NBA DFS Optimizer Picks Tonight for DraftKings & FanDuel Lineups LaMelo Ball | Friday 1/28/22

Friday’s whopper of an 11-game NBA DFS slate comes loaded with fantasy point-scoring opportunities. The board already features several extremely strong value plays from around the league, with several more question marks and unknown unknowns sure to impact plays even further by the time we reach lock. With 22 teams in action, there are numerous star-caliber players at a variety of prices, creating an opportunity to put together a variety of combinations of high-upside players along with a foundation of reliable value. The Trail Blazers vs Rockets and Timberwolves vs. Suns games are both carrying a total above 230, making them prime targets for lineup shares up and down the salary spectrum. A handful of games are totaled in the 220s with the low point coming at 213.5 in the first game of the night, a low-end contest between the Pistons and Magic. Even with this many options on the slate, a few players are drawing extreme popularity, making the leverage column extremely important when weighing options for optimal lineup rate and boom score probability at their positions and across the slate as a whole.

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 11 games on the slate, this article will focus on several of the top overall plays on the Boom/Bust Tool. 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 Picks for DraftKings & FanDuel Lineups

These picks are made utilizing the Boom/Bust Tool, specifically analyzing the optimal lineup rate, leverage score and boom probability. 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.

Hassan Whiteside: DraftKings — $6,900 — C | FanDuel –$6,500 — C

The Jazz will be in Utah this evening and several of their featured pieces will be on the shelf once again. The primary absence impacting this play is starting center Rudy Gobert, who is out once again with a strained calf. It is noteworthy that star wing Donovan Mitchell has been confirmed out as of the mid-afternoon as well, leaving plenty of opportunities across the board for Jazz pieces. One of the primary beneficiaries from an extended role is center Hassan Whiteside, who will start and is projected to see 29.7 minutes tonight, with clear upside for more. Whiteside averages 1.24 fantasy points per minute across all situations this season, but he typically sees just 17.3 minutes per game. In the expanded role he has a clear path to a ceiling score, but he has been at a more limited 0.97 per-minute rate while seeing 33.5 minutes a night over the team’s three most recent games. Whiteside can easily produce at his regular rate in this one and he comes at a fair mid-range price on both sides. The public has seemingly soured somewhat on the play as well, Whiteside comes in at positive leverage on both sites, making him a premium option at his position.

On the DraftKings slate, the big backup comes in as the fourth most frequently optimal player on the slate at 14.9%. That rate puts him ahead of all other centers. The next-most highly ranked player at the position is Bam Adebayo, who comes in with an 11.8% optimal rate for a higher salary. Whiteside is projected for a 38.3-point night in fewer minutes than he has averaged in recent games; if he sees extended time, he is capable of blasting through to a ceiling score. The center has an excellent 36.93% boom score probability on the DraftKings slate, yet he will be owned at just an 8.9% rate by the field, leaving him at a targetable 6.0 leverage score. The primary question with center-only plays is in opportunity cost, but this is mitigated by the utility spot on DraftKings, though it is still worth noting that all of the other most frequently optimal options at the position are also from the mid-range or value tier of salary, superstar Nikola Jokic costs $12,600 on this slate and he lands in the optimal lineup just 6.8% of the time, the 16th-most frequently optimal player at the center position. With the clear approach leaning toward spending up for stars at other positions, a positively leveraged and frequently optimal Whiteside is an excellent first click in DraftKings NBA DFS lineups tonight.

The Jazz center also ranks fourth overall on the blue site tonight, coming in with a 21% optimal lineup appearance rate in simulations of FanDuel slates. Whiteside is projected for a 39.11-point night, and he has a slate-leading 49.41% boom score probability on the site, but he is lacking in projected popularity. The public is expected to include Whiteside in just 15.9% of lineups, leaving them well beyond the probability marks on the excellent center play. With a 5.1 leverage score, Whiteside can and should be rostered at around double the field’s rate, if not more on this slate. When looking at eligible centers on the slate, Whiteside stands atop the board by nearly 7 percentage points over the next most frequently optimal player, Bobby Portis. On the FanDuel slate, Jokic comes up as 10.9% optimal for his $11,300 salary, putting him more in play on this site than he is across town, with only one center spot to utilize. The decision to roster Jokic in a greater share of lineups than the public’s projected 15.5% would be taking on a negatively leveraged play when there are prime options at other positions, but taking up a minor position on the Denver superstar without sacrificing shares of Whiteside is an easy move to help offset any concerns about opportunity cost. Many of the other interesting options at the center spot are also carrying power forward eligibility on the slate, leading to compelling combinations of highly probable players rotating through FanDuel lineup constructions.

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LaMelo Ball: DraftKings — $8,400 — PG/SG | FanDuel — $8,600 — PG

With a few pieces of their rotation absent on Friday night, star guard LaMelo Ball looks like an excellent option from the Hornets on both sites tonight. Ball is drawing efficient ownership, coming in at slightly negative leverage on both sites, but there is an appeal in his points-per-dollar upside and the rate at which he lands in the optimal lineup across the industry. In 32 minutes per game, Ball has posted an outstanding 1.33 fantasy points per minute this season, and he has floated at 1.27 in 34.7 minutes a night over the team’s three most recent contests in their current configuration. Ball flashed his ceiling upside in the team’s most recent game, posting a monster 62.5-point outing that was immensely valuable at an affordable price. He is more than capable of putting up that kind of night in what should be a highly targeted game against the Lakers. Ball has a 34.6% assist rate that ranks fifth among all eligible players tonight. He is an excellent target even with some of the public on the play.

On the FanDuel slate Ball comes in with a 20% optimal lineup rate and a -2.0 leverage score that can be safely set aside. The guard costs just $8,600 and fits in as only a point guard, but he lacks nothing on the site, checking in with a 45.07-point median projection and a terrific 35.48% boom score probability. Ball should be targeted for more shares than the 22% at which the field is projected to roster him on the blue site. He is the seventh most frequently optimal player at any position and the third highest on the point guard board. With more highly ranked Cole Anthony and Cody Martin coming up with more raw ownership and landing further into negative leverage land, it is Ball who stands out as the top play at his position on the FanDuel NBA DFS slate tonight.

With multi-position eligibility across both guard spots, Ball is even more appealing on the DraftKings slate. The dynamic playmaker lands in the optimal lineup in 22.2% of Awesemo’s simulated slates, making him an extremely appealing asset even at slightly negative leverage. Ball ranks second among all options at that optimal lineup rate, and he is the top option at either guard spot, only multi-position value forward Cameron Johnson comes in as a more frequently optimal player at 26.7%. Ball is projected for a stellar 47.4-point night on the DraftKings slate, the seventh-highest median points projection on the entire site and easily the best points-per-dollar value available, given his $8,400 salary. The star guard is at a -2.7 leverage score, 24.9% of the slate will be including him in lineups, but he seemingly deserves more given the low price and top-shelf projections. Ball can be rostered at or beyond the field’s projected ownership, but it would be wise to pay attention to projected ownership and leverage scores as lock approaches.

C.J. McCollum: DraftKings — $7,300 — PG/SG | FanDuel — $7,700 — SG

Seemingly fully healthy and averaging 37.3 minutes a night over the team’s three most recent games, C.J. McCollum is clearly underpriced for his potential on both sites tonight. The Portland guard comes in at negative leverage on both sites, but he ranks similarly to Ball in that his value likely extends far enough to justify additional shares even with the weight of the public on the play, the points-per-dollar upside is that strong. McCollum has posted 0.93 fantasy points per minute in the extended run over the last three games, for the full season he is a 1.0 player in all situations, but just last year he performed at a 1.11 rate. In more than 1,100 minutes without star teammate Damian Lillard on the floor since the start of last year, McCollum has led the team with a 29.4% usage rate, and he has posted 1.10 fantasy points per minute. In just the games from last season in that sample, McCollum was even better at 1.16 per minute. He has clearly underappreciated potential on this slate.

At $7,300 and with eligibility across both guard spots, McCollum is one of the top plays at any position on the DraftKings slate. The Portland guard comes up in the optimal lineup in 17.1% of simulated slates, the third-most frequently optimal player at any position, behind only Johnson and Ball. McCollum is projected for a 41-point night on the DraftKings slate. He is expected to see north of 35 minutes again and he has a juicy 40.62% boom score probability that is begging to be rostered aggressively. The dynamic scorer has a 23.3% ownership projection which does drop him all the way to a -6.2 leverage score, but the raw points projection and the excellent price make it easy to justify getting to shares of McCollum while focusing on differentiation in other positions in a DraftKings NBA DFS lineup tonight.

McCollum drops his point guard eligibility on the FanDuel slate. He is a $7,700 shooting guard on the blue site where he lands in the optimal lineup in 15.1% of Awesemo’s simulated contests. That rate puts him 13th overall on the slate, dropping behind six other shooting guard options including Cody Martin, Josh Giddey and currently questionable Jimmy Butler. McCollum is negatively leveraged on this site as well, but to a lesser degree at just -3.6, and his 30.65% boom score probability against a 40.07-point median projection look like strong options. By boom score probability, McCollum ranks 10th on the slate, and he is the third-best choice at shooting guard behind Giddey and Martin, one of whom carries point guard eligibility allowing the three to be rostered in the same lineup if so desired. McCollum is underpriced but appropriately owned. He can be rostered in a variety of combinations and deserves inclusion in at least as many lineups as the rate at which the field is projected to include him.

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Terry McBride
Terry used to do other things, now he writes words on the internet. He hopes his more than 20 years’ experience in season-long and daily fantasy sports and his custom models for MLB, NBA, and NFL don't steer you too wrong when he writes columns and makes picks on A lifetime of experience keeping odd hours make Terry ideal to cover KBO baseball overnight until the world returns to normal. Most of those late night hours have been spent on the couch watching sports, T.V., and movies; just try to shut him up about any of the above. You can find his pop-culture ramblings and more on Sideaction.

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