Friday features an 11-game slate starting at 7 p.m. ET.
Let’s dive into some of the top plays on the slate using the FantasyLabs tools and metrics.
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
After a 33-point, 13-rebound, 10-assist triple-double in the season opener, Luka Doncic is the most expensive player on FanDuel and the second-most on DraftKings. It is deserving after averaging the most DraftKings points in the league last season with 59.81 per game. Adding Kyrie Irving at the deadline last year decreased Doncic’s usage rate from 38.9% to 35.3%, but that is a miniscule drop considering 35.3% is still one of the league’s highest rates.
Mavericks Head Coach Jason Kidd wasn’t lying when he said he wanted Doncic and the team to play faster this season. In game one against the Spurs, the Mavericks had a 107 Pace, which is currently the second-highest in the league. A massive leap from their 97.21 Pace last season. Doncic saw an increase in salary on both sites, but there is enough midrange and cheap value plays to make him fit in any lineup build.
Even with a $1,000 salary increase on DraftKings, Chris Paul looks like an elite value once again. Priced at $6,600, Paul has the highest Projected Plus/Minus at the position with an 81% Bargain Rating. He played 34 minutes in game one, and despite shooting 26.7% from the field and 0-for-6 from behind the arc, Paul had 38.5 DraftKings points. He finished the game with 14 points, nine assists, and six assists.
The Warriors will continue to play without Draymond Green, who has led the team in assists for seven of the last eight seasons. This game environment is also fantastic for Paul and the Warriors, as this game has a slate-high 238-point total.
Paul exceeded his expectations last game with a +11 DraftKings Plus/Minus, and more of the same could be in store tonight for him in this up-tempo game, especially if he shoots the ball much better.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander picked up right where he left off last season. He had a 31-point, 10-assist double-double in the Thunder’s game-one victory over the Bulls, scoring over 60 DraftKings points. Tonight will be a more difficult matchup against the Cavaliers, who led the league in Defensive Rating last season, but Gilgeous-Alexander has proved to be matchup-proof.
Keep him to your tournament lineups only, but Gilgeous-Alexander is a strong contrarian play.
NBA DFS Shooting Guard Picks
Donovan Mitchell’s game-winning 3-pointer Wednesday night was part of a big day for the Cavaliers shooting guard. Mitchell finished the game with 27 points, six assists, five rebounds, and four steals while shooting 52.4% from the field. Darius Garland did play in that game but may be held out of the first leg of the Cavaliers’ back-to-back. He is questionable, so make sure to keep an eye on his status throughout the day.
If Garland were to sit, this spot would look even better for Mitchell tonight. With Garland off the floor last season, Mitchell had a team-high +3.8% usage rate increase and a +4.85 DraftKings Plus/Minus. Even if Garland suits up, Mitchell looks great playing at home against a Thunder team that ranked third in Pace last season. His popularity may be dictated by the status of Garland, but Mitchell looks like a strong pay-up option regardless.
Marcus Smart was a little disappointing last game despite scoring 17 points. He did have 11 potential assists but only finished with three to go along with two steals and zero rebounds. With Ja Morant still out, it’s hard to envision another game where Smart lacks this many peripherals. His salary didn’t budge on DraftKings and actually went down $700 on FanDuel, making Smart a strong value play with nine Pro Trends on both sites.
The Grizzlies are a 5.5-point home underdog tonight against the Nuggets, coming off their game-one victory. Despite winning the championship last season, the Nuggets during the regular season had a middle-of-the-pack Defensive Rating. This is an exploitable matchup for Smart, who will likely have a bounce-back game after the slow fantasy start to his season.
With point guard and shooting guard eligibility on both DraftKings and FanDuel, Stephen Curry surprisingly didn’t do much besides score in their last game, as he had 27 points but only five rebounds and one assist. That seems like an outlier peripheral performance, especially without Draymond Green. Curry was sensational against the Kings in their seven-game playoff series scoring 33.7 points per game. Wouldn’t be shocking if he had another big game tonight.
Desmond Bane was awesome in his first game of the season without Ja Morant. In a close losing effort, Bane burst onto the scene with 31 points, five rebounds, and five assists while shooting 50% from both the field and behind the arc. He had a 31% usage rate, which is to be expected moving forward with the current Grizzlies situation. Bane had a 29.2% usage rate in the preseason, leading the team by a wide margin. Without Morant, it will be the Bane show.
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NBA DFS Small Forward Picks
Last game Jayson Tatum proved by playing alongside three other studs, that he can still have a big game. He is the alpha dog on this Celtics team, as he poured in 34 points to go along with 11 rebounds and a team-high 35.1% usage rate. Coming in with similarly low projected ownership again, Tatum is a great contrarian pay-up option. Tatum’s 37-minute projection is the highest on the slate in what should be a superb matchup against the Miami Heat.
The Celtics are nearly double-digit favorites at home against the Heat as this game total is egregiously low at 217 points. The Heat should be a difficult matchup for most players, but Tatum has seemed to thrive playing against the team in South Beach.
In four games last season, Tatum averaged 30.8 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. He had similar statistics in their playoff matchup as well. Don’t forget about Tatum when building out tournament lineups.
Starting at point guard for the Spurs, Jeremy Sochan has small forward eligibility on DraftKings and power forward eligibility on FanDuel. Sochan got into a little bit of foul trouble last game but still managed to outperform his salary with 13 points, eight rebounds, and five assists. With a 25.1% usage rate, Sochan will be one of the Spurs’ key young players to build around. As a 6’8″ starting at point guard, Sochan can fill up the stat sheet in a variety of ways.
One of the best-projected game environments on this slate is this spot with the Spurs and Rockets. Both teams severely lack defensive talent, as they finished last and second-to-last in Defensive Rating last season. Getting exposure to this game feels like a necessity tonight, and Sochan, at his cheap price point, is a great way to do so.
Kawhi Leonard got off to a hot start last game but wasn’t needed down the stretch, as the Clippers had a 26-point lead going into the fourth quarter. He only played 29 minutes but still put up over 40 DraftKings points, as Leonard finished with 23 points, six assists, and five rebounds. Leonard had a 30.8% usage rate, which was the highest on the team. With a much closer game expected tonight, Leonard looks great at his sub-$9,000 salary on both sites.
NBA DFS Power Forward Picks
Going back to Jaren Jackson Jr. is difficult, but we have to trust the process. He got into foul trouble last game (go figure) and shot the ball very poorly. His five blocks made his fantasy score respectable, but it still was way lower than expected. Jackson Jr. also had a 16.4% usage rate, which is way too low playing without Ja Morant and Steven Adams. If he can keep his hands to himself, Jackson Jr. is always a threat to post a huge fantasy score.
Jackson Jr. will likely be on the perimeter, most importantly not guarding Jokic, as that will be left to Xavier Tillman. Jackson Jr. is getting ownership despite his salary rising on DraftKings by $800. He is a boom-or-bust tournament flier at this point and looks much better on FanDuel, where his steals and blocks are worth more. Jackson Jr. can win a slate with his incredible upside or make a lineup look foolish.
Second-year pro Jabari Smith Jr. had a disappointing game, with only seven points and five rebounds. Last year he averaged 12.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, so expect a bounce back tonight, especially in this spot against the Spurs, who ranked last in Defensive Rating last season. Smith Jr.’s four preseason games were a mixture of boom and bust. He had two 20-point games, while in the other two games, he failed to score double-digit points.
Smith Jr. has the highest projected ownership on FanDuel at power forward and the second-highest on DraftKings behind Jackson Jr. His salary is very inviting, especially in this matchup that has a 226-point total. He is easy to fit into lineups and covers a forward position that is always difficult. Buyers be aware — the outcome may be volatile.
After struggling in the season opener, Evan Mobley will get a chance at redemption tonight as the Cavaliers will continue to play without Jarrett Allen. Mobley won’t be as popular as Wednesday night but is still drawing a healthy amount of ownership. It is deserved, as Mobley averaged a double-double with 16.8 points and 10.5 rebounds per game last season without Allen. This is also an elite matchup for Mobley going against a very small Thunder frontcourt.
NBA DFS Center Picks
One of the biggest decisions on the slate is whether to pay up for Doncic or Nikola Jokic. In the first game of the year, Jokic had a triple-double with 29 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists. Jokic had a 27.1% usage rate last season but ranked second in the league with a 1.75 DraftKings points per minute. He likely won’t play as much as other studs, but Jokic is just as effective when he is on the court.
Jokic will get a matchup against a Grizzlies frontcourt that is playing without defensive stalwart Steven Adams. He has the highest projected ceiling in our NBA Model for both DraftKings and FanDuel tonight. Seeing Jokic under 5% projected ownership on both sites makes him one of the best contrarian pay-up options on the slate.
With Nic Claxton out with an ankle injury, Day’Ron Sharpe will likely double his playing time in an expected starting spot tonight. Sharpe came off the bench last game and played 12 minutes. He finished with four points, two rebounds, and two blocks. With Sharpe’s 24-point minute projection, he looks like a fantastic value play on DraftKings at $3,300. He leads all players in projected Plus/Minus and has an 86% Bargain Rating.
Sharpe had a strong preseason finishing his last two games averaging a double-double with 14 points and 10.5 rebounds per game. A double-double in this spot would be incredible for a stars and scrubs lineup build. The Mavericks had the lowest rebounding percentage at 47.1% last season. Even with adding rookie Dereck Lively II who looked great in their season opener, this is an exploitable matchup for Sharpe both in the paint and on the glass.
Alperen Sengun was cruising to a great game Wednesday night until the Rockets simply couldn’t keep up with the Magic. In a 30-point loss, Sengun had a nice stat line of 14 points, eight rebounds, and six assists while only playing 28 minutes. Sengun has the highest Projected Plus/Minus on FanDuel with 11 Pro Trends. Despite the addition of Victor Wembanyama, the Spurs still had a very poor Defensive Rating and played at a high Pace last game, just like they did all of last season.