This is our primary in-depth NBA DFS article, and it will be free this season. The goal of this article isn’t just to give you a few plays to plug into your lineup, but to dig a little bit deeper into why projections may (or may not) like certain players. Hopefully, after reading this article, you’ll have a better feel for the slate as a whole. Combining the context from this article with the raw data that is available in our Boom/Bust tool, Projections and Ownership Projections should allow you to build strong lineups and make optimal NBA DFS picks for any type of contest on DraftKings and FanDuel.
Be sure to catch the Awesemo NBA Daily Fantasy Strategy Show every morning on our Awesemo YouTube Channel to find the best NBA DFS picks on DraftKings and FanDuel!
I plan to update this article with notes at the top until about 5 p.m. EST each day. After that, be sure to check out the Deeper Dive show with Loughy and me from 5 to 6 every weekday and Live Before Lock in the hour leading up until lock each day on the Awesemo YouTube channel.
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NBA DFS Deep Dive: DraftKings + FanDuel Picks | April 19
Update No. 1: Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro are out. Goran Dragic is questionable along with Jimmy Butler and Andre Iguodala. There are still a lot of moving pieces here, but Kendrick Nunn is the primary beneficiary of Herro’s absence while Dewayne Dedmon was Adebayo’s back-up yesterday and could start in his place tonight. If Dragic and/or Butler are out, Nunn will look even better. If one or both of Dragic and Butler play, they should benefit from the absences of Adebayo and Herro as well.
Update #2: Luguentz Dort and Isaiah Roby are out for the Thunder. As mentioned on the Strategy Show this morning, Theo Maledon benefits significantly when Dort joins Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on the sideline. The entire frontcourt rotation between Darius Bazley, Aleksej Pokusevski, Moses Brown and Tony Bradley should be tighter now that Roby is out as well.
Russell Westbrook ($11,000 DraftKings/$11,500 FanDuel) has averaged 36.9 minutes per game over the last month and 1.67 DraftKings points per minute in 15 games alongside Bradley Beal since the All-Star break. Westbrook has averaged 23.1 points, 12.3 rebounds and 11.7 assists per game in those games. He is a stronger play on DraftKings than FanDuel because the DraftKings scoring system is more favorable and there is more roster flexibility, but he is one of the top options on either site tonight against Oklahoma City.
Ben Simmons ($7,800 DraftKings/$7,100 FanDuel) has averaged only 1.06 DraftKings points per minute and 32.1 minutes per game in 17 games since the All-Star break. In 33 total games played with Joel Embiid this season, Simmons has averaged 1.15 DraftKings points per minute and 33.9 minutes per game. It is difficult to trust Simmons because he has one of the lowest usage rates at his price point, and while he contributes rebounds and assists, he doesn’t contribute enough of either one to make up for the relative lack of scoring. He does face a fast-paced Golden State team tonight, however, and he projects as one of the best values on FanDuel in particular.
Dejounte Murray ($7,300 DraftKings/$7,200 FanDuel) faces a fast-paced Indiana team that is second in pace over the last month. The Pacers are also 21st in defensive efficiency over that time. Murray has produced 1.14 DraftKings points per minute in 32.6 minutes per game over 22 games played without LaMarcus Aldridge and alongside DeMar DeRozan and Derrick White this season.
Ja Morant ($7,200 DraftKings/$6,500 FanDuel) has a tough matchup against the Denver Nuggets tonight. While Denver has struggled defensively recently, ranking 18th in defensive rating over the last month, they have also played at the league’s second-slowest pace. Morant has had a relatively disappointing second season, but has still averaged 1.11 DraftKings points per minute in 47 games played. He could see a slight bump in production tonight as he has produced 1.11 DraftKings points per minute with a 27.6 percent usage rate and 32.8 percent assist rate in 42 games played alongside Jonas Valanciunas compared to 1.15 DraftKings points per minute with a 26.8 percent usage rate and 36.4 percent assist rate in five games without the Grizzlies’ big man.
Mike Conley ($7,000 DraftKings/$7,200 FanDuel) and Jordan Clarkson ($6,400 DraftKings/$6,100 FanDuel) are both interesting options tonight in a difficult matchup against the Lakers. Donovan Mitchell is out for Utah, so Conley and Clarkson will need to take on more production than normal. Their increased salaries reflect that, but they still offer high ceilings. Normally, Conley and Clarkson play alongside each other whenever Mitchell isn’t on the floor. Since Mitchell is unavailable tonight, about half of their minutes should come without the other one on the floor which is likely to benefit them both. In four games played with Conley and Clarkson active and Mitchell inactive since last season, Conley has averaged 1.30 DraftKings points per minute while Clarkson has averaged 1.28 DraftKings points per minute.
Coby White ($5,400 DraftKings/$4,700 FanDuel) started and played 32.8 minutes in Chicago’s last game despite the return of Tomas Satoransky from a one game absence. If White starts again tonight, he will project as a reasonable value option though there is still some risk because Chicago is running a deep rotation despite the absence of Zach LaVine. White has averaged 0.92 DraftKings points per minute with a 24.0 percent usage rate and 24.7 percent assist rate in 565 minutes without LaVine on the floor this season. If he manages to get 30-plus minutes again tonight, he is likely to outproduce his salary.
Killian Hayes ($3,700 DraftKings/$3,900 FanDuel) started and played 26.7 minutes two games ago before resting on the second half of a back-to-back. He is expected to be available tonight against the Cavaliers and will most likely be in the starting lineup as the Pistons will be without Cory Joseph, Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee, Sekou Doumbouya, Wayne Ellington, Rodney McGruder and Dennis Smith Jr. While Hayes has been disappointing so far in his rookie season, he has been a useful fantasy contributor when the Pistons are short-handed. In 103 minutes without Grant, Plumlee, Blake Griffin or Derrick Rose on the floor this season, Hayes has produced 1.05 DraftKings points per minute with a 17.8 percent usage rate and 31.9 percent assist rate.
Saben Lee ($3,500 DraftKings/$3,700 FanDuel) played 21.3 minutes as Hayes’ back-up two games ago, and Lee should have similar playing time tonight. In 223 minutes without Grant, Griffin, Rose or Plumlee on the floor this season, Lee has produced 1.09 DraftKings points per minute. He is riskier than Hayes since he will most likely come off the bench, and the Pistons’ backcourt rotation is a little more crowded tonight with Hamidou Diallo expected to play, but he still projects as a strong value assuming he is in the same role that he was the last time Detroit was short-handed.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Russell Westbrook, Dejounte Murray, Killian Hayes
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Russell Westbrook, Ben Simmons, Dejounte Murray, Coby White, Killian Hayes
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Bradley Beal ($9,200 DraftKings/$8,500 FanDuel) seems to be returning to health as he poured in 37 actual points in about 35 minutes against the Pistons on Saturday. Beal’s salary is starting to increase, but there is still some value here- especially on FanDuel. Beal has averaged 1.28 DraftKings points per minute and 35.3 minutes per game in 41 games played alongside Westbrook this season.
Collin Sexton ($7,400 DraftKings/$7,400 FanDuel) doesn’t stand out as a priority tonight, but he is at a reasonable price point and the shooting guard position isn’t as deep as the point guard position. Sexton has averaged 1.01 DraftKings points per minute with a 31.4 percent usage rate and 33.6 minutes per game in eight games played alongside Darius Garland and Kevin Love without Andre Drummond this season. He should also benefit from facing a short-handed Detroit team.
P.J. Dozier ($3,600 DraftKings/$3,800 FanDuel) is likely to benefit from Monte Morris’s absence tonight against Memphis. Morris’s absence will most likely move Facundo Campazzo into the starting lineup and allow Dozier to pick up a couple extra minutes off the bench. Dozier can play multiple positions and has averaged 0.80 DraftKings points per minute this season. Dozier should play 24 or 25 minutes tonight.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Bradley Beal, P.J. Dozier
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Bradley Beal, DeMar DeRozan (see SF), Josh Jackson (see PF), Hamidou Diallo (see SF)
Jimmy Butler ($9,600 DraftKings/$9,300 FanDuel) is questionable tonight after missing yesterday’s game. If he is able to play, he will have a favorable matchup against the Houston Rockets. Butler has produced 1.33 DraftKings points per minute in 33 games played with Adebayo and without Victor Oladipo this season. If Butler sits, it increases the value of just about every player in Miami’s rotation as Nunn, Dragic and Herro would most likely play increased minutes with increased usage. Trevor Ariza and Iguodala would play more minutes and Adebayo would need to take on a bigger role in all aspects of the game.
DeMar DeRozan ($8,000 DraftKings/$7,900 SG FanDuel) has produced at a high level without Aldridge this season. In 22 games played without Aldridge, and alongside Murray and White, DeRozan has averaged 1.18 DraftKings points per minute and 34.6 minutes per game. He has a plus matchup against the Pacers tonight and stands out as a top option at shooting guard (FanDuel) or small forward (DraftKings).
Saddiq Bey ($5,300 DraftKings/$5,200 FanDuel) is likely to lead the Pistons in playing time tonight as he has averaged 32.1 minutes per game in seven games without Grant, Griffin or Rose this season and he played 39.2 minutes against the Thunder on Friday. Bey has averaged 0.82 DraftKings points per minute in the games without Grant, Griffin or Rose and has averaged 0.86 DraftKings points per minute in 278 minutes without that trio or Plumlee on the floor this season.
Deni Avdija ($4,600 DraftKings/$3,600 FanDuel) has averaged 0.70 DraftKings points per minute in 18 starts alongside Westbrook and Beal this season. Three of those starts came without Rui Hachimura, who is out tonight against Oklahoma City. Avdija averaged 0.80 DraftKings points per minute in those three games. The biggest reason to be interested in Avdija tonight, however, is just the likely increase in playing time. Hachimura has averaged 34.7 minutes per game over the last month, so there are a lot of minutes available for Avdija to pick up. Avdija will also likely get more minutes at the four which could improve his rebounding numbers. He still grades out as a mediocre option at $4,600 on DraftKings, but he stands out as a strong value at near minimum salary on FanDuel.
Hamidou Diallo ($4,200 DraftKings/$3,500 SF FanDuel) has missed Detroit’s last couple of games but he isn’t on the injury report (yet) for tonight’s game. It’s difficult to say with much confidence how many minutes Diallo will play as the range is about 18 to 30 minutes, but the most likely outcome is 22 to 24 minutes for Diallo. He has averaged 0.95 DraftKings points per minute in 10 games since joining Detroit and 1 DraftKings point per minute in 42 games overall this season.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: DeMar DeRozan, Saddiq Bey, Hamidou Diallo
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Jimmy Butler, Saddiq Bey, Deni Avdija
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Giannis Antetokounmpo ($10,600 DraftKings/$11,000 FanDuel) is always a viable option, but there are a couple of concerns tonight. While his game against the Suns currently has the highest total on the slate, Phoenix is a relatively slow team that is efficient defensively so the total is more favorable for the Suns than it is the Bucks in the context of DFS since Milwaukee players are already priced for fast-paced games. Antetokounmpo has also only played 25 and 29 minutes in two games since returning from injury. He should return to his normal playing time sooner or later, but there is no guarantee that he doesn’t have a shorter than normal rotation again tonight. The other issue is that there are a number of pay-up options tonight that produce at similar rates and average more minutes per game- namely Westbrook and Nikola Jokic. Antetokounmpo has averaged 1.68 DraftKings points per minute and 33.7 minutes per game overall this season so he is certainly capable of being the highest-scoring player on just about any slate, but it’s hard to prioritize him over some of the alternatives tonight unless there is extremely low ownership in tournaments. He will probably be a bit easier to roster on FanDuel since the roster construction is more rigid and there are less power forward options.
Kevin Love ($6,500 DraftKings/$5,900 FanDuel) only played about 23 minutes two games ago on the second half of a back-to-back, but he returned to his normal playing time with about 30 minutes his last time out. Love has averaged 1.13 DraftKings points per minute this season and projects as a strong mid-range option tonight against Detroit.
Josh Jackson ($5,100 DraftKings/$5,500 SG FanDuel) played about 28 minutes against Oklahoma City two games ago when the Pistons were short-handed. He dealt with foul trouble in that game and was sent to the bench earlier than usual in the third quarter, so he has the potential for more minutes tonight. On average, Jackson should play 28 to 30 minutes. He has played 301 minutes without Grant, Plumlee, Rose or Griffin on the floor this season and has produced 1.06 DraftKings points per minute.
Keldon Johnson ($5,000 DraftKings/$4,200 SF FanDuel) has struggled lately but he is extremely inexpensive- especially on FanDuel at shooting guard. He has played 22 total games without LaMarcus Aldridge and with DeRozan, Murray and White this season. In those games, Johnson has produced 0.84 DraftKings points per minute with a 17.8 percent usage rate and 12.6 percent rebounding rate while averaging 27.5 minutes per game.
Brandon Clarke ($4,200 DraftKings/$4,100 FanDuel) is questionable tonight against Denver. If he is able to play, he is likely to benefit from the absence of Valanciunas. Clarke has averaged 27.1 minutes per game and 1.02 DraftKings points per minute in five games without Valanciunas this season compared to 0.96 DraftKings points per minute and 25.2 minutes per game in 40 games with Valanciunas. If Clarke is out, it solidifies playing time for Xavier Tillman and opens the door for increased production from Kyle Anderson.
Xavier Tillman ($3,400 DraftKings/$3,500 FanDuel) is likely to be one of the highest-owned players on tonight’s slate. He has played five games without Valanciunas this season and has averaged 1.06 DraftKings points per minute and 23.9 minutes per game. Clarke was active for all of those games, but he was typically starting alongside Tillman. If Clarke is active and starts in place of Tillman tonight, it would be a concern and Tillman would likely play fewer than 24 minutes. If Clarke is out or Tillman starts ahead of him, assume 24 (or more) minutes for Tillman.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Josh Jackson, Brandon Clarke, Xavier Tillman
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Brandon Clarke, Xavier Tillman, Isaiah Stewart (see C), Daniel Gafford (see C)
Nikola Jokic ($11,000 DraftKings/$11,100 FanDuel) is one of the top options again tonight as he takes on the Memphis Grizzlies. Jokic has averaged 1.89 DraftKings points per minute with a 30.7 percent usage rate and 54.5 percent assist rate in eight games without Jamal Murray this season. In 48 games with Murray active, Jokic has averaged 1.63 DraftKings points per minute with a 28.8 percent usage rate and 39.2 percent assist rate. He has averaged 35.2 minutes per game overall this season.
Joel Embiid ($10,700 DraftKings/$10,400 FanDuel) has been a fantastic DFS option this season, producing 1.65 DraftKings points per minute. The Sixers could also be short-handed tonight as Tobias Harris, Simmons, Seth Curry and Dwight Howard are all questionable. Embiid has averaged 1.87 DraftKings points per minute in six games without Harris and 1.90 DraftKings points per minute in five games without Simmons this season. If one or both players are out, Embiid will rival Jokic as the top center option on the slate. If both players play, Embiid offers a similar ceiling to Jokic but will have a lower projection and should be viewed more as a tournament pivot.
Isaiah Stewart ($5,200 DraftKings/$4,800 PF FanDuel) has started five games this season. He has produced 1.23 DraftKings points per minute and averaged 27.9 minutes per game. He played 31.7 minutes against Oklahoma City in his last start and could exceed 30 minutes again tonight if he can avoid foul trouble. If you don’t have Stewart in your lineup, particularly on DraftKings, and you want to maximize your leverage on the field, Jahlil Okafor is $3,000 and negatively correlates with Stewart since he will play most, or all, of the minutes that Stewart isn’t on the floor.
Tristan Thompson ($4,700 DraftKings/$4,400 FanDuel) will most likely start again tonight in place of Robert Williams. Thompson was disappointing in his last game, but still played nearly 28 minutes. Thompson has averaged 0.96 DraftKings points per minute in 33 total starts this season and 26.9 minutes per game in four starts without Daniel Theis.
Daniel Gafford ($4,000 DraftKings/$4,100 PF FanDuel) has produced at an extraordinary rate since joining the Wizards. In seven games with Washington, Gafford has averaged 1.41 DraftKings points per minute with a 22.9 percent usage rate and 17.9 percent rebounding rate. That will not likely continue, but it is important to keep in mind that he fits very well into the Wizards’ offense alongside Russell Westbrook. Gafford can run the floor with Westbrook and finish off lobs in transition. Gafford’s fantasy production should be higher in Washington than it was in Chicago because of how well he fits in with Washington’s style of play. The bigger question for Gafford is his playing time. He has averaged 17.3 minutes per game since joining Washington. He appears to be carving out a bigger role, but Scott Brooks has mostly deployed three-center rotations since Thomas Bryant’s injury. It is probably just a matter of time before Gafford replaces Alex Len or Robin Lopez in the rotation, but when Brooks is the coach, it can take much longer than it should for obvious changes to be made. Len is questionable tonight, and if he sits, Gafford’s playing time becomes much more secure as the Wizards would be down both frontcourt starters.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, Isaiah Stewart
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, Tristan Thompson
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