FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Saturday 1/9/21
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 most potentially impactful news around the slate revolves around Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns, who is listed questionable after being ruled out for six straight games due to his ongoing wrist injury. Towns' presence likely would squash the value Minnesota forwards such as Jarred Vanderbilt, Juan Hernangomez, and Naz Reid. Potential news about Towns' minutes limit or workload would alter his usability, especially considering his high salary against a San Antonio Spurs squad giving up the seventh-fewest FanDuel points to centers.
The Orlando Magic have resembled a traveling infirmary ward the past few weeks, and that has not changed entering the second leg of their back-to-back on Saturday. Evan Fournier missed Friday's game with a back injury and is questionable for tonight. With Markelle Fultz done for the season and with Michael Carter-Williams expected to miss several games, the Orlando Magic are missing their entire starting backcourt, and it translated to getting lambasted by the Houston Rockets, 132-90, on Friday. This could be a situation where the team is missing so many pieces that its poor competitiveness and efficiency make unappealing.
Dejounte Murray ($7,100): Fantasy relevance can be exclusively boiled down to role at times, and Murray is a prime example of that. In a platoon with Lonnie Walker and Derrick White last season, Murray was at-best a vulnerable tournament option due to his high FanDuel points per minute rate, but had no real floor due to a lack of security inside the platoon. With White out, Murray has been able to make good on his 1.09 FanDuel points per minute by seeing at least 29 minutes in 7 of his first 8 games, with the exception being a blowout. When Murray has gotten at least 29 minutes, he is averaging 35.1 FanDuel points per game, and has only failed to reach 30 once. His floor is elite for cash and single-entry contests, especially if Minnesota is missing their rim protector Towns again.
Cole Anthony ($4,800): The most frustrating man in NBA daily fantasy over the last 72 hours has been the lottery pick Anthony. He has shown a dismal 0.65 FanDuel points per minute despite stepping into the starting point guard role for Orlando, and even had his coach Steve Clifford say that he was physically struggling to handle the 32 minutes he played on Wednesday. That did not stop Anthony from playing 28 minutes -- including 7 in the final quarter -- despite a horrific, 36-point margin entering the last frame on Friday He played much better and scored 13 points Friday, and the blowout run raises his floor considerably. He will likely have a lower draft percentage than his role and profile would otherwise indicate because of how badly he has burned several DFS players the past few nights.
C.J. McCollum ($8,800): Perception can be hard to break fewer than 10 games into the season, but C.J. McCollum appears to have a new role and aggressiveness inside the Portland Trail Blazers' offense. McCollum's usage has jumped from 26.2% last year to 29.4% this year -- a sizable leap for an established star player with no major minutes shift. He has also risen from 19.4 to 20.6 shots per game, and he's been able to maintain a 45.5% field goal percentage. With Portland and the Sacramento Kings both in the top 13 in pace and Portland having a very consolidated offensive hierarchy, this is a game to have exposure to in tournaments. McCollum comes at nearly a $1,000 discount to Damian Lillard and likely lesser popularity after Lillard erupted for 39 points on Thursday.
Josh Richardson ($4,500): In my personal model, high-minute, low-production players are likely inflated much more than they should be, so I understand the average daily fantasy player who remains skeptical of Richardson's poor 0.68 FanDuel points per minute alongside Luka Doncic this season for the Dallas Mavericks. However, the long-term trend in daily fantasy basketball indicates minutes eventually lead to production, if anything due to peripheral stats like rebounds, blocks, and steals. Richardson's profile is somewhat of an enigma, because he has tapped into a FanDuel ceiling this season by scoring more than 28 fantasy points twice, but he also did not eclipse his average of 31.9 minutes per game in either of those outings. If he can find that productivity in his full minutes load, he could be a tournament-winning piece, and he has a great matchup against the wounded Magic.
Gordon Hayward ($8,000): The Charlotte Hornets have a great matchup in what profiles to be the fantasy game of the day against the Atlanta Hawks, but targeting them is tricky. The backcourt market shares of minutes have been extremely volatile between Devonte' Graham, Terry Rozier, and LaMelo Ball. And Bismack Biyombo (26.5 minutes per game in January) and Miles Bridges (24.0 in January) have not been as involved recently. The one consistent force remains Hayward, who leads the Hornets in usage (24.9%), FanDuel points per minute (1.14), and minutes per game (34.4) among players with at least 100 minutes on the court. Even at a premium salary, he is the most logical way to target a great game, especially at the weakest position on Saturday's slate.
Isaac Okoro ($3,700): There could be a copy-and-paste quality from Richardson's profile to Okoro's, but the unfortunate reality is the Cleveland Cavaliers' rookie has been much worse than J-Rich. Okoro's 0.41 FanDuel points per minute is easily the worst rate in the NBA of any player with more than 125 minutes played, but he is a top-five pick who Cleveland has a lot of belief in, which means he should continue to see court time over Cedi Osman. Okoro's best fantasy game came Thursday with a 20.4-point performance, and Cleveland may lean on him ever so more slightly if Darius Garland is still out, which is possible as Garland continues to tend to a shoulder sprain. There are worse routes to go at a tough position than taking 35 minutes at a $3,700 salary.
Domantas Sabonis ($8,800): Salary is so consistent -- scoring between 38 and 48 FanDuel points in each of his last six games -- and he has a good ceiling, too. Sabonis had a 54-point outburst to open the season, but that was without Myles Turner. Malcolm Brogdon has had the hot hand for the Indiana Pacers lately, but with his salary up to $8,400, the much stronger overall fantasy play is Sabonis, who averages more FanDuel points per minute (1.20) than Brogdon (1.16). Sabonis also has a much easier matchup than Brogdon's battle with Chris Paul. The Phoenix Suns usually play small at the four spot, and it has led to them allowing the sixth-most FanDuel points per game to opposing power forwards. It makes Sabonis a core play on Saturday's slate.
John Collins ($6,800): The frontcourt is more crowded in Atlanta with Clint Capela in the fold, but this salary is too low for the Hawks' talented power forward. Collins is still second on the Hawks in FanDuel points per minute (1.15) and usage (22.8%), and he is still collecting his fair share of rebounds despite Capela's presence -- hauling in 9.53 boards per 36 minutes. The Hornets have so many wings and guards in their rotation that they play small as often as they can, and the Hawks may happily oblige and take advantage of an opportunity to play Collins, De'Andre Hunter, and Cam Reddish together. That limited Capela to just 26 minutes in their matchup Wednesday, compared to 32 minutes for Collins, and Collins took advantage by leading the Hawks in scoring with 23 real-world points.
Deandre Ayton ($7,000): With Chris Paul in the fold, Ayton's ceiling has certainly been capped, with Ayton's usage dropping from 23.7% last season to 19.2% in 2020-21. Despite the drop in offensive touches, Ayton's strong presence as a rebounder (13.85 per 36 minutes) has kept his floor elite for cash, as he has never scored fewer than 27 FanDuel points this season. Ayton and the rest of his teammates should be heavily dependent on matchups and opposing pace much of the season, as Phoenix is dead last in the league in pace to start the year. Ayton profiles to at least have a great matchup in this contest, as the Pacers have allowed the sixth-most FanDuel points to opposing centers, likely due to allowing the third most blocks per game (6.3) in the NBA.
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.F