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 at Denver Nuggets – $13,000 DraftKings, $11,800 FanDuel
The main decision for DraftKings specifically is whether or not to play Luka Doncic. He is $13,000 for the first time all season and has one of the worst Projected Plus/Minus on the slate. Doncic is much more reasonable on FanDuel, priced at $11,800, where he has a 98% Bargain Rating. The Mavericks are playing the second end of a back-to-back as Doncic only played 29 minutes last night as they beat the Suns by 19 points.
He continues to lead the league scoring a career-high 33.4 points per game with a 37.7% usage rate. He is shooting over 50% for the first time in his career while also averaging 8.5 assists and rebounds per game. The Nuggets rank 26th in Defensive Rating (114.4) entering tonight’s games. This will already be the third time these two teams have played. In the previous two Doncic is averaging 27.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 9.5 assists per game.
Prioritize him on FanDuel, where he is much easier to fit into lineups.
Top Value: Cory Joseph at Miami Heat – $3,000 DraftKings, $4,400 FanDuel
Point guard value is very tough on this small three-game slate. Jamal Murray has the highest Projected Plus/Minus on FanDuel, but he is too expensive to be a true value play. We’ll look to the Heat vs. Pistons game, as both Cory Joseph and Gabe Vincent look like reasonable plays. Joseph leads all point guards on DraftKings with the highest Projected Plus/Minus, so he will be our selection as he has scored double-digit fantasy points in seven of his last eight games.
Priced at the stone minimum on DraftKings, Joseph has a 99% Bargain Rating. Cade Cunningham is out for the Pistons, which is allowing Joseph to find his way into significant playing time for a player priced this low. He has played 20 or more minutes in three of his last five games, as our Tournament Model has him projected for 19 tonight. Only get exposure to Joseph on DraftKings, but he is a nice salary saver to fit in Doncic and other studs on this slate.
Top Ceiling: Donovan Mitchell vs. Los Angeles Lakers – $8,700 DraftKings, $8,800 FanDuel
Donovan Mitchell hasn’t popped for a ceiling game in quite a while, but we know he has it in his bag. He has a negative Plus/Minus six of his last seven games, as he has only three games during that time with more than one assist. Playing alongside Darius Garland has hurt his peripherals, but Mitchell can still score like a banshee. Mitchell is averaging a career-high 28.4 points per game while shooting 48.8% from the field and 42.4% from behind the arc.
Mitchell’s first season with the Cavaliers has been a success as the team is off to a 15-9 start, which is the third-best record in the Eastern Conference. The Cavaliers are tied with the Heat for the highest implied total on the slate at 115 points, as this game between the Cavaliers and Lakers has a slate-high 225.5 point total. The Lakers are allowing 115.1 points per game this season, which ranks 21st in the league.
A potential ceiling game awaits Mitchell, whose price has fallen on both DraftKings and FanDuel.
Top Value: Bruce Brown vs. Dallas Mavericks – $6,100 DraftKings, $5,600 FanDuel
Bruce Brown is shooting guard only eligible on FanDuel, but he has the highest Projected Plus/Minus on the slate. Michael Porter Jr. remains out, while Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Jeff Green are listed as questionable. Brown has been great in his first year with the Nuggets, averaging a career-high 11.2 points and playing 30 minutes per game. He has started in nearly half of the Nuggets’ games this season due to injury, and he is projected to again tonight.
Over the last 12 games, Brown has averaged a +7.6 FanDuel Plus/Minus as he has scored double-digit points in all but two of those games. At only $5,600, Brown has a 92% Bargain Rating on FanDuel, where he needs to be prioritized. The Nuggets are 4.5-point favorites against the Mavericks at home, but the Mavericks rank inside the top 10 in Defensive Rating and play at the second-slowest Pace in the league (96.4) entering tonight’s games.
Shooting guard is a weak position on FanDuel, but Brown looks great as a value play.
Top Ceiling: LeBron James at Cleveland Cavaliers – $10,400 DraftKings, $10,900 FanDuel
A healthy LeBron James willed this Lakers team to wins in eight of their last 10 games. James has played six games since returning from injury and has averaged 28.2 points, 8.2 rebounds, 6.0 assists, and 51.6 DraftKings points per game. During that stretch, James has two games scoring over 60 DraftKings points displaying that his high ceiling is still there. He has made 12 field goals in three-straight games while averaging a 32.5% usage rate.
Playing against the Cavaliers is a tough matchup for the Lakers. They are tied for the league lead in Defensive Rating while allowing a league-best 105 points per game. Despite the difficult matchup, the Lakers are implied for 110.5 points. They have averaged 129.8 points per game over their last five games, so this will be a true test to where the Lakers offense stands tonight.
James is one of the best value pay-up options on the slate.
Top Value: Tim Hardaway Jr. at Denver Nuggets – $4,400 DraftKings, $5,700 FanDuel
One of the biggest pricing discrepancies on the slate is Mavericks forward Tim Hardaway Jr. He is only $4,400 on DraftKings, where he has a 98% Bargain Rating and is the highest Projected Plus/Minus on the slate. Meanwhile, a $5,700 price tag on FanDuel for Hardaway Jr. will be tough to justify. Over the last four games, Hardaway Jr. has been awesome, averaging 23.3 points per game while shooting 50.8% from the field and 51.1% from behind the arc.
During that four-game stretch, Hardaway Jr. also averaged 37.1 DraftKings points while attempting a ridiculous 11.8 3-pointers per game. The Nuggets are middle of the pack at defending the perimeter this season. With how aggressive Hardaway Jr. has been recently, he is a great way to get exposure to this Mavericks offense, especially when fading Doncic.
Prioritize Hardaway Jr. on DraftKings, where he is projected to be one of the highest-owned players.
Top Ceiling: Jimmy Butler vs. Detroit Pistons – $8,600 DraftKings, $9,400 FanDuel
Playing on the back end of a back-to-back, we may need to monitor the news dashboard to make sure Jimmy Butler is a full go tonight. Butler is coming off of a recent injury and has only played in two games since his return. However, in those two games, Butler is averaging 21.5 points and 10.5 rebounds per game while shooting 56.3% from the field. He is another player who looks much better on DraftKings than FanDuel, being $800 cheaper.
The Pistons are the worst defense on the slate, as they rank 29th in Defensive Rating (117.9) entering tonight’s games. They are allowing 118.2 points, and their opponents are shooting 48.7% from the field, which both rank as the second-highest in the league. The Heat are 8.5-point favorites implied for a slate-tying 115 points.
If Butler is playing, he is one of the best plays on DraftKings, where he has a 93% Bargain Rating.
Top Value: Aaron Gordon vs. Dallas Mavericks – $5,900 DraftKings, $6,100 FanDuel
On DraftKings, there are no power forwards that have a positive Plus/Minus, which is extremely rare. However, Aaron Gordon does look like the best value across both sites, especially on FanDuel tonight. Gordon has recorded a positive Plus/Minus on FanDuel in nine of his last 11 games. Playing alongside Nikola Jokic has really elevated Gordon’s game. He is shooting by far his career-high at 60.8% from the field while scoring 16.1 points per game.
This is one of the better spots for Gordon to utilize his rebounding upside that he has finally displayed and will benefit without Michael Porter Jr. on the floor. The Mavericks rank 29th in Rebounding Percentage this season as they continue to play with a smaller frontcourt. Gordon has displayed upside and looks like one of the better mid-range plays on the slate.
Forward is a weak position on this three-game slate, but Gordon is a solid value.
Top Ceiling: Nikola Jokic vs. Dallas Mavericks – $11,400 DraftKings, $11,300 FanDuel
The decision between Nikola Jokic and Anthony Davis is much tougher than it may seem. Jokic still has a slightly higher ceiling, but it does help that Davis has power forward eligibility on FanDuel. Both make for a great play when fading Doncic on DraftKings. Jokic is coming off of a massive 71.5 DraftKings points, where he finished with 32 points, 16 rebounds, and nine assists against the Pelicans. He can have a similar performance against the Mavericks’ frontcourt.
The Mavericks have a solid defense because they play at a ridiculously slow Pace. However, Jokic, over the last three years, has averaged 23.8 points, 11.9 rebounds, and 6.8 assists in this matchup while shooting 55.5% from the field. He is leading the Nuggets in points, rebounds, assists, and steals this season while averaging a career-high 8.9 assists per game.
Which triple-double machine catches your eye tonight — Doncic or Jokic?
Top Value: Jarrett Allen vs. Los Angeles Lakers – $6,300 DraftKings, $6,900 FanDuel
Jarrett Allen looks like one of the best values on the slate and is the best value center in this matchup against the Lakers. He is another player whose status we will need to monitor, as Allen is questionable to play after missing five-straight games with a back injury. Getting exposure to Allen if he plays is a great decision, as he leads the Cavaliers in rebounds with 10.8 per game. He is also averaging 13.5 points per game while shooting 58.8% from the field.
He participated in the shootaround, so he should be able to play. However, if Allen is unable to play, the easy pivot is to Evan Mobley. In seven games without Allen this season, Mobley is averaging a double-double with 15.4 points and 11.3 rebounds per game while shooting 63% from the field. The Lakers are allowing 51.8 points per game in the paint this season, which ranks 24th in the league, while also allowing 60 per game in their last three games.
Great spot to get exposure to the cheap Allen salary if he is able to suit up tonight.
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