This is our primary in-depth NBA DFS article, and it will be free this season. The goal of this article isn’t just to give you a few plays to plug into your lineup, but to dig a little bit deeper into why projections may (or may not) like certain players. Hopefully, after reading this article, you’ll have a better feel for the slate as a whole. Combining the context from this article with the raw data that is available in our Boom/Bust tool, Projections and Ownership Projections should allow you to build strong lineups and make optimal NBA DFS picks for any type of contest on DraftKings and FanDuel.
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I plan to update this article with notes at the top until about 5 p.m. EST each day. After that, be sure to check out the Deeper Dive show with Loughy and me from 5 to 6 every weekday and Live Before Lock in the hour leading up until lock each day on the Awesemo YouTube channel.
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NBA DFS Deep Dive: DraftKings + FanDuel Picks | April 12
Note: Karl-Anthony Towns has been ruled out for Minnesota. Naz Reid has been Towns’ primary back-up so his absence should open the door for more playing time for Reid, who has averaged 1.10 DraftKings points per minute and 26.2 minutes per game in 13 starts this season. D’Angelo Russell played about 26 minutes off the bench last night and has a 29.1 percent usage rate and 27.8 percent assist rate in 101 minutes without Towns or Malik Beasley on the floor this season. Anthony Edwards should benefit as well as he has averaged 1.06 DraftKings points per minute with a 31.4 percent usage rate in 416 minutes without Towns or Beasley this season. More minutes could also be available for Jaden McDaniels and Juan Hernangomez. McDaniels has averaged 0.73 DraftKings points per minute without Towns or Beasley on the floor this season while Hernangomez has averaged 0.79 DraftKings points per minute.
Edit: The Timberwolves – Nets game has been postponed. Players from that game listed below have been crossed out.
Russell Westbrook ($11,000 DraftKings/$11,000 FanDuel) has a difficult matchup against the Utah Jazz and Bradley Beal is probable, which further hurts Westbrook’s projection. Still, Westbrook has a massive ceiling despite the tough matchup. He has averaged a triple-double and 1.53 DraftKings points per minute in 37 games played with Beal this season. We currently have Westbrook projected to be slightly under-owned, according to the Boom/Bust tool, so he has the potential to be an interesting tournament option if most of the field is going to pay up for other options.
Luka Doncic ($10,700 DraftKings/$10,200 FanDuel) has a difficult matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers have been the most efficient defense in the league over the last month and they rank in the middle of the pack in pace. Doncic has averaged 1.60 DraftKings points per minute in 32 games played with Kristaps Porzingis active this season. Like Westbrook, he has a very high ceiling despite the tough matchup but it will be important to keep an eye on his ownership. This is the second game of a back-to-back for the Mavericks so there is a chance that Porzingis will sit. If that is the case, keep in mind that Doncic has averaged fewer fantasy points per minute in games without Porzingis each of the last two seasons. He will project similarly with or without Porzingis, but his ownership will most likely increase if Porzingis is out.
Stephen Curry ($10,300 DraftKings/#10,100 FanDuel) played 34.9 minutes against the Rockets on Saturday and leads the Warriors with 33.3 minutes per game over the last month. We can expect at least 34 or 35 minutes from Curry if tonight’s game with the Nuggets is competitive. Denver has played at the third-slowest pace over the last month, but they are also in the bottom 10 in defensive rating so the matchup for Curry looks a little better than it is for Westbrook or Doncic. Curry doesn’t average quite as many fantasy points per minute, however, as he has produced 1.46 DraftKings points per minute this season.
De’Aaron Fox ($9,300 DraftKings/$9,500 FanDuel) has a favorable matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans, who are 18th in defensive rating and 11th in pace over the last month. Fox’s 36.3 minutes per game over the last month ranks fifth in the NBA and he has averaged 1.26 DraftKings points per minute in 15 games played without Marvin Bagley this season. He has a 31.5 percent usage rate and 28.8 percent assist rate in those games.
Ja Morant ($6,800 DraftKings/$7,100 FanDuel) has been relatively disappointing this season but he has still averaged 1.13 DraftKings points per minute with a 27.6 percent usage rate and 34.3 percent assist rate. Memphis has a neutral matchup against a Chicago team that ranks in the middle of the pack in pace and defensive efficiency. Morant offers a higher projection and ceiling than most guards in his price range, so he will stand out as a strong option depending on how much value opens up as we approach lock.
Chris Chiozza ($3,000 DraftKings/$3,700 FanDuel) is always a risky option because the Nets can change their rotation in a variety of ways, but I expect that he gets enough playing time to be a viable value option tonight with Kyrie Irving, James Harden and Tyler Johnson all sidelined. Chiozza has averaged 1.03 DraftKings points per minute in 218 total minutes played this season. He played 16.1 minutes in the second half against the Lakers on Saturday, but some of those minutes came in garbage time. If tonight’s game against the Timberwolves is competitive, I think that we will most likely see about 20 to 22 minutes for Chiozza.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Russell Westbrook, Luka Doncic, Stephen Curry, De’Aaron Fox
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Luka Doncic, Stephen Curry, De’Aaron Fox
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Donovan Mitchell ($9,200 DraftKings/$9,000 FanDuel) stands out as the clear top option at shooting guard tonight. Jordan Clarkson is doubtful and Mike Conley is out, so Mitchell will most likely be playing without two of Utah’s primary scorers. In 397 total minutes without Clarkson or Conley on the floor this season, Mitchell has averaged 1.41 DraftKings points per minute with a 34.6 percent usage rate and 32.8 percent assist rate. He also has a fantastic matchup against the Wizards, who are first in pace and 20th in defensive rating over the last month, so he is likely to outperform his average fantasy production.
Devin Booker ($9,000 DraftKings/$9,400 FanDuel) and Zach LaVine ($8,700 DraftKings/$8,700 FanDuel) warrant tournament consideration as pivots away from Mitchell. While Mitchell is the highest-projected player at this price point, he will also be the highest owned. Booker has a strong matchup against the Rockets, who are 28th in defensive rating and 12th in pace over the last month. Booker has averaged 1.16 DraftKings points per minute with a 32.6 percent usage rate in 47 games played with Chris Paul this season. While he is unlikely to outproduce Mitchell, he will at least have similar scoring opportunities. LaVine is in the same bucket as Booker because he projects lower than Mitchell but he is heavily involved in the Bulls’ offense so he is capable of out-producing him on any given night. Since Nikola Vucevic joined the Bulls, LaVine has averaged 1.21 DraftKings points per minute with a 32.6 percent usage rate and 24.3 percent assist rate over eight games. LaVine faces a Memphis team that is seventh in pace and 13th in defensive rating over the last month.
Joe Ingles ($5,700 DraftKings/$5,500 FanDuel) projects as one of the strongest mid-range values tonight in his excellent matchup with Washington. Ingles should see more playing time and better fantasy production than normal with Conley and, most likely, Clarkson not available tonight. Ingles has averaged 0.99 DraftKings points per minute in 392 minutes without Clarkson or Conley on the floor this season.
Bruce Brown ($4,800 DraftKings/$5,500 FanDuel) is likely to see increased playing time tonight with Irving joining Harden on the sidelines. Brown played 26.9 minutes against the Lakers in his last game, with about 17 minutes coming in the second half after Irving’s ejection. Brown has averaged 0.80 DraftKings points per minute in 282 minutes without Harden or Irving on the floor this season. I expect 28-plus minutes from Brown tonight against a Minnesota team that is one of the fastest-paced teams and least efficient defenses in the league.
Patty Mills ($3,400 DraftKings/$3,700 FanDuel) is a viable pivot away from Chris Chiozza if you are looking to punt a guard spot. Mills played 22.2 minutes against the Mavericks yesterday and we can expect 22 to 24 minutes tonight against the Magic. He has averaged 0.77 DraftKings points per minute in 42 games played with DeMar DeRozan and Dejounte Murray active this season.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles,
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles,
DeMar DeRozan ($7,800 DraftKings/$7,900 SG FanDuel) offers more value on DraftKings than FanDuel because of his positional eligibility. Small forward is a more difficult position to fill out tonight than shooting guard. DeRozan has averaged 1.18 DraftKings points per minute and 34.8 minutes per game in 19 games without LaMarcus Aldridge and with Murray and Derrick White this season. He has a 27.3 percent usage rate and 33.4 percent assist rate in those games.
Buddy Hield ($6,200 DraftKings/$6,300 FanDuel) doesn’t stand out at his price point, but that is likely to keep his ownership down in tournaments. There should be a ton of fantasy points scored tonight between the Pelicans and the Kings. Hield has averaged 0.88 DraftKings points per minute and 33.2 minutes per game in 15 games without Bagley and with Fox this season. He has averaged 10.7 3-point attempts per game in those games, which stands out because the Pelicans have allowed the 12th-most 3-point attempts per game and the second-highest field-goal percentage on 3-point attempts over the last month. For the season, they have allowed the highest 3-point percentage and fourth-most 3-point attempts per game.
Joe Harris ($5,600 DraftKings/$5,300 FanDuel) has averaged 0.92 DraftKings points per minute with an 18.6 percent usage rate and 13.8 percent assist rate in 291 minutes played without Irving or Harden on the floor this season. He has averaged 30.6 minutes per game over the last month, but we could see him pick up a few extra minutes here with the Nets’ backcourt short-handed. He has a great matchup against the Timberwolves as well.
Bojan Bogdanovic ($4,900 DraftKings/$5,200 FanDuel) takes on his former team — which doesn’t matter except for the fact that the Wizards are one of the most fantasy-friendly matchups possible. Bogdanovic has averaged 0.80 DraftKings points per minute with a 20.4 percent usage rate overall this season and he has averaged 0.86 DraftKings points per minute with a 21.7 percent usage rate in 390 minutes without Clarkson or Conley on the floor. He is underpriced for this matchup with two of Utah’s leading scorers on the sidelines.
Kent Bazemore ($4,300 DraftKings/$5,200 FanDuel) started in place of Kelly Oubre last game and played 32 minutes. Oubre is out again tonight, so it is likely that Bazemore starts and plays 30-plus minutes again. His salary has increased since his last game and the matchup against Denver isn’t ideal, but Bazemore has averaged 0.87 DraftKings points per minute this season so he still projects as a decent value option.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: DeMar DeRozan, Bojan Bogdanovic
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Bojan Bogdanovic
Zion Williamson ($9,700 DraftKings/$10,000 FanDuel) is a little more expensive than I feel comfortable paying, but there is no denying his ceiling in this matchup against the Kings. Sacramento has been one of the fastest teams and least efficient defenses all season long and that hasn’t changed recently as they are ninth in pace and 26th in defensive rating over the last month. The Kings have also allowed the second-most points in the paint per game over the last month. Among players that are averaging at least 25 minutes per game this season, Williamson has scored the 14th-highest rate of his points in the paint at 74.6 percent. He has averaged 1.50 DraftKings points per minute with a 33.3 percent usage rate and 23.7 percent assist rate in nine games played without Lonzo Ball and with Brandon Ingram this season.
Kevin Durant ($9,000 DraftKings/$9,400 SF FanDuel) is one of the bigger risk/reward questions on the slate. He has an elite matchup against the Timberwolves and he will be playing without Harden or Irving. In three games played without either of them this season, Durant has averaged 1.60 DraftKings points per minute with a 34.8 percent usage rate, 13.3 percent rebounding rate and 35.7 percent assist rate. In 151 total minutes played without Harden or Irving on the floor, Durant has averaged 1.64 DraftKings points per minute with a 37.7 percent usage rate, 12.8 percent rebounding rate and 37.4 percent assist rate. The problem, of course, is that we don’t know how many minutes Durant is going to play. He played about 19 minutes in his return from injury and followed it up with about 24 minutes against the Lakers. That game was a blowout, however, so we don’t know if Durant would have played more minutes down the stretch if the game had been competitive. He left the game with about six minutes to play, so an optimistic projection based on last game would be about 30 minutes. He only played about 12 minutes in the first half, however, so a conservative estimate of his intended playing time would be the 24 minutes that he played. If he only plays 24 minutes tonight, he is overpriced. If he reaches 30 minutes, he is likely to be one of the best plays on the slate. If we don’t get news on his expected playing time, I will look to roster him in tournaments if his ownership is low and avoid him if the ownership is high since there is a wide range of outcomes.
Christian Wood ($7,900 DraftKings/$7,400 FanDuel) has a tough matchup against the Suns but he should see plenty of minutes and he is a strong per-minute fantasy producer. Wood has played seven games with John Wall active and both of Victor Oladipo and James Harden inactive (or not with the team) this season. In those games, Wood has averaged 1.13 DraftKings points per minute and 31.3 minutes per game. He played 35.1 minus against the Warriors on Saturday, and I expect another 33 to 35 minutes tonight if the game is competitive.
Draymond Green ($6,700 DraftKings/$7,300 FanDuel) has a tough matchup against the Nuggets but he has benefited from the absence of James Wiseman in previous games this season. Green has averaged 1.16 DraftKings points per minute in 10 games without Wiseman and with Curry this season compared to 0.99 DraftKings points per minute in 30 games played with Wiseman and Curry active. Not surprisingly, Green’s rebounding numbers improve without Wiseman because it means that he plays more minutes at center.
Harrison Barnes ($6,300 DraftKings/$6,200 FanDuel) is never an exciting player to roster but he is reasonably priced in a good matchup against the Pelicans tonight. Barnes’ 36.7 minutes per game is the third most in the NBA over the last month. He has averaged 0.81 DraftKings points per minute in 15 games played without Bagley and with Fox this season, which is actually down from 0.89 DraftKings points per minute with both players active. His rebounding rate is higher in the games without Bagley, however, so I think Barnes offers a higher ceiling even if his median projection doesn’t change much without Bagley.
Jeff Green ($4,600 DraftKings/$5,600 SF FanDuel) could see increased playing time tonight with Harden and Irving sidelined. Karl-Anthony Towns is also out for the Timberwolves which could lead to more small-ball lineups from the Nets which would benefit Green. He has only averaged 0.68 DraftKings points per minute in 309 minutes without Irving or Harden on the floor this season, so we would be hoping that the favorable matchup allows him to produce at a higher rate than normal.
Royce O’Neale ($4,200 DraftKings/$4,200 FanDuel) is another underwhelming fantasy producer who finds himself in a great spot tonight. O’Neale has averaged 0.70 DraftKings points per minute without Clarkson or Conley on the floor this season and he is likely to play 32-plus minutes tonight against the Wizards. Washington is a poor rebounding team and Russell Westbrook is one of the most turnover-prone players in the league. Both of those points should benefit O’Neale, who typically relies on rebounds and defensive stats to accumulate fantasy points.
Juan Toscano-Anderson ($3,200 DraftKings/$3,700 FanDuel) typically hasn’t been in the rotation for Golden State, but he started the second half in place of Wiseman on Saturday. He then played about 15 minutes in the half. For the season, Toscano-Anderson has averaged 0.83 DraftKings points per minute in 626 minutes played. He has started 15 games and has averaged 0.82 DraftKings points per minute and 25.1 minutes per game in those games. He projects as a strong point-per-dollar value if he is in Golden State’s starting lineup tonight.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes, Juan Toscano-Anderson (if he is starting)
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Christian Wood, Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes, Juan Toscano-Anderson (if he is starting)
Nikola Jokic ($10,400 DraftKings/$10,800 FanDuel) gets a pace-up spot against the Warriors, who have played at the third-fastest pace over the last month. They have also allowed the sixth-most points per 100 possessions, so this sets up as a good spot for Jokic. Jamal Murray was out again yesterday for the Nuggets, and if he sits tonight, the spot is even better for Jokic as he will play an even bigger role as a scorer and facilitator. Overall this season, Jokic has averaged 1.65 DraftKings points per minute and 35.4 minutes per game.
Joel Embiid ($10,100 DraftKings/$10,400 FanDuel) hasn’t been as good as Jokic this season, but he has been better than just about every other player in the NBA. From a DFS perspective, Embiid has averaged 1.64 DraftKings points per minute and 32.3 minutes per game. The per-minute production is close to the best in the league, though the playing time is a bit less than most other $10,000+ options. The Mavericks have played at the slowest pace in the league over the last month and have allowed the eighth-fewest points per 100 possessions. Embiid can succeed in any matchup, but he projects behind Jokic which makes him a GPP play more than a cash option tonight.
Nikola Vucevic ($9,100 DraftKings/$9,500 FanDuel) has averaged 1.35 DraftKings points per minute with a 27.4 percent usage rate, 17.0 percent rebounding rate and 19.5 percent assist rate in six games with LaVine and Daniel Theis both active. While those rates are slightly lower than when he was on Orlando, they still are very appealing and give him immense upside. The biggest concern is that he has only averaged 30.6 minutes per game in those games and Theis’ presence, combined with Lauri Markkanen and Thaddeus Young, makes for a crowded frontcourt. It’s difficult to prioritize Vucevic at his current salary because of the relative lack of minutes, but he is worth a look as a secondary option in tournaments if his ownership is low.
Rudy Gobert ($7,900 DraftKings/$8,500 FanDuel) stands out as a strong mid-range option tonight in a fantastic matchup with the Wizards. Gobert has averaged 1.30 DraftKings points per minute and 30.9 minutes per game in 53 games played this season. The Jazz are 11 point favorites tonight so there is some blowout risk, but that is baked into his salary as his average playing time is skewed downward because the Jazz are better than almost every team that they play and are frequently involved in blowouts.
Jonas Valanciunas ($7,300 DraftKings/$7,800 FanDuel) is one of the best per-minute fantasy point producers in his price range, which always makes him an interesting option in tournaments. If he averaged 30-plus minutes per game, Valanciunas would be priced similarly to Gobert or Vucevic. He has only averaged 28.4 minutes per game over the last month, however, which keeps his salary a bit lower. He is capable of playing 30 to 32 minutes any given night, however, and he is often a useful piece in tournaments when that happens. It’s difficult to predict which games will result in more playing time for Valanciunas, but a matchup against a fellow traditional big in Vucevic certainly shouldn’t hurt.
Andre Drummond ($6,500 DraftKings/$6,500 FanDuel) only played 22.4 minutes against the Nets on Saturday, but that number is misleading. He didn’t play in the fourth quarter of a blowout win. Drummond played about 14.5 minutes in the first half and would have finished at 28 to 30 minutes if he got his stint in the fourth quarter. In three games played with the Lakers, Drummond has averaged 1.33 DraftKings points per minute with a 30.5 percent usage rate and 20.9 percent rebounding rate. He is still getting his legs back under him after a long layoff, so I expect his production to increase going forward until Anthony Davis returns to the lineup.
Top DraftKings NBA DFS Picks: Nikola Jokic, Rudy Gobert, Andre Drummond
Top FanDuel NBA DFS Picks: Nikola Jokic, Rudy Gobert, Andre Drummond
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