FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Sunday 1/3/21

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 break down today's main slate on FanDuel:

The Slate

LA LakersMemphisTBD+9.0TBDTBD149
UtahSan AntonioTBDTBDTBDTBD2710
LA ClippersPhoenix217.5+2.0109.75107.753029
PortlandGolden State233.5+5.0119.25114.25232

Two stars dealing with injuries -- as well as facing weaker teams -- could dramatically alter this slate throughout the course of the day on Sunday. Luka Doncic is questionable with a quad injury for the Dallas Mavericks, and given that they are battling the 2-4 Chicago Bulls early in the season, Dallas could certainly choose to play it safe with their young guard. Doncic missing this game -- against a weak defense -- would put the scoring load firmly on the back of Tim Hardaway Jr.

LeBron James is also still battling his ankle injury suffered on opening night for the Los Angeles Lakers, and he has actually yet to miss a game due to the injury. This is the Lakers' fifth game in seven days, and it just so happens they are facing the Memphis Grizzlies. Memphis is still missing Ja Morant, so there is a possibility Los Angeles feels they may get their franchise player some rest and let Anthony Davis, Dennis Schroder, and the rest of the team carry the champions by the Grizzlies.

Point Guard

Russell Westbrook ($11,000): Believe it or not, this battle of former Eastern Conference basement dwellers is the revenge game of former Oklahoma City Thunder duo Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Westbrook's best seasons came as a ball vacuum with the Thunder, but he has successfully taken a backseat so far with the Washington Wizards. Westbrook is a distant second to Bradley Beal with just a 28.6% usage rate but still leads Washington in FanDuel points per minute at 1.46 -- 12th in the NBA. Westbrook is set to play, and even at this hefty salary, his floor is worth rostering given that he has yet to fall short of 48 FanDuel points.

Jamal Murray ($7,300): Many flocked to roster Will Barton when it was announced that Michael Porter Jr. would miss at least a week with his continuing COVID-19 saga, but Murray was and remains the better option when the Denver Nuggets' other scorer is set to miss time. Murray is tops among Denver starters in both usage (27.8%) and incremental FanDuel points per minute (+0.22) with Porter Jr. off the floor this year, and he parlayed that into 31 points and 5 assists on Friday against the Phoenix Suns. Even at a higher salary, Murray seems to be the better option to harness the missing offense of MPJ, but both are certainly viable.

Other Notable Plays: Chris Paul ($7,200), Lou Williams ($4,500), Trey Burke ($3,700; if Doncic sits)

Shooting Guard

D'Angelo Russell ($7,200): If the Minnesota Timberwolves can make good on their 8.5-point underdog status, D-Lo should be in a good spot to eclipse FanDuel value at this salary. In all games in which he's played more than 30 minutes, Russell has scored at least 31 FanDuel points. Russell will continue to be relied upon to replace the production of Karl-Anthony Towns, as he leads Minnesota without Towns on the floor this year with a 30.8% usage rate. Russell has yet to explode from a fantasy perspective, but his best weapon is the three ball, and the Nuggets have struggled defensively on the perimeter so far, as they have the fourth-worst mark defending three-point shots (42.0%).

Andrew Wiggins ($6,300): It is ironic that Russell and Andrew Wiggins reside side-by-side here given that they were traded for each other at the deadline in February 2020. A former top pick, Wiggins has settled into a nice role from a fantasy perspective with the Golden State Warriors, as he is the clear second option offensively to Stephen Curry. Wiggins is second on the Dubs in both usage (24.4%) and FanDuel points per minute (0.94) among starters. His ceiling is unlocked by efficiency, as he has shot at least 12 times in every game but has eclipsed 35 FanDuel points in only the game he shot over 42% -- against the Detroit Pistons. That could be tapped into against the Portland Trail Blazers, a team that has allowed the ninth-best efficiency in the league to opposing shooters (46.8%).

Other Notable Plays: Dennis Schroder ($5,900), Josh Richardson ($4,800), Gary Harris ($4,000)

Small Forward

Keldon Johnson ($5,800): Outside of one dud against the Lakers, Keldon Johnson has emerged as a versatile, unique weapon for the San Antonio Spurs to utilize next to DeMar DeRozan. The Spurs have very even market shares of usage, with five players above a 20.0% usage rate, and Johnson is one of them at 21.5%. That comes at an added bonus as Johnson has been one of the few reliable sources of rebounds for San Antonio at the moment, as he averages 9.11 rebounds per 36 minutes. The Utah Jazz have been every bit of their usual slow, stingy pace so far, but that appears to impact small forwards the least of any position, which is the explanation behind the Jazz still allowing the seventh-most FanDuel points to opposing threes.

Derrick Jones Jr. ($4,000): It may take a few games to understand someone's ceiling in an offense with heavy minutes, and that was unlocked by Derrick Jones Jr. on Friday. The former dunk champion popped with 8 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 steals against the Warriors on Friday, and he gets a repeat matchup with Golden State on this slate. Jones is not an offensive creator, which means his ceiling may come with pace. That makes plenty of sense given that the Warriors (2nd) were by far the highest-paced team the Blazers have faced this year, as their next highest was the Lakers, who are just 14th in the league. That may mean that this role is actually a productive one for Jones, so we're not just chasing the FanDuel points he earned Friday.

Other Notable Plays: Kelly Oubre ($5,200), Tim Hardaway Jr. ($5,100), Will Barton ($5,000)

Power Forward

Anthony Davis ($10,000): Davis is just about the only viable option to spend any big salary on at power forward, as he is the only fully healthy, active player with a full role who is listed above $5,200. With that will come great popularity, but AD may be worth both his salary and popularity anyway. Davis has had an up-and-down season, with two games over 49 FanDuel points attached to three with fewer than 40 FanDuel points, but his role would be heavily expanded if LeBron were to sit on Sunday. As an added bonus, Davis torched the Grizzlies last year with 26.3 points and 11.5 rebounds per game, and the matchup faring well for Davis makes sense against the slower Jonas Valanciunas and the smaller Jaren Jackson Jr. -- who has yet to play this season.

Naz Reid ($4,900): The largest pricing anomaly of the slate may go to Naz Reid, who is the Timberwolves' new starting center but is still short of $5,000 in salary. Minnesota will definitely need Reid, as he and Ed Davis are the only healthy big men on the roster as they still try to survive without Karl-Anthony Towns. Plus, Nikola Jokic is coming to town. That may end one of two ways for Reid in daily fantasy, as he may either get a season-high in minutes or find foul trouble, but the risk appears worth the reward in tournaments. Reid also played 6 minutes in the fourth quarter of a blowout last game, which helps increase his floor if the Timberwolves struggle to keep the game close.

Other Notable Plays: Robert Covington ($5,200), Brandon Clarke ($4,800), Thaddeus Young ($4,200)


Jonas Valanciunas ($7,200): In Memphis's new world without Ja Morant -- at least for now -- the offensive workload is incredibly balanced. Three starters are currently averaging over a 22% usage rate, and while Valanciunas is last among those (22.2%), he has used his tremendous ability to rebound the basketball (14.29 rebounds per 36 minutes) to lead the Grizzlies in FanDuel points per minute this year with Morant off the floor (1.09). Similar to D'Angelo Russell, Valanciunas has delivered as long as his team has remained competitive, as he has eclipsed 35 FanDuel points in every game in which he has received at least 28 minutes. Value is tough to come by at center on Sunday, so saving some salary for the position may be optimal roster construction with value plays elsewhere.

Other Notable Plays: Nikola Jokic ($10,300), Deandre Ayton ($7,100)

Austin Swaim is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Austin Swaim also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username ASwaim3. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.