FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Thursday 12/19/19

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/
Houston LA Clippers 235.5 -5.0 115.25 120.25 2 4
Utah Atlanta 226.0 +7.0 116.5 109.5 18 11
LA Lakers Milwaukee 225.0 -4.0 110.5 114.5 14 1
Brooklyn San Antonio 219.5 -3.0 108.25 111.25 8 13

Small Forward

With Eric Bledsoe out, Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,200) jumps to the top of the pool on a loaded four-game slate. Without Bledsoe on the court, Antetokounmpo has a 41.3% usage rate and averages 1.93 FanDuel points per minute. For context, nobody has a usage rate above 37.9%, and Giannis leads with 1.88 FanDuel points per minute on the full season. Even against a top-five defense, Giannis is nearly a lock in all lineups. LeBron James ($10,300) is certainly in play in game stacks but should be secondary after Giannis. If Anthony Davis ($10,200) sits, then James and Giannis become a really pricey but enticing combo. James has a 38.9% usage rate without Davis.

Joe Ingles ($5,600) and Bojan Bogdanovic ($6,600) are in elevated spots with Mike Conley out. Ingles gets a 15.8% usage rate and averages 0.80 FanDuel points per minute without Conley on the court. Bogdanovic (27.4% and 0.87) is the better play but is pricier.

With all the attention on Antetokounmpo and James, Paul George ($9,100) has tournament pivot appeal. He's fifth in tournament value in my model against the Houston Rockets.

Core Plays: Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James
Secondary Plays: Joe Ingles, Bojan Bogdanovic
Tournament Plays: Paul George, Taurean Prince ($5,400)

Power Forward

Two more studs are up for grabs at power forward with Anthony Davis ($10,200) and Kawhi Leonard ($9,400) rating out tops in my projections today when adjusted for salary. Davis is questionable and missed last game (Tuesday). If he plays, he'd draw a mid-level Milwaukee Bucks power forward defense.

Leonard projects for a 40-point floor at just $9,400 in a fast-paced game against the Rockets. He is a core play in every sense of the word, as he averages 1.47 FanDuel points per minute with a 33.7% usage rate (both top-eight marks in the NBA).

Jarrett Allen ($6,100) and Jabari Parker ($5,300) are more price-conscious plays, but it's probably best to spend down at other spots. Allen draws an average rebounding team in the San Antonio Spurs and gets a boost to his usage rate (17.3%) and FanDuel-points-per-minute average (1.30) without Kyrie Irving. Parker is numberFire's top power forward value, projecting him for 29 minutes and 30.3 FanDuel points.

Core Plays: Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis
Secondary Plays: Jarrett Allen, Jabari Parker
Tournament Plays: LaMarcus Aldridge ($7,600), P.J. Tucker ($4,700)

Point Guard

Patrick Beverley ($4,300) is very cheap against his former team and against his arch nemesis, Russell Westbrook ($9,300). Beverley rates out with -- by far -- the best floor/ceiling combination relative to price among all point guards tonight. Westbrook is very much in play, too, as he is starting to click in the new offense. Westbrook has averaged 25.7 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 7.7 assists for 51.0 FanDuel points over the past seven games.

Trae Young ($9,900) should be a low-owned option (for a four-game slate, at least), as the better projections belong to studs in other games and at other positions. Young, though, draws a Utah Jazz defense that is non-elite against point guards. Young's 33.4% usage rate can always lead to a big ceiling. He's a key differentiation piece.

Core Plays: Patrick Beverley, Russell Westbrook
Secondary Plays: Trae Young, George Hill ($4,000)
Tournament Plays: Spencer Dinwiddie ($8,000), Primetime Rajon Rondo ($4,600)

Shooting Guard

James Harden ($11,400) is yet another stud option on a small slate. This is a really good basketball night. Harden leads the NBA in usage rate (37.9%) and is third in per-minute fantasy production (1.59). My model prefers him to all the studs outside of Giannis, Davis, and Leonard, frankly.

Donovan Mitchell ($8,600) and DeMar DeRozan ($7,000) rate out as likelier to return 6x value than Harden, but Harden's floor is better. Mitchell gets a pace-up game against the Atlanta Hawks' 29th-ranked defense. DeRozan is more of a tournament pivot, assuming he is fairly low owned. He drops from a 27.3% usage rate to 25.3% with Dejounte Murray ($6,600) healthy.

Garrett Temple ($4,700) has a decent role without Kyrie Irving: 17.0% usage rate and 0.74 FanDuel points per minute. Temple projects for nearly 34 minutes and is numberFire's top shooting guard value.

Core Plays: James Harden, Garrett Temple
Secondary Plays: Donovan Mitchell, DeMar DeRozan
Tournament Plays: Kevin Huerter ($4,800), Louis Williams ($5,500)


Rudy Gobert ($7,800) ranks as the third-best price-adjusted play on the entire slate, according to my model, and he's the top center play in tournament value. Gobert is up in pace against the Hawks, who are 27th in rebounding rate and 29th in defensive rating. Gobert ranks as the second-best value play at center by numberFire's projections, as well.

Alex Len ($4,300) on the other side of that game has a tough individual matchup, but he should see elevated minutes against Utah's oversized interior. Len averages 1.05 FanDuel points per minute and is projected for 23 minutes tonight. He has the best floor/ceiling rating in my model for tonight among centers.

Core Plays: Rudy Gobert, Alex Len
Secondary Plays: Dwight Howard ($4,300), DeAndre Jordan ($4,700)
Tournament Plays: Clint Capela ($9,100), Ivica Zubac ($4,100)