Tuesday tips off the NBA regular season with a two-game slate starting at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Let’s dive into some of the top plays on the slate using the FantasyLabs tools and projections.
Note: Projections and Leverages Scores/Ratings may change throughout the day after this article is posted. The NBA DFS landscape changes quickly.
Consult the NBA Player Models directly for any updates as we get closer to lock.
NBA DFS Point Guard Picks
In the first game of the night, Jamal Murray is poised to lead his Nuggets in the first game of their title defense as they host the Lakers. Murray has the second-highest median and floor projection at point guard on this slate on both DraftKings and FanDuel. He is behind Stephen Curry in those categories, but he offers such significant savings on both sites that he looks like a much better building block to use as a stud point guard.
Murray has a good matchup against the Lakers, who ranked in the top 10 last year in fantasy points allowed to opposing point guards last season. In the playoffs last year, Murray dropped over 30 points on the Lakers in three of the four games in Denver’s sweep.
In his 79 games in the regular and postseason last year, Murray produced 1.15 DraftKings points and 1.1 FanDuel points per minute. Murray’s production is always a little volatile since he is so reliant on his streaky shooting, but that also gives him a very high ceiling if his shots start dropping. His Pts/Sal is projected to be higher than Curry’s on both DraftKings and FanDuel, and I think he’ll be ready to go off on the big stage Tuesday night.
Chris Paul is extremely cheap on DraftKings and stands out as an almost “must-play” on that site. He brings the highest Projected Plus/Minus on the entire slate by a wide margin and also projects to produce the most Pts/Sal. His 99% Bargain Rating also indicates he’s extremely under-priced for his Warriors debut. On FanDuel, CP3 isn’t quite as cheap but still has the second-highest Pts/Sal and projected Plus/Minus at the position.
Paul is projected for a healthy 33 minutes in our NBA Models, and last season, he averaged 1.15 DraftKings points and 1.12 FanDuel points per minute. With Draymond Green (ankle) out, the Warriors will likely start with a smaller lineup that includes Paul and Curry in the backcourt. How exactly they’ll gel is still a major question mark, but there’s plenty of upside to like from Paul at his $5,600 price tag on DraftKings.
Bradley Beal will make his debut for the Suns and is eligible only at PG on DraftKings. His price under $7K could also end up being a bargain if he carries enough usage in his new role in the Suns’ new “Big Three.” On FanDuel, Beal can slide over to shooting guard if you prefer.
Editor’s note: Beal (back) is now unlikely to play tonight.
The Lakers are expected to go with D’Angelo Russell as their starting point guard, with new acquisition Gabe Vincent as the primary backup. We’ve seen Vincent’s ability to put up points in a hurry, but the models indicate he’s a little over-priced for his Lakers debut. Russell is the one point guard that beats out Paul for projected value on FanDuel, where he’s priced at $6,200 and has a 79% Bargain Rating.
If you need a punt play at point guard, Reggie Jackson is an option at the minimum on FanDuel, while Gary Payton II is under $4,000 at DraftKings but should play a role off the bench in the Warriors’ smaller lineups. GP2 has the unique point guard/small forward dual eligibility.
NBA DFS Shooting Guard Picks
Devin Booker is still the center of the Suns offense. With CP3 now on the other side of this late game, Booker is expected to run the point for the Suns with elite scoring options around him. Booker is projected for a team-high 26.9% usage rate, and he brings a high ceiling in both points and assists.
Last year without CP3 on the court, he averaged 1.37 DraftKings points and 1.32 FanDuel points per minute in the regular season and playoffs. With only Jordan Goodwin to back him up at point guard, Booker seems to be poised for a very heavy workload, and that should result in a monster fantasy season for him.
The matchup against the Warriors should be a favorable one for him against his former teammate CP3 and Steph Curry. The Warriors also play with plenty of pace, and this game has the higher total of the two games on opening night, per our Vegas Dashboard.
The highest Pts/Sal and Projected Plus/Minus at shooting guard on this slate go to Klay Thompson on both DraftKings and FanDuel. Thompson isn’t a punt play on either site, but his mid-range salary doesn’t account for his high ceiling. Thompson posted career-highs last year in rebounds (4.1) and three-pointers made (4.4) while averaging over 20 points per contest.
Even though his efficiency has dropped sharply over the past few years, his volume is still definitely projected to be there, especially without Green on opening night. If the Warriors go with smaller lineups as expected, that should also mean more time at forward for Thompson, which helps raise his floor because he grabs more boards in those situations.
After his breakout at the end of last season and in the playoffs, expectations are high for Austin Reaves. I love his skillset and upside, but he’s priced pretty highly for this opening game and actually has a negative Projected Plus/Minus due to the matchup and lack of usage available since the Lakers are unusually healthy headed into the season. There will definitely be plenty of slates to roll with Reaves, but I don’t think this is one of them.
If you need a cheaper play to consider, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is set for plenty of minutes for the Nuggets. He doesn’t typically get enough usage to post a ton of fantasy points, but with the Nuggets losing Bruce Brown this offseason, his role could shift a bit. He’ll be on the floor. The question is just whether he does enough to show up in the box score.
Off the bench, Eric Gordon and Christian Braun have the potential to be solid punt plays depending on game flow and how much usage they get in the second units.
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NBA DFS Small Forward Picks
LeBron James is now officially the oldest player in the NBA after the retirement of Andre Iguodala. The King doesn’t care, though, and continues to make all the young players look silly with huge numbers. He has the highest median, ceiling, and floor projections at small forward on this slate, and you know he’ll be ready to take it to the defending champs who took him out of the playoffs last year.
James is expensive on both DraftKings and FanDuel, but he has a 65% Bargain Rating on DraftKings, where he comes in well under $10K. He has the second-highest usage projection on the entire slate, behind only Steph, and he’ll be fresh and ready to make a statement on opening night.
While the Warriors will likely go small in the starting five, Jonathan Kuminga is projected to play over 24 minutes off the bench and should be very involved for as long as Green is sidelined. Last year, Kuminga produced 9.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.9 assists for 17.2 DraftKings points and 16.9 FanDuel points per game. When Green was out, though, Kuminga averaged 24.3 DraftKings points and 24.0 FanDuel points in the 10 games he played without Draymond.
Kuminga had a promising preseason, and the 21-year-old appears poised for a potential breakout season. He has the highest projected Plus/Minus of all small forwards on FanDuel and the third-highest on DraftKings, where he can also slide over to power forward. Although his ceiling isn’t quite as high as the top options or even the upper-midrange options, he does stand out among the non-starters for his potential to go off and his relatively high floor due to his expanded role.
Michael Porter Jr. also projects very well as a mid-range play if you need an option priced between James and Kuminga. MPJ brings a 79% Bargain Rating on FanDuel, where he has just a $6,000 salary. He has the second-highest projected Plus/Minus at small forward on both DraftKings and FanDuel.
Despite his usage projected of just 12.3%, Josh Okogie is an intriguing play at just $4,000 on DraftKings. I think he’s a strong option for the Suns to go with their high-volume scorers. If Okogie settles into a favorable spot in the rotation, he could end up being a solid bargain contributor. He’s only a small forward on DraftKings but also brings shooting guard eligibility on FanDuel.
NBA DFS Power Forward Picks
Kevin Durant is priced all the way down to $8,400 on DraftKings, where he has a 99% Bargain Rating. He matches eight Pro Trends using the Trends tool, which is more than any other power forward on DraftKings. His ceiling, median, and floor projections are second only to James at the position. On FanDuel, he’s actually more expensive than James and is way over-priced according to our projections, with one of the worst Projected Plus/Minus at the position on that site.
There’s definitely upside to playing Durant since he’s an elite scorer with the potential to take over any game. He produced 1.34 DraftKings points per minute last season and is projected to play just under 35 minutes on Tuesday. He will have to carry the load for the Suns, but there is some uncertainty as to how the usage will be split up between Booker, Beal, and KD.
On DraftKings, though, he’s at too steep a discount to not consider fitting him in if possible.
On DraftKings, Andrew Wiggins has the second-highest Projected Plus/Minus on the slate at his very affordable $5,500 salary. He averaged 31.3 DraftKings points per game on 17.0 points, 5.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.1 steals per game in his 50 games last season in the regular season and postseason. That nets out to 0.96 DraftKings points per minute.
Without Draymond, Wiggins will also have to chip in more on the glass, which raises his potential production. Wiggins is projected for 34.9 minutes and a 21.5% usage rate in the opener, so it’s easy to see how he could outpace his price point against the Suns.
Aaron Gordon is one of the best values on the slate on FanDuel. In fact, he brings the highest Projected Plus/Minus and the highest Pts/Sal on the entire slate on that site. With savings very hard to come by building lineups on FanDuel, Gordon is a huge grab under $6K. Especially compared to the priced-up Durant, he brings great cap flexibility while still bringing plenty of upside. He produced 0.98 FanDuel points per minute last season and is projected for 32 minutes of work on Tuesday.
On DraftKings, there aren’t many punt options at power forward, but if you have to go below Kuminga’s salary of $4,600, Taurean Prince is an option as a stat sheet stuffer as he joins the Lakers’ starting unit in place of the injured Jarred Vanderbilt. Keita Bates-Diop is another option to consider from the Suns’ second unit, as is Dario Saric of the Warriors’ bench.
NBA DFS Center Picks
I mean…It’s obvious but still deserves highlighting. Nikola Jokic is an absolute fantasy stud. Getting him at $10K on DraftKings is probably the lowest salary he’ll have all season. He wrecked all opposition last year and posted 1.73 DraftKings points and 1.65 FanDuel points per minute. His averages across the board were astounding, and he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down this preseason.
Jokic matches more Pro Trends than any player on FanDuel. He has the highest ceiling projection on both sites by a wide margin and is tied for the most with Durant on DraftKings. On DraftKings, he has the second-highest Projected Plus/Minus and the third-highest projected Pts/Sal even though he has the highest price tag on the board. He brings amazing value and is expected to overproduce his salary by a wide margin.
It makes sense to start this season the same way last season ended, with Jokic locked in as a regular stud in your fantasy lineup.
If you pass on Jokic and the other big names at center, you can choose to drop all the way down to Jaxson Hayes in his Lakers’ debut. Hayes is just $3,600 on DraftKings but offers interesting production depending on his role. He won’t start, but he could be one of the first players off the bench if the Lakers try to move Anthony Davis to power forward as early as possible.
Last season with the Pelicans, Hayes produced 0.86 DraftKings per minute, but he flashed good upside coming down the stretch.
He’s a boom-or-bust flier, but if you need a bargain value, his upside is definitely intriguing.
Anthony Davis always has a high ceiling and high volatility. On DraftKings, he’s priced under $9K, which gives him a 99% Bargain Rating. On almost any slate, that would be too good to pass up, but with Jokic so cheap as well, I’d prefer to go get the Joker. You could definitely go with a double-big lineup using your utility spot on DraftKings and play both superstar big men since both have very high projected in Pts/Sal and Projected Plus/Minus.
There are two strong midrange plays to consider as well, according to the projections, with both Kevon Looney and Jusuf Nurkic expected to return strong value from their midrange salaries. Nurkic brings a higher ceiling but also more risk since his role with his new team is still a little uncertain. However, we know how productive Nurkic can be, contributing in multiple categories when at his best.
If you’re stretching for straight-up ceiling picks, it’s hard to argue against Nurkic, who should also have a relatively safe floor since he’s projected to log 27 minutes in his Suns’ debut.