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 and On/Off tool, Vegas Dashboard, and so much more.
Let’s dive into our models for NBA DFS going position by position, looking at guys with some of the highest ceiling projections and players standing out as values with our predictive Projected Plus/Minus metric.
Note: Projections and Leverage Scores/Ratings may change throughout the day as news comes out after this article is posted. Consult the Player Models directly for any updates.
Top Ceiling: Luka Doncic vs. Portland Trail Blazers – $12,300 DraftKings, $12,000 FanDuel
Doncic continues to be dominant and draws a very favorable matchup against the Blazers in what should be a fun Western Conference contest. As typical on almost every slate, Doncic has the highest ceiling projection of any player and has the highest salary on DraftKings. On FanDuel, he’s second behind Nikola Jokic but is still projected to outproduce the Joker and has a significantly higher ceiling projection.
Even though he’s so expensive, Doncic delivers enough ceiling games that he still needs to be considered. He has scored at least 30 points in seven of his past eight games, averaging 32.8 points, 9.3 assists, 7.9 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.0 blocked shots. He had at least 58 DraftKings points in seven straight games before coming up short of that number on Wednesday against the Cavs. His best game during that stretch came against the Warriors when he had 41 points and 88 DraftKings points, showing just how high his ceiling can be.
He leads all point guards on this slate in per-minute production by a wide margin, producing 1.61 FanDuel points and 1.7 DraftKings points per minute.
Doncic is second among all players on the slate with a 37.0% usage rate behind only Joel Embiid, but since Embiid has more help available, Doncic is projected for the highest usage rate on this slate. He should be very busy in this showdown with Damian Lillard and needs to be considered if you can make his salary work under your cap.
Top Value: Bones Hyland at Los Angeles Lakers – $5,400 DraftKings, $5,700 FanDuel
Hyland has been a very nice option off the bench for the Nuggets this season, and his role is growing over the past couple of weeks as his streaky shooting has been running hot. He offers the third-highest projected Plus/Minus of all point guards on DraftKings and the fourth-highest on FanDuel.
This matchup seems to set up a Bones day since the Nuggets have the third-highest Implied Team Total and the second-highest Pace Differential on the slate as they visit the Lakers in what should be a good spot for them to pile up points. Hyland will likely get a large share of minutes against Russell Westbrook in the second unit.
Hyland tends to run hot and cold with his shooting, but he has been on a heater lately, culminating in his 23-point performance on Wednesday against the Wizards. He finished with 34.4 FanDuel points and 36.0 DraftKings points in that contest since he also added six assists, two rebounds and a block in his 28 minutes.
He missed four games at the end of November with a non-COVID illness, but dating back to before that, he has scored double-digits in eight of his past 10 contests while averaging 15.2 points per game. It’s also a huge deal that he’s chipping in non-scoring stats as well. He has at least four assists in three of his past four games, which makes him a much more reliable play since he’s not solely productive as a scorer.
Top Ceiling: Jordan Poole at Philadelphia 76ers – $8,200 DraftKings, $7,700 FanDuel
One of the most important rotations and workshares to monitor this Friday is the Warriors, who will be playing their first game since losing Steph Curry (shoulder) for a few weeks to a left shoulder subluxation on Friday. With Andrew Wiggins (adductor) missing his sixth straight game as well, there should be plenty of work available for those who excel with Curry and Wiggins off the court.
While several players will have to step up, Poole is at the top of the list and has the second-highest ceiling projection at shooting guard on DraftKings and the sixth-highest ceiling projection at the position on FanDuel as a result of his expected increased workload.
Without Curry and Wiggins on the floor, Poole has a team-high 34.4% usage rate, an increase of 7.1 percentage points. He has produced a team-high 1.2 DraftKings points and 1.12 FanDuel points per minute in those minutes.
Even playing alongside Steph has left Poole enough room to make a splash of his own. Since moving into the starting lineup six games ago, he has averaged 23.0 points, 4.8 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 33.9 DraftKings points in 32.3 minutes per game. With all the extra work he should get now, he brings an extremely high ceiling at a salary that’s well behind the other elite options on the slate.
Top Value: Donte DiVincenzo at Philadelphia 76ers – $5,700 DraftKings, $5,300 FanDuel
DiVincenzo is another great option from Golden State since he’ll be asked to do more work without Curry. He has the highest Projected Plus/Minus of any shooting guard and the second-most of any point guard on DraftKings, and on FanDuel, he has the highest Projected Plus/Minus of any shooting guard and the second-highest at small forward. He brings the added positional versatility, which is helpful, but more importantly, he brings multiple ways to contribute since he usually fills up production in multiple categories.
On Wednesday, DiVincenzo moved into the starting lineup for the first time this season. He finished with 15 points, eight rebounds, three assists, 30.1 FanDuel points and 32.0 DraftKings points in 38 minutes. He has now posted at least 32 DKFP in three of his past four games while averaging 10.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 1.8 steals per game.
With so many minutes, DiVincenzo can stuff the stat sheet and offer great value, and his usage should increase as the Warriors look for offense in non-Curry places this Friday in Philly.
Top Ceiling: LeBron James vs. Denver Nuggets – $9,800 DraftKings, $10,600 FanDuel
There are three strong ceiling options at small forward on this slate in James, Jayson Tatum and Kevin Durant. Durant leads the Nets north of the border to take on Toronto but has not put up great numbers in previous matchups with the Raps this season. Tatum and the Celtics could blow out the Magic, and coming into the day, it looks like Boston will have most of its options available. That leaves James, who continues to defy age and post impressive numbers every night in the midst of his 20th season in the NBA. LeBron is also the cheapest of the three main options on DraftKings.
LeBron is coming off one of his best games of the season on Tuesday in an overtime thriller against the Celtics. He had 33 points, nine assists, nine rebounds and 63.25 DraftKings points in 43 minutes. He has over 48 DraftKings points in seven of his nine most recent games, averaging 28.9 points, 8.4 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 1.2 steals. In eight of those nine games, James has also logged at least 34 minutes, and he has compiled a 31.0% usage rate in those nine matchups.
It’s been a throwback run for the King, and he should be set up to continue his elite production in a favorable game environment against the Nuggets.
Top Value: De’Andre Hunter at Charlotte Hornets – $4,600 DraftKings, $4,400 FanDuel
The Hawks are a great source of value on Friday’s slate in a matchup against the Hornets, who have the sixth-worst defensive rating in the NBA. That game also has the highest over/under of any of the 10 games on the schedule, so look for plenty of points and fantasy goodness in this matchup.
Hunter has helped pick up the scoring slack without Dejounte Murray (ankle) and John Collins (ankle) out. Since returning from his own hip injury, Hunter has posted a 26.5% usage rate in 28.1 minutes per game, taking a total of 43 shots. He had a season-high 25 points on Wednesday against the Magic and added six rebounds and three assists for 38 DraftKings points and 34.7 FanDuel points.
On this slate, Hunter has the third-highest Projected Plus/Minus at both small forward and power forward on FanDuel. On DraftKings, he has the highest projected Plus/Minus at both forward positions and the second-highest on the entire slate behind only his teammate Onyeka Okongwu (discussed below).
Top Ceiling: Pascal Siakam vs. Brooklyn Nets – $10,500 DraftKings, $9,800 FanDuel
Spicy P has the fourth-highest ceiling projection at power forward on both DraftKings and FanDuel this Friday, behind only the three big options discussed above in the small forward section. He has actually been in a mini shooting slump the past two games, but a visit from the generous Nets’ defense could be just what he needs to get back on track. He had a season-high 72.5 DraftKings points against the Nets at the beginning of the season with 37 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists in one of his two triple-doubles on the year.
Siakam only had 19 points in each of his two most recent games, but before that had reeled off at least 25 points and over 49 DraftKings points in four straight games. He outperformed salary-based expectations in all four of those games before dipping below expectations in his two most recent matchups.
If he can return to that form for this home game, he makes for a great leverage play who may go overlooked with the other options available.
Top Value: Kyle Anderson at Oklahoma City Thunder – $5,700 DraftKings, $5,500 FanDuel
While filling in for Karl-Anthony Towns (calf) in the Timberwolves’ starting lineup, Anderson has been consistently an excellent source of value, and that’s projected to be the case again this Friday in a cushy matchup against the Thunder. Anderson has the highest projected Plus/Minus of any power forward on FanDuel and the second-highest projected Plus/Minus on the entire slate. On DraftKings, he has the third-highest projected Plus/Minus at small forward and the fourth-highest at power forward.
In his seven games since stepping into the starting lineup (he did come off the bench once during that span), he has averaged 10.6 points, 5.4 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 32.3 minutes per game. He has produced at least 27 FanDuel points in five of those seven games and performed above salary-based expectations in all five of those seven games and in seven of his past 10.
Anderson doesn’t typically get enough volume to be a top ceiling option, but his steady contributions in multiple categories make him a relatively safe and reliable mid-range play, especially in matchups like this one.
Top Ceiling: Nikola Jokic at Los Angeles Lakers – $11,900 DraftKings, $12,200 FanDuel
Center is one of the most interesting positions on the board, with Jokic bringing the highest ceiling projection but Joel Emibiid and Anthony Davis close behind. The fact that some of the best value plays are also at center (more below) makes the position even more critical and probably where most DraftKings lineups will use the utility slot as well.
Jokic has the second-highest ceiling projection on the entire slate on both DraftKings and FanDuel. He has eight double-doubles and one triple-double in his past 10 games while averaging 28.9 points, 11.4 rebounds and 9.1 assists. He has taken it to another level in his two most recent games, though, getting all the way to over 80 DraftKings points in each contest. He had 31 points, 14 assists and 12 rebounds in a five-point win over the Jazz and followed that with another monster stat line of 43 points, 14 rebounds, eight assists and five steals for 82 DraftKings points and 81.8 FanDuel points.
Even when he wasn’t in quite as good form, Jokic dominated against the Lakers, posting 69.1 and 52.8 FanDuel points in their first two meetings this season. While any one of the elite big men can go off and blow up the slate, Joker has the best form and a great matchup to make him the option to build around.
Top Value: Onyeka Okongwu at Charlotte Hornets – $4,700 DraftKings, $5,200 FanDuel
Okongwu is the top value on the entire slate on FanDuel and DraftKings according to projected Plus/Minus. The third-round big man from USC is expected to make his fourth start of the season and should be able to settle into his role with Clint Capela (calf) is expected to miss one-to-two weeks.
In his two starts in November, Okongwu posted 5.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 1.5 steals and 2.0 blocks per game. However, that was with John Collins available and soaking up frontcourt usage. Without Collins, Okongwu could be more involved offensively and ready to put up better numbers.
He started his third game last week against Memphis and had 10 boards and 25 DraftKings points. His most promising performance, though, came on Wednesday when he came off the bench after Capela’s exit and finished with 15 points, 11 rebounds and over 30 FanDuel and DraftKings points.
In more playing time and a good matchup, Okongwu is a key value to build around Friday.
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