FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Sunday 12/29/2019

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

Oklahoma CityToronto223-3.01101132114
HoustonNew Orleans228.5+4.5116.511282
DallasLA LakersTBD-3.0TBDTBD1719

It is important to note the missing totals as we await news with nine of the 10 squads on the second half of a back-to-back, and other stars may be joining Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook in resting Sunday.

Point Guard

Luka Doncic ($10,600): Doncic could very well be one of the stars resting on Sunday, as he just returned from an ankle injury last week, but with this being a marquee national TV game in Los Angeles, the Mavericks may be less likely to pick this as a rest spot for the young star. Doncic has incredible upside in any game due to his 37.9% usage rate, second only to James Harden of the Rockets. He averages 1.66 FanDuel points per minute, and in a more pointed example for this contest, Doncic posted a 31-point triple double back in November against the Lakers in Dallas. He was also one rebound shy of a 27-point triple double in Los Angeles earlier this month. Doncic will look to replicate his success against the Los Angeles Lakers Sunday night.

Lonzo Ball ($5,000): Ball has yet to find his groove since returning to the starting lineup for the New Orleans Pelicans, shooting only 33.0% from the field in three games, but Ball is receiving big minutes in the Pelicans rotation recently, averaging 33 in the last two. The Pels actually have won two games in a row with his impact. He does not look for his own shot, but he contributes with rebounds and assists, averaging 5.0 and 5.2 of those, respectively, in the regular season, and those stats are directly impacted by pace. The Pelicans have played the Nuggets and Pacers, who ranked 29th and 22nd in pace, but they meet the high-paced Rockets in this matchup. Ball has legitimate triple-double upside today, now likely drawing either the aforementioned Harden or Austin Rivers on defense.

Other Notable Picks: Chris Paul ($7,300), Austin Rivers ($3,800)

Shooting Guard

James Harden ($11,500): Russell Westbrook has sat on multiple back-to-backs this year as he continues to manage his workload, and that opens the door for the league's leading scorer. At 38.1 points per game, Harden has been lighting up the basket this year, and he should continue to do so against a porous Pelicans defense that has the fourth-worst net defensive rating in the NBA. Harden's usage is an astronomical 47.4% without Russ on the floor this year, and he should dominate the ball in this game, which could stay closer than predicted with Westbrook sitting. No game theory is necessary here -- Harden is an absolute must in all formats.

Ben McLemore ($3,800): McLemore gets the other spot at shooting guard as a value play, as he has slid into the starting lineup in the last three games Westbrook has rested in favor of Austin Rivers. McLemore is having a career year, averaging 10.2 points per game as Houston's sixth man. McLemore will join plenty of Rockets in this slate preview, as no major price adjustments were made for the slate despite the early news of Westbrook sitting. McLemore actually has the second-highest usage on Houston without Russ, at 18.1%.

Other Notable Picks: Jrue Holiday ($8,700), Buddy Hield ($5,700)

Small Forward

Brandon Ingram ($9,000): The Pelicans are not to be ignored on their half of this high-paced matchup, and the top small forward option on the slate is their leading scorer, Brandon Ingram. Ingram has turned it up a notch recently, averaging 45.93 FanDuel points per game in his last five and dominating the Pelicans with a 29.5% usage rate. In his last bout with Houston in October, Ingram posted 35 points and 15 boards, so that indicates the upside of a star like Ingram when he gets into a back-and-forth contest like this. Ingram's increased price tag still leaves plenty of upside for him.

Danuel House Jr. ($4,900): Another section, another Rocket. However, with House, his upside comes from not only the absence of Westbrook but also the absence of Rockets starting center Clint Capela. House Jr., without Capela on the floor, ascends to 6.25 rebounds per 36 minutes, which would increase his value beyond just his normal three-point shooting attempts. House had 15 points and 8 rebounds in the same October game referenced with Ingram, so he should be in line for opportunities to score. He played 41 minutes against the Brooklyn Nets with Capela gone, so look for him on the court quite often.

Other Notable Picks: LeBron James ($10,000, if he plays), Miles Bridges ($4,900)

Power Forward

Anthony Davis ($10,600): AD is always a solid option in this pricing area because of his usual contributions with steals and blocks in addition to his rebounding and scoring efforts, but that may be especially so Sunday. LeBron James has been nursing a groin injury, which means he may sit on the second leg of the back-to-back, even if it is a national TV game. On a team without a true secondary playmaking option, Davis usually is asked to carry a larger load when LeBron cannot play, which is why his usage balloons to a Harden-esque 37.4% without LeBron on the floor. That could be a huge boost to his fantasy prospects, and he is already averaging 31.0 points and 9.0 rebounds against Dallas this year.

P.J. Tucker ($4,700): You didn't think this position would be Houston-free, did you? Tucker is the final Rocket to mention who will see consistent minutes, and he's an important one. Tucker actually sees an even bigger uptick in rebounding without Capela than House does, as he jumps all the way to 8.25 rebounds per 36 minutes with the Swiss center off the floor. He played 38 minutes against Brooklyn without Capela, and the good news for his fantasy outlook for Sunday is he was terrible -- shooting 0-5 from three, scoring four points, and snagging only seven rebounds. He will look to bounce back in such a positive matchup. PJ has averaged 13.0 points and 6.0 rebounds against the Pels this year.

Other Notable Picks: Derrick Favors ($6,400), Nemanja Bjelica ($4,500)


Jonas Valanciunas ($6,600): Usually the strategy due to positive correlation between minutes and points is to find players on the court more, but JV might be one of the rare exceptions. Valanciunas averages more FanDuel points per minute than Damian Lillard, Pascal Siakam, and Domantas Sabonis -- three incredibly reliable fantasy assets. As a testament to that, he has broken 30 minutes just once in December but is still averaging 15.7 points and 9.5 rebounds in the month. He sees a very positive matchup versus the Charlotte Hornets, who have given up the fourth-most FanDuel points to opposing centers this year. On a smaller slate, center can be somewhat of an unknown, so take the positive matchup at an affordable price with the Memphis Grizzlies' five man.

Other Notable Picks: Nikola Jokic ($9,700)

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.