FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Monday 1/25/21

Damian Lillard is a core play with CJ McCollum sidelined. Who else should you target on Monday's 10-game slate?

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.

Slate Overview

Via Brandon Gdula's matchup sheet, this table shows each team's spread and implied total (plus the over/under for their game). It also includes opponent-adjusted offensive rating and the adjusted defensive rating for each team's opponent, including league-wide ranks for each.

Teams are sorted by implied team total.

Team Opp Over/
Spread Implied
Rank Opp Adj.
BKN MIA 235.5 -7.5 121.50 108.4 20 108.9 13
GS MIN 227.0 -8.5 117.75 100.1 30 110.8 20
BOS CHI 228.5 -5.0 116.75 114.4 8 108.9 12
POR OKC 223.5 -5.5 114.50 114.5 6 108.4 9
MIA BKN 235.5 7.5 114.0 114.4 7 109.6 15
NO SA 225.0 -2.5 113.75 109.1 18 110.5 18
DEN DAL 222.5 -1.5 112.0 115.6 3 111.3 21
LAL CLE 213.0 -10.5 111.75 114.3 9 113.2 28
CHI BOS 228.5 5.0 111.75 103.8 24 106.7 4
PHI DET 216.5 -6.0 111.25 111.8 12 112.3 25
SA NO 225.0 2.5 111.25 113.0 11 111.6 23
DAL DEN 222.5 1.5 110.50 119.3 1 111.5 22
IND TOR 217.5 -2.5 110.0 109.5 17 104.5 2
MIN GS 227.0 8.5 109.25 103.1 26 112.3 26
OKC POR 223.5 5.5 109.0 108.5 19 113.7 29
TOR IND 217.5 2.5 107.50 111.4 13 107.6 5
CHA ORL 213.5 -1.0 107.25 102.5 27 108.0 8
ORL CHA 213.5 1.0 106.25 104.8 23 112.1 24
DET PHI 216.5 6.0 105.25 105.8 22 107.9 7
CLE LAL 213.0 10.5 101.25 102.4 28 105.8 3

The Portland Trail Blazers have tonight's fourth-highest implied total despite being without C.J. McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic -- there can certainly be stacks to target there. The Miami Heat are in a similar position, as they have the slate's fifth-highest implied total despite the fact that they'll still be without Jimmy Butler, Avery Bradley, and possibly Tyler Herro. Meanwhile, Jayson Tatum is expected to return for the Boston Celtics, while Kemba Walker will be sitting out -- the Celtics and their 116.8 implied total will have no shortage of DFS options.

Point Guard

Key Studs: In six games that McCollum has missed in the last two seasons, Damian Lillard ($9,700) has averaged 59.3 FanDuel points, totaling at least 57 in four of those contests. Given Portland's 114.5 implied total, Lillard is both a key stud and a core play tonight. numberFire's models project Luka Doncic ($10,700) to be the highest-scoring player on the slate. Doncic's per-minute production hasn't taken much of a hit with Kristaps Porzingis back in the lineup, according to RotoGrinders. Doncic is averaging 58.8 fantasy points in games that Porzingis has suited up this season, though it is worth noting that he's been held to under 46 FanDuel points in three of his last four. Still, some exposure is recommended due to his enormous ceiling.

Other stud to consider: Stephen Curry ($9,600) faces a Minnesota Timberwolves that has surrendered the fourth-most fantasy points to point guards this season, according to numberFire's DvP tool. Steph has a great chance at a ceiling performance in a game in which the Golden State Warriors have the second-highest implied total on the slate.

Core Plays and Value Options: As mentioned above, Lillard is a core play tonight. With Kemba and Payton Pritchard out, Jeff Teague ($3,800) is in a position to be a decent salary-saver as the primary ball-handler for Boston. Teague topped 20 fantasy points in five of his nine games before Walker returned, including three outings with more than 26. He would only need 19 to return our baseline value figure of 5.0. Teague's our model's top-projected value at the position. He's also facing a Chicago Bulls defense that's allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to point guards this season. In four games without Derrick Rose this season, Delon Wright ($5,600) has averaged 29.8 FanDuel points per game. Wright has posted at least 27.4 in seven of his last eight, topping 29 five times during that stretch.

Other options: Goran Dragic ($5,800) and Jalen Brunson ($4,300) are our model's second and third-projected values, respectively.

Shooting Guard

Key Studs: Two of our model's top-three projected values at shooting guard are James Harden ($9,800) and Fred VanVleet ($7,900). Harden has failed to reach 40 FanDuel points in consecutive games, but our model projects him for 49.8 tonight. Meanwhile, FVV is fresh off posting 42 FanDuel points last night -- it was his eighth effort with more than 40 this season. At the risk of disagreeing with our model, FVV will be facing an Indiana Pacers team that second-stingiest to shooting guards this season. At that same salary, I'd rather pivot to DeMar DeRozan ($7,900). DeRozan will square off against a New Orleans Pelicans that ranks third-worst against the position when adjusted for competition. The veteran has eclipsed 44 fantasy points in five of his last eight outings.

Other stud to consider: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ($8,200) will go up against a Portland unit that's allowed the second-most fantasy points to shooting guards this season.

Core Plays and Value Options: Devin Vassell ($3,900) gets that same delicious matchup as DeRozan, and his play of late makes him an excellent salary-saver. Vassell's amassed at least 23.4 FanDuel points in five of his last six, and he would only need 19.5 to return a value figure of 5.0. Seth Curry ($4,600) needs a slightly-higher 23.0 FanDuel points for our baseline value, and he's managed to surpass that number in 7 of his 10 games this campaign.

Other option: With Miami's limited roster, Kendrick Nunn ($6,500) has averaged 34.9 minutes of action and 37.4 FanDuel points over his last four. The Brooklyn Nets have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to shooting guards this season.

Small Forward

Core Plays: We'll start off the small forward position with a couple of core plays before we get to potential studs to consider. First, we have Evan Fournier ($5,900). Fournier's seen a heavy role since he's returned from injury, with usage rates of 35.9%, 26.1%, and 30.6% in those three contests -- those resulted in fantasy outputs of 32.2, 43.3, and 32.6. He'll face a Charlotte Hornets team that's been generous to both shooting guards and small forwards this season. Carmelo Anthony ($4,100) is squaring off against a Oklahoma City Thunder team that's dead last in fantasy points allowed to small forwards in 2020-21. Melo's usage rate has gone up by 4.3% with McCollum and Nurkic off the court. Finally, Kelly Oubre ($5,200) is coming off a dud on Saturday, which means he'll likely see lower rostership despite his $400 reduction in salary. Oubre had averaged 31.3 FanDuel points in the five games prior, and tonight, he'll face a Wolves team that ranks bottom-nine against every position.

Other options: Doug McDermott ($4,500) has racked up more than 23 fantasy points in five straight -- he needs 22.5 for a 5.0 value figure tonight. Miles Bridges ($3,800) is our model's second-best projected value at the position. Bridges has eclipsed 20 fantasy points (often with ease) 10 times this season.

Studs to consider: Kevin Durant ($10,400) has garnered fewer than 42.3 FanDuel points just once all season, and he's topped 52 (what he needs for a 5.0 value figure tonight) in five of his last seven. Luckily, KD will match up with a Heat defense that's allowed the third-most FanDuel points to small forwards. When adjusted for competition, the Cleveland Cavaliers have been second-worst against small forwards and dead last against point guards -- so, regardless of where LeBron James ($9,800) does most of his bidding, he'll be in a good position to produce tonight. However, in tournaments, I'd rather break out my wallet for Durant, as LeBron hasn't garnered more than 56.2 FanDuel points in any game this season.

Power Forward

Key Studs: Two days ago, Bam Adebayo ($9,600) pegged the Nets for 41 real-life points and 62.5 FanDuel points. It was the third time Adebayo had topped 50 fantasy points in his last five games. On the season, Brooklyn's allowed the third-most fantasy points to power forwards and sixth-most to centers, though it would surprise no one if they finished dead last against both positions when it's all said and done. When adjusted for competition, the Bulls are an even juicier matchup for power forwards, and Jayson Tatum ($9,600) just so happens to be making his return against them tonight. Barring any reports that he'll be limited, Tatum is worth considering in all formats. Finally, if Aaron Gordon ($7,900) is active, he'll face a Hornets team that's surrendered the second-most fantasy points to the position. Gordon had posted 53.9, 45.3, and 41.3 fantasy points in the three games prior to his one-game absence.

Core Plays and Value options: Given his role and matchup, Adebayo has to be considered a core play on this slate. In the value territory, we have Isaiah Roby ($4,500), who has thrived without Al Horford on the court this season. In the six games in which Horford hasn't suited up this season, Roby has averaged 27.9 FanDuel points per contest. He would only need 22.5 for a 5.0 value figure tonight. It helps that Portland is dead last against power forwards when adjusted for competition. For that same reason, Darius Bazley ($4,700) is worthy of consideration. Our model projects Bazley to be the best value at power forward tonight. Thaddeus Young ($4,200) has topped 27 FanDuel points four times in his last seven games, and he posted 20.8 and 23.0 in two of the other three. Tonight, Young would only need 21 for our baseline value figure -- that's more than achievable.

Other options: Jarred Vanderbilt ($5,400) has been pretty hit-or-miss this season, though he's totaled more than 29 fantasy points in five of his last seven games with Karl-Anthony Towns out of the lineup. Speaking of hit-or-miss, few players on this slate are more volatile in both role and production than Chris Boucher ($6,500). After a string of six games in which he averaged 44.4 FanDuel points and never dipped below 38.3, Boucher has eeked out just 14.2, 12.0, and 29.9 fantasy points in his last three. Still, he's awfully enticing at a salary of $6,500.


Key Studs: It doesn't seem to matter how high his salary is, Nikola Jokic ($11,200) always seems to come through. In his last six games, Jokic is averaging an astounding 63.2 FanDuel points per game, which his lowest total being 55.4 during that stretch. The only reason to pass on Jokic would be to save a few backs and roster either Joel Embiid ($10,200) or Nikola Vucevic ($9,400). In his last eight games, Embiid has smashed for at least 65 FanDuel points three times, and 53.7-plus five times. Per Gdula, the Detroit Pistons (Embiid's opponent tonight) rank eighth-worst against opposing centers when adjusted for competition. However, the team that ranks second-worst are the Hornets, and Vucevic will have the distinct pleasure of squaring off against them. Vuce has recorded fewer than 40.6 just twice in his last 12 games, and he's managed at least 46.8 seven times during that stretch. numberFire's algorithm projects the Magic center to be the best value of the three.

Other stud to consider: If your roster construction can't afford one of those three, you can look to Myles Turner ($7,500). Turner's topped 40 FanDuel points in five of his last seven, and he managed 53.3 against the Raptors yesterday.

Value options: While completely passing on all of the studs at center tonight is not something I'd advise, there are a couple of options to consider if you do choose to go that route -- namely, James Wiseman ($4,900) and Naz Reid ($4,900). This season, no team in the Association has surrendered more fantasy points to opposing centers than the Wolves. Wiseman's had some duds thus far in his rookie campaign, but he has managed at least 26 fantasy points in four of his last five. Wiseman and the Warriors have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to centers, which is good news for Reid. In his last three games, Reid has posted 27.1, 40.6, and 29.8 FanDuel points -- that'll play.