3 NBA FanDuel Studs to Target on 1/13/21

Basketball is the most consistent sport for daily fantasy purposes.

A top slugger in baseball will have his fair share of 0-for-4 days, and an elite fantasy football player is at risk of having games where his team's offense as a whole is shut down. A high-salaried NBA stud is generally going to get his, though. With so many possessions in a game providing opportunities to produce, top fantasy basketball options will be posting high scores just about every night.

While this consistency puts us in a good position to identify top plays, it also means you can't afford to miss when you're paying a heavy salary to roster someone. Even with strong value plays in your lineup, getting a dud from a stud is likely going to leave your lineup lacking.

Let's get right into it and look at which top players should be the focal points of your lineups today.

Karl-Anthony Towns, C, Minnesota Timberwolves

FanDuel Salary: $10,500

Karl-Anthony Towns has a lot going for him as a stud on the slate. The first is that he's the lone elite at the center position on FanDuel. Behind him in salary is Jarrett Allen at $7,200. Towns also gives us no reason to assume that he'll take time getting back on track because we've already seen it.

In his return to action on Saturday, he played 37.0 minutes and took 17 shot attempts (plus 6 free throws). Towns also added 13 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 blocks, ultimately netting himself 52.6 FanDuel points over those 37.0 minutes (1.42 per minute).

His matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies earns him a middling matchup and, presumably, a close game (a 3.0-point spread and a 220.0-point over/under).

numberFire projects Towns for 33.7 minutes and 16.8 shot attempts and to secure a double-double (25.2 points and 11.4 rebounds). His projected gap over the third-highest-scoring center is 13.4 points, easily the biggest gap over his positional peers of the night. That opportunity cost matters.

Kevin Durant, SF, Brooklyn Nets

FanDuel Salary: $10,100

Kevin Durant is coming off a 35.9-minute game last night against the Denver Nuggets, so the legs may not be as fresh as possible, but that was only his second game since January 3rd because of the time he missed just before it. Durant took 18 shots over that near-36-minute game last night after 21 in his return to action.

The scoring is there for Durant (36 and 34 points in his two games since returning), and he's also contributing elsewhere (10.0 rebounds and 8.5 assists in this small sample).

Without Kyrie Irving and Spencer Dinwiddie, Durant has now averaged 1.51 FanDuel points per minute over 92 minutes, along with a 36.4% usage rate. numberFire's algorithm is a little lower than that, projecting him for 1.26 FanDuel points per minute over 36.2 minutes. But there's a lot to like against the New York Knicks with Durant's usage-based floor and ceiling (we project him for the most shots of the night).

Luka Doncic, PG, Dallas Mavericks

FanDuel Salary: $11,300

I had written up Trae Young, but the Atlanta Hawks/Phoenix Suns game got postponed, so I'm going to pivot back up to the top of the salary pool with Luka Doncic. I know that you don't need me to make the case for Doncic any night, but there are a few negatives regarding him, negatives that aren't important enough to ignore him.

Without Young, it's really Doncic and Damian Lillard who can bust open the slate at point guard, so that gives Doncic some added value. That opportunity cost angle really bears out for him tonight.

But this is also a pace-up game for the Dallas Mavericks, who are 20th in offensive seconds per play. The Charlotte Hornets are 10th. While pace isn't contagious, we can net a few extra possessions for the NBA's 14th-ranked estimated offense and Doncic, who averages 1.49 FanDuel points per minute and owns an NBA-high 37.3% usage rate.

Removing Young from the player pool boosts Doncic's projection over replacement level. He's projected for 13.6 FanDuel points more than the PG3 for the evening, a gap that trails only Towns' mark.