Saturday’s loaded eight-game slate of NBA DFS action seems primed for high-scoring tournament results once again. The slate has a handful of games carrying strong totals, including a contest between the Hornets and Hawks that lands at a 227. Only two games have close point spreads, however, meaning we could see some teams slow things down for feature players if given a large fourth-quarter lead. Still, sweating blowouts is not the recommended approach, the assumption should typically be that a star player has delivered if his team is that far ahead in the game. With a number of interesting matchups, several premium stars, and a few significant values in the early afternoon, the slate has a very clear shape, until everything changes as we get toward lock that is.
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 eight games on the slate, the focus is on the top overall plays on the board. 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.
NBA DFS Optimizer Leverage Leaders Today
These picks are made utilizing the Boom/Bust Tool, specifically analyzing the optimal lineup rate, leverage score and boom probability. Check out Alex Hunter’s Boom/Bust Tool article, where he breaks down some of the top boom and bust candidates from Awesemo’s expert projections. 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.
Dewayne Dedmon: DraftKings — $3,800 — C | FanDuel — $3,700 — C
Awesemo’s projections are operating under the assumption that Miami big man Bam Adebayo will not play this evening. Adebayo made it back from a two-game absence in the team’s most recent game, playing 30 minutes on Thursday night, but the Heat may not push him early in his return. If Adebayo does not play, backup center Dewayne Dedmon instantly becomes the best value play on the slate. Dedmon comes in with a low salary and he is carrying a 28-minute projection, which should be more than ample opportunity to deliver with the player coming in at a 0.94 fantasy point per minute rate this season. Dedmon produced more last year, putting up a 1.27 per-minute mark on more usage. Last season he saw an 18.3% usage rate, this season he is at just 14.2% in his limited action. Overall, Dedmon has a 62.6% true shooting percentage and a 17.9% rebounding share. The big man will see more opportunity for everything if he steps into the starting lineup this evening he would be a go-to play.
On the FanDuel slate, Dedmon lands at a 28.8% optimal lineup appearance rate that lands second among all players. The $3,700 center is projected for a 29-point median projection and he is carrying a massive 61% boom score probability. The current ownership projection does not reflect where Dedmon will fall if he is announced as the starter, but the leverage almost does not matter. In later updates, Dedmon will likely fall into negative leverage territory, but it will be in the excellent chalk category and he should be rostered regardless. If Adebayo does play, Dedmon can be scratched off the list entirely, he would have only minimal value and very little upside under those circumstances.
On the DraftKings slate, Dedmon is currently the top option with a 34.6% optimal lineup rate. He is projected for a 29.4-point median score and costs just $3,800 at the center spot. Dedmon has a 59.3% boom score probability that also leads the slate, outpacing the next-highest players by nearly 20 percentage points. The center would be an excellent option in the absence of his star teammate, the ownership on this site also does not currently reflect the required situation, but even if he slips into negative leverage, Dedmon will be a terrific situational value play.
Steven Adams: DraftKings — $4,700 — C | FanDuel — $5,400 — C
Memphis center Steven Adams lands at an interesting salary on this slate, he is drawing strong probability marks across the industry even with Dedmon projected highly at the same position for less salary. If the situation with Miami changes and Dedmon is relegated to backup duty, Adams would likely increase further in value. He is a strong inexpensive selection at the position who averages 25.7 minutes a night, but is projected for more than 27 this evening. Adams produces a 0.99 fantasy point per minute mark on just 13.6% usage this season. He has a 55.4% true shooting percentage with a solid 14.1% assist rate and 16.3% rebounding share. For the money, it is always worth getting to a player who can contribute in every category in NBA DFS point-scoring.
Adams is more expensive on the FanDuel slate than where he lands across town, but he is still carrying a bit of value on the site and would be a better play if Dedmon does not go, given the singular center requirement on the site. Adams is currently sitting at just a 6.3% optimal lineup appearance rate despite a still-favorable $5,400 price tag. He has a solid 27.1-point median projection and an 18.2% boom score probability that ranks 21st overall. There are several centers ranked above him in the category, but the value plays are projected far lower and the better players are coming at significant negative leverage. Adams provides a bit of stability with upside at the position and his value will climb depending on the status of players in other games who are currently soaking up much of the focus at the position.
With the ability to roster Adams at the flex spot on the DraftKings slate he already begins to claw back value from Dedmon, particularly with a much lower price from site to site. Adams costs just $4,700 on the site and he climbs to a 16.1% optimal lineup appearance rate that already ranks eighth overall and second among eligible centers behind only Dedmon. The Memphis center slots in with a 27-point median projection and he is carrying a 27.7% boom score probability that lands fifth among all players. Adams is a strong value play on the DraftKings slate, he should be rostered ahead of where the public currently is projected, the center is drawing just a 12.9% projection, leaving him at a 3.2 leverage score that is among the top marks in the group of players near the top of probability ratings.
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Jayson Tatum: DraftKings — $9,700 — SF/PF | FanDuel — $9,900 – SF/PF
With teammate Jaylen Brown on the verge of a return and big man Al Horford potentially sitting out the second night of a back-to-back, there are a number of question marks in the Celtics rotation as of the early afternoon. The return of Brown coupled with the presence of Horford would have a clear impact on the overall upside of Jayson Tatum, who is currently tracking as a strong play with Brown projected out but Horford projected in. If both teammates do not go there will be even more to do for a player who is currently averaging 25 real-life points, 8.6 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game. Tatum has turned in a 1.18 fantasy point per minute rate so far this season on 31.7% usage. Across all situations last year he was a 1.23 per-minute player on 29.8% usage, so he has arguably underperformed the NBA DFS point-scoring expectations. Still, for the salary across both sites, Tatum has clear upside but the slate is not getting to him frequently enough.
On the blue site, Tatum lands at either forward position for just $9,700. He has an excellent 44-point median projection and a 17.8% boom score probability that ranks 23rd overall on the site, but only two players ahead of him are at higher salaries, which suggests that he is one of the top pay-up options on the site. Tatum has a 13.7% optimal lineup appearance rate that again ranks 23rd, this time falling to fourth among players priced at $9,000 or more on the site. Tatum is one of the better plays for positive leverage from the upper tier of salary as well, he has an 8.2% ownership projection and an excellent 5.5 leverage score that is highly playable. Tatum is a player to get to after building a strong foundation from some of the value plays and more frequently optimal plays, he is a candidate to post one of the night’s top fantasy scores.
On the DraftKings slate, Tatum costs $9,900 and lands 17th overall, coming up in the optimal lineup in 12.8% of simulated slates. The forward is a positively leveraged play, he has a 2.3 score in the category with the public projected at just a 10.5% ownership mark. Tatum is projected for a 46.1-point median score on the site, giving him a sturdy 18.9% boom score probability. Tatum falls behind only one other player priced at $9,000 or more in the category, Damian Lillard has a 21.6% boom score for just $9,100, but all of the other high-priced players land below Tatum in the category, making him a very good pay-up option on this site as well.
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Check out our daily fantasy rankings NBA for fantasy points and values that are derived directly from Alex Baker's own NBA DraftKings projections. Our best NBA DFS projections are updated regularly, including whenever any relevant news breaks. We also have Yahoo! NBA ownership rankings, FanDuel rankings and DraftKings rankings for today's slate. View our FanDuel NBA ownership projections, our Yahoo! ownership projections and our DraftKings ownership. Looking for more DFS NBA picks today and the best NBA DFS tools?