FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Friday 1/31/20
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.
Let's kick it off with a big injury: Luka Doncic is out due to an ankle sprain. That'll open up a ton of usage and minutes for the Dallas Mavericks. Jalen Brunson ($3,600) has a 22.2% usage rate and a per-minute average of 1.01 FanDuel points without Doncic on the floor. Brunson played has minutes into the 30s back in mid-December when given the opportunity, and he gets a pace-up matchup with the Houston Rockets at near minimum salary.
Eric Bledsoe ($6,100) and the Milwaukee Bucks could benefit from an injury to their star, as Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,600) is listed as questionable with a shoulder injury. Bledsoe has a stellar 33.7% usage rate without Giannis, which would rank him sixth on the full season (Kawhi Leonard's is 33.8%, for reference). Bledsoe also is productive in that sample with 1.48 FanDuel points per minute.
Monte Morris' ($4,300) Denver Nuggets are also thin: Jamal Murray, Paul Millsap, and Gary Harris are listed as out. Morris has played 35.1, 33.9, and 32.1 minutes over the past three games and boasts an 18.9% usage rate without those three on the floor. The ceiling hasn't been massive, but he remains cheap for his role.
Core Plays: Jalen Brunson, Eric Bledsoe, Monte Morris
Secondary Plays: Kyrie Irving ($8,900), Kyle Lowry ($7,100), Ricky Rubio ($5,500)
Tournament Plays: Russell Westbrook ($11,100), Reggie Jackson ($4,600), Jose Juan Barea ($3,600)
James Harden ($10,100) has been underwhelming for some time now but played 38 minutes on Wednesday despite a leg injury. We should be able to bank on the minutes again. There's modest blowout risk, as the Rockets are favored by 9.5 against a Mavericks team without Doncic, but Harden could get an opportunity to get things flowing again. Dallas is just an average defense against combo guards such as Harden.
Khris Middleton ($7,200) has a 33.8% usage rate and a per-minute average of 1.38 FanDuel points when Antetokounmpo is off the floor. Middleton played 35.9 minutes last game without Giannis and took 26 shots, en route to 51 points and 70.0 FanDuel points. The matchup is very different than it was then against the Washington Wizards, but the Nuggets are only 14th against scoring wings.
Delon Wright ($4,200) puts up 1.12 FanDuel points per minute when Doncic is off the court, and that'll work at his salary. Wright is coming off a 15.7-minute, 5.50-FanDuel-point dud but had 14 points and 12 rebounds the game prior over 27.1 minutes. We can trust a bounce back with the added opportunity from Doncic's absence.
Core Plays: James Harden, Khris Middleton, Delon Wright
Secondary Plays: Zach LaVine ($8,300), Jrue Holiday ($7,600), Fred VanVleet ($7,000)
Tournament Plays: Devin Booker ($8,900), Dillon Brooks ($5,600), Bruce Brown Jr. ($4,300), Kyle Anderson ($3,600)
Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,600) and LeBron James ($11,200) top the small forward list, and we know Antetokounmpo could miss. James, then, would own an elite, elite ceiling relative to all other small forwards. It's more of an opportunity cost situation than a ringing endorsement for James, who has only twice surpassed 50 FanDuel points in his past seven games. Anthony Davis ($10,300) is questionable as always, though, and James' numbers go through the roof with Davis on the bench (36.2% usage rate and 1.57 FanDuel points per minute).
Tim Hardaway Jr. ($4,300) and Dorian Finney-Smith ($4,100) can benefit from Doncic's departure. Hardaway (0.77) and Finney-Smith (0.73) average poor per-minute production despite very different usage rates (25.2% for Hardaway Jr. and 13.7% for DFS). Both could clear 30 minutes at cheap salaries.
Trevor Ariza ($4,300) won't really see a minutes boost with Carmelo Anthony out, but that's only because he's already logging a ton of them. Ariza has played 35.8, 32.0, and 38.3 minutes in three games with the Portland Trail Blazers. Ariza has twice broken 30 FanDuel points and 20 actual points with the team (37.4, 10.3, and 33.3 FanDuel points with 21, 7, and 21 actual points).
Core Plays: LeBron James, Tim Hardaway Jr., Trevor Ariza
Secondary Plays: Will Barton ($5,700), Giannis Antetokounmpo (questionable), Dorian Finney-Smith
Tournament Plays: Pascal Siakam ($8,300), Jae Crowder ($4,400), Taurean Prince ($5,300)
Anthony Davis ($10,300) is questionable as always, but if he plays, he's in a full tier of his own because no other power forward is pried above $6,500. Davis' ceiling is a full 20 points higher than any other power forward's tonight. If Davis sits, then Kyle Kuzma ($4,300) would slot into core play territory as a starter. Kuzma has a 24.9% usage rate without Davis and gets minutes in the mid-30s without him.
Kristaps Porzingis ($6,400) puts up 1.37 FanDuel points per minute on a 28.6% usage rate without Doncic, and his price has been cut due to a limited role (fewer than 27.5 in five straight games). However, he can pay off with the elevated efficiency even if the minutes don't jump up.
Serge Ibaka ($5,700) played 33 minutes last night but has been on a tear of late: 33.4, 20.0, 35.0, 42.0, and 37.3 FanDuel points in his past five games. Ibaka is cleared up for a safe role with Marc Gasol and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson out. Ibaka owns a 25.6% usage rate without them. The Detroit Pistons are 12th among 14 teams playing tonight in power forward defense.
Core Plays: Anthony Davis, Kristaps Porzingis, Serge Ibaka
Secondary Plays: Brandon Clarke ($5,200), Zion Williamson ($6,500), Derrick Favors ($5,600)
Tournament Plays: Ersan Ilyasova ($3,600), Jarrett Allen ($6,300), Thaddeus Young ($5,200)
Jaren Jackson Jr. is suspended for this game, opening value for all the Memphis Grizzlies. Jonas Valanciunas ($7,000) separates from the field a bit. He has a 23.8% usage rate and averages 1.31 FanDuel points per minute without JJJ. The New Orleans Pelicans and Grizzlies have the best overall game environment of the night.
After Valanciunas -- at least until we get a lot of news -- it's a pretty clustered tier of can't-complain options: Andre Drummond ($9,600), Clint Capela ($7,200), Hassan Whiteside ($8,300), Deandre Ayton ($8,200), and Nikola Jokic ($9,800). Nobody particularly separates from the pack, and all rate out pretty similarly in my range-of-outcome model when adjusting for price. Ayton would get the nod if I had to pick because Aron Baynes is out, and Ayton has played 38.6, 30.5, 26.0, 39.6, and 29.2 minutes over his past five without Baynes.