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NBA Optimal Lineups Picks for DraftKings & FanDuel Mikal Bridges | Thursday, Jan. 6

Terry McBride



Tonight’s four-game Thursday slate tips off at 7:30 with a contest between the Celtics and Knicks that carries the lowest total of the evening at just 208, but a tight point spread suggestive of a fully competitive game. The remaining three games are projected for more scoring but look more like potential blowouts with large point spreads separating the teams. Every game on the board has something to offer for NBA DFS lineup constructions, from obvious and highly popular value plays to a shortlist of stars.

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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 four games on the slate, this article will focus on several of the top leverage 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.

Mikal Bridges: DraftKings — $4,900 — SG/SF | FanDuel — $5,400 — SF/PF

The Suns are at home in Phoenix as massive favorites over the Clippers tonight, despite the remaining absences of most of the team’s big men. The lineup situation is rendering several of the team’s players as major values once again, with Mikal Bridges standing out as a relatively under-owned option from the squad. Bridges’ lack of popularity is not a new thing. He is an underwhelming fantasy performer on most nights, putting up just a 0.72 points per minute mark. The forward has produced at a 0.87 rate over the team’s three most recent games, however, and he put up a 30.4 FanDuel point night in 42 minutes the last time out. Bridges is projected for a 34.3-minute night, giving him utility and upside on both sites, where he has multi-position eligibility.

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On FanDuel, Bridges lands as the seventh-most frequently optimal player at any position on the slate. He is by far the most positively leveraged option in the group of players atop the board by optimal rate, coming in at a 6.8 leverage score that could conceivably climb later in the day. For $5,400 and with eligibility at both forward positions, Bridges is a strong option. He has a 26.8-point median projection and a 15.9% boom score probability that ranks eighth overall on the slate and second among eligible power forwards behind only Jaren Jackson Jr.. The rate at which Bridges is in the optimal lineup in simulations outpaces his projected ownership by a fair margin. He will be in just 20% of lineups, the lowest mark among players in the top 10 by optimal rate or boom score probability. Getting to additional shares of Bridges on a short slate seems like a strong approach.

Bridges picks up the bonus of having shooting guard eligibility on DraftKings, slotting him into five different positions in a lineup build. The strong utility and low cost at just $4,900 have him appearing in the optimal lineup in 24.4% of simulated slates, eighth from the top of the list in the category. As with the FanDuel slate, Bridges will be unpopular on this site as well, despite clear upside and utility. He comes in carrying just a 16.7% ownership projection, leaving him at a 7.7 leverage score that is among the more favorable marks on the entire slate, and easily the best of the top-10 by optimal rate. Bridges has a 24.1% boom score probability and a 26.3-point median projection. For the money and lack of popularity, there are strong reasons to roster the unexciting player. Bridges is the least expensive option among the top options by Awesemo’s probability metrics, but the field is not rostering him frequently enough.

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Brandon Clarke: DraftKings — $4,400 — PF/C | FanDuel — $5,600 — PF

With his teammate Jaren Jackson Jr. drawing more of the attention tonight, Brandon Clarke makes for an interesting option from a sneakier angle. He will have popularity across both sites, but not to the degree that many of the other compelling options are receiving. Clarke has put up a solid 1.17 fantasy points per minute across all situations this season, and he has climbed to a 1.36 rate in the team’s three most recent games. He is projected for just 22.1 minutes tonight, but there could be enough time to deliver value even in that much time on the hardwood. Clarke put up a 35.8-point night on FanDuel in just 25 minutes the last time out. In addition to Clarke’s 66% true shooting percentage, he has a 12% assist rate and a 12.7% rebounding percentage this season.

On DraftKings Clarke has eligibility at both the power forward and center positions for $4,400, a clear bargain for his potential. Clarke is carrying a 27.8% optimal lineup appearance rate on the site, the seventh-best mark on the entire slate, one spot ahead of Bridges in the category. He has a 27.1% ownership projection, leaving his leverage score south of 1.0, but there is strong utility in his positioning and fantasy point scoring potential tonight. Clarke is projected for a 25.5-point median fantasy scoring night and he has a 31.4% boom score percentage that also ranks seventh overall on the slate. At a low price there is potential in rostering Clarke ahead of the field, his ownership is still comparatively low when looking above him on the board, and he is one of the top options at his positions in terms of probability of success.

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The FanDuel slate sees Clarke come in with a much higher price. He costs $5,600 against the higher salary cap. The price knocks his potential back somewhat on the blue site, but he still lands in the optimal lineup in 21.2% of Awesemo’s simulated FanDuel slates. the 15th-highest total at any position. Clarke loses his center eligibility on FanDuel, but he is a viable option at power forward. He is projected for a 26.9-point median score and he is carrying a playable 15.8% boom score probability that jumps to ninth best at any position, putting him firmly in play and revealing the upside. At the higher price, Clarke is drawing less popularity on this site. He is projected for just a 17.3% ownership share, leaving him at a targetable 3.9 leverage score. Clarke should be included in FanDuel lineups at a pace well ahead of that for which the field is projected tonight. The only potential limitation is in his minutes, but if he exceeds the projected total the quality will certainly follow.

Julius Randle: DraftKings — $10,000 — PF | FanDuel — $9,000 — PF/C

Knicks big man and featured star Julius Randle returned to the lineup in style in the team’s most recent game, posting a 55.2-point FanDuel score in 39 minutes of action following a two-game absence. Randle has had a downturn this season, a year after posting a 1.21 fantasy points per minute rate on 28.5% usage, Randle is posting just a 1.12 mark on 27.2% usage. He has a high-quality 24.5% assist rate that shows the degree to which he is involved in the Knicks’ offense, both as its primary scorer and a major facilitator, there is solid multi-category fantasy point scoring potential in the big forward and he comes at a discounted rate and with multi-position eligibility on the FanDuel slate, while landing with positive leverage in an interesting spot on the other side of town. Randle is easily worthy of consideration for inclusion in a large number of lineups tonight.

On DraftKings Randle lands at a $10,000 price tag and only fits into the power forward position. He is projected for a 43.4-point median fantasy score and he has a 14.4% boom score probability on the site. That rate lands 27th overall on the slate, leaving Randle well down the board, but the forward has lingering upside at his lack of popularity. Randle is projected for a 14.9% ownership share against his 17.3% optimal lineup appearance rate, leaving him as a quality option for leverage with a 2.4 in the category. Randle is one of the more appealing pay-up options on the board when sorting by probability metrics. He is not pulling in the ownership that is warranted for the quality and potential upside on the DraftKings slate.

On FanDuel Randle picks up center eligibility against a deflated price of just $9,000. This is rendering him far more popular on the blue site. He is projected for essentially twice the ownership he is seeing at the higher price on the other site, coming in with a 31.8% popularity mark on FanDuel. This is weighted against a 25.8% optimal lineup appearance rate, which does leave Randle at a -6.0 leverage score on this site, but his 40.4-point median projection and 14.7% boom score probability are both strong options on the site. Sorting by boom score, Randle is the fourth-highest ranked power forward option, behind only Jackson, Bridges, and Clarke. He can be included in the center conversation as well. The slate lacks a significant value piece at the position today, enabling it to be used for options that include Randle, Jackson, and center-only players such as Jonas Valanciunas and Steven Adams. Getting to additional shares of Randle on this slate is easy at his low cost. He is popular but the enthusiasm for the play is well warranted.

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

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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