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DraftKings NBA DFS Data Insights (11/8/21): Top Values, Best Matchups, Minute Gainers

Happy Monday! I hope everybody had a wildly successful weekend playing fantasy football and basketball.

We are now into the season's fourth week, and we have an abundant amount of data to train and run data models with. I have to say as well that even with limited data, the models have been performing quite well early on in the year, and things should only get better and sharper as we have more data to input.

There are eight games on the slate tonight, which is right there in the sweet spot. There aren't so few games that everybody will find the best plays, but there are also aren't too many where we'll have a ton of really close, tough choices to make. Let's set the stage here!


NBA DFS: Best Team Matchups

Lakers vs. Hornets

Charlotte checks in as the worst team in the league in DraftKings points allowed per game at 242.1. Keep in mind that this number is per 240 minutes played (48 minutes times five players on the court), so it does not advantage or disadvantage teams that have played overtime games. This is a sharp number to quickly identify the best and worst defenses for fantasy point purposes. For reference, the Miami Heat are the top defense on this list allowing just 204.4 DraftKings points per 240 minutes played. The Lakers have scored 230.3 DraftKings points per game this year, good for the seventh-most in the league.

The data model has projected the Lakers to score 246.7 DraftKings points tonight, beating their average by nearly 14 points. The Lakers also find themselves without LeBron James at the moment, a massive fantasy contributor who was scoring 47 DraftKings points per 36 minutes played before the injury. Unfortunately for us, he has been out for a few games already, which has allowed the pricing models to adjust. Russ and AD cost $20,600 tonight. That leaves us hoping for something like 113 fantasy points out of them to get to 5.5x their salary (a full $50,000 spent for 5.5x return is 275, a pretty good score to shoot for).

In games without LeBron, Westbrook has scored 1.23 DraftKings points per minute and Anthony Davis sits at 1.41. Those two have combined to shoot the ball on average 39 times per 36 minutes played, and that tandem has scored a whopping 40% of the Lakers' DraftKings points in games without LeBron. This leaves us projecting right around 100 fantasy points from the combo tonight, which isn't very good for what you're paying. I'm not recommending the play for cash games, but these two do have massive ceilings without LeBron in the lineup. Ownership may also be low on Anthony Davis as he's marked as questionable with the illness that kept him out of most of the game Saturday. I am very interested in ramming in AD in tournaments; his ceiling is arguably the highest on the slate.


Timberwolves vs. Grizzlies

Memphis has allowed the fourth-most DraftKings points per game at 237.9, giving up the third-most points and most assists per game. The Timberwolves project at 237 DraftKings points tonight, a dozen points above their season average. The only injury spot that we're aware of with Minnesota right now is D'Angelo Russell, who is listed as questionable. He has also been missing for a few games, so this is another spot where the prices have moved to compensate. If Russell suits up tonight, there really isn't much price-considered value on this team. However, Karl-Anthony Towns stands out regardless, as he has scored an elite 1.34 DraftKings points per minute this year while averaging 34.4 minutes played. I have his projected ceiling sitting at 70 points, second on the slate only to Nikola Jokic (who is $700 most expensive). KAT's median projection sits below the 5x mark on all data models, however, so this isn't a slam-dunk cash option.

If Russell is out, I would give KAT a slight bump and I would also be willing to consider Anthony Edwards as an expensive player, and Patrick Beverley as a value option. In the last two games without Russell, Beverley has scored 36.5 DraftKings points, and then just 14 - so there's no certainty with the guy. He took just six shots in both of those games, so he's going to really rely on rebounds and assists to get there, which makes it tougher - but he can be reasonably considered in cash games.


Mavericks vs. Pelicans

New Orleans is fifth-worst in the league in allowing DraftKings points, coming in allowing 235 per 240 minutes played. The biggest way they've struggled is by boosting other team's shooting percentage, as they actually have been quite good at limiting shots attempts (they've allowed 86.9 field goal attempts per 240, which is eight-best in the league). I would be a little less bullish on the Mavericks because of that, just because I don't think allowing high shooting percentages is something that is likely to stick around all year.

Dallas is largely a one-man show for fantasy purposes, as Luka Doncic has a commanding 23% share of his team's DraftKings points scored this year. His price of $10,700 is down a couple of hundred dollars from recent games, but still does mean we're looking for a 60 point performance. Both data models have him projecting for 53 fantasy points, so the median isn't great here - but the ceiling is there.


NBA DFS: Significant Missing Players

Joel Embiid has been ruled out tonight, which leaves the 76ers without their top two fantasy players. That results in a night where you are going to want at least a couple Philly players in your lineup. These two missed a game together earlier in the year, here's how that went for the rest of the team:

Andre Drummond: 33.6 minutes, 56.75 DK points
Seth Curry: 34.3 minutes, 17 shots, 39 DK points
Georges Niang: 31.2 minutes, nine shots, 37.75 DK points
Forkan Korkmaz: 24.8 minutes, 10 shots, 28 DK points
Tyrese Maxey: 30 minutes, eight shots, seven assists, 22.25 DK points
Shake Milton: 20 minutes, eight shots, 14.75 DK points

Drummond becomes an absolute must, Curry, Korkmaz, and Milton figure to take a ton of shots, and Niang & Maxey are considerable as well. Right now, my favorite plays relative to salary would be Drummond, Korkmaz, and Milton.

Continuing on, we've already mentioned the Lakers situation with LeBron, and the other significant injury tonight at this moment is Deandre Ayton.

A top pick on the model is Frank Kaminsky, who we have in the high twenties for just $4,300. In two games without Ayton, Kaminsky has played 29 minutes both times, scoring 35 and 32 DraftKings points. He has averaged nine shots per game in that sample while grabbing an average of 4.5 rebounds and handing out 3.5 assists. He has not been a super high-usage guy in these games, but it will be hard for him not to get to the 6x value level if he's playing 30 minutes again.


Now let's move over to the cold shooters' report. For this, I compare every player with at least 20 shot attempts in their last three games and compare their field goal percentage in those three games with their season average. The angle here is to find guys shooting the ball a bunch but just on the wrong end of some variance from the floor. The DraftKings algorithm will often drop the price on these kinds of players as their poor shooting performance affects their fantasy outputs. This is a great way to get an edge on the field as we buy low on guys that have just been experiencing some bad luck lately. Here is the report:

Kemba Walker is 9/29 from the field in his last three games and 4/16 from three. His DraftKings price is down to $5,500 right now after starting the year at $6,700. He doesn't have the usage rate with the Knicks that we got used to in the past, but the shooting slump has given us a price on Kemba that gives us a big ceiling. His teammate RJ Barrett has also been struggling from the field, making just 19 of his last 54 field goal attempts while going 4/19 from three. He has been shooting the ball a ton recently, and his price has come down a couple of hundred dollars for this matchup tonight.

Cam Reddish is also a notable name to consider tonight. He is not a featured offensive weapon for the Hawks, but his cold shooting recently has dropped his price way down to $3,800. He has exceeded 25 minutes in three of his last five, so he absolutely can get the minutes needed to be a smash at this price, but the floor is incredibly low. However, the price has come down enough to put him in consideration if you really need a cheap guy.


NBA DFS: Minutes Gainers

Minutes equal money in the game of NBA DFS. Here's a look at today's biggest minutes gainers based on projections.

Kaminsky sits at the top of this list as well, projected for 29 minutes which is well above his season average of 18. The other interesting name here is PJ Dozier, who is projected for a minutes boost with Michael Porter Jr. set to miss the game. His 0.71 DraftKings points per minute scored leaves a lot to be desired, but that could tick upwards without Porter in the lineup. At $3,300, Dozier doesn't have to do much to get to where you need him to be. The model's projection is 18.5 right now, which is fine for a guy at $3,300 - and his ceiling sits at 30 which would be a huge boon to your lineup if it hits.


NBA DFS: Salary Drops

The interesting names on this are Mason Plumlee, Steven Adams, and Joel Embiid. Plumlee is a pretty reliable per-minute fantasy scorer, and provides a decently safe floor usually. We have him projected for a few extra minutes tonight as he guards Anthony Davis and/or DeAndre Jordan, and the salary has hit a season-low $5,200. The problem is the ceiling, which there isn't much of for a guy that doesn't take many shots and rarely played 30+ minutes.

Joel Embiid is the ceiling guy on this list, and his price is down $500 from last game and it's $400 cheaper than his season average. I have his ceiling at 60 fantasy points, which makes for more than 6x at his price - which is huge to get for an expensive guy. You can fish through the rest of the chart and take a look at other guys yourself if interested!


Here are the top value projections for tonight. This table will be updated throughout the day.

Three centers leading the way. The field is sure to be heavy on Kaminsky, and for perfectly good reason. Steven Adams is also quite an interesting name here. His minutes have bounced all over the place this year. He played just 20 minutes in his last game, but before that he reached 30 minutes in two straight games. For the year he's scored 1.01 fantasy points per minute, which would project him for over 30 points if he has a good minutes night. That would be a smash at $4,700 - and the ceiling is an easy double-double which would get him that bonus.

Desmond Bane has been under-priced all year and has been quite consistent, although the ceiling is questionable there. Jaren Jackson and Jordan Poole also stick out with their sky-high ceilings at prices that are probably a little bit too cheap tonight. Keep checking back here as news breaks and we refresh the projections.

Let's take a quick look at the top projected studs tonight so you know who to pay way up for if you find the money.


I went into detail on Friday about my approach, but I'll summarize it again here. When you're spending five figures on a stud player, you really can't and shouldn't have the same "I want 6x" mindset. The cheap and mid-range guys are where you're really going to smash the salary multipliers, and those players are relatively easy to find as injury news breaks. Picking studs isn't as high-risk of territory, you really just want to find the guy in a matchup that should lend itself to normal minutes played, and then hope for anything around or over a 5x return. That isn't to say you shouldn't still be fishing for upside, since a 6x return when spending $11,000 is an enormous boost to your lineup (much more so than 6x from a cheap guy because it's such a higher percentage of your total dollars spent), but it's much harder to project for and actually find those big returns from these studs who all have relatively concentrated fantasy point outputs.

The top projection tonight is Jokic at 56, which is significantly ahead of Anthony Davis. His price is also significantly ahead, and the Nuggets are facing the best fantasy defense in the league tonight in Miami. The defensive matchup doesn't matter as much with studs, because of course, Jokic can go crazy against anybody. The Heat should keep this game close, and we have basically an even money line here. It's tough to pay the $11,000 against a tough defense, but I think it's something you should be considering tonight as the field comes in a little bit light on Jokic.


Give Us Your Top Plays Already!

I tend to take a more high-level, data-oriented approach to this article. And I understand some people like that, but more likely you're just here looking for the top plays. I'll try to summarize that here, but these are likely to change throughout the day - so please follow me on Twitter and I'll send out those updates. For right now, here are the data model's favorite plays:

Frank Kaminsky, Steven Adams, Desmond Bane, Jordan Poole, Mason Plumlee, PJ Dozier, Jaren Jackson, Jordan Poole, Cody Martin, Furkan Korkmaz, Shake Milton, Richaun Holmes, Will Barton


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