Daily fantasy basketball success can come from the most unexpected places. Who knew, even in the middle of the afternoon yesterday, that Facundo Campazzo would be a key player on the slate? When values like the minimum-priced point guard emerge late in the process it is important to fully account for them, they can be slate-changing. Tune in to our block of afternoon shows leading up to lock, and be sure to follow all the breaking news. With a monster 10-game slate on tap tonight, we’ll be looking at a few of the main building blocks as well as trying to find a key lower-owned pivot or two. We are always looking for players who are under-appreciated for the frequency with which they land in optimized lineups in DraftKings and FanDuel NBA simulations.
As always, this article comes out ahead of lock, and many things will change with our daily fantasy basketball picks. Be sure to follow the @AwesemoNBA Twitter handle for all the latest breaking news (via our NewsGod).
Daily Fantasy Basketball: Optimals + Leverage Leaders
These picks are made utilizing the boom/bust tool, specifically analyzing the optimized-lineup rate, leverage score and boom probability. 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 we will also be discussing bad chalk and shaky investments in this space, so be sure to read the analysis and not just the headlines.
Terrence Ross – Orlando Magic
DraftKings — $5,800 – SF/PF | FanDuel — $5,500 – SF
The Magic are home to take on the slow-paced, defensively inclined Knicks tonight. The game is not expected to be a bonanza of daily fantasy basketball points, but Ross could provide a quality option on at least one site. The Magic will be without numerous pieces. They are the most injured and unlucky team in the league in what has been an injury-prone, unlucky season. Ross will have plenty of usage and minutes filling the void, and he is capable of generating points in a hurry when his shot falls. Over the team’s most recent three games, in relatively similar injury situations, Ross has led the Magic with a 30.6% usage rate, way up from his seasonal average of 22%. His assist rate has jumped from a season-long 15.7% to a whopping 27.3%, suggesting there is more than scoring upside available.
Ross is a different story across sites. On the early-afternoon board for DraftKings, he looks only like a mix and match level option at the shooting guard or small forward spot. Ross carries a reasonably good 11.3% boom-score probability for his inflated salary, but he lands in the optimal lineup in only 5.4% of Awesemo’s simulations. The appeal on the site is the absence of ownership; Ross is currently projected for under 1% public exposure, yielding a 4.9 leverage score. He is in play as a completely off-the-radar mix-and-match option who will have a lead role for his team in a bad matchup for NBA DFS production.
On FanDuel Ross is far more relevant. He costs just $5,600 and slots into one of the two required shooting guard spots. Ross lands in the optimal lineup in 17.6% of simulations for the blue site’s slate. He has a hefty 31.7% boom-score probability and is going significantly under-owned. Ross has a slate-leading 9.7 leverage score that will help land him land in far more of my lineups than the public’s. There is significant appeal and obvious upside to the unpopular play. Unless things change wildly before lock, Ross is a dynamite option.
Donovan Mitchell – Utah Jazz
DraftKings — $8,300 – PG/SG / FanDuel — $8,100 – SG
The Jazz were expected to be a good team, but certainly not the best in the league this year. Through 38% of the schedule, the surprising 23-5 Jazz are exactly that. They have won games with a combination of quality scorers and an indefatigable dedication to defensive dominance, ranking second to the Lakers in defensive efficiency. On the offensive end of the floor, the Jazz are led by Mitchell, who averages 24.2 points in his 33.6 minutes per game. Mitchell sees 30.9% usage for the season and adds a strong 31.2% assist rate. He is highly involved in the team’s success on that end of the floor.
Mitchell looks like a strong option among the higher-priced tier. He is secondary to the top-end stars who draw more focus from the public and will likely be lower-owned than many of the value options on the board as well, leaving him in prime territory for tournament play. On FanDuel Mitchell costs $8,100, which is likely too low for his overall nightly upside. He lands in the optimal lineup 17.6% of the time — tied with Ross from above — and has a 25.4% boom-score probability that ranks second at the position. Mitchell is far too under-owned, coming in with a 5.9 leverage score that tells me we can get well beyond the field’s exposure to the dynamic guard.
On DraftKings Mitchell is another strong mix-and-match play. He is projected for under 5% ownership while landing in 7.9% of optimal lineups. The 18.3% boom-score probability and his 42.8 median projection are both appealing when we account for the near-total lack of ownership. It makes sense to stretch beyond the field with ease to add shares.
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Robert Williams – Boston Celtics
DraftKings — $3,100 – C / FanDuel — $3,600 – C
The Celtics will be without Daniel Theis for at least one more game on Wednesday, which will lead to increased minutes and opportunity for role players like Williams. In a similar situation just last night, Williams was the primary backup to starter Tristan Thompson, playing 20 minutes that saw him put up 8 points and grab 8 rebounds while adding 5 steals and 2 assists. Williams can rack up fantasy points in a hurry when he gets minutes; he averages 1.28 fantasy points per minute in his limited action.
This one is a pick for the DraftKings fans. Williams looks like a simply spectacular play on the site, and he is dramatically under-owned. At just $100 above the dead minimum, Williams will not have to do very much to return upside on the investment. He projects for a 24.5 median fantasy point score while pulling in a 45.3% boom-score probability and a 26.2% optimal-lineup rate. The leverage score is the most appealing metric, landing at a slate-leading 14.6.
FanDuel loses some of the appeal on Williams this time around. The site also has him priced at just $100 over the minimum, and he is not without utility there, particularly when considering his 55.1% boom-score probability. Despite that gaudy mark, Williams appears in just 9.5% of optimal lineups in simulations. There are simply too many quality options at the position on the site tonight, and they are soaking up the lion’s share of the optimal-lineup appearances. Jayson Tatum alone accounts for more than 30.7%, with Domantas Sabonis and Julius Randle combining for an additional 33% from the second and third spots on the list. It is just difficult to get to Williams at the position despite the value-based upside.
Tobias Harris – Philadelphia 76ers
Finally, we land on a play that looks equally good on both sites. The 76ers have been dealing with some bumps and bruises, causing star center Joel Embiid to miss the team’s last game and rotation piece Shake Milton to be absent as well. Embiid is questionable for tonight, while Milton has already been ruled out. Neither has a direct impact on the available minutes for Harris, but Embiid’s absence would thrust him into a more required role in the offense rather than serving as a complementary piece.
Harris typically operates on 22.9% usage for the season, contributing 20.7 points in his 34.4 minutes per game. He adds a 22.6% rebounding rate and an 18.3% assist rate. With Embiid and Milton both off the floor, assuming he would play alongside Ben Simmons and Dwight Howard, Harris leaps to 29.4% usage, and his per-minute rate spike from 1.07 to 1.27, making him almost an entirely different player.
Harris stands out on the board as an option on both sites. He costs $7,600 on DraftKings as a power forward while landing in 12.7% of optimal lineups in simulations, trailing only Tatum and value play Isaiah Roby at the position. Harris has a strong 25.2% boom-score probability on the slate and a high-end 40.7 median projection, but he will be under-owned by the public, creating a 2.2 leverage score. It warrants mentioning that these are his marks with Embiid in. If Embiid does not end up playing, the prospects for Harris’ performance will improve even further.
On FanDuel Harris is a $7,900 power forward who appears in the optimal lineup in 15.9% of simulations, third on the slate behind the more expensive Tatum and the far more popular (and over-exposed) JaMychal Green. Harris adds a 29.7% boom-score probability, and the public seems unwilling to pay for his upside. He slots in with a robust 5.6 leverage score, making him one of the more favorable high-quality GPP plays of the day.
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