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NBA DFS Optimizer Picks Tonight for DraftKings & FanDuel Lineups Dejounte Murray | Friday 3/18/22

Terry McBride



NBA DFS action returns to form on Friday with another massive slate featuring 12 NBA games. The robust board in Vegas has a whopper of a 243.5-point game total target between the Pacers and Rockets, while a pair of other contests are in the high 230s. The Grizzlies are in Atlanta to face the Hawks in a game carrying a 237.5-point total, although both stars Trae Young and Ja Morant could end up sitting out the night, and the mid-evening game between the Pelicans and Spurs comes in at a 237-point total with several premium NBA DFS picks today. With this many games on the slate we will once again see an overall quality plateau, it makes sense to follow the leverage and ownership closely. Players with high boom score probabilities and strong optimal lineup appearance rates from the mid-range will definitely be under-owned by the field, combining those options with “good chalk” from the top of the board, including stars and the prime value plays du jour, should be the general approach to lineup construction across the industry.

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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 12 games on the slate, this article will focus on the top overall 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.

Jordan Clarkson: DK $5,800 — PG/SG | FD $5,000 — PG/SG

NBA DFS gamers on the blue site must feel like they know something about Utah guard Jordan Clarkson this evening, on a 12-game slate the capable scorer is pulling in more than double the ownership of anyone else on the site. Clarkson is at a fair price from the lower mid-range, and he has strong probability metrics on both sites, he is a good play but he does not appear to be incomparable on a night with so many selections. Clarkson is projected for a 32.1-minute night, and the Jazz will be significantly undermanned, with star Donovan Mitchell and a host of other wing players sidelined. Clarkson should be a focal point for Utah tonight, but the public popularity is daunting on the FanDuel slate when compared to his probabilities. At a higher price on DraftKings, the nature of the play shifts significantly. Clarkson is on the board and he should be rostered, but to what degree is worth deep consideration. Clarkson is a 0.93 fantasy points per minute player, he has played up to a 0.99 rate in recent games, and in 458 minutes without the combination of teammates on the floor this season he has been at just a 0.95. Clarkson could be a major trap where he comes at massive negative leverage.

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On the DraftKings slate, Clarkson is priced up to $5,800 against a lower cap than across town, pushing his optimal lineup rate to a pedestrian 14.4%. That mark ranks him sixth overall on the slate, but it falls easily in range with numerous other options from up and down the salary spectrum. The combo-guard has a 32.7-point median projection and a quality 32.41% boom score probability, but that mark ranks 10th overall and falls in line with similarly priced players, including teammate Mike Conley, who comes in with a 31.97% boom score mark. Both Jazz guards will be at negative leverage, Conley checks in with 27.9% popularity while Clarkson is slightly more popular at 29.7%, they are two of the three most negatively leveraged players on the slate, Clarkson joins Nets big man Nicolas Claxton at a -13.5 leverage score and Conley lands at a -13.7. Neither is unplayable, but a host of other options exist at the positions. Nickeil Alexander-Walker tops the board at 22.2% optimal with similar 29.7% ownership from the extreme value tier as a $3,100 option. The Pelicans guard has a 35.74% boom score probability and is at just -7.5 leverage while providing much better purchasing power than either of the Jazz guards. For slightly more salary, Fred VanVleet is second overall at 18.2% optimal and carrying efficient ownership, while Kris Dunn checks in with an optimal lineup rate just 0.5 percentage points behind the level at which we find Conley, while costing just $3,000 as another extreme value building block. With numerous plays beyond this list, it makes more sense to spread shares out while rostering the Utah guards closer to their optimal rates than their public ownership percentages.

The situation for Clarkson is worse on FanDuel, where the runaway train that is his popularity seems destined to plummet off the end of an unfinished bridge by the end of the night. Clarkson is by far the most negatively leveraged player on the blue site tonight at -28.7, one of the worst leverage scores in recent memory. At his $5,000 price and multi-guard eligibility, Clarkson naturally has significant value on the slate, but his 24.3% optimal lineup rate betrays the massive 53% ownership share that he is pulling in on the site. The capable scorer has a 30.94-point median projection on FanDuel, and his low cost pushes him to a 42.45% boom score probability, but the weight of ownership just cannot be ignored on a 12-game slate. Clarkson’s optimal rate stands roughly 10 percentage points above that of similarly priced Kyle Lowry, who costs $500 more and may be playing without star Jimmy Butler tonight. Lowry is projected for just 19.1% ownership, which technically leaves him at negative leverage, but the anchor is far lighter than the one weighting down the Clarkson play. Similarly, Dillon Brooks, Dunn, Alexander-Walker, Evan Fournier, Goran Dragic, and others are rough facsimiles of the Clarkson opportunity, any of those players can replicate the performance of the Utah guard from a variety of price points and probability rates. All of those players are optimal in more than 10% of Awesemo’s simulated slates and they all carry boom score probabilities north of 20% on the slate, Clarkson is simply not as strong a play as the public is seeing him on this slate. Clarkson could easily be in a winning lineup, but he is not going to be the reason that lineup wins in a FanDuel NBA DFS contest tonight.

Clarkson was one the most popular options popping in the NBA lineup optimizer today. Check out our DraftKings NBA Cheat Sheet and FanDuel NBA Cheat Sheet for all of the rest of our free NBA DFS picks today.

Dejounte Murray: DK $10,600 — PG/SG | FD $10,800 — PG/SG

At this point, the fantasy performance of Spurs guard Dejounte Murray could be used in an old American Express “priceless” campaign, no matter where the star lands on the salary board he always seems to look strong on the Boom/Bust Tool. Murray has had a spectacular season by any measure. His price has trended from the low-to-mid $8,000s early in the season to the upper $10,000 range and he has not slowed his production. Murray has been at a 1.43 fantasy points per minute rate across all situations, getting there on the back of a 52.9% true shooting percentage and a 39.2% assist rate. The guard has posted a massive 1.63 per-minute mark over the Spurs’ three most recent games, and he has been at a 1.52 rate since the start of the calendar year.

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On the DraftKings slate, the guard comes in with a 52.9-point median projection for his $10,600 salary. Murray lands in the optimal lineup in 8.3% of Awesemo’s simulated slates, while coming in at highly efficient ownership in the single digits. With just 8.1% of the field including him in rosters, Murray is an immediate point of differentiation among similarly priced stars. The highest optimal lineup appearance rate among players priced above $9,500 is the 15.2% at which we find Kevin Durant, who costs $10,500 at 18.8% popularity. Durant is followed by the more expensive Luka Doncic, at 11.8% optimal, while every other player in the salary tier is in the optimal lineup less than 10% of the time in simulations. This leveling of the price field is not directly reflected in ownership, while some players are even less popular than Murray in early projections, most of them are currently questionable to play. Among the confirmed-in players, Murray is one of the least popular, while several more expensive stars are rostered above 10% despite single-digit optimal rates. Murray is a strong pivot where salary is available.

On the FanDuel slate, Murray picks up shooting guard eligibility and costs $10,800 against the higher cap. The minor bump in salary is offset by the additional funds, helping Murray climb to a 14% optimal lineup appearance rate, the 10th highest such mark on the entire site. As one of the top overall choices at both of his eligible positions, Murray should be more popular than he is, just 8.3% of the field is expected to include the Spurs star in their lineups, making him one of the better leverage plays on the FanDuel slate overall, and easily the top differentiation point among the stars. Murray is projected for a 51.54-point median FanDuel score and he has a targetable 25.67% boom score probability. As a strong leverage option, one of the better probability rates on the board, and a strong median projection option, Murray is a go-to option atop the list of FanDuel guards from the upper tiers of salary.

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Kris Dunn: DK $3,000 — PG | FD $3,500 — PG

In coming up for air from the bottom of the barrel, Portland guard Kris Dunn presents himself as a relevant minimum salary option on both sites tonight. Dunn is projected for 22.5 minutes in the depleted and pathetic Portland rotation. The N.I.T.-worthy squad is expected to start Brandon Williams alongside Josh Hart once again, but Dunn has seen quality backup minutes in the two games he has played for the team, turning in 20 minutes two games ago and 28 in the team’s most recent outing. Over those two appearances, Dunn has produced a 0.86 fantasy points per minute rate on 19.8% usage. While the sample is extremely limited, that is worthwhile production at the dead minimum salary across the industry.

Dunn lands in the optimal lineup in 11% of simulated slates for FanDuel. The point guard is projected for a 20.75-point night, not the most inspiring median number on the board, but the minimum price elevates the nature of the play. Dunn is carrying a 24.09% boom score probability, he reaches his salary-based required ceiling score frequently for a player at this cost, but the public is not rostering him in line with his upside or his probability of appearing in the optimal lineup. The field is projected for a very limited 7.5% ownership, trailing well behind the quality of the play and leaving a very interesting building block on the board with a 3.5 leverage score that should be exploited. The purchasing power created by rostering the minimum-priced guard could be difference-making in FanDuel NBA DFS lineup construction tonight, exceeding the public’s ownership projection seems both easy and worth the effort.

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On the DraftKings slate, the $3,000 point guard comes up optimal in a matching 11% of simulated slates, but he will be more popular than he is across town. With DraftKings’ more intensive salary restrictions, Dunn has a bit more appeal in the access he provides to certain lineup combinations, the public is projected to include him in 14.8% of their lineups, leaving him at a -3.8 leverage score that is truly not at all concerning. At the relatively low ownership, Dunn is more a building block than a potential hazard. He comes with limited overall expectations and should be viewed accordingly, this is exceedingly unlikely to be a 60-point fantasy scorer, but Dunn hits his salary-adjusted required ceiling score 26.81% of the time, which is more than enough to justify his popularity at the floor salary. Dunn should be rostered around the field’s level at a minimum, ratcheting up his use in a large pool of lineups is perfectly fine, his cost allows for unique high-upside combinations, as long as differentiation is accounted for in other roster spots.

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

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 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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