FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Wednesday 12/18/19
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.
Damian Lillard ($8,700) faces the Golden State Warriors defense, which ranks 26th in garbage-time-free defensive rating and 28th against combo guards. There is some blowout risk, as the Portland Trail Blazers are 9.5-point favorites, but Lillard's matchup is too juicy to ignore for his modest price.
Kemba Walker ($7,600) and Kyle Lowry ($7,700) rate out very similarly tonight and are top-five point guard plays in my model with a preference on Walker against the Dallas Mavericks. Walker's floor is elevated with Gordon Hayward and Marcus Smart out. Walker has a 36.1% usage rate and averages 1.55 FanDuel points pet minute without them and Robert Williams on the court.
Jalen Brunson ($6,000) is priced up but not enough. Without Luka Doncic, Brunson has a 22.8% usage rate with a per-minute average of 1.04 FanDuel points. The Mavericks have played Brunson at least 32 minutes in each of the past two games, so we can keep riding Brunson in a neutral matchup.
Core Plays: Damian Lillard, Jalen Brunson, Kemba Walker
Secondary Plays: Kyle Lowry, Isaiah Thomas ($4,900), Jamal Murray ($6,700)
Tournament Plays: Ben Simmons ($8,000), Chris Paul ($7,900), Jeff Teague ($6,500)
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ($6,100) is priced down $900 from where he was last game after a 1-for-3 shooting night over 34 minutes. He's struggling with his shot but has a solid 24.3% usage rate on the season. The Memphis Grizzlies are just 20th in defensive rating, and this is a clear buy-low spot for SGA in a pace-up matchup.
Bradley Beal ($9,800) is always a safe bet for heavy, heavy minutes (34-plus in all eight December games), and he faces the Chicago Bulls' 10th-ranked defense. The matchup doesn't really matter because Beal has such a steady role and owns a 30.9% usage rate with a 1.20-FanDuel-point-per-minute average. He's the top tournament shooting guard in my model.
Andrew Wiggins ($7,800), Jrue Holiday ($8,200), and Josh Hart ($4,800) face off in a standout fantasy game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and New Orleans Pelicans. All three rank as top-six shooting guard values in terms of tournament outcomes because of the great fantasy spot they're in. Both teams are top-seven in pace and 23rd or worse in defensive rating.
Core Plays: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Bradley Beal, Andrew Wiggins
Secondary Plays: Jrue Holiday, Josh Hart, Josh Richardson ($4,700)
Tournament Plays: Jimmy Butler ($9,100), C.J. McCollum ($7,200), Malik Monk ($3,800)
With no Gordon Hayward or Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown ($6,500) jumps to the top of the value list among small forwards. Brown has a 27.1% usage rate and a 1.08-FanDuel-point-per-minute average without the Celtics' injured players on the floor this year. Brown also rates out with the third-best overall game environment among relevant small forwards tonight.
Troy Brown ($4,600) and Isaac Bonga ($3,700) have the best overall matchup for small forwards, a home matchup with the Bulls. The high total and tight spread should lead to fantasy opportunity for these cheap assets. The Washington Wizards are without Thomas Bryant, Rui Hachimura, and Moritz Wagner tonight. The samples are small without those three on the floor, but Brown should clear 30 minutes with ease, and Bonga could get into the mid 20s.
Josh Okogie ($4,100) is another cheap piece of the Pelicans/Timberwolves game. Karl-Anthony Towns is questionable, so frontcourt minutes and usage will open up. Okogie already ranks as numberFire's preferred value small forward of the night. Okogie himself wouldn't see a significant usage boost, but the game is already ripe, and a few extra minutes won't hurt at $4,100.
Core Plays: Jaylen Brown, Troy Brown, Josh Okogie
Secondary Plays: Dorian Finney-Smith ($4,200), Danilo Gallinari ($6,500), Isaac Bonga
Tournament Plays: Pascal Siakam ($8,700), Tobias Harris ($7,400), OG Anunoby ($4,900)
In addition to the best overall situation of the night, Davis Bertans ($5,800) is projected for nearly 39 minutes. He averages 1.29 FanDuel points in a limited sample without the key Wizards on the floor tonight. It's simple. Just play Bertans.
Jayson Tatum ($7,500) and Daniel Theis ($4,300) stand to benefit from the Celtics' injuries, as well, and Tatum is projected for 38.5 minutes tonight. Theis is down around 24. Tatum (1.10 FanDuel points per minute) and Theis (1.00) can pay off with their extended opportunities against the Mavericks.
Serge Ibaka ($4,900) actually rates out third in my model for his matchup with the Detroit Pistons. Ibaka's price has dropped $800 since last game. Ibaka's raw ceiling is always limited due to his minutes, but he still ranks sixth in tournament value at such a low price tag.
Core Plays: Davis Bertans, Jayson Tatum, Daniel Theis
Secondary Plays: Serge Ibaka, Kristaps Porzingis ($8,900), Blake Griffin ($6,300)
Tournament Plays: Lauri Markkanen ($6,300), Thaddeus Young ($4,000), Marvin Williams ($3,700)
Ian Mahinmi ($4,300) is -- early in the afternoon -- easy to project as one of the best center plays of the night. With such a thin frontcourt, Mahinmi is projected for 25.4 minutes against the league's 29th-ranked rebounding team. We already know the injuries are there for Washington, and Mahinmi has the best overall game environment for a center tonight.
Karl-Anthony Towns is questionable. If he plays, he's a top-three play at center against the Pelicans. If he sits, then Gorgui Dieng ($3,500) would pretty much become a must-play. Dieng has a 17.7% usage rate and averages 1.21 FanDuel points per minute without Towns on the court this year.
Andre Drummond ($9,400), also questionable, would become a spend-up pivot if you want to avoid Mahinmi or we're unsure about the Minnesota situation. Drummond draws the Toronto Raptors, who are 3rd in defensive rating but only 22nd in rebounding rate.
Core Plays: Ian Mahinmi, Karl-Anthony Towns or Gorgui Dieng
Secondary Plays: Andre Drummond, Steven Adams ($6,400), Joel Embiid ($9,400)
Tournament Plays: Cody Zeller ($5,400), Jaxson Hayes ($4,700), Enes Kanter ($4,100)