FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Thursday 1/2/20

Tonight's nine-game slate is full of injuries, studs, and value options. Which players stand to benefit most?

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/
Memphis Sacramento 225.5 -4.0 110.75 114.75 10 24
Detroit LA Clippers 224.0 -12.5 105.75 118.25 27 4
Brooklyn Dallas 222.5 -8.0 107.25 115.25 7 16
Oklahoma City San Antonio 217.5 -2.0 107.75 109.75 18 11
Golden State Minnesota 215.0 -3.0 106.0 109.0 14 8
Toronto Miami 214.0 -5.5 104.25 109.75 12 25
Charlotte Cleveland 213.0 -1.5 105.75 107.25 28 30
Utah Chicago 209.5 +3.5 106.5 103.0 22 5
Denver Indiana 209.0 -1.5 103.75 105.25 29 17

We have games of all sorts on the nine-game set with no games possessing massive totals. It's a pretty balanced slate, then, and there's plenty of value with 18 teams on the board.

Power Forward

Power forward -- like all of the positions -- has some strong values, but this position may have the best and cheapest plays of the night.

With Blake Griffin doubtful and -- among others -- Luke Kennard and Markieff Morris out, Christian Wood ($4,100) should slot into a bigger role for the Detroit Pistons. We've got about a 63-minute sample of Wood without key Pistons on the court, and he owns a 25.0% usage rate and a per-minute average of 1.11 FanDuel points. Those work for sure, and he should probably be priced around $6,000.

Marquese Chriss ($4,300) also stands to benefit from injuries, as D'Angelo Russell, Willie Cauley-Stein, and Kevon Looney are all out. Chriss played 34 minutes in his last game, a start, and put up 30.7 FanDuel points. Chriss has a 20.4% usage rate and averages 1.16 FanDuel points per minute without those three on the court over the past month. Chriss ranks second behind only Wood in adjusted value in my projections.

We shouldn't forget about Kawhi Leonard ($9,500), who draws a Pistons defense that is 27th in garbage-time-free defensive rating since the start of December. Leonard is a blowout risk but has a very easy path to production.

Core Plays: Christian Wood, Marquese Chriss, Kawhi Leonard
Secondary Plays: Robert Covington ($5,200), Nemanja Bjelica ($4,900), Domantas Sabonis ($8,000)
Tournament Plays: Kevin Love ($7,200), Jarrett Allen ($5,600), PJ Washington ($5,300)


With the Pistons' injuries, Andre Drummond ($9,800) projects as a core-level play against the Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers do rank eighth in defensive rating and ninth in rebounding rate since December. However, Drummond puts up 1.43 FanDuel points per minute without the relevant injured Pistons on the court. numberFire projects Drummond for 37 minutes and 50.2 FanDuel points.

On the other side of that game, we have Montrezl Harrell ($5,200). Harrell projects for around 28 minutes tonight and will be needed to contend with Drummond. Harrell averages 1.17 FanDuel points per minute on the season.

Tristan Thompson ($6,400) is priced down around $1,000 from where he was a few weeks ago. It's for good reason, as he hasn't produced more than 33.5 FanDuel points since December 6th. Thompson, though, has a matchup with the New Orleans Hornets, who are 22nd in rebounding and 20th in adjusted defensive rating since the start of December.

Core Plays: Andre Drummond, Montrezl Harrell, Tristan Thompson
Secondary Plays: Rudy Gobert ($8,800), Wendell Carter Jr. ($5,300), Steven Adams ($6,200)
Tournament Plays: DeAndre Jordan ($5,100), Dwight Powell ($5,100), Gorgui Dieng ($6,400)

Point Guard

We shouldn't have trouble getting to Luka Doncic ($10,800) here with all the value. Kristaps Porzingis has been ruled out, and without Porzingis on the court, Doncic has an absolutely ridiculous usage rate of 40.2% that comes with 1.94 FanDuel points per minute. Both would be NBA bests on the full season.

Shabazz Napier ($5,000) should be freed up again with Jeff Teague and Karl-Anthony Towns doubtful. Napier has played 34 and 31 minutes the past two games with 18 and 13 shot attempts with 41.6 and 34.7 FanDuel points in them. Napier has a 23.6% usage rate and a 1.02 FanDuel-points-per-minute average without those two on the court. He's also facing the Golden State Warriors, who are are trending up toward league-average efficiency since December but are still only average.

Aaron Holiday ($5,100) and T.J. McConnell ($4,100) are boosted tonight without Malcolm Brogdon. The Indiana Pacers do play in the game with the lowest total and against the second-slowest offense in the NBA, but the low prices can still be paid off with the elevated workload. numberFire projects McConnell for 27 minutes and 25.6 FanDuel points. Holiday is pegged for 32 minutes and 28.0 FanDuel points.

Core Plays: Luka Doncic, Shabazz Napier, T.J. McConnell
Secondary Plays: De'Aaron Fox ($7,200), Aaron Holiday, Kendrick Nunn ($4,400)
Tournament Plays: Collin Sexton ($5,100), Spencer Dinwiddie ($8,400), Terry Rozier ($6,200)

Shooting Guard

Lou Williams ($5,200) gets a bump with Patrick Beverley out. Without Beverley on the court, Williams puts up 1.08 FanDuel points per minute on a 27.9% usage rate, and even when we add both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to the mix, Williams is passable at 0.86 and 18.3%, respectively. Over 30 minutes, Williams should hit value in a matchup with the Pistons' underwhelming defense.

Jimmy Butler ($8,400) ranks second in my model after Williams. Butler does face a Toronto Raptors defense that is fifth in defensive rating, but this also represents a pace-up matchup for Butler's Miami Heat. Butler should clear 35 minutes at a reasonable salary.

Buddy Hield ($6,200) also projects for about 34 to 35 minutes and produces 0.93 FanDuel points per minute on a pretty hefty 26.4% usage rate. Hield's Sacramento Kings will see a pace boost against the Memphis Grizzlies in what is actually the highest-totaled game of the night.

Core Plays: Lou Williams, Jimmy Butler, Buddy Hield
Secondary Plays: Bruce Brown Jr. ($4,600; questionable), Andrew Wiggins ($7,000), Damion Lee ($6,000)
Tournament Plays: Donovan Mitchell ($7,700), Devonte' Graham ($7,700), Garrett Temple ($4,300)

Small Forward

Paul George ($8,000) is the only small forward priced above $6,500, and he does rate out well tonight, so there's opportunity cost in ignoring him. George's floor (his 25th-percentile outcome) of 36.8 FanDuel points in my model is nearly as good as any other small forward's ceiling (four small forwards have a ceiling between 36 and 40 FanDuel points). This also makes George's ceiling (51.4) somewhat untouchable.

Alec Burks ($5,600) is listed as a small forward on FanDuel but will have plenty of ball-handling duty with D'Angelo Russell out. Burks just played 38 minutes last game and took 20 shot attempts. He is up against a pretty soft Timberwolves defense and actually rates out with a better floor/ceiling combination than George.

Jarrett Culver ($4,300) on the other side of that game has the best floor/ceiling combo among small forwards. The reason for it is the projected workload with so many injuries for the Timberwolves. Culver has played 38 and 33 minutes over the past two games with 21 and 21 shot attempts. Up against the Warriors, Culver is a really easy sell tonight.

Core Plays: Paul George, Alec Burks, Jarrett Culver
Secondary Plays: Bojan Bogdanovic ($5,600), Harrison Barnes ($4,400), Kevin Porter Jr. ($4,100)
Tournament Plays: Glenn Robinson III ($4,700), T.J. Warren ($5,100), Joe Ingles ($5,500)