FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Friday 1/3/20

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/
Portland Washington 236.0 +6.0 121.0 115.0 20 5
New York Phoenix 226.0 -7.0 109.5 116.5 18 13
Philadelphia Houston 224.5 -4.5 110.0 114.5 23 2
New Orleans LA Lakers 224.0 -10.5 106.75 117.25 3 15
Atlanta Boston 223.0 -11.5 105.75 117.25 9 21
Miami Orlando 207.5 +2.0 104.75 102.75 25 26

The six-game slate features a mixed bag of games. The Miami Heat and Orlando Magic game is the dud, as both teams are slow and the total is minuscule. The Portland Trail Blazers and Washington Wizards game is a cut above. And two of the four games in the middle have double-digit spreads. There's probably a good case to be made to stack Portland/Washington, New York/Phoenix, and Philadelphia/Houston.

Power Forward

Anthony Davis ($10,400) has had four straight games with between 42.2 and 44.8 FanDuel points but is still playing elevated minutes (39, 35, 36, and 38) in them. Davis faces his former team, the New Orleans Pelicans, as a 10.5-point favorite. Since the start of December, the Pelicans are 12th in rebounding rate but 21st in defensive rating. Davis is down to 1.25 FanDuel points per minute over the past five games but averages 1.49 on the full season.

Jayson Tatum ($8,100) will be freed up without Kemba Walker. With Walker off the court this season, Tatum has a 36.2% usage rate and averages 1.25 FanDuel points per minute. Tatum faces an Atlanta Hawks team that is 10th among 12 teams in power forward defense on the slate tonight.

The 76ers/Rockets game is an intriguing one, so that puts Al Horford ($5,600) into the conversation. Horford grades out well enough to be a core play, but it's primarily the price and matchup. The Rockets are 9th out of 12 teams in action in power forward defense, and Horford generates a sturdy 1.01 FanDuel points per minute.

Core Plays: Anthony Davis, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford
Secondary Plays: Derrick Favors ($6,200), P.J. Tucker ($4,200), Daniel Theis ($4,400)
Tournament Plays: John Collins ($7,800), Bam Adebayo ($8,600), Aaron Gordon ($6,000)

Small Forward

Gordon Hayward ($6,900) has a 22.6% usage rate and a per-minute average of 0.95 FanDuel points with Walker off the court, and while those numbers won't blow us away, he's still getting a usage boost entering a game with the Hawks. Atlanta is 22nd in defensive rating since the start of December, and Hayward rates out as a top-five play regardless of position in my model.

LeBron James ($11,400) has been more productive than Davis in recent games (55.8, 61.4, 43.7, and 68.6 FanDuel points in his past four), and he could take a bit of a backseat while Davis takes on the Pelicans. However, James owns the highest ceiling in my projections, given his matchup with an uptempo offense. There's plenty of value to get to James, and he's worth prioritizing.

Carmelo Anthony ($6,000) and Kent Bazemore ($4,000) are cheaper options in that Blazers/Wizards game, the one with the best total. It's also a huge pace-up spot for Portland, which is 20th in offensive seconds per play. Washington is fifth. Since December, the Wizards have let up 117.2 points per 100 possessions, 1.8 points worse than any other team. Anthony has played at least 31 minutes in five straight games and has played at least 36 in three of them.

Core Plays: Gordon Hayward, LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony
Secondary Plays: Kent Bazemore, Tobias Harris ($6,400), Jaylen Brown ($7,500)
Tournament Plays: Kelly Oubre ($7,100), Marcus Morris ($5,000), De'Andre Hunter ($4,400)


Center is pretty loaded, and that always helps. Hassan Whiteside ($9,300) has played at least 31 minutes in nine of his past 10 games and is up against those lowly Wizards. In addition to having the worst defense in the NBA, Washington ranks 29th in rebounding rate since December 1st. Whiteside is top 10 in the NBA in FanDuel points per minute (1.10).

Joel Embiid ($9,200) gets a bump in what should be a competitive game against the Rockets, who are bottom-six in the NBA in fantasy points allowed to versatile bigs like Embiid. Embiid averages a top-five rate of 1.52 FanDuel points per minute and has a top-12 usage rate of 30.7%. On a slate with a lot of studs and center options, Embiid could be a little underowned.

Deandre Ayton ($7,500) and Aron Baynes ($4,200) are both in play for the Suns against the Knicks, one of the better games of the night. Ayton has played 20 and 31 minutes in two games since returning but has had 12 and 14 boards and 9 and 13 field goal attempts in them. The Knicks are about an average rebounding team but are 24th in defensive rating since December, and Ayton puts up 1.30 FanDuel points per minute.

Core Plays: Hassan Whiteside, Joel Embiid, Deandre Ayton
Secondary Plays: Aron Baynes, Clint Capela ($7,600), Ian Mahinmi ($5,200)
Tournament Plays: Nikola Vucevic ($8,400), Enes Kanter ($5,200), JaVale McGee ($4,000)

Point Guard

Kendrick Nunn ($4,400) is part of that lowly Florida matchup, but his price really helps out. Nunn should see at least 30 minutes, which he has done in two straight (33 and 38). He has 14 shots in each of those past two games. Nunn is a top-three value in numberFire's projections.

Russell Westbrook ($9,100) and Damian Lillard ($9,300) both look worth their salaries. Lillard has a much easier matchup in the premier fantasy game of the night against the Wizards. Lillard is projected for 37 minutes and averages 1.21 fantasy points per minute. Lillard has the second-best overall game environment of all players (behind only his teammate, Hassan Whiteside).

Westbrook draws the 76ers in a likely back-and-forth affair, and that shouldn't be understated. Westbrook averages 1.30 FanDuel points per minute and can overcome a tough individual matchup due to the overall game environment. Even at the salary, Westbrook projects for 5.00 FanDuel points per $1,000, based on numberFire's projections.

Core Plays: Kendrick Nunn, Damian Lillard, Russell Westbrook
Secondary Plays: Lonzo Ball ($5,300), Elfrid Payton ($5,800), Brad Wanamaker ($3,500)
Tournament Plays: Ricky Rubio ($7,500), Isaiah Thomas ($4,600), Ben Simmons ($8,500)

Shooting Guard

James Harden ($11,100), like Westbrook, is likely to pay off his salary despite a non-elite individual matchup. The 76ers are third against shooting guards. Harden should see his full complement of minutes in what should be a tight game, and that leads to both a floor and ceiling. Unsurprisingly, Harden is projected for the most FanDuel points of the night, and there's plenty of value to get to him.

Another Boston Celtic to benefit without Walker, Marcus Smart ($5,100) has a 21.1% usage rate and a per-minute average of 1.01 FanDuel points per minute without their starting point guard on the floor. Smart has played 23 and 30 minutes in two games since returning from injury, and he projects for 33.5 tonight.

C.J. McCollum ($7,200) is one more Blazer to consider prioritizing in such a good matchup. McCollum faces the ninth-ranked shooting guard defense among the 12 in action and hasn't played fewer than 30 minutes since December 3rd. That's 14 straight games with a big role, which now comes in an elite matchup.

Core Plays: James Harden, Marcus Smart, C.J. McCollum
Secondary Plays: Bradley Beal ($8,600), Evan Fournier ($5,900), RJ Barrett ($4,800)
Tournament Plays: Jimmy Butler ($8,500), Devin Booker ($8,000), Tyler Herro ($4,000)