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.
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 teams.
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: Trae Young at Houston Rockets – $10,000 DraftKings, $9,800 FanDuel
With 13 games on Friday’s main slate, there’s no shortage of star power at any position, and the point guard pool has multiple elite options to consider. His great matchup against the Rockets gives Young a slight edge and the highest ceiling projection of all point guards on the slate on DraftKings and the second-highest among point guards on FanDuel, barely behind Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
The Rockets enter this contest with the third-worst defensive rating in the NBA and have allowed the most DraftKings and FanDuel points per game to opposing point guards.
Trae should get plenty of chances to take advantage of the mismatch since he has the highest usage projection of all point guards at 33.7%, which is the second-highest projected usage of all players on the slate. While he isn’t always the most efficient scorer, he usually overcomes that with volume, posting a 34.6% usage rate in his 17 games this season. Young has averaged 47.0 DraftKings points and 44.9 FanDuel points in those contests on 27.6 points, 9.4 assists, 3.1 rebounds, and 0.8 steals per game.
He has at least nine assists in five of his last six games, including three double-doubles, highlighted by a 33-point game against Toronto that resulted in 60.25 DraftKings points and 58.6 FanDuel points.
Top Value: Jose Alvarado at Memphis Grizzlies – $3,800 DraftKings, $4,700 FanDuel
Alvarado has the second-highest Projected Plus/Minus at point guard on FanDuel and DraftKings since he is expected to step into a larger role with CJ McCollum sidelined in the health and safety protocols. Alvarado is projected for 27.9 minutes with a 19.6% usage rate. This season with McCollum off the floor, Alvarado has averaged 0.84 DraftKings points and 0.82 FanDuel points per minute.
The second-year point guard from Brooklyn got his first start of the season on Wednesday and produced five points, nine assists, three rebounds, and three steals for 26.25 DraftKings points in his 30 minutes. He definitely isn’t a score-first point guard like McCollum, so players like Brandon Ingram, Zion Williamson, and Devonte’ Graham will likely get usage from McCollum’s absence as well.
At this salary, though, Alvarado is a hard play to pass up in his expanded role. He is a fairly low-risk option due to his multi-category contributions and can be key to stretching your salary cap.
Top Ceiling: Anfrenee Simons at New York Knicks – $7,600 DraftKings, $8,300 FanDuel
Like Alvarado, Simons is expected to step into a larger role on Friday night since Damian Lillard (calf) is sidelined for the Blazers’ visit to Madison Square Garden. As a result, Simons has the second-highest projected ceiling at shooting guard on DraftKings and the fifth-highest on FanDuel.
Lillard has missed eight games this season, including each of Portland’s two most recent contests. In the two games on this current road trip, Simons has stepped up, scoring 29 points in a loss to the Bucks and 20 points to go with six assists against the Cavs. He has scored at least 20 points in seven straight contests, averaging 23.7 points, 4.3 assists, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.0 steals per game over that span. Without Lillard, he gets more playmaking responsibilities, and his assists give him a higher ceiling and a higher floor.
Especially on DraftKings, Simons’ salary still doesn’t reflect his added responsibilities, and he should be able to deliver above his salary expectations for the third time in his last four games with a big game on Friday.
He brings an especially high ceiling since the Blazers have the highest Pace Differential of any team in play.
Top Value: Collin Sexton at Golden State Warriors – $4,600 DraftKings, $4,700 FanDuel
The Jazz have been without Mike Conley (leg) since Saturday, and he’s listed as out once again for this matchup with the Warriors. Sexton has moved into the starting lineup in the two games Conley has missed and put together a pair of strong performances, even though both games ended in a loss.
In his start on Monday, the former Cavalier had 10 points and two rebounds in 28 minutes, but he really stepped up with 17 points, along with a season-high 12 assists on his way to 36 DraftKings points in 35 minutes. If he gets that kind of playmaking responsibility in this matchup, he brings a ton of upside.
Sexton has the highest Projected Plus/Minus of all shooting guards on both DraftKings on DraftKings, where he is cheaper and brings dual-eligibility at small forward, and FanDuel. On FanDuel, he has the highest Projected Plus/Minus on the entire slate, just ending out Jose Alvarado (discussed above.
On DraftKings, Alvarado barely beats him out of the top Projected Plus/Minus spot on the entire slate coming into the day.
Top Ceiling: Jayson Tatum vs. Sacramento Kings – $10,800 DraftKings, $10,200 FanDuel
Tatum has the highest ceiling projection of all small forwards on DraftKings and the second-highest ceiling projection at small forward on FanDuel behind only Giannis Antetkounmpo. He has reached the point where he always has to be considered on any slate since he has taken his game to the next level this season and delivered elite production on a regular basis.
He especially makes sense on this slate since the Celtics have the highest Implied Team Total of the night, according to our Vegas Dashboard. Part of that is their matchup against the Kings, who play at the fifth-fastest pace in the NBA. The Celtics have the fourth-best Pace Differential on the slate.
Tatum had a massive game on Wednesday, finishing with 66.25 DraftKings points on 37 points, 13 rebounds and five assists against the Mavericks. He has at least 52 DraftKings points in five of his past seven games with five double-doubles during that run. In this plus matchup, Tatum should be set to continue his strong season.
Top Value: Norman Powell vs. Denver Nuggets – $4,700 DraftKings, $5,800 FanDuel
Powell has the highest Projected Plus/Minus of all small forwards on DraftKings, where his salary is still under $5K. He will have to continue to carry more of the offensive workload for the Clippers with both Kawhi Leonard (ankle) and Paul George (hamstring) out. While he has continued to come off the bench, Powell has taken at least 14 shots in each of his past three contests and has a 27.1% usage rate over that span after compiling a 23.7% usage rate over his 16 previous games.
Powell had 26 points and 36.25 DraftKings points against the Spurs in a big win last Saturday and followed that up with an even better performance Monday, reaching 30 points for the first time this season and chipping in enough non-scoring contributions to total over 40 DraftKings points. He cooled off a little Wednesday against Golden State but still posted his third straight game with over 30 DraftKings points.
Like with many of these picks today, Powell has a good chance to outperform his salary since he’s getting more work than his typical load. With more action coming his way, Powell has outperformed salary expectations in seven of his past nine games.
Top Ceiling: Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. Cleveland Cavaliers – $12,000 DraftKings, $11,300 FanDuel
As almost always, Antetokoumpo has the highest ceiling projection of all power forwards on DraftKings and FanDuel. On FanDuel, he’s also available at small forward, while he can flex over to center on DraftKings. Wherever you use him, though, he brings a high usage projection along with his high ceiling projection. He has the fifth-highest usage projection on the whole slate at 33.7%.
No one on the slate can match his production rate of 1.73 DraftKings points and 1.67 FanDuel points per minute. Khris Middleton (wrist) will be back to carry part of the load soon, but he has been ruled out for this matchup against the Cavs, leaving all the work still for Giannis and Jrue Holiday. Since missing a few games with knee soreness, Giannis’s numbers have been slightly down, but he still has at least 25 points and at least 52 DraftKings points in each of his three most recent contests.
The Bucks beat the Cavs two weeks ago even though Giannis shot 6-for-18 from the field. He still had a solid total with 16 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists. If he continues that peripheral production and gets closer to his regular shooting percentage, he could have a monster performance.
Usman Garbuba vs. Atlanta Hawks – $4,000 DraftKings, $4,200 FanDuel
The Rockets may get back Bruno Fernando soon but will still likely be without Alperen Sengun (groin, doubtful), which should open the door for Garuba to continue to provide value. He has the highest Projected Plus/Minus at power forward on FanDuel and the highest Projected Plus/Minus at center on DraftKings.
The 20-year-old from Spain has played over 17 minutes in each of his past five games and posted at least 15 FanDuel points in four of those contests. His best game during that stretch was a 12-point, nine-rebound performance with three blocks against the Mavericks last Wednesday. He had a season-high 36.3 FanDuel points in that performance.
He has nice potential and should get enough minutes to deliver value at this affordable salary.
Top Ceiling: Anthony Davis at San Antonio Spurs – $10,900 DraftKings, $11,800 FanDuel
Davis has been on a roll lately, carrying the Lakers while LeBron James has been sidelined. He gets the highest ceiling projection of all the centers coming into the day, even though James could return.
In each of the last four games, Davis has scored at least 30 points and grabbed at least 16 rebounds with over 63 DraftKings points in every one of those performances. He added five steals and five blocks to his 37 points and 21 rebounds on Tuesday against the Suns, racking up 89.2 FanDuel points and 84.8 DraftKings points.
Getting all the extra work without James, Davis has found another gear. He had 30 points and 64 DraftKings points in just 28 minutes against the Spurs on Sunday, so this should be a matchup where he can flourish even if LeBron returns. The Lakers will need this kind of production from Davis if they’re going to make a run at the playoffs.
Top Value: Kevon Looney vs. Utah Jazz – $4,000 DraftKings, $4,100 FanDuel
The Warriors have the second-highest Implied Team Total on the slate, and Looney is an affordable way to get a piece of that action. He has the third-highest Projected Plus/Minus at center on DraftKings and the second-highest on FanDuel, where he also can slide over to the power forward spot.
Looney is the only member of the Warriors’ starting five who played in New Orleans, and he only played five minutes. Not counting that game, he has over 20 DraftKings points and 20 FanDuel points in four straight games. He does good work on the boards and chips in decent scoring as well, and he can fill in the gaps as a value play for your lineup like he fills in the gaps for the Warriors.
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