FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Monday 12/16/19

Jalen Brunson has a huge opportunity ahead of him with Luka Doncic out. Who else 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/
San Antonio Houston 232.5 -9.5 111.5 121.0 13 2
Washington Detroit 229.5 -4.5 112.5 117.0 5 29
Portland Phoenix 229.0 -0.5 114.25 114.75 20 12
Dallas Milwaukee 227.5 -11.0 108.25 119.25 17 1
Cleveland Toronto 217.0 -12.5 102.25 114.75 30 10
Miami Memphis 216.5 +4.5 110.5 106.0 24 9
Chicago Oklahoma City 209.0 -6.0 101.5 107.5 6 21

Point Guard

With Luka Doncic out for an extended period, Jalen Brunson ($3,700) should become a popular DFS name. Brunson has a 23.9% usage rate and averages 1.04 FanDuel points per minute without Doncic on the court and has similar numbers without Doncic but with Kristaps Porzingis ($8,800). Brunson is -- by far -- the best value play in numberFire's model.

Derrick Rose ($5,700) could be without both Blake Griffin ($7,200) and Andre Drummond ($10,000) tonight. In that 183-minute sample, Rose has a 34.9% usage rate and a per-minute average of 1.60 FanDuel points, a mark that would rank him third on the full season (it's what James Harden ($12,400) averages). Rose is projectable for minutes in the upper 20s in a matchup against the Washington Wizards, who rank 5th in offensive pace and 30th in garbage-time-free defensive rating. Either way, Rose is a staple play tonight.

Damian Lillard ($8,700) is priced down $900 from where he was just two games ago. In 10 games since returning, he has maxed out at 48.8 FanDuel points. Lillard, though, has played 37 or more minutes in four of his past five games and averages 1.21 FanDuel points per minute. The Phoenix Suns are a pace-up matchup for the Portland Trail Blazers and are just 17th in defensive rating.

Core Plays: Jalen Brunson, Derrick Rose, Damian Lillard
Secondary Plays: George Hill ($3,900), Kendrick Nunn ($6,000), Russell Westbrook ($10,400)
Tournament Plays: Darius Garland ($4,000), Kyle Lowry ($8,700), Chris Paul ($7,300)

Shooting Guard

Norman Powell ($5,000) emerges as a standout value play here tonight with Fred VanVleet doubtful. Powell has played 28.7, 34.0, and 32.7 minutes in three games without VanVleet over the past week. He should clear 30 minutes again tonight against the Cleveland Cavaliers' 28th-ranked defense. Powell puts up a 21.6% usage rate and 0.87 FanDuel points per minute over a 193-minute sample while sharing the floor with Kyle Lowry but without VanVleet.

Jumping back up to the top of the pool, James Harden ($12,400) and Jimmy Butler ($9,400) deserve core-play designations. Harden and the Houston Rockets are in the game with the highest total of the evening. Though there are some blowout concerns, Harden's volume is just too good to write off entirely: he has at least 31 field goal attempts in each of the past three games.

With Goran Dragic and Justise Winslow (both out) off the floor, Butler has a 24.6% usage rate and a per-minute average of 1.18 FanDuel points. While those aren't jaw-dropping rates, those marks plus Butler's minutes (projected for 37.1 tonight by numberFire) really add up. Butler is a high-floor, high-ceiling play.

Core Plays: Norman Powell, James Harden, Jimmy Butler
Secondary Plays: Tyler Herro ($4,600), C.J. McCollum ($6,800), Donte DiVincenzo ($4,000)
Tournament Plays: DeMar DeRozan ($7,900), Bruce Brown Jr. ($4,200), Dennis Schroder ($5,700)

Small Forward

Derrick Jones Jr. ($4,100) has absorbed minutes for the Miami Heat of late, with 26-plus in five straight games. He doesn't shoot often (13.9% usage rate) but still manages 0.82 FanDuel points per minute and can pay off his low salary due to attrition. Miami is also way up in pace against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Pascal Siakam ($8,600) is getting shots up (18 or more in five straight games and 26 in his most recent outing). The Cavaliers rate out very poorly against versatile forwards like Siakam, so it's a good night to spend up on him. He also has averaged 36.4 minutes over the past 10 games. The only concern is the spread.

Speaking of blowout risk, let's talk Giannis Antetokounmpo ($12,100). The Milwaukee Bucks host the Luka-less Dallas Mavericks and are 11-point favorites. The flip side of the argument is always that the studs are almost always heavily involved in getting to blowout levels. No player averages more than Doncic's 1.67 FanDuel points per minute aside from Giannis (1.87).

Core Plays: Derrick Jones Jr., Pascal Siakam, Giannis Antetokounmpo
Secondary Plays: Luke Kennard ($5,800), Dorian Finney-Smith ($4,100), OG Anunoby ($5,500)
Tournament Plays: Tim Hardaway Jr. ($5,400), Kent Bazemore ($4,700), Carmelo Anthony ($6,200)

Power Forward

Christian Wood ($3,800) would hold value if either Griffin or Drummond sit, and if both are out, then he shoots up the value leaderboard. He played 22 minutes last game and puts up a stellar 1.20 FanDuel points per minute. Keep an eye on the news.

Kristaps Porzingis ($8,800) has a 33.2% usage rate and a per-minute average of 1.48 FanDuel points with Doncic off the court. Porzingis played 40 minutes in the game in which Doncic left early and put up 21 shots, the most he's had since November 8th. His price has shot up, but it's justified.

I was torn between Bam Adebayo ($9,300) and a cheaper option in Frank Kaminsky ($4,900), so I'll go with Kaminsky and get a bit of two-for-one action here with the Suns. Dario Saric ($5,800) is probable, too, and both rank well in my model. Kaminsky's floor/ceiling combination is second among power forwards behind Wood. Portland is a pretty soft interior matchup (25th in rebounding rate), and the prices are really easy to like. Both should get minutes in the mid-to-upper 20s.

Core Plays: Christian Wood, Kristaps Porzingis, Frank Kaminsky
Secondary Plays: Bam Adebayo, Dario Saric, Serge Ibaka ($5,700)
Tournament Plays: Blake Griffin, Larry Nance Jr. ($4,200), LaMarcus Aldridge ($7,700)


Center is actually a pretty thin spot early in the day -- in terms of actual standout plays.

If Drummond plays, then he deserves stud treatment against the Wizards' non-existent interior defense. Washington is last in defensive rating and rebounding rate. Drummond is actually my favorite play of the night -- assuming he plays.

The next plays in my model at center are pretty tightly packed when adjusted for salary: Kelly Olynyk ($4,200), Steven Adams ($7,000), Brook Lopez ($5,300), Marc Gasol ($6,000), and Dwight Powell ($4,700).

The centers with the best tournament value marks are Adams, Gasol, Olynyk, Lopez, Powell, Wendell Carter Jr. ($6,900), and Aron Baynes ($5,400)

Core Plays: Andre Drummond
Secondary Plays: Kelly Olynyk, Steven Adams, Brook Lopez, Marc Gasol, Dwight Powell
Tournament Plays: Wendell Carter Jr., Aron Baynes, Hassan Whiteside ($9,500)