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NBA DFS Optimizer Picks Tonight for DraftKings & FanDuel Lineups Mitchell Robinson | Tuesday 3/22/22

Terry McBride



The Tuesday slate of NBA DFS action includes just four games, only one of which cracks the 230-point threshold. The highlight contest of the night tips at 8 p.m. ET in Milwaukee, with the Bulls coming in as 7-point underdogs to the defending champions. The game is carrying a targetable 234.5-point total, a full eight points above the next-largest game total on the board. That matchup between the Hawks and Knicks in New York City comes in with the home team favored by 3.5 but missing their lead star, while Atlanta will also be down a few rotation pieces. With both of those games providing a wide range of options from the star level to extreme values, the other two contests on deck for tonight could go under-appreciated. The Warriors and Magic are playing to the tune of a slate-low 215-point total, and the Clippers – Nuggets game closes out the night at 222.5, with superstar Nikola Jokic standing as the prime target. The short slate offers a strong blend of talent from a variety of price points, but differentiation is somewhat difficult to come by when firing up the NBA DFS lineup optimizer. Following the guide rail of player leverage scores is a strong approach to roster construction across the NBA DFS industry on a slate of this size.

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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 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.

Giannis Antetokounmpo: DK $12,100  | FD $11,200 

On another slate of dueling superstars, Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo comes up as the stronger probability across the NBA DFS industry this evening, but he is also the more highly owned of the two premium targets. With Nikola Jokic on the slate at similar prices on both DraftKings and FanDuel, the decision point in virtually every lineup comes down to which of the two stars is used. On a day where the pair stands on a tier of their own in pricing, with only Hawks guard Trae Young landing within $1,000 of them on FanDuel and within $1,700 on DraftKings. Antetokounmpo leads the way by median projection, boom score probability, optimal lineup rate and leverage score despite his significant popularity. The Bucks superstar has contributed a ridiculous 1.72 fantasy points per minute across all situations this season, just 0.01 points per minute behind the production that Jokic has posted in his 65 games. Antetokounmpo gets to his numbers on the back of a 63% true shooting percentage, a 30.9% assist percentage and a 16.6% rebounding rate while consuming 34% of the team’s usage. Jokic reaches his numbers more efficiently, taking just 30.6% of the team’s usage while kicking in a 65.2% true shooting percentage with a 39.9% assist rate and a 20.7% rebounding percentage. Young and big man DeMarcus Cousins have the third- and fourth-most fantasy points per minute, checking in at 1.32 and 1.33, respectively, a drop of 0.4 points per minute from the apex stars. Young is a viable option on any slate, but Cousins is projected for just 14.1 minutes and is not on the board. One of Antetokounmpo or Jokic belongs in every lineup across both sites tonight.

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As the player with the second-highest optimal lineup appearance rate on the DraftKings slate, Antetokounmpo is an excellent selection for lineups, despite his massive $12,100 price tag. As the second-most expensive player on the board, Antetokounmpo is projected for a 63.6-point median score on the site, the highest available raw fantasy point projection at any position, outpacing the more expensive Jokic by 3.2. Antetokounmpo fills either forward spot on the DraftKings slate, his flexibility provides much of the difference between his 38.6% optimal lineup appearance rate and the 25.3% rate at which Jokic lands in the top lineup in Awesemo’s simulated slates. The Nuggets center is an efficiently owned option who should be aggressively rostered, his 25.3% ownership rate matches his optimal rate exactly, while Antetokounmpo manages to find a modicum of leverage despite a higher 37.6% popularity projection. The higher raw ownership is appropriate to the more frequent rate at which the Bucks forward comes up optimal in simulations, and Antetokounmpo also outpaces Jokic by boom score probability, landing at a 38.67% rate of hitting his salary-adjusted required ceiling score. With fair ownership, a slate-leading projection and top-notch probability grades, Antetokounmpo is the prime target of the night in DraftKings NBA DFS lineups.

The situation surrounding Antetokounmpo on FanDuel is bordering on farcical. With an $11,200 salary at either forward spot, the superstar lands in the optimal lineup in 75.7% of Awesemo’s simulated slates for the blue site. With Jokic coming up optimal at less than half that pace at 35.4%, Antetokounmpo is clearly the more frequently correct decision. The forward will be owned by a broad swath of the field, but not at nearly an aggressive enough rate. Antetokounmpo should not be this frequently optimal while still possessing an 8.4 leverage score, although his status on the injury report is technically only “probable”. While he is expected to play, the confirmation could close the leverage gap, but it will not impact the ridiculous optimal lineup rate, nor will it lower the absurd 53.73% at which Antetokounmpo should hit his required ceiling score on FanDuel. Regardless of the field’s 67.3% projected ownership, Antetokounmpo is clearly a premium option on FanDuel. Jokic is projected for four fewer fantasy points and hits his ceiling score nearly 15 percentage points less frequently. There are strong value options on the FanDuel slate as well, players like Obi Toppin, Alex Caruso andAlec Burks all have boom score probabilities between 40 and 55%. Combining these values affords one the ability to include both Antetokounmpo and Jokic in a FanDuel lineup tonight. In fact, a lineup that begins with Antetokounmpo, Jokic, Young, Toppin and Caruso would still have $4,850 per position across the remaining four lineup spots. There are more evenly constructed paths that are likely better options, but the point is to illustrate the ability to string together any combination of stars that one may desire on the FanDuel NBA DFS slate tonight.

Obi Toppin DK $3,200 | FD $3,700 

With the Knicks announcing the absence of starting power forward Julius Randle early this morning, the Obi Toppin play is not exactly going to sneak up on the field, particularly not on a four-game slate. Toppin is one of the public value darlings of this slate, checking in at nearly the minimum on both sites. The Knicks’ second-year man has put up a fair season of fantasy production in his extremely limited role. Toppin sees just 14.8 minutes a night, but he averaged 0.93 fantasy points per minute on 20.2% usage across all situations this season. Toppin is strong around the rim, the high-flying dunker has a 58% true shooting percentage and an 11.1% rebounding rate and a 9.4% assist percentage. The athletic big man is projected for an extended run filling in for the Knicks primary star, Toppin is projected for 29.3 minutes and could easily coast beyond the 30-minute mark with the way his team manages minutes. The only question with Toppin is how his significant public popularity impacts the play from site to site.

On the FanDuel slate, Toppin checks in for just $200 above the minimum at the power forward position. At that price, Toppin’s 27.51-point median projection plays very well with some of the other more highly-priced numbers on the board. The power forward has an excellent 54.29% boom score probability that leads all players on the site, although it comes in only about a half of a percentage point below Antetokounmpo, who costs 3.5 times the price. Toppin is projected to be popular, his 38.7% ownership projection is in line with the 37.5% rate at which he lands in the optimal lineup in Awesemo’s simulated slates. The efficient ownership should not be overly discouraging, at this price Toppin is easily more of a building block than he is an obstacle, and there are plenty of points of differentiation available in a variety of lineup combinations. Toppin comes with a -1.2 leverage score that can be safely ignored, he is a key ingredient in the FanDuel mix today.

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Across town on DraftKings, Toppin is by far the most frequently optimal player at any position. As a $3,200 option at power forward, Toppin lands in the best lineup in 58.2% of Awesemo’s simulated slates, but he does come at a -4.4 leverage score. The public is rostering the inexpensive forward at a significant rate, but his 64.57% boom score probability is arguably even more impressive. The extreme nature of the low cost at which Toppin arrives on this slate makes him an easy decision, even with 62.6% of the public including him in lineups, the power forward just makes things work in DraftKings builds today. Toppin is the key to accessing the top-end constructions available on the slate. Unless additional news emerges that adds options from a similar price point with matching probabilities, Toppin is the go-to building block in the value tier. As things currently stand, Toppin is the only player in the $3,000-$4,000 salary range who has a boom score probability above the 18.74% of Nemanja Bjelica or an optimal rate above his 18.3% rate. Obi Toppin is quite clearly the best value on the board for DraftKings NBA DFS lineups tonight.

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Mitchell Robinson DK $5,400 | FD $6,100

Any true Knicks fan would feel similarly over-indulgent in including a second member of this mediocre squad in a list of recommendations, but the low ownership and interesting leverage scores available on New York center Mitchell Robinson are worth exploring on this slate. Robinson is a quietly strong contributor who is almost always overlooked, but he has 1.03 fantasy points per minute across all situations this season and he comes at a fair mid-range price in what should be a slightly more featured role with Randle missing in action tonight. Robinson is the NBA’s single-season field goal percentage record holder and he is having another excellent year at the rim, dropping in a 72.8% true shooting percentage on his highly limited 11% usage. The big man is not a facilitator, he has just a 3.0% assist rate but he does scoop up a 16.1% rebounding percentage, and his value hits a high point when his defense kicks in. Robinson averages 3.5 stocks per-36 this season, padding his fantasy point scoring upside on any given slate.

The issue for any center-only player on FanDuel is always going to come down to the opportunity cost created in utilizing him. This is the case with Robinson on the blue site tonight. The talented center costs just $6,100, but he cannot be rostered in the same lineup as Jokic, nor can he be included alongside the also frequently optimal Nikola Vucevic or opponent Clint Capela. These limitations drop Robinson to just a 9.5% optimal lineup appearance rate on FanDuel, the third-highest among center-only plays behind both Nikolas. From the top of the board at 38.7% optimal, Bobby Portis can be combined with any of the center-only plays, given his power forward eligibility, while players including Kevon Looney, Draymond Green and Wendell Carter Jr. all share that attribute. Robinson slips behind all of those players when including the multi-position eligible big men, Green is the least frequently optimal player in that group at 10.4%. Still, the Knicks pivot has the raw capability to outshine those options, he has a 30.33-point median projection with a strong 20.68% boom score probability that climbs back to fourth among centers and power forwards. Robinson also comes at positive leverage, given the positional blocking, only 5.3% of the slate is projected to include him in FanDuel lineups, leaving him with a targetable 4.20 leverage score. Mitchell Robinson is not a player to over-extend for on this slate, but he can be included in lineups much more frequently than the rate at which the public is rostering him.

With the ability to include multiple centers in a lineup, Robinson comes up as a more interesting option on DraftKings. The productive big man has a 20.5% optimal lineup appearance rate at his $5,400 price tag on the slate, making him a strong consideration from the lower mid-range of salary. Adding Robinson to a build at the utility spot alongside Jokic, or at the center position with Antetokounmpo in one of his eligible spots is a strong approach to two different contending builds on the site. Robinson is projected for just 12.1% popularity, leaving him at an excellent 8.4 leverage score that should be a big target for sharp gamers tonight. The Knicks center is projected for a 29.2-point DraftKings score and he has plenty of clear path to his required salary-adjusted ceiling score, a mark he hits 22.5% of the time. While he is not the lead option by probability or raw projection, the ownership differentiation that the capable big man provides without the sacrifice of the upside of median projection should not be overlooked. Robinson should be rostered at twice the rate for which the field is currently projected on the DraftKings slate tonight.

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