FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Friday 2/5/21

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 nine-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 TOR 240.0 -4.5 122.25 124.1 3 111.3 17
MIA WSH 230.5 -6.5 118.50 100.1 27 121.9 29
MIL CLE 226.0 -10.5 118.25 124.7 2 106.4 8
TOR BKN 240.0 4.5 117.75 111.4 10 112.8 21
UTAH CHA 223.0 -8.0 115.50 119.2 4 112.4 19
IND NO 228.0 -1.0 114.50 114.3 8 114.0 22
NO IND 228.0 1.0 113.50 111.0 13 111.0 16
LAC BOS 220.0 -6.5 113.25 125.7 1 110.4 14
CHI ORL 223.5 -2.5 113.0 111.3 11 115.3 27
WSH MIA 230.5 6.5 112.0 109.0 19 109.0 13
PHX DET 214.0 -7.5 110.75 109.9 17 114.5 24
ORL CHI 223.5 2.5 110.50 98.5 29 114.1 23
MIN OKC 220.0 -1.0 110.50 96.4 30 110.9 15
OKC MIN 220.0 1.0 109.50 103.2 24 115.0 26
CLE MIL 226.0 10.5 107.75 100.7 26 107.4 11
CHA UTAH 223.0 8.0 107.50 107.3 21 100.3 2
BOS LAC 220.0 6.5 106.75 110.6 15 108.1 12
DET PHX 214.0 7.5 103.25 105.3 22 107.3 10

Point Guard

Core Value Plays: There's one team we're going to target for value early and often tonight, and that's the Oklahoma City Thunder. In addition to George Hill and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lu Dort will join the inactive list for OKC in a delicious matchup against the defensive-deficient Minnesota Timberwolves. Let's kick that off with Theo Maledon ($4,800). Maledon proved on Wednesday that he doesn't need to light up the scoreboard in order to rack up fantasy points, as he dropped 33.6 FanDuel points despite scoring just 6 real-life points. With Minnesota surrendering the third-most fantasy points to opposing point guards (according to numberFire's DvP tool), Maledon could very well end up being the top value on the entire slate.

numberFire's model is also pretty high on Kemba Walker ($5,700). On Tuesday, in the first game without Marcus Smart in the lineup, Kemba totaled 19 real-life points and 34.9 FanDuel points. In addition to Smart, the Boston Celtics could also be without Jaylen Brown for tonight's bout with the Los Angeles Clippers. With Smart off the court this season, Walker has a 33.8% usage rate while averaging an impressive 1.31 FanDuel points per minute, according to RotoGrinders. That's likely why our model has Walker projected as the second-best value at the position.

Finally, we have T.J. McConnell ($4,600), who has quietly been a solid fantasy option this season. On the back of quite a few assists and steals, McConnell has recorded more than 25 FanDuel points in five of his last eight, including 32.1 and 29.4 in his last two. Tonight, he'll square off against a New Orleans Pelicans team that's ceding the second-most assists and fourth-most steals to opposing point guards, per FantasyPros.

Studs to Consider: Our model isn't overly excited about any of the studs at point tonight, but they do have Malcolm Brogdon ($7,800) returning a value figure pretty darn close to 5.0. Brogdon is fresh off a dud on Wednesday, but the dude has topped 38 FanDuel points in 11 of his last 17 outings. The Indiana Pacers have the fifth-highest implied total on tonight's slate, and Brogdon's not a bad way to get exposure to those points.

There are two studs who have showcased significant upside mixed with a low floor in their recent play -- Russell Westbrook ($9,800) and Chris Paul ($8,000). Russ had an outing with 71 FanDuel points, but those were sandwiched by outputs of 39.2 and 42.4. His slate-winning upside makes him well worth some exposure in tournaments. Meanwhile, CP3 stunk up the joint with just 18 fantasy points on Wednesday, but in the five games prior, he had produced totals of 44.5, 55.3, 59.3, and 59.6. Both players have mediocre matchups tonight.

Honorable Mention: If Collin Sexton (neck) doesn't suit up tonight, Darius Garland ($6,100) becomes a very intriguing play.

Shooting Guard

Core Value Plays: As I said -- we know where the value lies, and we're going to attack it, this time with Hamidou Diallo ($5,000). Diallo is our model's second-best value on the slate. He recorded 31.3 FanDuel points in 32.2 minutes on Wednesday, and in his only three outings with 23 or more minutes this season, Diallo has poured in 31.3, 41.2, and 46.6 fantasy points. With Dort out, as well, Diallo's minutes could easily creep into the mid-to-high 30s.

Jordan Clarkson ($4,500) has a brutal matchup against a Charlotte Hornets team that's is the stingiest to shooting guards this season, but his salary is too friendly to simply ignore. Clarkson would need just 22.5 fantasy points to return our baseline value, and he's topped that number with ease in 17 of his 22 games. Our algorithm projects Clarkson to be the second-best value at the position.

Though he's cost you a bit more, Devonte' Graham ($5,400) is also worthy of consideration. Terry Rozier looks like he'll return tonight, but PJ Washington is unlikely to suit up. Graham needs 27 FanDuel points for five-times value, and he's topped 27 in 12 of his last 15 efforts.

Studs to Consider: Once again, another position with no studs that our model is drooling over. Given what Fred VanVleet ($9,000) did the last time he took the court, we cannot ignore him. On Tuesday, FVV erupted for 54 real-life points and 77.6 fantasy points. It was the fourth time in five games that he had exceeded 47 FanDuel points. Without OG Anunoby on the court this season, FVV has seen a 3.8-percentage point usage bump to go with averaging an additional 0.23 fantasy points per minute. Given that tonight's matchup with the Brooklyn Nets has a projected total that's 9.5 points higher than any other game's, FVV could very well be a key stud.

James Harden ($11,000) is taking part in that same matchup, and he's on the side with the highest implied total on the entire slate. Harden has produced 69.1, 55.5, and 57.2 FanDuel points in his last three games, and he should have a similar ceiling against a Toronto Raptors team that's below average versus shooting guards in 2020-21.

Finally, our model's top-projected value of any player with a salary above $7,000 is Paul George ($8,600). PG13 has trumped 42 FanDuel points -- often with plenty to spare -- in 10 of his last 16 contests.

Honorable Mention: Zach LaVine ($8,900) faces an Orlando Magic defense that's allowing the third-most fantasy points to shooting guards this season. LaVine has posted fewer than 42 fantasy points in five straight, but he has showcased an enormous ceiling on a number of occasions this season.

Small Forward

Key Stud: Finally, a stud our model has confidence in -- of course, I'm referring to Jimmy Butler ($8,500). Butler has now played eight fully healthy games this season, and he's eclipsed 45 FanDuel points in six of them, including in each of his last five. In fact, Butler is averaging 51.3 fantasy points over those five efforts, and he'll look to keep that going against a Washington Wizards team that ranks second-worst in defensive efficiency, per In addition to being the third-highest projected scorer, our model has Butler finishing as the fifth-best value at small forward.

Honorable Mentions: The Celtics are one of the stingiest teams against power forwards this season, but as long as Kawhi Leonard ($9,600) has a salary under five-figures, we have to consider him.

Core Value Plays: At the minimum salary, Justin Jackson ($3,500) is our model's top-projected value on the entire slate. With SGA, Dort, and Hill out, Jackson should be in line for a season-high in both volume and minutes. Jackson saw 29.8 minutes of action on Wednesday when Dort exited at the end of the first quarter and didn't return. numberFire's algorithm has him projected for 22.9 fantasy points in 31.9 minutes. Kenrich Williams ($3,500) finds himself in the same boat for the Thunder.

Deni Avdija ($3,700) has racked up 25.9 and 17.8 fantasy points in his last two games, and tonight, he'll face a Miami team that's allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to small forwards.

Mid-Range Star: Jerami Grant ($6,800) has a tough draw versus the Phoenix Suns, but a difficult matchup didn't stop him from posting 45.8 fantasy points on Monday. On the season, Grant is averaging 37.6 FanDuel points per game, and he would only need 34.0 to accrue a 5.0 value figure. Our model has him projected for 34.3 tonight.

Power Forward

Key Studs: In 10 games away from home this season, Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,200) has bested 56 FanDuel points seven times, including 59 or more in six of them. With Milwaukee having an implied total better than 118 today, the two-time MVP is well in play. Our model projects Giannis to be the highest-scoring player on the slate by 4.9 fantasy points.

However, Giannis isn't the only stud at power forward who our model is high on -- we also have Domantas Sabonis ($8,800) fitting that category. Sabonis has topped 48 fantasy points in 6 of his last 11, and that includes outings of 58.1 and 54.4 in his last two. A matchup with the Pelicans is certainly not one we have to shy away from.

Core Value Plays: Let's go back to the well that is OKC, and this time we'll take aim at Darius Bazley ($5,600). Bazley recorded season-high clips in both minutes and fantasy points on Wednesday with SGA and company inactive, and tonight could be much of the same.

Our model's top-two projected values at power forward are Chris Boucher ($4,700) and Davis Bertans ($4,300). There's no question that Boucher has a slate-winning ceiling, especially against a Brooklyn team that wouldn't know interior defense if it hit them in the face. That said, the 28-year-old is averaging just 16 minutes of playing time over his last four games -- that won't cut it. You can take a stab at Boucher's upside in some tournament lineups, but I would caution against overexposure.

Finally, Tristan Thompson ($3,800) is ultra-affordable, and he's coming off consecutive games with 19.6 and 28.0 FanDuel points. Thompson's outlook would get a boost if Jaylen Brown were unable to suit up.


Studs to Consider: Nikola Vucevic ($8,800) is our model's top-projected scorer at center tonight, as we have him posting 5.2 more FanDuel points than any other player at the five spot. Vuce has topped 40 fantasy points 15 times this season, including 11 outings with more than 46 and 7 outputs of 49-plus.

The Bucks aren't exactly generous to interior players, but when you can roster someone with the upside of Andre Drummond ($7,500) for well under $8,000, you have to consider it. Drummond has had 11 games with more than 44 fantasy points this season, and that includes 7 games where he dropped more than 59. That's insane upside for a player in his salary range.

Core Value Plays: Another position, another OKC value play -- this time, it's Al Horford ($6,300). Horford gets the honor of facing a Minnesota interior that's allowing the most fantasy points to opposing centers. Horford is averaging 37 FanDuel points in the four games since he's returned to the lineup for the Thunder, and he would need only 31.5 for a 5.0 value figure.

Naz Reid ($5,800) and Cody Zeller ($5,800) are numberFire's top-two projected values at center. Reiz has topped 27 FanDuel points in six of his last seven games, including two outings with more than 40. Meanwhile, Zeller is averaging 34.2 fantasy points over his last five, and he should continue to operate in a larger-than-usual role with PJ Washington out.

Finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Thaddeus Young ($6,600). Young has put up 44.3, 39.7, 39.6, and 42.8 FanDuel points over his last four, and he would need just 33.0 tonight to achieve value. With Otto Porter and Wendell Carter Jr. out for the Bulls, Young's role is not about to shrink. Unlike our algorithm, I actually prefer Young to the aforementioned three value plays if I can muster up the cash.