FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Wednesday 1/1/20

The first day of the new year offers up a tiny slate. Who should you be targeting on FanDuel?

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/
PhoenixLA Lakers226.5-11.0107.75118.751315
PortlandNew York223.0+4.0113.50109.502019

It's just a three-game main slate, and two of these are double-digit spreads. While the New York Knicks and Portland Trail Blazers game doesn't look overly appealing, stacking it would have merit, as it's the likeliest to stick close and approach overtime. Extra minutes on a three-game slate could make all the difference.

Point Guard

With Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins ruled out and Jeff Teague doubtful, the Minnesota Timberwolves will have a lot of possessions, shots, and minutes open. With those three off the court this season, Shabazz Napier ($4,800) has a 29.4% usage rate and a per-minute average of 0.94 FanDuel points. If Teague is deemed out, Napier should have no issue paying off. Even with Teague, there's opportunity to go around for the underdog Timberwolves.

The Knicks are in a similar spot with injuries. Frank Ntilikina, Dennis Smith, and Damyean Dotson are all questionable. Their absences would clear a path for Elfrid Payton ($5,900). Payton has just a 17.6% usage rate without them but still averages 1.03 FanDuel points per minute, and the Knicks are in the most interesting game on the short set from a spread perspective.

Core Plays: Shabazz Napier, Elfrid Payton
Secondary Plays: Damian Lillard ($9,300), Eric Bledsoe ($5,600)
Tournament Plays: Rajon Rondo ($4,100), Ricky Rubio ($7,300)

Shooting Guard

While value may be the name of the game at point guard, shooting guard has some better mid-level plays. Devin Booker ($7,200) is priced down despite 37-plus minutes and 41.6-plus FanDuel points in three straight games, thanks mostly to 34, 32, and 33 actual points in them. Booker draws a tough matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers and is a blowout risk, but he can pay off his lowered tag even in reduced minutes and projects to do that in my model.

C.J. McCollum ($7,100) is another piece in that stackable Blazers/Knicks game. McCollum puts up 0.97 FanDuel points per minute and averages 36.7 minutes per game. The Knicks are actually kind of tough on the wing, yet McCollum shapes up as a potential priority play due to the salary and overall game environment. That is to say: there's significantly less blowout risk in this one than the other two. We can also run it back with RJ Barrett ($5,300).

Core Plays: Devin Booker, C.J. McCollum
Secondary Plays: RJ Barrett, Khris Middleton ($7,400)
Tournament Plays: Donte DiVincenzo ($4,400), Danny Green ($3,900)

Small Forward

Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,800) and LeBron James ($11,000) are both available on this slate, and we should certainly consider lineups with both, provided the value spots really do come through by tip off. Listed as probable, Antetokounmpo's only question mark is the blowout risk. He has one of the best overall matchups of the night, and the NBA's best fantasy performer should face little resistance while on the court.

James also rates out well himself against a Phoenix Suns defense that ranks 21st in defense when removing garbage time. They're 28th since the start of December. James should probably still get his 35 minutes tonight, and at 1.49 FanDuel points per minute on the season, that gives him a real chance to post a huge night in a soft matchup. Even if he falls shy of his usual run, the matchup can help make up for it, and a Lakers blowout should feature James.

Carmelo Anthony ($5,300) is heading to Madison Square Garden for his matchup with the Knicks, and even when we don't factor in any revenge narrative, he projects well. Anthony has played 37, 37, 33, and 36 minutes over the past four games with at least 13 shot attempts in each. The results don't always come because he's very scoring reliant and is shooting 32.6% over the past three games. So, the opportunity is there, and Anthony can hit value if the shot falls.

Core Plays: Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James
Secondary Plays: Carmelo Anthony, Kelan Martin ($3,600)
Tournament Plays: Jarrett Culver ($4,100), Marcus Morris ($5,200)

Power Forward

Not rostering Anthony Davis ($10,800) comes with significant opportunity cost. Aside from Davis, only Julius Randle ($7,500) is priced above $5,100 among power forwards, and Davis' 75th-percentile outcome of 62.6 FanDuel points is untouched by any other power forward option on the slate. Randle is at 44.2, and then it's Robert Covington ($5,100) at 36.0.

Covington is actually the best per-dollar play from a floor/ceiling standpoint in my model, as the opportunity for the Timberwolves is too good to pass up. Covington should see around 30 minutes and is a relevant fantasy producer (0.92 FanDuel points per minute on the full season though just 0.79 in a 70-minute sample without Towns, Wiggins, and Teague). Covington has played 40, 35, and 35 minutes the past three games with 35.1, 39.9, and 29.4 FanDuel points. That'll work at this salary.

Core Plays: Anthony Davis, Robert Covington
Secondary Plays: Julius Randle
Tournament Plays: Kyle Kuzma ($4,800), Dario Saric ($3,700)


Gorgui Dieng ($6,200) is priced up, but it's still pretty fair for his role. He has played 36, 29, 40, 23, and 32 minutes the past five games with at least 29.4 FanDuel points in all of them and at least 39.4 in three of them. The Milwaukee Bucks are not a particularly imposing post defense, and Dieng is simply sliding into a great role without Towns.

Hassan Whiteside ($9,100) won't be an off-the-radar play on such a small slate, but there could be leverage in paying up for Whiteside instead of Dieng. Whiteside has been free of late, with at least 32 minutes in four of his past five games, and he is an elite per-minute producer (1.40). Whiteside's ceiling is high enough to consider him a differentiator on this three-game set.

Core Plays: Gorgui Dieng
Secondary Plays: Hassan Whiteside, Brook Lopez ($5,200)
Tournament Plays: JaVale McGee ($4,000), Aron Baynes ($4,400)