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NBA DFS Optimizer Picks Tonight for DraftKings & FanDuel Lineups Karl-Anthony Towns | Tuesday 1/18/22

Terry McBride



Tuesday brings an NBA DFS slate that seems only half-scheduled, with just two games on the calendar tonight. The lackluster slate still has significant prize pools in GPPs around the industry, however, so even with a lack of options and a limited number of truly viable lineup constructions, on we grind. The slate includes an early game between the Timberwolves and Knicks that is currently carrying a 213 game total with the visitors from Minnesota favored by three. The later game on the opposite coast sees the lowly Pistons taking on the Warriors, who will be without Draymond Green once again. That absence is doing nothing to slow expectations, of course. The Warriors are favored by 15.5 in a game with a 219 total. With that contest looking lopsided there should be value in both the stars and the deeper parts of the bench, while the early game can yield some sound pieces for the mid-range. Getting to the most highly optimal players on the board in combination is easy, rotating through the correct combination of low-cost and mid-range players with an eye toward leverage is the key to constructing a lineup that may crack the top of standings on its own.

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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 just two games on the slate, this article will focus on several of the top positively leveraged 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.

Karl-Anthony Towns: DraftKings — $10,200 — C | FanDuel –$9,600 — C

There are only so many directions to turn for raw fantasy point scoring on a two-game slate, with that in mind it makes sense to look for leverage among the star players, whoever possible. Superstar center Karl-Anthony Towns will be owned in a significant number of lineups across the industry, but his probability marks outpace his popularity on both sites, putting him in play as a minor differentiation option who can deliver a major fantasy point total. Towns averages 1.29 fantasy points per minute this season, the top available rate on this slate, with Stephen Curry checking in at a 1.28 and Julius Randle 1.10. Towns is priced less than Curry on both sites, and the pair of stars can be included in the same lineup with ease. The center has posted a 1.28 per-minute mark in 37.3 minutes per game over the team’s three most recent contests, and he is projected for 35 minutes against the Knicks this evening. There is major raw scoring upside in the play, it would be easy to envision Towns leading the entire slate in scoring at a reasonable price.

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On the DraftKings slate, Towns is priced up to $10,200, making him the second-most expensive player behind Curry, and $1,000 ahead of Randle. Towns’ expensive salary is warranted; he lands in the optimal lineup in 33.8% of simulated slates, seventh overall on the slate and second among eligible centers. With a 26.2-minute projection, Trey Lyles lands ahead of Towns by optimal lineup rate, but the mid-range value play can be rostered at power forward or utility alongside Towns for his inexpensive price, which is where he finds his value, Towns is easily the better option in a cost vacuum. The Minnesota big man is projected for 43.8 DraftKings points, and he has a 15.7% boom score probability that also ranks seventh overall on the slate. Towns slots in third by median projection, behind Curry and Randle, and he is projected to be owned at just a 32% clip, 10-15% behind the rates of the other two stars. Towns’ 1.8 leverage score can be targeted for top-shelf upside in DraftKings NBA DFS lineups tonight.

Towns will be in half of all lineups on the FanDuel slate. The big man slots into the singular center spot with ease, his 53.5% optimal lineup appearance rate is third overall on the site and easily first among eligible center-only plays. Randle is eligible at both power forward and center on the site and is in the optimal lineup 73.2% of the time for his $8,400. He and Towns can be included in the same lineup on the site, despite the one center requirement, creating a tremendous foundation for lineup scoring, but one that will also be highly popular. Randle is projected for 75% ownership on the blue site tonight, while Towns checks in at a 49.7% rate. That mark still leaves him at a 3.8 leverage score on the slate, a solid number that indicates the field is not including him in quite enough of their lineups, exceeding the extremely high ownership is worthwhile on the FanDuel slate tonight, even with just a 12.2% boom score probability. Towns’ 41.8-point median projection ranks second on the site behind only Curry. Adding Curry to the binary star system of Towns and Randle is not impossible on this site, but the ability to reach a necessary score with the remaining lineup components is somewhat in question.

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Trey Lyles: DraftKings — $5,100 — PF/C | FanDuel — $5,700 — PF

With fluctuating minutes in the second unit, playing behind Isaiah Stewart, big man Trey Lyles has produced solid fantasy production in recent games. Lyles has been a 0.98 fantasy points per minute producer across all situations this season, taking up 21.1% of the team’s usage and posting a 56.6% true shooting percentage with a 10% assist percentage and 12.3% rebounding rate. Lyles has posted a 1.21 per-minute mark in 22.3 minutes per game over the team’s three most recent contests. He had 28.2 FanDuel points in just 19 minutes in the team’s last game. With a 26.2-minute projection for tonight, there is big-time upside in the potential. While the field will be including Lyles in their lineups at a significant clip on both sites, they are not quite up to speed with his probability metrics. If the playing time projection holds through the day, Lyles looks like a strong option from the lower mid-range for tonight’s slate.

Lyles is a $5,700 option at only the power forward position on the blue site. He lands in the optimal lineup in 35.8% of Awesemo’s simulated FanDuel slates, making him the 12th most frequently optimal player on the entire slate. His 5.0 leverage score is the second-highest mark on the board for FanDuel, behind only teammate Saben Lee, who is at a 7.1. Lee is slated for just an 18.2-minute night. He lands in the optimal lineup just 13.2% of the time, which makes him a very different play. Isaiah Stewart is at a 4.1 leverage score, just below Lyles on the list. The Pistons nominal starter at the position costs $200 less than Lyles and he will be owned at a lower total, Lyles comes in with 30.8% popularity, while Stewart is at just 19.9% but only 24% optimal. Lyles is the top option taking all of the metrics into account, but his 7.6% boom score probability is telling about the nature of the play’s upside. He has a 24.9-point median projection on the slate, anything beyond that should be considered a big bonus to the play. If the ownership and leverage marks stay the same, Lyles should have utility and value on the FanDuel slate.

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With added center eligibility on DraftKings, Lyles makes for an even better play than on the blue site. He lands in the optimal lineup in a whopping 39% of simulated slates, the fifth-most frequently optimal player at any position on the site. Lyles is the most frequently optimal center, and he falls second to only Randle at the power forward. Combining Lyles with Randle and Towns makes for an interesting block of big men from the top of the optimal lineup column on the site. Lyles is projected for a 25.8-point median fantasy score and he has a 21.4% boom score probability at his $5,100 salary and multi-position eligibility. He has a 9.8 leverage score on DraftKings that leads the entire slate, and only 29.2% of the public is including him in lineups in the current version of projections. Even if that gap closes, it seems that Lyles has major utility on the two-game slate tonight.

Klay Thompson: DraftKings — $5,500 — SG | FanDuel — $6,000 — SG

The temptation to roster a star such as Klay Thompson at prices like these is significant. The shooting guard is making his fifth appearance this season, coming off an extended two-year absence, and he is slated for a 22.7-minute night. Thompson has averaged 20.7 minutes across his first four games, posting 21.8 FanDuel points in a 23-minute night the last time out. Overall, he has put up 1.01 fantasy points per minute on 32% usage since returning. The Warriors seem likely to bring Thompson along slowly in general, at least in terms of playing time, but with his shooting acumen and that level of opportunity when he is on the floor, he warrants consideration right now when the stars align.

On DraftKings, things are slightly off for the Thompson play, but he is not without utility. The shooting guard costs just $5,500, in another life that would have been a ridiculously easy plug-and-play value for the star shooter, but in this iteration, it yields a player who lands in the optimal lineup in 17.4% of simulated slates with just a 6.9% boom score probability. Thompson is projected for a 22.9-point median DraftKings score and he will be owned at a 23.4% rate by the public, making him a -6.0 leverage play on the slate. At that level of popularity and the thin probability marks, it seems like Thompson is trending into bad chalk territory. He can absolutely be utilized in any given lineup, but it seems like a good idea to target a rate below that of the field in DraftKings NBA DFS lineups.

FanDuel’s slate aligns differently. Thompson is priced up to $6,000 at the shooting guard position, cutting his boom score probability to a laughable 1.8% on his 22.2-point median projection on the blue site. The Warriors sharpshooter is carrying a 13% optimal lineup appearance rate, which lands him 23rd overall on the slate. Thompson comes up slightly less optimal than far less popular Saben Lee, who is projected for less action and a lower median total, but from a far lower price tier. Thompson is two percentage points higher than his teammates Jonathan Kuminga and Andre Iguodala by optimal lineup rate, but both of those options come at lower prices. Thompson is projected for 14.6% popularity, leaving him at a -1.6 leverage score, Kuminga is carrying just an 8.9% popularity mark and a 2.2 leverage score, while Iguodala is in 14.5% of lineups and has a -3.4 leverage score. The trio makes for an irritating decision point on the FanDuel slate, they land at pricing and positioning that make them a nexus for a number of different lineup configurations, and there will seemingly by a large number of lineups with two of the three included on the FanDuel slate.

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View our DraftKings ownership projections, our FanDuel NBA ownership and our Yahoo! NBA ownership projections. Looking for more NBA DFS picks Yahoo! and the best free NBA DFS tools? Check out our DFS basketball rankings for fantasy points and values that are derived directly from Alex Baker's own DFS basketball projections. We also have Yahoo! NBA ownership rankings, DraftKings NBA ownership rankings and FanDuel NBA rankings for today's slate. Our NBA DFS projections DraftKings 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 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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