Since it’s much simpler to predict than baseball or football, basketball daily fantasy would get plenty of votes as the best sport to play on FanDuel. Players usually stick to the same minutes and produce at roughly the same rate. Sounds easy, right?
Well, as a result, NBA daily fantasy is extremely reliant on a player’s opportunity, so you’ll need to make sure that you’re up-to-date with key injuries. Our projections update until tip-off to reflect current news, we have player news updates, and the FanDuel Scout app will send push notifications for pressing updates regarding your players.
With so much changing so quickly, we’re here with plenty of tools to help you out. We have daily projections, a matchup heat map, a lineup optimizer, and a bunch of other great resources to help give you an edge.
We’ll also be coming at you with this primer every day, breaking down a few of the day’s top plays at each position.
Let’s break down today’s main slate on FanDuel.
I think the slate tonight starts with the bigs (players who are neither guard nor small forward eligible) because we have Nikola Jokic ($11,000) projecting so well relative to the other options. numberFire’s model has Jokic as the top projected scorer (56.7 points) and easily the best value among the superstars. He’s rated out as 45.8% likely to lead all bigs in FanDuel points in my simulation model, and that’s hard to overcome if he does go off. I have his FanDuel point ceiling at 69.9 points.
The big question marks, then, are whether Jokic has a big game despite a low over/under or if Anthony Davis ($11,800) can match him if he does. Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers have a much higher total (230.5) than the Denver Nuggets (218.0). However, Davis’ ceiling (58.3, 60.6, 71.2, 64.6, and 89.2 FanDuel points over his past five games) has pushed the salary way up, and LeBron James ($10,800) may return.
If he does, then we need to bump down Davis. Davis has a 32.4% usage rate and an average of an absurd 1.82 FanDuel points per minute without James. With James, those are 23.6% and 1.30, respectively. So, we have two — and only two — bigs who can bust the slate open, and that opportunity cost is greater than we see with other positions.
If building around other positions or playing the angle that neither Jokic nor Davis hit their ceilings, then we have ways to spend down. Jusuf Nurkic ($6,100), Kevon Looney ($4,100), Kelly Olynyk ($5,300), Al Horford ($5,500), and Mitchell Robinson ($4,400) all rate out as good values in my model once accounting for salary on a sliding scale.
Nurkic, in particular, would be a target, given his projectable ceiling (46.2). He has a 24.6% usage rate and a per-minute average of 1.17 FanDuel points when Damian Lillard is out.
Others to Consider: Draymond Green ($5,800), Andre Drummond ($4,300), Jakob Poeltl ($7,400), John Collins ($5,600)
We do have high-salaried options at forward, but the best values are in the lower range.
Justise Winslow ($4,400) remains a strong value option when Lillard is out. The usage rate is still just okay at 17.4%, but he’s a 0.91-FanDuel-point-per-minute producer when it’s not Dame Time. Winslow and the Portland Trail Blazers aren’t in the best overall game environment, yet the salary opens up access to studs elsewhere.
Jeremy Sochan ($4,400) can stack well with Anthony Davis tonight. Although he has not generated the best output lately (just 18.5 FanDuel points per game over the past five), he has a steady role with his minutes output, and he is projected for 25.1 fantasy points across 30.1 minutes.
Going back up the salary list, we have Zach LaVine ($6,900) in a nice game with a 235.5-point total. LaVine has a clear path to a ceiling, given the shot volume he puts up (20, 22, 15, 22, 14, 20, 17 in his past seven). Plus, he has double-digit three-point attempts in four of those seven with at least five in all of them. Put that in a high-scoring game, and we have a big game waiting to happen.
Looking at the superstars at the position, we have options: Giannis Antetokounmpo ($12,000), LeBron James ($10,800), Kevin Durant ($10,500), and Jayson Tatum ($10,200) before a fall-off. They’re all pretty decent plays, but that gives us four (assuming James plays) viable options rather than just two for true centers and power forwards. numberFire’s model prefers Durant — at salary — to the others here.
Others to Consider: Tari Eason ($4,200), Caleb Martin ($5,400), Klay Thompson ($6,000), Deni Avdija ($4,400), Marcus Morris ($5,700)
Two of the best value plays of the night are guard eligible: Jose Alvarado ($4,700) and Collin Sexton ($4,700).
For Alvarado, he sets up to start while CJ McCollum is out. With McCollum off the floor, Alvarado has a respectable 18.5% usage rate and averages 0.82 FanDuel points per minute across a 170.2-minute sample.
For Sexton, Mike Conley is out. Without Conley, Sexton puts up 0.88 FanDuel points per minute on the back of a 22.6% usage rate. His assist-per-minute numbers go from 0.13 to 0.16, a would-be difference of 3.8 to 4.6 over 29.0 projected minutes.
The mid-range has numerous targets who are projecting as good values: Cameron Payne ($6,700), Tre Jones ($6,400), Shake Milton ($6,400), and Jalen Brunson ($7,300) most specifically.
As for the studs, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ($10,600) is a good building block when not setting lineups around studs at the other positions. He also then stacks with LaVine if playing the angle of a high-scoring affair between the Oklahoma City Thunder and Chicago Bulls.
Others to Consider: De’Anthony Melton ($7,900), Jalen Green ($6,900), Stephen Curry ($10,400), Tyrese Haliburton ($9,300)