FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Wednesday 1/20/21

Our model projects Goran Dragic to be the best value at point guard on tonight's 10-game slate. Who else should we hone in on?

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 10-game slate, which locks at 7:00 PM Eastern.

[Editor's note: The Portland Trail Blazers and Memphis Grizzlies game has been postponed.]

Point Guard

This is an absolutely loaded slate, and the high-end of the point guard position is at the forefront of it all. We'll start with Damian Lillard ($10,000), who could be one of the top studs on the slate with C.J. McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic both out. Last season, in four games with McCollum out of the lineup, Lillard averaged an eye-popping 62.5 FanDuel points per contest. Dame legitimately has the upside of being the highest scorer on the slate at a reasonable salary. According to Brandon Gdula's matchup sheet, the Memphis Grizzlies (Lillard's opponent tonight) rank 11th-worst against point guards when adjusted for competition.

Of course, Luka Doncic ($11,500) is worthy of consideration any time he's active, though the fact that he's $800 more than any other active player tonight should give you some pause. The roster for the Dallas Mavericks is also getting back into form, which lowers Luka's floor a bit. Elsewhere in studsville, we have Kyrie Irving ($9,200) returning against a Cleveland Cavaliers defense that ranks dead last against point guards when adjusted for competition. However, this is Kyrie's first game with James Harden in the fold, so we don't yet know what his role will look like. Logically, his daily upside should be capped as long as the other two stars are active.

Ja Morant ($7,900) stands out in the upper-echelon of the mid-range. Morant faces a Portland Trail Blazers team that's ceding the sixth-most FanDuel points to opposing point guards, according to our matchups table. Morant would need 39.5 fantasy points to achieve a value figure of 5.0, and he's topped that with ease in three of his four healthy contests this season. Given his enormous upside, De'Aaron Fox ($7,800) also deserves some exposure. Fox is fresh off a 77.3 fantasy-point performance on Sunday, and he only needs 39 fantasy points for a baseline value figure -- he's eclipsed 40 in 8 of his 13 healthy games this campaign.

Now, let's get to the value. With Jimmy Butler, and Avery Bradley out for the Miami Heat and Tyler Herro questionable, our model projects Goran Dragic ($5,200) to be the best value at point guard tonight. Dragic needs 26 FanDuel points for a value figure of 5.0, and that's a number he's surpassed in five of his nine healthy games this season. Against the Sacramento Kings, Patrick Beverley ($4,600) could prove to be a solid play. Beverley needs 23 fantasy points to accrue our baseline value, and he's topped 26 in four of his last six games. On the season, no team is allowing more fantasy points to opposing point guards than Sacramento. The fact that Lou Williams might be inactive certainly doesn't hurt.

T.J. McConnell ($4,100) averages 1.07 FanDuel points per minute this season with Victor Oladipo and T.J. Warren off the court, according to RotoGrinders. At that rate, McConnell would only need to play 19.2 minutes to give us a 5.0 value figure -- he's played 21.5 and 25.7 in his last two. Finally, Patty Mills ($4,000) is one of numberFire's top-projected values at the position. Mills has exceeded 20 FanDuel points (what he needs to reach 5.0 value) in six of his last eight.

Shooting Guard

In his first two games with the Brooklyn Nets, James Harden ($10,700) has dropped 73.4 and 56.2 FanDuel points. Considering that he only needs 53.5 for our baseline value, that's already enough merit for consideration. However, Kyrie's return could take a big bite out of the 38.4% and 36.9% usage rates Harden saw in those two outings. And with Brooklyn being 10-point favorites, there's also significant blowout risk here. The best play in the high-end might just be DeMar DeRozan ($8,000). DeRozan squares off against a Golden State Warriors team that ranks second-worst versus shooting guards, per Gdula's adjusted metrics. DeRozan has posted at least 42 FanDuel points in 8 of his 12 outings this season. Paul George ($8,500) also has an extremely friendly matchup, though I'd prefer to save the $500 and roll with DeRozan. PG13 has failed to record 40 fantasy points in four of his last six games. In that range, D'Angelo Russell ($8,400) carries significant upside with both Karl-Anthony Towns and Ricky Rubio out.

If DeRozan's isn't the top play at shooting guard, that honor might go to Victor Oladipo ($7,900). 'Dipo exploded for 50.5 FanDuel points on an absurd 43.3% usage rate in his first game with the Houston Rockets, and with John Wall still out, he should be in for a huge role once again. The Phoenix Suns rank eighth-worst against shooting guards when adjusted for competition. Fred VanVleet ($7,600) is also worth considering against a Miami Heat team allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to the position.

Given McCollum's injury, it should come as no surprise that our model's top-projected value at the position is Gary Trent Jr. ($3,600). Just $100 more than the minimum, Trent Jr. should be an excellent salary-saver should you wish to load your lineup with studs. Meanwhile, Seth Curry ($4,500) is expected to be active and comes in at a very friendly salary. Curry averaged 27.1 FanDuel points per game through his first eight games before a positive COVID test knocked him out for two weeks. He would only need 22.5 to return a 5.0 value figure at his salary. With each of Michael Carter-Williams, Markelle Fultz, and Evan Fournier still out for the Orlando Magic, Terrence Ross ($5,300) is firmly in play. Ross has topped 27 in 7 of his last 12 contests, and he needs 26.5 for a baseline value figure.
(Update: Seth Curry (conditioning) has been declared out for tonight's contest for the Sixers, while Fournier is expected to return for the Magic.)

Small Forward

Our focus at the top of the small forward position should be Kawhi Leonard ($9,100). Kawhi has showcased his 50-point fantasy upside six times this season, and his salary is far from unreasonable. numberFire's algorithm projects Leonard to outscore all other small forwards by 6.6 FanDuel points. Elsewhere, we have Jerami Grant ($8,400) and Jaylen Brown ($8,300). Grant faces an Atlanta Hawks defense that ranks dead last against small forwards when adjusted for competition. Grant has managed at least 41.8 FanDuel points in six of his last seven games. As for Brown, he faces a Philadelphia 76ers defense that's allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to small forwards. In 169.8 minutes with Jayson Tatum off the court this season, Brown has a 31.7% usage rate.

Our model's top-projected value the position is Carmelo Anthony ($4,100). Melo should see a significant bump in minutes and volume with McCollum inactive. Also for Portland, Derrick Jones Jr. ($4,000) is in play. Jones Jr. has posted 23.2, 24.8, and 27.5 fantasy points in his last three, and he only needs 20 to accrue a value figure of 5.0 tonight.

Our model's second-best projected value at small forward is Rudy Gay ($4,100). Gay needs 20.5 FanDuel points to attain a 5.0 value figure, and he's eclipsed that in 9 of his 14 efforts -- he has also topped 31 in two of his last four games. As long as the Indiana Pacers remain shorthanded, Justin Holiday ($4,200) will be a solid value. Holiday has topped 21 fantasy points (what needs to reach 5.0) in 7 of his last 11.

Power Forward

Though they will likely be a tougher draw now that Kristaps Porzingis ($7,500) is back in the lineup, the Mavs have surrendered the 10th-most fantasy points to opposing power forwards this season -- enter Domantas Sabonis ($9,600). Sabonis is our model's top-projected scorer at the position, though his salary doesn't leave much room for value. The 24-year-old would need 48 FanDuel points just to achieve a value figure of 5.0, and numberFire's algorithm has him falling short of that number by 3.9. Instead, Bam Adebayo ($8,800) might be the better stud to target. On the season, the Toronto Raptors are giving up the sixth-most fantasy points to the position. In 177.5 minutes with Butler and Meyers Leonard (who will be inactive) off the court this season, Adebayo has a 27.9% usage rate while averaging an impressive 1.48 fantasy points per minute. Adebayo's topped 50 FanDuel points in each of his last two, and he could very well make it three in a row tonight.

Our model's top-projected value at the position is Jae Crowder ($4,400). Dario Saric's absence should cement a solid number of minutes for Crowder, who has struggled to be a consistent fantasy producer this season. Xavier Tillman ($4,600) should continue to see an increased role with Jonas Valanciunas out. Tillman is averaging 25.4 FanDuel points over his last five games, and he's managed 28.5 and 33.8 in two of his last three. In Valanciunas' absence, Brandon Clarke ($6,500) should continue to thrive. Clarke has totaled at least 32.5 (what he needs to return a 5.0 value figure) in four of his last five outings. With KAT and Juan Hernangomez out for the Wolves, Jarred Vanderbilt ($4,800) should be on everyone's radars. Vanderbilt's totaled at least 29.5 fantasy points in four of his nine games this season.

numberFire's models project LaMarcus Aldridge ($6,000) to be the second-best value at power forward. Aldridge has had a couple of floor games over the last week, but he is facing a Warriors team that's fifth-most generous to the position. Aldridge, who needs 30 FanDuel points to achieve our baseline value, has had outings of 37.5, 37.8, 41.0, and 30.9 in his last seven games.


Nikola Vucevic ($9,900) is the anchor for the short-handed Magic, and he'll be facing a Wolves team that's ceding 3.4 more FanDuel points per game to centers than any other team in the league. Vucevic has had outputs of 57.0 and 67.5 in his last five games, so we know the ceiling is there. Of course, Joel Embiid ($9,800) deserves to be in the conversation any time he suits up. In his last five games, Embiid's either been a lineup-winner or lineup-killer -- as he's had three outputs of fewer than 40.0 to go with explosions of 68.1 and 84.2. Some exposure is recommended.

With Nurkic inactive for the most part of the last two games, Enes Kanter ($6,300) has seen 28.6 and 27.0 minutes of action, while posting 55.5 and 25.1 FanDuel points, respectively. Tonight, Kanter will face a Memphis squad that's allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing centers and one that will be without their regular paint-protector, Jonas Valanciunas. Kanter is our model's second-best projected value at the position. Our model's top-projected value is Naz Reid ($4,700). The Wolves will be down a number of bodies, including KAT, and Reid could be primed to take advantage. However, it is worth noting that he's going up against an Orlando team that ranks as the toughest against centers when adjusted for competition.