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.
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: Trae Young vs. Phoenix Suns – $9,100 DraftKings, $9,400 FanDuel
The trade deadline has already shaken up the entire landscape of the NBA coming into the day, so be sure to pay close attention to the News page for the latest player movement and who will be available leading up to tip-off.
Several teams scheduled to be in action have already been impacted by trades, including the Suns as they visit Young and the Hawks. Phoenix is typically a tough matchup for point guards, but Trae still has the highest ceiling projection of all PGs on this slate on both DraftKings and FanDuel.
Young has outperformed salary-based expectations in four of his past five games, although he has missed two games during that stretch due to illness and ankle soreness. When he has played, he has been productive with 48.5 DraftKings points and 45.3 FanDuel points per game over his past five contests on 25.4 points, 11.0 assists, and 3.2 rebounds.
He has double-digit assists in six of his past seven games, highlighted by matching his season-high with 16 assists to go with 16 points in his return to action on Tuesday against the Pelicans. Trae shot just 4-for-14 in that loss to New Orleans, so he should be poised for a bounceback performance against the Suns, who will get plenty of attention in this post and from the NBA world over the next few months.
Top Value: Chris Paul at Atlanta Hawks – $7,300 DraftKings, $8,100 FanDuel
CP3’s team landed one of the most significant players ever traded at the deadline by adding Kevin Durant early Thursday morning, While it will probably actually reduce Paul’s role long-term, the Suns will be featured throughout this post as value plays since they bring great Projected Plus/Minus marks until the players acquired from Brooklyn become available. In addition, Devin Booker was already ruled out due to left groin injury management.
Without Booker and all the outgoing trade pieces, there will be plenty of work for Paul in the backcourt in this matchup. He’s projected for a 22.7% usage rate in 34 minutes, which is enough to give him the highest Projected Plus/Minus of any point guard on FanDuel, where he also brings this second-highest ceiling. On DraftKings, he has the second-highest Projected Plus/Minus at the position and the third-highest ceiling projection.
The Suns’ veteran should be fired up to get right for another deep playoff run and has put together some big games in recent memory. Two weeks ago, he had 31 points, 11 assists, and 63.9 FanDuel points in a 10-point win without Booker in San Antonio. He has that kind of ceiling in this contest and should be able to vastly outproduce his salary unless the Suns decide to totally punt this contest.
CP3’s fantasy prop currently sits at 39.5 on Monkey Knife Fight. You can get a deposit bonus of up to $100 on Monkey Knife Fight when signing up through our promo link.
Top Ceiling: Cam Thomas vs. Chicago Bulls – $7,800 DraftKings, $7,300 FanDuel
The Nets have blown things up by shipping out Durant and Kyrie Irving over the past few days. While the players coming in from the Irving trade, Spencer Dinwiddie and Dorian Finney-Smith, are expected to make their Nets’ debuts, there should still be a massive role for Thomas with Seth Curry (adductor) sidelined without a timeline to return and the acquisitions from the Suns not expected to play. Thomas’s running-mate for the past few games, Edmond Sumner, may face a more reduced role, but Thomas’s scoring ability will be badly needed by the Nets for as long as he can keep his impressive recent run going.
At shooting guard, Thomas has the fourth-highest ceiling projection on DraftKings and the eighth-highest on FanDuel, where he can also flex over to the small forward spot.
In his past three games, Thomas has exploded for over 40 points and over 57 DraftKings points. In those three games, he has posted a massive 42.1% usage rate while averaging 44.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists, and 4.7 made three-pointers per contest. While his usage will likely come down a little with Dinwiddie in the mix, he should still be an excellent ceiling play at shooting guard.
Top Value: Damion Lee at Atlanta Hawks – $3,200 DraftKings, $3,900 FanDuel
The top three players in Projected Plus/Minus on both DraftKings and FanDuel are Suns’ wings who will have to step up and fill in after Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson were sent to Brooklyn in exchange for Durant and T.J. Warren. Durant and Warren will eventually take all the minutes and usage left behind in the trade, but for this contest, Lee, Torrey Craig, and Dario Saric will have to fill in the gaps.
Lee has the highest Projected Plus/Minus of all shooting guards on both DraftKings and FanDuel, and he can also slide over to point guard on DraftKings, where he edges out Paul for the top spot in Projected Plus/Minus. Lee’s role has fluctuated throughout the season, but he can put up good numbers when asked to step into a more significant role.
Over his past 15 games, Lee has logged over 25 minutes seven times. In each of those contests, he had at least 21 DraftKings points. He also flashed a high ceiling with 31 points and 43 DraftKings points in a loss to the Timberwolves on Jan. 13. He averaged 28.0 DraftKings points in those seven games and scored at least 11 points in all but one of those contests. In the game in which he managed just eight points, he compensated with nine assists to still turn in a strong fantasy performance.
Lee can fill up multiple categories on the stat sheet and should be in for a significant workload based on the players available. On this small slate fully stocked with value plays, he’s definitely one you can’t overlook.
Top Ceiling: LeBron James vs. Milwaukee Bucks – $10,800 DraftKings, $10,500 FanDuel
While the Nets and Suns wheeling and dealing have opened up value and shaken up the slate, the spotlight still belongs squarely on the matchup between the Lakers and the Bucks in the game with the highest over/under on the board. There are definitely places to save salary, but this matchup gives excellent options to spend that savings on two of the biggest stars in the game as LeBron and Giannis Antetkounmpo go head-to-head. The newly-crowned all-time scoring leader has the third-highest ceiling projection on this slate behind Giannis and Nikola Jokic. It is worth noting that he’s questionable, as has become his norm, but as long as he plays, he is worth considering in this matchup.
James set the scoring record as part of a 38-point performance on Tuesday against the Thunder. The fact that the 38-year-old dropped 38 points and no one was even surprised shows how dominant LeBron has been as he continues to put up incredible numbers deep into his 20th season in the NBA.
Over his past 12 games, The King has averaged 33.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 7.6 assists in 36.8 minutes per game. He has over 57 DraftKings points in eight of those 12 contests, outperforming salary-based expectations in all eight of those games.
Earlier this year against Giannis and the Bucks, James had 28 points, 11 assists, and eight rebounds for 61.5 DraftKings points in 37 minutes in a four-point road win. With Russell Westbrook on the move, James might have to carry even more work until D’Angelo Russell gets in place and up to speed.
Top Value: Torrey Craig at Atlanta Hawks – $4,100 DraftKings, $4,500 FanDuel
The second of the big three Suns’ values to consider is Torrey Craig. At small forward, he has the highest Projected Plus/Minus on both DraftKings and FanDuel.
Craig doesn’t have quite the offensive ceiling that his teammates bring, but he should get enough opportunity to provide non-scoring numbers to return value at this salary. He started 16 straight games for the Suns before coming off the bench on Tuesday. In those games, he averaged 7.7 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists, and a solid 20.1 FanDuel points in 26.6 minutes per game.
Although he isn’t typically a high-usage player, he has flashed big-game potential with a nice double-double that resulted in 34.3 FanDuel points against the Warriors and a 20-point performance against the Grizzlies.
This matchup with the Hawks should set up well for his style, and he should be an excellent source of value at either forward spot.
Top Ceiling: Giannis Antetkounmpo vs. Los Angeles Lakers – $12,300 DraftKings, $12,500 FanDuel
Giannis almost always has the highest ceiling projection on the slate, and that is the case once again on this four-game Thursday. He also brings a high Projected Plus/Minus in a good matchup against the Lakers and is behind only the Suns’ bargains in Projected Plus/Minus at power forward. That shows that even though his salary is so high, it’s actually pacing behind his production.
The Greek Freak was in my picks on Monday, but he was a little bit of a disappointment since he only played 23 minutes in a comfortable win over the Trail Blazers. He’ll probably have to carry his full workload in this showcase spot against the Lakers, so I expect him to bounce back in a big way.
In his five games before Monday’s letdown, he averaged 73.2 DraftKings points and 68.8 FanDuel points on 42.8 points, 15.4 rebounds, and 5.4 assists in 34.4 minutes per game. He crushed the Clippers with 54 points and 81.75 DraftKings points last Thursday and followed that up with a triple-double of 35 points, 15 rebounds, 11 assists, and 77.25 DraftKings points against the Heat on Saturday.
I expect him to return to near that level of production as he tries to take down LeBron and the Lakers. He had 40 points and 56.75 DraftKings points in their first meeting but fell short in the four-point defeat. We may get peak Giannis in this matchup, which definitely makes him worth considering if you can save enough with all the value at other spots.
Top Value: Dario Saric at Atlanta Hawks – $3,500 DraftKings, $4,200 FanDuel
Saric is the last of the three Suns super-values to check out on this slate, and he has the highest Projected Plus/Minus of the group, so we saved the best for last. He has the highest Projected Plus/Minus on the whole slate on both FanDuel and DraftKings, where he’s also eligible at center to give you even more options in your roster construction.
Without Bridges and Johnson at power forward, there should suddenly be lots of minutes for Saric, who played just four minutes in his most recent game. He has gotten some extra work recently, though, even drawing a spot start last week against the Celtics.
In that contest, Saric posted 14 points, 13 rebounds, and 37.75 DraftKings points in 30 minutes. That performance probably represents a best-case scenario for Saric, but in five other games with significant minutes, he’s logged at least eight boards in three and double-digit points in four. With so much usage and minutes opened up by the trade, a double-double is definitely a possibility, and returning value at this low salary should be easily achievable.
Top Ceiling: Nikola Jokic at Orlando Magic – $11,000 DraftKings, $11,700 FanDuel
The second-highest ceiling projection on the slate behind Giannis belongs to Jokic as his Nuggets visit the Magic in Orlando. It should be a good matchup for Jokic, and the Nuggets should have most of their players back after being short-handed a couple of times over the past week. The one remaining issue (aside from potential trade movement) is Jamal Murray, who is questionable.
Jokic sat out Sunday with hamstring tightness but showed no signs of any limitations in his return. In fact, he had a triple-double with two minutes left in the first half in a 34-point laugher against Minnesota. Jokic finished with 67 DraftKings points in 28 minutes on 20 points, 16 assists, and 12 boards. It was his fourth straight game with a triple-double as the two-time reigning MVP continues to put up staggering numbers on his way to what could be a third straight award.
The Joker had a triple-double against the Magic when he faced them in January, finishing with 59.5 DraftKings points in 35 minutes on 17 points, 14 assists, and 10 rebounds. He definitely has the potential to break the slate with a huge number, so consider building around him as an anchor for your lineup with so much value across the slate.
Top Value: Nic Claxton vs. Chicago Bulls – $7,600 DraftKings, $8,400 FanDuel
Claxton is another center to take a long look at if you have some salary but not enough to get all the way to the Joker’s level. He brings the highest Projected Plus/Minus of all centers on FanDuel and the second-best of all centers on DraftKings, behind only Saric.
In the wake of all the player movement in Brooklyn, Claxton joins Thomas as two of the biggest fantasy winners. He should be in line for more usage and all the minutes he can handle moving forward since Brooklyn didn’t bring back any bigs.
Claxton has outperformed salary-based expectations in eight of his past 10 games, averaging 17.1 points, 11.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 2.1 blocks per game. He has ramped up his workload in the three games the team has been without Kyrie, posting 49.1, 46.7, and 44.1 FanDuel points.
In what should be a good matchup against the Bulls (who may have trade shakeups of their own to deal with), I like Claxton and Cam to continue their contributions for the new-look Nets.
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