The NBA has finally returned, and for the first full slate of the season, on the menu for tonight is a huge 12-game slate.
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 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: De’Aaron Fox at Utah Jazz – $8,700 DraftKings, $8,800 FanDuel
Fox is coming off an excellent season and kicks off this year in an outstanding spot, facing the Jazz, who ranked 22nd in defensive efficiency and 10th in pace last season. The Kings also ranked 12th in pace a year ago, and this fast-paced matchup presents the second-highest total on the slate (236 points) via the FantasyLabs Vegas page. Furthermore, Sacramento’s implied team total is the third largest on the board (118.75 points).
While the Kings lost the Warriors in seven games during the first round of the playoffs last season, Fox was brilliant in his playoff debut, topping 50 DraftKings in six of his seven starts. Behind a team-high 30% usage rate, Fox led Sacramento with 1.3 DraftKings PPM last season, and with the club making minimal moves this past offseason, the Kentucky product should continue to be the focal point of the Kings offense this year as they look to build off their most successful season in nearly 20 years.
Fox tore the Jazz up for 52 DraftKings PPG in three matchups last season and is far too cheap for his upside at less than $9K on both DraftKings and FanDuel.
Top Value: Tyus Jones at Indiana Pacers – $4,900 DraftKings, $5,700 FanDuel
While likely to be a popular option, Jones is tough to overlook tonight, especially at only $4,900 on DraftKings. After being one of the best role players in the league with the Grizzlies last season, the guard was traded to the Wizards this past offseason and will serve as the team’s starting point guard to begin the season. While primarily a reserve with Memphis, Jones is no stranger to being a team’s starting point guard. The 27-year-old started in 20 games that Ja Morant missed a year ago and flourished with the role, producing 39 DraftKings PPG via the On/Off Tool.
Jones supplied 1.0 DraftKings PPM last season, and our projections here at FantasyLabs have him forecasted for 35 minutes, which is more than enough time for him to easily outproduce his salaries in this elite matchup vs. the Pacers.
Indiana ranked fifth in pace last season, and this contest’s total is the third-highest on the slate (235 points). Via the FantasyLabs Models, Jones brings a ceiling near 50 fantasy points tonight, and he is the No.1 guard value on both DraftKings and FanDuel, on a points-per-dollar basis.
Top Ceiling: Desmond Bane vs. New Orleans Pelicans – $7,400 DraftKings, $8,100 FanDuel
The Grizzlies are the most shorthanded club in action tonight. On top of Morant serving his suspension, Steven Adams (knee), Brandon Clarke (Achilles), and Santi Aldama (ankle) are all out. Bane should take on a huge workload in this situation and is underpriced for that role. In the 13 starts he made sans Morant, Adams, and Clarke last season, Bane’s usage increased two percentage points to 28.5%, and he provided 37.2 DraftKings PPG.
While the Pelicans ranked sixth in defensive efficiency last season, both these squads ranked top-12 in pace, and this contest carries a healthy total of 224.5 points tonight. Plus, this game is expected to be a nail-biter, with Memphis only favored by one point.
In this spot, Bane is a safe spot for over 40 fantasy points.
Value: Coby White vs. Oklahoma City Thunder – $4,600 DraftKings, $4,900 FanDuel
White is expected to open this season as the Bulls’ starting point guard and is projecting as a strong value tonight vs. the Thunder. The guard amassed 0.84 DraftKings PPM last season and commanded a healthy 23.1% usage rate as Chicago’s starting point guard this preseason. Oklahoma City was one of the fastest teams in the league last season, ranking third in pace, and this tilt’s total is the fifth-highest on the slate (227.5 points).
White averaged 26.3 DraftKings PPG when he logged a minimum of 25 minutes last season (33 games) and is forecasted to come with single-digit ownership on both DraftKings and FanDuel.
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Top Ceiling: Lauri Markkanen vs. Sacramento Kings – $9,300 DraftKings, $8,400 FanDuel
After earning his first All-Star selection and being named the Most Improved Player in the league last season, Markkanen should start this season with a bang tonight vs. the Kings. Sacramento ranked 24th in defensive efficiency and 12th in pace last season, and as noted above, this contest’s total is the second-highest on the slate (236 points).
Markkanen scored 1.3 DraftKings PPM behind a career-high 28% usage rate last season and was a stud in totals of at least 235 points, averaging 46 DraftKings PPG, via the Trends Tool. Particularly at only $8,400 on FanDuel, Markkanen is an elite target for all formats.
Value: Caris LeVert at Brooklyn Nets – $4,900 DraftKings, $5,200 FanDuel
The Cavs will be without Jarrett Allen (ankle) tonight and possibly Darius Garland (questionable, hamstring). As we saw in many games Allen missed last season, Cleveland should opt for a smaller lineup tonight, with LeVert replacing Allen in the first unit. If this ends up being the case, LeVert will be a terrific target at these current price tags, which would become a must-have value play if Garland is also inactive.
LeVert contributed 27.4 DraftKings points in 28 minutes per game in the 12 contests Allen missed last season. LeVert didn’t compete in any games without both Allen and Garland last year, but with both those starters off the floor, LeVert generated 0.92 DraftKings PPM with a 20.2% usage rate.
Top Ceiling: Jaren Jackson Jr. vs. New Orleans Pelicans – $6,600 DraftKings, $8,200 FanDuel
Jackson Jr. should be the primary beneficiary with the Grizzlies understaffed tonight. In the 13 contests Morant, Adams, and Clarke missed last season, Jackson Jr. led Memphis 41.2 DraftKings PPG. Overall, with those three players off the court last season, Jackson Jr.’s usage leaped 5.6 percentage points to 30.3%, and he scored 1.3 DraftKings PPM, both of which are team highs for this situation.
Jackson Jr. has a top-10 ceiling on the slate in FantasyLabs models regardless of position, and while he is a great target on both DraftKings and FanDuel, he is a very difficult fade at only $6,600 on DraftKings.
Value: Keegan Murray, Sacramento Kings at Utah Jazz – $5,100 DraftKings, $5,700 FanDuel
Murray flashed great upside in his rookie season and should handle a larger role in his sophomore season as the Kings’ starting power forward. The 23-year-old saw a 20.1% usage rate in this preseason, which is a notable jump from his 15.6% average for last season. As noted above, this clash between the Kings and Jazz carries the second-highest total on the slate (236 points), and Murray has scored at least 26 DraftKings in five of his last eight starts in totals of at least 235 points. Furthermore, the forward contributed 29.5 DraftKings PPG across four matchups with Utah last season.
Murray has the potential for 30 fantasy points in this setting and is a sharp target for GPPs, with FantasyLabs’ projections slating him for single-digit ownership on both DraftKings and FanDuel.
Top Ceiling: Nikola Vucevic vs. Oklahoma City Thunder, $6,900 DraftKings, $8,000 FanDuel
Particularly at only $6,900 on DraftKings – which is the cheapest Vucevic has been on the site since 2018 – the center is a no-brainer. With a 22.4% usage rate, Vucevic produced 39.8 DraftKings PPG last season, and the Bulls made no major moves this offseason that should affect his role.
The big man should continue to see high volume as Chicago’s primary big man and should get his season off on a high note tonight vs. the Thunder. This club surrendered the most rebounds in the league a year ago, and this game carries the fifth-highest total on the slate (227.5 points).
Vucevic amassed 37.8 DraftKings PPG in his two matchups with Oklahoma City last season and has eclipsed 40 DraftKings points in 15 of his last 20 starts in a total of 225 points or greater.
Value: Daniel Gafford, Washington Wizards at Indiana Pacers, $5,100 DraftKings, $6,100 FanDuel
Gafford shouldn’t be a common name in GPPs tonight, and is a sneaky way to attack one of the best game environments on the slate. Not only does this tilt vs. the Pacers sport the third-highest total on the board (235 points), and Indiana is a prime matchup to attack for centers.
Last season, they gave up the fourth most points in the paint and the fifth most rebounds. With Kristaps Porzingis now in Boston, the Wizards are very thin on big men, and Gafford should be forced to play close to 30 minutes in this matchup that requires his size against Myles Turner.
Gafford averaged 31.5 DraftKings PPG in the 15 starts he made sans Porzingis last season and is slated to be less than 5% owned on both DraftKings and FanDuel.