3 NBA FanDuel Studs to Target on 1/15/20

Russell Westbrook is back in action tonight and against the Trail Blazers in what could be the game of the night. What other stars should you pay up for tonight?

Basketball is the most consistent sport for daily fantasy purposes.

A top slugger in baseball will have his fair share of 0-for-4 days, and an elite fantasy football player is at risk of having games where his team's offense as a whole is shut down. A high-priced NBA stud is generally going to get his, though. With so many possessions in a game providing opportunities to produce, top fantasy basketball options will be posting high scores just about every night.

While this consistency puts us in a good position to identify top plays, it also means you can't afford to miss when you're paying up for someone. Even with strong value plays in your lineup, paying up and getting a dud is likely going to leave your lineup drawing pretty close to dead.

Let's get right into it and look at which top players should be the focal points of your lineups tonight.

LeBron James, SF, Los Angeles Lakers ($10,800)

While Anthony Davis is being listed as questionable for tonight's game against the Orlando Magic, but he's missed three games and still wasn't taking any contact at Tuesday's practice, so it sounds like he's got at least one more game on the shelf ahead of him.

In four games without the Brow this year, LeBron James has averaged 1.58 FanDuel points per minute on a 36.1% usage rate — up from 1.50 on 31.3% usage when Davis plays. For all minutes played with Davis on and off the court this year, the King goes from 1.47 per minute on 29.8% usage (on) to 1.53 on 37.6% usage (off).

James' minutes have been down a bit in the last few games (driven by blowouts), but that means his salary hasn't budged at all to reflect Davis' absence, leaving James under-priced here.

Russell Westbrook, PG, Houston Rockets ($9,200)

Well-rested after sitting the front half of a back-to-back last night, Russell Westbrook could be in for some increased volume tonight.

We're dealing with a tiny sample size here, but the last time he sat the first game in a back-to-back set, he posted a massive 46.2% usage rate (compared to 33.5% for James Harden) in his return. Every other time he sat, it had been the second game. A one-game sample certainly doesn't mean it's a lock that his volume will be up tonight, but we also don't need to rely entirely on that upside to make him worth a play here.

He's averaging 45.6 FanDuel points per game on the year, which comes in just shy of 5.0 per $1,000 of salary tonight. This game has the potential to be a real shootout, with a slate-high 236-point over/under, and the Portland Trail Blazers have allowed the NBA's seventh-most fantasy points per minute to opposing point guards.

Kyrie Irving, PG, Brooklyn Nets ($7,900)

There's still some risk in playing Kyrie Irving as he works his way back from a prolonged injury absence, but he has said he plans to play both halves of this back-to-back set, so he should be in action for the Brooklyn Nets tonight.

His minutes jumped from just shy of 20 to 32.3 from his first to his second game back, and he's looked more than comfortable, shooting a combined 22-of-30 from the field in those games.

This price-tag still firmly reflects his injured status, as he's averaged an outstanding 48.1 FanDuel points in 32.6 minutes per game on the year. Even if his minutes fall tonight, we know his efficiency is back to normal, and he'd need to play only 26.9 minutes to return 5-times value on this salary at his season-average clip of 1.47 fantasy points per minute. A matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers certainly hurts on the efficiency front, but the upside that he plays north of 30 minutes again more than makes up for that concern.

Jason Schandl is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Jason Schandl also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username Jaymun. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.