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NBA DFS Optimizer Picks Tonight for DraftKings & FanDuel Lineups Christian Wood | Friday 1/14/22

Terry McBride

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The NBA DFS Friday slate is a solid nine-game offering with a late-night sledgehammer in the form of a Rockets – Kings game carrying a 238.5 total on the board in Vegas. With that game coming in roughly 15 points higher than every other contest of the night, it is sure to draw significant attention across the industry. There are a number of other targetable spots as well. The Magic – Hornets game should offer several values and strong midrange plays from a 223.5-point contest as the opening game of the night, and quality mid-range options can be found throughout the evening. The slate seems to be leaning toward more balanced constructions today, with few extreme standout values available in early projections. As things develop toward lock there will likely be several emergent value plays, any that do appear on the board will be very likely to be extremely popular, but also worthwhile as they would change the nature of what player combinations are accessible.

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, this article will focus on several of the top overall plays 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.

DraftKings & FanDuel NBA DFS Lineup Optimizer Picks

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.

LaMelo Ball: DraftKings — $8,900 — PG/SG | FanDuel –$8,000 — PG

Hornets point guard LaMelo Ball looks like a strong play on both sites tonight. Ball is playing in what should be a good spot against the Magic in one of the most highly totaled games on the slate. Ball is projected for a 32.5-minute night, right around his per-game average. The point guard has produced 1.33 fantasy points per minute across all situations so far this season, up from the outstanding 1.22 he put up as a rookie last season. He has a 53.7% true shooting percentage to go with his 34.1% assist rate and 10.7% rebounding share and comes at a fair price below the star tier. Ball will be popular for the reduced cost, but his probability metrics and raw fantasy points projection suggests that he will be worthwhile at playable negative leverage.

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As the third-most frequently optimal player on the DraftKings slate, Ball is a solid choice for the $8,900 price tag. He carries multi-position eligibility between point guard and shooting guard on the site, improving his overall utility and flexibility, and ultimately resulting in the dynamic player landing in the optimal lineup in 18.3% of simulated slates. Ball has a -1.4 leverage score on the slate, but his probability of being optimal is second-best at both guard positions and he has a 35.9% boom score probability even at the high price. Ball is carrying a 45.9-point median projection, the sixth-highest raw fantasy points projection on the DraftKings slate. At 19.7% popularity, the field is with the Ball decision, but getting beyond that mark is not necessarily inadvisable. He has clear upside in both the median projection and the probability that he reaches a slate-relevant ceiling score. Among the top-10 players by median projection, Ball’s boom score probability stands by far the tallest. The next-highest boom score mark is the 23.8% carried by Dallas superstar Luka Doncic who costs $2,000 more than Ball as the top projected player on the board, but by fewer than five fantasy points over Ball. Given the massive price and probability discrepancy, Ball seems like the better decision for DraftKings NBA DFS lineups.

Ball costs less against a higher salary cap on FanDuel, sending his popularity skyward along with his probability metrics. His restriction to only the point guard position does little to slow down his frequency in the optimal lineup on the blue site. Ball is in the top roster in 36.6% of simulated slates, making him the most frequently optimal player on FanDuel at any position tonight. He clears the field by nearly 6 percentage points, with currently questionable Scottie Barnes coming in second at a 30.8% rate. Ball has a -2.6 leverage score that will probably sink deeper into negative leverage land as the slate approached lock. Still, the overall upside is apparent in his 44.4-point median projection and is carrying a 43.5% boom score probability. He is too cheap and should be rostered at or beyond the field on this slate. When looking at point guard options on the FanDuel slate, it is noteworthy that Ball’s -2.6 leverage score ranks favorably to most of the other options among the top-10 by optimal lineup appearance rate. Only Doncic and Spurs guard Dejounte Murray come at positive leverage, and only De’Aaron Fox beats out Ball among the rest of the top-10, coming in at a -1.7 score. Given the fact that Ball lands in the optimal lineup at nearly twice the rate of Fox, the decision seems clear.


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Christian Wood: DraftKings — $7,400 — C | FanDuel — $7,200 — PF/C

One of the focal points of the highly totaled game between the Rockets and Kings at the end of the night is big man Christian Wood. The Houston center has been a solid contributor through most of this season, posting 1.15 fantasy points per minute that is somewhat lower than the 1.21 he delivered last year, but still comes in as a strong rate. Wood has put up a 1.17 per-minute mark over the team’s three most recent outings, including a 43.7-point performance in 32 minutes the last time out. The big man is projected for about that much time on the court again tonight, and his reduced prices have him at or near the top of the board across the NBA DFS industry.

Wood is carrying a 27.2% optimal lineup appearance rate on the FanDuel slate, but he comes with a fair amount of negative leverage. With eligibility at the power forward and center spot, it is possible to roster him in a number of highly optimal configurations that trend toward unique constructions, but Wood is still overly popular at a 36.1% ownership projection and a -8.9 leverage score. His 39.1-point median projection is 15th-best overall and he is carrying a 35.9% boom score probability that is one of the slate’s more appealing rates of posting a ceiling score. Wood lands fourth best in that category, third if Barnes is unable to play. Despite the negative leverage, it makes sense to roster Wood at or near the field’s rate. He is the top power forward option on the FanDuel slate and one of the top centers as well, there is room to get different and he fits in well with either a stars and scrubs or a balanced build.

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Wood is a better play on the DraftKings slate, where he comes at a more comfortable leverage number because of a slightly higher price against the lower salary cap. He also lacks power forward eligibility on the DraftKings slate, but that does not prevent him from landing in the optimal lineup in 21.5% of simulated DraftKings slates. The center is carrying a 40.6-point median projection for his $7,400 salary. He has a whopping 40.1% boom score probability at that price, the highest mark on the board and one that is negating any worries about the impact of salary on the play. With 23.1% popularity, Wood will be in a fair number of lineups. He technically is a negative leverage play at -1.6, but that appears to be very fine chalk that can and should be rostered frequently.

Chris Paul: DraftKings — $7,900 — PG | FanDuel — $8,100 — PG

Veteran Suns star point guard Chris Paul comes up as an interesting mid-range play on both sites tonight. Paul fits into the notion of a balanced build winning out in this slate’s current configuration, given a fair price on both sites and reasonable probability metrics. The ageless guard was easily the best point guard of the last generation, and he is hanging tough with the current crop of younger talent, still producing 1.20 fantasy points per minute across all situations throughout the season. Paul puts up a phenomenal 42% assist rate and he plays 32.3 minutes a night while contributing a 56.4% true shooting percentage. In the team’s most recent outing he racked up a 48.4-point night on FanDuel in 33 minutes of action. He is projected for the same amount of run this evening, leading to him standing out with positive leverage on both sites.

On FanDuel, Paul comes in at a 10.9% optimal lineup appearance rate, 27th overall but 11th among point guards. Most of the options above Paul come with shooting guard eligibility and are also carrying negative leverage, at a variety of prices. The Suns star is a positive leverage play who is projected for just 9.7% ownership, leaving him at a 1.2 leverage score. Paul should be a solid option despite his positional rigidity at point guard, his salary is low at just $8,100 on this slate, and he has a 38.2-point median projection with an 18.4% boom score probability. Paul is an interesting option for differentiation in the mid-range, most of the other available guards are more highly owned with optimal rates that fall in well below their popularity, there is upside in turning to an underappreciated option in NBA DFS tournaments tonight.

Paul ranks 14th overall on the DraftKings slate with an 11% optimal lineup appearance rate. He is projected for just 9.5% ownership on this side of town, creating another positive leverage situation for just $7,900, making him an appealing mid-range option at point guard. Among eligible options at the position, Paul’s optimal lineup appearance rate ranks seventh, but he is the only player in the top-10 in that category who comes at positive leverage, and his salary compares favorably to most of the other options, including Ball, Fox, Cole Anthony, and Tyrese Haliburton. Paul’s boom score probability is slightly behind those options, but it remains strong at 23.5% and he is projected for a comparable median score of 38.6 DraftKings points, so playing the ownership and leverage game with this option as a pivot from over-owned alternatives seems like a good approach to DraftKings lineup construction tonight.


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View our FanDuel ownership projections, our DraftKings NBA ownership projections and our Yahoo! ownership projections. We also have DraftKings ownership rankings, FanDuel 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 today. Looking for more DFS NBA stats and the top NBA DFS picks tonight? Our most accurate NBA DFS 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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