FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Wednesday 2/17/21

Jayson Tatum is a worthwhile target on tonight's 10-game slate. Who else should we look to roster?

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.
DEN WSH 232.0 -4.0 118.0 119.1 7 117.8 27
PHI HOU 224.5 -11.0 117.75 113.4 12 107.9 6
NO POR 232.5 -3.0 117.75 119.9 6 120.8 29
IND MIN 226.5 -5.5 116.0 112.3 15 115.4 24
UTAH LAC 227.5 -3.5 115.50 122.8 4 111.1 13
MEM OKC 223.5 -7.0 115.25 109.4 21 109.2 10
POR NO 232.5 3.0 114.75 120.5 5 120.1 28
BOS ATL 224.0 -4.5 114.25 110.2 17 112.3 15
WSH DEN 232.0 4.0 114.0 103.5 23 112.9 18
CHI DET 222.5 -4.5 113.50 113.3 13 114.8 22
GS MIA 223.5 -1.5 112.50 110.2 18 107.8 5
LAC UTAH 227.5 3.5 112.0 128.3 1 100.5 1
MIA GS 223.5 1.5 111.0 101.7 25 104.5 4
MIN IND 226.5 5.5 110.50 99.7 27 108.5 9
ATL BOS 224.0 4.5 109.75 111.8 16 110.2 12
DET CHI 222.5 4.5 109.0 107.2 22 114.5 21
OKC MEM 223.5 7.0 108.25 101.6 26 112.6 17
NY ORL 209.5 -4.5 107.0 103.3 24 116.7 25
HOU PHI 224.5 11.0 106.75 98.9 29 108.3 8
ORL NY 209.5 4.5 102.50 99.0 28 103.6 3

Point Guard

Key Studs: As I mentioned in today's column on studs to target, Damian Lillard ($9,500) is a key stud -- in fact, he's a core play for me. Dame has 44.3-plus FanDuel points in 12 of his last 14 games, and he has topped 52 six times during that stretch. His matchup is delicious -- the New Orleans Pelicans rank 25th against point guards this season, per numberFire's DvP tool. Over their last 15 games, New Orleans is top-five in real-life points (fifth), assists (first), three-pointers made (fifth), and fantasy points (fifth) allowed to the position, according to FantasyPros.

With Christian Wood out, and Victor Oladipo, Eric Gordon, and P.J. Tucker ranging from questionable to doubtful, John Wall ($8,500) is certainly worthy of consideration. Wall dropped 50.1 FanDuel points on Monday with those players off the court.

Other Studs to Consider: Malcolm Brogdon ($8,000) hasn't been the most consistent option of late, but he will be facing a Minnesota Timberwolves team that's fourth-worst against the position.

Mid-Range and Value Options: If Monte Morris and Gary Harris both remain out (they're questionable), I'm not going to have any lineups that don't feature at least one of Jamal Murray ($6,500) or Facundo Campazzo ($3,500). Even if Morris or Harris were to play, I'd still be interested in both Murray and Campazzo against a Washington Wizards squad that ranks 29th against point guards. Paul Millsap, Will Barton, and P.J. Dozier are definitely out, and both Murray and Campazzo average exactly 0.17 more FanDuel points per minute with those three off the court this season, per RotoGrinders. Campazzo has put up 28.2 and 38.6 fantasy points over his last two games, and even if those two return, it's hard to imagine his role diminishing enough for him not to be worth the minimum salary. Murray's inconsistency this season makes him a bit easier to get away from in that situation (i.e., Morris and/or Harris being active).

Our model's top-projected value at the position is Payton Pritchard ($3,900), who will look to benefit from the absence of Kemba Walker. numberFire's algorithm is also relatively high on Michael Carter-Williams ($4,400). MCW has recorded 36.9 and 20.4 fantasy points in his two games back from an extended absence.

Finally, if the Houston Rockets were to be without Oladipo, Gordon, and Tucker, David Nwaba ($5,100) becomes an intriguing option again. Nwaba racked up 42.7 FanDuel points on Monday in 41 minutes of action.

Shooting Guard

Mid-Range and Value Options: At shooting guard tonight, my preference is to stick to the mid-range and value options -- and there's plenty of them. Gary Trent Jr. ($5,500) is matched up with a Pelicans defense that's fifth-most generous to shooting guards in 2020-21. GTJ has managed at least 28.2 FanDuel points in 8 of his last 12 outings, and he needs 27.5 to achieve our baseline value tonight. He has topped 30 in five of his last eight. Seth Curry ($4,000) is our model's top-projected value at the position, facing a Rockets team that's 27th against shooting guards this campaign. Curry is averaging 32.4 minutes over his last five and has produced outputs of 22.8, 25.4, and 27.1 FanDuel points during that stretch.

With three performances of more than 40 fantasy points in his last six games, Anthony Edwards ($6,000) is very much in play. Edwards amassed a career-best 49.9 fantasy points last night, and that was against a Los Angeles Lakers team that's one of the stingiest versus guards this season.

The potential return of Mike Conley definitely puts a dent in the fantasy value of Jordan Clarkson ($5,900), but it is worth noting that only one team is ceding more fantasy points to shooting guards than the Los Angeles Clippers over their last 15 games. Clarkson is certainly worthy of consideration if Conley sits, and he'll be an interesting contrarian play if the veteran does suit up.

Other Options: Josh Jackson ($5,700) is averaging 30.8 FanDuel points per game over his last eight, and he's going up against a Chicago Bulls team that's surrendering the ninth-most fantasy points to the position. Kevin Huerter ($5,300) has been hit or miss, but he has had at least 35 fantasy points in three of his last seven -- De'Andre Hunter, Rajon Rondo, and Bogdan Bogdanovic are all still out for the Hawks. Sterling Brown ($4,200) is one of our model's top-projected values at the position, and the same can be said for Terance Mann ($4,000).

Studs to Consider: Bradley Beal ($9,900) has topped 50 fantasy points in three of his last four games, and his opponent, the Nuggets, rank 21st against the position in 2020-21. Beal is our model's top-projected scorer at shooting guard tonight.

Right behind Beal is Zach LaVine ($9,500). LaVine's draw against the 20th-ranked Detroit Pistons is a good one as well. That said, the 25-year-old would need 47.5 FanDuel points to accrue a 5.0 value figure, and he's only reached that number twice in his last 11 outings.

I'd be very intrigued by Donovan Mitchell ($8,100) if Conley were to sit. As I mentioned in the Clarkson blurb, the Clips are allowing the second-most fantasy points to the position over their last 15 games.

Small Forward

Studs to Consider: Small forward is loaded with options at every tier, and the high-end is no exception -- starting with Jimmy Butler ($9,400). Butler's salary is now the highest it's been in more than a calendar year, but he has the production to back that up. Jimmy Buckets has managed at least 41.5 FanDuel points in 11 of his 13 fully healthy games this season, and that includes 9 outings with more than 47 -- he needs exactly 47 for a 5.0 value figure tonight.

Kawhi Leonard ($9,800) is questionable for tonight's matchup with the Utah Jazz. If he's active, he would be a worthwhile play with Paul George and Nicolas Batum already declared out. The Jazz feature one of the league's premier defenses, but Leonard did drop 61.7 fantasy points on them in January, so that's not something we should lose sleep over.

Other Studs to Consider: Brandon Ingram ($8,200) has topped 40 FanDuel points in six of his last eight. Jerami Grant ($7,200) has underwhelmed in his last three, but he is our model's fourth-best projected value at the position.

Mid-Range and Value Options: I talked about fading Michael Porter Jr. ($5,500) in last night's helper, and that turned out to be the right move. MPJ failed to score and managed a mere 15.9 FanDuel points despite being the highest-rostered player on the slate. Let's hope last night left a poor taste in the mouths of the masses because he's got a mouth-watering matchup tonight. In their last 15 contests, only three teams have allowed more fantasy points to small forwards than the Wizards. Yum. I'd be willing to go back to Porter Jr., even after he crashed and burned last night.

Expecting consistency from Danny Green ($3,500) is like expecting sound financial advice from a three-year-old. That said, Green does see minutes in the mid-20s to low-30s, and he had put up 19.4 or more FanDuel points 14 times this season -- that's about as much as we can ask for at the minimum salary. Green is numberFire's second-best projected value.

Other Options: RJ Barrett ($5,400), Denzel Valentine ($4,300), and Deni Avdija ($3,600) are the only other players that our model projects to return value figures better than 4.9.

Power Forward

Key Studs: Another player I mentioned in the stud column as a key piece tonight was Jayson Tatum ($9,400). With Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart off the court this season, Tatum is seeing a 4.0% bump in usage while averaging an additional 0.22 FanDuel points per minute. In the last two games that both players have been inactive, Tatum has posted 54.7 and 55.4 fantasy points. As an added bonus, the Hawks are ceding the sixth-most fantasy points to the position, according to FantasyPros' metrics.

Over their last 15 games, only five teams are ceding more fantasy points to power forwards than the Orlando Magic -- enter Julius Randle ($9,000). Randle has garnered more than 40 FanDuel points in 18 of his last 23 games, and he has topped 50 in 3 of his last 5.

Other Studs to Consider: The Blazers have been sported of the better fronts against power forwards in 2020-21, but that doesn't mean we should automatically write off Zion Williamson ($8,300). Zion has put up 49.4, 45.1, and 51.4 fantasy points in his last three efforts.

Mid-Range and Value Options: Our model's top-projected value at power forward is Moe Wagner ($4,400). Wagner has produced 26.8 and 31.1 FanDuel points in his last two games, and he'll face a short-handed Nuggets that has allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to the position over their last seven games.

In terms of value, our model's next-best projection is Jarred Vanderbilt ($4,400). The 21-year-old has started each of the last two games, and he has 29.4 and 26.1 FanDuel points to show for it. On the season, Indiana ranks 21st against the opposition's power forwards.

As is the case with Michael Porter Jr., JaMychal Green ($4,200) could be worth turning back to after he burned us last night. Green did see a season-high 28.6 minutes in that contest, and he has a better chance of paying off his salary against a porous Wizards defense.

Al Horford hasn't played on both ends of a back-to-back all season, and if he sits, Isaiah Roby ($4,700) will be squarely in play. In seven games without Horford on the court this season, Roby has averaged 27.7 FanDuel points per contest. Roby will take on a Memphis team that is allowing the 10th-most fantasy points to power forwards and 11th-most to centers this season.


Key Studs: Nikola Jokic ($10,500) is on the slate, so we're obviously going to start with him. The Serbian hasn't had a salary this low since New Year's Day, and chances are, we won't get him for under $11,000 too often for the remainder of the season. In his last nine outings, The Joker has produced outputs of 55.1, 56.5, 57.2, 58.4, 63.7, 74.9, and 88.6 -- that's...impressive. Tonight, Jokic will face a Washington defense that ranks fourth-worst against the center position this season. In his six previous matchups against bottom-four positional defenses this season, he has averaged 65.9 FanDuel points per game. Yeah...that'll do.

Jokic isn't lonely in the studs department at center -- Joel Embiid ($10,700) and Nikola Vucevic ($9,700) each get matchups against teams that are bottom-seven against the position. Embiid has massive upside -- I just have trouble getting to his salary with Jokic and Vucevic costing less. Meanwhile, Vuce is averaging 51.2 fantasy points across 13 matchups versus bottom-nine positional defenses, and New York comes in third-worst.

Value Option:

I'm paying up at center tonight, but if you decide not to, one direction you can go in is Robert Williams ($3,600). With Daniel Theis out last night, Williams erupted for 34.6 FanDuel points in 20 minutes of action. The 23-year-old has averaged 33.2 fantasy points in the six games in which he's seen more than 17.2 minutes of action -- his lowest output in those six outings was 27.6. Theis remains out tonight.