Friday night returns to form with a meaty 10-game NBA DFS slate featuring a number of premium stars in excellent situations. The slate comes together in a variety of ways, while there are a few apex stars who can clearly be rostered in all combinations, there is also a broad plateau of similarly projected options from a range of salary and positional combinations available. A few standout values round out the lineup combination equation nicely, there are a large number of ways to approach this slate with viable lineups on both sites tonight. The schedule features just one game carrying a total above 230, the first matchup of the night that sees the Timberwolves in Orlando to face the Magic in a game where the visitors are favored by eight with a 232.5 total. The 230-point mark is arbitrary on this slate, however, as three games land at a negligibly different 229, including the Jazz – Spurs, the Wizards – Lakers, and the Knicks – Grizzlies games. Each of those contests has star power available and all six teams have playable options to fill out NBA DFS lineup constructions. The balance of the slate has fair options mostly in the 220s, but the game between the Pistons and Celtics is on the board at just 215.5, and the low point comes in a defensively-oriented Eastern Conference fistfight between the Cavaliers and Heat that lands at just a 210, with Miami favored by 7.5 over the upstart Cleveland squad. While each game has the potential for pure fantasy scoring upside, zeroing in on those that are more likely to provide it, based on game totals that are 20-25 points higher than others, is a basic but sound approach to parsing through options.
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 10 games on the slate, this article will focus on 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.
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 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.
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Nicolas Batum: DK $4,400 — PF/C | FD $4,100 — SF/PF
One of the more apparent early value plays on tonight’s slate looks to be somewhat under-owned for the value he brings to lineup constructions in a variety of combinations. The Clippers’ Nicolas Batum projects for 30.6 minutes in the starting lineup once again tonight, with the team playing shorthanded from their envisioned form. Over the course of the entire season, Batum has posted 0.83 fantasy points per minute, which is about where he has performed in most situations regardless of his role. Over the team’s three most recent games, Batum has seen 26.3 minutes a night and a bit of an uptick in production, posting 0.88 fantasy points per minute. Overall, this is a player who sees just 13.1% usage on average, contributing a 61.1% true shooting percentage with a 9.0% assist percentage and an 8.6% rebounding rate. Despite being a low-volume player, Batum is a strong option on positional flexibility and a points-per-dollar basis on both sites, his low price point is one of the slate’s better bets for accessing premium scoring potential in other positions.
On the DraftKings slate, the $4,400 option fits in at either the power forward or center position, giving him interesting flexibility into many widely divergent lineup combinations. Batum is the 11th-most frequently optimal player at any position on the site, landing in the top lineup in 12% of Awesemo’s simulated slates. There are other options that rank above him from similar value prices, Maxi Kleber, for example, costs just $3,700 with the same positional flexibility and a 17.1% optimal rate. Batum gains value against a play like Kleber based on a lack of popularity and similar upside. The Clippers forward will be rostered by a projected 8.2% of the public, while Kleber is currently pulling in nearly three times that amount at 23.2%, leaving him at a -6.1 leverage score to Batum’s 3.8. There is a potential cost in the extra $700 it takes to roster Batum, however, so the value of lineup differentiation has to be weighed against any cost in fantasy point scoring upside. Overall, Batum is projected for a 25.5-point median DraftKings score which leaves him at a 25.52% boom score probability on the DraftKings slate. That mark falls short of the 32.61% rate at which Kleber hits his ceiling score, but the players can be rostered alongside one another as a value core, or they can be mixed and matched through a series of lineup combinations, potentially in place of ultra-popular value guard Devonte Graham, who tops the optimal lineup column with a 38.3% rate but is slated for a -22.8 leverage score with 61.1% of the field including him in lineups. Moving shares away from Graham and onto Batum for a similar price creates an immediately differentiated lineup while leaving salary to pay up to a guard option that others are not utilizing correctly, which is the value the Clippers forward brings to tournament constructions on DraftKings tonight.
Batum is eligible at either forward position on FanDuel, but he drops the center eligibility he sees across town. The forward costs just $4,100 on the blue site, which helps him to a 17.8% optimal lineup appearance share in Awesemo’s simulated FanDuel slates. Batum is projected for a 25.32-point median score, and he ranks 11th by optimal rate, putting him firmly in the value play mix. Only Graham sits above Batum by optimal rate from a similar price point on this slate. The Pelicans’ guard costs $4,300 and lands in the optimal lineup 26.9% of the time, but he is the worst leverage play on this site as well. Graham is slated for a -26.1 leverage score on 53% popularity, while Batum can be rostered at forward with just 18.5% of the field including him. Outside of Graham, the lowest cost option ahead of Batum in the optimal lineup rate category is $6,000 Kristaps Porzingis, which should help illustrate the value of the forward’s $4,100 price point. At a -0.7 leverage score, Batum is efficiently owned, but he is not overly popular in a raw sense or relative to his potential production for the price, and he comes with a 33.87% boom score probability. The flexible Clippers forward is an underappreciated option on the FanDuel slate tonight, he can be rostered around or above the rate at which the field is projected to get to him.
Luka Doncic: DK $12,000 — PG | FD $10,700 — PG/SG
Naturally, the site that is providing one of the best NBA DFS point-scoring options with multi-position eligibility is also the one that is pricing him $1,300 lower against a higher salary cap. Regardless of the differentiated pricing and positional eligibility from site to site, Dallas superstar Luka Doncic looks like a spectacular option industry-wide this evening. The Mavericks’ guard’s potential is enhanced both by the absence of several key teammates, including Jalen Brunson. Doncic will be left with more to do in a game that should be a big pace-up spot for the plodding Mavericks. The matchup against the Rockets is carrying a 225.5-point game total with shorthanded Dallas favored by 10.5, it should be played at a wide-open pace with a player like Doncic able to accrue fantasy points at will. For the season, the guard averages 1.48 fantasy points per minute , in the team’s three most recent games he has produced a gigantic 1.69 points per minute in 36 minutes a night. If he is not the purely best option on tonight’s slate, Doncic is at worst among the top five, he should be rostered aggressively and enthusiastically in all situations.
On the DraftKings board, the Mavericks superstar lands at a $12,000 salary, but that barely slows him down in Awesemo’s probability categories. Even at the hefty price tag, Doncic is the second-most frequently optimal player at any position on the site, trailing only the over-exposed Graham. Even as the night’s most expensive player, Doncic is worth rostering, he lands in the best lineup of the night 25.1% of the time and the field is at efficient ownership. Doncic has a -3.7 leverage score, but that is worth the pain of getting different in other positions, his slate-leading 62.6 point median projection cannot be ignored any more than his 39.88% boom score probability should be. Nothing in this space is intended to convince anyone that Luka Doncic is a viable option for scoring potential, that much is obvious on any given slate, the intent is to illustrate that he is a worthwhile option, even at price, when evaluating the full range of potential lineup combinations. Doncic’s rate of landing in the optimal lineup and the pace at which he reaches the ceiling score required for his lofty cost are the key factors, he is well worth including in DraftKings NBA DFS lineups tonight.
The only thing that changes on the blue site is the Dallas star’s ascension to the top overall spot by optimal lineup appearance rate. At 41.7% frequency of landing in the top lineup in Awesemo’s simulations, Doncic is far and away the night’s best selection at his cheap $10,700 price tag. The low cost and positional flexibility between both guard spots is an amazing asset for lineup construction on the FanDuel slate, Doncic will be popular but it is entirely justifiable with his scoring potential. He is carrying a 58.33-point median projection with a slate-leading 50.61% boom score probability on FanDuel. The ability to move Doncic around the positional board along with other key guard options including Graham, Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball, Cole Anthony and Spurs star Dejounte Murray. At 45.9% popularity, Doncic is no secret, but his value and fantasy point scoring upside far outweigh any concerns about popularity or leverage, he should be owned in most lineups on the FanDuel slate tonight.
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Miles Bridges: DK $7,300 — SF/PF | FD $6,900 — SF
As a strong option from the mid-range, Hornets forward Miles Bridges looks like a quality addition to lineup constructions on either site tonight. Bridges has been a valuable contributor throughout the Charlotte season, and he has added underappreciated value to NBA DFS lineups when he lands at the right price going into a slate. For tonight, the forward is inexpensive enough that he fits into a variety of lineup combinations and provides both strong optimal lineup rates and high boom score numbers across the industry. The Hornets forward averages 1.03 fantasy points per minute across all situations this season, though he has produced just 0.81 per minute in 38 minutes per game over the team’s three most recent outings, and 0.93 per minute since Feb. 1. Bridges has a 57.8% true shooting percentage with a 14.7% assist rate and a 9.2% rebounding percentage. He is projected for a 36.9-minute night, right around his 36.3-minute average, one of the more reliable spots for sheer playing time on the slate. Bridges is not a slate-breaking superstar, but he is underappreciated for the value that he brings to the board tonight.
On FanDuel, Bridges can be rostered at just the small forward position, where he comes at a $6,900 salary and lands in the optimal lineup in 20.8% of simulated slates. That rate lands him seventh overall, with the currently questionable Anthony Edwards and Jimmy Butler in the two spots immediately above him. Removing those options from the board at small forward could increase the current 22.2% ownership projection that Bridge is drawing, but the confirmation of either or both players being active will likely reduce that popularity, leaving Bridges as at worst an efficiently owned option with the potential to grow into a positively leveraged play. The forward has a 37.15-point median projection and an explosive 33.26% boom score probability, making him one of the top overall options on the board at any position. Among small forwards, outside of the two questionable players, only LeBron James ranks better for the probability of success. The Lakers superstar is a 27.2% optimal player with a 37.16% boom score probability on the FanDuel slate with eligibility in either forward position. Combining James and Bridges is an easy proposition that leaves plenty of flexibility in lineup creation.
As a $7,300 option with eligibility at either forward spot on the DraftKings slate, Bridges checks in at a 14.2% optimal lineup appearance rate, landing him seventh overall. Among eligible small forwards, Bridges is the most frequently optimal player, and only Maxi Kleber and teammate P.J. Washington outpace him at power forward on the site. Bridges has a 37.7-point median projection for the fair midrange salary, leaving him with a targetable 24.91% boom score probability. With only 11% of the field projected to include the productive Hornets forward in lineups this evening, his 3.2 leverage score stands out as one of the better differentiation points from among the top probability plays. Bridges can be rostered aggressively ahead of the field at that low popularity projection, his relative value is strong and he fits in well with other frequently optimal pieces. Combining Bridges with other featured players to help create differentiation will be key when including an extremely popular and negatively leveraged value play like Graham from the top of the board, or when looking to stars like Doncic or James, both of whom should be in a wide range of lineups on the site. While Bridges has realistic fantasy point-scoring upside of his own, his strongest value comes from being an under-owned building block, the forward is a clear target in DraftKings NBA DFS lineups tonight.
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View our Yahoo! NBA ownership, our FanDuel NBA ownership projections and our DraftKings ownership projections. We also have DraftKings rankings, FanDuel NBA ownership rankings and Yahoo! ownership rankings for today's slate. Our NBA FanDuel projections are updated regularly, including whenever any relevant news breaks. Looking for more DFS NBA advice and the best NBA DFS picks? Check out our NBA daily fantasy sports rankings for fantasy points and values that are derived directly from Alex Baker's own NBA daily projections.
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