FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Saturday 12/14/19

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

LA ClippersChicagoTBD+6.0TBDTBD712
Miami Dallas215.5-7.5104111.52018
Cleveland MilwaukeeTBD-14TBDTBD241
Oklahoma CityDenver205.5-799.25106.252230

It is important to note the missing totals as we await Los Angeles Clippers rest news, Washington Wizards lineup news, and Giannis Antetokounmpo injury management on the back-to-back for the Milwaukee Bucks. This seven-game slate has plenty of intrigue and counter-intuitive game stacking, so let's check out some of the top plays.

Point Guard

"The Don" Luka Doncic ($12,000) has a brutal matchup against the Miami Heat, who are ninth in the league with a defensive rating of 104.5. Even off a back-to-back, Doncic comes at a hefty price tag, but he is behind only Giannis Antetokounmpo in FanDuel points per minute this year among NBA starters (1.67), so his propensity to fill up the stat sheet always leaves him worth considering in tournaments.

A key on this slate will be what happens with the aforementioned Giannis on a back-to-back coming off a quad injury. If he sits, normally Eric Bledsoe ($7,200) would become a lock. However, Bledsoe also left Friday's game with a shin injury and did not return. If Bledsoe sits, as well, George Hill ($3,700) likely starts and sees significant minutes at a cheap price tag.

On the other side of that game, Collin Sexton ($5,700) would draw a much easier defensive assignment with Hill than versus Bledsoe. Even with Bledsoe occupying most of the point guard minutes for the Bucks, as the highest-paced team in the league, Milwaukee has given up the seventh-most points to point guards this year. Sexton dropped 28 on the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday, but he would hope to improve on the one rebound and one assist in such a high-paced matchup.

Core Plays: George Hill, Collin Sexton
Secondary Plays: Luka Doncic, Ish Smith ($5,300), Austin Rivers ($4,300)
Tournament Plays: Eric Bledsoe (if he plays), Kyle Lowry ($7,500)

Shooting Guard

James Harden ($12,600) is absolutely nuclear hot, scoring at least 75 FanDuel points in his last two games, and he will see a usage bump with Russell Westbrook expected to sit for rest purposes. However, the argument to fade Harden in tournaments exists on price tag, expected ownership, and a decently-sized spread against a Detroit Pistons team that will slow down Houston. The Pistons have the fifth-slowest pace in the NBA.

I prefer Bradley Beal ($10,800) in tournaments in a higher-paced matchup at much lower ownership. Beal still has tremendous fantasy scoring potential, averaging 38 minutes in his last four games, and a boosted 33.2% usage without Isaiah Thomas, who is questionable, at best, with a calf injury. Beal has shot a very poor 37.8% in December, but a high-paced matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies could be just what he needs to get going.

Khris Middleton ($7,100) is another high-end option if Giannis and Bledsoe both sit due to injuries. Middleton spikes to a 36.6% usage rate without those two on the court, and he will be the primary scoring option. Middleton played 35 minutes on Friday, so he may finally be free of all minutes limitations from his early season injuries.

With Lou Williams and Patrick Beverley still on the mend for the Clippers, Terance Mann ($3,500) could draw another start Saturday. He logged 18 minutes on Friday and scored just 9.9 FanDuel points, but he could see a boost to his stats with Kawhi Leonard also possibly sitting out the second leg of the back-to-back (as he has historically). Mann has shown upside as a scorer, but he is a tournament-only play given his light workload if Kawhi is available.

Core Plays: Bradley Beal, Khris Middleton
Secondary Plays: James Harden, Gary Harris ($4,800)
Tournament Plays: Terrence Mann, Tyler Herro ($4,300), Zach LaVine ($7,800)

Small Forward

As mentioned with Mann, any night Kawhi sits opens up Paul George ($10,600) and his whopping 34.0% usage with Leonard off the floor. There will be plenty of boards available, as well, with the Chicago Bulls giving up the second-most rebounds in the association. George is a high-floor option, but he did see mid-30 percent ownership when Leonard rested on Monday.

Many would say Spencer Dinwiddie has been the biggest beneficiary of Kyrie Irving's injury, but Taurean Prince ($6,300) has a role carved out without Irving. He's seen at least 30 minutes in each of his last six games and leads the Nets in three-point attempts without Irving and Caris LeVert on the floor, and he will likely fire many against the Toronto Raptors, a team leading the NBA in three-point attempts allowed per game.

OG Anunoby ($5,300) has kept his role, even with Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka back. He's averaging 35 minutes and 34.56 FanDuel points per game in the three games since they have returned, and that would put him at an elite 6.69 FanDuel points per $1000 at this price tag against the Brooklyn Nets, who play at the ninth-fastest pace.

Core Plays: Paul George, Taurean Prince
Secondary Plays: OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam ($8,500)
Tournament Plays: Maurice Harkless ($5,400), Danuel House Jr. ($4,800), Derrick Jones Jr. ($4,000)

Power Forward

With many of the higher-priced options in this tier in slower-paced games, perhaps Kevin Love ($7,500) is the best option now that he is once again seeing his regular minutes. He is averaging 43.8 FanDuel points since returning to a role of 30-plus minutes and will see a huge uptick in pace against the Bucks, who are the fastest team in the NBA.

Moritz Wagner is out again at center due to injury, which means Rui Hachimura ($6,800) might start at the five again for Washington. That is good news for his fantasy prospects, as he leads Wizards starters with 6.3 rebounds per 36 minutes without Thomas Bryant on the floor. Hachimura is affordable access to the highest-paced game on the board.

Paul Millsap is a game-time decision for the Denver Nuggets, and that could open up opportunity for Jerami Grant ($4,200) to either start the game or see hefty minutes if Millsap sits. Grant has logged 500.9 minutes without Millsap this year, far and away more than any other Nugget, so this is a situation to keep an eye on. Grant would be a cheap, high-floor option if Millsap sits.

Core Plays: Kevin Love, Rui Hachimura
Secondary Plays: Jerami Grant, Blake Griffin ($7,400)
Tournament Plays: PJ Tucker ($5,300), Patrick Patterson ($3,500), Ersan Ilyasova ($3,500)


No Millsap is a very, very good thing for Nikola Jokic ($8,900). Jokic has topped 40 FanDuel points in the last three games in which Millsap has averaged only 21.3 minutes. Jokic leads the Nuggets with a 30.9% usage without Millsap on the floor, and even though Jokic draws a tough individual assignment in Steven Adams, the Oklahoma City Thunder actually have given up the 10th-most FanDuel points to centers.

Strange trends can develop when certain players miss games, and when Kawhi Leonard sits, Ivica Zubac ($5,300) sees a huge boost to his rebounding numbers. With Leonard off the floor, Zubac brings down 14.76 rebounds per 36 minutes, which is astronomical. He draws a Chicago Bulls team that gives up the second-most rebounds per game, and that should provide good value.

The Wizards have had several frontcourt injuries but have been mixing Ian Mahinmi ($4,400) back into the rotation, with him averaging 18.5 minutes in his last two games. Mahinmi is also posting 2.5 blocks in those games, and he draws a Memphis team that gets blocked at the fourth-highest rate in the league. If Mahinmi can handle the minutes, he could fill more of the Wagner void than expected.

Core Plays: Nikola Jokic, Ian Mahinmi
Secondary Plays: Ivica Zubac
Tournament Plays: Jonas Valanciunas ($7,500), Wendell Carter Jr ($6,900)

Austin Swaim is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Austin Swaim also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username ASwaim3. 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.