FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Wednesday 1/8/20

Wednesday brings with it a big slate of nine games. Who is primed for a big fantasy night?

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/
ChicagoNew Orleans224.5-4.5110.0114.553
San AntonioBoston219.5-5.5107.0112.51219
MilwaukeeGolden State217.5+13.5115.5102.0114
New YorkUtah216.0-12.5101.75114.251723

It's a heavy nine-game slate tonight, and the matchup between the Houston Rockets and Atlanta Hawks is the matchup of the night. The New Orleans Pelicans and Chicago Bulls both rank top-five in offensive pace, though, and that game is certainly stackable.

Shooting Guard

James Harden ($11,200) will be without Russell Westbrook tonight, and that means we have to take note. With Westbrook off the floor this season, Harden has a 46.8% usage rate and averages 1.74 FanDuel points per minute. Not only that, but his game has the highest total of the night, and the Hawks and Rockets are both top-10 in pace.

Evan Fournier ($5,700) and the Orlando Magic face the Washington Wizards, who are 30th in defensive rating since the start of December. numberFire projects Fournier for 34 minutes and an elite value rating of 5.37 FanDuel points per $1,000 in salary (or 5.37x value). He's a high floor play in the matchup, as he'll be without Jonathan Isaac.

With Jrue Holiday out, Josh Hart ($4,100) doesn't see a huge usage bump (it's still just 16.7%), but the Pelicans/Bulls game has plenty of fantasy appeal. Hart played 27 minutes last game with no Holiday -- against the Utah Jazz -- and put up a disappointing 13.1 FanDuel points in a tough spot. The Chicago Bulls are actually second in defensive rating since the start of December, but the tempo and total suggest the production will correct for Hart.

Core Plays: James Harden, Evan Fournier, Josh Hart
Secondary Plays: DeMar DeRozan ($7,000), Donte DiVincenzo ($7,000), J.J. Redick ($4,200)
Tournament Plays:
Devonte' Graham ($7,300), Donovan Mitchell ($8,300), Gary Harris ($4,200)


Center is pretty deep tonight, but two players in particular stand out, and both are pricey.

Nikola Vucevic ($8,800) should dominate the Wizards, who rank 28th in rebounding since the calendar flipped to December. Vucevic averages 1.35 FanDuel points per minute and a 27.3% usage rate when Isaac is out. He simply isn't priced up enough.

Clint Capela ($7,600) is in an uptempo matchup with the Hawks, whose rebounding rate (48.4%) with John Collins ($7,400) on the court would still only be 27th on the full season. Capela is projected for a huge workload of 35 minutes, and his value rating of 5.68 is third-best among all centers -- even at the elevated salary.

Core Plays: Nikola Vucevic, Clint Capela
Secondary Plays: Rudy Gobert ($7,900), Cody Zeller ($4,200), Alex Len ($4,400)
Tournament Plays: Nikola Jokic ($9,300), Bismack Biyombo ($4,400), Jaxson Hayes ($3,500)

Point Guard

Malcolm Brogdon ($5,200) is questionable with his back injury, so we just have to keep an eye out. Brodgon's price would make him a stellar play, however, and he is projected for 6.37 FanDuel points per $1,000 today, based on numberFire's projections. He's second in per-dollar value ratings in my model on the full slate behind only Harden. The matchup with Miami is suboptimal, yet the price is too low for the productive Brogdon (1.13 FanDuel points per minute).

Trae Young ($9,000) and Harden should be popular pairs, as a lacking performance from Young could lead to a blowout in favor of Houston. Young has a per-minute average of 1.30 FanDuel points as well as a usage rate of 33.7%, fourth-best in the NBA. Young has the second-best tournament value rating in my range-of-outcome projections.

Because Harden is such a lock, Luka Doncic ($11,500) could be slightly overlooked in a could-be-ugly game with the Denver Nuggets. That total is 16.5 points below that of the Rockets/Hawks game, and both teams are outside the top 20 in offensive pace. Despite a low pace, Doncic ranks second in the NBA in FanDuel points per minute (1.66) and always has eruption potential, especially in a close game.

Core Plays: Malcolm Brogdon, Trae Young, Luka Doncic
Secondary Plays: Kyle Lowry ($8,200), Lonzo Ball ($6,300), Kris Dunn ($4,700)
Tournament Plays: Eric Bledsoe ($5,900), Terry Rozier ($6,700), Tomas Satoransky ($6,000)

Power Forward

The Rockets are 13th among 18 teams in action against power forwards but actually bottom-two against versatile bigs such as John Collins ($7,400). Collins gets a great draw, then, in addition to a great fantasy environment -- one with plenty of possessions. Collins has played at least 29 minutes in four of six games since returning.

P.J. Tucker ($4,200) actually has terrible numbers without Westbrook on the court (an 8.4% usage rate and just 0.53 FanDuel points per minute), but he still rates out for a value mark of 5.22 because of 33.5 expected minutes against a weak Hawks defense.

Michael Porter Jr. ($3,900) has an opportunity to shine with Will Barton out. numberFire projects Porter for 27 minutes and a slate-best 6.86 FanDuel points per $1,000. Porter Jr. has 21.4% usage rate and averages 1.03 FanDuel points per minute on the season. If he comes close to 25 to 27 minutes, he should destroy value.

Core Plays: John Collins, P.J. Tucker, Michael Porter Jr.
Secondary Plays: Derrick Favors ($6,900), Draymond Green ($5,700), Serge Ibaka ($7,400)
Tournament Plays: Bam Adebayo ($8,400), LaMarcus Aldridge ($7,300), Aaron Gordon ($6,200)

Small Forward

Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,400) could get a little lost in the fold, as well. The Milwaukee Bucks once again carry blowout risk against the Golden State Warriors, who are still a solid 14th in offensive pace. Golden State is a top-10 defense since December, but Antetokounmpo leads the NBA in per-minute fantasy production and has a ceiling just 2.0 FanDuel points shy of Harden's.

Danuel House Jr. ($4,400) and Eric Gordon ($4,200) are pieces of the Rockets offense who benefit from Westbrook's absence. Both have actually bad per-minute numbers (0.60 and 0.62, respectively), though Gordon does have a 23.6% usage rate (while House is at 16.2%). The bigger point is that they should each play around 30 minutes in the best overall game of the night and are priced below $4,500.

With Norman Powell doubtful and other key injuries for the Toronto Raptors, we should see some extra OG Anunoby ($4,700). Anunoby is projected to clear 30 minutes tonight and is seventh in my model regardless of position as well as the best tournament value among small forwards.

Core Plays: Giannis Antetokounmpo, OG Anunoby, Danuel House Jr.
Secondary Plays: Eric Gordon, Bojan Bogdanovic ($5,900), Glenn Robinson III ($4,200)
Tournament Plays: Brandon Ingram ($9,300), Gordon Hayward ($6,500), Joe Ingles ($5,700)