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: Tyrese Haliburton vs. Houston Rockets – $9,800 DraftKings, $10,200 FanDuel
Thursday’s six-game slate is solid, with intriguing matchups and chances for teams to make a statement. Two of the most intriguing matchups for fantasy purposes are between teams that have been great matchups to attack all season. The Rockets-Pacers game has the highest over/under on the slate, just barely ahead of the Hornets-Pistons matchup. All four teams have dismal records but have been great matchups to attack for fantasy since they play fast and don’t play much defense.
Haliburton has the highest ceiling projection of all point guards in his matchup with the Rockets and the second-highest ceiling projection on the entire slate behind only Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Not only is Haliburton in an exceptional matchup, but he’s also coming off an impressive stretch of production with four double-doubles in his five most recent contests, outperforming salary-based expectations and producing over 52 DraftKings points and 52 FanDuel points in each of those four games.
On the season, he has produced 1.36 DraftKings points and 1.32 FanDuel points per minute, but over his last five games, those rates have increased to 1.53 DraftKings points and 1.51 FanDuel points per minute.
In his most recent game, Hali dropped 40 points on the Sixers even though it was the second night of a back-to-back and finished with 72.75 DraftKings points and 68.6 FanDuel points. This is an even better spot, so look for him to go off in this smash spot.
Top Value: Seth Curry at Milwaukee Bucks – $3,500 DraftKings, $4,200 FanDuel
The Nets are projected to offer great value at multiple positions as they visit the Bucks. They’ll be without Spencer Dinwiddie (rest), Cam Johnson (knee), and Nic Claxton (thumb), so the other members of the rotation will have to step into much more prominent roles. As a result, Curry has the highest projected Plus/Minus of any player on the entire slate on DraftKings. He also brings the highest projected Plus/Minus of all point guards on FanDuel.
Since the flurry of moves at the NBA Trade Deadline, Curry has been averaging just 14.8 minutes per game off the bench with a 22.0% usage rate. Without Dinwiddie, though, he may move to the starting lineup or play a more active role coming off the bench. He is projected for 28.2 minutes and a 19.9% usage rate, which would be enough for him to return good value.
When he has been on the floor without Johnson, Dinwiddie, and Claxton (along with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, who were traded), Curry has produced 0.96 DraftKings points and 0.89 FanDuel points per minute with a 27.6% usage rate, second only to Mikal Bridges on the entire team.
He has a high ceiling in his expanded role and seems relatively safe since there aren’t many other options in Brooklyn’s backcourt.
Top Ceiling: Desmond Bane vs. Golden State Warriors – $8,000 DraftKings, $8,600 FanDuel
Bane has been carrying the workload in the absence of Ja Morant, who will continue to be away from the Grizzlies for a few more games. Bane brings the highest ceiling projection of all shooting guards on DraftKings and is second at the position on FanDuel behind only Haliburton.
With Morant off the floor, Bane has produced 1.22 DraftKings points and 1.18 FanDuel points per minute this season. He had 30 points and over 45 DraftKings and FanDuel points in Memphis’s loss on Sunday to the Clippers, which was the first recent game without Ja.
He struggled to just seven points on 3-of-14 shooting on Tuesday against the Lakers but should be set to bounce back in this spot against the Warriors. That game seems like an outlier given his recent success and expanded role without Morant, so this should be a spot to go back to the well.
Top Value: Cam Thomas at Milwaukee Bucks – $4,600 DraftKings, $4,700 FanDuel
The Nets will have to rely more on Thomas without Dinwiddie and Johnson, which should make him one of the best values on the board. He has the second-highest projected Plus/Minus at shooting guard on DraftKings, behind only Curry, and he has the highest projected Plus/Minus at both shooting guard and small forward on FanDuel, just edging out Bane and Curry.
Thomas has played under 25 minutes in each of Brooklyn’s last five games and didn’t even see the floor on Tuesday in Houston. Before the new arrivals from Phoenix and Dallas reduced his role, though, he showed a sky-high ceiling, pouring in 40+ points in three straight games early in February.
Thomas averaged 25.3 points, 33.6 DraftKings points, and 31.9 FanDuel points per game over an 11-game stretch in February before moving to his more reduced role, and he should be around that level of production in this matchup against Milwaukee. He’s projected for a 29.7% usage rate in 28.0 minutes.
Top Ceiling: Lauri Markkanen at Orlando Magic – $9,600 DraftKings, $9,200 FanDuel
Markkanen has the highest ceiling projection of all small forwards on DraftKings and ranks only behind Giannis at power forward. On FanDuel, he has the fourth-highest ceiling projection at both positions.
His emergence as a fantasy star this season in Utah has been remarkable, and he has averaged 41.6 DraftKings points and 39.9 FanDuel points per game. Recently, he has outperformed salary-based expectations in six of his eight most recent games, averaging 1.26 DraftKings points and 1.20 FanDuel points per minute.
He had over 50 DraftKings and FanDuel points on Tuesday in a close loss to the Mavs, and he brings a similar ceiling to this favorable matchup with the Magic in Orlando.
Top Value: Jae’Sean Tate at Indiana Pacers – $4,100 DraftKings, $4,700 FanDuel
Tate has been a nice contributor for the Rockets since returning from injury and brings good value to this tasty fantasy matchup against the Pacers. He ranks in the top 10 in projected Plus/Minus at both small forward and power forward on FanDuel, while bringing the third-highest projected Plus/Minus at small forward on DraftKings, where he can also slide over to shooting guard to help your roster construction.
Tate has scored at least 11 points in his past six games, averaging 13.3 points, 20.2 FanDuel points, and 20.8 DraftKings points.
With Kevin Porter Jr. (thigh) sidelined for this up-tempo contest, Tate should get more work and be a very nice value play, especially if he returns to the starting lineup.
Top Ceiling: Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. Brooklyn Nets – $11,900 DraftKings, $12,200 FanDuel
There’s plenty of value to be had across the slate, and if you’re using that savings to spend all the way up, Giannis is almost always a great play to consider. As usual, he has the highest ceiling projection on the slate and should be fresh after taking Tuesday off.
He and the Bucks just faced Brooklyn at the end of February, and Giannis racked up 33 points, 15 rebounds, 59.25 DraftKings points, and 55 FanDuel points in just 28 minutes. He has over 58 DraftKings points in three of his past four games dating back to that contest and has produced a slate-leading 1.76 DraftKings points and 1.67 FanDuel points per minute over the last month.
Giannis is listed as probable with a non-COVID illness, but as long as that isn’t an issue, he should be in a smash spot at home against the short-handed Nets.
Top Value: Xavier Tillman vs. Golden State Warriors – $5,900 DraftKings, $6,000 FanDuel
With Steven Adams (sprained right PCL) still sidelined and Brandon Clarke (Achilles) done for the season, Tillman will continue to carry a heavy workload in the Grizzlies’ frontcourt. He has the second-highest projected Plus/Minus at power forward and the third-highest at center on DraftKings, and he ranks in the top four at both positions on FanDuel.
Tillman has exceeded salary-based expectations in six of his past seven games, averaging 11.0 points and 8.6 rebounds for 29.1 FanDuel points and 29.4 DraftKings points per game. He has played over 25 minutes in his seven most recent contests and looks locked into a 30-minute-per-game role until Adams returns.
He brings a good ceiling and a reliable floor as a midrange play in this matchup at home against the Warriors.
Top Ceiling: Domantas Sabonis vs. New York Knicks – $9,900 DraftKings, $10,000 FanDuel
In this home matchup against the Knicks, Sabonis has the highest ceiling projection of all centers on FanDuel and ranks only behind Giannis at the position on DraftKings.
Sabonis has been churning out high-quality results, exceeding salary-based expectations on FanDuel in eight of his past 10 games with an average Plus/Minus of +4.87. On the season, he has averaged 1.31 FanDuel points and 1.39 DraftKings points per minute, but since the All-Star break, he has increased his production rate to 1.47 DraftKings points and 1.43 FanDuel points per minute.
De’Aaron Fox isn’t on the injury report, so Sabonis may not have quite as many playmaking responsibilities, but the Kings’ offense as a whole should be in better shape with Swipa back in the lineup. Sabonis had a triple-double on Tuesday without Fox, finishing with 55.25 DraftKings points and 48.7 FanDuel points and leading the team past the Pelicans.
Our PrizePicks simulations love Sabonis getting to at least 36 points + rebounds + assists on Thursday:
Top Value: Day’Ron Sharpe at Milwaukee Bucks – $3,000 DraftKings, $4,400 FanDuel
Sharpe and Nerlens Noel are both excellent values to consider with Claxton out for this matchup, but Sharpe will likely get the start. Sharpe hasn’t played in any of the Nets’ three most recent games, though, and Noel played 18 minutes in his Nets’ debut on Tuesday. Keep a close eye on who is in the starting lineup, although both players should get plenty of minutes.
Sharpe has the highest Projected Plus/Minus of all centers on DraftKings, just ahead of Noel, while Noel gets a slight advantage in that category on FanDuel since he’s much cheaper.
Sharpe has made two starts for Brooklyn this season, producing 40.5 and 26 DraftKings points. He has averaged 1.03 DraftKings points and 0.98 FanDuel points per minute for the year, and he seems more ready to carry a large workload than Noel.
The 21-year-old big man from UNC has a high ceiling due to his potential workload and makes a great value play.