FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Saturday 12/27/2019

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 break down today's main slate:

The Slate

IndianaNew OrleansTBD-1.5TBDTBD228
New YorkWashingtonTBD+2.0TBDTBD263
DallasGolden State219.5+11.0104.25115.251715
DetroitSan Antonio222.5-4.0109.25
Phoenix SacramentoTBD-1.5TBDTBD930
LA LakersPortlandTBD+3.5TBDTBD1911
UtahLA Clippers220.5-8.5105.5115.0164

There are plenty of missing totals on the board as we await news on stars like Trae Young, Karl-Anthony Towns, Bradley Beal, Giannis Antetokounmpo, De'Aaron Fox, and LeBron James.

Point Guard

Luka Doncic ($10,600): Thursday marked the return of one of the NBA's brightest stars, and a so-so outing saw Luka's price tag reduced all the way down to $10,600. Doncic still is second in the NBA among qualified players in FanDuel points per minute at 1.66. Doncic is expected to be full-go after playing 32 minutes in his return, and he sees a favorable matchup against the Golden State Warriors, who are on the second leg of a back-to-back. numberFire has Luka projected for a hefty 54.0 points in this matchup, which meets value at this price point.

Lonzo Ball ($4,900): A starting point guard on FanDuel at under $5,000 is usually a good value. One who played 36 minutes in his last game is a great value. One who plays on a team that is top-10 in pace is an amazing value. All of those criteria fit Lonzo Ball, which might come in an unappealing package with the ugly shot and scoring indifference, but at this price tag, he is a great play, especially against an Indiana Pacers team that allows the second-most FanDuel points to opposing point guards. Lock Lonzo into cash lineups and have a fair amount of GPP exposure, as well.

Other Notable Picks: Kemba Walker ($7,300), Elfrid Payton ($5,300), Collin Sexton ($5,500)

Shooting Guard

Buddy Hield ($5,700): The Sacramento Kings are an infirmary ward at the moment, as they are already without star forward Marvin Bagley III due to a foot injury and probably won't risk guard De'Aaron Fox after he hurt his back on Thursday. They should once again turn to sharpshooter Buddy Hield for offense, as he leads the the team with a 28.3% usage rate with Fox and Bagley both off the floor this year. He draws an excellent matchup in the Phoenix Suns, who rank fifth-worst in opponent's three-point percentage. Look for Hield to find his shot early and often on Saturday.

Jeremy Lamb ($5,000): The Pacers have been without point guard Malcolm Brogdon for a two games due to a lingering groin injury, and on the back end of a back-to-back against the lowly Pelicans, it is doubtful they will risk Brogdon on Saturday. Sometimes creativity is required to find unique ownership when stars in the NBA are injured, and usage can determine that. On the surface, Jeremy Lamb is only fourth on the team in usage rate without Brogdon, but at 22.3%, it really is an even mix between he, Domantas Sabonis (25.5%), T.J. Warren (24.9%), and Aaron Holiday (24.3%). Lamb will come at significantly reduced ownership compared to those three, and he has quietly averaged a strong 29.45 FanDuel points per game without Brogdon.

Other Notable Picks: Donovan Mitchell ($7,800), Devin Booker ($6,900), Louis Williams ($4,900)

Small Forward

Paul George ($7,600): Paul George is ice cold over his last three games, shooting a combined 15-of-46 (32.6%) from the field in three tough, emotional games, including his debut against his old team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, and his childhood team, the Los Angeles Lakers. In eight of his last 10 games before this cold spell, George scored more than 20 points a game and shot 44.5% field for the entire month December. Both of those indicate George should start shooting better very soon, and this price tag is too low for the Los Angeles Clippers' star, who still is attempting more than 15 field goals per game despite the slump. George will be shooting to get on track, and at this price tag, there is plenty of upside to get the game he turns it around in your lineup.

Taurean Prince ($4,700): A one-game sample can be fool's gold for DFS purposes, but it is hard to ignore the monster game Prince had against the Houston Rockets in November. He had 27 points and 12 rebounds in a surprise win, and there are reasons to believe he can do it again, this time in Houston. First, the Rockets have been owned by wings like Prince this year to the tune of giving up the fourth-most FanDuel points to small forwards. Second, Prince's Brooklyn Nets are still without scorers Kyrie Irving and Caris LeVert, and Prince has carved out a much more stable role without them, averaging 31.0 minutes in December and seeing an increase to a 20.7% usage rate without them on the floor. These things bode well for Prince to repeat his strong performance and get the label of "Rocket Killer" on his resume.

Other Notable Picks: Gordon Hayward ($6,600), Cedi Osman ($4,100), Cam Reddish ($4,000, if Trae Young is out)

Power Forward

Julius Randle ($8,700): The Washington Wizards have been a free square at the power forward position for a very silly reason -- they are out of tall people. Without Thomas Bryant, Rui Hachimura, Davis Bertans, and Moritz Wagner -- all out due to injuries -- and Ian Mahinmi unable to handle many minutes, as has been the case for a while, they have been starting 6'5" Admiral Schofield at the four spot, with guards Gary Payton II and Troy Brown seeing reserve time at the position. All of that has been nightmarish for the Wiz, who are worst in the NBA in points allowed as is, and Julius Randle already showed what that means for his production, scoring 35 points in a loss to Washington on Christmas Eve. Randle amazingly had only five rebounds in that performance, versus his December average of 8.0, so his ceiling could be even higher. Pay the price for Randle, and he could be a tournament winner if this one stays close.

John Collins ($8,300): Atlanta has been dismal up to this point in the season, and they got worse by losing star guard Trae Young to an ankle injury Friday. It is his second such injury of the season, so he is likely to miss at least Saturday's game and beyond. That is good news for Collins' fantasy prospects, as he spikes to 1.05 FanDuel points per minute with Young off the floor. Collins just returned from injury but is set to lead the Atlanta offense, averaging 17 shots per game in his first two contests back, and that will only go up without Young. Collins should add boards, as well, posting 9.0 rebounds a game over the entire season so far. This team will struggle to score without Young, and as a testament to that, they are already 7.5-point underdogs against the mediocre, 12-win Chicago Bulls on Saturday. But Collins can be DFS gold while Young is out.

Other Notable Picks: Blake Griffin ($5,700), P.J. Tucker ($4,700), Ersan Ilyasova ($4,000, if Giannis Antetokounmpo sits)


Karl-Anthony Towns ($10,300): In a lost season, the Timberwolves have been careful with KAT as he nurses a knee injury, and he has missed the last five games because of it. Perhaps his return comes Saturday against the Cleveland Cavaliers, who provide a nice matchup for centers by ranking ninth-worst in field goal percentage, eighth-worst in rebounds, and lead the league in blocks against, averaging 7.0 shots rejected per game. Towns may see lower ownership in his return -- if he does return -- but similar to Luka Doncic's first game back on Thursday, it is likely KAT will resume his full workload once he is back. Of course, if Towns were to miss again, a great spot start has been teammate Gorgui Dieng ($5,800), who is averaging 34.16 FanDuel points in the five games without Towns.

Other Notable Picks: Tristan Thompson ($6,100), Aron Baynes ($4,100)

Austin Swaim is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Austin Swaim also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username ASwaim3. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.