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NBA Optimal Lineups Picks for DraftKings & FanDuel Russell Westbrook | Sunday, Jan. 9

Terry McBride

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NBA DFS DraftKings FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Optimal lIneups

Sunday has an eight-game slate that can bring some sneaky chaos into a quiet weekend afternoon, with a 6 pm lock. The slate includes chaos up and down the board, with a number of premium players currently listed as questionable and the usual crop of extreme value plays opening up the ability to roster essentially any combination of players one might desire. Several of the question marks will have a major impact on the slate, so news will be critical going into lock once again, many of these plays are likely to change over the next few hours.

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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 eight games on the slate, this article will focus on several of 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.

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.

Jalen Brunson: DraftKings — $7,400 — PG/SG | FanDuel –$5,300 — PG/SG

When superstar Luka Doncic sneezes on a gameday, Jalen BrunsonDFS stock skyrockets. With the star guard listed as questionable while he nurses the ankle injury that kept him out of the team’s most recent game on Friday, Brunson is pulling one of the top probability marks on the board in the mid-afternoon. The guard is no secret, his discounted price on the blue site is drawing plenty of attention, but on DraftKings, his inflated cost is keeping the public shares at bay in ownership projections, although that could change with a confirmation on Doncic’s status. Brunson has been a well-documented performer in this space, he produces a 0.97 fantasy point per minute rate under normal circumstances, with that mark leaping well above a fantasy point per minute when taking the reins from Doncic. The multi-position guard is a strong consideration on both sites, assuming the Doncic news cooperates with this play.

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On FanDuel, Brunson is priced like a backup at just $5,300 with eligibility at both guard positions. He is a ridiculous play at that price, given a 35.2-minute projection in an update that assumes Doncic’s absence. Brunson is the top option on the blue site with a 67.8% optimal lineup appearance rate that nearly triples the next-highest mark on the board, the 27.5% at which we find Russell Westbrook. Brunson is efficiently owned, he has a -0.4 leverage score on the site with 68.2% of the public landing on the play, but his 38.4 median projection and 69.3% boom score probability help reinforce the quality of the play. Brunson should be included in as many lineups as the public is getting to him, getting beyond that is a perfectly viable approach to this slate as well, he is the clear-cut top play unless his minutes are cut in later updates.

Brunson is not nearly as stark an advantage at the $7,400 price that DraftKings is asking for the multi-position guard. The ability to roster him at both guard positions for the money adds some flexibility and helps Brunson land in 23.4% of optimal lineups on the site, far fewer by comparison to his own rate across town, but still fourth-best on this DraftKings slate and second at both guard spots. Brunson has a 40.5-point median projection on DraftKings and his 36.2% boom score probability tells us that the salary is actually probably still not high enough for the player’s quality in this situation. Brunson ranks sixth overall in the category, second among point guards, and third among shooting guards. He is a strong play that the slate is not getting to for the perceived over-price, he is well worth rostering at just 9.8% ownership and a top-notch 13.6 leverage score. One of the leading plays on the slate by both probability metrics should not also have twice the leverage score of anyone else on the slate, add Brunson to DraftKings plans unless news changes.


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JaMychal Green: DraftKings — $3,400 — PF/C | FanDuel — $4,500 — PF/C

As Denver continues to deal with a number of absences, we can typically find value in strange corners on this team. In a run of just 22 minutes in his team’s most recent game, big man JaMychal Green delivered a 28.3 FanDuel point performance, and he has averaged 1.05 fantasy points per minute in 16 minutes per game over the team’s three most recent contests. Green has produced a 0.95 fantasy point per minute rate over the course of the entire season across all situations, and he can contribute in several categories in minor amounts. At a strong value price that will not require much of him on the court, Green is in play on both sites tonight.

On the DraftKings slate, Green stands as the most frequently optimal player at any position, landing in the top lineup in 26% of simulated slates. The public is not rostering him enough despite that quality, he is priced at just $3,400 and th field is projected for merely 20.8% ownership, leaving a 5.2 leverage score that ranks sixth from the top of the board and second-best among the top-1o by optimal lineup appearance rate on the site behind only Brunson. Green has a stellar 42% boom score probability and he is projected for a 24-point median night on DraftKings that is already most of the way to delivering on his low price. With upside for plenty more, and elbow room between the optimal rate and the public popularity projection, Green is one of the better plays available for DraftKings NBA DFS lineups tonight.

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The value on FanDuel comes more from Green’s lack of popularity, he is a mix-and-match player at $4,500 between power forward and center. Green can be found in the optimal lineup in 11% of simulated slates for the blue site, and the crowd is behind the curve on the mid-range play. The Nuggets big man is projected for just 5.4% ownership at the higher price, despite the availability of more cap space and plenty of additional value plays. He is not an extreme upside piece but he is projected for a 23.7-point median night and he has a 19.2% boom score probability that should not be entirely ignored. The field is not taking notice, which makes Green slightly more interesting than he may seem at a glance on the pricing page or in the lineup building process. Adding a few bonus shares of the good but not great play is unlikely to hurt and could provide significant help on the FanDuel slate tonight.

Russell Westbrook: DraftKings — $10,100 — PG | FanDuel — $8,400 — PG

Lakers star Russell Westbrook comes into tonight’s slate as a strong “one of these things is not like the other” play, as his inexplicable salary on FanDuel is creating a strong bubble of upside around the extremely capable fantasy point producer. On DraftKings, Westbrook is merely “fine,” he costs what he should and is under-owned for his quality, but he is a standout play on the blue site and he warrants discussion.

Anyone who has averaged a triple-double for a season should never be priced down to $8,400 on FanDuel within so short a time from that amazing season, regardless of current production. If Oscar Robertson took the court on a 10-day contract tonight, he would warrant a price tag above that mark, even at 83 years old (and we’d still prefer him to Joe Johnson). Westbrook, notably, has outgunned the Hall of Famer, averaging a triple-double in four of the last five seasons, and snatching the all-time record. Just last year the point guard averaged a 1.48 fantasy point per minute rate across all situations. He is notably in a very different rotation this year and has different responsibilities and teammates to whom he must defer far more often, which is the reason he has deflated to a 1.15 per-minute mark this year. Still, that in no way warrants a price reduction of this degree, Westbrook comes in as the second-most frequently optimal player on the FanDuel slate at a 27.5% rate. The public is getting to the value baked into his discounted price, he is projected for 25.2% ownership but that still leaves room with a 2.3 leverage score. Westbrook is projected for a 42.6-point median projection on the slate and he has a 28.7% boom score probability that ranks sixth overall and second among players priced at $8,000 or more, trailing only $11,300 Nikola Jokic. The Lakers point guard is an easy click on the blue site, he stands a strong chance to deliver value on the low price and there is an easy path to a ceiling score.

Where he is priced appropriately, Westbrook makes just a quality mix-in play on the DraftKings slate. For $10,100 most of the juicy upside is squeezed from the play, but Westbrook does still land in the optimal lineup in 8.5% of simulated slates while only getting 3.9% of the public’s short attention span. This leaves Westbrook as a very expensive differentiation play on the slate. He is projected for a 45.7-point night in the median and he has a 13.9% boom score probability. It is not unlikely that Westbrook will at least make value on the salary, but asking for a major ceiling score might be pushing things a bit at these prices. He rostered conservatively, with the goal of differentiating a star play with his low single-digit ownership and 4.6 leverage score on the DraftKings NBA DFS slate.


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Looking for more NBA DFS value plays and the best NBA DFS picks today? Our NBA daily projections are updated regularly, including whenever any relevant news breaks. View our FanDuel ownership, our Yahoo! ownership projections and our DraftKings NBA ownership projections. Check out our NBA DFS 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 rankings and FanDuel NBA rankings for today's slate.

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 Awesemo.com. 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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