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.
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Top Ceiling: Jalen Brunson at Cleveland Cavaliers – $7,700 DraftKings, $8,200 FanDuel
With so many injuries, the point guard position is a landmine. However, Jalen Brunson at the top looks like one of the better options, as he leads the Knicks with a 28% usage rate this season. Brunson has shown boom or bust tendencies through his first three games, which is needed for tournaments. He set a career-high last Friday with eight 3-pointers in a single game.
In his first year with the Knicks last season, Brunson averaged a career-high 24 points and 6.2 assists per game. He took the lead role by storm and is expected to do the same again this year. The gritty Brunson had no trouble in this matchup against the Cavaliers last season, averaging 25.3 points and six assists per game in their four games.
Keep Brunson to only tournaments, but he looks like a strong contrarian pay-up option tonight.
Top Value: Jordan Goodwin vs. San Antonio Spurs – $4,900 DraftKings, $5,000 FanDuel
The Suns are going to have players that look great at every position, and it starts with point guard Jordan Goodwin. With Bradley Beal out and Devin Booker doubtful. Goodwin has been a key beneficiary of their absence. Goodwin will still come off the bench, but he played 25 and 30 minutes in their last two games and is projected to play 27 minutes tonight. Goodwin has the highest Projected Plus/Minus on DraftKings and FanDuel as he remains at an affordable price tag on both sites.
As seven-point home favorites, the Suns have the highest implied total on the slate at 117 points. Playing against the fast-paced Spurs, who have been poor defensively, sets up well for Goodwin, who has scored double-digit points in back-to-back games. At 22.3%, Goodwin has the third-highest usage rate on the team currently. He will be a staple in cash game lineups.
Top Ceiling: Donovan Mitchell vs. New York Knicks – $9,700 DraftKings, $10,600 FanDuel
Donovan Mitchell is technically listed as questionable tonight, but he did put in a full practice yesterday and has been off since last Friday. Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen are both out, which makes Mitchell arguably the best play on the slate. In his last game without these two, Mitchell stuffed the stat sheet with 43 points, eight rebounds, five assists, three steals, and two blocks for 70 DraftKings points. Mitchell had a 36.4% usage rate as he attempted 27 field goals and 11 free throws.
More of the same was on display last season as Mitchell had a +4.14 DraftKings Plus/Minus and a +2.49% usage rate with Garland and Allen off the floor. The matchup isn’t ideal, but Mitchell’s insane usage rate and production will negate any matchup at this point. Monitor his status the closer we get to lock, but Mitchell is a great play across the industry if he’s in.
Top Value: Eric Gordon vs. San Antonio Spurs – $5,200 DraftKings, $5,200 FanDuel
Eric Gordon has started the last two games for the Suns without Booker, and it has paid off. In back-to-back games, Gordon has a 25.2% usage rate while attempting 15 field goals per game. He is not afraid to let it fly, especially from distance, as half of those attempts have come from behind the arc. Gordon is on the floor to score and take some pressure off Durant. Expected to play around 32 minutes, Gordon does have a few peripherals averaging 2.7 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game.
The Suns and Spurs both rank in the top 10 in pace to start the season. There will be ample opportunities for Gordon to light it up against the Spurs’ weak perimeter defense. Expect another 15+ field goal attempts and a potential 20+ point game from the sharp shooter. Priced at $5,200 on both DraftKings and FanDuel, Gordon is a strong value play in all formats tonight.
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Top Ceiling: Paul George vs. Orlando Magic – $8,600 DraftKings, $9,000 FanDuel
Paul George has been the model of consistency through the first three games posting between a 42-46 DraftKings point score in each game. George is averaging a team-high 27.3 points per game while shooting a career-high 54.9% from the field. He is priced $300 higher on FanDuel and $100 on DraftKings than teammate Kawhi Leonard. Choosing between the two at this point is always difficult, but George has been more consistent thus far and does have more projected ownership.
The Clippers are 7.5-point home favorites against the Magic, who are playing on the second leg of a back-to-back. Over the night, they traded away several forward pieces to acquire James Harden from the 76ers. That likely won’t impact George or Leonard too much, as they carry most of the usage anyway. Both players look great tonight, but projections prefer George.
Top Value: Josh Okogie vs. San Antonio Spurs – $4,200 DraftKings, $5,100 FanDuel
For the value forward position, it is basically take your pick between Grayson Allen and Josh Okogie. This decision may also be site-dependent as Allen looks much better on FanDuel, and Okogie looks better on DraftKings. They are playing about the same, and their stats are very similar. Okogie gets the slight nod as he seems to be the better well-rounded player currently. He is averaging double-digit points for the Suns while shooting 66.7% from the field and 42.9% from downtown.
Okogie should also benefit on the defensive end, as the Spurs have been careless with the ball to start the season. They are allowing their opponents to capture 9.3 steals per game, which ranks as the sixth-highest in the league. Getting this much playing time, Okogie is likely to come up with a few steals in this spot. It’s splitting hairs between Okogie and Allen tonight.
Top Ceiling: Kevin Durant vs. San Antonio Spurs – $10,500 DraftKings, $11,000 FanDuel
Not only does Kevin Durant have the highest ceiling in our NBA Model tonight, but he is easily the most expensive player on the slate. Durant will get the luxury once again of playing without Bradley Beal and likely Devin Booker. In the last two games without both Beal and Booker, Durant is averaging 32.5 points per game while shooting 56.4% from the field with a 35.7% usage rate. Even on a three-game slate, there will be enough value to find ways to fit Durant into lineups.
This matchup could not be any better for Durant. The Spurs are an extremely young team that ranks 27th in Defensive Rating while allowing 123.7 points per game. They have also been a poor rebounding team, which will benefit Durant, who has two double-doubles already through three games. The Suns are seven-point favorites for a reason….??
Top Value: Dean Wade vs. New York Knicks – $3,600 DraftKings, $4,400 FanDuel
Priced in the cellar, Dean Wade has been serviceable as a backup forward for the Cavaliers. Wade didn’t play in the season opener with an illness but has been ramped up and started in each of the last two games. He has recorded a positive Plus/Minus in back-to-back games and played 37 minutes in the Cavaliers’ most recent game. His usage rate will always be low, but Wade can get hot from the perimeter. Ten of Wade’s 11 field goal attempts have come from long distance this year.
Last season, the Knicks allowed the fifth-most 3-point attempts in the league at 36.5 per game. Wade took advantage of this matchup in late October last season when he made six 3-pointers in 33 minutes. Projected to play 30 minutes and start for the Cavaliers again tonight; Wade could be a sneaky value play at low ownership to get away from the Suns’ value chalk.
Top Ceiling: Evan Mobley vs. New York Knicks – $8,100 DraftKings, $8,100 FanDuel
The position that lacks the most high-end talent tonight is center. Priced at $8,100 on both DraftKings and FanDuel, Evan Mobley is the highest-priced center on the slate. Jarrett Allen was able to log a full practice yesterday but is still out for this front leg of the Cavaliers’ back-to-back. Mobley has gotten better in each game thus far, as he had a massive 33-point, 14-rebound double-double last game. He added three assists and three blocks totaling over 60 fantasy points on both sites.
This is a difficult matchup for Mobley as the Knicks led the league last season in the least amount of points allowed in the paint with 45.5 per game. Darius Garland is also out, while Donovan Mitchell is questionable. This spot could get even better throughout the day. Mobley’s talent, usage rate, and an affordable price tag on both sites negate the difficult matchup tonight.
Top Value: Mason Plumlee vs. Orlando Magic – $4,900 DraftKings, $4,200 FanDuel
With the Clippers trading away so many players and Ivica Zubac being questionable, Mason Plumlee could be in line for a lot of work tonight. Plumlee is already projected to play 20 minutes, but that could ramp up significantly if Zubac is unable to play. Drew Eubanks looks better in our NBA Model currently, but the guards and wings are preferred in the Suns matchup.
With Robert Covington and Nicolas Batum traded away, there is a better chance that Plumlee will play more minutes. In his first season with the Clippers last year, Plumlee averaged 7.5 points, 6.9 rebounds, and a career-high 72.7% shooting from the field. In his four starts for the team, Plumlee averaged a double-double with 10.5 points and 12 rebounds per game. He will only start if Zubac is out, but this is something to monitor since Zubac did not practice with the team yesterday.