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NBA DFS (Monday, Jan. 3): 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.

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.

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Point Guard

Top Ceiling: James Harden vs. Memphis Grizzlies – $11,300 DraftKings, $11,400 FanDuel

This slate is absolutely loaded with studs. There are 10 players available on DraftKings at $10,000 or higher. The first stud I want to talk about is James Harden, who has been on an absolute tear lately. He honestly might be the best option on the slate. Harden has had four-straight games scoring over 70 DraftKings points! During that time, Harden is averaging 35.5 points, 11 rebounds, and 12 assists per game.

The Grizzlies are a middle-of-the-road defense across the board. However, where they struggle most is defending the 3-point line. The Grizzlies allow their opponents to shoot 37.2% from behind the arc, which is the second-highest percentage in the league. Harden has made three or more 3-pointers in three of his last four games. It seems as though Harden has flipped the switch. Despite so many studs, I would prioritize Harden.


Top Value: Tyus Jones at Brooklyn Nets – $4,000 DraftKings, $4,100 FanDuel

Staying in the same game, Tyus Jones has had back-to-back really good games for the Grizzlies. He played 29 minutes in his last game and finished with 34 DraftKings points as he poured in 18 points to go along with four rebounds and four assists. He is favorably priced on both sites and comes in as an excellent value guard. The Grizzlies are dealing with quite a few players in the COVID protocol, solidifying Jones’ minutes.

I am not expecting Jones to score another season-high 18 points tonight, but this matchup against the Nets features the second-highest total on the slate at 227 points. This should be an up-tempo game even though the Nets are 7-point home favorites. The Nets allow the ninth most 3-point attempts, and Jones is averaging a career-high 2.5 3-point attempts per game.

Shooting Guard

Top Ceiling: Bradley Beal vs. Charlotte Hornets – $10,400 DraftKings, $9,100 FanDuel

Another stud who has seemingly turned the corner is Bradley Beal. After posting a negative Plus/Minus on DraftKings in 16-straight games, Beal has now had a positive Plus/Minus in four out of his last five games. Specifically, in his previous two games since returning from the COVID protocol, Beal is averaging 28 points and 13.5 assists per game. He seems to have taken on a new facilitator role, which boosts his ceiling.

It is impossible to find as good a matchup as the Hornets this season. They rank 28th in Defensive Rating and lead the league in pace. They allow a league-high 116.5 points per game. The Wizards are implied to score 116.5 points tonight as this matchup features the largest total on the slate at 231 points. Beal seems like a lock and load on FanDuel, where he has a 97% Bargain Rating.


Top Value: Anfernee Simons vs. Atlanta Hawks – $4,100 DraftKings, $3,700 FanDuel

The second best value play on the slate on both sites is Anfernee Simons. This is a tricky situation because Simons cleared the COVID protocol on Sunday, so he should be available today, but make sure to monitor his status the closer we get to lock. Both Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are out for the Trail Blazers. If Simons can go, this could be a massive spot to target him at this cheap price tag.

Using our On/Off tool, Simons has a +10.6% usage rate increase without McCollum and Lillard on the floor this season. This matchup against the Hawks also produces a juicy 226-point total. The Hawks rank 25th in Defensive Rating, and they have allowed 110.5 points per game which is the seventh-highest in the league. If Simons can’t go, Dennis Smith Jr. would emerge as the preferred value option.

Small Forward

Top Ceiling: Kevin Durant vs. Memphis Grizzlies – $11,200 DraftKings, $11,200 FanDuel

Kevin Durant has undoubtedly struggled since returning from the COVID protocol, but the upside remains high. He has the highest ceiling among small forwards. Scoring hasn’t been a problem for Durant; it has been the peripherals that haven’t been there. Over his last two games, Durant is averaging 30.5 points per game but only 7.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists. He has scored fewer than 50 DraftKings points in both games.

With Kyrie Irving expected back for road games starting on Wednesday, Durant might go off our radar a bit after tonight. Keep in mind, Durant still leads the team in usage rate with 31.9%, points with 28.9 per game, and minutes playing 37.1 per game. He is playing the second most minutes per game in the entire league. The Grizzlies present no fear on defense, but Durant needs to find a way to get more peripherals to show his upside.


Top Value: Caleb Martin at Golden State Warriors – $4,700 DraftKings, $5,300 FanDuel

Caleb Martin worked out for us in his last game as a value play, so we are going right back to the well tonight with his price taking a dip on both sites. Last game against the Kings, Martin played 33 minutes in their 2-point loss as he had 15 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals while attempting 13 field goal attempts. That was the second-highest shot volume for Martin this season. He is also projected for 36 minutes again tonight.

The reason for Martin’s price drop, in my opinion, is due to the matchup. The Warriors lead the league in Defensive Rating and points allowed with 101.3 per game. The Heat have the second-lowest implied total on the slate at 103.75 points. While the matchup certainly isn’t great, I am trusting the model once again with this Martin pick. He has the highest projected Plus/Minus on both sites at the small forward position.

Power Forward

Top Ceiling: Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. Detroit Pistons – $11,800 DraftKings, $11,600 FanDuel

The team with the highest implied total on the slate tonight is the Bucks at 120.75 points. They are ridiculous 16-point home favorites against the Pistons. The massive spread may steer people away from Giannis Antetokounmpo, but I still think he is worth getting exposure to. Giannis is coming off of a 77.5 DraftKings performance in which the Bucks won by 23 points. He had a triple-double on 35 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists.

The Pistons have the worst record in the league at 6-28. They are coming off of a buzzer-beater victory over the Spurs and will likely get Cade Cunningham back, but the Bucks should still steamroll them. The Grizzlies rank 23rd in Defensive Rating and allow opponents to shoot 47.3% from the field, which is the second-highest in the league. Blowout or not, Giannis is in an incredible spot tonight.


Top Value: Brandon Clarke at Brooklyn Nets – $3,800 DraftKings, $4,800 FanDuel

The power forward value is also weak tonight, but Brandon Clarke stands out as the best option in our model. His price tag on DraftKings has a 93% Bargain Rating which is undoubtedly helpful. Clarke played 23 minutes in his last game and nearly had a double-double with 17 points and nine rebounds. He finished with a season-high 35.3 DraftKings points. He has been a solid points per minute player when given playing time.

The Grizzlies have Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, John Konchar, and DeAnthony Melton all in the COVID protocol or listed as out tonight. They have been very inconsistent with Clarke’s minutes for most of the season, but he should see at least 20 minutes if those players I mentioned are all out tonight. Our model has Clarke projected for 23 minutes tonight, and he can certainly get to value if that holds true.

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Center

Top Ceiling: Nikola Jokic at Dallas Mavericks – $12,400 DraftKings, $11,500 FanDuel

The most expensive player on DraftKings by far is Nikola Jokic. I certainly was intrigued to take Joel Embiid due to the matchup, but being a 13-point favorite has me a little worried. Getting exposure to Jokic is never a bad idea. The Nuggets are 3-point road underdogs against the Mavericks tonight. In competitive games, Jokic has incredible upside. Jokic has averaged over 60 DraftKings points in his last four games.

Jokic is doing most of his damage lately on the glass. Over his last four games, Jokic is averaging 18 rebounds to go along with his 25.3 points per game. The Mavericks rank 21st in defensive rebounds allowed with 35.3 per game. They also play at the second-slowest pace in the league, which is why this total is the lowest on the slate at 214 points. Regardless, the upside is always there with Jokic.


Top Value: Daniel Gafford vs. Charlotte Hornets – $6,500 DraftKings, $5,900 FanDuel

The center prices are rising, but the best value play on the entire slate in our model tonight is Daniel Gafford. I mentioned how much I loved Bradley Beal, and Gafford benefits from the same absences. He should be playing without Montrezl Harrell for the fourth-straight game. Over the last three games, Gafford has averaged 15.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game. He is averaging 34.8 DraftKings points per game over that time frame.

Not only do the Hornets allow a lot of points, but they are also a bad rebounding team. They have allowed 48.3 rebounds per game, which is the second-highest in the league. Their 47.3% Rebounding Percentage ranks dead last. Gafford should be able to dominate the paint in this matchup. If Harrell is back today from the COVID protocols, you can look to similarly priced Omer Yurtseven.

Photo Credit: Steph Chambers/Getty Images. Pictured: James Harden

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.

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.

Start Your PRO Trial Today

Lineup builder and optimizer

Real-time DFS models

Data-driven analysis & tutorials

Point Guard

Top Ceiling: James Harden vs. Memphis Grizzlies – $11,300 DraftKings, $11,400 FanDuel

This slate is absolutely loaded with studs. There are 10 players available on DraftKings at $10,000 or higher. The first stud I want to talk about is James Harden, who has been on an absolute tear lately. He honestly might be the best option on the slate. Harden has had four-straight games scoring over 70 DraftKings points! During that time, Harden is averaging 35.5 points, 11 rebounds, and 12 assists per game.

The Grizzlies are a middle-of-the-road defense across the board. However, where they struggle most is defending the 3-point line. The Grizzlies allow their opponents to shoot 37.2% from behind the arc, which is the second-highest percentage in the league. Harden has made three or more 3-pointers in three of his last four games. It seems as though Harden has flipped the switch. Despite so many studs, I would prioritize Harden.


Top Value: Tyus Jones at Brooklyn Nets – $4,000 DraftKings, $4,100 FanDuel

Staying in the same game, Tyus Jones has had back-to-back really good games for the Grizzlies. He played 29 minutes in his last game and finished with 34 DraftKings points as he poured in 18 points to go along with four rebounds and four assists. He is favorably priced on both sites and comes in as an excellent value guard. The Grizzlies are dealing with quite a few players in the COVID protocol, solidifying Jones’ minutes.

I am not expecting Jones to score another season-high 18 points tonight, but this matchup against the Nets features the second-highest total on the slate at 227 points. This should be an up-tempo game even though the Nets are 7-point home favorites. The Nets allow the ninth most 3-point attempts, and Jones is averaging a career-high 2.5 3-point attempts per game.

Shooting Guard

Top Ceiling: Bradley Beal vs. Charlotte Hornets – $10,400 DraftKings, $9,100 FanDuel

Another stud who has seemingly turned the corner is Bradley Beal. After posting a negative Plus/Minus on DraftKings in 16-straight games, Beal has now had a positive Plus/Minus in four out of his last five games. Specifically, in his previous two games since returning from the COVID protocol, Beal is averaging 28 points and 13.5 assists per game. He seems to have taken on a new facilitator role, which boosts his ceiling.

It is impossible to find as good a matchup as the Hornets this season. They rank 28th in Defensive Rating and lead the league in pace. They allow a league-high 116.5 points per game. The Wizards are implied to score 116.5 points tonight as this matchup features the largest total on the slate at 231 points. Beal seems like a lock and load on FanDuel, where he has a 97% Bargain Rating.


Top Value: Anfernee Simons vs. Atlanta Hawks – $4,100 DraftKings, $3,700 FanDuel

The second best value play on the slate on both sites is Anfernee Simons. This is a tricky situation because Simons cleared the COVID protocol on Sunday, so he should be available today, but make sure to monitor his status the closer we get to lock. Both Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are out for the Trail Blazers. If Simons can go, this could be a massive spot to target him at this cheap price tag.

Using our On/Off tool, Simons has a +10.6% usage rate increase without McCollum and Lillard on the floor this season. This matchup against the Hawks also produces a juicy 226-point total. The Hawks rank 25th in Defensive Rating, and they have allowed 110.5 points per game which is the seventh-highest in the league. If Simons can’t go, Dennis Smith Jr. would emerge as the preferred value option.

Small Forward

Top Ceiling: Kevin Durant vs. Memphis Grizzlies – $11,200 DraftKings, $11,200 FanDuel

Kevin Durant has undoubtedly struggled since returning from the COVID protocol, but the upside remains high. He has the highest ceiling among small forwards. Scoring hasn’t been a problem for Durant; it has been the peripherals that haven’t been there. Over his last two games, Durant is averaging 30.5 points per game but only 7.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists. He has scored fewer than 50 DraftKings points in both games.

With Kyrie Irving expected back for road games starting on Wednesday, Durant might go off our radar a bit after tonight. Keep in mind, Durant still leads the team in usage rate with 31.9%, points with 28.9 per game, and minutes playing 37.1 per game. He is playing the second most minutes per game in the entire league. The Grizzlies present no fear on defense, but Durant needs to find a way to get more peripherals to show his upside.


Top Value: Caleb Martin at Golden State Warriors – $4,700 DraftKings, $5,300 FanDuel

Caleb Martin worked out for us in his last game as a value play, so we are going right back to the well tonight with his price taking a dip on both sites. Last game against the Kings, Martin played 33 minutes in their 2-point loss as he had 15 points, six rebounds, two assists and two steals while attempting 13 field goal attempts. That was the second-highest shot volume for Martin this season. He is also projected for 36 minutes again tonight.

The reason for Martin’s price drop, in my opinion, is due to the matchup. The Warriors lead the league in Defensive Rating and points allowed with 101.3 per game. The Heat have the second-lowest implied total on the slate at 103.75 points. While the matchup certainly isn’t great, I am trusting the model once again with this Martin pick. He has the highest projected Plus/Minus on both sites at the small forward position.

Power Forward

Top Ceiling: Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. Detroit Pistons – $11,800 DraftKings, $11,600 FanDuel

The team with the highest implied total on the slate tonight is the Bucks at 120.75 points. They are ridiculous 16-point home favorites against the Pistons. The massive spread may steer people away from Giannis Antetokounmpo, but I still think he is worth getting exposure to. Giannis is coming off of a 77.5 DraftKings performance in which the Bucks won by 23 points. He had a triple-double on 35 points, 16 rebounds, and 10 assists.

The Pistons have the worst record in the league at 6-28. They are coming off of a buzzer-beater victory over the Spurs and will likely get Cade Cunningham back, but the Bucks should still steamroll them. The Grizzlies rank 23rd in Defensive Rating and allow opponents to shoot 47.3% from the field, which is the second-highest in the league. Blowout or not, Giannis is in an incredible spot tonight.


Top Value: Brandon Clarke at Brooklyn Nets – $3,800 DraftKings, $4,800 FanDuel

The power forward value is also weak tonight, but Brandon Clarke stands out as the best option in our model. His price tag on DraftKings has a 93% Bargain Rating which is undoubtedly helpful. Clarke played 23 minutes in his last game and nearly had a double-double with 17 points and nine rebounds. He finished with a season-high 35.3 DraftKings points. He has been a solid points per minute player when given playing time.

The Grizzlies have Dillon Brooks, Kyle Anderson, John Konchar, and DeAnthony Melton all in the COVID protocol or listed as out tonight. They have been very inconsistent with Clarke’s minutes for most of the season, but he should see at least 20 minutes if those players I mentioned are all out tonight. Our model has Clarke projected for 23 minutes tonight, and he can certainly get to value if that holds true.

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Center

Top Ceiling: Nikola Jokic at Dallas Mavericks – $12,400 DraftKings, $11,500 FanDuel

The most expensive player on DraftKings by far is Nikola Jokic. I certainly was intrigued to take Joel Embiid due to the matchup, but being a 13-point favorite has me a little worried. Getting exposure to Jokic is never a bad idea. The Nuggets are 3-point road underdogs against the Mavericks tonight. In competitive games, Jokic has incredible upside. Jokic has averaged over 60 DraftKings points in his last four games.

Jokic is doing most of his damage lately on the glass. Over his last four games, Jokic is averaging 18 rebounds to go along with his 25.3 points per game. The Mavericks rank 21st in defensive rebounds allowed with 35.3 per game. They also play at the second-slowest pace in the league, which is why this total is the lowest on the slate at 214 points. Regardless, the upside is always there with Jokic.


Top Value: Daniel Gafford vs. Charlotte Hornets – $6,500 DraftKings, $5,900 FanDuel

The center prices are rising, but the best value play on the entire slate in our model tonight is Daniel Gafford. I mentioned how much I loved Bradley Beal, and Gafford benefits from the same absences. He should be playing without Montrezl Harrell for the fourth-straight game. Over the last three games, Gafford has averaged 15.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks per game. He is averaging 34.8 DraftKings points per game over that time frame.

Not only do the Hornets allow a lot of points, but they are also a bad rebounding team. They have allowed 48.3 rebounds per game, which is the second-highest in the league. Their 47.3% Rebounding Percentage ranks dead last. Gafford should be able to dominate the paint in this matchup. If Harrell is back today from the COVID protocols, you can look to similarly priced Omer Yurtseven.

Photo Credit: Steph Chambers/Getty Images. Pictured: James Harden