FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Friday 2/21/20

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.

The Slate

Away Home Over/
(Since 1/1)
(Since 1/1)
New Orleans Portland 237.5 +4.5 121.00 116.50 2 20
Cleveland Washington 236.5 -5.5 115.50 121.00 28 6
Memphis LA Lakers 232.5 -11.0 110.75 121.75 4 9
Phoenix Toronto 229.0 -7.5 110.75 118.25 13 11
Boston Minnesota 228.0 +7.5 117.75 110.25 16 12
San Antonio Utah 221.0 -7.0 107.00 114.00 18 29
Dallas Orlando 219.5 +4.0 111.75 107.75 25 26
Denver Oklahoma City 215.5 -1.5 107.00 108.50 24 14
Indiana New York 212.0 +6.5 109.25 102.75 21 19

Point Guard

Luka Doncic ($10,300) is the lone stud point guard on the slate because Damian Lillard is out. Not rostering Doncic, therefore, comes with opportunity cost. Not having him means we could miss out on the position's only massive ceiling. Even against the slow-paced Orlando Magic, Doncic rates out as a great value at his salary, and again...the ceiling thing really matters in tournaments.

Lonzo Ball ($6,300) and Malcolm Brogdon ($6,100) are mid-range options worth prioritizing. They couldn't be in much different game environments, as Ball's New Orleans Pelicans are in the game with the highest total of the night and Brogdon's Indiana Pacers are in the game with the lowest total of the night. Ball's combination of individual matchup, points spread, and over/under is best among all point guards.

Brogdon had played 30.6 or more minutes in eight straight games entering the All-Star break and produced at least 31.4 in six of the eight. The New York Knicks are 13th in defense against fantasy point guards among 18 teams playing tonight, as well.

Core Plays: Luka Doncic, Lonzo Ball, Malcolm Brogdon
Secondary Plays: Kyle Lowry ($7,400), Ish Smith ($4,900), Ricky Rubio ($5,600)
Tournament Plays: Chris Paul ($7,600), Collin Sexton ($6,000), Darius Garland ($4,500),

Shooting Guard

With Lillard out, the Portland Trail Blazers are going to be a go-to source of value. In that split, C.J. McCollum ($6,900) has a 33.9% usage rate and a per-36-minute average of 40.9 FanDuel points. He should play around 36 minutes tonight and would be worth around $8,000 at that average. Inject it into a matchup with the Pelicans, and we're really cooking.

Fred VanVleet ($6,500) was logging heavy minutes entering the break (37.3, 40.6, 33.0, 37.3, and 38.5). numberFire projects him for 36.0 minutes and the best value rating (5.8x -- or 5.8 FanDuel points per $1,000 in salary) of all shooting guard options tonight. Norman Powell and Patrick McCaw are both listed as doubtful, helping us ride with VanVleet.

Bradley Beal ($9,200) gets a crack at the dysfunctional Cleveland Cavaliers and owns the best 75th-percentile outcome at the position, according to my range-of-outcome projections. There are better floor plays -- McCollum, VanVleet, Marcus Smart ($5,400), Victor Oladipo ($4,600) -- but Beal's high-end upside is quite intriguing at the salary.

Core Plays: C.J. McCollum, Fred VanVleet, Bradley Beal
Secondary Plays: Marcus Smart, Victor Oladipo, Donovan Mitchell ($7,000)
Tournament Plays: D'Angelo Russell ($8,600), Devin Booker ($8,300), RJ Barrett ($4,300)

Small Forward

Carmelo Anthony ($4,900) is about as close to the lock button as we can get in NBA DFS. Anthony owns a 28.2% usage rate without Lillard, and he averages 0.92 FanDuel points per minute in that split. Melo projects for around 33 minutes against the Pelicans, and he has the third-best composite matchup among all small forwards.

Similar to Doncic, we have LeBron James ($10,400) as the lone small forward superstar. James profiles well against the uptempo Memphis Grizzlies. In fact, Memphis and the Los Angeles Lakers rank top-10 in offensive pace since the start of the new year. James' 25th-percentile outcome of 45.5 is about as high as any other small forward's 75th-percentile outcome (Pascal Siakam ($7,900) is at 46.3). James is a building block for that reason.

With no Kemba Walker and Robert Williams, Jaylen Brown ($5,700) has a 26.7% usage rate and averages 0.92 FanDuel points per minute -- numbers similar to Anthony's. Brown's matchup with the Minnesota Timberwolves, who are 16th among 18 teams playing tonight in small forward defense, gives him a great floor/ceiling combination in my model, trailing only Anthony's.

Core Plays: Carmelo Anthony, LeBron James, Jaylen Brown
Secondary Plays: Joe Ingles ($4,800), Kelly Oubre ($6,400), Bojan Bogdanovic ($5,600)
Tournament Plays: Pascal Siakam, Brandon Ingram ($8,400), Gordon Hayward ($7,000)

Power Forward

The key phrase for Anthony Davis ($10,600) is -- you guessed it -- "opportunity cost." Davis' 75th-percentile outcome of 62.9 FanDuel points is well ahead of anyone else's (Jayson Tatum ($8,700) is at 51.5). The Grizzlies are 16th among 18 teams playing in power forward defense. Davis should be about as fresh as he can be after the All-Star break, and we should take advantage of it while we can.

Zion Williamson ($7,500) has the best composite matchup among all power forwards. Zion entered the break with 50.3 and 40.7 FanDuel points in just 27.9 and 31.4 minutes. While we'll have to monitor his minutes down the stretch, coming off the break and in such a good matchup, we can go hard at Zion, who is an elite per-minute producer (1.24 FanDuel points per minute).

Serge Ibaka ($6,600) ranks as the best floor/ceiling power forward in my model. Marc Gasol remains out, and Ibaka has a 25.1% usage rate (plus 1.08 FanDuel points per minute) when Gasol is sidelined. The high total and low price points to safe game from Ibaka.

Core Plays: Anthony Davis, Zion Williamson, Serge Ibaka
Secondary Plays: Domantas Sabonis ($7,700), Daniel Theis ($5,000), Royce O'Neale ($3,500)
Tournament Plays: Jayson Tatum ($8,700), LaMarcus Aldridge ($7,300), Julius Randle ($8,000)


Let's go back to the well with the Blazers. Hassan Whiteside ($8,500) has just a 17.5% usage rate when Lillard is out, but he puts up 1.37 FanDuel points per minute in the split over a 101.5-minute sample. Whiteside's interior matchup rates out second-best when we look at the full game environment. It's a pretty easy case to make.

Rudy Gobert ($8,200) is also pretty costly, but these two rate out a cut above all centers for me. Gobert's matchup with the San Antonio Spurs is just fine, but he'll be without Mike Conley on the first night of a back-to-back. Gobert's numbers remain fairly unchanged with and without Conley, but we're looking at around 36 minutes against a mid-level center defense for someone who averages 1.23 FanDuel points per minute.

Core Plays: Hassan Whiteside, Rudy Gobert
Secondary Plays: Thomas Bryant ($4,000), Enes Kanter ($4,100)
Tournament Plays: Nikola Jokic ($10,100), Steven Adams ($6,000), JaVale McGee ($3,600)