FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Sunday 12/15/19

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/
LA Lakers Atlanta 226.5 +11.0 118.75 107.75 14 11
Philadelphia Brooklyn 217.5 +5.0 111.25 106.25 23 9
Sacramento Golden State 212.0 +3.5 107.75 104.25 26 15
New York Denver 206.0 -11.5 97.25 108.75 22 28

Small Forward

With the Los Angeles Lakers' total being what it is and the matchup being so promising, neglecting LeBron James ($10,900) comes with significant opportunity cost. James' 62.7-FanDuel-point ceiling (his 75th-percentile outcome in my model) is more than 20 points higher than any other small forward's ceiling (Tobias Harris ($8,200; 42.2). James' 25th-percentile outcome of 46.7 is higher than Harris' ceiling.

Glenn Robinson III ($4,500) offers some savings to help get up to James and the other studs today. Robinson consistently plays north of 30 minutes, and the Golden State Warriors could be thinner in the frontcourt if Eric Paschall (questionable) sits. Despite a pace-down matchup with the Sacramento Kings, Robinson's overall game environment sets up as one of the best among small forwards, and he projects with the best price-adjusted floor at the position outside of LeBron.

Core Plays: LeBron James, Glenn Robinson III
Secondary Plays: Cam Reddish ($4,000), Marcus Morris ($5,400)
Tournament Plays: De'Andre Hunter ($5,200), Will Barton ($6,600), Tobias Harris

Power Forward

Anthony Davis ($11,300) is in a similar position to LeBron in terms of the sheer opportunity cost of ignoring him on a small slate. Davis' floor (48.1) is untouched by any other power forward's ceiling (39.0 for Al Horford ($7,300)). Davis and Horford are tied for the best overall game environment among power forwards today.

Horford is questionable, as is Paschall, but we still have solid second-tier options. They're just way off the pace of Davis. Jabari Parker ($6,100), Jerami Grant ($4,400), and Julius Randle ($6,900) are the next trio to target.

Parker is in the game with the highest total and has the second-best floor/ceiling combination as a result. Randle is more of a tournament play, given a tougher individual matchup against the Denver Nuggets. Both the Lakers and Nuggets are top-six in garbage-time-free defensive rating, but the pace discrepancy and over/under suggest Parker is the safer play.

Core Plays: Anthony Davis
Secondary Plays: Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, Jerami Grant
Tournament Plays: Al Horford (questionable), Richaun Holmes ($7,100)

Point Guard

Trae Young ($9,600), Ben Simmons ($8,600), Spencer Dinwiddie ($7,700), and Jamal Murray ($6,800) are a four-man tier of their own today at point guard.

Young has blowout risk against a tough defense but did put up 43.1 FanDuel points on the road against the Lakers in mid-November. He played 39 minutes in that game and shot 9 of 14 from the field. Simmons rates out with the best overall game environment for point guards versus the Brooklyn Nets. It's a significant pace-up game for the Philadelphia 76ers against the worst point guard defense on the board. Murray's game situation is close behind, as the New York Knicks are just 24th in defense and the second-worst point guard defense in action. Murray is undergoing a price drop despite 26 shot attempts in his past two games. Dinwiddie has a 31.2% usage rate without Kyrie Irving on the court and averages 1.22 FanDuel points per minute in that split.

Core Plays: Jamal Murray, Ben Simmons
Secondary Plays: Trae Young, Spencer Dinwiddie
Tournament Plays: Elfrid Payton ($4,800), Rajon Rondo ($4,800)

Shooting Guard

Because we'll want to spend up for Davis, James, and the point guards, it's a good thing we can save some salary at this position.

Josh Richardson ($4,800) is still an intriguing play. Since returning, he has played 19, 26, and 26 minutes and will be monitored closely. However, those 26-minute games came on back-to-back nights, so we should probably feel okay rolling out Richardson in a plus matchup with the Nets. He rates out as the top shooting guard play in my model.

Bogdan Bogdanovic ($4,700) has the second-best floor/ceiling rating behind Richardson. Bogdanovic projects for minutes in the upper 30s in a matchup with the Warriors, who are 26th in defensive rating and an average-tempo team. Bogdanovic and Richardson are also numberFire's favorite shooting guard values today.

Core Plays: Josh Richardson, Bogdan Bogdanovic
Secondary Plays: D'Angelo Russell ($8,400), Danny Green ($4,000)
Value Plays: Kevin Huerter ($4,800), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($4,000), RJ Barrett ($6,000)


JaVale McGee ($3,900) and Dwight Howard ($4,200) pop as go-to value plays for the Lakers against the Hawks. We know the matchup is good with the primary drawback being the spread. The Hawks are 25th in rebounding rate and 29th in defensive rating. Neither project for even 20 minutes, but they can pay off their tags without that. Each averages at least 1.00 FanDuel points per minute (Howard is at 1.02 and McGee is at 1.25).

Joel Embiid ($10,700) could be a tournament pivot if everyone fixates on the Lakers' studs. Embiid has the best game environment for all centers today. The Nets rank 7th in rebounding rate and are tough on centers, but that makes Embiid (1.50 FanDuel points per minute, 7th in the entire NBA) an elite tournament differentiation play.

Editor's note: Since publication, Embiid has been ruled doubtful due to illness.

Core Plays: JaVale McGee, Dwight Howard
Secondary Plays: Joel Embiid
Tournament Plays: Nikola Jokic ($9,800), Bobby Portis ($4,000), DeAndre Jordan ($5,000)