Winning in tournaments requires a nice mix of roster differentiation and high upside.

For our purposes, we’re going to focus on the high-ceiling plays by position, and salary tier (top end, mid tier and low end), for tonight’s games, a hefty 11-game slate. These are plays that could go for about, on average, six times what their salary is. (Ex. $6,000 * 6 = 36 DK points equals value.)

Let’s line em up! Ask any questions on Twitter @JasonWalker_72



Damian Lillard ($9,000) – His already high usage rates have received an uptick, now at over 35% over the last four games. This is a usage rate saved for DeMarcus Cousins and Stephen Curry, with a visit from James Harden when Dwight Howard isn’t around. Lillard has the tougher matchup of the three top end PGs tonight (Wall, Lowry) and is 500 bucks more than Lowry, who has been playing well and likely where the majority of folks will go on the top end tonight.

D’Angelo Russell ($6,300) – Many will look at Russell’s current status and feel like it’s high water and stay away and look toward the value regions of action. But over the last four games, Russell has taken a large step forward and we may just be seeing the beginning of the rise. Over those four games, Russell’s usage has been 29.7%, bordering on elite levels. With Kobe Bryant and Jordan Clarkson questionable and Lou Williams out, Russell will have the ball in his hands a lot against a so-so Atlanta Hawks PG defense and what should be a strong game total.

D.J. Augustin ($3,900) – Jameer Nelson came back and nothing happened. Augustin has continued to average 25 minutes per game and 25% usage when in the game. He has the upside I like in a tournament punt and the matchup isn’t obvious (vs. Nets) either. He could play solid, productive minutes if the game is in doubt and he can play clean up if the Nets gets rolled.

More NBA Friday Night Research

Levitan's LeverageTournament PlaysGame Breakdowns
Player TargetsTop 5's by PositionCheat Sheet



Editor’s Note (5:20 PM): Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel, Kendall Marshall and Nik Stauskas are all OUT tonight for the Sixers. Philadelphia will start Ish Smith, Robert Covington, Hollis Thompson, Jerami Grant and Carl Landry. Of that group, Landry is the only one who might not see a ton of minutes tonight against Miami and the other four are all viable options on an extremely depleted roster. Grant and Smith are the two biggest beneficiaries as both should see more shot opportunities with Noel (around 8 FGA per game) and Okafor (around 15 FGA per game) out.

Giannis Antetokounmpo ($7,700) – Giannis has the large upside (see 69.75 game against the Rockets two games ago) I’m looking for in a bland, vanilla, small forward upper tier tonight. Minnesota has been the friendliest to opposing SF over the last three weeks and Giannis has been getting 37-38 minutes per game.

Julius Randle ($5,900) – Playing against the Hawks front court is very productive for opposing big men. With Randle now starting and getting 30+ minutes, he should easily pull down double-digit rebounds tonight. Over the last ten games, Randle leads the league in defensive rebounding percentage for players who have played 20 minutes per game or more, besting Andre Drummond and Hassan Whiteside over the same span. His cost has dropped below 6K for the first time since late January and it won’t be here long.

Thomas Robinson ($3,000) – Big risk punt play here, but Robinson’s been averaging 18 DKPPG over his last four game with the Nets and they have a plus, plus matchup against the Nuggets tonight. Robinson’s minutes are steady, although low, but considering he’s averaging 6x on his min salary and if anything thin air related goes on out there and Brook Lopez or Thaddeus Young need some extra time from Robinson, he’s set up to smash the value.



Karl-Anthony Towns ($8,200)- It’s a great game total and solid matchup for the probably ROY. Majority of users are going to roster Nikola Vucevic against Phoenix or Hassan Whiteside against Philly due to matchups and the KAT hasn’t been consistent over his last four games, either. But the 214 game total and close spread gives him the best chance of the high end centers to go over 60 tonight.

Jared Sullinger ($6,100) – I’m pretty irrational when it comes to Sullinger, who always scores near the top in per 36 analysis and peripheral metrics. Sully’s minutes have been in the mid 20s due to Kelly Olynyk’s absence (which continues tonight) and he’s making value even at this salary level. With popular DFS community plays Alex Len and Nikola Jokic a few hundred cheaper than Sullinger, I’ll be happy to be in the less trafficked Sullinger lane tonight.

Mason Plumlee ($4,800) – It’s a good matchup against a weaker Raptors center defense. The only knock on Mason is that he’s only playing 22-24 minutes, but could see more here against the bigger Toronto frontcourt. His production per minute is always sound (1.0 DKPPM this season), so with a plus matchup, he’s going to be close to knocking out value with his usual shift.