3 NBA FanDuel Studs to Target on 1/22/21
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.
Luka Doncic, PG, Dallas Mavericks
FanDuel Salary: $11,000
With 11 games on the slate, we are trending toward having no shortage of value options to help us get to the high-end stars, and that always has appeal. The elite can drop 60, 70, or even 80 FanDuel points, and it's hard to come back from that if you miss out. Luka Doncic has a path to doing just that tonight.
Doncic faces the San Antonio Spurs, who rank 24th in player-adjusted FanDuel points per minute allowed to point guards since the start of last season. They're also just 13th in estimated defensive rating so far this season, so it's not a worrisome matchup. The spread is just two points (in favor of Doncic's Dallas Mavericks), so we could expect this game to stay tight, as well.
Doncic has played at least 34 minutes in all nine games in January and has at least 50 FanDuel points in seven of those nine games. The two he didn't? His two most recent games when he shot a combined 9 of 26 (34.6%), down from 45.3% on the season. He's also 0-for-6 from beyond the arc in this two-game sample. So, he's either at the start of a prolonged cold streak or he's going to get back on track soon in the scoring department. Betting the latter seems like the right call in this spot tonight.
Nikola Jokic, C, Denver Nuggets
FanDuel Salary: $11,200
It's similar logic with Nikola Jokic as it is with Doncic. The ceiling is
the roof potentially unmissable. Before I dig in, we have DeMarcus Cousins at a salary of just $4,500, so we're missing out on some sweet value if we go away from Cousins. But in that January 6th game when he played without Christian Wood, Cousins did get to 44.3 FanDuel points but had only 9 points with 2 steals and 4 blocks. He's averaging a solid 1.36 FanDuel points per minute, so it's not as if I'm saying to avoid him. But going for someone else at center is going to go a long way toward a differentiated tournament lineup.
The Phoenix Suns rank just 24th in adjusted FanDuel points allowed to centers since the start of last season, and there's just a one-point spread in this game (favoring the Suns). Though the total is lower than we might get with other games (just 219), Jokic is coming off games with 68.3 and 55.4 FanDuel points (against the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder, respectively) in games with totals of 219.5 points.
numberFire projects Jokic -- as usual -- to be a triple-double threat: 21.2 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 7.8 assists for 46.6 FanDuel points, which certainly feels low. That's a per-minute average of only 1.39 FanDuel points (down from a league-best 1.63 mark). Over the 33.5 projected minutes, his actual rate would get him to 54.6 FanDuel points. His all-around production gives him numerous paths to fantasy points as well as a potentially untouchable ceiling.
Domantas Sabonis, PF, Indiana Pacers
FanDuel Salary: $9,300
Domantas Sabonis is a model of consistency, and that floor production keeps him in the conversation in just about any spot. He is averaging 1.21 FanDuel points per minute and has yet to play fewer than 33.9 minutes in a game all season. That has led to 40.4 or more FanDuel points in all but two games.
The Indiana Pacers face the Orlando Magic, who are really only a worrisome matchup at center and are 20th against power forwards when adjusted for opponents faced since the start of last season. They're 17th in estimated defensive rating this season and 18th in adjusted defensive rating since the start of last season, so it's a neutral matchup for Sabonis.
Sabonis is projected for the best value rating (4.94 FanDuel points per $1,000 in salary) of all players with a salary above $8,000 for tonight's slate.
The one drawback to Sabonis is a lack of a totally elite ceiling (a max of 57.4 FanDuel points), but we can get away with a 50-point game here if we build around high-ceiling value plays (such as Cousins). He's a clear fit for cash games and tournaments.