FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Wednesday 5/12/21
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 7:00 PM Eastern.
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 since the league's trade deadline.
Teams are sorted by their implied total.
Russell Westbrook ($12,600) - As I outlined in today's studs column, the matchup between the Atlanta Hawks and Washington Wizards is one we want to target. These two squads combined for 249 points on Monday, and their over/under is hovering in the 240-range today. Westbrook pegged the Hawks for 72.1 FanDuel points in that contest, which means he's now eclipsed 70 in five of his last six games. numberFire's models have Russ out-scoring the second-ranked player on the slate by a whopping 13.9 fantasy points, which also makes him one of the best point-per-dollar plays at point guard.
Trae Young ($8,500) - We're double-dipping on high-end plays at point guard, and that's because Young's salary makes him too enticing to pass up. At $8,500, he would need 42.5 FanDuel points to accrue our baseline value, and he's topped that in 12 of his last 20, including a 50.7-point performance against the Wiz two days ago. On the season, Washington has allowed the second-most fantasy points to point guards, according to numberFire's DvP tool.
Khyri Thomas ($4,500) - Thomas is the "free square" on tonight's slate at a salary of just $4,500. For the Houston Rockets, John Wall, Kevin Porter Jr., Avery Bradley, and Sterling Brown are out, while Christian Wood, Danuel House Jr., and DaQuan Jeffries are all questionable. That's resulted in Thomas seeing a ton of minutes and volume in his first three games with the team, which has led to output of 29.3, 33.1, and 56.5 FanDuel points. Understandably, Thomas is our model's top-projected value on the entire slate.
Aaron Nesmith ($4,200) - For tonight's meeting with the defensively challenged Cleveland Cavaliers, the Boston Celtics will be without Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, and Robert Williams. As a result, Nesmith should be in a position to return excellent value. In three of his last seven efforts, the rookie has posted 25.3, 27.7, and 42.8 FanDuel points, and he should be able to live in that range against a Cavs team that ranks dead last in defensive efficiency over their last 15 games, per NBA.com.
Evan Fournier ($7,200) - The primary beneficiary from all of Boston's injuries should be Fournier. The veteran has racked up 36 or more fantasy points in four of his last five games, including outputs of 44.8 and 48.6 in his last two. He'll bring that form into a matchup against a team that has allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing point guards and small forwards, as well as the 11th-most to two-guards during their last 15 contests, according to FantasyPros. Fournier is pretty close to a no-brainer tonight.
Keldon Johnson ($4,300) - Johnson's volatility makes him a better play in tournaments than in cash games, but he's a player we definitely need to consider across the board. In his last 11 games, the 21-year-old has managed at least 24 FanDuel points seven times, including a 33.4-point effort against the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night. Tonight, Johnson will be going up against a shorthanded Brooklyn Nets team, though it could still be an uphill battle for the San Antonio Spurs to keep this one close. The Nets have given up the 8th-most real-life points and 10th-most rebounds to small forwards over their last 15 games, so this could be a good spot to roster Johnson.
Jayson Tatum ($9,500) - The theme of targeting players from the Celtics continues on here, as Tatum is another player we can look to build around. The All-Star has garnered 50 or more FanDuel points in 9 of his last 16 games, including performances of 56.6, 64.5, 69.0, and 80.1 during that stretch. He possesses that kind of upside tonight with the banged-up Celtics going up against the struggling Cavaliers.
James Johnson ($4,700) - For the New Orleans Pelicans, Zion Williamson is out, Brandon Ingram is doubtful, and Steven Adams is questionable -- enter James Johnson. In a larger role over his last two games, Johnson has posted 31.9 and 33.6 FanDuel points, and that's right around the range our model has him projected for tonight (32.2). In fact, per numberFire's algorithm, only Khyri Thomas is predicted to return better value than Johnson on this slate.
Kelly Olynyk ($8,300) - If you decide to forego on rostering a stud at one of the other positions, going with Olynyk or Clint Capela ($7,600) is more than justifiable. In his last nine outings, Olynyk has racked up 42.6-plus fantasy points eight times, including at least 48.5 in five of his last seven. While the Los Angeles Lakers do have talented players on the interior, they are banged up, and Olynyk has passed far tougher tests in recent play.