FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Tuesday 8/18/20

It's here. The NBA playoffs are finally upon us.

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 Tuesday's four-game main slate, which locks at 1:30 PM ET.

Injuries to be aware of: For the Orlando Magic, Aaron Gordon is questionable, while Michael Carter-Williams is doubtful. Russell Westbrook is out for the Houston Rockets, while Danuel House Jr. seems to be closer to probable. T.J. Warren practiced in full and appears to be primed to play for the Indiana Pacers.

Point Guard

Given his recent form, it is very difficult to look past Damian Lillard ($10,100). Dame has recorded at least 50.4 fantasy points in four straight and has posted at least 65.1 in four of his last six contests. At his price point, Lillard needs 50.5 fantasy points to achieve 5X value (or 5.0 fantasy points for every $1,000 in salary), and he accomplished that (or came within 0.1 points of it) in six of his last eight seeding games. At the end of January, Lillard torched the Los Angeles Lakers for 78.8 fantasy points, and LA's backcourt defense has hardly improved since -- the absences of Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley won't help matters. Our models have Lillard outscoring the next closest point guard by 14.4 points.

Our models love Eric Bledsoe ($5,800) on this slate, projecting him as the best value at the position. Bled comes in priced under $6.0K, and he needs just 29.0 points to achieve 5X value -- he's exceeded that total in 33 of his 61 games this year, and a number of the games where he failed to reach it came in limited minutes. In that range, numberFire's algorithm also likes Markelle Fultz ($5,500), projecting him as the second-best value behind Bledsoe. Fultz will face a Milwaukee Bucks defense that allowed the most fantasy points to opposing point guards in the bubble, at 53.5 per game.

Chris Paul ($7,200) is always worth considering, especially if you'd like to pursue high-upside options at other slots. CP3's ceiling isn't elite, though he does have one of the safer floors. In Oklahoma City's five meaningful bubble games, Paul averaged 39.2 fantasy points while never dropping below 32.4. In 70 games this season, Paul has recorded at least 35 fantasy points 45 times. That's a 64.3% rate. He needs 36 for 5X value tonight. In three games against the Rockets this season, Paul has totaled 25.8, 43.7, and 50.1 fantasy points. Our model has him projected for 38.0 on Tuesday.

Shooting Guard

With Westbrook off the court, I'm going to be turning to James Harden ($11,500) 100 times out of 100. Harden is $500 more expensive than anyone else on the slate, but ask me if I care? Hint: I don't. Excluding Friday's useless matchup, Harden has averaged 63.8 fantasy points in 12 games without Westbrook on the court this season -- he totaled at least 59 in eight of them and 68-plus in five of them. He scored less than 55.7 just once. It all makes sense -- his usage without Westbrook jumps by 7.0% and his fantasy points per minute get a bump of 0.17. The Thunder, Harden's opponent, allowed the sixth-most points to shooting guards in the bubble.

Jimmy Butler ($7,800) posted 45.3, 40.9, and 52.7 FanDuel points in the only three meaningful games he played in the bubble -- the latter performance came against the Pacers, Tuesday's opponent. Butler needs 39.0 points for 5X on Tuesday, and he's exceeded that in 32 of his 58 games this season. In that same range, Khris Middleton ($7,000) is our model's top-projected value at the position. In the four bubble games where Khash saw meaningful minutes, he posted 38.0, 44.4, 49.2, and 39.7 fantasy points. Don't expect a slate-winning performance, but Middleton is a great value.

There isn't much available at the position as far as value is concerned, but if you're in need of savings, paying down to Dennis Schroder ($5,700) is not the worst idea. Schroder's price is depressed since this will be just his third game since the restart, but he has the potential to return great value. At $5.7K, Schroder needs 28.5 points for 5X value -- he exceeded that in 33 of his 65 games this season.

Small Forward

The small forward position starts and ends with Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,000). Giannis comes in $500 cheaper than Harden, so if you can't afford that extra cash, go for the soon-to-be two-time MVP. In the four bubble games where he actually saw his usual allotment of minutes, Giannis posted 68.5, 69.6, 50.4, and 62.1 FanDuel points. Giannis needs 55.0 points for 5X tonight, and he's topped that in 35 of the 60 games in which he's played 20 or more minutes this season. Giannis will face the Magic, who allowed the second-most points to small forwards in the bubble. Am I trying to fit both Giannis and Harden in my lineups? Hell. Yeah.

numberFire's models have Evan Fournier ($5,300) as the second-best value at small forward, and that'll be even more so the case if Gordon can't go. Fournier needs 26.5 points to reach 5X tonight, and he's exceeded that number in 37 of his 66 games this season. With Gordon off the court, no player on the Magic sees a higher bump in usage than Fournier's 3.6%. In that same range, our model has Danilo Gallinari ($5,200) as the top value at the position, though his recent usage is cause for concern.

While Harden sees a huge bump in volume with Westbrook sitting, so does Eric Gordon ($4,500). With Brodie off the court, Gordon receives a usage increase of 5.5% to go with a bump of 0.14 fantasy points per minute. At his salary, Gordon would need just 22.5 fantasy points to reach 5X value.

Power Forward

Anthony Davis ($10,000) is the cream of the crop at power forward. His 51.1-fantasy point projection is 9.5 points higher than the next closest player at the position. In three games against Portland this season, AD has pegged them for 42.3, 64.8, and 79.0 points on FanDuel. In the bubble, only four teams allowed more fantasy points to power forwards than the Blazers.

In the mid-range, our models like both Bam Adebayo ($7,500), and, if he's active, Aaron Gordon ($6,600). I'm holding off on those two, as neither player had much success against their respective opponents. Though, if I had to choose, I'd go pay up and go for Bam.

Instead, I'd like to throw a dart at Nerlens Noel ($3,700). Noel didn't do much of anything in the bubble, though he did exceed 18.5 points -- what he needs for 5x -- three times. The Rockets allowed the most points to power forwards and third-most points to opposing centers in the bubble, and Noel could be counted on to play the five against Houston's small-ball lineup.


Given the matchup, it should come as no surprise that our model likes Steven Adams ($5,400). In fact, Adams is numberFire's top-projected value at center. I don't think we should bank on a huge ceiling for the OKC big man, but topping 30.0 fantasy points is well within his range of outcomes. In that range, I'd much prefer Brook Lopez ($5,800). Lopez has been red-hot in the bubble, posting 32.8 fantasy points or more in five of his seven contests -- that includes two games with 45.4 and 48.4.

If you still have the salary, I'd consider paying up for Nikola Vucevic ($7,900), especially if Gordon is a no-go. In three matches with Milwaukee, Vuce has posted 32.4, 50.6, 50.8 -- either of the latter two would exceed 6X value.