than his teammate on both sites. Overall, Eubanks has a 60.9% true shooting percentage with an 11.2% assist rate and a 14.8% rebounding share that resemble Horford’s ancillary contributions more than one might expect. The 30.5 minutes for which Eubanks is projected this evening should provide him ample opportunity to crack through his salary-based required ceilings, in 29 minutes per game over the team’s three most recent contests, Eubanks has been more to form, delivering 0.93 fantasy points per minute, that level of production should be expected again tonight.

On the FanDuel slate, Eubanks picks up the “flexible” adjective as he has eligibility at both power forward and center, while he cannot be rostered as a forward on DraftKings. Eubanks slots in as the ninth-most frequently optimal player at any position on the blue site tonight, checking in with a 20.1% rate of appearing in the top lineup in Awesemo’s simulated FanDuel slates. Eubanks ties with Chicago’s DeMarr DeRozan in the category and the pair sits 1.7 percentage points behind Detroit’s Cade Cunningham, but Eubanks passes both players when sorting by boom score probability. At 39.44% probability of hitting his salary-adjusted required ceiling score, Eubanks sits sixth among all players, with Horford leading the way at a similar price and positioning. Getting both big men in the lineup from the $5,000 tier is an interesting angle into the slate, it would be a relatively even play in terms of leverage, but the probability and flexibility that both Eubanks and Horford provide is a sharp tool on the FanDuel slate this evening. Eubanks will be efficiently owned at 19.2% but there is room for success with his 32.87-point median NBA projection and appealing probability rates.

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On the DraftKings slate, where he can be rostered only as a center, Eubanks comes up as a positively leveraged play from the fourth overall spot by optimal lineup appearance rate. As the night’s second-most frequently optimal center behind Horford, Eubanks is an excellent target with an 18.3% optimal lineup rate. Considering the ability to get both Horford and Eubanks, two of the top four most frequently optimal players on the slate and two of the boom score leaders, while both land at fair prices and positive leverage is a fantastic proposition from which to start a DraftKings lineup build. Eubanks is projected for a 33.2-point median score and he has a 33.33% boom score probability, the eighth-best on the site and fourth among centers. Eubanks cedes ground to extreme value play DeAndre Jordan, who comes in as a $3,300 value in the absence of Joel Embiid, but the Portland value can be rostered alongside the one from the opposite coast, making an interesting tandem of bigs when the pair is combined with Horford. Philadelphia backup Paul Millsap could also be interesting at $3,000 for similar reasons. Regardless of the 76ers backups, Eubanks will be a good play on tonight’s slate, he may even gain quality as ownership flocks to alternate value plays from lower in the salary spectrum, increasing the viability of Eubanks in tournament play.


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Zach LaVine – Fred VanVleet

The backend of the alphabet can be happy with this head-to-head matchup between quality guards who may be underpriced for their general upside. With the Raptors in Chicago to face the Bulls, and both guards checking in at similar pricing, it makes sense to lay them out side-by-side before getting to lock. LaVine has been a 1.08 fantasy points per minute player across all situations, seeing 28.5% usage on the average, with upticks here and there based on the absence of other premium teammates. The highlight reel guard has a 60.6% true shooting percentage with a 21.1% assist rate and a 6.9% rebounding percentage this season, while VanVleet checks in with lower usage but generally similar numbers. The Toronto guard sees just 23.5% usage this year, in line with the 23.7% he received last season, though he has slipped from 1.08 fantasy points per minute to 1.05 this season. VanVleet has a 56.3% true shooting percentage with a 27.1% assist rate in his 38.2 minutes a night.

VanVleet arrives as a $7,300 point guard on the FanDuel slate, while LaVine is a $7,600 shooting guard, giving a slight salary and positional value advantage to the Raptors star. The players align differently on the board based on those values, LaVine checks into the optimal lineup in 11.3% of Awesemo’s simulated slates, but VanVleet pops up in the point guard position in 23.8% of simulated FanDuel slates, pushing him again to the front of the line. The Toronto guard has just a 19.1% ownership projection, partly reduced based on his current injury status, which was “probable” at last look. VanVleet is carrying a 39.79-point median projection and a 37.15% boom score probability on FanDuel, both of which outpace LaVine’s numbers of 37.49 and 22.85%. With LaVine landing at 11.3% popularity and a perfectly efficient 0.0 leverage score while VanVleet is at a 4.7, the situation becomes fairly clear. Both players can be rostered on the FanDuel slate, but when deciding between the two VanVleet wins the day in everything but raw popularity.

On DraftKings, VanVleet is a $7,900 option at either guard spot, but he lands in the optimal lineup in only 13.4% of simulated slates for the bigger salary against the site’s lower cap. LaVine is a $7,600 five-position option with eligibility at shooting guard and small forward, pushing him to the optimal lineup in 15.4% of Awesemo’s DraftKings NBA simulations. With LaVine pulling ahead by optimal lineup rate on the site, one might expect that he is more highly projected, but it is VanVleet who stands taller with a 41.6-point median score to LaVine’s 39.5-point mark. The Raptors guard also has the better rate of hitting his salary-adjusted required ceiling score, VanVleet has a targetable 29.88% boom score probability to LaVine’s 26.95% mark in the category. The players are more directly comparable and swappable on DraftKings, where they are closer in probability marks and share a position. Getting to a strong blend of the two will be good for the upside of DraftKings NBA DFS lineups on tonight’s slate, while not bogging them down with extreme public ownership, LaVine is a -0.5 leverage play with just 15.9% popularity, while VanVleet has a 4.1 leverage score and will be owned by less than 10% of the field. Pushing the issue on both guards is a quality approach to the DraftKings slate.

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Check out our NBA daily fantasy sports rankings for fantasy points and values that are derived directly from Alex Baker's own DFS basketball projections. We also have DraftKings ownership rankings, FanDuel NBA rankings and Yahoo! rankings for today's slate. Looking for more NBA DFS help tonight and the best NBA DFS tools? View our Yahoo! ownership projections, our DraftKings ownership projections and our FanDuel ownership. Our NBA FanDuel projections are updated regularly, including whenever any relevant news breaks.

Terry used to do other things, now he writes words on the internet. He hopes his more than 20 years’ experience in season-long and daily fantasy sports and his custom models for MLB, NBA, and NFL don't steer you too wrong when he writes columns and makes picks on Awesemo.com. A lifetime of experience keeping odd hours make Terry ideal to cover KBO baseball overnight until the world returns to normal. Most of those late night hours have been spent on the couch watching sports, T.V., and movies; just try to shut him up about any of the above. You can find his pop-culture ramblings and more on Sideaction.

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