This Article was published first on: FintechZoom
The midweek slate of daily fantasy basketball action is packed with opportunities for scoring and value-based upside. With in/out news impacting several teams in major ways, we have a few interesting moving parts to create our optimal lineup constructions tonight. The values enable our access to star caliber players, but deciding between rostering a couple high-end individuals or a full lineup of mid-range players is a major inflection point. On a night with multiple basketball games carrying both a low spread and a total north of a 230 on the Vegas board, the fantasy point totals should be on the high side, leaving no room for error. With nine games on tap, we’ll be looking primarily at the main building blocks without sweating the lowest-owned pivots too much. We’re always looking for players who are under-appreciated for the frequency with which they land in optimized lineups in DraftKings and FanDuel NBA simulations. As always, this article comes out ahead of lock, and many things will change with our daily fantasy basketball picks. Be sure to follow the @AwesemoNBA Twitter handle for all the latest breaking news (via our NewsGod).
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Daily Fantasy Basketball: Optimized Lineups + Leverage Leaders
These picks are made utilizing the boom/bust tool, specifically analyzing the optimized-lineup rate, leverage score and boom probability. Optimized-lineup rate represents the frequency at which a player appears in Awesemo’s simulated DraftKings NBA and FanDuel NBA slates. The leverage score is the difference between the optimal-lineup rate and projected ownership, while the boom probability indicates a player’s likelihood of hitting a ceiling score. It is important to remember that not all of these NBA DFS picks are highlights, and we will also be discussing bad chalk and shaky investments in this space, so be sure to read the analysis and not just the headlines.
Isaiah Roby – Oklahoma City Thunder
DraftKings – $3,700 – PF/C | FanDuel – $5,000 – PF
Seemingly the entire Oklahoma City team is on the board once again today; the primary question is simply a matter of who will actually be on the court. The team is dealing with a litany of injuries, primarily to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who is back on the shelf just a few days after returning from his previous absence. With Mike Muscala also likely missing this one, there are openings in the Thunder rotation and in the frontcourt, and Roby should stand to benefit. That is, assuming he plays; he is dealing with lingering foot pain but is expected to go.
Roby is a very different play from site to site. His price on FanDuel is not prohibitive, but it does put him in a much lower tier in terms of upside and potential to be in the optimal lineup. Roby carries positive leverage on the site, landing at a 3.4 score in the boom/bust tool while appearing in 19.4% of optimal lineups on the site. He is projected for 31 minutes and just under 30 fantasy points with a solid 37.1% boom-score probability, which both rank second at the position, though there is more depth at power forward on the blue site tonight than there was on last night’s slate.
In DraftKings contests, Roby looks like a clear building block for this basketball slate unless we get more value from emergent news. With a radically different price, Roby is the best value play on the slate and leads by more than double the next-highest optimal-lineup rate, landing in the optimal lineup in more than half (52.5%) of our DraftKings simulations. With a 54.9% boom-score probability, we can reliably expect upside for the minimal investment. Roby won’t have to do much beyond his median projection to get to the ceiling score that we need from him for the money. He will be owned by a large portion of the field, but at just a -5.4 leverage score, there is room to work and we are looking at justifiable popularity on a player who slots in at multiple positions for a minimal investment.
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Josh Hart – New Orleans Pelicans
DraftKings – $4,300 – SF / FanDuel – $4,100 – SF
While the initial reaction to this one might be that it seems a bit point-chasey, the Hart play is entirely justifiable on both site tonight, and he appears under-owned. The only real question is the minutes Hart went from a question mark to a major piece of the rotation in the Pelicans game last night, checking in early when Zion Williamson got into foul trouble and playing extended minutes. After the game, Stan Van Gundy was quoted as saying Hart “played probably way too many minutes,” though Hart himself said he felt great and complimented the team’s training staff. On the floor he had a career-high 17 rebounds and an excellent all-around game.
While we aren’t expecting nearly that level of production from Hart in median marks, the price and anticipated opportunity as one of the team’s primary weapons off the bench are thrusting him into the conversation. On FanDuel Hart ranks 22nd overall by optimized-lineup rate, fifth among small forwards. There are two players at a similar salary that rank above him by several percentage points in the category, though Hart is the least expensive and the delta is not gigantic. The primary appeal for Hart, alongside his 29.5% boom-score probability, is the leverage score, which lands at a 7.2. This tells us that the public will largely be going to the other two value options at the position and likely pairing them with one of the star options while ignoring Hart. This should be to our advantage. I would be happy to double or even triple the projected 6.5% public exposure unless we get news about minutes limitations.
On DraftKings Hart’s 18.0% optimized-lineup rate ranks him seventh overall, third among eligible small forwards. The two inexpensive options at the position both play for the Thunder, and the public is likely to view them as an either-or situation for value while spending up at the position in other spots. This leaves Hart open for leverage on DraftKings as well. He comes up with a 6.5 score in the category, though his boom-score probability drops to 17.4%. There is enough likelihood of Hart outperforming the other value options that it makes sense to push beyond the public exposure on this site as well.
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James Harden – Brooklyn Nets
DraftKings – $10,400 – PG/SG / FanDuel – $10,600 – SG
No, this isn’t a misprint repeating yesterday’s take — Harden looks like a strong option on at least one site again today. With Kevin Durant sidelined, Harden was featured in this space yesterday as a potential upside play despite a heavy salary. The same situation presents itself today following a 63.2-fantasy-point night in FanDuel scoring last night. That mark left Harden slightly short of his overall target at his $11,000 salary, but it was still slate-leading. A day later, Harden is $500 less expensive on DraftKings and $400 less expensive on FanDuel.
Harden carries a median projection of more than 56 fantasy points, averaging 1.33 per minute for the season and 1.20 while playing for Brooklyn alongside Kyrie Irving and without Durant. In last night’s contest, Harden wielded a 54.5% assist rate and a 22.2% rebound rate to go along with his 24 real-life points on around 28% usage, adding 2 steals and surprising 5 blocks.
The play looks stronger on the blue site tonight. At $10,600, Harden pops to the top of the optimal-lineup rate category, with a 38.6% frequency. At the reduced salary, Harden sees a solid boom-score probability, coming in at 46.8%, an extremely high mark for such a lofty price tag. The public will be on Harden once again, but he outpaces his projected exposure, coming in at a 3.9 leverage score. That creates a great opportunity where we are required to roster two shooting guards.
On DraftKings Harden adds point guard eligibility, but the wealth of options via positional flexibility brings him somewhat down to Earth in some of our metrics. He comes up in the optimal lineup in 21.8% of DraftKings simulations, which still ranks fifth overall on the slate. He has a 38.6% boom-score probability that lands fourth on the site, though there is not an extreme amount of separation between him and several other options. Harden is very much in play, but he might be better categorized as a luxury item on this site’s slate. rather than the more mandatory piece he appears to be on the other.
Michael Porter Jr. – Denver Nuggets
DraftKings – $5,700 – SF/PF / FanDuel – $5,200 – SF
With teammates Gary Harris and P.J. Dozier still sidelined, Michael Porter Jr. should have all the run he can handle once again tonight, and he looks like a strong mid-range salary option on both daily fantasy basketball sites. With Harris sidelined over the last three games, Porter has averaged 26.7 minutes, scoring 8 real-life points and adding 6.3 rebounds and 2 stocks per game. Had he managed to shoot better that his 30% field goals made over the stretch, we would be talking about a significant jump in fantasy basketball production.
Porter ranks solidly on Awesemo’s board for play on both sites from the mid-range of salary tiers. On FanDuel he slots in as a small forward for a reasonable $5,200. The fair salary has his boom-score probability at a robust 40.5%, and his optimized-lineup rate of 17.7% ranks second at the position. Porter is drawing ownership that is basically even with his optimized-lineup rate, but the 17.4% public mark is easy enough to push beyond for a player who comes up this frequently as a lead option at the position.
On DraftKings Porter adds power forward eligibility but costs $500 more. The price change and the positional flexibility on the site push Porter down the line of optimized-lineup rate leaders. He ranks 10th overall and seventh among eligible forwards at 14.5%. His 21.3% boom-score probability also comes in as more of an upper-middle option, but he does provide a quality 3.4 leverage score that tells us we can get beyond the public’s exposure on a quality play.
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