3 NBA FanDuel Studs to Target on 2/4/20

In a fantasy-friendly matchup with the Pels, Giannis Antetokounmpo offers a monster ceiling tonight. Who else is worth paying up for?

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.

James Harden, SG, Houston Rockets ($11,600)

James Harden's salary has rebounded in full after he snapped out of his slump with 72.2 and 67.5 FanDuel points in his last two games, but he's more than worth his usual lofty salary with Russell Westbrook doubtful for tonight's game against the Charlotte Hornets.

Harden's a top fantasy producer even when Westbrook plays, averaging 56.8 FanDuel points per game in that sample. His numbers have been especially gaudy in five games without Russ, though, with his usage rate jump from 35.6% to 47.8% and his fantasy points per game up to a ridiculous 63.4.

Five games is a small sample, but his usage and efficiency also take huge jumps if we look at his splits in all minutes played with Westbrook on and off the floor this year (1.47 FanDuel points per minute on 32.8% usage on, up to 1.83 and 45.8% off). Add in a matchup against a Hornets squad that checks in with a bottom-five defensive rating, and this is a dream spot for Harden.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF, Milwaukee Bucks ($11,500)

This is really a day to pay up for the top studs if you can manage to swing it with your value plays. Giannis Antetokounmpo draws the New Orleans Pelicans matchup that just saw Harden snap for 67.5 fantasy points.

The Pels combine a weak defensive rating (25th) and high pace (5th) to surrender the NBA's third-most points per game to opponents, while also giving up above-average rebounding numbers.

Antetokounmpo is the most efficient fantasy producer in the NBA by a huge margin. Looking at everyone who has played at least 500 minutes this year, second through fifth place in FanDuel points per minute ranges from 1.60 (Luka Doncic) to 1.51 (Anthony Davis). In first place, Giannis averages 1.87. The Milwaukee Bucks are expected to 187 the Pelicans tonight, with a massive 125.5-point implied total, and Giannis' upside is through the roof.

Jrue Holiday, SG, New Orleans Pelicans ($7,500)

On the other side of that game, numberFire's models project Jrue Holiday to return the most fantasy points per $1,000 of salary (5.3) of anyone on the slate priced north of $7K.

Holiday's numbers have fluctuated over his six games since Zion Williamson debuted, but his average of 39.4 FanDuel points per game in that stretch hits the 5.3-times value mark right on the head. He's also been above 5-times value (37.5) in four of the past six, with a median of 39.7.

The Bucks' defense is deadly, but this is one of the few matchups that actually sees New Orleans playing up in pace, as the Bucks lead the league in that category. With a 244.5-point over/under and two teams that rank top-five in pace, this game should be full of fantasy goodness.

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.