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NBA Optimal Lineups Picks for DraftKings & FanDuel Tyler Herro | Tuesday, Dec. 21

Terry McBride

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Tuesday is shaping up as another chaotic day of NBA DFS action. Injury and absentee lists are growing around the league as more players are felled by health restrictions each day. Every team on the slate is dealing with a few players who are known to be out and most have more question marks than regular rotation players. This creates value-based opportunity around the NBA DFS industry, with extreme value plays emerging from all corners on seemingly every slate. With the ability to afford a combination of any star players, or a long list of premium mid-range options, roster building can be fun but can also meander down very commonly trod avenues of construction. Getting to a differentiated play in the value tier can be a gamechanger while landing on an under-owned star can unlock a tier of scoring that the majority of the public cannot reach. The leverage score category is critical in finding high-caliber pivots at each salary tier whether hand-building or using an optimizer. For large pool builders, the value can be added to Fantasy Cruncher as a sorting option, or it can be used to set a binary value in the optimizer (1 for positive leverage, 0 for negative) which can work with a rule to force a minimum number of positively leveraged players into each lineup. It is always important to remember to watch projection and salary minimums when crunching with alternate values, but ensuring that a few differentiated players are in each lineup is a sound approach to building NBA DFS tournament lineups on DraftKings and FanDuel.

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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 five games and a lot of unpredictability on the board, this article will focus on several 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.

Josh Hart: DraftKings — $5,700 — SG/PF | FanDuel — $6,600 — SG/SF

Despite playing on one of the more relatively healthy teams, Josh Hart stands out as a strong play from the mid-range on both sites this evening. His value is far greater on the DraftKings slate, where he comes in at a low price, but he is a relevant play on the FanDuel slate as well. Hart has posted 0.89 fantasy points per minute on 15.5% usage across all situations this season, slightly up from the 0.85 he put up on just 13.3% usage last season. He has a 19.5% assist percentage and an 11.3% rebounding share this season. Hart has seen an average of 31.5 minutes per game over the course of the season, with an uptick to 36.7 per game over the team’s three most recent outings. Hart has produced at a 0.86 per-minute rate over that stretch, but he had a strong 41-point outing in 42 minutes the last time the team played. At positive leverage on both sites, Hart is in play for NBA DFS lineups on both sites tonight.

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On DraftKings he stands as the second-most frequently optimal player on the entire slate, landing in the top lineup in 28.7% of Awesemo’s simulated slates. Hart has eligibility at both forward positions for just $5,700 but the public is projected for just 22.9% ownership, leaving him with a high-quality 5.8 leverage score and massive appeal on the slate. Hart is projected for a 31.1-point median night and a 28.7% boom score probability. He is sound and reliable for producing around his median score and there is a clear path to a few additional points, if not a ceiling. Getting additional shares of Hart is relatively easy and his multi-position eligibility is helpful.

As a much more expensive item on FanDuel, Hart’s appeal is more limited. He lands in the optimal lineup in 13.7% of simulated slates, good for a relevant but not impressive 28th on the slate. Hart will be owned at just a 12.4% clip by the public, leaving him at positive leverage against the middling optimal lineup rate. He is projected for a 30.2-point median score but just an 11.9% boom score probability against the inflated salary. Hart is more of a mix-and-match option on the FanDuel slate, but he can be rostered conservatively beyond the field.


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Tyler Herro: DraftKings — $7,000 — PG/SG| FanDuel — $6,200 — SG/SF

The needy Heat are expected to get at least one key rotation piece back this evening, Tyler Herro was upgraded to probable during the afternoon and looks on track to play and potentially provide a strong NBA DFS option on both sites. Herro has missed the team’s most recent three games with a minor leg injury, but he should be projected for his typical complement of minutes assuming he returns to action. Herro is a strong option for the mid-range salary given the absence of many key pieces of the Heat’s roster, including Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. In a limited 50-minute sample with both of those stars as well as Caleb Martin and P.J. Tucker off the floor this season, Herro has seen a 33.5% usage rate, up from his typical 28.6% mark. In 196 minutes ignoring Tucker’s status but with the other three still off the floor, Herro has seen a 31.3% usage rate and has produced essentially the same per-minute mark. With Herro’s ownership climbing after the status news was released, this play will be worth checking before lock and after he is confirmed in, Herro is currently drawing a strong positive leverage score.

On FanDuel Herro has a 21.5% optimal lineup rate, slotting in at either the shooting guard or small forward position on the blue site. Herro is projected for a 31.4-minute night and a 30.3-point median projection with a 17.5% boom score probability. His optimal lineup rate ranks 13th overall while the boom score is a 16th-best mark on the board, but Herro is inexpensive for his talents at just $6,200. As the fifth-most frequently optimal option at either of his positions, Herro is under-owned, he is projected for just 17.1% ownership on a five-game slate, leaving him at a targetable 4.4 leverage score in the mid-afternoon update. If the ownership stays low relative to similar plays, it makes sense to add shares of Herro if he plays.

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On DraftKings Herro is a $7,000 point guard or shooting guard option who lands in the optimal lineup in 18.4% of simulated slates. That mark sits 17th overall on the site, but fifth at either guard position. Herro has just an 11.3% projection, leaving an excellent 7.1 leverage score that has appeal despite the higher price against a lower cap. He is projected for a 33.2-point median night and he has a 16.4% boom score probability. If the ownership catches up Herro can be downgraded to more of a mix and match option, but if he plays and things go off at these marks, he is a strong option for lineup differentiation and upside in DraftKings NBA DFS lineups.

Omer Yurtseven: DraftKings — $3,500 — C | FanDuel — $4,500 — C

The Heat lineup also appears primed to deliver a significant value play on at least one site. With both Adebayo and Tucker on the shelf, the Heat have limited options for big men, which thrusts backup center Omer Yurtseven to the forefront. He is not likely to star, that role should continue to go to Dewayne Dedmon, who is now appropriately priced and owned on both sites, but Yurtseven is projected for 23.2 minutes and has the ability to deliver quality production for his low salary. He has played in 22 games for Miami this season, but he averages just 8.3 minutes for the year. In that limited role, Yurtseven has produced 1.06 fantasy points per minute on 20% usage while grabbing a 17.6% rebounding share. He has averaged 17 minutes per game over the team’s last three and has been up to a 1.17 per-minute mark. That three-game production rate came in games for which Tucker was available, so there is potentially even more for Yurtseven to do in more minutes today.

At just $3,500 on the DraftKings slate, Yurtseven is projected to be in 17% of all public lineups. However, that projection falls well behind the 22.6% rate at which Awesemo finds Yurtseven in the optimal lineup in simulated slates, leaving him at a 5.6 leverage score that is highly appealing for the third-most frequently optimal player at any position. He is projected for a 24.5-point median score and has the upside to surpass that mark in a projection five minutes beyond the time he needed to reach the same score in the team’s last game. Yurtseven has a 43.3% boom score probability that ranks second overall on the slate. Yurtseven needs to see the appropriate number of minutes to deliver a ceiling score, but he has that opportunity, and the public is not getting to him with enough frequency.

On FanDuel the inflated $4,500 price and center-only eligibility trip Yurtseven up to a fairly significant degree. There is an opportunity cost involved in the singular center requirement on the blue site on every slate, in this case, Yurtseven drops to just a 9.7% optimal lineup rate, ranking him 36th overall and seventh among eligible centers. With three of those seven higher-ranked big men also eligible only at the center spot, Yurtseven is much more of an infrequent mix and match piece, but he is not entirely without value. Yurtseven is projected for a 22.9% boom score probability that ranks eighth overall and his low 6.9% raw ownership total is very appealing, as is the 2.8 leverage score it creates against the optimal lineup rate. There is potential for Yurtseven to work out, but it is important to focus on the overall lineup construction when utilizing a player with this profile in the center-only spot in FanDuel NBA DFS lineups.


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