FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Tuesday 1/19/21

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 two-game slate, which locks at 9:00 PM Eastern Time.

Point Guard

Lonzo Ball ($5,500) plans to play tonight, and our model has him as the top-projected value at point guard on this tiny slate. Lonzo had recorded at least 29 FanDuel points in five of his nine outings prior to his injury, and he'd only need 27.5 to reach a 5.0 value figure. According to Brandon Gdula's matchup sheet, the Utah Jazz rank as a mid-level matchup for point guards when adjusted for competition.

When adjusted for competition, the New Orleans Pelicans ranks sixth-worst against point guards and fifth-worst against shooting guards, which brings Mike Conley ($7,600) into play. Conley's had 38.8 FanDuel points or more in 5 of his last 11 outings, but he's also had fewer than 26 on four occasions this season. He's a risky play in a delicious matchup. Jamal Murray ($7,800) is in the same salary range, though he's likely to see lower rostership due to a tougher draw in the Oklahoma City Thunder. Murray would need 39 fantasy points to accrue a value figure of 5.0, and he's topped that number in five of his last nine outings. Like Conley, Murray's floor can be a lineup-killer, as he posted 26 or fewer in each of the other four.

Meanwhile, on the value side, George Hill ($4,900) faces a Denver Nuggets team that's ceding the third-most fantasy points to opposing point guards, according to FantasyPros. However, Hill does need 24.5 FanDuel points to reach our baseline value figure, and he's only totaled that number twice in his last nine outings.

Shooting Guards

You're going to have a hard time getting by at shooting guard without spending up for either Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ($8,600) or Donovan Mitchell ($8,200). SGA has amassed 47.5 or more FanDuel points in four of his last six, but he faces a Denver defense that's fifth-toughest against shooting guards, per Gdula. Mitchell has a far friendlier matchup -- the Pels rank fifth-worst against the position -- but his salary is not appealing, at all. Mitchell would need 41 FanDuel points for a value figure of 5.0, and he's reached 41 in just 3 of his 13 outings this season.

Should you choose to pass on one (or both) of those players, you are not entirely out of options on this two-gamer. Jordan Clarkson ($6,300) gets the same friendly matchup as Mitchell, albeit at a $1,900 discount. Clarkson has recorded at least 36.1 fantasy points in 3 of his last five, and he's had fewer than 28.4 just twice in his last eight games. For the Nuggets, Gary Harris ($4,600) and P.J. Dozier ($4,400) are also in play. Harris had averaged 23.9 fantasy points in his four games prior to an injury that kept him out for two contests. Weirdly enough, Dozier's last two highest-scoring outings have come with Harris in the lineup. Harris probably carries the safer floor.

Though he has a tough draw, Hamidou Diallo ($4,500) could be worth a dart throw. Diallo has amassed at least 23.8 fantasy points 4 times in his last 10 games, including two outings with more than 40. Neither of the Denver players has that kind of upside.

Small Forward

Before we get to the obvious plays, let's talk about Lu Dort ($5,300). Al Horford (personal) is out tonight, and in 119.4 minutes with Horford off the court this season, Dort has averaged an additional 0.20 FanDuel points per minute on a 4.5% usage rate bump. Dort's floor is low, especially at this salary, but he did explode for 46.5 fantasy points without Horford in the lineup on Friday. While that game did go into overtime, only 2.4 of Dort's fantasy points came in the extra period.

Brandon Ingram ($8,400) is the lone stud at the position, which means he's likely to be highly-rostered. Ingram needs 42 FanDuel points for a value figure of 5.0, and he's failed to reach that number in any of his last five. Ingram has topped 50 thrice this season, so he does possess upside no one else at the position can claim to match. Meanwhile, Will Barton ($6,100) gets a friendly matchup against an OKC defense that's surrendering the fifth-most FanDuel points to small forwards this season. Barton has managed at least 31.1 fantasy points in four of his last seven outings, though he's struggled in his last two games with both Harris and Dozier in the lineup (just 13.4 and 16.0 fantasy points).

It's not saying much, but Bojan Bogdanovic ($5,000) is our model's top-projected value at small forward. Bojan needs 25 to achieve a value figure of 5.0, and that's a number he's reached just three times all season. That said, he is facing a Pelicans team that ranks sixth-worst against small forwards when adjusted for competition.

Power Forward

In the three games Horford has missed this season, Isaiah Roby ($4,500) has totaled 35.4, 25.8, and 23.3 fantasy points while seeing his three highest minutes totals of the season. Denver's not an easy matchup for power forwards, but Roby only needs 22.5 to return a value figure of 5.0. Roby is likely to share time at the five with Darius Bazley ($5,200) in Horford's absence. Bazley's only averaging 17.7 FanDuel points in his last five outings, but he has had four outputs of more than 35 FanDuel points this season. He's our model's second-best projected value at power forward.

Zion Williamson ($7,800) is going to be quite chalky tonight, but you're going to have to eat it on this slate. Zion needs 39 to accrue our baseline value figure, and he's eclipsed that number in 4 of his last 5 and in 6 of his last 11.

Our model's top-projected value at the position is JaMychal Green ($4,400). Green has been active for nine games this season, and he's topped 24 FanDuel points in four of his last eight. Mike Muscala ($4,000) comes in $400 cheaper, and he could be a salary-saving fill-in on this slate. In three games without Horford this season, Muscala has managed 23.9, 12.3, and 20.2 fantasy points -- he can return a 5.0 value figure, but it won't be by much.

Royce O'Neale ($5,500) gets the best matchup of the bunch and he's not likely to be highly rostered, given his salary. The number O'Neale needs for our baseline value -- 27.5 FanDuel points -- is only he's only reached or surpassed twice this season, but again, it's really hard to be contrarian on a two-game slate.


numberFire's algorithm has Nikola Jokic ($11,500) scoring 15.6 more fantasy points than any other player on the slate. Passing on Jokic carries huge risk. The Serbian has surpassed 60 FanDuel points in five of his last seven outings. He also topped 60 in two of his three meetings with the Thunder last season. Additionally, without Horford in the lineup, Oklahoma City doesn't really have a true center to defend Jokic.

If you've already loaded up elsewhere, you can look to Steven Adams ($5,800) at center. Adams has racked up at least 28.7 FanDuel points in six of his last eight efforts, and he needs 29 to post a 5.0 value figure. Our model projects Adams to be the best value at the position.