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 teams.
Note: Projections and Leverages Scores/Ratings may change throughout the day after this article is posted. Consult the Player Models directly for any updates.
Top Ceiling: Darius Garland vs. New York Knicks – $9,300 DraftKings, $8,700 FanDuel
Darius Garland is the highest-priced point guard on DraftKings tonight, but his pricing on FanDuel among his peers doesn’t make much sense. He has a 91% Bargain Rating and has posted a positive Plus/Minus in five of his last six games. Garland has picked up his facilitating numbers recently. He has had double-digit assists in six of his previous seven games. During that time, he is averaging 12.4 assists per game.
Playing against the Knicks is always a slugfest. They rank dead last in Pace this season, while the Cavaliers aren’t too far behind, ranking 22nd in the league. This game has a total of just 202, so don’t get carried away from players in this matchup. However, Garland is simply playing too well to ignore. He also has averaged 24.8 points in his last five games, so he’s a priority target on FanDuel.
Top Value: Nickeil Alexander-Walker vs. Indiana Pacers – $3,800 DraftKings, $3,800 FanDuel
Value is a little tough to come by on this short four-game slate, but Nickeil Alexander-Walker has some appeal. Brandon Ingram is out tonight, while Devonte’ Graham is questionable. Alexander-Walker has seen his minutes decrease recently because he hasn’t been very productive. However, with no Ingram and potentially no Graham, he will be forced into a much more significant role.
Using our On/Off tool, Alexander-Walker has played the most minutes with Ingram and Graham off the floor this season and has a +6.0% usage rate increase in that situation. Overall, his usage climbs to a robust 30.9% with both players off the floor. The Pacers are not a scary defense, especially with how many of their starters are not in the lineup. This is a battle between below-average defenses, which is always fantasy-friendly. Alexander-Walker stands out as a great option.
Top Ceiling: Devin Booker vs. Utah Jazz – $9,400 DraftKings, $9,200 FanDuel
There are no players on this slate who have a higher ceiling than Devin Booker. He had over 70 DraftKings points just three games ago. When he gets going, there is no stopping him. The best part about rostering Booker is that he is a shooter who won’t stop even if his shot isn’t falling. He was just 5-for-23 from the field in his last contest but still managed to put up a respectable 30.75 DraftKings points.
This matchup with the Jazz features the highest total on the slate at 221 points, and the Suns have a slate-high implied total of 115 points. Booker has been extremely aggressive lately, averaging 24.8 field goal attempts per game. The Jazz are a solid defensive team, but they have a lot of injuries, and there is simply no defense to stop Booker when he is rolling.
Top Value: Trent Forrest at Phoenix Suns – $3,000 DraftKings, $3,500 FanDuel
Trent Forrest owns the highest projected Plus/Minus in our NBA Models for both DraftKings and FanDuel. He is priced at the stone minimum on both sites. Forrest hasn’t played much, but he is very active when he does see the court. He is averaging 1.17 DraftKings points per minute over his last two games. He has played 18 and 19 minutes while averaging 21.1 DraftKings points per game during that time.
The Jazz are already without Donovan Mitchell and may be without Bojan Bogdanovic, who suffered an injury last game. The Jazz are also on the second leg of a back-to-back, so don’t be surprised if more players get ruled out later in the day. Forrest is currently projected for 32 minutes in our NBA Models, and he has the potential to be one of the highest-owned players on the slate.
Top Ceiling: DeMar DeRozan at Oklahoma City Thunder – $9,100 DraftKings, $9,000 FanDuel
After a great start to the season, the Bulls have hit a rough patch losing six of their last seven games. A big reason why is they are missing most of their backcourt. Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso are out for the foreseeable future, while Zach LaVine has been out since January 14th. LaVine may come back tonight, so we need to monitor his status. Regardless, our model has DeMar DeRozan with the highest ceiling on the slate.
Despite the Bulls’ struggles, DeRozan has been fantastic. Over the last three games, DeRozan is averaging 35.3 points per game while shooting an extremely impressive 60.3% from the field. That is incredible for a shooting guard! He’s also attempted 36 free throws over that stretch, so he has been aggressively attacking the rim. Getting to DeRozan without LaVine is preferred, but he still leads the team in points and usage rate this season.
Top Value: Cameron Johnson vs. Utah Jazz – $3,900 DraftKings, $5,000 FanDuel
One of the best value plays on the slate is Suns forward Cameron Johnson. The Suns will be playing without Cameron Payne and Jae Crowder. With Crowder out, Johnson will likely draw another start. In the six games that Johnson has started, he’s averaged 17.8 points per game while shooting 55.1% from the field and 50.0% from 3-point range. He is also averaging 5.5 rebounds per game.
This value play certainly comes with some risk as Johnson is a very scoring-dependent player who needs to hit his shots to return value. Nearly 65% of Johnson’s field goal attempts come from behind the arc. That percentage is lower this season than his career numbers, but still a healthy amount. He is second to Booker on the team, making 2.4 3-pointers per game. Johnson is risky, but worth it tonight.
Top Ceiling: Julius Randle at Cleveland Cavaliers – $9,700 DraftKings, $8,600 FanDuel
The highest-priced player on DraftKings tonight is Julius Randle. However, FanDuel is where Randle looks more intriguing as he has a 96% Bargain Rating. Randle has been a rollercoaster for most of the season, but the one positive is that his minutes will always be there. He is averaging 35.5 minutes per game which still ranks in the top ten in the league. Randle will play even if he is struggling.
Randle is shooting a career-low 41.4% from the field, and this matchup against the Cavaliers isn’t ideal as they rank third in Defensive Rating this season. The Knicks are implied for the least amount of points on the slate, but there is still value with getting to Randle. He leads the Knicks in points, rebounds, and assists this season. Similar to Garland, prioritize Randle on FanDuel.
Top Value: Rudy Gay at Phoenix Suns – $4,200 DraftKings, $4,100 FanDuel
Another Jazz value option that is popping in our model tonight is Rudy Gay. He is a veteran, so monitor his status on this back-to-back, but Gay provides a good source of value if he is good to go. The Jazz are already shorthanded in this matchup, so Gay may be asked to play a few extra minutes. Our model has Gay projected to play 20 minutes, but that may be on the conservative side.
The Suns are a difficult matchup as they rank second in Defensive Rating, but the one positive is they play at the seventh fasted Pace in the league. This game environment is the best on the slate, which isn’t saying much, but getting pieces of this game will be important. The 35-year old journeyman may just sneak into the optimal lineup tonight with the Jazz injury situation.
Top Ceiling: Jonas Valanciunas vs. Indiana Pacers – $8,300 DraftKings, $7,500 FanDuel
Taking the discount on Jonas Valanciunas is the preferred option tonight. As I mentioned, the Pelicans will be without at least Ingram tonight, which is a bump for Valanciunas and his production. In eight games without Ingram this season, he has averaged a double-double with 20.8 points and 12.8 rebounds. Valanciunas has 31 double-doubles in general this season, which ranks fourth in the league.
The Pacers already have a mediocre defense that ranks 21st in Defensive Rating. However, they are playing without both of their starting frontcourt players in Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis. Turner leads the league in blocks per game, while Sabonis ranks fourth in rebounds. Valanciunas should feast in the paint against this undermanned frontcourt. His price tag is too cheap for his ceiling without Ingram.
Top Value: Goga Bitadze at New Orleans Pelicans – $6,200 DraftKings, $6,200 FanDuel
Goga Bitadze has taken over as the Pacers center in the absence of Turner and Sabonis. He has started the last two games and averaged a double-double with 14.5 points and 10.0 rebounds per game. He played an average of 33.0 minutes per game despite getting ejected midway through the fourth quarter in one game. Those were very tough matchups against the Suns and Warriors.
Tonight will be much easier for Bitadze and the Pacers as they are only 3-point road underdogs against the Pelicans. The Pelicans rank 23rd in Defensive Rating and allow opponents to shoot 46.7% from the field, which ranks tied for the fifth-worst in the league. This should be a very competitive game between two below-average teams. Don’t be intimidated by the price tag; Bitadze is still a great play tonight.