FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Friday 7/31/20

After a 4.5-month hiatus, the 2019-20 NBA season has finally returned.

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 -- and that's especially the case now.

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 Friday's six-game slate.

The Slate

"Away" "Home" Over/
Houston Dallas 226.5 +1.0 113.75 112.75 3 14
Phoenix Washington 225.5 +6.5 116.00 109.50 7 4
Memphis Portland 222.5 -1.5 110.50 112.00 5 9
Boston Milwaukee 217.5 -4.5 106.50 111.00 13 1
Sacramento San Antonio 216.0 +2.5 109.25 106.75 17 12
Orlando Brooklyn 210.5 +6.5 108.50 102.00 20 8

Injuries/opt-outs to be aware of (via numberFire player news): For the Brooklyn Nets, Taurean Prince, Spencer Dinwiddie, Wilson Chandler, and DeAndre Jordan have opted out of the NBA restart. For the Orlando Magic, Wes Iwundu is unlikely to play, while Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz is questionable. Eric Gordon is OUT for the Houston Rockets, and Danuel House Jr. will start in his place. Eric Bledsoe and Pat Connaughton are OUT for the Milwaukee Bucks. Sacramento Kings' Marvin Bagley III is OUT for the restart. Willie Cauley-Stein has opted-out of the league's return for the Dallas Mavericks. Bradley Beal won't partake in the league's return for the Washington Wizards. LaMarcus Aldridge will miss the remainder of the season for the San Antonio Spurs.

(All matchup data is via RotoGrinders)

Point Guard

In the seven games Beal has missed this season, Ish Smith ($4,400) posted an average of 33.6 FanDuel points. Smith would need just 22 points to reach 5X value (or 5.0 FanDuel points per $1,000 in salary), and 33.6 would put him past 7X. As an added bonus, the Phoenix Suns are the most generous team to opposing point guards. If you're looking to load your lineup with studs, Smith is a great salary saver. He's our model's top projected value at the position. Russell Westbrook ($9,800) being priced under $10K hasn't happened since January and makes him a stud worth pursuing. Our model has him as the fourth-highest scorer on the slate.

Our model also sees Ja Morant ($6,300) surpassing 6X value. Morant seems underpriced for a guy with a ceiling of 50-plus. The rookie would need 31.5 points to achieve 5X, and that's a number he's surpassed in 31 of his 59 games this season. His opponent, the Portland Trail Blazers, allow the eighth-most points to the position. Smith isn't the only point guard on Washington worth rostering. Shabazz Napier ($6,200) will have to take on some of the scoring load with Beal out, though he's considerably more expensive than his backcourt mate. Napier had three performances of 37-plus fantasy points in 15 games with Washington, and they'll need his production now more than ever. Whether or not Markelle Fultz ($5,700) plays, D.J. Augustin ($4,300) would be an option worth pursuing. The Nets are the third-worst team against point guards.

If you want extreme salary savings, look no further than George Hill ($3,800). With Bledsoe and Connaughton out for Milwaukee, Hill should get a lot of run at point. San Antonio's Derrick White ($5,200) is one of our model's favorite value plays in a great matchup.

Shooting Guard

A matchup with the Rockets should have Luka Doncic ($10,800) licking his chops. The Rockets struggle defending guards, which puts Doncic in a prime position for an explosive performance. In his lone matchup with Houston this year, Doncic dropped 67.2 FanDuel points. That'll play. Our model has him as the fourth-best value at shooting guard despite the price. Any time he faces the Boston Celtics, Khris Middleton ($7,100) must be considered a core play. At his price, Middleton needs 35.5 points to reach 5X, and he's gone past that in 13 of his 22 games against Boston in the last three seasons. With Bledsoe off the court, Middleton sees a usage bump of 5.9% and scores as an additional 0.18 fantasy points per minute. The Celtics are a below-average team defending the position. He's our model's top projected value.

Like Westbrook, James Harden ($10,600) is the cheapest he's been since January. I don't need to tell you about his ceiling, though I should mention that he has blown past what he needs for 5X (53.0 for tonight) in four of his six matchups with Dallas over the last two seasons. In fact, he scored more than 55.0 in 11 of his 19 games prior to the hiatus. However, during that same stretch, Harden had seven outputs of 42.9 or less. Given all of Brooklyn's opt-outs, it should come as no surprise that our model loves Garrett Temple ($4,500). Temple scored 30-plus FanDuel points in three of his six games before suspension of play, and he's dirt cheap (unlike Caris LeVert ($8,200)) despite so much available usage. Temple's our algorithm's third-best projected value at the position.

As a salary-saver, you can certainly do worse than Dillon Brooks ($4,300). Only Middleton is a better-projected value at the position, according to our models.

Small Forward

The last time Giannis Antetokounmpo ($10,700) was priced below $11K this season was never. Don't get used to it, because I'm sure it won't be a common occurrence. Giannis needs just 53.5 points for 5X, and he's only scored below that number 22 times this season. In 11 of those 22, he still scored more than 48. Understandably, Giannis sees a bump in usage and fantasy scoring with Bledsoe off the court, making this an even better play. You simply can't beat the price and combination of floor and ceiling. Anything but 100% rostership is wrong. In the same game, Jaylen Brown ($5,800) is a great play. Brown needs 29 points for 5X, and he out-paced that in 36 of his 50 games this season. In terms of fantasy production, Milwaukee is one of the more generous teams to small forwards.

Our model has Rudy Gay ($4,700) surpassing 6X value. Gay averaged 26.0 FanDuel points in his eight games before suspension of play. With Aldridge missing the remainder of the season, Gay should see a significant bump in usage. Add in the fact that Sacramento is ninth-worst at defending the position, and you've got a solid play. Troy Brown ($4,600) is well worth a look with Beal out. In the seven games Beal missed, Brown averaged 31.0 fantasy points -- that includes performances of 48.3, 41.7, and 36.5. The Suns are the fifth-most generous team against the position.

Our models love Kyle Anderson ($4,200), if you're in need of the savings.

Power Forward

Jaren Jackson Jr. ($4,700) is our model's top projected at power forward. Jackson needs just 23.5 points to reach 5X at Friday's price, and he's gone below that number in just 13 of 54 games this season. In comparison, he had 27 games with 30-plus on FanDuel. 30 points would put him beyond 6X. Given Houston's lack of size, it's no surprise that they allow the second-most point to opposing power forwards. That's where Kristaps Porzingis ($9,300) comes into play. In his two matchups with the Rockets, Porzingis posted 51.1 and 54.4 FanDuel points -- he needs just 46.5 for 5X. The seven-footer also exceeded 65.2 points in three of his five games before the hiatus.

For the Kings, Nemanja Bjelica ($4,500) and Richaun Holmes ($3,900) are rated as our third- and second-best positional values, respectively. Both have displayed the ability to go well beyond what's needed for 5X, though they could cannibalize each other's value a bit.

Robert Covington ($5,800) needs 29 points for 5X, and he exceeded that in 9 of his 14 games with Houston. Our model has him projected as the fifth-best value in what is a pretty enticing matchup.


Depending on your roster construction, center is loaded with excellent values at every price point. In eight games with Jordan out, Jarrett Allen ($6,700) averaged 37.7 points, including performances of 42.3, 63.7, 40.3, and 52.5. Orlando allows the eighth-most points to opposing centers.

Ian Mahinmi ($3,800) is currently rated as numberFire's best value on the entire slate. Mahinmi had performances of 29.0, 44.5, and 33.6 when Beal was out. In fact, a number of his top performances came when Beal was either inactive or limited.

On the expensive side, numberFire's algorithm likes Nikola Vucevic ($8,300). He's the model's highest projected scoring center by more than 4.0 points.