FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Thursday 3/4/21

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

This table is via Brandon Gdula's matchup sheet -- it shows the over/under for each game, as well as each team's spread and implied total. The table also includes each squad's offensive rating, adjusted for opponent, as well as opponent-adjusted defensive rating for the opposing team, including the respective league-wide ranks for each of those ratings.

Teams are sorted by their implied total.

Team Opp Over/
Spread Implied
Rank Opp Adj.
POR SAC 238.0 -4.5 121.25 118.6 7 125.1 30
MIL MEM 234.5 -6.0 120.25 122.8 4 108.1 9
LAC WSH 235.0 -5.5 120.25 126.4 2 116.1 26
SAC POR 238.0 4.5 116.75 115.2 9 121.1 28
PHX GS 224.0 -6.5 115.25 118.2 8 104.9 3
DEN IND 225.5 -4.0 114.75 122.3 5 109.5 10
NO MIA 227.0 -2.5 114.75 121.6 6 106.7 6
WSH LAC 235.0 5.5 114.75 106.8 22 111.8 16
MEM MIL 234.5 6.0 114.25 109.1 20 110.6 13
SA OKC 218.5 -6.5 112.50 110.9 17 108.1 8
MIA NO 227.0 2.5 112.25 103.8 25 122.3 29
IND DEN 225.5 4.0 110.75 110.4 18 113.2 18
GS PHX 224.0 6.5 108.75 107.5 21 106.7 7
NY DET 210.5 -7.0 108.75 104.7 24 113.0 17
OKC SA 218.5 6.5 106.0 98.9 28 110.4 12
DET NY 210.5 7.0 101.75 105.2 23 105.8 5
BOS TOR N/A -8.0 N/A 113.1 13 110.8 14
TOR BOS N/A 8.0 N/A 113.9 12 111.6 15

Point Guard


De'Aaron Fox ($8,300): I outlined Fox as a player to target in my studs column today, but just know that the position is absolutely loaded. Fox will draw the Portland Trail Blazers in a matchup that has the highest over/under (238.0) on tonight's nine-gamer. The youngster has topped 40 fantasy points in 19 of his 34 outings this season, including 10 games with 46.2-plus. According to numberFire's DvP tool, Portland has allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to the point guard position in 2020-21.

Other Studs to Consider (listed in order of preference):
Russell Westbrook ($9,600): Hasn't had fewer than 44.2 fantasy points in nine straight -- averaging 51.1 during that stretch. Clippers are eighth-worst against point guards over their last 15.
Damian Lillard ($10,100): Portland has the highest implied total tonight, and Sacramento is dead last in defensive efficiency. Dame had 69.7 against them in their most recent matchup.
Kyle Lowry ($8,500): Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet, and OG Anunoby are all out. Boston is 10th-worst versus the position over their last 15 contests.

Value Play

Brad Wanamaker ($3,900): With the announcement that both Stephen Curry and Draymond Green will be out tonight, Wanamaker is our model's top-projected value on the entire slate. In the one game Curry missed this season, Wanamaker posted 31.1 FanDuel points in 33.6 minutes of action. Granted, the matchup with the Phoenix Suns is a tough one, but Wanamaker would only need 19.5 fantasy points to achieve our baseline value figure of 5.0. In the event of a blowout, the 31-year-old is likely also garbage-time-proof, as he is a player that tends to be on the court during that time.

Other Mid-Range and Value Options:
Malcolm Brogdon ($6,700): At his lowest salary since the opener. Would only need 33.5 for 5X -- he's eclipsed that in 21 of 33 games. Denver is 23rd against point guards over their last seven.
T.J. McConnell ($5,000): Had 10 steals (!!!) yesterday. Had put up 35 or more fantasy points in six of his last nine. Did I mention that he had 10 steals yesterday?
Derrick Rose ($6,200): Cleared to return after sitting out last night. Should start with Elfrid Payton doubtful. Has 37.8 and 42.7 FanDuel points in two of his last four outings.
Theo Maledon ($4,200): San Antonio Spurs rank 28th against the position. George Hill and Hamidou Diallo remain inactive.

Shooting Guard


Paul George ($7,900): Not only is PG13 our model's top-projected scorer at shooting guard, but he's also numberFire's third-best projected value on the entire slate. Defending wings is not something the Washington Wizards are very fond of. According to FantasyPros, the Wizards have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to shooting guards and the most to small forwards over their last 15 games. Given that the Clippers are tied for the second-highest implied total on the slate, George could be in for an explosive performance.

Other Studs to Consider:
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ($8,200): The Thunder will likely be down Hill, Diallo, and Al Horford tonight. SGA dropped 56.6 on San Antonio four games ago.
DeMar DeRozan ($8,500): Averaging 46.9 fantasy points in his last three. Spurs will be down LaMarcus Aldridge, Derrick White, Rudy Gay, and Devin Vassell tonight.
Bradley Beal ($10,400): Has exceeded 50 fantasy points in 6 of his last 10. Clippers are 24th against the position.

Value Play

Ty Jerome ($3,900): Jerome is our model's second-best projected point-per-dollar play on the entirety of tonight's nine-game slate. In his first three games of the season, Jerome has racked up 19.2, 22.6, and 30.5 FanDuel points while averaging 26.8 minutes of action. With Al Horford (second night of a back-to-back) likely joining Hill and Diallo on the sidelines, there should be plenty of available usage for Jerome to return excellent value.

Other Mid-Range and Value Options:
Buddy Hield ($6,400): Has erupted for 41.9 and 48.2 FanDuel points in his last two games with Tyrese Haliburton out. Portland is 29th against shooting guards.
Lu Dort ($3,900): Has combined for just 17.2 FanDuel points in his last two games but is our model's third-best projected value at the position.
Andrew Wiggins ($6,200): Brutal matchup but Golden State is without Draymond and Curry tonight. Kelly Oubre is also questionable.

Small Forward


Khris Middleton ($7,500): The top-two studs I'd target -- a Kawhi Leonard ($9,700) and Jimmy Butler ($9,500) -- are both questionable, so I'll have to roll with Middleton here. If Leonard and Butler are active, my preference would be Kawhi, as he's facing a Washington team that's been the most generous in the league to the position over their last 15 games. As for Middleton, he faces a Memphis Grizzlies team that's right behind Washington in terms of FanDuel points allowed to the position. Khash has recorded at least 35.8 fantasy points in six straight games.

Other Studs to Consider:
Norman Powell ($7,400): Powell gets a $700 salary hike, but is still worthy of consideration. His usage should be through the roof against Boston tonight.
Brandon Ingram ($7,800): Gets a bump if Butler isn't there to defend him. Has trumped 40 fantasy points in 6 of his last 11 efforts.

Value Play

Justin Holiday ($4,500): On the season, the Denver Nuggets have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to small forwards. Holiday has surpassed 20 FanDuel points in 11 of his last 13 outings, and that includes six outputs of at least 28.5. He is our algorithm's top-projected point-per-dollar play at the position.

Other Mid-Range and Value Options:
Nicolas Batum ($4,200): Has averaged 21.5 fantasy points over his last three. Washington is dead last against the position in their last 15 games.
Carmelo Anthony ($5,400): Has managed 29.4, 33.3, and 53.6 FanDuel points in three of his last four games. Sacramento is third-worst versus small forwards throughout their last 15 contests.
Mikal Bridges ($5,700): Has had fewer than 25.4 fantasy points once in his last nine games. Warriors are eighth-worst against the position in their last seven games.

Power Forward


Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,300): Giannis is just one of two players on this slate averaging more than 50 FanDuel points per game and the other -- Nikola Jokic -- would cost you $300 more. We'll want to chase that upside even in a matchup that isn't ideal -- Memphis is seventh in defensive efficiency -- especially since the Milwaukee Bucks are tied for the second-highest implied total on the slate. In 10 matchups with top-12 defenses this season, Antetokounmpo has averaged 55.6 fantasy points, including five games with at least 64.5. Giannis is also coming off a game in which he eked out just 47.1 fantasy points, and in his 10 games following a sub-51-fantasy-point performance this season, the two-time MVP has averaged 59.6 FanDuel points.

Other Studs to Consider:
Zion Williamson ($8,900): Has exceeded 45 FanDuel points in 9 of his last 11 games. Miami is just 19th against power forwards this season.
Julius Randle ($9,300): Had a dud on Tuesday but is facing a Detroit team that's dead last against power forwards in 2020-21.
Domantas Sabonis ($9,200): Has maxed out at 42.7 in his last four games, but the Nuggets are 24th versus the position over their last 15 games.

Value Play

Isaiah Roby ($4,600): In 10 games that Al Horford has missed this season, Roby has averaged 25.8 FanDuel points. Given that Horford hasn't played on both ends of a back-to-back at any point this season, it's safe to assume that he'll sit tonight. The 23-year-old would only need 23 fantasy points for a 5.0 value figure, and that's certainly an attainable number.

Other Mid-Range and Value Options:
Robert Covington ($6,000): Has posted 42.3 and 46.0 FanDuel points in his last two. Kings are 28th against power forwards this season.
Trey Lyles ($4,700): Should have an increased role with Aldridge out. OKC is fifth-worst against power forwards over their last 15 games.
Daniel Theis ($4,900): Has 34.3-plus in three of his last seven efforts. Toronto is bottom-10 against both power forwards and centers in their last 15.



Nikola Jokic ($11,600): numberFire's algorithm has Jokic outscoring the next-closest center by a whopping 22.7 FanDuel points -- so there's that. The Serbian will face an Indiana interior that ranks just 23rd against the position this season, so he should licking his chops. The current fantasy scoring leader has eclipsed 55 FanDuel points in 24 of his 35 games this season, which is just...unreal -- included in that is 14 outings with more than 60. Denver has a healthy implied total of 114.8 tonight, so Jokic is certainly in play.

Value Play

Mason Plumlee ($6,300): If Jerami Grant (quad) is out again tonight, we can go back to Plumlee after he exploded for 46.2 FanDuel points last night. The New York Knicks have surrendered the seventh-most fantasy points to opposing fives this season, and Plumlee should be primed to take advantage.

Other Mid-Range and Value Options:
Jakob Poeltl ($6,100): Has topped 31 FanDuel points in 7 of his last 10. Should see a bump in volume with Aldridge out, and OKC might very well be without Horford for this one.
Nerlens Noel ($5,500): Has averaged 30.8 fantasy points in 39.2 minutes over his last three. Is our algorithm's top-projected value at the position.