4 NBA FanDuel Studs to Target on 3/31/21
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.
Tonight's 10-game slate is utterly loaded, and that's especially the case at center, which has appealing options at every salary level. Given that we can only roster one player at the five-position on FanDuel, we'll focus today's column on one player from each of the other positions.
Let's get right into it and look at which top players should be the focal points of your lineups today.
Ja Morant, PG, Memphis Grizzlies
FanDuel Salary: $6,800
As far as affordable studs go, Ja Morant is one of the more enticing ones, especially in tournaments.
Tonight, Morant will be at his lowest salary since last year's bubble, and yet, he might not see too high a roster percentage. The Memphis Grizzlies will be taking on the Utah Jazz, who sport one of the league's best defenses and rank fourth-best against point guards, per numberFire's DvP tool. That, coupled with the fact that Ja has only managed 16.2 and 28 fantasy points in his last two, could result in the masses shying away.
That 16.2-FanDuel-point performance came on Saturday against these very same Jazz. So why is Morant a recommended spend? Well, the very night before that dud, he dropped 32 real-life points, 11 assists, and 52.3 FanDuel points on Utah.
While Saturday's stinker came in a blowout -- the Grizzlies were down 18 entering the fourth -- Friday's explosion occurred in a much closer affair, which is exactly what the oddsmakers have happening tonight. With Donovan Mitchell inactive, the Jazz are only favored by 4.5 in this contest, according to numberFire's Matchup Heatmap. And, for the record, our model gives the Grizzlies a 37.1% chance of winning this game outright.
Our algorithm projects the 21-year-old to drop 37.1 FanDuel points tonight, making him the best point-per-dollar play among the 11 point guards with a salary of $6,800 or higher.
Fred VanVleet, SG, Toronto Raptors
FanDuel Salary: $7,400
Another affordable option -- this one in a delicious matchup.
Fred VanVleet and the Toronto Raptors will be squaring off against the Oklahoma City Thunder, a team that's allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to shooting guards over their last 15 games, according to FantasyPros. Toronto carries an implied total of 115.75 for this one, which is third-highest on the entire slate.
In his last seven games, FVV has totaled at least 40 FanDuel points four times, which means he's now reached or surpassed that number in 15 of his last 26 outings.
VanVleet is fresh off a game in which he produced just 26.5 fantasy points, and he's been an excellent bounce-back player in 2020-21. In his 13 games following a sub-34-fantasy-point output, the guard has bounced back to the tune of a 44.1-FanDuel-point average, eclipsing 40 in all but three of those outings.
numberFire's algo projects that the 27-year-old will surpass that number once again, as they have him totaling 41.4 -- that makes him the second-best value play among the 34 players with a salary of $7,300 or above.
Jimmy Butler, SF, Miami Heat
FanDuel Salary: $9,000
Small forward might be the scarcest position on tonight's slate, as far as studs are concerned. It is the only position that has just one player projected to surpass 40 FanDuel points by our model -- every other position has at least 30. That one player is Jimmy Butler.
After rising all the way to $11,000, Butler's salary has steadily climbed back down to a range that is considerably more affordable. It's understandable -- after going through a stretch of seven games in which he amassed at least 51.4 FanDuel points in each contest, the veteran has failed to reach that total in any of his last six, including three performances of 37.4 or fewer.
All that said, Butler has started to regain his form of late, as he's garnered 41.5, 44, and 47.5 FanDuel points in three of his last four games.
numberFire's algorithm projects Butler to rack up 47.1 fantasy points tonight, which is a good 10.7 more than the third-highest projected small forward.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, PF, Milwaukee Bucks
FanDuel Salary: $11,300
Nothing Giannis Antetokounmpo has done in his last six games suggests that he's worth paying this high a salary for, which is exactly why I'm looking to pay up for him in tournaments.
Players might be wary of the two-time MVP after he's topped out at 44.7 fantasy points in his last three (and 55.1 in his last five), which could provide a unique opportunity to roster one of fantasy's most explosive players at a non-astronomical roster percentage.
I have no doubt that James Harden ($11,500) will be more popular tonight, and that alone is reason-enough to fade him, as is the fact that his Brooklyn Nets are favored by 13.5 and Kyrie Irving is slated to play.
Prior to this "cold" streak, the Greek Freak had exceeded 56 fantasy points in 17 of his previous 23 efforts, including more than 60 on 11 different occasions.
numberFire's models project Giannis to accrue 58.2 FanDuel points against the Los Angeles Lakers, making him the top-projected scorer on tonight's 10-gamer.