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NBA DFS Optimizer Picks Tonight for DraftKings & FanDuel Lineups Bam Adebayo | Saturday 3/12/22

Terry McBride

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The seven-game Saturday slate comes loaded with star power and a few excellent matchups for both NBA DFS point-scoring and pure entertainment value. Both Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo are in action this evening, renewing the ongoing debate over which of the 1.73 fantasy points per minute performers is the more important and viable for lineup construction. Across both sites, the slight lean is toward Jokic, based on positional value and the potential uptick from his already extreme production, with a few teammates out, but Antetokounmpo is not a mistake by any means. The Bucks vs Warriors game is carrying the night’s highest total at 237 with just a two-point spread. Two other games land in the 230s, the Pacers vs Spurs game checks in at 236.5, and the Kings vs Jazz game should provide robust opportunities for Utah’s premium options, with a 230-point total in Vegas. The remaining contests all land between 220.5 and 228.5, giving this slate a strong “anything goes” vibe in targeting premium contests.

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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 seven games on the slate, this article will focus on the top overall plays that also have positive leverage on the 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 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.


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Daniel Gafford: DK $3,700 — C | FD $5,300 — C

On the second night of a back-to-back, newly acquired and oft-injured big man Kristaps Porzingis will be out for workload management. The absence of the talented forward creates a vacuum for minutes and usage in the Wizards frontcourt that is a likely source of value on NBA DFS slates tonight. The most likely candidate to see an uptick in opportunities is center Daniel Gafford, who is projected for 23.2 minutes and a reasonable output of fantasy points for his price. Gafford has been a 1.10 fantasy points per minute player on 15.5% usage in his average 20.5 minutes a night this season, he is a quality contributor when the run is extended. The center has a 69.7% true shooting percentage with a 14.1% rebounding rate and a 7.6% assist percentage while adding 3.4 stocks per-36. Gafford is a very cheap option on one site, and an interesting consideration on the other despite positional blocking. Teammate Rui Hachimura is also on the board on both sites, but it is Gafford who looks like the stronger of the two quality value plays.

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The Washington center is the most frequently optimal player at any position on the DraftKings slate. He costs just $3,700 on the site and lands in the top lineup in 33.7% of Awesemo’s simulations for the site. Gafford sits 10 percentage points ahead of Hachimura by optimal lineup appearance rate and another four points above star Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray, who sits third overall at 19.3%. With Gafford leading the way by the probability of success at his low salary, he will very likely be extremely popular. The cheap play is projected for 46.1% ownership in the early afternoon, that number seems likely to increase as he gets talked up around the industry. Gafford is already at a -12.4 leverage score, but he plays much more as a fundamental building block than someone to avoid for leverage. The center is carrying a 27.4-point median DraftKings projection and he has a terrific 52.44% boom score probability at his $3,700 price tag. Gafford is worth going out of the way to include in lineup combinations of all types, he provides access to player combinations that are otherwise difficult to reach without sacrificing points. The boom score mark that Gafford carries makes him the most likely player to hit his salary-based ceiling score requirement on the site, he leads second-ranked Bam Adebayo by more than 13 percentage points, despite the Miami big man playing without fellow star Jimmy Butler and a number of other key players. Gafford can be rostered alongside Adebayo with the utility spot, but neither has multi-position eligibility, so there is an eventual opportunity cost that runs into Nikola Jokic, who is a 13.1% optimal player with a 31.16% boom score mark, despite his $12,100 salary at the center position. Rotating Gafford and Jokic combinations with combinations of the Nuggets superstar and mid-range options is the better approach than leaving Jokic out of a build entirely.

At a $5,300 price tag with center-only eligibility, Gafford is slightly less appealing on the FanDuel slate. The center still checks in with a strong 29.08-point median projection on the blue site, and his price point is not high by any means, the issue with rostering him is primarily the opportunity cost his positional restriction creates. Gafford comes up as the optimal center in 13.8% of Awesemo’s simulations for the blue site, making him the 21st-most optimal player at any position, in a direct tie with more expensive center Domantas Sabonis, who also has power forward eligibility. Among eligible FanDuel centers, Gafford’s optimal rate sits fifth, behind Drew EubanksNikola Vucevic, Adebayo, and Jokic, illustrating the problem with rostering him too aggressively. The Washington center has upside, but his 29.22% boom score probability falls short of everyone from that list but Adebayo, despite the higher prices for Vucevic and Jokic, again making him difficult to roster ahead of the purely better players. Gafford is on the board, but the positional blocking makes him more of a mix-and-match play, he makes sense as a pay-down option when choosing to roster Antetokounmpo ahead of Jokic, but Vucevic comes at such a low price that he also fills that role well.

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Brandon Williams: DK $6,200 — PG | FD $4,900 — PG

After making a few appearances at a bargain basement salary, backup to the backup point guard Brandon Williams has taken on more weight in the cost department as he continues to see starters minutes for Portland. The Trail Blazers will be without most of their NBA-ready talent for the rest of the season, with players like Williams and teammate Drew Eubanks reaping the rewards. Williams has a 0.97 fantasy points per minute rate in his eight NBA games thus far, averaging 19.6 minutes a night. In the team’s three most recent games, the point guard has seen 29 minutes a game while playing at a 1.03 per minute rate. Williams has a 56.4% true shooting percentage with a 20.9% assist rate so far, he is a low-end rebounder, with just a 6.4% percentage, and he adds 1.3 stocks per-36. Williams is priced up on the DraftKings slate, which dramatically reduces his probability marks, but at least keeps his raw ownership total low. FanDuel priced the point guard up, but not nearly high enough to deflect popularity, creating a very interesting inflection point on the blue site tonight.

At $4,900 and with eligibility only at the point guard spot, Williams is the most frequently optimal player on the FanDuel slate at 32.8%. He is easily affordable in the role and he is projected to cover his salary-based requirements with a 29.68-point median projection and a 38.35% boom score probability. That mark also leads the FanDuel slate among players at every position, Williams sits nearly four percentage points ahead of Vucevic and 8.35 ahead of Eubanks in the ceiling score probability metric. The one issue with utilizing Williams comes from his extreme popularity. The point guard is projected for a 55.1% public popularity rate, by far the highest ownership value on the board tonight. This turns his leverage score into Wile E. Coyote plummeting off a cliff to land with a poof of dust at -22.3. Williams is a frequently optimal play from a fair mid-range price, but he is not the extreme value that we see from a salary around $1,000 less expensive. While that option may not exist on this slate, there are viable alternatives to the uber pricey Williams. The primary point guard pivot would be to roster players from higher salary tiers and get cheap elsewhere. Options including Donovan Mitchell, Dejounte Murray, Tyrese Haliburton, and Kyle Lowry are all reliable producers at the position who all have better than 20% optimal lineup rates and far lower popularity than Williams. Each of those players can be expected to outscore the Portland guard, but that is also why they are so much more expensive than he is. From a similar price point, if he plays, Mike Conley would be a fascinating pivot-point. The Utah veteran is probably unlikely to go on the second night of a back-to-back, but at just $200 more than the asking price for Williams, Conley’s 20.3% optimal rate and 25.77% boom score mark with strong leverage would certainly draw the eye. Combining an active Conley with one of the stars or upper mid-range options at point guard would create an immediately differentiated lineup combination without sacrificing much in the way of potential. When available salary or an opportunity to leap to another tier of production at other positions require it, Williams can certainly be rostered on FanDuel, he is a very strong probability play, his ownership and negative leverage are the only true concerns despite the increased price.

With a much higher cost against DraftKings lower salary cap, Williams checks in roughly 20 percentage points less optimal than he is across town. At 13.2%, the $6,200 point guard is the 15th most frequently optimal player at any position on DraftKings, keeping him surprisingly relevant at the up-jumped price. Williams is projected for a 31.6-point median score and he has a 20.95% boom score probability that ranks 18th overall on the slate. The Portland guard is a popular play on this site despite the cost and lower probability scores, he is projected to be rostered by 20.5% of the field, leaving him at a concerning -7.3 leverage score. As a mid-range play that does not create the potential scoring upside at other positions that his value cost does on the blue site, Williams seems overexposed even at the more conservative raw ownership projection on DraftKings. He is just the fifth-most frequently optimal point guard on the site, falling in behind Murray, Conley, Fred VanVleet, and Jordan Poole as more of a mix-and-match play at or below the field’s ownership levels.


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Bam Adebayo: DK $8,100 — C | FD $8,600 — C/PF

With several pieces of the Miami rotation missing, Heat big man Bam Adebayo looks like a premium play on both sites tonight. Adebayo is a strong contender on any given slate, but when he is without teammate Jimmy Butler in particular, the center sees a boost in his assist rate and usage that carry him to higher overall NBA DFS scoring potential. Adebayo is a 1.24 fantasy points per minute producer under normal circumstances, with Butler out across all situations this season he jumps to a 1.34 per minute player with a 19.4% assist rate and 26.4% usage rate. The big man should have plenty to do with the Heat also missing other pieces, including currently questionable P.J. Tucker and already ruled out Caleb Martin. Adebayo is priced for his typical situation, he should see an uptick in opportunities tonight that is not accounted for correctly in his cost. With Butler sharing the floor in the Heat’s most recent game, Adebayo posted a huge 60.9-point FanDuel outing, he has potential beyond that level in the absence of his fellow star.

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On the DraftKings slate, Adebayo ranks as the 10th-most frequently optimal player at any position. The center lands in the optimal lineup in 14.7% of simulated slates, making him the third-highest ranked center-eligible player on the slate. Adebayo falls in place behind Gafford and Giannis Antetokounmpo, who has power forward eligibility that allows all three to be included in the same lineup if desired. Adebayo’s monster upside is apparent when sorting options by boom score probability, he leaps to second overall with a 39.47% rate of hitting his salary-based ceiling score. The $8,100 center is behind only Gafford in the category but he will be less than half as popular as the Washington value play at just 20.2% ownership. That leaves Adeabyo at a playable -5.5 leverage score, while that mark could be better the relatively low raw ownership total combined with the opportunity for a gargantuan NBA DFS score helps allay any fears about overexposure. Adebayo can be rostered with confidence in any lineup combination that can afford his salary.

The blue site sees things similarly but adds extremely helpful power forward eligibility to the equation. Adebayo is an $8,600 option against the higher FanDuel salary cap, leaving him in similar territory with a 15.5% optimal lineup appearance rate. Among all players, that would make the Miami big man the 16th most optimal play on the board, but he ranks third among eligible centers. With only Eubanks and Vucevic ahead of him at the position, Adebayo picks up clear value against the field. Eubanks can also be rostered at power forward, creating a nice rotation of options where one player can occupy power forward and the other center when putting Antetokounmpo into a lineup, and both low-cost options can fit into the power forward position when rostering Jokic at the center spot. The flexibility and obvious upside should render Adebayo more popular than even his 18.8% rate. He is currently a -3.3 leverage play, which puts him in an easily playable territory given the 28.58% boom score probability he carries into the night. There is upside in excess of 60 FanDuel points again tonight, rostering Adebayo at least with the field is the correct play, getting beyond the public ownership projections could prove profitable as well.


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

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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