FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Monday 12/28/20

Christian Wood's immense upside makes him worth rostering on Monday's five-game slate. Who else is worth considering?

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 tonight's 5-game slate, which locks at 7:30 PM Eastern Time.

Point Guard

Jamal Murray ($7,100) comes in $700 cheaper than his salary in the first two games, and he should be able to return value tonight against the always-leaky Houston Rockets. According to numberFire's matchup tool, Houston ranks as the second-best matchup for opposing point guards. At $7,100, Murray would need 35.5 FanDuel points to achieve 5X value (or 5.0 fantasy points for every $1,000 in salary), and that's a number he surpassed 29 times last season (including the playoffs). Our models have him recording 35.8.

With Derrick Rose (rest) out, Killian Hayes ($3,800) should be set for a significant uptick in minutes or usage. That results in Hayes having our model's third-highest projected value on the entire slate.

Back on the more expensive side, it's tough to ignore the upside that Ja Morant ($8,500) possesses. In two games, the 21-year-old has posted 67.9 and 43.1 FanDuel points -- he would need just 42.5 for 5X tonight. I'd prefer Morant to any of the three with higher salaries -- Trae Young ($9,800), Kyrie Irving ($9,400), and Damian Lillard ($9,400).

Shooting Guard

Whatever you do at other positions, make sure you save up enough cap space to roster James Harden ($11,500). With half of Houston's roster out due to COVID-19 contact tracing, Harden is bound to have another outing with insane volume. The Beard dropped 73.3 FanDuel points in his season-opener, and he should have a similar ceiling tonight. He would need 57.5 for 5X, which is easily doable for the three-time scoring champ.

In the mid-range, there are three players worth looking at -- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ($7,800), Donovan Mitchell ($7,900), and C.J. McCollum ($7,800). Based on value projections, our models prefer them in that order. SGA recorded 43.8 in his first game, and he should have no trouble surpassing 39 FanDuel points (what he needs for 5X tonight) on a regular basis, given his role this season.

numberFire's second-best projected value, at any position, is Dillon Brooks ($3,700). With De'Anthony Melton out again, Brooks should continue to see heavy minutes and usage. In his first two games, that volume resulted in 33.8 and 28.4 FanDuel points -- Brooks needs a mere 18.5 for 5X. He's pretty close to a must-roster on this slate. If you're looking to differentiate at the position, you could look toward Delon Wright ($4,200). Wright saw 42.2 minutes on Saturday and turned in 35 FanDuel points in that contest. He has similar upside with Rose out.

Small Forward

LeBron James ($10,500) and Kevin Durant ($9,500) are the only two small forwards with salaries higher than $6,300, and numberFire's algorithm doesn't deem it worthy to pay up for them. LBJ is projected for a return of under 4.8X, while KD's projection is less than 4X. James is listed as questionable after last night's game, while Durant could sit out for rest since the Nets are on the second night of a back-to-back.

With Spencer Dinwiddie out for the season, the two cheaper options from the Brooklyn Nets -- Joe Harris ($4,300) and Caris LeVert ($6,300) -- could provide value. LeVert possesses the higher upside, but our model has Harris as the best-projected value at the position.

Jerami Grant ($5,700) is someone to consider with the Detroit Pistons also listing Blake Griffin as out for tonight's contest. Grant is fresh off a 51-FanDuel-point performance, and topping 5X is easily within his range of outcomes. With Carmelo Anthony inactive for the Portland Trail Blazers tonight, Derrick Jones Jr. ($3,600) should be headed for a larger role. At a near-minimum salary, Jones Jr. wouldn't need to do much to pay off his salary.

Both Michael Porter Jr. ($5,900) and Kyle Anderson ($4,600) are also projected to eclipse 5X. MPJ's upside is immense with the Denver Nuggets possessing the third-highest implied total on the slate.

Power Forward

Anthony Davis ($10,200) and Christian Wood ($8,100) are the only two players at power forward with a salary above $7K. numberFire's models have both players exceeding 5X, though Wood seems like the far safer play. In his debut with the Rockets, Wood was able to amass 51.1 FanDuel points in 43.6 minutes. Given Houston's thin roster, he should be able to post a similar line tonight. AD's upside is perhaps only matched by Harden on this slate, but I'd prefer to save and pay up for Harden -- it's worth noting that Davis is questionable to suit up for tonight's contest. If you want to save even more, you can look toward John Collins ($7,000), whose salary keeps dropping as his ceiling seems to have been capped by the Atlanta Hawks' offseason additions.

Robert Covington ($5,200) comes in $400 cheaper than his salary on Saturday, and he should have a larger role with Melo inactive. Covington is our model's third-best projected value at the position.

In the bargain bin, Brandon Clarke ($4,200) and Paul Millsap ($4,500) are our model's top-two projected values at power forward. Clarke topped out at 15.6 in his first two games, so his floor is quite low. Meanwhile, Millsap has had games of 27.9 and 9.2 thus far, so he also has a lineup-killing floor.


Mason Plumlee ($6,000) is numberFire's top-projected value at center. Plumlee has racked up 32.6 and 30.3 FanDuel points through two games, and he needs 30 for 5X tonight. Our model has him recording 36.3 with Blake Griffin out.

With a salary under $7K, Jusuf Nurkic ($6,800) might be worth rostering against the Los Angeles Lakers. Nurkic accrued 34.2 FanDuel points in 34.8 minutes on Saturday, and his role should continue to expand as the season goes on. Our models have Nurkic dropping 40.3 tonight.

Finally, P.J. Tucker ($4,300) is the only center with a salary under $5.7K projected to surpass 5X value by our models. Tucker posted 23.7 in Houston's opener.