🏀 The Deep Dive: NBA DFS Picks for DraftKings & FanDuel | Sunday, 2/28

The NBA DFS Deep Dive is our primary in-depth daily fantasy basketball 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 the best NBA DFS picks on DraftKings and FanDuel for any format.

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NBA DFS Deep Dive: DraftKings + FanDuel Picks | Feb. 28

Note: We changed the format of the article to try and make it a little bit easier to digest. If you have any questions after reading the article, feel free to DM me in Slack: tmcb74.

Chicago Bulls at Toronto Raptors has been postponed.

Point Guard

Point guard is perhaps the deepest position on both sites tonight. There is a wealth of quality options to choose from in both the top and middle tiers of talent, though value is hard to come by outside of a few hyper-chalky sources. Adding LeBron James to this list is a benefit to DraftKings players, who also get Eric Gordon, Terry Rozier and Immanuel Quickley as options at the position that are not available on the blue site.

De’Aaron Fox ($8,600 DraftKings / $8,000 FanDuel) is the top point guard on both sites tonight, and it isn’t particularly close. Fox will be driving the offense for the favored team in the game with the night’s highest total. At 237.5, the total for the game against the Hornets is a full five points higher than the next closest contest, making the last game of the night potentially the most critical on the board. Fox and his fellow Kings will be extremely relevant to success tonight; Fox in particular remains underpriced on both sites. He has produced 1.17 fantasy points per minute through the season so far, with a 29.2% season long usage rate. He adds a 10.6% rebounding share and a 42.3% assist percentage to boost NBA DFS totals, and his 22.8 real life points per game is among the leaders at the position tonight.

LaMelo Ball ($8,800 — DraftKings / $7,600 — FanDuel) is dramatically underpriced on FanDuel tonight. Ball will man the point for the Hornets on the opposite side of the late night game in Sacramento. He is in play on both sites, but the FanDuel algorithm must have the weekend off, because Ball is about $1,000 to cheap on the site and looking like a terrific play. Ball has averaged 1.21 fantasy points per minute through all situations this season. Over the Hornets’ most recent four games — played without fellow guard Devonte’ Graham — Ball has been second on the team with a 22.7% usage rate while putting up 17.5 real life points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists in 34.3 minutes per game, adding 2.3 stocks per game to bolster his scoring. For the season, Ball has a 23.3% rebounding percentage and a 37.3% assist rate, he is a meaningful contributor in both categories for the team and for daily fantasy basketball lineups.

Russell Westbrook ($10,300 — DraftKings / $9,400 — FanDuel) is another point guard who is in play on FanDuel more than he is on DraftKings. With a hefty price on DraftKings and several other quality point guard options available at similar potential for upside, we can look in other directions. On the blue site, for just $9,400, Westbrook is one of the better looking NBA DFS picks at the position. Playing alongside Bradley Beal, Westbrook averages a 26.1% usage share, deferring to the shooting guard who picks up a 31.0% rate. Westbrook still produces, kicking in 1.28 fantasy points per minute over their 543 minutes as a duo, maintaining a solid 15.6% rebounding share and a strong 41.7% assist percentage.

Chris Paul ($7,800 — DraftKings / $7,500 — FanDuel) heads the offense for the surprising Suns and comes into this slate with a reasonable price on both sites. Paul is producing 1.18 fantasy points per minute so far this season, on par with his average through last year. He takes up just a 20.1% usage share on the team, while contributing a whopping 50.9% assist rate and a strong 16.1% rebounding share. Ultimately, we know what we are getting with Paul. The numbers are where they have been in recent seasons, for the price he is on the NBA DFS board on both sites.

Ja Morant ($7,200 — DraftKings / $7,100 — FanDuel) still looks underpriced for the upside we know he possesses. On both sites, his salary lags well behind most of the other name brand options, despite the point guard putting up a quality 1.15 fantasy points per minute for the season. Morant and the Grizzlies will be underdogs in Houston in a game with a midrange total of 223.5, put he could be in position to put up a quality performance against a fast-paced but defensively efficient Rockets team. Morant averages 19 real life points for the season and has seen a minor uptick to 19.9 over the team’s most recent 5 games. He contributes a strong 44.4% assist rate to the equation, while pulling in 11.7% of his team’s rebounds. Morant is a solid mix and match option at the position on both sites.

Kemba Walker ($6,800 — DraftKings / $6,800 — FanDuel) is seeing his price gradually climb across the industry, after spending too many games in the bargain bin. Walker has 1.05 fantasy points per minute so far this year, still down from last season’s 1.10 mark, but trending upward. His Celtics team has struggled to find their identity or much success on the floor this season, but they should be in a good spot at home against the Wizards. The game has the second-highest total on the night and the Celtics are strong favorites. Walker could see an uptick in usage if Jaylen Brown sits, he is currently questionable to play. In just 62 minutes playing with Jayson Tatum and without Brown, Walker has a 31.2% usage rate, up from 27.9% across all situations. Walker contributes a 16% rebounding percentage and a 31.1% assist rate across all situations, making him a potential sleeping giant on this slate at his cost, if Brown sits.

Trae Young ($9,800 — DraftKings / $9,600 — FanDuel) slides down the Awesemo boom/bust board for today but still carries a strong median projection and does not have any overly negative indicators, outside of a questionable tag for the night. Young is dealing with a sore hip and could easily sit this one out. If he does, Rajon Rondo would immediately be thrust into a key role on this slate. If Young does play, he simply suffers from being correctly priced and having better competing options. Young averages 1.29 fantasy points per minute this season and has ceiling upside every time he takes the floor, but he is not likely to be the best option at salary on either site.

Rajon Rondo ($3,500 — DraftKings / $4,000 — FanDuel) becomes an immediate and major source of value for this slate if Young does not play. Rondo averages 0.82 fantasy points per minute for the season and would be in line for major minutes in the situation. In 204 minutes without Young this season, Rondo has been right on his average for fantasy production contributing a 37.2% assist share and only requiring 14.6% of the team’s usage. He is a pass-first point guard who can pick up additional points through his defense; Rondo averages 0.7 stocks per game despite getting under 16 minutes a night, we can extrapolate and easily expect some fantasy scoring in the category.

Jordan McLaughlin ($4,200 — DraftKings / $3,800 — FanDuel) looks less relevant as a value play on tonight’s slate than he appeared going into last night. The Timberwolves are home underdogs to the Suns, who are a solid defensive unit that should have no trouble shutting down a Minnesota team that is putting very little effort into winning basketball games. McLaughlin and Ricky Rubio will split point guard minutes, and the 0.90 fantasy points per minute that the former posts per game through the season should not be totally ignored. If McLaughlin exceeds Awesemo’s 24-minute projection for tonight, he could immediately gain importance at the salary.

Stephen Curry ($10,000 — DraftKings / $10,400 — FanDuel) is always a point guard we can roster regardless of situation; he is simply one of the best real life and NBA DFS players available on any slate. That said, he does not appear to be one of the leading picks on the board in terms of the frequency with which we find him in optimal lineups in simulated slates, nor does he stand out for being underpriced, low owned or having a unique opportunity. The Warriors are in Los Angeles for a tough matchup against the defensively strong Lakers, and the game total is one of the lower marks on the board. The Lakers are only favored by three points, so there should be plenty of run for the star players on both sides. Curry is relevant with 1.36 fantasy points per minute , but his salary may restrict just how much he is a requirement on both DraftKings and FanDuel.

Derrick Rose ($5,700 — DraftKings / $5,700 — FanDuel) came out and played a staggering 37.7 minutes last night. As someone paid for NBA analysis who said there was no way he would play 34 minutes, I stand firmly corrected. If he repeats the trick tonight I will be absolutely floored, but given the Knicks proclivity for running players into the ground, and apparent lack of caring about the state of Rose’s knees, it isn’t out of the question. When Rose sees that much playing time we can lock him in for production. Rose has averaged 1.13 fantasy points per minute without Elfrid Payton available since joining the Knicks, he is priced up somewhat on both sites, but still fits in as a mix and match option. The lack of clarity about potential minutes is frightening. The Knicks are not without ball-handling options including Quickley, Frank Ntilikina, Alec Burks and even Austin Rivers; though the next time Rivers sees NBA DFS relevance it will likely be in a different uniform.


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Shooting Guard

A relatively flat position on FanDuel becomes far more interesting on DraftKings where salary differentials and positional flexibility add some utility to the spot that is sorely lacking on the other site. In addition to players listed below, DraftKings gamers can add Duncan Robinson, Brown, Rose and Goran Dragic at the shooting guard.

Buddy Hield ($6,100 — DraftKings / $5,600 — FanDuel) is atop the boom/bust board at the shooting guard spot and that should make us all very uncomfortable. Hield should see significant minutes and opportunity in the high scoring Kings game at the end of the night, he carries a 36 minute projection from Awesemo into the slate and could produce despite just 0.78 fantasy points per minute this season. Tyrese Haliburton will sit out again tonight with an injury. In 599 minutes without Haliburton this season, Hield has averaged just 0.79 fantasy points per minute, but he did play 38 minutes in the situation last game. Hield managed 14 real life points on just 18.5% usage in that contest, adding two rebounds and three assists. He is not a major contributor in ancillary categories, carrying just a 14.7% rebounding share and 16.1% assist rate across all situations this year. Hield is firmly in play because of his role and low cost, but he is a shaky proposition with an insecure floor.

Eric Gordon ($6,000 — DraftKings / $5,300 — FanDuel) is another shaky play from atop the board in terms of Awesemo’s custom optimal-lineup rate. With a reasonable salary on DraftKings and a discounted one on FanDuel, Gordon will see relevance on tonight’s slate in the absence of teammate Victor Oladipo. The Rockets will also be without heavy-usage forward Christian Wood, the exiled DeMarcus Cousins, and several role players, leaving plenty of usage opportunity for a chucker like Gordon. In the situation, playing alongside John Wall, Gordon has averaged 0.91 fantasy points per minute for the season, and sees his assist rate jump to 23.5% from his standard 19.7%. For the salary at a relatively weak position, Gordon should be in play tonight, though he will be a very popular option on both sites, which should push some shares in other directions for GPP play.

Terry Rozier ($7,900 — DraftKings / $6,800 — FanDuel) is a player that one of the sites has wrong tonight. The wildly different pricing stands out on this play, DraftKings has a salary cap that is a full $10,000 lower than the competition but has Rozier priced $1,100 higher. Getting to Rozier shares on FanDuel makes sense tonight; while on DraftKings, the salary makes the play nearly untenable. Rozier has been productive for the season, quietly putting up 0.98 fantasy points per minute that is a nice jump from his 0.89 mark last year. Rozier benefits from playing alongside Ball and without Graham, hopping slightly to 1.00 fantasy points per minute. Rozier has been excellent scoring the ball this season, he has a 62.9% true shooting percentage and a real life scoring average of 20.6 points per game, though he lacks in the rebounding and assist departments, which can quickly knock him off track on a night his shot is not falling.

Kevin Huerter ($5,600 — DraftKings / $5,300 — FanDuel) Huerter is a player whose relevance tends to ebb and flow with his price and opportunity. Always a quality scoring option, he needs touches in the offense to gain ground from a fantasy scoring perspective, his 12.3% rebounding percentage is unimpressive and his 22.3% assist share could be higher. Huerter averages just 15.9% usage but still manages to contribute 11.9 points per game in his 31.9 minutes. In games without Cam Reddish and De’Andre Hunter, Huerter sees his fantasy points per minute jump from 0.77 to 0.83. While Danilo Gallinari is expected to give it a go tonight, he remains questionable, if he doesn’t play we can expect Huerter to make another leap to around 0.87 fantasy points per minute. If we get a situation where all three of those players and Young sit, Huerter averages 1.01 fantasy points per minute and is practically mandatory for the potential production at the position. He is worth monitoring as we get closer to lock, he is likely to gain relevance and not popularity.

Bradley Beal ($9,600 — DraftKings / $9,600 — FanDuel) is definitely the best player at the position tonight, no one else comes near his caliber. This has him on an entirely separate salary tier; Beal costs more than two thousand more than the next most expensive option on either site. He carries a strong median projection and room for upside despite the price tag, though he does not appear to be one of the most optimal plays on our boom/bust tool. For the season, Beal leads the NBA in scoring, putting up 32.8 real life points per game. He soaks up 34.7% of the team’s usage on the year and no one should argue if he asks for more. Beal is simply a superstar scorer, and he adds some competence distributing the ball with his 25.2% assist share. Beal is simply a big ticket item on the slate. As a last man in for the money there is no issue at all playing him, he just isn’t a fundamental building block for optimal constructions.

Devin Booker ($8,000 — DraftKings / $7,700 — FanDuel) looks underpriced on both sites at a glance, but the underlying reality is that he has mostly earned the lower sticker price this season. Playing alongside Paul has put a dent in the overall upside that Booker has provided on a nightly basis, he is down to just 1.03 fantasy points per minute for the season, despite cordoning off a 30.8% usage share in the team’s offense. Booker contributes just an 11.9% rebounding share and a 22.6% assist rate, numbers that he needs to push to gain relevance when his shot isn’t falling. For the year, Booker has just a 59.9% true shooting percentage, down from 61.8% last year. Booker is not out of play however, given the reduced salary; he appears in the optimal lineup in a small share of simulations and should be rostered accordingly.

Anthony Edwards ($6,800 — DraftKings / $6,200 — FanDuel) the first overall pick of the draft has had a productive rookie season, despite being overshadowed by Ball and some other names. Edwards big moment came with a recent posterizing dunk, but he has been solid throughout the year. He has a healthy 0.87 fantasy points per minute in all situations this season. That rate was already up with Edwards playing without the injured D’Angelo Russell, a situation in which Edwards has posted 0.94 fantasy points per minute. Now he will get additional run and usage without Malik Beasley in the rotation while serving a 12-game suspension. In 248 minutes without either player on the floor, Edwards has 0.99 fantasy points per minute that should not be ignored given his salary on this slate.

Knicks at Pistons (Josh Jackson, Burks, Quickley, Rose, Reggie Bullock, Wayne Ellington) features a litany of shooting guard options that will feature maybe two players who contribute meaningful fantasy scores for us today. Guessing which those will be could be an exercise in futility. The Knicks rotation is comprised of guesses and wishful thinking, while the Pistons have mediocrity matched up against a slow pace and quality defense. It would not be a mistake to stay away from these options on either site.

Small Forward

The three is another spot with just a couple of standout options in the star player range. There are a few quality value plays at the position on both sites as well, and a direct star-scrub pairing at the position seems a likely construction across NBA DFS contests tonight. DraftKings owners pick up Hield, Jerami Grant, Huerter, Tatum, Edwards, Jackson and Kyle Kuzma as additional options at the position.

LeBron James ($10,800 — DraftKings / $11,000 — FanDuel) remains at the top of the board on both sites and will probably stay there until at least when fellow star Anthony Davis comes back to the Lakers rotation to give him a bit of a spell. James does not see massive changes in his already ridiculous rates when he plays without Davis, but there is a small uptick in his usage, and his fantasy points per minute jump from 1.39 to 1.42. James has a strong 41.5% assist rate in the situation to boot, and he contributes in meaningful ways up and down the box score. There is nothing to dislike about this play other than the hefty price, which is doing nothing to slow the frequency with which James appears in our optimal lineups in simulations. He is a very strong play on both sites; the ability to roster him at the point guard on DraftKings is an additional bonus.

Jimmy Butler ($9,700 — DraftKings / $9,500 — FanDuel) is apparently not an All-Star? You could be forgiven if you didn’t know that until this morning’s Awesemo Strategy Show; it had escaped my attention. After a bout with COVID-19 that shaved a significant amount of weight off his frame on initially coming back, Butler has been right back to his old self, averaging 20.1 real life points per game while occupying just 26.7% of the team’s usage and contributing a healthy 24.5% rebounding rate and 42.3% assist share. Butler adds 2.3 stocks per game, scoring for NBA DFS players through his defense and hustle. All-Star game or not, Butler is firmly in play for tonight’s slate. His fantasy production is even up slightly playing without Tyler Herro; jumping to 1.40 points per minute in action without the guard but with the likely to return Bam Adebayo.

R.J. Barrett ($5,900 — DraftKings / $5,200 — FanDuel) is an inefficient basketball player who needs time on the floor to contribute in meaningful ways when he is not coming at a salary discount. NBA DFS players benefitted from rostering him at a low price early in the season when Barrett was getting 37 minutes per game, but with his recent stretch of limited action, the production has cratered. Over the team’s most recent 10 games, Barrett averages just 27.4 minutes and 12.8 real life points per game, adding a meager 5.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists. Barrett has just a 50.6% true shooting percentage for the season and averages 0.87 fantasy points per minute across all situations. With a 31.8 minute projection from Awesemo tonight, there is a chance he could deliver value for a price that has come back to Earth. The Knicks will be without backup big man Taj Gibson, who sprained an ankle last night. While they do not directly replace one another positionally, this could open some additional time in the Knicks frontcourt if they go small, suggesting added opportunity for Barrett. With limited public exposure, he could make for a somewhat sneaky albeit risky tournament play.

Gordon Hayward ($7,400 — DraftKings / $7,100 — FanDuel) is going to be widely distributed among my FanDuel lineups tonight. Hayward has had a stellar season, getting all the way back to his pre-injury highs from several years ago. Hayward averages 1.04 fantasy points per minute on the season, and he will be another player in the excellent looking highly totaled last game of the night. Playing alongside the Hornets usual starting unit but without Graham, Hayward’s production jumps to 1.08 fantasy points per minute, which should be representative of where we can expect him tonight. Hayward has a 59.5% true shooting percentage and kicks in a 16.9% rebounding share and 18.4% assist rate. For the price, he is a quality option on both sites, though he will be popular simply by virtue of being one of the best players in that late night game. Keep an eye on the leverage score coming up to lock and pivot if it makes sense.

Harrison Barnes ($6,500 — DraftKings / $6,500 — FanDuel) is also going to be a part of the late night sledgehammer on this slate. Barnes comes in at a discount from Hayward’s salaries but does not cost us much in the optimal-lineup rates. in fact, he is outpacing Hayward in the category on DraftKings. While he does not look quite as relevant as on recent slates, Barnes is very much in play and has contributed 0.87 fantasy points per minute so far this year. Barnes should see plenty of opportunity and time on the floor, he is right on his seasonal pace when Haliburton is out, but receives more time on the floor, extending his fantasy point ceiling. The price is not fully caught up to the opportunity, and we should be able to squeeze additional juice from the Barnes play on both sites.

Mikal Bridges ($5,300 — DraftKings / $5,500 — FanDuel) slots in as more of an also-ran player on many slates, tonight looks slightly different. The low cost has Bridges popping up in the optimal lineup in simulations. Bridges averages 32.5 minutes per game and scores 13.8 real life points on just 15.5% usage, adding a 17% rebounding share and picking up 11.9% of the team’s assists. Those ancillary rates are not enough to supplement his meager scoring on a regular basis, but for the money they will be enough to create a little space for him on this slate. Bridges slots in as “fine” though he will be owned appropriately by the public, if not over-owned.

Saddiq Bey ($5,700 — DraftKings / $5,100 — FanDuel) has gained relevance for the Pistons as the season rolls along and they dismiss veteran players in favor of younger options. Following the exodus of Blake Griffin, Bey has stepped into the rotation, seeing 32.5 minutes per game and putting up a 13.3 point real life scoring average on just 14.9% usage. Bey adds just an 18.7% rebounding rate and 14.0% assist share over that time, translating to 5.4 rebounds and just 2.4 assists, though he does add 1.4 steals to the mix. In 283 minutes without Griffin, Rose or Delon Wright on the floor, Bey has 0.81 fantasy points per minute this season, but he will see his time against the defensively oriented and supremely slow paced Knicks, putting his viability for this slate in question.

Danuel House ($5,300 — DraftKings / $4,500 — FanDuel) is one of the average NBA DFS player’s least favorite plays, he just has to be. He never seems to even get to that mark, but it has been his average the past two years and he gains relevance in never being priced up for his infrequent opportunities. House should see another full share of minutes tonight, with Oladipo sidelined. Awesemo has him projected for 31.9 minutes and a significant chunk of public ownership. Without any of Oladipo, Wood, Cousins and James Harden in the numbers, House averages just 0.79 fantasy point per minute on the season. This play would be entirely about the price for a player who sees just 16.0% usage in that situation and contributes only an 11.5% assist rate and 8.3% rebounding rate. There simply isn’t much more to love and I would be happy to stumble into a better option for the money, unfortunately there currently does not appear to be one at this position.

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Power Forward

The power forward spot returns us to rostering some high quality names as compared to the two and three. The four offers a bit more to like in terms of production and salary spend. The DraftKings slate adds the flexibility of being able to roster Hayward, Barnes, Bey, Kelly Olynyk, House and Cameron Johnson at the position.

Julius Randle ($9,500 — DraftKings / $8,900 — FanDuel) is having a career year by anyone’s measure. Randle has been nothing short of stellar in his second year on Broadway, putting up 1.21 fantasy points per minute and getting it done in every facet of the game, while being among the league leaders in minutes played and taking the court every night. Randle has earned more respect from NBA analysts for his growth in what was already a strong passing skill, for the season the big man has a knockout 33.3% assist share to go with his 29.9% rebounding percentage and 23.4 real life points in 36.7 minutes per game. Randle commands the most usage on the team, but could easily take more, coming in at just 27% across all situations this season. He should have every opportunity for an all-you-can-eat performance tonight against the Pistons and could, ridiculously, see a few additional minutes with Gibson sidelined, though that would be sadistic even for Tom Thibodeau on the second night of a back-to-back.

Bam Adebayo ($8,900 — DraftKings / $8,700 — FanDuel) comes in as Awesemo’s second ranked option by optimal-lineup rate for FanDuel, but just fourth on DraftKings. Adebayo comes at a bit of a salary discount for the production on the blue site, creating the differential. He averages 1.25 fantasy points per minute across all situations this year, up from his 1.20 rate last season. Adebayo is dealing with lingering knee soreness, but he is listed as probable and all indications are that he will be fully available, leaving us to assume his standard production will be in play. Adebayo averages 19.6 real life points in 33.9 minutes per game this season, and he is the team’s dominant rebounder at a 32.9% clip. He adds a strong 29.2% assist share to those numbers, boosting his fantasy production over that of similarly priced options at the position on many slates, though not to the degree it does Randle.

Marvin Bagley ($6,200 — DraftKings / $6,200 — FanDuel) finds himself in a relevant role in that same late night game from which it seems like we’ve drawn the top play at every position. Bagley averages 1.01 fantasy point per minute for the season and plays a relevant role for the fast paced and defensively porous Kings. For the price, Bagley is very relevant to tonight’s optimal construction paths on both sites. He is flexible to the center spot on DraftKings, which adds significant appeal, but the power forward has utility on FanDuel as well. Bagley will see around 22.7% usage and should see a chance to crack the 30-minute mark in the situation without Hassan Whiteside available once again. For the season, Bagley has a 32.9% rebounding rate but just a 6.9% assist rate in all situations, he needs to be on the ball to produce. While the opportunity exists, Bagley is simply never a comfortable choice among our NBA DFS picks, and he provides no gains in leverage.

Jerami Grant ($7,600 — DraftKings / $7,400 — FanDuel) is the focal point for the Pistons attack, but they will be facing the stingy Knicks defense and their plodding pace, reducing the overall upside for the entire team. Grant still pops toward the top of the boom/bust board on both sites and should be in line for production along the lines of his standard rates. In games without Griffin, Rose and Wright, Grant’s production slips to 0.98 fantasy points per minute, though he sees a bump from his seasonal 26.2% usage rate to a 27.3% mark. Ultimately, Grant is in a pace-down spot against a good defense in a situation that already sees his production dip. When we factor in the relatively heavy public ownership shares, we have to begin to consider looking for ways to get under the field on what is a good player on the surface.

Jayson Tatum — ($9,100 — DraftKings / $9,400 — FanDuel) is the highest priced option at the position on the FanDuel slate, and second highest on DraftKings. He has been slumping badly in recent games, as has the entire Celtics organization. Tatum is producing at a 1.21 fantasy point per minute rate for the season and he leads the team with a 25 point real life scoring average, though this has been down to just 21.4 points per game over the team’s last five. Tatum has seen 29.7% usage over that stretch, so it has not been a lack of opportunity, he simply has not produced at his usual pace. His rebounding rate over the same period is just 19.0% and his assist percentage comes in at 23.6%. If the team is without Brown tonight, we can expect an uptick in production, but with Tatum already trailing his usual rates, it is difficult to predict exactly where he will land. The sites have not priced Tatum down significantly, landing him firmly in the middle of the pack in terms of his optimal-lineup rate for tonight’s slate on both sites. Getting to Tatum is not a problem by any means, in fact we gain slight leverage on the field in doing so, he just does not stand out as a particularly powerful option among NBA DFS picks at the position.

Jae Crowder ($4,500 — DraftKings / $4,600 — FanDuel) will be extraordinarily popular — for him — on the DraftKings slate tonight. He comes in with the heaviest individual ownership projection on the slate at his bargain basement salary. Crowder is a productive NBA DFS player, contributing a 0.81 fantasy point per minute rate through all situations this season. He should see increased run with Dario Saric likely to be sidelined again. For the season, Crowder averages 27.5 minutes per game, putting up 10.2 real life points on just 15.9% usage. He contributes in ways other than scoring the ball, however, with a 20.2% rebounding rate, a 15.3% assist rate and 1.1 stocks per game in his limited action. For the low salary, Crowder could easily hit relevance on the slate while providing significant savings at a key position, making it easier to roster high-end options in other spots on DraftKings, where he seems to be a key early building block. On FanDuel he is in play, though he appears more over-owned than fundamental.

Jae’Sean Tate ($5,600 — DraftKings / $5,600 — FanDuel) should see a significant share of minutes for the Rockets tonight in a rotation whose absences we have mentioned several times already. Tate is projected for a 31.3 minute night in Awesemo’s most recent run of statistical projections, which should thrust him onto the board and into a small share of lineups tonight. For the season, Tate has a 0.80 fantasy points per minute rate as a rookie. A mark that jumps to 0.85 playing in a rotation that does not include the players who are no longer on the team or will be absent tonight. Tate produces a 20.5% rebounding percentage and a 13.5% assist rate on the year to supplement his 13.9% usage and 9.8 points per game. He also adds 1.4 stocks per game in his usual 27.3 minutes, suggesting upside for ancillary points with a bit of additional time.

P.J. Washington ($5,900 — DraftKings / $6,000 — FanDuel) will be the primary big man for the Hornets in their matchup against the sieve-like Kings defense and he should have the opportunity to shine. Washington averages 0.98 fantasy points per minute for the season and could fill in for the questionable Cody Zeller in a share of the center minutes, where he produces at a higher rate in most categories. Washington should see plenty of opportunity to get well beyond the 30 minutes for which Awesemo has him projected, and he already looks like a somewhat sharp play even at the lower estimate. Washington has a 24.8% rebounding percentage and a quality 17.4% assist rate for the year, to go with his 11.6 real life points in 26.5 minutes per game. He will be doing just a little more in every facet if Zeller does not go, but we can roster him in any scenario given the pace and scoring expected in his game.

Nerlens Noel ($5,100 — DraftKings / $5,300 — FanDuel) should be in position to see major minutes again for the Knicks tonight, with direct backup Gibson suffering a sprained ankle in Saturday’s game and Thibodeau not caring at all about grinding Noel into a nub. Noel is a low cost option at the power forward spot on both sites. He produces 0.96 fantasy point per minute through the season and has been quietly solid since sliding into the role after starting center Mitchell Robinson was injured two weeks ago. Noel has seen 29.4 minutes per game in the seven contests since Robinson’s injury. He contributes just 8.0 real life points but adds a 25.8% rebounding share and 2.9 stocks per game to pad his stats. Noel does not have to do a lot offensively to produce a quality score, getting there frequently on counting stats alone, he can hit a true ceiling when he has a good game putting the ball through the hoop.

Center

The center spot is always wildly different from site to site. With FanDuel restricting NBA DFS gamers to a singular center and providing no positional flexibility, the options become very stark and the position is a slate-changer from night to night. On the more positionally liberal DraftKings slates, center is still a highly important spot, but we gain options and can roster multiple selections. Gamers on that site gain the luxury of looking to Randle, Adebayo, Bagley, Tate, Washington and Noel as additional options at the position.

Jonas Valanciunas — ($7,400 — DraftKings / $7,400 — FanDuel) the big man in the middle for the Memphis Grizzlies looks like the top center option on the blue site tonight, and he slots in as a strong fit for DraftKings players as well. Producing .24 fantasy point per minute across all situations this season, Valanciunas is delivering right around expectations, he was at a 1.29 rate last season. Valanciunas occupies 23.2% of the team’s usage, producing 16.3 real life points per game and adding a 42% rebounding rate and 12.3% assist share to his production. Getting to the levels of fantasy scoring that Valanciunas is likely to contribute at the position makes a lot of sense for the money on tonight’s slate, which has only one true high-priced star caliber play.

Karl-Anthony Towns ($10,100 — DraftKings / $10,000 — FanDuel) is the star-caliber center mentioned above. Towns has returned to the Timberwolves lineup without missing a beat after his bout with COVID-19. Towns is contributing 1.43 fantasy points per minute in his 32.8 minutes per game. He averages 22.5 real life points, throwing in 1.9 blocks and 0.9 steals (2.8 stocks) per game, while grabbing 36.2% of the team’s rebounds and kicking out the ball to teammates in good spots for a 22.3% assist share. Towns is nothing short of a star and has to be in consideration despite the hefty price. We have seen him break slates in the past and, while the optimal-lineup rates favor other options, there is every chance for him to do it again tonight with the team’s focus squarely on him in the offense. The matchup against the defensive-minded Suns is not the best, but Towns does not need a favorable matchup to dominate.

Deandre Ayton ($7,000 — DraftKings / $7,000 — FanDuel) will be asked to slow down the Minnesota Timberwolves’ star center tonight, which is a tall order in itself. Asking for significant fantasy production in addition might be a stretch for a player who has just 1.05 fantasy points per minute for the year. Still, Ayton does not carry a heavy cost in anything but opportunity, and he lands in our optimal lineups in a fair share of simulations on both sites. Ayton gets a large portion of his production from his dominant 41.5% rebounding rate; he uses just 18.4% of the team’s shots and puts up only a 14.3 point per game scoring average in his 31.7 minutes. Ayton’s ability to out-rebound Towns will likely tell the tale of his production tonight.

Kelly Olynyk — ($4,400 — DraftKings / $4,400 — FanDuel) is another role player who will see a good chunk of time tonight and is priced the same on both sites. Olynyk has 0.85 fantasy points per minute this season, down from his 0.94 mark last year. He has seen 26.3 minutes per game, putting up just 9.9 real life points and adding a 23% rebounding rate and 13.7% assist share. Olynyk will gain some ground if Adebayo sits, but we do not expect that. He mixes into the optimal lineup in around 10% of simulations on both sites, though he looks better on DraftKings where he can be rostered alongside better center options.

Richaun Holmes ($6,500 — DraftKings / $6,600 — FanDuel) will be one of the last players to discuss from the frequently mentioned Hornets at Kings game. Holmes is a productive per-minute player, putting up 1.04 fantasy points per minute this season when healthy. He should get his full starter’s run in tonight’s game, which we expect to turn into a track meet and a high scoring contest. Holmes should have plenty of room to run up his fantasy total, he contributes a 31% rebounding rate and there should be plenty of shots in this one. Holmes also adds a quality 2.2 stocks per game and 13-point scoring average to the equation, he can get it done in a few ways.

Bismack Biyombo ($3,300 — DraftKings / $3,500 — FanDuel) will be ridiculously relevant to this slate if Zeller does not play. At the dead minimum on FanDuel and near enough on DraftKings, Biyombo was already seeing a relevant share of the optimal lineups with just a tiny fraction of the minutes he would be in store for in that situation. He produces 0.8 fantasy points per minute and would be an immediate go-to play if we get the Zeller news.

Clint Capela ($8,400 — DraftKings / $8,500 — FanDuel) is slightly expensive for this slate compared to some of the more productive or affordable options. Capela will be playing his usual role and in for more than 30 minutes at 1.38 fantasy points per minute, so he is not bereft of value, he is simply appropriately priced. Capela has had an excellent first season in Atlanta, putting up 14.7 real life points per game in 29.4 minutes, adding 2.2 blocks and 0.8 steals (3.0 stocks) to the equation while also kicking in a phenomenal 46.4% rebounding share. Capela’s only flaw is the high-by-comparison price, it has too much of an impact on the frequency with which he turns up as an optimal play on either site, or it limits his ability to reach a necessary ceiling score. At a lower price or significant leverage we would have a better play on our hands. Still, it makes sense to take out a few shares of Capela, just in case.


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Terry McBride
Author
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 Awesemo.com. 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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