FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Monday 2/22/21
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 six-game slate, which locks at 8:00 PM Eastern.
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.
Key Stud: In the studs to target column, I highlighted Luka Doncic ($11,200) as a top play for a variety of reasons. First, Doncic has posted at least 59 FanDuel points in five of his last seven outings, including 59.0, 76.6, and 60.9 in his last three. Second, according to numberFire's DvP tool, the Memphis Grizzlies rank 24th against point guards this season -- Luka has averaged 61 fantasy points in his eight games against bottom-10 positional defenses this season. Finally, the Dallas Mavericks have an implied total of 118.5 -- second-highest on the slate -- and that's something we'll definitely want exposure to.
Other Studs to Consider: This is a damn long list for a six-game slate, but we'll attempt to narrow it down. I'll never feel comfortable completely fading Damian Lillard ($10,500), especially considering his current form (60.9 FanDuel points in his last four), but he does get a brutal draw in the Phoenix Suns. On the season, Phoenix has allowed the fewest fantasy points to opposing point guards. In eight matchups against top-10 point guard defense this season, Dame is averaging 42.4 fantasy points per game, 5.6 lower than his season average. I'll have less exposure to him than I would on most other slates.
John Wall ($8,500) has seen usage in his last two games, which makes him a worthy consideration at his salary. Sans Victor Oladipo and Christian Wood in those contests, Wall has seen 34.9 and 35.9 minutes to go with usage rates of 44.7% and 39.%, respectively. That has resulted in FanDuel outputs of 50.1 and 44.1. DeMarcus Cousins is expected to join Wood and Oladipo (doubtful) on the inactives list, which would only improve Wall's outlook.
Mid-Range Stars: Chris Paul ($7,500) and Ja Morant ($7,200) are both very intriguing tonight. Paul's got a bout with a Portland Trail Blazers team that's allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to point guards over their last 15 games, according to FantasyPros. Prior to his 26.4-point dud on Saturday, CP3 had produced 42.9 or more FanDuel points in 9 of his previous 13 games. The Suns' implied total of 118.3 is third-highest on tonight's six-gamer.
Meanwhile, Morant will go up against a Mavs squad that's third-most generous to opposing point guards over their last 15. The 21-year-old is the only point guard with a salary above $5,600 projected to return a value figure of 5.0 or better.
Value Options: I'm not all that interested in spending down at point guard tonight, though there are a few options to consider if you are so inclined.
Our model's top-projected value is De'Anthony Melton ($4,100). Melton gets the same friendly matchup as Morant, and he only needs 20.5 fantasy points to achieve our baseline value. The 22-year-old has recorded more than 21 fantasy points in 9 of his last 12.
In 189 minutes without Oladipo, Wood, and Cousins on the court, Sterling Brown ($3,900) is averaging 0.92 FanDuel points per minute, according to RotoGrinders. At that rate, Brown would pay off his salary (assuming 5X is adequate value) in 21.2 minutes -- he's played 24.8 or more in six straight.
In theory, Alex Caruso ($3,600) should be a great option with Dennis Schroder out and a fantastic matchup (the Washington Wizards rank 29th against points guards this season). However, Caruso has totaled just 19.5 and 5.2 fantasy points in his last two games with Schroder out, and he has failed to reach 20 fantasy points in any of his last 13 games. Still, he's our model's third-best projected value, and he's a viable filler if you're looking to load up on studs.
Mike Conley ($5,600) is our model's second-best point-per-dollar play at the position, and he should garner consideration in his second game back from injury. Conley had exceeded 31 fantasy points in 14 of his 23 games prior to his injury, so the ceiling is definitely there if he gets a full workload.
Studs to Consider: Zach LaVine ($9,800) has been on a tear lately, amassing at least 41.3 FanDuel points in nine straight, including at least 48.5 in five of his last eight. Tonight, LaVine will square off against a Houston Rockets defense that ranks third-worst against shooting guards this season. LaVine might not have the upside of some of the other studs on tonight's slate, but his floor is as high as it gets.
The Utah Jazz are the stingiest team against shooting guards this season, but Terry Rozier ($7,300) has to be considered in his current form. In his last four games, Scary Terry is averaging 36 real-life and 49 fantasy points per game. Wowza. It's worth noting that two of those four contests were against teams that are among the seven stingiest against the position in 2020-21.
While the matchup is nothing to write home about, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ($7,500) could be a solid play tonight. SGA would need 37.5 fantasy points to accrue a value figure of 5.0 tonight, and he has eclipsed that in 13 of his 24 contests this season, and that includes 11 games with 43.9 or more. Gilgeous-Alexander is the only shooting guard with a salary above $5,300 to have a value projection of 4.9 or better.
Core Value Play: Eric Gordon ($5,300) is our model's second-best projected value on the entire slate. The veteran sharpshooter has put up at least 31 FanDuel points in four of his last seven efforts, and he's averaging 1.17 fantasy points per minute with Wood, Oladipo, and Cousins off the court this season.
Other Value Options: With Schroder and Anthony Davis out, there's plenty of volume available for the Lakers, which means you can throw a dart at either Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($3,700) or Wes Matthews ($3,700). KCP has averaged 31.6 minutes over his last three, though only one of those outings resulted in an output better than 12.6 fantasy points. Meanwhile, Matthews has averaged 25.7 minutes over his last three, though he only topped 7.4 fantasy points in of those games. That said, the 34-year-old has racked up 18.4, 27.1, and 30.1 fantasy points in three of his last five games with AD out of the lineup.
Key Stud: LeBron James ($10,400) is our model's top-projected scorer on the entire slate, and he's also numberFire's second-best point-per-dollar play at small forward. As I mentioned in the studs piece, the gap between LeBron and the third-highest projected scoring small forward is an astronomical 24.8 FanDuel points. Given that, and the fact that the Wiz have ceded the fifth-most fantasy points to small forwards over their last 15, passing on LeBron tonight carries huge risk.
Other Stud to Consider: The only other small forward projected to score more than 33 fantasy points is Jimmy Butler ($9,200). Butler's floor has been absolutely fantastic recently -- he has put up fewer than 41.5 FanDuel points just once in his last 14 games. Jimmy Buckets has exceeded 46 fantasy points (the total he needs for a 5.0 value figure) nine times during that stretch. As an added bonus, the Thunder rank dead last against small forwards this campaign.
Value Options: Garrett Temple ($4,600) has logged 29.8 or more minutes in six straight games, and he's topped 26 FanDuel points in four of those six outings. Houston is giving up the ninth-most fantasy points to small forwards over their last seven games, which makes Temple one of the safer value plays at the position.
The Grizzlies come in 28th against small forwards this season, which means that Josh Richardson ($4,700) and Dorian Finney-Smith ($4,300) are both in play. Richardson's been hit-or-miss lately, with 34 or more FanDuel points in three of his last eight, and fewer than 19 three times during that stretch as well. Finney-Smith lacks Richardson's upside, but he makes up for it by being a safer play. The 27-year-old has posted at least 23 fantasy points in each of his last four games. The outlook for both players would improve greatly if Kristaps Porzingis (back) were unable to go tonight.
The trickle-down effect of Oladipo, Wood, and Cousins being out should get to Danuel House Jr. ($4,500) as well. House is similar to Richardson in that he comes with a lineup-killing floor as well as an intriguing ceiling. In his last five games, the 27-year-old has had outputs of 29.5 and 38.1 FanDuel points, as well as 10.9 and 11.9-point duds.
Studs to Consider: There are only two "studs" at power forward tonight, and one of them -- Kristaps Porzingis ($7,800) -- might not even be active. The other is Bam Adebayo ($8,900) who I listed as a target in tonight's studs column. Bam has reached at least 40 FanDuel points in 10 of his last 13 games, including 43.5 or more in 8 of those outings. Tonight, he'll dance with an OKC team that's allowed the most fantasy points to the opposition's power forwards over their last 15 games.
If Porzingis does play, he's also worthy of consideration. The Latvian has eclipsed 40 FanDuel points in four of his last seven games, and the Grizzlies have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to power forwards over their last 15 contests.
Core Value Play: In eight games without Al Horford on the court this season, Isaiah Roby ($4,600) has averaged 28 fantasy points per game, and that includes at least 23.3 in all but one of them. Horford is not expected to play tonight. In their last 15 outings, Miami has ceded the ninth-most fantasy points to power forwards. The Heat have also been generous to centers lately, allowing the 10th-most FanDuel points to the position over their last seven.
Other Value Options: P.J. Tucker ($3,500) will likely be Houston's center-by-default tonight, with both Wood and Cousins inactive. In their last seven games, only the Cleveland Cavaliers are allowing more fantasy points to the center position than the Bulls. Tucker doesn't have tremendous upside, but he doesn't need it at the minimum salary.
Tucker's teammate, Jae'Sean Tate ($6,600) will look to continue his hot play. Tate has managed 36.2 and 40.2 FanDuel points in his last two, and he should no shortage of opportunities tonight.
Jae Crowder ($4,600) has trumped 30 fantasy points four times in his last six contests, which makes him quite rosterable at a salary below $5,000.
Stud to Consider: numberFire's algorithm has Rudy Gobert ($8,100) recording 7.1 more fantasy points than any other player at the position. The Jazz have the highest implied total on tonight's slate, and Charlotte ranks 20th against centers in 2020-21. Gobert has topped 41 fantast points in four of his last seven games.
Value Options: My preference is to look for value at center tonight and pay up elsewhere. Kelly Olynyk ($4,400) is our model's top-projected value at the position. Olynyk has amassed at least 25 fantasy points in 8 of his last 12 games, and he'll be drawing an OKC team that will be without Al Horford.
Our model's third-best projected value is Wendell Carter Jr. ($5,400) who will be taking on a Houston interior that doesn't have a true center with Cousins out. Carter Jr. is averaging 24.4 FanDuel points in the four games since he's returned, but the fact that his minutes ticked up all the way to 33.1 on Saturday is quite encouraging.