A fun slate with a true late-night hammer and some wild value plays rounded out the NBA DFS weekend in style last night, and Monday’s eight-game setup looks to have more of the same in store. The slate is tilted and top-heavy with one game standing out for a 246 total, while two others land in the mid-230s. With every other game on the slate below a 220 total, there are a few obvious spots for scoring and a few places to scrape against the edges for every last bit. With eight games on the slate, this article will focus on the top overall plays on the board while minding the leverage scores. As always, the goal is to find under-appreciated players for the frequency with which they land in the optimal lineup in DraftKings and FanDuel NBA simulations.
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NBA Daily Fantasy Basketball: Optimal + Leverage Leaders
These picks are made utilizing the Boom/Bust tool, specifically analyzing the optimized-lineup rate, leverage score, and boom probability. The optimized-lineup rate represents the frequency at which a player appears 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, and bad chalk and shaky investments will be discussed in this space, so be sure to read the analysis and not just the headlines.
R.J. Barrett – New York Knicks
DraftKings — $6,800 — SF | FanDuel — $6,700 — SF
Barrett has had a dynamite season, improving in many facets of the game. He has been on the fringes of relevance for NBA DFS purposes of late. Typically fairly priced and owned for his production, he has delivered with regularity, but it has been difficult to get him in exploitable spots. That appears to not be the case tonight. Barrett has a 40-minute projection from Awesemo in the afternoon update, which would give him significant upside on this slate. He averages 0.87 fantasy points per minute for the season, his extended run is likely to come from the Knicks needing to play small with Nerlens Noel sitting out and only Taj Gibson and Norvel Pelle to handle the load in the frontcourt.
On the FanDuel slate, Barrett ranks eighth overall with a 21.7% optimal-lineup rate. That mark compares favorably all the way up the board — today’s leader in the category has just a 28.4% mark and is at a far worse leverage score. The public is leaving Barrett on the table despite a very fair price tag, perhaps missing the potential path to extended minutes for the player tonight. Barrett stands out with an 11.7 leverage score, the highest of any relevant player on the blue site and the only significantly positively leveraged score among the top 10 by optimal-lineup rate. He has a 24.7% boom-score probability that is suggestive of the upside. Barrett is the top small forward option on the FanDuel slate, and he is going significantly under-owned at just 10.0% public exposure.
On DraftKings, the play ranks out similarly. Barrett is in the optimal lineup in 18.1% of simulated slates, ranking him fifth overall. He has a 9.3 leverage score that is among the slate leaders and the best mark among the top options by optimal-lineup rate. Barrett is at an appealing price that leaves him plenty of upside with a 16.8% boom-score probability. He makes sense to plug in far more frequently than the rate at which the field is getting to him. Gamers can easily push past the projected 8.8% public popularity.
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Josh Jackson — Detroit Pistons
DraftKings — $5,600 — SG/SF | FanDuel — $5,200 — SG
Jackson ranks near the top of the optimal lineup board on both sites but is drawing significant attention, making him a play worth exploring for value and potential pivots. Jackson has a 28.6-minute projection as one of the few men standing in the Pistons’ backcourt. Jackson has produced 0.96 fantasy points per minute for the season. In a 154-minute sample without the specific missing teammates for tonight’s game, Jackson has posted a solid 1.07 fantasy points per minute. This puts him in play and has had him as a strong value from lower salaries on past slates, but the prices have come up to meet the production. Jackson is drawing major ownership at a mid-range price and creating significant negative leverage, making this a bit of a question mark with other strong options on the board.
On the DraftKings slate, Jackson ranks seventh overall, coming in with a 16.6% optimal-lineup rate. He adds eligibility at small forward on the site, extending his utility, but the public is on the play to the tune of 30.4% ownership and an ugly -13.8 leverage score. Jackson has an 18.2% boom-score probability; he is not exploding through the ceiling score upside like one would want in taking on negatively leveraged weight. Jackson’s over-exposure grows concerning when considered alongside similarly priced plays like Joe Ingles, who will be owned far less at the same positions for an optimal-lineup rate that just 0.4 percentage points lower. Offsetting that much ownership for $1,000 is worthwhile here, and there are other similarly ranked plays on the board. Even getting to $3,000 Alex Caruso and his heavy ownership is a sharper move given Caruso’s 47.2% optimal-lineup rate at the dead minimum.
On the FanDuel slate, Jackson is drawing even more attention. He costs $5,200 at shooting guard, which is certainly putting him firmly on the board. He drops into the second-ranked overall spot on the site with a 26.4% optimal-lineup rate that is second only to Stephen Curry‘s 28.4% mark. The issue, again, is with the ownership. The public is locking Jackson in at nearly 50% frequency, which pushes him all the way down to a -22.4 leverage score that is simply skippable here. Playing the same position, $6,500 Jordan Clarkson makes far more sense at a -4.9 leverage score and an optimal-lineup rate 2.1 percentage points removed from Jackson’s mark. Star Bradley Beal and Warriors guard Andrew Wiggins are options at the position for more money as well, but one has to travel further down the board to find additional shooting guard options. Of the players listed here, the indigestible leverage score makes Jackson the least favored play despite the optimal rate and the 34.2% boom-score probability. Rostering him is fine, but exceeding the public’s 50% ownership mark seems inadvisable.
Mohamed Bamba — Orlando Magic
DraftKings — $5,100 — C | FanDuel — $5,600 — C
Bamba is a solid per-minute contributor, putting up 1.25 across all situations this season and 1.27 since the trade deadline. With the ailing Magic missing seven or eight players again tonight, Bamba should be in line to see his fair share of minutes, a situation in which he has produced recent upside games. Bamba has been at just 1.08 points per minute over a 95-minute sample without this set of teammates since the trade deadline, but there is reason to believe in the upside, particularly when the play is under-owned.
On the DraftKings slate, Bamba ranks third overall with a 23.0% optimal-lineup rate. He costs just $5,100 on the DraftKings slate and can be rostered alongside another center, offsetting any concerns about opportunity costs for more highly projected raw point scorers at the position. Bamba has a 32.5% boom-score probability against that salary, which ranks him second at any position and first among centers. He will only be owned 17.2% of the time by the public as of the late afternoon update. Bamba has a solid 5.8 leverage score and is looking like a strong play.
On the FanDuel slate, we do have the concern about potential for opportunity cost, but Bamba appears to be a relatively solid play regardless. He ranks second to Nikola Vucevic with a 13.1% optimal-lineup rate and has a position-leading 40.3% boom-score probability. With a 32.8 raw point projection that rivals the low-mid 40s projected for the star caliber players around him, Bamba looks like a bit of a steal with upside for more. He has just a 4.8% ownership projection and an excellent 8.3 leverage score. There is true potential for opportunity cost given the star-laden slate. Bamba will have to produce a nice upside game for his mid-range salary to outdraw Vucevic, Rudy Gobert, Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic and more on the slate, but the numbers suggest the potential is there and the public is not, an ideal GPP situation.
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