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

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/
Cleveland San Antonio 220.5 -11.5 104.5 116.0 30 15
Dallas Detroit 219.5 +5.0 112.25 107.25 17 29
Portland Denver 214.5 -6.0 104.25 110.25 20 28
Philadelphia Boston 210.5 +1.5 106.0 104.5 22 19

None of the teams in action are better than 15th in offensive pace, but the over/unders are pretty tight across all four games, all things considered. That's especially true because the Philadelphia 76ers/Boston Celtics game has the tightest spread. For a four-game slate, we can de-emphasize matchups a bit and focus more on optimizing roster construction -- or just building game stacks of our favorite game(s) in hopes that a shootout occurs.


The priority option at center tonight is Nikola Jokic ($8,800) against the Portland Trail Blazers. Both teams are 20th or slower in offensive tempo, but it is still a boost for the Denver Nuggets in terms of pace. Jokic rates out as the third-best value in numberFire's projections and as the best play in my projection model -- regardless of position. Joker is up against a Portland defense that ranks 19th in garbage-time-free defensive rating and 22nd in rebounding rate. Jokic also rates out with the best overall game environment for centers tonight. Mason Plumlee ($3,800) also is a viable play in that same matchup.

Tristan Thompson ($6,700) isn't as productive as some of the other centers on the slate, but at his salary and in 30-plus minutes, he rates out with the third-best floor/ceiling ratio in my model behind Jokic and Plumlee. Thompson did play 33 minutes last night, which is a little concerning, but realistically, he's very much in play at his price, as he is the only center priced between $5,200 and $8,700.

Core Plays: Nikola Jokic
Secondary Plays: Mason Plumlee, Tristan Thompson
Tournament Plays: Joel Embiid ($10,000), Andre Drummond ($10,600)

Point Guard

Luka Doncic ($11,800) is expensive but should be prioritized tonight, given his ceiling relative to the other point guards. Shooting guard and small forward lack a lot of expensive options, making it easier than expected to get to Doncic. His 62.2-FanDuel-point 75th-outcome is 14.2 points higher than Damian Lillard's ($9,000), and Lillard's ceiling of 48.0 barely beats Doncic's floor of 47.6. They obviously aren't the same price, but there's too heavy an opportunity cost in avoiding Doncic not to consider him a core play.

Dejounte Murray ($6,100) is my number-two point guard tonight against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Cleveland is 27th in defensive rating, and Murray -- now off his minutes limit -- played 32 minutes last game. Murray's 1.17-FanDuel-point-per-minute average makes him a stellar play at the price, which is still too low.

Core Plays: Luka Doncic, Dejounte Murray
Secondary Plays: Jamal Murray ($7,200), Kemba Walker ($7,700), Patty Mills ($4,200)
Tournament Plays: Ben Simmons ($8,300), Damian Lillard

Shooting Guard

With only two shooting guards priced above $5,100, we can save a good deal of salary at the position. DeMar DeRozan ($8,200) does rate out with the best 75th-percentile value -- meaning he's a great tournament play -- against the Cavaliers. C.J. McCollum ($7,000) is third in tournament value. So there's merit to paying up for one or both, but we have some cheaper options who project well on a per-dollar basis.

Josh Richardson ($4,400) may be the first place to look, at least for cash-games. Richardson played 19 minutes in his return from a hamstring injury and will be on a minutes limit, so if you're looking at tournament lineups, Richardson is probably safe to fade. But at such big savings, Richardson (last priced at $6,400) makes sense. Projectable for minutes in the low 20s, he -- who averages 0.88 FanDuel points per minute -- can pay off. Gary Harris ($4,500), Jordan Clarkson ($4,500), and Bryn Forbes ($4,000) would be better tournament options.

Core Plays: DeMar DeRozan, C.J. McCollum
Secondary Plays: Josh Richardson (cash games), Gary Harris
Tournament Plays: Jordan Clarkson, Bryn Forbes, Bruce Brown Jr. ($3,800)

Small Forward

The most we can even spend on two small forwards would be $14,100, so that helps with lineup building on the four-game slate.

Jaylen Brown ($6,700) grades out as the best of the expensive options for me. The Boston/Philly game projects to be close, and Brown has played at least 32 minutes in 10 straight games. The minutes should be safe here, and that ramps up the floor and ceiling enough to give him the best tournament score in my projections.

It's pretty flat overall at small forward in terms of the price-adjusted ranges of outcomes. However, Kent Bazemore ($4,900) and Kevin Porter Jr. ($4,000) grade out with slightly better floor/ceiling combinations than the rest of the position aside from Brown. Bazemore has had better minutes with Rodney Hood out, and Porter Jr. is just cheap. Porter Jr. has played 27, 23, and 29 minutes the past three games and averages a disappointing 0.77 FanDuel points per minute. That still gives him one of the better projectable workloads in a thin small forward pool. Perhaps it's best to use small forward as part of game stacks instead of seeking isolated individual plays.

Core Plays: Jaylen Brown
Secondary Plays: Kent Bazemore, Kevin Porter Jr., Luke Kennard ($5,300)
Tournament Plays: Carmelo Anthony ($5,800), Tobias Harris ($7,400), Will Barton ($6,600)

Power Forward

Kristaps Porzingis ($7,600) and Blake Griffin ($7,100) face one another, and they're the top two plays in my model among power forwards.

Porzingis has fallen shy of 30 FanDuel points in five straight games. In that sample, he has averaged 13.4 points on 40.0% shooting from the field for 26.5 FanDuel points. That still works out to a passable 1.01-FanDuel-point-per-minute average. Porzingis is still overpriced, but with a good shooting night, he could demolish the salary.

Griffin also has a weird year going on. He has averaged 0.97 FanDuel points per minute on 29.4 minutes per game. He has just one 40-fantasy-point outing, which did come only six days ago. Still, like we have with Porzingis, the floor projects to be safe, and that has value on a four-game slate.

Core Plays: Kristaps Porzingis, Blake Griffin
Secondary Plays: Daniel Theis ($4,300), Maxi Kleber ($4,000)
Tournament Plays: Al Horford ($6,900), Jayson Tatum ($8,000)