FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Thursday 12/5/19

Three of the four games on the slate tonight are very enticing. Who stands out on FanDuel?

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 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 bunch of other great resources to help give you an edge.

Daily fantasy NBA is very reliant on opportunity, so you'll need to make sure that you're up-to-date with key injuries. Our projections update up 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.

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

The Slate

Away Home Over/
Phoenix New Orleans 235.5 -3.5 116.0 119.5 10 3
Philadelphia Washington 233.0 +7.5 120.25 112.75 20 5
Houston Toronto 230.0 -2.5 113.75 116.25 2 11
Denver New York 203.0 +9.0 106.0 97.0 28 22

One game is a dud -- Denver Nuggets and New York Knicks -- but the others are all dripping with fantasy potential. It's a good four-game slate (really a three-game slate).


I don't often start lineup building with centers, but the best stud might be Joel Embiid ($10,700) in a matchup with the Washington Wizards, who are fifth in offensive pace, last in rebounding rate, and without Thomas Bryant. Embiid rates out as the second-best adjusted value on the entire board in my projections in such a good matchup.

The only player to rank above him is another center on the opposite side of that game: Moritz Wagner ($4,800). Wagner is questionable but if healthy should have a safe minutes floor in the upper 20s. It's not an ideal matchup, but Wagner averages 1.17 FanDuel points per minute on the season.

Nikola Jokic ($8,900) offers pivot appeal in that ugly fantasy game against the New York Knicks, who are a mid-level rebounding team and 22nd in garbage-time-free defensive rating. Jokic actually rates out better than Embiid in numberFire's model.

Core Plays: Joel Embiid, Moritz Wagner
Secondary Plays: Nikola Jokic, Bobby Portis ($3,900)
Tournament Plays: Mitchell Robinson ($5,800), Marc Gasol ($5,500)

Shooting Guard

Shooting guard is probably the deepest position of the night, so there's a lot of flexibility. We've got James Harden ($12,200), Bradley Beal ($9,900), Jrue Holiday ($8,300), Devin Booker ($8,100), and Fred VanVleet ($8,000) at the top in terms of salary. My model has Holiday, Beal, and Harden as the most likely to pay off their salaries, with Holiday out front pretty comfortably. The New Orleans Pelicans have the game of the night -- though it's close -- and Holiday logs heavy minutes, just like these other guys. numberFire ranks the top Holiday, Booker, Harden.

There are still good value options in Josh Hart ($4,700), RJ Barrett ($5,700), Furkan Korkmaz ($3,500), and Jordan McRae ($4,000). Barrett and Hart have the best tournament values according to their range of outcomes in my model, so they're my preferences on a four-game slate.

Core Plays: Jrue Holiday, James Harden
Secondary Plays: Josh Hart, RJ Barrett
Tournament Plays: Bradley Beal, Devin Booker, Furkan Korkmaz, Jordan McCrae

Small Forward

Small forward is pretty thin on elite plays but does offer a few punt level options from the Philadelphia 76ers. James Ennis ($3,700) and Matisse Thybulle ($3,700) both benefit from the absence of Josh Richardson. Ennis (0.86 FanDuel points per minute) and Thybulle (0.78) are decent enough producers for just-above-minimum-salary. numberFire projects each for right around 25 minutes in an uptempo game against the Wizards' leaky defense.

We do have Brandon Ingram ($9,500) and Pascal Siakam ($9,000) in enticing spots. Neither seem like must-plays, given the value from the 76ers, which also includes Tobias Harris ($7,600), who is more likely to return value, according to my projections. The cheap plays make the studs strong tournament leverage options.

numberFire's algorithm is bullish on Cameron Johnson ($3,700) for the Phoenix Suns against the Pelicans. Johnson puts up a decent 0.79-FanDuel-point-per-minute average and projects for minutes in the low 20s -- if you're trying to avoid the more obvious 76ers' salary-savers.

Core Plays: James Ennis, Matisse Thybulle
Secondary Plays: Tobias Harris, Cameron Johnson
Tournament Plays: Brandon Ingram, Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby ($5,300)

Power Forward

Rui Hachimura ($5,800) jumps off the page for me tonight and -- to a lesser degree -- so does teammate Davis Bertans ($6,000). Hachimura averages 0.88 FanDuel points per minute and has a 19.7% usage rate. Bertans just played 40 minutes in his last game, and the Wizards are without Thomas Bryant and possibly Moritz Wagner.

Al Horford ($7,500) does rate out better here, though. He has played at least 31 minutes in four straight games and averages a steady 1.08 FanDuel points per minute. Horford could get a soft matchup with the Wizards playing small.

Frank Kaminsky ($4,800) is back on the menu after getting 26 minutes yesterday. He has 12 shot attempts in each of his past two games and faces a bottom-10 rebounding team in the Pelicans. If Aron Baynes sits, Kaminsky is a good low-end value again.

Core Plays: Rui Hachimura, Al Horford
Secondary Plays: Davis Bertans, Frank Kaminsky
Tournament Plays: Julius Randle ($7,200), Serge Ibaka ($5,400), Jerami Grant ($3,800)

Point Guard

Lonzo Ball ($5,800) rates out number one at point guard in my simulations. He is more likely to post a boom game (6.0 FanDuel points per $1,000 in salary) than a bust game (4.0 per $1,000). Ball's median projection of 30.2 FanDuel points from numberFire's algorithm is good for a position-best 5.21 FanDuel points per $1,000.

My model and numberFire's are in agreement for the next three: Ben Simmons ($9,000), Russell Westbrook ($9,200), and Isaiah Thomas ($5,200). Simmons is my preference over Westbrook here. He has the much softer individual matchup based on player archetype, and he rates out with the higher tournament value by a smidgeon. Westbrook deals with a top-four overall defense.

Thomas just played 34 minutes on Tuesday and averages a solid 0.89 FanDuel points per minute on the full season. He's a cheap, cash-game option.

Core Plays: Lonzo Ball, Ben Simmons
Secondary Plays: Russell Westbrook, Isaiah Thomas
Tournament Plays: Kyle Lowry ($8,000), Ricky Rubio ($7,500), Jamal Murray ($7,900), Dennis Smith ($4,100)