3 NBA FanDuel Studs to Target on 12/5/19

Jrue Holiday is in a smash spot tonight versus the Suns. Who else is worth paying up for?

Basketball is the most consistent sport for daily fantasy purposes.

A top slugger in baseball will have his fair share of 0-for-4 days, and an elite fantasy football player is at risk of having games where his team's offense as a whole is shut down. A high-priced NBA stud is generally going to get his, though. With so many possessions in a game providing opportunities to produce, top fantasy basketball options will be posting high scores just about every night.

While this consistency puts us in a good position to identify top plays, it also means you can't afford to miss when you're paying up for someone. Even with strong value plays in your lineup, paying up and getting a dud is likely going to leave your lineup drawing pretty close to dead.

Let's get right into it and look at which top players should be the focal points of your lineups tonight.

James Harden, SG, Houston Rockets ($12,200)

With James Harden priced $1,500 above anyone else on the slate, lineups really start with the decision of whether or not to pay up for him tonight. On this four-game slate, he's a pretty tough fade.

He's the only player in the NBA averaging more than 60 FanDuel points per game on the year (60.1), and the next-highest mark for anyone in action tonight is 45.6. To contextualize that a bit, Harden's averaging 4.9 fantasy points per $1,000 of tonight's salary, but for that $1,500 and 14.5-point gap over the second-highest scorer on the slate, you're getting an extra 9.7 fantasy points per $1,000.

The Toronto Raptors are a tough matchup, coming in with a top-five defensive rating, but that also leaves this game projected to be a close one, sporting a 2.5-point spread. Harden is playing an average of 39.2 minutes per game in contests decided by fewer than 10 points this season (up from 34.5 per game when decided by 10-plus), and that huge volume should help insulate his value against the matchup.

Joel Embiid, C, Philadelphia 76ers ($10,700)

Joel Embiid is that next-most expensive player, and one thing he has going for him that Harden doesn't is an elite matchup, taking on the woeful Washington Wizards.

The Wiz check in with NBA-worst marks in both defensive rating (115.9, while nobody else is above 113.9) and total rebound rate (47.8%), and as you may have guessed, that has them giving up some serious fantasy production. They've conceded the NBA's second-most (and the slate's most) fantasy points per minute to opposing centers so far this season.

This game carries some blowout risk, but Embiid's efficiency should be through the roof with the Philadelphia 76ers showing a huge 120.75-point implied total. Embiid's 1.52 FanDuel points per minute are already the second-most among all centers (minimum 100 minutes played), just 0.01 points out of first.

Jrue Holiday, SG, New Orleans Pelicans ($8,300)

Our models are high on Jrue Holiday tonight, projecting him for the most fantasy points per $1,000 (5.15) of anyone with a salary of at least $8,000 on this slate.

His last few games have been nothing to write home about, landing between 32 and 37 fantasy points in each, but he also topped 55 FanDuel points in two of the three games before that. His 24.9% usage rate, 29.2% assist rate, 11.3% rebound rate and 1.11 FanDuel points per minute are all in line with the numbers he posted last year (25.4%, 31.8%, 11.0% and 1.20, respectively), and that means his solid average of 40.3 FanDuel points per game isn't inflated over the still-small sample to start this season.

The New Orleans Pelicans and Phoenix Suns play at the third- and fourth-fastest pace, respectively, among teams in action tonight, and their average pace of 103.1 is the highest for any matchup on Thursday. This game should generate plenty of opportunities for fantasy production, and Holiday is positioned well to take advantage of a Suns defense that is allowing the NBA's 12th-most points and 10th-most assists per game.

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.