FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Wednesday 8/12/20

Kawhi Leonard and James Harden are two of the core plays on today's NBA slate. Who else should you target?

After a 4.5-month hiatus, the 2019-20 NBA restart is officially underway.

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 Wednesday's four-game main slate, which locks at 4:00 PM ET.

Make sure to check the injury reports because these slates are turning out to be worse than NFL Preseason games.

Injuries to be aware of: Russell Westbrook (rest) will be out for the Houston Rockets tonight -- Eric Gordon is expected to make his return. T.J. Warren, Victor Oladipo, and Jeremy Lamb are out for the Indiana Pacers, while Malcolm Brogdon and Myles Turner are questionable. Al Horford, Joel Embiid, and Tobias Harris are all questionable for the Philadelphia 76ers. For the Oklahoma City Thunder, Danilo Gallinari, Steven Adams, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander are questionable. Patrick Beverley, Montrezl Harrell, and Landry Shamet are out for the Los Angeles Clippers. Serge Ibaka is questionable for the Toronto Raptors.

Point Guard

Warren and his 21.3 shot attempts per bubble game and 27.9% usage will be out tonight, which means there will be a heap of usage open for the taking. That onus could fall on one Malcolm Brogdon ($6,600) -- if he's active. Brogdon has scored 37.0 FanDuel points or more in three of his five bubble games, and the matchup against the Westbrook-less Rockets is salivating. Our model has Brogdon projected as the third-best value. If Brogdon were to sit, Aaron Holiday ($4,000) would be a no-brainer play. In 193.6 minutes without Brogdon, Warren, Oladipo, and Domantas Sabonis on the court, Holiday averages an additional 0.25 fantasy points per minute. In fact, he's worth considering even if Brogdon's active.

Austin Rivers ($5,500) dropped a season-high 57.2 fantasy points on Sunday with Westbrook sitting, and guess what? Westbrook's sitting again today. Rivers is an even riskier play with Gordon returning, though he's got significant upside that can't be ignored. Jamal Murray ($6,500) is reasonably priced for a guy who has already surpassed 50 fantasy points in one of his two games since returning. The absence of Beverley will certainly help his case. The Denver Nuggets can clinch a top-three seed with a win, so their regulars should be getting their traditional allotment of minutes.

Shooting Guard

James Harden ($10,800) is the core play at shooting guard. His usage with Westbrook off the court is an astronomical 43.8%, to go with an insane average of 1.78 fantasy points per minute. Harden has totaled 68.6 and 60.1 FanDuel points in two bubble games sans Westbrook. Alec Burks ($4,200) has recorded 28.8, 28.0, and 34.4 in his last three games, and that should continue today, especially if Philly's inactives list once again reads like a CVS receipt. Burks needs just 21 points for 5X value (or 5.0 points for every $1,000 in salary), and numberFire's algorithm has him surpassing 6X.

Denver's been one of the best teams at defending opposing shooting guards, but our model has Paul George ($7,500) attaining 5X with ease in a battle for the 2 seed in the West. PG13 has been consistent in the bubble, posting performances of 44.5, 42.1, 37.7, 40.4, and 36.2 in his five games, respectively. Look out for Tyler Herro ($4,800) and Duncan Robinson ($4,200) as potential value plays, depending on Miami's inactives. Herro has totaled at least 21.1 FanDuel points in five straight, including an average of 35.3 over his last three. Of the two, he's my preferred start.

Small Forward

Kawhi Leonard ($8,700) is still cheap enough that you can roster him in a lineup with a couple of other studs. Kawhi finally displayed that ceiling game we've been waiting for, posting 60.4 fantasy points against the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday. Regardless of the ceiling, Leonard needs just 43.5 for 5X, and he's exceeded that in three of five games since the restart. Even if Gallinari returns, Darius Bazley ($4,800) could still be worth a look if Adams can't go. Bazley's been getting run as a small-ball center, posting 22.8, 34.9, and 43.5 fantasy points over his last three. Miami's been tough on frontcourts, but Bazley's price is low enough to mitigate the risk. But again, his value depends on who is playing for OKC.

OG Anunoby ($4,100) has averaged a whopping 44.6 FanDuel points in the last five games Ibaka has missed. Anunoby is our model's second-highest projected value, but that's predicated on his being active and Ibaka's being inactive. Justin Holiday ($3,500) averaged 26.4 fantasy points in the four games Warren missed this season, and he's our model's top-projected value at small forward.

Tobias Harris ($7,400) is worth a look if he's active and Embiid and/or Horford are not.

Power Forward

If Al Horford ($6,200) can get on the court, he'd be a solid start, especially if Embiid can't go. With Embiid and Simmons off the court, Horford averages an additional 0.13 fantasy points per minute. At $6,200, he'd need just 31 points to reach 5X -- that's an easily-surpassable number for him if the volume is there. Jeff Green ($4,000) has averaged 25.4 fantasy points over his last four, and he needs just 20 for 5X tonight. Luckily, he gets to face a Pacers team that's allowing the second-most point to opposing power forwards in the bubble. He's our model's second-highest projected value at the position.

Our algorithm's highest-projected value is Marcus Morris ($4,600). The Morris twin has posted at least 24.8 fantasy points in each of his last four and will look to continue that streak going against a Nuggets team allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to power forwards. Michael Porter Jr. ($7,900) gets a brutal matchup but is still worth considering. Porter Jr. has dropped 55.9 and 47.2 fantasy points on the Thunder and Utah Jazz, the fifth- and fourth-stingiest teams, respectively, to the position since the league returned.


In 141.9 minutes with Sabonis and Warren off the court, Myles Turner ($6,000) has seen a 6.7% usage bump to go with an increase of 0.30 fantasy points per minute. He's an extremely enticing play against the small-ball lineup of the Rockets.

If Embiid and Horford are out, Kyle O'Quinn ($3,500) is worth considering despite a horrendous matchup. The Raptors are the league's toughest team against centers, but O'Quinn is fresh off a 45.5-point performance and is priced at a minimum salary.