FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Tuesday 12/17/19

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/
Brooklyn New Orleans 229.0 +2.5 115.75 113.25 8 3
Phoenix LA Clippers 226.5 -12.5 107.0 119.5 12 4
Atlanta New York 223.0 -2.0 110.5 112.5 11 22
LA Lakers Indiana 211.0 +3.5 107.25 103.75 14 16
Sacramento Charlotte 207.0 +4.5 105.75 101.25 26 25
Orlando Utah 206.0 -6.5 99.75 106.25 27 17

The slate overall is pretty underwhelming, as three of the six games have over/unders below 212 points and one of the games with a heavy total is a blowout risk. The matchup between the Brooklyn Nets and the New Orleans Pelicans is clearly the top game of the night, with both teams in the top eight in offensive pace.

Shooting Guard

The overall slate lacks a ton of elite plays, but shooting guard may offer the most standout options. Josh Hart ($5,000), Jrue Holiday ($8,300), and Garrett Temple ($5,000) are the top plays in my model for the night, and it's not a shock that all three are in the Nets/Pelicans game. New Orleans is 28th in garbage-time-free defensive rating, and Brooklyn is 16th.

Hart and Holiday each project for north of 32 minutes with J.J. Redick out. Hart puts up a decent mark of 0.87 FanDuel points per minute, and Holiday is at 1.11. In such a ripe spot, both click as core-level shooting guard plays.

Temple is more of a high-floor play. He has a 16.9% usage rate without Kyrie Irving and averages 0.76 FanDuel points per minute in that split. The minutes and matchup are there, though Temple's 75th-percentile outcome is only 32.1 FanDuel points in my model.

Core Plays: Jrue Holiday, Josh Hart
Secondary Plays: Garrett Temple, Kevin Huerter ($4,400)
Tournament Plays: Louis Williams ($6,100), Donovan Mitchell ($8,700), RJ Barrett ($6,300)

Power Forward

Two of the few studs on the board are Anthony Davis ($10,700) and Kawhi Leonard ($10,000). Davis is questionable with an ankle sprain. If he plays, he's very much in consideration despite a matchup with the Indiana Pacers' slow offense and tough defense. Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers would have a tight spread, and Davis' 75th-percentile outcome of 60.8 FanDuel points in my model gives him the best ceiling of the night. Leonard has blowout risk against the Phoenix Suns, as Devin Booker is questionable. Both of them are still in play for the ceiling on a mid-sized slate.

As far as the best per-dollar plays, I actually have Davis tops in my projections, followed by Jabari Parker ($6,000). Parker is in a pace-down game with the New York Knicks, who are 11th in tempo but 24th in defensive rating. Parker's Atlanta Hawks have the second-best game environment among all power forwards tonight.

Going back to the Nets/Pelicans game, we have Jarrett Allen ($6,500), who has a 17.6% usage rate and a 1.30-FanDuel-point-per-minute average without Kyrie. The Pelicans are just 23rd in rebounding rate, and Allen's floor is elevated because of the fantasy matchup. If he hits the higher end of his minutes range (the upper-20s), he is going to be a standout tournament play.

Core Plays: Anthony Davis, Jabari Parker
Secondary Plays: Kawhi Leonard, Jarrett Allen
Tournament Plays: Julius Randle ($7,600), Domantas Sabonis ($8,000)

Point Guard

Spencer Dinwiddie ($8,300) is all sorts of intriguing in that Pelican/Nets game. Dinwiddie boasts a 31.5% usage rate and 1.21 FanDuel points per minute without Kyrie Irving on the floor. Dinwiddie hast the best combination of over/under, point spread, and individual matchup of any player on the slate.

Lonzo Ball ($6,000) is projected for just shy of 29 minutes in a juicy matchup on the other side of that game. Ball should be freed up to makes plays in the game of the night. He still has just a 19.1% usage rate with 0.88 FanDuel points per minute without Redick, but the floor is high here for Ball. He's fifth in tournament value among point guards in my model, too.

Trae Young ($10,000) and Elfrid Payton ($5,500) are another game stack option. The Nets and Pelicans are the worst of 12 point guard defenses on the board, but the Knicks are 10th, and the Hawks are 9th. Payton actually rates out second for me among point guards behind Dinwiddie, and this pair -- and this game in general -- could be a heads-up pivot away from Nets/Pelicans in large-field tournaments.

Core Plays: Spencer Dinwiddie, Elfrid Payton
Secondary Plays: Lonzo Ball, Trae Young
Tournament Plays: Malcolm Brogdon ($7,900), Rajon Rondo ($5,000), Mike Conley ($5,500)

Small Forward

No small forwards rate out as particularly elite plays tonight, so I tend to put more emphasis on ceilings when that happens.

Marcus Morris ($6,200) generates the best tournament value rating in my model in the Knicks/Hawks game. Morris has the best overall game environment among small forwards, and he just played 35 minutes last game. numberFire projects Morris for 33.4 minutes tonight.

Following Morris, we have another trio from the Pelicans/Nets game in terms of tournament value: Taurean Prince ($6,100), Joe Harris ($4,900), and Brandon Ingram ($8,400). The Hawks are 11th among 12 teams in action in fantasy defense against small forwards, giving Prince and Harris easy individual matchups. Prince (21.6%) and Harris (19.1%) each see about a 1.5-point boost to their usage rates without Irving on the floor.

Ingram is priced down $1,100 from where he was 10 days ago. He has at least 34.5 FanDuel points in four straight games and has a 30.7% usage rate without Redick on the court. Thrown into a matchup with a leaky Nets defense, and Ingram deserves core consideration for his floor/ceiling combination.

Core Plays: Brandon Ingram, Marcus Morris
Secondary Plays: Taurean Prince, Joe Harris
Tournament Plays: LeBron James ($11,000), Cam Reddish ($4,100), De'Andre Hunter ($5,200), T.J. Warren ($4,800)


Similar to small forward, no center plays rate out as priority options relative to the rest of the slate. That is to say: it's fine to pick your center last tonight, basically.

Without clear studs to chase, we may as well try to save some salary, and that leads me to DeAndre Jordan ($5,100). Jordan is virtually guaranteed to fall shy of 25 minutes, but he's a piece in that run-and-gun Nets/Pelicans game. New Orleans is a weak rebounding team (23rd), and Jordan's average of 1.22 FanDuel point per minute gives him a lot of potential in a jam-packed fantasy game. He's potentially the best cash-game play on the board at center.

Nikola Vucevic ($7,900) has a tough individual matchup with Rudy Gobert ($8,600) and the Utah Jazz, who are fifth in defense versus position among 12 teams in action. Vucevic returned last game after lengthy absence to see 29 minutes and 15 shot attempts. Vucevic still has tournament appeal in case he gets back up to the average of 32.3 minutes he had before his injury, but spending down is a pretty enticing strategy for a center tonight overall.

Core Plays: DeAndre Jordan, Nikola Vucevic
Secondary Plays: JaVale McGee ($3,800), Jaxson Hayes ($5,100)
Tournament Plays: Rudy Gobert, Mitchell Robinson ($6,900)