FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Tuesday 12/22/20

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 the NBA's two game opening night, which sees the Brooklyn Nets play host to the Golden State Warriors and the reigning champion Los Angeles Lakers taking on the Los Angeles Clippers.

Point Guard

The point guard position is headlined by two players we didn't see much of in 2020 -- Stephen Curry ($8,700) and Kyrie Irving ($9,000). Curry dropped 29 points in each of his final two preseason games in 28 and 29 minutes, respectively. He figures to see a full allotment of minutes, and his usage rate should be through the roof if the Golden State Warriors hope to remain competitive in games like these. At $8,700, Steph would need 43.5 FanDuel points to achieve 5X value (or 5.0 fantasy points for every $1,000 in salary) -- that's not a number he should have much trouble reaching. For Kyrie, this will be his first non-preseason action since February 1st. He did see 28 minutes in his final warmup action four days ago, racking up 17 points, 7 boards, 5 assists, and 3 steals plus blocks in the process. Kyrie will likely have a lower floor and ceiling combination than Steph, given Brooklyn's star power.

Our model's top-projected value is Lou Williams ($5,300). Lou would need 26.5 points to reach 5X value tonight, and that's a number he equaled or topped in 43 of his 65 games last season. Brad Wanamaker ($3,700) is someone worth throwing a dart at if you're in need of a salary-saver. The former Boston Celtic averaged 17.7 minutes in three preseason games, posting 17.0, 21.5, and 22.9 fantasy points in those contests, respectively.

Shooting Guard

There are quite a few more viable options at shooting guard than at point guard on this slate -- starting with Paul George ($7,600). PG13 is our model's second-best projected value at the position and is predicted to outscore the next-closest shooting guard by 10.3 fantasy points. George would need 38 fantasy points for 5X -- he only reached that number in 26 of his 48 outings last season. However, he did manage 44.5 and 50.7 in two of his three matchups with the Lakers last season. numberFire's algorithm has him posting 38.6. I'd fade him at this salary.

Dennis Schroder ($5,000) should see plenty of minutes for the champs, and you won't need to break the bank to roster him. Schroder would need just 25 points to accrue 5X value, and while he was on another team (so take it with a grain of salt), he did reach or surpass that number if 43 of his 65 outings last year. numberFire's top-projected value at the position is Luke Kennard ($4,000). The recent recipient of a hefty extension, Kennard is projected to return 5.22X value.

The Warriors will be down Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, which means Andrew Wiggins ($6,600) could have a large role. Wiggins saw 26 and 31 minutes of action in Golden State's last two preseason games, and he posted 33.2 and 34.3 FanDuel points in those contests. He would need exactly 33 for 5X at his salary -- he topped that in 8 of his 12 games with the Warriors last season. However, Golden State did add a number of players capable of siphoning minutes and usage from the former first overall pick. In the bargain bin, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($3,700) would need just 18.5 for 5X, and he exceeded that in 9 of his final 11 postseason outings last year.

It's difficult to know how Steve Nash will divvy up the minutes for the Nets, but it's hard to imagine Spencer Dinwiddie ($5,200) having an insignificant role. He is quite capable of blowing away the 26 FanDuel points he needs for 5X.

Small Forward

With LeBron James ($11,000) and Kawhi Leonard ($9,500) squaring off against each other, we have to start there. LeBron comes in with a salary $400 higher than anyone else on this slate. King James topped out at 55.8 in his four matchups with the Clips last season, so it'd be understandable if you want on his salary. Meanwhile, Kawhi is our model's second-best projected value at small forward. Leonard would need 47.5 FanDuel points for 5X, and he surpassed that in 12 of his final 15 games last season (though most of those were playoff games). Kawhi possesses a similar floor and ceiling combination than LeBron, and yet he finds himself $1,500 cheaper -- he's the preferred option of the two.

In the mid-range, Kelly Oubre ($6,400) is our model's third-best projected value at the position. Oubre would need 32 for 5X, which is a number he reached or exceeded in exactly half of his outings last season.

numberFire's top-projected value at the position is Nicolas Batum ($3,500). At the minimum salary, Batum would only need 17.5 for 5X -- he did top that in each of the last two preseason games. That said, he is a complete dart throw. For the Nets, there are three players at the position -- Caris LeVert ($5,800), Joe Harris ($4,300), and Taurean Prince ($3,900) -- who are anything but fun projections. numberFire's algorithm doesn't have any of them breaking 4.8X value -- I'm avoiding all three.

Power Forward

The power forward position has a couple of names making their debuts in new places -- Kevin Durant ($8,500) for the Nets and Serge Ibaka ($5,500) for the Clippers. We're all well aware of what KD is capable of, it's just a matter of what type of minutes he'll see in his first real action in 18 months. In his final preseason game four days ago, Durant saw 27 minutes and totaled 25 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, and 4 steals plus blocks -- that was good for 46.2 FanDuel points. Seeing as though he only needs 42.5 to reach 5X against a team that ranked 26th in adjusted defensive rating last year, I'd feel quite comfortable rostering the former MVP. As for Ibaka, his role is tougher to decipher, but he's certainly capable of attaining 5X. The 31-year-old would need 27.5 to achieve that value, and he eclipsed that in 30 of his 55 efforts last season.

Of course, we can't talk about the power forward position without mentioning Anthony Davis ($10,600). AD would need a hefty 53 FanDuel points for 5X, and he failed to reach 50 in any of his four matchups with the Clippers last season. Davis topped 60 fantasy points 14 times last season, so his ceiling is immense, but he failed to score 53 in 36 of his 62 outings last year.

Our model's top-projected value is Eric Paschall ($4,900). Draymond's absence should help, but Paschall will have plenty of competition for minutes and usage. I'd prefer to save $500 and roster Marquese Chriss ($4,400). Chriss has the ability the rack up stats in a limited number of minutes. In Golden State's final two preseason games, Chriss recorded 31.8 and 23.9 FanDuel points in 19 and 20 minutes, respectively.


The most expensive option at center on this two-game slate is Montrezl Harrell ($5,100), so you won't have to empty your wallet here no matter which direction you go in. Harrell would need 25.5 FanDuel points to achieve 5X, and he totaled 36.4, 40.7, and 29.2 in his first three preseason games with the Lakers. numberFire's models have him scoring 26.3.

DeAndre Jordan ($4,500) is our model's top-projected value on the entire slate. DJ recorded 28.3 FanDuel points in just 19 minutes four days ago, and his ability to rack up boards and blocks in short stints make him a solid play at his salary. That said, if he fails to block a couple of shots, he could completely tank your lineup.

While it may be exciting, it's tough to justify rostering second overall pick James Wiseman ($4,200) after he failed to get in any preseason action.