3 NBA FanDuel Studs to Target on 2/17/21

Damian Lillard is a key stud to target tonight in a delicious matchup with the Pelicans. Which other high-salaried players should we look to?

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.

Damian Lillard, PG, Portland Trail Blazers

FanDuel Salary: $9,500

Damian Lillard makes an appearance on this list for the second consecutive day, as he continues to boast one of the best floor/ceiling combinations for a player with his salary.

Over his last 14 games, Dame has put up fewer than 44.3 FanDuel points just twice, and he has managed at least 52.1 six times. That's remarkable consistency and more than enough upside for a player with a salary comfortable under five-figures.

Tonight, Lillard will face a New Orleans Pelicans defense that's allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing point guards this season, according to numberFire's DvP tool. In fact, over their last 15 games, the Pels are top-five in real-life points (fifth), assists (first), three-pointers made (fifth), and fantasy points (fifth) surrendered to the position, per FantasyPros.

If we peeked at Brandon Gdula's matchup sheet, we'd see that the 232.5 projected total for the matchup between the Portland Trail Blazers and New Orleans is the highest on the slate. Rostering Lillard is a great way to get exposure to those points.

Jayson Tatum, PF, Boston Celtics

FanDuel Salary: $9,400

The key to this recommendation is the projected absence of Kemba Walker, who has yet to play on both legs of a back-to-back this season. With Kemba and Marcus Smart off the court this season, Jayson Tatum has a 4% bump in usage correlated with an increase of 0.22 FanDuel points per minute, according to RotoGrinders.

In total, Tatum averages 1.44 FanDuel points per minute with those two off the court. Assuming 5X is an adequate value (i.e., 5.0 fantasy points for every $1,000 in salary), the 22-year-old will need 47 fantasy points at tonight's salary. At a clip of 1.44, Tatum would reach that in 32.6 minutes of action -- he's averaging 35.2 in 13 games without Kemba on the court this season.

The matchup tonight is certainly not one to shy away from -- the Atlanta Hawks rank 25th against power forwards this season, according to FantasyPros.

Nikola Jokic, C, Denver Nuggets

FanDuel Salary: $10,500

Let's get one thing out of the way -- the center position is utterly loaded tonight, so you don't need to roster Nikola Jokic...but you should.

This season, the Serbian has already had six matchups against teams that are bottom-four in fantasy points allowed to centers (per FantasyPros), and in those contests, he has posted an average of 65.9 FanDuel points. Wowza.

Despite posting totals of 55.1, 56.5, 57.2, 58.4, 63.7, 74.9, and 88.6 FanDuel points in seven of his last nine games, Jokic finds himself tied for his lowest salary since New Year's Day. You are not going to be able to roster the 25-year-old for a salary under $11,000 for much longer, so take advantage while you still can.

It's worth noting that the Denver Nuggets have the highest implied total (118.0) of the 20 teams playing tonight, and they could very well be without Gary Harris, P.J. Dozier, Paul Millsap, Will Barton, and Monte Morris -- Jokic is bound to get all he can handle.