FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Friday 1/15/21

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 and COVID-19 situations. Our projections update up until tip-off to reflect current news and we also have player news updates.

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.

Please note: When I'm referencing a player's value figure, it is the number of fantasy points scored for every $1,000 in salary. Typically, a value figure of 5.0 (meaning, 5.0 FanDuel points for every $1,000 in salary) is the minimum baseline we'll be targeting.

Let's take a look at who you should target on tonight's eight-game slate, which locks at 7:30 PM Eastern Time.

Point Guard

After playing 38.4 and 36.4 minutes in his last two games, respectively, De'Aaron Fox ($7,300) is seemingly back to full health. Fox has posted 41.5 and 46.2 FanDuel points in his last two, and he could have a considerable amount of success against a Los Angeles Clippers defense allowing the 4th-most real-life points and 10th-most fantasy points to point guards this season, according to FantasyPros. In total, Fox has managed at least 37.4 fantasy points in 8 of his 11 fully healthy games (and he was on a minutes restriction for two of those). Tonight, the 23-year-old would need just 36.5 FanDuel points to achieve our baseline value figure of 5.0. Our model projects him to be the fourth-best value at the position.

Fox is far from the only star point guard on this slate -- in fact, the most expensive player on Friday is Luka Doncic ($11,600). Luka has seen a usage rate of at least 35.4% in four straight, and he's dropped more than 60 FanDuel points in three of those outings. In a matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks which currently has the highest projected total on the entire slate, the Dallas Mavericks are going to need a monster performance from Doncic in order to be victorious. With Josh Richardson, Jalen Brunson, Dorian Finney-Smith, Dwight Powell, and Dorian Finney-Smith all still out for the Mavs, Luka's in play, even at his insanely high salary.

Were he to play, Patrick Beverley ($4,000) would be in a great spot against the Sacramento Kings. Sacramento is ceding the most fantasy points to opposing point guards this season. Beverley has surpassed 26 fantasy points in three of his last five, and our model projects him to be the best value at the position. Behind him, in terms of value, is Elfrid Payton ($5,700). Reggie Bullock is currently questionable, so keep an eye on that, but if he's out, Payton would be in play. In that same game, Damyean Dotson ($5,000) should be worth rostering as the Cleveland Cavaliers' primary ball-handler. Dotson dropped a dud on Tuesday, though he saw 30.8 minutes of action -- he had posted 28.4, 41.4, and 31.6 fantasy points in the three prior contests.

Finally, Coby White ($6,400) deserves a shout. White has totaled at least 31 FanDuel points in seven of his last nine. White needs 32 to accrue a value figure of 5.0, and he's topped that number in six of his last nine.

Shooting Guard

Though his status is still up in the air, Eric Bledsoe ($5,300) is our model's top-projected value at shooting guard. Lonzo Ball is still out, which means Bledsoe should get all he can handle should he be active. Bledsoe's salary is extremely friendly for a player who can easily score 40 or more fantasy points. If Bledsoe can't go, you can pivot to Nickeil Alexander-Walker ($5,500) for just $200 more.

Paul George ($8,800) has scored at least 43.2 FanDuel points in five of his last seven efforts, and he's topped 48 in four of those five games. Tonight, he'll square off with a Kings team that's allowing the most fantasy points to opposing shooting guards. Of the three players with a salary over $8,000, George is projected to return the best value, by far. However, our model has Donovan Mitchell ($7,800) accruing a value figure of 5.07. Given the Utah Jazz's implied total of 116.3, the volume should be there for Mitchell against the Atlanta Hawks.

We don't yet know the status of all of the Boston Celtics' roster, but we do not that Marcus Smart ($6,200) is no longer listed on their injury report. Smart will face an Orlando Magic defense that's fourth-most generous to point guards ninth-worst against shooting guards -- and he should see solid usage. Smart's value would take a hit if Jaylen Brown were to suit up, but he's in play regardless.

As far as value plays, numberFire's algorithm projects Cam Reddish ($4,500) and Isaac Okoro ($4,000) to be the second and third-best projected values, respectively. Reddish faces a Jazz team that's surrendering the third-most fantasy points to shooting guards and the sixth-most to small forwards. Our model projects him for 24.1 FanDuel points and a value figure of 5.35. Like Dotson, Okoro should see plenty of volume with both Collin Sexton and Darius Garland out for the Cavs. The rookie has eclipsed 20 fantasy points in three of his last four, and he just so happens to need 20 to return a value figure of 5.0.

Small Forward

Let's get this one out of the way -- if Jaylen Brown ($9,000) suits up tonight, he's one of the top studs on the slate. In 112.2 minutes with Jayson Tatum off the court this season, Brown has had a usage rate of 32.1%. Brown has had at least 49.8 fantasy points in half of his games this season, and he'd need 45 to achieve our baseline value.

Three other studs to consider are Khris Middleton ($7,400), LeBron James ($9,900), and Kawhi Leonard ($9,600) -- that's the order of our model's projected value returned. Middleton faces a Mavs defense that's fourth-worst against small forwards, according to Brandon Gdula's matchup sheet, which adjusts for competition. That said, with both LeBron and Kawhi under $10,000, we have to consider fitting at least one of them into our roster construction. LeBron hasn't surpassed 42.9 FanDuel points in any of his last four, which means the masses *should* be off him a bit. LBJ faces a New Orleans Pelicans that ranks sixth-worst against small forwards, according to Gdula. That said, LeBron has failed to reach 60 FanDuel points in any game this season, so don't go in expecting a moster ceiling. Leonard's matchup isn't as friendly, but he's been the more consistent producer -- 51.8-plus in five of his last eight -- and let's face it, he's as matchup-proof as it gets. If you pass on PG13 at shooting guard, strongly consider Kawhi at small forward.

Cedi Osman ($5,100) is one of numberFire's top-projected values at the position, and for good reason. Osman's getting heavy minutes with Cleveland's depleted roster (more than 30 in six straight), and he's trumped 27 fantasy points in five of his last six games. With Ricky Rubio and Juan Hernangomez out for the Minnesota Timberwolves, Josh Okogie ($3,900) should take on a bigger role -- hence our model having him as the top-projected value at the position.

Finally, RJ Barrett ($6,300) will line up against a Cavs defense that ranks third-worst against small forwards, when adjusted for competition. Barrett's been a volatile fantasy option this season, but chasing a good matchup isn't the worst idea given his upside. He's one of six small forwards projected to post a value figure better than 5.0, per our models.

Power Forward

All right, we've got Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,300), Anthony Davis ($9,800), and Julius Randle ($9,100) on the same slate -- let's talk about it. Giannis has dropped at least 59 fantasy points in five of his last eight. His ceiling is immense, especially with Milwaukee having a slate-high 117.5 implied total. In two games against the Mavs last season, Giannis amassed 62.1 and 73.8 FanDuel points. Not too shabby. If you can stomach his floor, AD can be a solid play. Davis has racked up at least 49 fantasy points five times this season, but he has also failed to reach 40 on four occasions. Randle's a safer option, albeit with a slightly lower ceiling. The 26-year-old has only posted fewer than 35.5 FanDuel points once this season, and he's managed at least 43.9 in 7 of his last 10 contests. Our model projects him to outscore Davis and to be the fourth-best value at the position.

The Hawks have allowed the second-most fantasy points to power forwards this season, which is probably why Bojan Bogdanovic ($4,300) is projected to be the second-best value at power forward. Needing 21.5 FanDuel points to achieve a value figure of 5.0, Bogdanovic has posted at least 21.9 in 6 of his 11 outings this season. Bojan does have a low floor (fewer than 12 four times), but this should be a game in which his ceiling makes an appearance. With Tatum and Robert Williams definitely out for Boston, and Daniel Theis questionable, Tristan Thompson ($4,400) could provide some necessary salary relief. Thompson will face an Orlando defense that ranks ninth-worst against power forwards when adjusted for competition. Given the Mavs' thin roster, James Johnson ($4,200) might be the best value option at the position. In 26.2 and 25.6 minutes in his last two games, respectively, Johnson has posted 29.5 and 31 FanDuel points. He should possess similar upside tonight.

The mid-range at power forward is not entirely lacking -- namely, John Collins ($6,800) and Aaron Gordon ($6,500). While our model projects Collins to be the third-best value at the position, he's a bit of a risky play against a Utah team that ranks third-toughest against power forwards, according to Gdula. Collins would need 34 fantasy points to achieve a baseline value figure of 5.0, and he's failed to reach that number in 6 of his 10 games this campaign. Gordon, however, is in a much better position. The Magic will be down Markelle Fultz, Evan Fournier, Michael Carter-Williams, and Mohamed Bamba, amongst others. With all of those players out on Monday, Gordon recorded 44 FanDuel points in 35.2 minutes. It was Gordon's second-consecutive game with more than 35 minutes -- he had failed to reach 30 in any of his prior eight games.


In four games this season, Karl-Anthony Towns ($10,800) has recorded 50.7, 47.9, 52.6, and 51.3 FanDuel points -- that's a delicious floor. The issue is that KAT would need 54 fantasy points to accrue a 5.0 value figure, and that's a number he has yet to reach this season. That said, the Grizzlies have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to centers. Given that he's projected to outscore all other centers by 6.6, some exposure to KAT is recommended.

if you decide not to roll with KAT, Nikola Vucevic ($9,400) is a more-than-viable fallback option. Vuce has garnered at least 47.1 fantasy points in 6 of his last 10 outings -- he needs 47 for a 5.0 value figure. In the mid-range, Mitchell Robinson ($6,000) is worthy of consideration. Robinson is averaging 32.5 FanDuel points over his last seven games, and he needs 30 to reach our baseline value. Jonas Valanciunas ($7,000) pegged the Wolves for 49.7 fantasy points on Wednesday and gets to face them again tonight. On the season, Minnesota is allowing 2.9 more fantasy points per game to centers than any other team in the league.

Elsewhere, we have two value options from the same game -- Willie Cauley-Stein ($5,000) and Brook Lopez ($4,900). With essentially half of Dallas' roster out on Wednesday, WCS amassed 33.8 FanDuel points without assuming much of a scoring role. A similar output tonight should be expected. Meanwhile, after a slow start, Lopez has recorded at least 22.6 fantasy points in seven of his last eight. Our model projects him for 27.8 tonight, resulting in a value figure of 5.68.