The new NBA season continues tonight with a two-game slate, that is filled with appealing studs and value plays.
The NBA Player Models are the base of our NBA product here at Fantasy Labs. 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 best 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 Play: Tyrese Maxey at Milwaukee Bucks – $7,700 DraftKings, $7,700 FanDuel
With James Harden (personal) out for the 76ers tonight, Maxey is a must-play for this two-game slate. Not having a ball-dominant player like Harden to share the backcourt with naturally puts a large weight on Maxey’s shoulders as Philadelphia’s primary guard, which we saw on many occasions last season. In the 13 starts Maxey made with Harden inactive last season, the guard’s usage and assist rates increased 4.5 and 8.9 percentage points, respectively, helping Maxey score 41.3 DraftKings PPG in those contests via the On/Off Tool.
The Bucks replacing Jrue Holiday with Damian Lillard is going to hurt their defense and makes this a much better matchup for guards than it has been in past seasons. Maxey should thrive in this season opener and has a ceiling approaching 50 fantasy points in the FantasyLabs models.
Value: De’Anthony Melton at Milwaukee Bucks – $5,300 DraftKings, $5,800 FanDuel
Regardless of whether he starts in place of Harden or still comes off the bench, Melton is a great target tonight. In fact, it would actually be a better situation for us DFS players if the 76ers start Patrick Beverley over Melton, as it would likely result in less ownership for the latter. Nonetheless, Melton should operate as Philadelphia’s No.2 guard tonight and should exceed five times his value at these current price points.
In the 20 contests he played without Harden last season, Melton’s usage rose four percentage points, and he generated 30 DraftKings points in 31.3 minutes per game.
Top Play: Austin Reaves vs. Phoenix Suns – $5,600 DraftKings, $6,900 FanDuel
While the Lakers came up short Tuesday vs. the defending champion Nuggets, Reaves was a bright spot in the loss for Los Angeles, delivering 33.5 DraftKings points in 31 minutes with an encouraging 21.3% usage rate. Of the Lakers’ starters, the guard’s usage rate only trailed LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
With James expected to see a slightly lighter workload during the regular season this year, Reaves should be one of the primary beneficiaries, as his assist rate increased by 2.8 percentage points with James off the floor last season. The Lakers will be at home tonight, which is huge news for Reaves – he averaged 6.0 more DraftKings PPG at home compared to on the road last season – who has 40 fantasy point upside against this depleted Suns’ team.
Value: Eric Gordon at Los Angeles Lakers – $4,400 DraftKings, $4,700 FanDuel
Speaking of the Suns being shorthanded, Gordon should start tonight with both Devin Booker (foot) and Bradley Beal (back) doubtful. With Beal inactive Tuesday and Booker playing 36.6 minutes, Gordon recorded 21 DraftKings points in the win over the Warriors. The veteran logged 31.3 minutes and ranked third on the team in usage at 21%. Now, with Booker joining Beal on the sidelines, these numbers should grow even further for Gordon, and he should have zero issues beating these current salaries.
For the last 20 instances, Gordon has logged at least 30 minutes; he is supplying 26.5 DraftKings PPG.
Be sure to check out all the pick’ems Sleeper has to offer with Sleeper Fantasy promo code LABS1 for a $100 deposit match.
Top Play: LeBron James vs. Phoenix Suns – $8,700 DraftKings, $10,000 FanDuel
While James’ playing time is expected to be limited to around 30 minutes per game this season, the future Hall-of-Famer still needs to be rostered tonight, especially at only $8,700 on DraftKings, which is the cheapest James has ever been priced on DraftKings according to FantastyLabs models. The forward finished with 41 DraftKings points in Tuesday’s loss to the Nuggets, behind a 25% usage rate.
This should be a plus matchup for James tonight with the Suns understaffed and the Lakers carry an implied team total of 115.5 points via the FantasyLabs Vegas page. Of the last eight starts he has made when playing behind an implied team total of at least 115 points, James has topped 50 DraftKings five times.
Value: Josh Okogie at Los Angeles Lakers – $4,700 DraftKings, $5,000 FanDuel
Okogie was excellent in Tuesday’s season-opening win over the Warriors, collecting 26.25 DraftKings points across 31.4 minutes. Now, with Booker also out on top of Beal, Okogie should see an even larger role tonight, likely in the 35-40-minute range if this game stays competitive throughout.
The wing provided 1.0 DraftKings PPM with Booker off the floor last season and is averaging 26 DraftKings PPG for the last 10 occasions he has received a minimum of 30 minutes.
Top Play: Kevin Durant at Los Angeles Lakers, $8,900 DraftKings, $9,800 FanDuel
Continuing with the shorthanded Suns, Durant should flourish tonight and is one of the best high-end options on the board. This will be the first time the forward has played a full game in a Suns’ uniform without Booker, but with the guard off the floor last season, Durant’s usage skyrocketed a team-high 7.8 percentage points to 36.5%. Furthermore, the superstar’s assist rate increased by 6.7 percentage points. Overall, Durant is contributing 1.44 DraftKings PPM with Booker off the floor.
The two-time NBA champion is a safe bet for over 50 fantasy points tonight, and despite his lucrative salaries, Durant is the No.1 power forward value on the slate for both DraftKings and FanDuel according to FanatsyLabs projections.
Value: Rui Hachimura vs. Phoenix Suns – $4,000 DraftKings, $4,000 FanDuel
With FantasyLabs projections slating Hachimura for low ownership tonight – he is notably only projected for 4% ownership on DraftKings – the forward is a worthwhile gamble for GPPs. Hachiumura was a letdown with only 9.75 DraftKings points Tuesday vs. the Nuggets, but as expected, he was still the top option for the Lakers’ second unit, handling a huge 29.8% usage rate, which was impressively the highest for Los Angeles in the loss.
After inking a three-year $51 million contract extension with the Lakers this past summer, Hachimura should continue to see a large role all season, and taking a chance on him at these low price tags while most DFS players look elsewhere is a sharp move for this short slate. Before Tuesday’s dud, Hachimura was scoring 21.5 DraftKings PPG in his previous five.
Top Play: Anthony Davis vs. Phoenix Suns – $8,800 DraftKings, $10,300 FanDuel
After disappointing with only 36.5 DraftKings points Tuesday vs. the Nuggets, Davis should bounce back tonight vs. the Suns. With a team-high 26.6% usage rate and 34.1 minutes of work, the big man’s role remained elite in the season opener, and this Phoenix matchup was one that Davis dominated in last season, producing 61.8 DraftKings points across three matchups.
Losing Deandre Ayton for Jusuf Nurkic should make the Suns more susceptible to opposing bigs this season, and Davis should finish with a huge double-double tonight. As noted above, the Lakers boast a 115.5-point implied team total this evening, and when playing behind an implied team total of at least 115 points last season, Davis averaged 53.1 DraftKings PPG via the Trends Tool.
Value: Paul Reed, Philadelphia 76ers at Milwaukee Bucks – $3,600 DraftKings, $3,900 FanDuel
With Montrezl Harrell waived by the 76ers last week, the door is open for Reed to see a sizeable role this season as Joel Embiid’s primary backup. Reed is a productive fantasy player who averaged 1.1 DraftKings PPM last season, and FantasyLabs’ projections have the center forecasted for 16 minutes tonight vs. the Bucks.
Reed has scored nothing less than 20 DraftKings points in six straight games that he has logged at least 15 minutes and is a tremendous punt play tonight, with him expected to be less than 20% owned on both DraftKings and FanDuel according to FantasyLabs projections.