FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Saturday 4/17/21

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 five-game slate, which locks at 8:00 p.m. EST.

All injury updates are via the NBA's official injury report or numberFire's player news.

Injury Overview

As of early Saturday afternoon, this slate isn't too bad as far as injury news goes, with Zach LaVine the lone high-salary player who is out. Among other noteworthy injury situations, Kelly Oubre ($6,900) is questionable, and Donte DiVincenzo is out.

Point Guard


Russell Westbrook ($11,400) - Among the three players on this slate who carry five-digit salaries, two of them are point guards -- Russ and Stephen Curry ($10,600). Using both is definitely a viable option as our model ranks Curry and Westbrook second and third, respectively, on the slate. Of the two, Russ gets the edge for me, notching 62.8, 64.5 and 63.5 FanDuel points over his past three. That's an incredible floor/ceiling combination, and the Washington Wizards have a really nice matchup with the Detroit Pistons. The Wiz carry a 115.0-point implied total, and Russ is a core play for me.

Other Studs to Consider (listed in order of preference): Stephen Curry ($10,600), Chris Paul ($7,900)

Value Play

Coby White ($4,500) - White had a huge game on Friday with LaVine and Tomas Satoransky out, erupting for 42.5 FanDuel points and making the perfect lineup. He got a $700 salary boost for today and Satoransky may return, but White is well worth plugging in regardless of Satoransky's status. Our projections account for Satoransky playing (as of early Saturday afternoon), and we still rate White as the top point-per-dollar option at the position for the Chicago Bulls' date with the Cleveland Cavaliers, forecasting him for 24.2 FanDuel points (5.37 per $1,000). If Satoransky sits, White's outlook will be even better.

Other Mid-Range and Value Options: Kemba Walker ($6,800), Derrick White ($5,600)

Shooting Guard


Bradley Beal ($8,300) - Our algorithm has Beal in a tier of his own at the two-guard slot, projecting him for 44.4 FanDuel points (5.35 per $1,000), which is 5.6 more than anyone else. Beal is a lot more volatile than Russ is when it comes to DFS, because Beal relies on scoring for more of his fantasy output than Westbrook does. That shouldn't be much of a hindrance tonight as the Pistons have surrendered 24.7 real-world points per game to shooting guards over their last 15, the third-most. Beal can be used as a pivot off Westbrook or alongside his high-octane backcourt partner.

Other Studs to Consider: Devin Booker ($8,700), Collin Sexton ($7,500)

Value Play

Dillon Brooks ($5,000) - The best fantasy environment of the night should be the Memphis Grizzlies-Milwaukee Bucks contest, which carries a slate-high (by 9.0 points) 237.0-point total. And the spread is 8.0 points, so the blowout risk isn't too bad. Brooks is a way to get a piece of that game without sacrificing too much salary. The Bucks are giving up the 10th-most FanDuel points per night to shooting guards (42.5) across the past 15 games. While Brooks isn't the most consistent DFS producer, he has at least 31.0 FanDuel points in three of his past five.

Other Mid-Range and Value Options: Hamidou Diallo ($3,800), Grayson Allen ($4,700)

Small Forward


Jaylen Brown ($8,200) - Small forward looks like a good place to save salary as our model has only Brown and Khris Middleton ($7,800) pegged for more than 30.0 FanDuel points. We see Brown posting 40.2 FanDuel points in a friendly matchup with the Golden State Warriors, who have permitted the ninth-most FanDuel points per game to small forwards (42.3) over their last 30 outings.

Other Stud to Consider: Khris Middleton ($7,800)

Value Play

Rui Hachimura ($4,700) - There are a couple solid mid-range choices, which makes it easier to forego Brown and Middleton. Hachimura is one such option, and we rate him as the best point-per-dollar pick at small forward, projecting him for 26.2 FanDuel points (5.58 per $1,000). On the other side of the Detroit-Washington matchup, Saddiq Bey ($5,400) checks out, too. Our model has Bey going for 27.4 FanDuel points (5.07 per $1,000).

Other Mid-Range and Value Options: Saddiq Bey ($5,400), Mikal Bridges ($5,100)

Power Forward


Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,000) - Tonight at power forward, Giannis has a ceiling rating, per our algo, nearly 15 points higher than anyone else's. Jayson Tatum is the only power forward with a ceiling rating within 20 FanDuel points of the Greek Freak's. All the boxes are checked for Giannis as this date with the Grizzlies has a huge total (237.0) and the spread isn't too big (8.0). We have the Bucks' star as the slate's top overall player, projecting Antetokounmpo for 49.9 FanDuel points. Locking in Russ and Giannis will be my first step tonight when building.

Other Studs to Consider: Jayson Tatum ($9,400)

Value Play

Daniel Gafford ($3,800) - Gafford is a low-salary way to get exposure to the Pistons-Wiz clash. Gafford went off for 36.4 FanDuel points Friday off the bench, recording his best outing since coming to Washington. He'd been decent in the three games prior, though, registering 24.0, 21.8 and 20.7 FanDuel points despite not playing more than 17 minutes in any of them. He logged 25 minutes last night. Gafford is a great way to save salary, and he's our model's premier point-per-dollar play at power forward (21.6 FanDuel points, 5.69 per $1,000).

Other Mid-Range and Value Options: Rudy Gay ($3,800), Thaddeus Young ($4,900), Lauri Markkanen ($3,700)



Nikola Vucevic ($9,000) - Vucevic has been consistently excellent over his past three, going for 49.8, 52.7 and 48.5 FanDuel points. We project him for 45.8 FanDuel points. Not only is that 5.09 per $1,000, it's also 7.4 more FanDuel points than any other center. He's facing a Cleveland Cavaliers team that has allowed the ninth-most FanDuel points per game (55.1) to centers over the last 30. If you can't quite get to Vuce's salary, Jonas Valanciunas ($8,400) is a fine option in what should be a high-scoring matchup with the Bucks.

Other Studs to Consider: Jonas Valanciunas ($8,400), Jarrett Allen ($7,400)

Value Play

Tristan Thompson ($4,300) - Value is pretty blah at center tonight. Thompson rates out as the best point-per-dollar play at the position, according to our model, as we project him to score 23.8 FanDuel points (5.53 FanDuel points). Honestly, I probably won't go this low at center. Value isn't too bad on this slate, so I won't dip down past Vucevic, JV or Allen -- the latter of whom we rate as the second-best point-per-dollar play at the position.

Other Mid-Range and Value Options: Kevon Looney ($4,100), Brook Lopez ($4,800)