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NBA DFS (Tuesday, Jan. 4): Top Model Picks and Value Plays on DraftKings and FanDuel

The NBA Player Models are the lifeblood of our NBA product. They house our projections for each player, but that’s just the beginning of what you’ll find inside. You’ll also find our Trends tool and so much more.

Let’s dive into our models, going position-by-position, looking at guys with some of the highest Ceiling Projections, along with players who are standing out as values with our predictive Projected Plus/Minus metric.

Also, don’t forget that for large-field tournaments, you can utilize our Lineup Optimizer to effortlessly create up to 150 lineups, or use our Lineup Builder if you like to hand-build your lineups.

Note: Projections and Leverages Scores/Ratings may change throughout the day after this article is posted. The NBA DFS landscape changes quickly. Consult the Player Models directly for any updates as we get closer to lock.

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Point Guard

Top Ceiling: Russell Westbrook vs. Sacramento Kings – $10,200 DraftKings, $9,000 FanDuel

Westbrook will face one of the league’s bottom five defenses with a Usage Rate, which has soared since the injury to Anthony Davis last month. Sunday’s win over the Timberwolves — a stout defensive team — was the first time in four games Westbrook didn’t record a triple-double. In a more favorable matchup on Tuesday, that could change, and Westbrook is our highest-ceiling option at point guard.


Top Value: Keifer Sykes vs. New York Knicks – $3,500 DraftKings, $3,700 FanDuel

Sykes — a 28-year-old journeyman who has spent time with some good teams overseas in the last few years and in the G League this season — appears to be the guy who will take over while T.J. McConnellCaris LeVertMalcolm BrogdonChris Duarte, and Jeremy Lamb are out. Indiana had no choice but to give him 35 minutes against the Cavaliers, and if he can turn in 8X value against Cleveland, he can certainly do it against a poor Knicks defense.

Shooting Guard

Top Ceiling: Devin Booker vs. New Orleans Pelicans – $8,800 DraftKings, $8,000 FanDuel

Booker is the highest-upside shooting guard according to our projections and carries a +0.21 Opponent Plus/Minus into this one against a weak Pelicans defense. Even in just 29 minutes in an outing shortened by a blowout, Booker still managed nearly 40 fantasy points, so he should be capable of reaching the near-60 fantasy points we set his ceiling at.


Top Value: Bryn Forbes vs. Toronto Raptors – $3,900 DraftKings, $4,600 FanDuel

Unlike Keifer Sykes, Forbes is a well-known commodity and a guy who is more than capable of turning in a great performance when given the playing time. He went for over 40 fantasy points in 34 minutes against the Pistons on Saturday, and with many Spurs still out due to the league’s health and safety protocols, he should be a great play once again here. Toronto has been burned from mid-range and from three, opening things up for the veteran.

Small Forward

Top Ceiling:

LeBron James vs. Sacramento Kings – $11,400 DraftKings, $11,400 FanDuel

It’s funny slotting James into the small forward position given he is playing center these days for the Lakers. Speaking of which, he should be in a tremendous spot with Richaun Holmes expected to miss the game and Terence Davis‘ status in doubt. Sacramento’s interior defense was already suspect, but those absences should make James’ life easy in the paint.


Top Value: Devin Vassell vs. Toronto Raptors – $4,400 DraftKings, $4,800 FanDuel

Like Bryn Forbes earlier, Vassell’s playing time here is contingent on the Spurs, who are in COVID protocols staying there. Toronto has been a mess defensively over the last three weeks, and Vassell has out-performed our projections in five of his last eight games. We expect him to be around a 6X play on both sites, though you can only get him at small forward on DraftKings.

Power Forward

Top Ceiling: Domantas Sabonis vs. New York Knicks – $9,900 DraftKings, $10,000 FanDuel

Sabonis is one of our model’s favorite players with a ceiling of around 60-70 fantasy points, and it’s no surprise given the matchup. The Knicks rank in the bottom eight of the league in threes allowed to opposing power forwards and last in threes allowed to centers, which illustrates how poor they are at defending bigs who stretch the floor. Sabonis should draw Julius Randle here and be in for a great evening.


Top Value: Jalen Smith vs. New Orleans Pelicans – $5,500 DraftKings, $5,800 FanDuel

Smith is a bit expensive for a value play, but this is what happens on a short slate. He should be a 5-6X play judging by our model and comes in with a +0.74 Opponent Plus/Minus on DraftKings and +1.36 on FanDuel thanks to a matchup with a Pelicans team that has struggled to defend inside and rebound the ball.

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Center

Top Ceiling: Pascal Siakam vs. San Antonio Spurs – $8,700 DraftKings, $9,400 FanDuel

Siakam and Sabonis are really interchangeable when it comes to high-ceiling bigs. The Raptors wing is available as a center on DraftKings, while he’s only a power forward on FanDuel. Either way, he has the edge over other centers not named Sabonis on DK when it comes to his ceiling, which should sit around 60 fantasy points. San Antonio ranks first in pace over the last two weeks and should be a great team to target in DFS.


Top Value: Damian Jones vs. Los Angeles Lakers – $4,000 DraftKings, $4,000 FanDuel

The Kings will likely be without Richaun Holmes and Terence Davis again, which would mean plenty of Jones minutes. He has out-performed our model’s projections every time he’s stepped on the floor this year, and he’s also played at least 23 minutes in three straight games. Against an already-weak Lakers frontcourt which is now without Anthony Davis and playing LeBron James at the small-ball five, this is a great spot.

The NBA Player Models are the lifeblood of our NBA product. They house our projections for each player, but that’s just the beginning of what you’ll find inside. You’ll also find our Trends tool and so much more.

Let’s dive into our models, going position-by-position, looking at guys with some of the highest Ceiling Projections, along with players who are standing out as values with our predictive Projected Plus/Minus metric.

Also, don’t forget that for large-field tournaments, you can utilize our Lineup Optimizer to effortlessly create up to 150 lineups, or use our Lineup Builder if you like to hand-build your lineups.

Note: Projections and Leverages Scores/Ratings may change throughout the day after this article is posted. The NBA DFS landscape changes quickly. Consult the Player Models directly for any updates as we get closer to lock.

Start Your PRO Trial Today

Lineup builder and optimizer

Real-time DFS models

Data-driven analysis & tutorials

Point Guard

Top Ceiling: Russell Westbrook vs. Sacramento Kings – $10,200 DraftKings, $9,000 FanDuel

Westbrook will face one of the league’s bottom five defenses with a Usage Rate, which has soared since the injury to Anthony Davis last month. Sunday’s win over the Timberwolves — a stout defensive team — was the first time in four games Westbrook didn’t record a triple-double. In a more favorable matchup on Tuesday, that could change, and Westbrook is our highest-ceiling option at point guard.


Top Value: Keifer Sykes vs. New York Knicks – $3,500 DraftKings, $3,700 FanDuel

Sykes — a 28-year-old journeyman who has spent time with some good teams overseas in the last few years and in the G League this season — appears to be the guy who will take over while T.J. McConnellCaris LeVertMalcolm BrogdonChris Duarte, and Jeremy Lamb are out. Indiana had no choice but to give him 35 minutes against the Cavaliers, and if he can turn in 8X value against Cleveland, he can certainly do it against a poor Knicks defense.

Shooting Guard

Top Ceiling: Devin Booker vs. New Orleans Pelicans – $8,800 DraftKings, $8,000 FanDuel

Booker is the highest-upside shooting guard according to our projections and carries a +0.21 Opponent Plus/Minus into this one against a weak Pelicans defense. Even in just 29 minutes in an outing shortened by a blowout, Booker still managed nearly 40 fantasy points, so he should be capable of reaching the near-60 fantasy points we set his ceiling at.


Top Value: Bryn Forbes vs. Toronto Raptors – $3,900 DraftKings, $4,600 FanDuel

Unlike Keifer Sykes, Forbes is a well-known commodity and a guy who is more than capable of turning in a great performance when given the playing time. He went for over 40 fantasy points in 34 minutes against the Pistons on Saturday, and with many Spurs still out due to the league’s health and safety protocols, he should be a great play once again here. Toronto has been burned from mid-range and from three, opening things up for the veteran.

Small Forward

Top Ceiling:

LeBron James vs. Sacramento Kings – $11,400 DraftKings, $11,400 FanDuel

It’s funny slotting James into the small forward position given he is playing center these days for the Lakers. Speaking of which, he should be in a tremendous spot with Richaun Holmes expected to miss the game and Terence Davis‘ status in doubt. Sacramento’s interior defense was already suspect, but those absences should make James’ life easy in the paint.


Top Value: Devin Vassell vs. Toronto Raptors – $4,400 DraftKings, $4,800 FanDuel

Like Bryn Forbes earlier, Vassell’s playing time here is contingent on the Spurs, who are in COVID protocols staying there. Toronto has been a mess defensively over the last three weeks, and Vassell has out-performed our projections in five of his last eight games. We expect him to be around a 6X play on both sites, though you can only get him at small forward on DraftKings.

Power Forward

Top Ceiling: Domantas Sabonis vs. New York Knicks – $9,900 DraftKings, $10,000 FanDuel

Sabonis is one of our model’s favorite players with a ceiling of around 60-70 fantasy points, and it’s no surprise given the matchup. The Knicks rank in the bottom eight of the league in threes allowed to opposing power forwards and last in threes allowed to centers, which illustrates how poor they are at defending bigs who stretch the floor. Sabonis should draw Julius Randle here and be in for a great evening.


Top Value: Jalen Smith vs. New Orleans Pelicans – $5,500 DraftKings, $5,800 FanDuel

Smith is a bit expensive for a value play, but this is what happens on a short slate. He should be a 5-6X play judging by our model and comes in with a +0.74 Opponent Plus/Minus on DraftKings and +1.36 on FanDuel thanks to a matchup with a Pelicans team that has struggled to defend inside and rebound the ball.

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Center

Top Ceiling: Pascal Siakam vs. San Antonio Spurs – $8,700 DraftKings, $9,400 FanDuel

Siakam and Sabonis are really interchangeable when it comes to high-ceiling bigs. The Raptors wing is available as a center on DraftKings, while he’s only a power forward on FanDuel. Either way, he has the edge over other centers not named Sabonis on DK when it comes to his ceiling, which should sit around 60 fantasy points. San Antonio ranks first in pace over the last two weeks and should be a great team to target in DFS.


Top Value: Damian Jones vs. Los Angeles Lakers – $4,000 DraftKings, $4,000 FanDuel

The Kings will likely be without Richaun Holmes and Terence Davis again, which would mean plenty of Jones minutes. He has out-performed our model’s projections every time he’s stepped on the floor this year, and he’s also played at least 23 minutes in three straight games. Against an already-weak Lakers frontcourt which is now without Anthony Davis and playing LeBron James at the small-ball five, this is a great spot.