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: Luka Doncic vs. Boston Celtics – $12,600 DraftKings, $12,800 FanDuel
This season has been full of absolutely amazing fantasy performances, and Doncic has been at the head of the class for most of the season. It’s not surprising that he has the highest ceiling projection on the entire slate by a wide margin. Even with only four games in play, there’s still plenty of star power, and Doncic leads the way with a ceiling projection that is almost 10 points higher than any other player on the slate. He has been on an unreal roll lately and needs to be a priority on a slate this small, especially in a matchup against the Celtics, who just gave up 150 points to the Thunder without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
Doncic has had a usage rate of over 44% in four of his past six games and delivered over 60 DraftKings points in each of those contests. He went off for the NBA’s first-ever 60-20-10 triple-double during that run for an eye-popping 110.75 DraftKings points and 105.2 FanDuel points, and he has averaged 44.5 points, 11.3 rebounds and 9.8 assists over his six-game run of dominance.
Luka had 42 points, nine assists, eight rebounds, and 64.5 DraftKings points in his first matchup with the Celtics this season and had over 50 DraftKings points in each of their meetings last season as well.
He can go off and end the night for any lineup he isn’t a part of, so make sure to get him on your roster this Thursday. I don’t know how long he can keep up this impressive run, but he’s worth paying up for while he’s on the heater. He’s been so crazy hot lately that he has the second-highest Projected Plus/Minus of all point guards on FanDuel and the sixth-highest of all point guards on DraftKings, meaning he’s actually a very good value even at this sky-high salary.
Top Value: Mike Conley at Houston Rockets – $5,700 DraftKings, $6,200 FanDuel
The Jazz should be in a good spot for production on Thursday night with the highest Implied Team Total on the slate in a game with the highest over/under. Conley gets a great matchup against the generous Houston backcourt and has been finding a nice rhythm after missing nine games with a strained muscle in his knee.
He has the second-highest Projected Plus/Minus of all point guards on DraftKings and the fifth-most of any point guard on FanDuel.
Conley has outperformed salary-based expectations on DraftKings in five straight contests, averaging a +8.00 Plus/Minus. In those five games, he has averaged 13.2 points, 7.8 assists, 2.8 rebounds, and 1.7 steals. In a matchup where he should be able to keep rolling, the veteran makes a solid value at point guard.
Top Ceiling: Jaylen Brown at Dallas Mavericks – $9,500 DraftKings, $9,200 FanDuel
Even with Paul George (hamstring, questionable) in the projections, Brown has the highest ceiling projection of all shooting guards on DraftKings and the second-highest on FanDuel, behind only Doncic. Brown and Boston will be looking to bounce back from that ugly Tuesday loss in Oklahoma City and should be looking to make a statement against Doncic and the Mavs.
Brown’s production has been up and down lately, but his highs have been very high. He exceeded salary-based expectations in six of his previous nine games before Tuesday’s letdown and did so by over 10 FanDuel points in three of those games.
In his last six games, Brown has scored at least 29 points and bumped his production to 1.39 DraftKings points and 1.34 FanDuel points per minute. Not only is that an improvement over his season averages of 1.25 DraftKings points and 1.21 FanDuel points per minute, but those numbers are also slightly higher than teammate Jayson Tatum‘s numbers over that same stretch. While both Boston superstars make sense on this slate, Brown is cheaper and offers more positional flexibility, making him a very strong option to consider.
Top Value: Malik Beasley at Houston Rockets – $5,000 DraftKings, $4,800 FanDuel
Almost every time we need a value play on this slate, it makes sense to turn to the Jazz based on their matchup against the Rockets. Beasley brings the second-highest Projected Plus/Minus on the entire slate on both DraftKings and FanDuel, and he has the highest Projected Plus/Minus at shooting guard on both sites.
Beasley has been a streaky fantasy contributor throughout his career, with a high upside if his shot is falling. He’s had a solid first season in Utah and is coming off back-to-back strong showings. He had 17 points and 26.25 DraftKings points against the Heat on Saturday and followed that up with 16 points and 33 DraftKings points on Tuesday against the Kings.
In that game against Sacramento, Beasley played 31 minutes, partly due to Collin Sexton (hamstring) being sidelined after playing five straight games. Sexton has already been ruled out for this contest, so Beasley should be lined up for more minutes and be ready to return value with a high ceiling.
Top Ceiling: Jayson Tatum at Dallas Mavericks – $10,900 DraftKings, $10,800 FanDuel
Tatum has the highest ceiling at both small forward and power forward despite struggling a bit over his last three games, and he’s a nice bounce-back target vs. the Mavericks. Since he has been performing a little below expectations and is still priced highly, his ownership might be a little lower, so he makes an intriguing contrarian play, especially for GPPs.
Tatum has scored under 30 points in each of his past three games, but he’s still averaging 30.8 points and 51.6 DraftKings points per game on the season. He produced over 60 DraftKings points in three of four contests before his recent three-game drought, and he had 37 points, 13 boards, and 66.25 DraftKings points in the first meeting between these squads this season.
Top Value: Kenyon Martin Jr. vs. Utah Jazz – $3,500 DraftKings, $3,900 FanDuel
The highest Projected Plus/Minus on the entire slate on both DraftKings and FanDuel belongs to Martin, who can fill in at either forward spot and brings a high ceiling in his current role with the Rockets. Martin will likely move into the lineup since veteran Eric Gordon has typically sat out one of Houston’s back-to-back games this season and played on Wednesday. Martin started each of the last two games that Gordon sat and played about 30 minutes in each, producing 21.75 and 23.25 DraftKings points.
Martin is also coming off a strong showing on Wednesday as one of the few bright spots in Houston’s loss to the Pelicans. He made all seven of his shots from the field and totaled 16 points, 28.9 FanDuel points, and 27 DraftKings points. With more minutes likely coming his way and a strong track record of per-minute production, Martin is a value that should fit in just about every lineup construction on Thursday’s slate.
Top Ceiling: Lauri Markkanen at Houston Rockets – $9,000 DraftKings, $8,600 FanDuel
Markkanen brings the second-highest ceiling projection at power forward and small forward behind only Tatum and comes at a much friendlier salary, especially on FanDuel. He has exceeded salary-based expectations on FanDuel in five of his past seven games with an average Plus/Minus of +6.96.
The 25-year-old is putting together a breakout season in his first year in Utah and has over 50 DraftKings points in four of his past seven contests. He had 40.25 DraftKings points in 38 minutes against the Rockets in their most recent meeting, falling just one rebound short of a double-double. He has three double-doubles in his last five games and continues to warrant strong consideration, especially when the Jazz are in what is expected to be an up-tempo contest.
Top Value: Jabari Smith Jr. vs. Utah Jazz – $4,800 DraftKings, $5,000 FanDuel
While the Rockets’ record isn’t great, they have produced some solid fantasy options, including Smith. The No. 3 overall pick in last year’s NBA Draft is posting solid numbers at just 19 years old. He has the second-highest Projected Plus/Minus at power forward on this slate on DraftKings behind only his teammate Martin, and he has the third-highest projected Plus/Minus at power forward on FanDuel behind Martin and Wendell Carter Jr.
Smith had his seventh double-double of the season on Wednesday night, finishing with 14 points, 12 rebounds, two steals, a block, and 39.75 DraftKings points. He has scored double-digit points in seven of his past eight games and exceeded salary-based expectations in five of them.
The first two times Smith played the Jazz, he posted 42.25 DraftKings points and 23.25 DraftKings points, and he has both a solid floor and a high ceiling since Houston will continue to give him plenty of minutes and opportunities as part of its developing young core.
Top Ceiling: Nikola Jokic vs. Los Angeles Clippers – $11,800 DraftKings, $11,500 FanDuel
As has been the case often for Jokic lately, he comes into this slate with the second-highest ceiling projection behind only Doncic. Like Doncic, Jokic has been on an impressive run lately, so build around the big man if you’re looking for a Luka alternative that comes a little bit cheaper and leaves you more flexibility in the backcourt.
Before a quieter game on Monday, Jokic posted at least 58 DraftKings points in 10 of his previous 12 games, including four games with over 80 DraftKings points. Over that span, he has a 31.0% usage rate and has produced 1.8 DraftKings points and 1.79 FanDuel points per minute.
His per-minute production and sky-high ceiling have redefined what a fantasy center can be as he fills in the box score across every category. His assist production at the position is unmatched, and he’s a threat for a triple-double in almost any matchup, including this one against the Clippers.
Top Value: Wendell Carter Jr. vs. Memphis Grizzlies – $6,400 DraftKings, $5,900 FanDuel
On FanDuel, Carter has the highest Projected Plus/Minus at center and the third-highest on the whole slate. On DraftKings, he’s priced up a bit but is still in the top 10 of Projected Plus/Minus at center.
For Orlando on Thursday, Bol Bol (health and safety protocols) remains listed as out, while Moritz Wagner (suspension) will also be unavailable. It’ll be Carter and Mo Bamba who fill in the work in the middle, and Carter looked strong enough on Wednesday that there’s reason to think that WCJ is ready to return to his spot as one of Orlando’s best fantasy options.
Carter started the season playing very well with double-digit points in his first 15 games, averaging 16.6 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 3.3 steals in 32.8 minutes per game. However, he then missed over a month with plantar fascitis. He returned just before Christmas but has been coming off the bench in a limited role.
After serving his own one-game suspension, Carter has a chance to reclaim his role in the starting lineup while Wagner is suspended. He started Wednesday and had 13 points, 13 rebounds, and 35.25 DraftKings points in 30 minutes. As long as he’s available for the second game of Orlando’s back-to-back, he should be a very strong play in the middle once again. If he’s limited or out, Bamba will be a great play since he’d be in line for even more work.
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