Saturday’s seven-game slate of NBA DFS action offers a wide range of choice plays for lineups across the industry. The evening gets started with three games that land at totals between 223.5 and 224.5, with a number of injured or questionable players creating value-based opportunities in the rotations of each of the Kings, Magic, Pacers, Raptors, Bulls, and Cavaliers. The remaining four games on the slate are all carrying totals between 230.5 and 232.5, with three of the four contests carrying a point spread below five. The lone outlier in that group is the Thunder vs Nuggets game, the visiting Thunder are 15-point underdogs with star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander questionable, if he plays they may claw back a point or two, but there is a significant risk of a blowout in that game. The Raptors are favored by 11 over the depleted Pacers in one of the earlier games, but every other matchup looks more competitive tonight. Both the Nets vs Heat and Bucks vs Grizzlies game should offer some star power, though Giannis Antetokounmpo remains questionable, and the last game of the night should be a value bonanza, with Houston visiting Portland in what could easily be mistaken for a G-League game. Getting to a blend of options from throughout the evening, while leaving room for late swapping pivots around under-owned plays that emerge as news is confirmed is a strong approach to building lineups that begin the slate somewhat chalky and find their leverage as the night moves along.
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 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.
OG Anunoby: DK $5,500 — SG/SF | FD $5,600 — SF/PF
As is the case with most of the Toronto Raptors roster this season, wing OG Anunoby missed some time recently, leaving a void in the team’s rotation. Anunoby returned to the lineup in the team’s most recent game, playing 26 minutes and posting a disappointing 23.9-point FanDuel score. Anunoby steps into a lineup that is likely to be without Gary Trent Jr. once again, Trent missed Thursday’s game while Anunoby returned to the starting lineup. With the team well ahead, Anunoby saw fewer than four fourth-quarter minutes in that contest, a situation that could repeat itself tonight, but the potentially productive player is at both a discounted price and low public ownership, making him a viable target despite the potential blowout risk. Anunoby has a 0.89 fantasy points per minute rate across all situations this season, putting up a 53.9% true shooting percentage with a 10.9% assist rate and a 7.4% rebounding percentage, while adding 2.1 stocks per-36. The productive wing needs his minutes to produce, he is somewhat scoring and ancillary category dependant, but he makes 2.4 threes per-36 and can fill the stat sheet in numerous ways. The somewhat volatile scoring can make for a good tournament play as well, as it helps to keep the public ownership lower than the appropriate levels.
On the DraftKings slate, Anunoby ranks sixth overall, with Antetokounmpo projected in and landing on the board two spots above him at a massive positive leverage score. The lack of public ownership on the Bucks superstar is explained by his highly questionable status, if he is confirmed in the leverage will disappear faster than a 9 pm lead in NBA DFS standings. Anunoby, on the other hand, will likely stay somewhere near his current 4.0 leverage score. The five-position eligible player lands in the optimal lineup in 18.4% of Awesemo’s simulated DraftKings slates, despite an encouraging 29.2-point median projection for his cheap $5,500 salary. With the low price and positional flexibility, one would expect Anunoby to be more popular, but his 14.4% public ownership projection is well below his optimal rate, making him an excellent target for added shares. The Raptors wing has a 26.8% boom score probability, the 12th highest mark on the board but one of only three with positive leverage and without a questionable tag on the injury report. With the field unlikely to catch up to the quality of the play, Anunoby makes for a somewhat sneaky option in constructing DraftKings NBA DFS lineups tonight, he should be a key source of differentiation and scoring upside.
As a $5,600 option at either forward position, Anunoby stands out slightly less on the FanDuel slate. Despite the fair price and positional flexibility, he lands at just the 28th-most frequently optimal player on the board at 12.6%. That mark puts him in a similar range with players such as Harrison Barnes and Jae’Sean Tate, each of whom fills the same position for similar pricing. It would be fair to add Jaren Jackson Jr., Franz Wagner, Kevin Porter Jr., Josh Hart, and others to that list from positions above or around Anunoby as well, he is more of a quality mix-and-match play on the FanDuel slate than he is a major target. Still, the player comes with upside, he is projected for a 28.76-point median FanDuel score and he has a 21.12% probability of hitting his salary-adjusted required ceiling score for the slate. The most appealing factor, however, is Anunoby’s public ownership projection. The slate is expected to include the productive wing player in only 8.3% of their lineups, leaving him as a compelling leverage option from the mid-range. Where others choose one of the players listed above, it pays to consider Anunoby as a similarly probable play that is not drawing requisite attention in FanDuel NBA DFS lineup constructions tonight.
Dillon Brooks: DK $5,800 — SG/SF | FD $6,100 — SG/SF
With superstar point guard Ja Morant sidelined, pivotal Bucks point guard Jrue Holiday out, and key rotation pieces Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo currently questionable, basically anything could happen in the Bucks vs Grizzlies game tonight. The contest seems sure to offer up a number of critical plays for NBA DFS lineup construction, many of which come from the mid-range wing and forward positions. Among this group, Grizzlies scorer Dillon Brooks is an intriguing option on both DraftKings and FanDuel tonight. Brooks will start and he is slated for a 31.1-minute night in Awesemo’s afternoon run of projections. The multi-position wing is a 1.04 fantasy points per minute player on 28% usage across all situations this season, and he leaps to a 1.13 per-minute rate on 26.7% usage in 120 minutes without Morant on the floor this calendar year. Big men Steven Adams and Jaren Jackson Jr. see the most gain in per-minute rates in the circumstances in which the team finds itself tonight, with Adams landing at a team-leading 1.51 without Morant and teammate Brandon Clarke on the floor. With the public flocking to inexpensive point guard Tyus Jones instead, Brooks seems to be sneaking below the radar across the NBA DFS industry, which adds to his appeal and value.
On DraftKings, Brooks is sitting at a must-have 6.4 leverage score, despite coming up as the second-most frequently optimal player at any position on the slate. He fills five positions in a DraftKings lineup, by virtue of shooting guard and small forward eligibility, and he lands in the optimal lineup in 30.3% of Awesemo’s simulated slates. Despite the excellent probability of being a critical play this evening, the public is getting to the scoring-oriented wing in just 23.9% of their lineups, trailing well behind the quality of the play. By comparison, Jones is the slate’s most popular player at 36.6% ownership, despite an optimal rate of 34.6%, just 4.3 percentage points ahead of Brooks. Jones is a strong play, make no mistake, but the raw public ownership and -2.0 leverage score should be taken into account. With a 34.2-point median projection and multi-position eligibility, it is easy to justify spending the additional $700 that it takes to roster Brooks over his point guard, though there is plenty of reason to play both Grizzlies in a high volume of DraftKings NBA DFS lineups tonight.
The situation is very much the same on FanDuel. While the board spikes to a higher pinnacle, with questionable Antetokounmpo leading the way at a 42.7% optimal rate and Bulls star DeMar DeRozan landing second at 29%, things flatten rapidly, leaving Brooks in sixth among players at any position with his 22.4% optimal rate. At $6,100 with eligibility at either shooting guard or small forward, Brooks is an easy option to consider along with the players mentioned in the Anunoby section above, the Raptors’ wing included. Brooks stands above those options on the blue site, but he is not getting ownership attention like it, the public is projected for a mere 16.1% share, leaving the excellent option at a highly targetable 6.3 leverage score that can be exploited for upside. Brooks should be rostered well ahead of the field unless things change dramatically on FanDuel. His lack of popularity along with a 33.82-point median projection, positive leverage, and a 33.32% boom score probability make him a prime play from the mid-range.
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Harrison Barnes: DK $6,000 — SF/PF | FD $5,700 — SF/PF
Continuing the trend of players with fair midrange prices and flexible positioning across the industry, Kings veteran Harrison Barnes is more of a contender for attention on this slate than he may typically appear to the casual NBA DFS gamer. Barnes is a rotation fixture for Sacramento, he has averaged 33.8 minutes a night while receiving 18.5% of the team’s usage and producing fantasy points at a 0.84 per-minute rate. Barnes has an excellent 62.6% true shooting percentage with a pedestrian 10.5% assist share and 8.4% rebounding rate, he is not an exciting player but he should remain in a featured role as a steady veteran hand for the depleted youthful Kings. With all of DeAaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis, and Terrence Davis out once again, Barnes is projected for strong probability numbers from an easy-to-reach price on both sites.
On FanDuel, the multi-position forward checks in as a $5,700 play who lands in the optimal lineup in 13.2% of simulated slates. That rate puts Barnes in play with options such as Anunoby, Tate, Porter, and others, but they all remain a tier below Brooks for general FanDuel value. Barnes is a strong mix-and-match option that can be combined with any number of similar or stronger plays from around the board. He will be owned appropriately by the public, but only to an undaunting 15% rate, leaving him at a -1.8 leverage score. Barnes is projected for a 29.88-point median projection and he has a fair 23.12% probability of hitting his salary-adjusted required ceiling score. While he is not one to build around, Harrison Barnes is inarguably at least a potential source of mid-range production on this slate.
For $6,000 with eligibility at both forward positions on the DraftKings slate, Barnes checks in as the 11th-most frequently optimal player at any position. He lands in the top lineup in 15.6% of Awesemo’s simulated slates for the site, based on a 31.3-point median projection that also sees him hit his boom score mark 26.24% of the time. At those marks and just 13.9% projected popularity, Barnes is more of a target on the DraftKings slate. He can be favorably compared with Anunoby, and he is a better option than $6,200 Kevin Porter Jr., who arrives with negative leverage at his 16% optimal rate. For the 0.4 percentage points of difference in optimal rate, saving $200 in salary and nearly 10 percentage points of ownership is well worth the pivot from Porter Jr. to Barnes in a fair number of lineups. The same comparison can be made to many of the similarly priced forwards on this slate, although it is noteworthy that most of the top options can be snapped into lineups together in a variety of combinations with the generally flexible nature of a DraftKings lineup and the multi-position eligibility on this specific slate. Adding shares of Harrison Barnes while rotating through those options should be a sound approach to DraftKings NBA DFS lineups tonight.
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View our FanDuel ownership projections, our DraftKings ownership and our Yahoo! ownership projections. Our DFS NBA projections are updated regularly, including whenever any relevant news breaks. Looking for more NBA DFS help and the best NBA DFS picks today? We also have DraftKings NBA rankings, FanDuel NBA ownership rankings and Yahoo! ownership rankings for today's slate. Check out our daily fantasy rankings NBA for fantasy points and values that are derived directly from Alex Baker's own NBA DFS projections tonight.
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