NBA DFS Lineup Optimizer Guide: Killian Hayes is Absolute Chalk (January 9)

What’s up all, Lindy here! This article series will walk you through the key parts of the main NBA DFS slate every evening. Unexpected news could always come from nowhere to rattle a slate, so don’t take this as gospel. But here are a handful of key decision points for tonight’s slate that I’ll be factoring in so you are better prepared for what’s to come and can optimize your lineups according. Let’s get right into today’s NBA DFS lineup optimizer guide! Need more NBA DFS lineup help? Check out our NBA DFS lineup generator or our industry-leading NBA DFS simulation tools.

NBA DFS Lineup Optimizer Guide: Key Decisions for Today (January 9)

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NBA DFS Lineup Optimizer Guide: For Better or Worse, Killer Killian

When mega-chalk emerges on any NBA DFS slate, there are always a handful screaming, “You can’t play that guy at that ownership!” and another camp screaming, “What a Free Square that guy is!” In actuality, the truth is almost always somewhere in the middle, but I’ve certainly felt that way myself about specific players in specific circumstances.

Enter today’s fish play/free square: Killian Hayes. With Cade Cunningham on the shelf, the assumption is that Killian Hayes will start for the Pistons, making him the most popular play on the DraftKings slate at just $4,500. He is currently showing up in an insanely popular 67% of the field’s lineups, but with an optimal percentage in the Stokastic Boom/Bust Tool of 54.3%, he is the second-most negatively leveraged play on the entire slate. So the question becomes, just like on every NBA Live Before Lock I’ve ever been on: should you plan on being overweight or underweight to that number?

And that’s where — despite the advancements in DFS tools and the increased sharpness of every field in every single sport — people still don’t get that the right answer is “it depends.” Part of the beauty of DFS — and one of the reasons I think so many people tune into our shows at Stokastic, or, heck, why you’re reading this very sentence right now — is that every day is different. Every slate is different. And the approach required to win more times than not based on a variety of factors such as field size, field strength, the payout to first, and the buy-in level is different.

That leads me to my first go-around today on the Stokastic Sims tool, which is far better at combining all of the factors I care about in the good chalk/bad chalk conversation than I ever could be. Here is my Killian Hayes exposure in a far-too-early run of my top 150 lineups using our player projections, ownership projections, a contest pool size of 5,000 lineups, the marquee contest archetype with a 30% payout to first (the closest settings to the $15 main GPP on DraftKings) and the 10,000 lineup simulations in the pre-contest simulator that follow:

Let's guide you through how to optimize your NBA DFS lineup tonight. We'll break down the key decisions, including Killian Hayes...

We get 94.67%. That’s nearly lock-button status in my lineups for Killian Hayes at the moment. Does that mean play 100% Killian Hayes no matter what? Absolutely not.

Lots of news will surely break, and there’s always the possibility that Pistons head coach Monty Williams woke up on the wrong side of the bed today and will opt to start Marcus Sasser or Alec Burks or — Lord help us all — Joe Harris instead.

But as it stands right now, rolling out as much Hayes as you can handle in the flagship tournaments on DraftKings feels like the more prudent play than not, negative leverage be damned.

Let's guide you through how to optimize your NBA DFS lineup tonight. We'll break down the key decisions, including Killian Hayes...

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Plays, Eric! We want plays! Well, I certainly understand that in the interest of time you come here for a potential tournament pivot or two, and I am happy to oblige. Just thought I’d talk through a little game theory for once first.

So my tournament must and Nuke of the Night barring some unforeseen starting lineup: Chris Boucher. The Raptors will be absent big man Jakob Poeltl tonight, which creates somewhere in the ballpark of 32 to 34 minutes to find elsewhere in Toronto’s frontcourt. And with no Precious Achiuwa on the squad anymore, that creates only three realistic options for the Raptors:

Start a small-ball lineup with Pascal Siakam at the five, start 24-year-old Jontay Porter with all of his 14 games of NBA experience purely because he’s 6-foot-11, or do what I and everyone else in the DFS industry hopes they do and start Chris Boucher alongside Siakam.

At just 6-foot-9 and 200 pounds, Boucher is massively undersized relative to the 250-pound frames of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. But what Boucher lacks in weight he makes up for in fantasy rate whenever he touches the floor.

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Boucher is averaging 1.05 DraftKings points per minute this season, which is somehow lower than the 1.07 he has averaged throughout his NBA career. The minutes have been all over the place throughout his tenure in Toronto, and the defense has regressed in a major way this year with an -0.6 estimated plus-minus on that end of the floor, the first time he’s been below the 60th percentile defender mark in the past five seasons.

But offensively, Boucher can be a lightning rod with his 62.4% true shooting rate. His 3.8% block rate certainly adds value on the defensive end. So at just $4,500 on DraftKings and $4,800 on FanDuel, Boucher is my second-favorite value piece on this slate next to Killian Hayes. The only way I’d think about hitting eject on this play is with news of him not starting, and even then I will leave more than trace amounts in my lineup for the upside he’d still possess off the bench.

Eric Lindquist hails from Sioux Falls, South Dakota (yes, that’s the one with Mount Rushmore). A steady diet of three SportsCenters a day at an early age led to his obsession with sports, one that 30 years later is paying dividends for him as a successful DFS player and sports bettor. Despite over half a million dollars in net career earnings, he’s most passionate about helping others achieve their financial goals, an energy you can witness on the daily in his current role as a host and analyst at Stokastic. He’s a former Division I golfer at Iowa State, wishes he was a former Minnesota sports fan, and is a proud father to a 100-pound Bernese Mountain dog named Duke that wishes he could just eat people food instead of the crap he and his wife feed him on the daily.

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