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. Washington Wizards – $12,600 DraftKings, $11,900 FanDuel
If Luka Doncic didn’t already have to do everything for the Mavericks, now Christian Wood is out for the foreseeable future. In the last two games with Wood out, Doncic has recorded double-digit rebounds, which boosts his ceiling. Doncic is averaging a career-high 33.6 points with a 37.8% usage rate this season. He is the most expensive player on both DraftKings and FanDuel, and easily has the highest ceiling in our NBA Models tonight.
Despite the Wood injury and losing six of their last eight games, the Mavericks are the biggest favorite on the slate at -7.5 points with a 116.5-point implied team total. It has been four games since Doncic has recorded a triple-double, but that is firmly on the table in this spot against the Wizards. Prioritize Doncic on FanDuel, where he is priced under $12,000, has a 96% Bargain Rating, and is tied for a slate-high 11 Pro Trends.
Top Value: T.J. McConnell vs. Chicago Bulls – $6,100 DraftKings, $6,600 FanDuel
The best value on the entire slate for both sites is Pacers point guard T.J. McConnell. He has the highest Projected Plus/Minus on DraftKings and FanDuel, as the Pacers will continue to be without starting point guard Tyrese Haliburton. McConnell is coming off his third triple-double in his career last game, where he finished with 18 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. He shot 8 of 15 from the field and had 55.5 DraftKings points.
Despite his rising salary, McConnell is projected to be the highest-owned player on the slate for both sites. He is averaging a career-high 1.05 DraftKings points per minute this season and has scored double-digit points in six of his last seven games. The last game was McConnell’s first start of the season, and with that type of performance, it is expected that he starts again tonight. As long as McConnell is starting, he is a lock in cash games across the industry.
Top Ceiling: Zach LaVine at Indiana Pacers – $9,200 DraftKings, $8,200 FanDuel
The shooting guard position is filled with mid-range options, as Zach LaVine has the highest ceiling at the position on DraftKings. His salary has fallen considerably since DeMar DeRozan has come back in the last two games, especially on FanDuel. At $8,200 on FanDuel, LaVine has a 98% Bargain Rating while recording a positive Plus/Minus in six of his last eight games. During that time, he is averaging 30.5 points per game.
This matchup with the Pacers has easily the highest total on the slate at 236 points, with the Bulls implied for a slate-high 118.25 points. The Pacers are allowing their opponents to shoot 37.4% from behind the arc, which is tied for the second-highest percentage in the league. That bodes well for LaVine, who is averaging 3+ 3-pointers made per game for the third time in four seasons.
The easy matchup and falling price tag makes him a priority on this slate.
Top Value: Alex Caruso vs. Brooklyn Nets – $4,000 DraftKings, $5,800 FanDuel
Sticking with the Bulls, backup combo guard Alex Caruso looks like an exceptional value on DraftKings compared to FanDuel. He is $1,800 cheaper on DraftKings resulting in a slate-high 99% Bargain Rating. Caruso has recorded a positive Plus/Minus on DraftKings in six-straight games and has scored double-digit points in three of his last four. He isn’t a high-usage player alongside LaVine and DeRozan, but Caruso can still provide value.
Where Caruso really makes his bread is on the defensive side of the ball. He is averaging 3.5 steals per game in his last four games and is averaging a career-high 1.7 per game this season. The Pacers allow 7.9 steals per game, which is tied for the fourth-highest in the league. There are a lot of guards worth getting exposure to in this game, but don’t forget about how great of a value Caruso is on DraftKings at only $4,000, projected to play 27 minutes.
Top Ceiling: Jayson Tatum at Miami Heat – $11,100 DraftKings, $11,200 FanDuel
Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics are playing on a back-to-back where they lost by 15 points to the Orlando Magic last night. Tatum was briefly injured that game but ended up returning and playing 38 minutes in the loss. It was a disappointing outing for Tatum, as he only finished with 46.5 DraftKings points. In his two previous games, Tatum had over 70 DraftKings points as he continues to have the best season of his six-year career.
Despite leading the league with a 35-13 record, the Celtics are three-point underdogs implied for a slate-low 107.25 points. The Heat rank sixth in Defensive Rating as they are playing at the third-slowest Pace in the league. Even with the tough matchup, Tatum is averaging over 30 points per game against the Heat in three games this season. The Celtics will likely be without Marcus Smart, Malcolm Brogdon and Robert Williams boosting the ceiling of Tatum even higher in this contest.
Top Value: Cameron Johnson vs. Charlotte Hornets – $5,100 DraftKings, $5,200 FanDuel
Currently the second-best value play on FanDuel is Suns forward Cameron Johnson. He is finally back in the lineup after missing a month and a half’s worth of action. Even though Johnson is back, the Suns continue to be without Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, Cameron Payne and Landry Shamet. Johnson played 29 minutes in his last game as his playing time will likely continue to increase throughout the upcoming games.
It is unlikely, but even if Johnson played under 30 minutes again tonight, he can provide value against a Hornets team that ranks in the top 10 of Pace and has the fourth-worst Defensive Rating (115.9), entering tonight’s games. They are allowing 118.9 points per game, which is the third-highest in the league. The Suns are seven-point home favorites, implied for 117.25 points.
This is a great spot for Johnson to run the floor and rack up plenty of fantasy production.
Top Ceiling: LeBron James vs. Los Angeles Clippers – $11,500 DraftKings, $11,100 FanDuel
The battle of Los Angeles between the Lakers and Clippers is the nightcap on TNT tonight. LeBron James on Primetime is a spot worth paying up for, especially with Anthony Davis still out. Davis is coming back relatively soon, so now is the time to continue getting exposure to James. In 18 games without Davis this season, James is averaging 33.8 points and 58.3 DraftKings points per game while shooting a ridiculous 53.2% from the field.
The Clippers with Paul George and Kawhi Leonard healthy, are an incredible defensive team. James will have his hands full in this matchup, but with his third-highest usage rate (33.4%) in his career, he will do everything he can to keep this game competitive. James has recorded 60+ DraftKings points in four of his last five games and is deserving of his $11,000+ salary on both sites. With Davis out of the lineup, James is matchup-proof.
Top Value: Dorian Finney-Smith vs. Washington Wizards – $4,200 DraftKings, $4,700 FanDuel
There are a few Dallas Mavericks players who look like strong value plays with the absence of Christian Wood. Dorian Finney-Smith looks like one of the better options, as he is finally back after a month’s absence due to his own injury. It has been a roller coaster year for Finney-Smith, but in his third game back he has already logged 38 minutes in his last game. Our NBA Model has Finney-Smith projected for a modest 33 minutes, and he’s still a strong value.
Finney-Smith is not a high-usage player, but there will be plenty of opportunities to go around with Wood out for the next few weeks. Wood was averaging 18.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, and a 25.9% usage rate per game. Playing alongside Luka Doncic, wide-open 3-point attempts come in bunches. Finney-Smith has shown upside to bury multiple 3-pointers and has made at least one 3-pointer in 31 of his 34 games played this season, helping his value on DraftKings.
Top Ceiling: Nikola Jokic at New Orleans Pelicans – $11,600 DraftKings, $11,600 FanDuel
Priced at $11,600 on both DraftKings and FanDuel, Nikola Jokic is easily the best center option on the slate. He has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury, so monitor our news dashboard to make sure Jokic suits up tonight. If Jokic is able to play, it is worth getting exposure to the back-to-back MVP, who has recorded a triple-double in five of his last six games while averaging 24.5 points, 12.8 rebounds, and 12 assists during that time.
The Pelicans continue to play without Zion Williamson, while Brandon Ingram is doubtful. Jonas Valanciunas has been holding great rebounding the ball, but he has played over 30 minutes just once in his last nine games. In his only game against the Pelicans this season, Jokic had 32 points, 16 rebounds, and nine assists while shooting 13 of 19 from the field.
If he plays, Jokic is a fantastic pay-up option with high upside on both sites.
Top Value: Daniel Gafford at Dallas Mavericks – $4,300 DraftKings, $5,800 FanDuel
Similar to Alex Caruso, Wizards center Daniel Gafford looks like an incredibly strong value on DraftKings compared to FanDuel for this slate. He is $1,500 cheaper on DraftKings than FanDuel, which is providing a 99% Bargain Rating. Gafford has by far the highest projected Plus/Minus at the center position in this matchup against the Mavericks. A big reason why is Kristaps Porzingis is still out due to injury increasing the upside for Gafford.
In four games without Porzingis, Gafford is averaging 11.8 points, seven rebounds, and 26.4 DraftKings points per game. Not only is Porzingis out, but Rui Hachimura just got traded to the Lakers opening the door for more production for Gafford. This is a fantastic rebounding matchup, as the Mavericks have a league-worst 47.3 Rebounding Percentage this season.
Prioritize Gafford on DraftKings, where a double-double is on the table in this elite matchup.
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