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: Damian Lillard at Indiana Pacers – $9,700 DraftKings, $9,100 FanDuel
With 22 teams taking the floor, there are lots of great players in great spots to target on Friday, and at point guard, Lillard brings the second-highest ceiling projection on both DraftKings and FanDuel. He has a favorable matchup against the Pacers, who rank eighth in the NBA in Pace and give the Trail Blazers the second-highest Pace Differential on the slate, which indicates there should be more chances than normal for Lillard to produce.
Lillard is projected for a 31.9% usage rate, the second-highest of all point guards on the slate, and he has had a usage rate of at least 28% in five of his past six games. He has over 40 DraftKings points and at least eight assists in four of those six games.
As is usually the case, Dame has been the focus of the Trail Blazers’ offense, and he has shown he can deliver elite games with over 50 DraftKings points in seven of his past 13 games. He’s especially affordable on FanDuel, where there are five point guards priced higher than him but only one with a higher ceiling projection.
Top Value: Killian Hayes at San Antonio Spurs – $5,500 DraftKings, $6,000 FanDuel
After serving his three-game suspension for his part in the brawl with the Magic, Hayes knocked off some rust on Wednesday but still helped power the Pistons to a nice road win over the Warriors. He comes into this very favorable matchup with the highest Projected Plus/Minus of all point guards on FanDuel and the third-highest of any point guard on DraftKings.
Despite shooting just 3-of-12 from the field in his return, he still had a good fantasy night, significantly exceeding salary-based expectations for the third straight game, not counting the game he was ejected from. Most of his fantasy value came from his 13 assists with no turnovers, and he finished with 33.5 DraftKings points in 35 minutes. With Cade Cunnigham (shin) sidelined the rest of the season, Hayes is expected to run the point for Detroit for the rest of the season.
In the game just before the ejection, Hayes posted had a double-double of 18 points and 10 assists for 42.75 DraftKings points, and he definitely has the potential for a performance like that in this matchup against the Spurs, who have the worst Defensive Rating in the NBA. The Pistons are actually second-worst in the NBA in that metric, so it isn’t surprising that the Spurs-Pistons game has the second-highest over/under on the slate.
Hayes is a very nice midrange value play to target to get a piece of the production from this contest.
Top Ceiling: James Harden vs. Chicago Bulls – $10,100 DraftKings, $10,200 FanDuel
With Joel Embiid (foot) out, Harden has the highest ceiling projection of all point guards and all shooting guards on both DraftKings and FanDuel. Embiid has a team-high 38.9% usage rate, but Harden’s jumps from 22% with him on the floor to 31.7% with him off the floor. With Embiid off the floor, Harden has produced 1.45 DraftKings points and 1.39 FanDuel points per minute, and he’s projected for 36.9 minutes against the Bulls on Friday.
On Wednesday without Embiid, Harden had 26 points, eight assists, six rebounds, and 50.2 FanDuel points against the Pacers. While he hasn’t quite reached a double-double in his past two games, he has handed out at least eight assists in 12 straight games and averaged 22.7 points, 11.8 assists, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.7 steals for 48.7 FanDuel points over that stretch.
With over 25 points in four of his past five games and more offensive workload to shoulder against the Bulls, the Beard should have no trouble getting points and always mixes in good enough non-scoring numbers to be worth considering as a cornerstone play on this slate due to his high ceiling.
Top Value: Immanuel Quickley at Toronto Raptors – $6,300 DraftKings, $6,700 FanDuel
A finger injury to R.J. Barrett has unleashed Quickley over the past week and the Knicks’ guard should continue to play a prominent role in this matchup in Toronto with Barrett still sidelined. Quickley has the highest Projected Plus/Minus of all shooting guards on DraftKings and the second highest at point guard. On FanDuel, Quickley has the third-highest Projected Plus/Minus at shooting guard and the fifth-highest at point guard.
In all five of the games dating back to the Barrett injury, Quickley has exceeded salary-based expectations on DraftKings. He started each of those five contests and has a 22.5% usage rate in 43.1 minutes per contest. While carrying such an expanded workload, he has scored at least 15 points in each contest, averaging 21.2 points, 7.4 assists, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.2 steals for 42.8 DraftKings points per game.
For as long as he’s getting such a huge workload, Quickley is a strong play with a high ceiling and should be set up to exceed expectations.
Top Ceiling: Kevin Durant at New Orleans Pelicans – $10,000 DraftKings, $10,600 FanDuel
Durant and the Nets lost for the first time in a month on Wednesday when the Bulls snapped their 12-game winning streak. They should be set up to bounce back against the Pelicans, who are still adjusting to life without Zion Williamson (hamstring), who will miss at least three weeks. The Nets have the third-highest Implied Team Total on the slate, and it should be a good spot for Durant to get the team back in the win column.
He has the highest ceiling projection at small forward on both FanDuel and DraftKings by a wide margin, with the exception of Giannis Antetkounmpo (discussed below), who is eligible at small forward on FanDuel.
Even in the loss, KD did work, dropping 44 points against the Bulls, including five three-pointers on his way to 63.5 DraftKings points and 62.3 FanDuel points over 39 minutes. He produced at least 50 DraftKings points in eight of his past 12 games while averaging 30.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.6 assists, and 1.1 steals in 34.4 minutes per contest.
Top Value: Naji Marshall vs. Brooklyn Nets – $5,000 DraftKings, $4,800 FanDuel
Marshall is one of several Pelicans who will need to step up while Zion is out, and he brings the third-highest Projected Plus/Minus at the position on DraftKings and the second-highest on FanDuel. He is expected to continue to start for the Pels on the wing until either Williamson or Brandon Ingram (toe) is ready to return.
Marshall started five games towards the end of December and had over 21 FanDuel points in four of those games, including a pair of games with over 32 FanDuel points. After coming off the bench for two games, Marshall returned to the lineup Wednesday against the Rockets and had 26.4 FanDuel points on 16 points, seven rebounds, and four assists.
He typically offers multi-category production and solid averages across the board. In his expanded role in this matchup, he should be able to bring very solid value.
Top Ceiling: LeBron James vs. Atlanta Hawks – $10,700 DraftKings, $11,200 FanDuel
James was forced to miss Wednesday’s game for the Lakers due to illness but is probable for Friday. He has the second-highest ceiling projection at small forward and power forward on FanDuel, behind only Giannis and just ahead of KD. He has the highest ceiling projection at small forward on DraftKings and the second-highest at power forward.
Before he had to miss Wednesday’s game, James was on an impressive run for the Lakers, carrying the load while Anthony Davis (foot) is again sidelined. Over his past 11 games, James has averaged 34.5 points per contest and added 7.4 rebounds, 7.0 assists, and 0.7 steals per game. Hopefully, he’s back at 100%, and the game off helps him come back a little fresher for this matchup.
James should be in a good spot against the Hawks after dropping 47 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists, and 76 DraftKings points against Atlanta last Friday. This matchup has the highest over/under on the slate, and building around The King is definitely worth considering.
Top Value: Keldon Johnson vs. Detroit Pistons – $6,800 DraftKings, $6,800 FanDuel
In the matchup of the two most defensively-challenged teams in the NBA, Johnson is a great value option at either forward spot, especially with more workload available for the Spurs. He has the highest Projected Plus/Minus on the entire slate on FanDuel and is third on the whole slate on DraftKings behind his teammate Josh Richardson and Clippers’ center Ivica Zubac.
Johnson leads San Antonio with a 28.1% usage rate but is projected for a 31.2% usage rate in this contest, mostly due to the absence of Devin Vassell (knee). With Vassell off the floor, Johnson has a 31.8% usage rate and has produced 1.1 DraftKings points and 1.04 FanDuel points.
While he has been right around salary-based expectations in each of his past four games, this matchup should enable a big game for Johnson, who will be the unquestioned go-to option for San Antonio for the foreseeable future while Vassell is sidelined.
Side note, Vassell’s absence also makes Richardson an excellent punt play, especially on DraftKings, where he’s under $4K and offers flexible eligibility at PG and SF.
Top Ceiling: Giannis Antetkounmpo vs. Charlotte Hornets – $12,000 DraftKings, $12,000 FanDuel
As is almost always the case when he takes the floor, Giannis has the highest ceiling projection on the slate on both DraftKings and FanDuel. Jrue Holiday is probable to return, but Khris Middleton (knee) is still sidelined, which will still mean the Bucks rely heavily on their superstar, who is projected for a slate-high 38.4% usage rate. He’s eligible at center on DraftKings and small forward on FanDuel in addition to his primary power forward position.
Even with his lofty salary, he has exceeded salary-based expectations in each of his last four games and in six of his past eight. He has scored at least 30 points in four straight contests while adding averages of 18.3 rebounds, 7.3 assists, and 1.0 steals. He had three straight games with over 80 DraftKings points before producing “only” 72.25 DraftKings points in Wednesday’s win over the Raptors.
Giannis’s usage and scoring are impressive, but his consistent rebounds and assists are really what puts him over the top and make him a must-consider option even with his salary hitting $12K.
Top Value: Onyeka Okongwu at Los Angeles Lakers – $5,700 DraftKings, $6,200 FanDuel
On FanDuel, Okongwu has the highest Projected Plus/Minus at center and the third-highest on the whole slate. On DraftKings, he has the second-highest Projected Plus/Minus at center and the fourth-highest on the whole slate.
The third-year big man from USC will be coming home to Los Angeles for this matchup against the Lakers. It should be a good scoring environment, as discussed above, and he’ll be facing a depleted Lakers’ frontcourt.
With Clint Capela (calf) sidelined again, Okongwu is expected to make his seventh start in his past eight games. He has at least 12 points in five of his past seven games and at least eight rebounds in six of those contests. During that run, he has three double-doubles which have each resulted in over 40 DraftKings points and 40 FanDuel points. If he approaches that level of production again in this one, he’ll be one of the best value plays on the slate.
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