FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Monday 1/6/20
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.
Luka Doncic ($11,600) sees his already crazy numbers improve with Kristaps Porzingis, who is out, off the court. In that split, Doncic has insane fantasy-relevant stats: a 39.7% usage rate and 1.87 FanDuel points per minute. He becomes the NBA's best per-minute producer in this split, which covers more than 330 minutes. There's value to get to him for his matchup with the Chicago Bulls, so he's a priority option.
De'Aaron Fox ($7,700) has a 28.1% usage rate and averages 1.18 FanDuel points per minute with Bogdan Bogdanovic and Marvin Bagley III off the court. Bagley is out, and Bogdanovic is doubtful. Fox also faces a Golden State Warriors defense that is 15th among 18 teams in action in fantasy points allowed to point guards. Golden State's defense is improving (they're 13th since the start of December), yet the opportunity for Fox is too nice to ignore.
Dejounte Murray ($5,600) and Derrick White ($4,100) are home underdogs as the Milwaukee Bucks come to town. Milwaukee operates at the NBA's fastest pace, though, which helps offset a league-best defense since December 1st. The Bucks are also more generous to guards than forwards, and the extra possessions can't be understated. White (0.85 FanDuel points per minute) and Murray (1.15) are very different producers, but both get boosted here in an uptempo game.
Core Plays: De'Aaron Fox, Dejounte Murray, Luka Doncic
Secondary Plays: Derrick White, Aaron Holiday ($5,600), Markelle Fultz ($5,100)
Tournament Plays: Trae Young ($9,100), Aaron Holiday ($5,600), Eric Bledsoe ($6,000)
Marcus Smart ($4,900) -- with Kemba Walker out -- becomes a very enticing and inexpensive play. Smart has only a 20.3% usage rate without Walker, but he manages to average 1.00 FanDuel points per minute regardless. The matchup with the Washington Wizards, who are 30th in defensive rating and 7th in pace since December 1st, makes Smart a core play.
Donovan Mitchell ($8,100) has played at least 30 minutes in all but one game this season and gets a stellar matchup with the New Orleans Pelicans, who are 9th in pace and 21st in defensive rating since December started. Mitchell rates out with the highest FanDuel ceiling among shooting guards, according to my model.
Buddy Hield ($6,700), like Fox, benefits from the absence of Bagley and Bogdanovic. In that split, Hield has a 27.3% usage rate and 0.90 FanDuel points per minute. While that per-minute number isn't elite, the usage rate can lead to floor and ceiling for Hield.
Core Plays: Marcus Smart, Buddy Hield, Donovan Mitchell
Secondary Plays: Evan Fournier ($5,600), Bradley Beal ($8,100), Gary Harris ($4,500)
Tournament Plays: Devonte' Graham ($7,500), Zach LaVine ($7,900), Damion Lee ($5,600)
Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,400) has blowout risk, as usual, but he has yet to return fewer than 40.5 FanDuel points in a game all season, and the San Antonio Spurs are merely 17th in defensive rating since December began. Giannis leads the NBA in FanDuel points per minute (1.86).
Gordon Hayward ($5,700) and Jaylen Brown ($6,900) have slight usage bumps with Walker off the court, but in a matchup with the Wizards' leaky defense, both become strong plays. Hayward has played at least 34 minutes in four straight games with shot attempts of 13, 14, 18, and 14. Hayward also has returned at least 30.0 FanDuel points in all four. That'll pay off his salary. Brown's price is still nice at $6,900. He returned from a one-game absence to play 35 minutes in consecutive games.
Core Plays: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown
Secondary Plays: Tobias Harris ($6,400), Glenn Robinson III ($4,300), De'Andre Hunter ($3,900)
Tournament Plays: Brandon Ingram ($8,400), Will Barton ($6,600), Danilo Gallinari ($5,700)
With Lauri Markkanen doubtful, Thaddeus Young ($4,200) vaults into prime play territory. Young jumps minimally to a 21.6% usage rate (from 21.0% with Markkanen). His per-minute average is 0.91 FanDuel points in this split. Young projects for 32.8 minutes and 27.4 FanDuel points in numberFire's model.
Jayson Tatum ($7,900) actually doesn't rate out as an elite per-dollar option necessarily, but he has a team-best 34.0% usage rate and 1.21 FanDuel points per minute average with Kemba Walker sidelined. Tatum rarely posts monster games, but the floor/ceiling combination is very enticing at a reasonable salary.
Richaun Holmes ($6,700) and Nemanja Bjelica ($4,800) are two more beneficiaries from the Sacramento Kings' injuries. Neither have particularly pristine usage rates without Bagley and Bogdanovic (19.4% for Bjelica and 16.9% for Holmes), but both put up at least 1.00 FanDuel points per minute in this split. Holmes projects for 33 minutes, with Bjelica set for around 27.
Core Plays: Thaddeus Young, Jayson Tatum, Richaun Holmes
Secondary Plays: Nemanja Bjelica, Aaron Gordon ($5,700), Al Horford ($5,400)
Tournament Plays: John Collins ($7,300), Jarrett Allen ($5,100), Eric Paschall ($3,500)
Nikola Vucevic ($8,500) already has a 25.3% usage rate and a per-minute average of 1.31 FanDuel points on the season. Those improve to 27.9% and 1.34, respectively, without Jonathan Isaac on the court. Isaac is out. Vucevic has a tough on-paper matchup, as the Brooklyn Nets are top-six in both defensive rating and rebounding rate since the start of December, yet this is a substantial pace-up game for the high-usage Vucevic.
On the full season, Wendell Carter Jr. ($5,800) is a pretty low-usage player with or without Markkanen (around 15.0% with and without him). But over a 37.5-minute sample without Markkanen over the past two weeks, Carter's usage rate is 22.0%. He should see plenty of minutes against the Dallas Mavericks (numberFire projects Carter for 32), and we've seen him get 35.9 and 35.6 minutes the past two games.
Core Plays: Nikola Vucevic, Wendell Carter Jr.
Secondary Plays: Nikola Jokic ($8,800), Steven Adams ($6,100), Willie Cauley-Stein ($4,800)
Tournament Plays: Joel Embiid ($9,600), Rudy Gobert ($8,300), Enes Kanter ($5,400)