Tonight features a fantastic nine-game slate, including some phenomenal matchups. With that, NBA DFS injury news will be a big part of tonight’s process. Be sure to check the Awesemo NBA Starting Lineups page to see who is in, who is out and who is starting as news breaks, and look at the NBA DFS rankings and projections before making NBA fantasy picks today for DraftKings and FanDuel lineups.
DraftKings & FanDuel NBA Fantasy Rankings Today
*Grades are ordered DraftKings, FanDuel. Initial grade indicates a player’s strength of output, with the value grade indicating their strength as a play in relation to their salary.
PG James Harden — Grades: A, A | Values: C, B
With Kyrie Irving only playing road games and Kevin Durant still out due to injury, James Harden is thrown back into trying to lead a team all by himself. There have been only five games this season where Harden has played without Durant or Irving in the lineup. In those games, he is averaging nearly a triple-double with 32.4 points, 10 assists and 9.2 rebounds per game. He has a 36% usage rate and is also averaging 67.5 DraftKings points per game. Harden even has three games during that time where he had over 70 DraftKings points.
Coincidentally, one of those five games was against the Lakers, who Harden and the Nets host tonight. In that game Harden had a triple-double of 36 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds. He has also hit at least three 3-pointers in each of those five games without Irving or Durant. The Lakers present a great matchup for Harden, as they rank third in pace and 27th in points allowed, giving up 112.7 per game. Per Awesemo’s ownership projections, Harden is popping more on FanDuel, where he leads the slate in ownership. This matchup also has a total of 227 points, which is the third highest on the slate.
C Jakob Poeltl — Grades: B, B | Values: A, A
From the highest-owned player on FanDuel to the highest-owned player on DraftKings, with Spurs center Jakob Poeltl. There are actually three Spurs players who lead the way in Awesemo’s Boom/Bust Tool on DraftKings tonight. Poeltl leads with over a 50% boom rating, while Dejounte Murray and Derrick White are not far behind. Poeltl is averaging career highs in minutes, points and rebounds this season. Not only is he having a career year, but Poeltl has been dominant lately. In his last four games, he is averaging a double-double with 19 points and 10.8 rebounds per game.
The reason all three of these Spurs players are great plays tonight is their matchup against the Rockets. This is the best spot on the slate for any team. The Rockets lead the league in pace, and they also rank last in defensive rating. They have allowed a league-high 116.3 points and the second-most points allowed in the paint — 50 per game. This game has the highest total on the slate (233.5 points). The Rockets also allow the third-most blocks, while Poeltl has averaged 2.8 blocks per game in his last eight games. Awesemo projects Poeltl to be the best value play on DraftKings tonight.
C Christian Wood — Grades: A, B | Values: B, B
Sticking in the same game, it is impossible to ignore Christian Wood in this matchup. Similar to Poeltl, Wood has been fantastic this season, averaging a double-double with 17.5 points and 10.9 rebounds per game, which both lead the Rockets by a wide margin. Wood has been a rebounding machine lately. Over his last three games, Wood is averaging 18.3 points and a ridiculous 14.7 rebounds per game. This is a great rebounding matchup, as the Spurs allow the second-most offensive rebounds and the fourth-most total rebounds per game. Wood will dominate the paint tonight.
After speaking to how bad the Rockets defense is, the Spurs are not much better! They rank 20th in defensive rating and fifth in pace this season. The Spurs have also allowed the second-most field goal attempts per game and are tied with the Rockets in allowing the second-most points scored in the paint. In their last matchup, Wood had 23 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Rockets to a road victory. He has averaged 47.3 DraftKings points per game in his last five games. This slate is absolutely loaded at the center position tonight, but on FanDuel Wood is power forward eligible. Both centers look great in this matchup.
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PG Fred VanVleet — Grades: A, A | Values: C, A
Keeping the theme of players who are facing atrocious defenses, the Raptors are in a great spot at home against the Hornets. The Raptors finally paved the way for Fred VanVleet to run the show at the point guard position, and he has excelled. VanVleet is averaging career highs in minutes, points, rebounds and assists this season. VanVleet leads the entire league in minutes with 38.2 per game. The next closest is Harden with 37 minutes per game. Minutes equal money in DFS. VanVleet shines in Awesemo’s NBA DFS Rankings tonight, especially on FanDuel, where he has an A grade and value.
To hammer home the minutes part even more, VanVleet is averaging 41.7 minutes per game in his last seven games. None of those games went into overtime. The minutes are great, but so is the production. VanVleet has turned into an absolute sniper this season. He is second in the league in both 3-pointers attempted and 3-pointers made, behind only Stephen Curry. VanVleet has made at least four 3-pointers in 13 of his last 15 games. The Hornets allow a league-high 14.2 3-pointers made per game, and they also rank second in pace and 26th in defensive rating. Bombs away for VanVleet tonight.
PG Tyrese Maxey — Grades: B, B | Values: B, A
Another point guard who is playing heavy minutes when he is in the lineup is the 76ers’ Tyrese Maxey. Since returning from the COVID protocols, Maxey has averaged 38.9 minutes per game in seven games. Still at a respectable price tag, Maxey leads the way in Awesemo’s Boom/Bust Tool, with the highest boom percentage on FanDuel tonight. Not only that, but Maxey is also second to Harden when it comes to ownership on FanDuel and ranks second in Awesemo’s projections for value. He is a cheap way to get exposure to the 76ers, who are tied for the biggest spread on the slate at 8.5 points.
The matchup against the Pelicans is another great spot on this slate. They rank 23rd in defensive rating, as they allow opponents to shoot 46.7% from the field and a league-high 37.1% from behind the arc. Maxey is averaging 16.7 points per game while shooting 40.7% from downtown. The 76ers are playing without Shake Milton and Danny Green, which will solidify the heavy minutes for Maxey. Joel Embiid leads the league in usage rate with 35.8% per game, but the Pelicans rank in the top 10 for points allowed in the paint. The 76ers may need Maxey’s outside shooting more than usual.
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Check out our daily fantasy basketball rankings for fantasy points and values that are derived directly from Alex Baker's own best DFS NBA projections. Our NBA projections FanDuel are updated regularly, including whenever any relevant news breaks. Looking for more NBA DFS advice today and the best free NBA DFS tools? View our FanDuel NBA ownership, our DraftKings ownership projections and our Yahoo! ownership. We also have DraftKings NBA rankings, FanDuel NBA ownership rankings and Yahoo! NBA ownership rankings for today's slate.
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