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NBA Daily Fantasy Helper: 12/25/18

With Chris Paul on the shelf, James Harden should play a massive role for the Rockets on Christmas Day.

If you're new to daily fantasy basketball -- maybe you started your DFS journey during the MLB or NFL seasons, or maybe basketball is your sport and this will be your first year giving it a shot -- you're in for a treat. The NBA scene changes hugely on a week-to-week, day-to-day, and -- depending on injury news -- even a minute-to-minute basis, making every slate a unique one that requires an ever-changing approach.

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 ton 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 price point.

Let's take a look at who you should target on today's main slate.

Best of the Best

James Harden ($12,400): With Chris Paul (hamstring) on the shelf for a few weeks, Harden's fantasy value is set to go through the roof. In the first full game since Paul went down, Harden played 41.1 minutes and put up an absurd 34 field goal attempts -- the second-highest single-game mark in the NBA this year. He hasn't needed Paul to sit to put up ridiculous numbers recently either -- now with 40-plus minuets in 4 of his last 5 games, scoring no fewer than 32 points in any of his last six contests. He has 60-plus FanDuel points in five of those last six, topping 70 twice and posting no fewer than 56.1 in a game in that stretch. The Oklahoma City Thunder defense is certainly a tough matchup, but getting a good shot at 40-plus minutes from the player that ranks fifth in the NBA in FanDuel points per minute (1.47) isn't something you want to pass up.

LeBron James ($11,400): The highest over/under on Christmas Day (235.0 points) belongs to the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers. Even as underdogs, this leaves the Lakers with a pretty solid 113.0-point implied total. One of the more consistent fantasy producers around, LeBron has played at least 35.8 minutes in each of his last three games, topping 60 FanDuel points twice. Those three games have seen him average 59.1 FanDuel points in 38.5 minutes per. Just looking at games decided by 15 or fewer points, LeBron is averaging over 38 minutes and 55 FanDuel points per game this month, and a potential shootout tonight means we can expect big minutes (and big production) again.

Mid-Range Options

Draymond Green ($7,300): Green's minutes were somewhat limited in his first two games back from injury, playing fewer than 30 minutes in both. Since then, though, he has topped 31 in five straight, averaging 34 minutes and 34 FanDuel points per game. He's a little expensive for 34 FanDuel points to be exciting, but tonight's matchup more than makes up for it. I already mentioned the high over/under in this game, and the Lakers allow top-12 marks in all of points, rebounds, steals and blocks per game to their opponents. That makes this a money matchup for a well-rounded producer like Green.

Tim Hardaway Jr. ($6,600): Hardaway's minutes were down in his return from a one-game absence (and a blowout) two games ago, but his last outing saw him return to full-go, playing 38.4 minutes. His production was actually better in that first game back (41.1 FanDuel points versus 27.3 in his last game), but either way it's good to see both his production and playing time are both still strong after missing a game. This most recent game seems to have driven down his price-tag some as well, as he's finished within 1.1 fantasy points of 5.0 per $1,000 of today's salary in five of his last seven games. Hardaway is not the most consistent fantasy producer in the world, but he plays a big role in the New York Knicks offense, with a career-best 27.0% usage rate on the year, and he has played minutes into the 40's twice in his last 10 games, while attempting at least 18 field goals four times in that stretch. The Milwaukee Bucks allow the NBA's sixth-most FanDuel points per minute to opposing shooting guards, so Hardaway shouldn't have much trouble converting his role into production on Tuesday.

Malcolm Brogdon ($5,500): One of the few shooting guards on this slate with a better matchup than Hardaway, Brogdon is on the other side of the Knicks/Bucks game, taking on a Knicks team that allows the league's fourth-most fantasy points per minute to the position. He's missed three of the last five gmaes, but his most recent game on the sidelines was ruled as "rest" on the second half of a back-to-back. After three straight days off, he should be good to go tonight.; He has played at least 25 minutes in each of his last three games, and before that played 30-plus in three of his last four, so both his floor and ceiling for minutes should be pretty solid tonight. Having scored more than 27.5 FanDuel points (5.0 per $1,000 of salary today) in seven of his last 12 games (averaging 29.6 in 29.7 minutes per game in that stretch), he's well under-priced for today's favorable matchup.

Basement Ballers

Gerald Green ($3,600): In addition to giving Harden a boost, Paul's absence opens up a ton of value in Houston, especially with James Ennis still sidelined. With the pair out on Saturday, Green played 31.1 minutes off the bench, building on the already-solid 25.0 and 27.9 he played in the two outings before that. Saturday saw his offensive workload expanded in a big way, and he put up 14 field goal attempts, including 13 from 3-point range. Averaging 0.78 FanDuel points per minute as a Rocket, minutes into the 30's make Green a terrific value while he's sitting priced only $100 above the minimum.

Danuel House ($3,500): Going right down to the minimum, House played a solid 27.5 minutes in his first start of the season on Saturday. He's not nearly as efficient a fantasy producer as Green, but despite averaging just 21.1 minutes per game in Houston, he has already returned 5-times value on today's salary twice in 15 games. Even at his career pace of 0.70 per minute, he would still need only 25 minutes to return 5-times value again, and if his first game sans Paul was any indication, we can count on him seeing at least that many today.

Ivica Zubac ($3,500): JaVale McGee has already been ruled out, opening up some big center minutes in LA. Tyson Chandler is also questionable,meaning even more minutes might be up for grabs. Zubac started and played 32.9 minutes with that duo both sidelined in the Lakers' last game, and the game before that (even with Chandler playing) he saw 32.3 minutes. He absolutely exploded with 40.2 and 36.3 FanDuel points in those outings, returning better than 10-times value on this minimum-salary designation both times. While he's in play regardless of Chandler's status, both Chandler and McGee sitting would make him an absolutely elite value option today.

Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.

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