FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Tuesday 12/31/19

The Raptors are in a prime spot on a short main slate for Tuesday. Who else should be on your FanDuel rosters?

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/
Golden StateSan Antonio218.5-10.5104.00114.501411
DallasOklahoma City218.0-1.5108.25109.751618

Point Guard

Kyle Lowry ($7,800) draws a Cleveland Cavaliers team that is 29th in garbage-time-free defensive rating, and the Toronto Raptors are still without Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol, and Norman Powell. Lowry projects for around 37 minutes in a plush matchup against a below-average point guard defense. Lowry rates out as the second-best play in my projections and also has the best tournament value (using his 75th-percentile outcome).

With James Harden ($11,500) questionable, Russell Westbrook ($9,600) could become a must-play tonight -- if Harden were to miss. With Harden off the floor, Westbrook has a 41.1% usage rate and averages 1.62 FanDuel points per minute over a 270-minute sample. Those are both elite numbers. The primary issue is still a massive pace-down matchup with the Denver Nuggets, who are 29th in offensive pace, soaking up 14.9 seconds per possession, but we can't get too picky on a four-game set.

Further, Luka Doncic ($10,800) is questionable, so Westbrook and Lowry could be the high-ceiling combination of the night if Doncic were to sit out.

Core Plays: Kyle Lowry, Russell Westbrook
Secondary Plays: Luka Doncic, Dejounte Murray ($5,700), Chris Paul ($7,400)
Tournament Plays: Collin Sexton ($5,100), Jamal Murray ($6,600), Ky Bowman ($3,700)

Shooting Guard

Again, Harden is questionable, so a lot at shooting guard depends on him on a short slate. If he were to play, he'd warrant stud treatment despite the pace-down and tough defensive matchup. The reason for that is that he projects for the highest fantasy ceiling of the night, which shouldn't surprise any of us. The point is more that Harden is one of three or four players with slate-busting upside, and we can't totally ignore that on a four-game set.

Without the three primary injured Raptors on the court this season, Fred VanVleet ($8,200) has a team-high 28.3% usage rate (among players with a relevant minutes sample in this split). VanVleet also generates 1.10 FanDuel points per minute as a more involved member of the Raptors' offense. Terence Davis II ($3,900) is also in play for Toronto. He should see around 20 minutes and puts up 0.87 FanDuel points per minute in the aforementioned split. It's not elite, but Davis can open up a lot on a small slate.

DeMar DeRozan ($7,600) would get a boost if Harden were to miss. They don't play in the same game, but DeRozan would vault into the top two or three shooting guard plays based on ceiling and floor in a spot against the Golden State Warriors' 26th-ranked defense. DeRozan has double-digit shot attempts in 26 straight games and projects well in the matchup.

Core Plays: Fred VanVleet, James Harden
Secondary Plays: DeMar DeRozan, Terence Davis, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ($7,400; depending on Thunder injuries)
Tournament Plays: Damion Lee ($6,000), Gary Harris ($4,700)

Small Forward

Will Barton ($6,300) is the most expensive small forward option tonight, so we're going to save salary naturally here. Barton ranks fourth in tournament value among small forwards in my range-of-outcome projections in a pace-up matchup with the Rockets. It's just not a great slate for small forwards in general, and we should probably bank on those with higher ceilings when we're dealing with uncertainty.

Alec Burks ($5,600) would step into a solid role if D'Angelo Russell and Ky Bowman were to sit. Burks already rates out well enough in my model for consideration on an unappealing small forward slate. He has the second-best per-dollar 75th-percentile outcome in my projections among small forwards.

Danilo Gallinari ($6,000) is questionable but grades out first at the position when projecting him for a typical workload of around 31 minutes. He also boasts the best tournament value among small forwards.

Aside from Gallinari, Burks, and Barton, OG Anunoby ($4,900) and Rudy Gay ($4,500) rate out as players with good floor/ceiling combinations and tournament outcomes.

Core Plays: Will Barton, Alec Burks
Secondary Plays: Danilo Gallinari, OG Anunoby
Tournament Plays: Rudy Gay, Glenn Robinson III ($4,600)

Power Forward

Three power forwards in particular jump off the page tonight: Marquese Chriss ($4,000), Jerami Grant ($4,200), and Serge Ibaka ($7,000).

Willie Cauley-Stein is doubtful, and that should free up extra minutes for Chriss, who should probably double his minutes from around 12 to 24. Chriss averages 1.12 FanDuel points per minute and would destroy value with that efficiency in an expanded role.

Grant is another Nugget who benefits from a pace-up matchup and a possible injury -- Paul Millsap. Grant puts up only 0.76 FanDuel points per minute but has played right around 30 minutes the past three games, returning FanDuel values of 20.9, 19.8, and 27.4 in them. That'll work at $4,200 on a small slate.

Ibaka is pricier but owns a 23.8% usage rate and a per-minute average of 1.03 FanDuel points without Siakam, Gasol, and Powell on the court. Ibaka has played 41, 23, 30, and 34 minutes over the past four games but has not surpassed 36.8 FanDuel points in any of them. He's a high-floor play, one who hasn't flashed much of a massive ceiling this year.

Core Plays: Marquese Chriss, Jerami Grant
Secondary Plays: Serge Ibaka, Draymond Green ($6,700)
Tournament Plays: P.J. Tucker ($4,700), Kevin Love ($7,300), LaMarcus Aldridge ($8,200)


Center is a mess. Only seven center-eligible plays project for relevant minutes early in the day.

Nikola Jokic ($9,300) has the best raw ceiling among centers by a decent margin (50.7 FanDuel points). Okay, so Clint Capela ($7,900) is at 47.2, but nobody else is above 39.7 (Steven Adams ($6,200)). That keeps Jokic near priority play status on the short slate, though spending up for the guards looks much more appealing. This also makes Jokic more of a tournament pivot option at lower ownership than the guards should see.

Adams rates out best from a floor/ceiling combination in my model among all centers. The Dallas Mavericks are a top-five rebounding team, so this is more an attrition play. Adams rarely plays fewer than 28 minutes and is an efficient producer (1.13 FanDuel points per minute). Without many certainties at center, that helps and makes him a core-level play.

Core Plays: Steven Adams
Secondary Plays: Nikola Jokic, Clint Capela, Jakob Poeltl ($3,800)
Tournament Plays: Tristan Thompson ($6,400), Dwight Powell ($5,000), Mason Plumlee ($4,000)