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 300 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: Luka Doncic vs. New Orleans Pelicans – $12,300 DraftKings, $12,200 FanDuel
Despite his astronomical price of over $12K on both FanDuel and DraftKings, there isn’t much debate that Doncic brings the highest ceiling on the slate, even with Giannis Antetkounmo, Nikola Jokic, and LeBron James also expected to be in action. Luka brings the highest ceiling projection and usage projection of any of the superstars in action, and he gets a favorable matchup against the Pelicans in a pace-up spot for Dallas. He’s faced them twice this season, producing 68.25 and 66 DraftKings points in the two meetings.
Doncic’s numbers have been outstanding all season, and he returned from a one-game absence due to an ankle injury with another great game on Monday. In that game against Detroit, he shot an impressive 17-for-24 (70%) from the field on his way to 53 points, eight rebounds, five assists, 72.1 FanDuel points, and 75 DraftKings points in 36 minutes.
While Christian Wood (thumb) remains sidelined, Doncic will have to carry even more of the offensive workload. Excluding the game he left early due to injury, Doncic has posted at least 64 DraftKings points in six of his past nine games, exceeding salary-based expectations in six of those nine games despite a massive price tag. He has posted a 38.0% usage rate during that span and should stay the focus of the Mavs’ offense again on Thursday.
He has been wrecking slates with massive games lately and has to be considered if you’re paying up for a superstar PG.
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Top Value: Ty Jerome at Denver Nuggets – $3,000 DraftKings, $3,700 FanDuel
Jerome and his teammate Jordan Poole are the two players with the highest Projected Plus/Minus on the entire slate on both DraftKings and FanDuel. On DraftKings, the top four players in Projected Plus/Minus are all from the Warriors. Jerome edges them all out for the top spot on both DraftKings and FanDuel since he’s available at such a low salary and won’t have to do much to outperform his salary expectations.
He should get a chance to outperform expectations by a wide margin since the Warriors are expected to rest their primary players as they finish their back-to-back in Denver after losing in overtime to the Timberwolves on Wednesday. Jerome moved into the starting lineup the last time all the starters sat and played 41 minutes in the win over the Cavaliers on Jan. 20. He had 22 points and eight assists for 40.2 FanDuel points and 40.2 DraftKings points in that contest.
He has easily exceeded 20 DraftKings points in his past four games with over 25 minutes, averaging 31.4 DraftKings points. Even though he hasn’t played in the past four games, he will likely get a significant workload given who the Warriors are expected to have available, so he’s a great way to save salary to spend on stars in other spots.
Top Ceiling: Jordan Poole at Denver Nuggets – $6,500 DraftKings, $7,000 FanDuel
Poole has the highest ceiling projection on DraftKings of all shooting guards, even though he’s barely in the top 10 in salary at that position. His salary is a little more elevated on FanDuel, but he still brings this fourth-highest projected ceiling on the slate. On both DraftKings and FanDuel, he projects to be an excellent value as well, trailing only Jerome in Projected Plus/Minus.
Whenever Golden State has rested its veteran stars, Poole has stepped in as the focus of the offense. Since Stephen Curry returned from his most recent injury, he has only missed one game, and in that game, Poole had 32 points, three rebounds, two assists, and 40.75 DraftKings points against the Cavaliers. Two games before that, Klay Thompson took the day off, and Poole had 32 points and 52.75 DraftKings points, showing he has an even higher ceiling.
While it makes sense to double-check for News Updates to see exactly who is in and out for the Warriors as we approach tip time, Poole appears to be on track for a significant workload and has a very high ceiling at a reasonable price for this matchup in the Mile High City.
Top Value: Bennedict Mathurin vs. Los Angeles Lakers – $5,900 DraftKings, $6,300 FanDuel
The highest over/under on Thursday’s slate is in the Lakers-Pacers matchup in what should be a track meet between two teams that rank in the top five in Pace. While you’ll want to get exposure to the Warriors for all the added value, you’ll also want to be sure to get some pieces of this paced-up extravaganza in Indianapolis.
Mathurin has had a strong rookie season for Indiana and has thrived with Tyrese Haliburton (elbow, knee) sidelined. Even with Haliburton potentially returning, Mathurin should still get enough work to be a strong play at this price. He has the third-highest Projected Plus/Minus at both shooting guard and small forward of all non-Golden State options on DraftKings. He also has a positive Projected Plus/Minus on FanDuel, although he doesn’t rank quite as highly at his elevated salary.
The No. 6 overall pick has exceeded salary-based expectations in his past five games, averaging 37.0 DraftKings points and 36.3 FanDuel points in 33.4 minutes per contest. He has scored at least 21 points in each of those games and averaged 24.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 1.8 assists over that span.
In this high-octane contest, look for Mathurin to get plenty of opportunities to showcase his upside. At this solid midrange salary, he comes loaded with value potential.
Top Ceiling: LeBron James at Los Angeles Lakers – $10,700 DraftKings, $10,700 FanDuel
On the other side of that matchup, LeBron should be set up for a big night, as long as his sore left ankle isn’t more of an issue than expected. He is on the injury report as questionable after playing 43 minutes on Tuesday in an overtime win over the Knicks, but as long as he plays, he usually takes on a full workload. At small forward, James has the highest ceiling projection on DraftKings and the second-highest on FanDuel, behind only Giannis. He has the fourth-highest ceiling projection on both DraftKings and FanDuel for the entire slate behind Luka, Giannis, and Jokic.
Even though he sat out Monday, The King seemed to be back at full strength Tuesday, putting up a triple-double with 28 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds, 54.4 FanDuel points, and 62 DraftKings points in his 43 minutes.
The 38-year-old James has averaged an astonishing 33.7 points per game over his past 11 games. He’s also adding great non-scoring numbers with at least eight boards in each of those 11 contests and an average of 9.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists.
Even though he has been far from cheap, James has been able to exceed salary-based expectations in eight of his past 10 games with an average Plus/Minus of +9.4 FanDuel points over that span.
As he continues to chase the all-time scoring mark, this high-scoring matchup should fuel a big night.
Top Value: Caleb Martin at New York Knicks – $4,500 DraftKings, $4,700 FanDuel
At small forward, Martin has the third-highest Projected Plus/Minus on DraftKings and the sixth-highest on FanDuel. He also brings extra positional flexibility on FanDuel, where he can flex over to shooting guard.
In the ever-shifting Miami rotation, Martin has picked up his production over his past three games, playing over 27 minutes against the Magic, Hornets, and Cavaliers while posting 28.75, 21.5, and 35 DraftKings points. On Tuesday, he had a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds in one of his strongest performances of the season.
Martin can stuff the stat sheet when he’s at his best and fill up multiple categories in an expanded role. Now that he seems to be fully past his strained left quad, he should be able to continue to outperform expectations and return good value from under $5K.
He doesn’t have quite as high of a ceiling as some other options depending on breaking news, but he is a very solid option at this salary if he stays in his starting role.
Top Ceiling: Giannis Antetokoumpo vs. Los Angeles Clippers – $11,900 DraftKings, $11,900 FanDuel
The Bucks host the Clippers in a fun East vs. West matchup in the late game on TNT. Antetkoumpo is one of the top ceiling plays of the night and has the second-highest projected usage on the slate, behind only Luka. He also has the second-highest ceiling projection and surpasses Doncic in median and floor projection.
Antetkounmpo has looked like his usual self since returning from a brief absence due to knee soreness. He played a lighter workload in his first game back against the Pistons but has averaged a ridiculous 41.9% usage rate in 32.6 minutes over his four games since then. He posted at least 33 points and 12 rebounds in each of those four games, averaging 66.6 DraftKings points and 62.6 FanDuel points on 39.5 points and 14.3 rebounds.
He should be fired up for this marquee matchup and makes a great centerpiece to build around. Since there is slightly more depth and value at the guard position, I think he’s a slightly better option than Luka based on opportunity cost and positional scarcity. Either one is great, but Giannis fits better in many roster builds.
Top Value: Xavier Tillman at Cleveland Cavaliers – $4,200 DraftKings, $4,700 FanDuel
The Grizzlies will be at a size disadvantage down low against the Cavs on Thursday night without Steven Adams (knee), so look for them to rely on Tillman to play more minutes. He has the highest Projected Plus/Minus of any power forward or center under $5K on FanDuel. On DraftKings, he is only center eligible and brings the fifth-highest Projected Plus/Minus of any player at that position.
Tillman has exceeded salary-based expectations in seven of his past 10 games and each of his past five contests. During that five-game stretch, Tillman has averaged 6.2 points, 8.0 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 2.4 steals in 22.5 minutes per game.
He returned to the starting lineup Wednesday night against Portland after three games off the bench and posted one of his best stat lines of the season with 10 rebounds, five assists, and four steals to go with his four points. Despite his lack of scoring, Tillman produced 33.5 FanDuel points and 31 DraftKings points in that contest, and he should be called upon for a similar workload against the Cavs’ big men on the second game of Mepmhis’s back-to-back.
Top Ceiling: Nikola Jokic vs. Golden State Warriors – $11,300 DraftKings, $11,600 FanDuel
At center, Jokic has the highest ceiling projection on FanDuel and the second-highest on DraftKings, behind only Giannis. Jokic has the highest median projection on the entire slate on DraftKings, and his team has the highest Implied Team Total on the entire slate against the potentially depleted Warriors.
The Joker has been his typical MVP self lately, piling up massive fantasy production on a regular basis. On Tuesday, he dominated the Pelicans with 26 points, 18 rebounds, 15 assists, and 77.5 DraftKings points in 38 minutes. He has over 58 DraftKings points in eight of his past nine games and has exceeded salary-based expectations on FanDuel in each.
There is a chance this game turns into a blowout, but even if it does, it will likely be due to a dominant effort from Jokic. He’s a strong center to build around on this slate, and the matchup gives him plenty of upside.
Top Value: Myles Turner vs. Los Angeles Lakers – $7,300 DraftKings, $7,600 FanDuel
On FanDuel, Turner has the highest Projected Plus/Minus of any player except the two Warriors’ guards discussed above. On DraftKings, he has the second-highest Projected Plus/Minus of any center and the highest ceiling projection of any center under $8.8K.
He should be especially fired up to face the Lakers, who were so often connected to him in trade rumors earlier this season. When he visited Los Angeles earlier this season, he played 35 minutes and posted a double-double that earned him 45.6 FanDuel points and 45.25 DraftKings points.
Turner played a lighter workload than usual on Sunday in his most recent game, but before that, he had posted over 37 DraftKings points in four straight games, averaging 22.0 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks in 34.5 minutes per game.
If the Pacers can keep this game competitive and Turner plays 30-plus minutes, he should be able to exceed salary-based expectations and brings a sky-high ceiling for a play under $8K. This is the kind of fast-paced game he can dominate, and he could be poised for a monster night, making him a value to check out even though he’s not cheap.
If you have to go with a bargain center, Tillman, Dwight Powell, or JaMychal Green is worth considering.
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