FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Saturday 12/18/21

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. Our projections update up until tip-off to reflect current news, and we also have player news updates. The projected numbers referenced below may change throughout the day.

We'll be coming at you with this primer every day, breaking down a few of the day's top plays at each position.


Jrue Holiday, PG/SG, (FanDuel Salary: $9,300) - Giannis Antetokounmpo is expected to be out, and with him out the last two games, Holiday has racked up a juicy 36.2% usage rate. Bobby Portis was out for just one of those contests -- the last one -- and in it, Holiday had a 39.2% usage rate, which was 19.0 percentage points higher than anyone else on the Milwaukee Bucks. He's scored 55.5 and 52.8 FanDuel points over the last two. Facing a Cleveland Cavaliers squad that has allowed the eighth-most FanDuel points per game to point guards (47.7), Holiday is an excellent play.

Bradley Beal, SG, $8,100 - As of early Saturday afternoon, Beal is the second-best point-per-dollar option among all players salaried at $8,000 or above, per our model. He's taking on the Utah Jazz, who should be a little gassed after playing a thriller last night against the San Antonio Spurs. Beal has logged at least 36 minutes in two of the last three games, amassing a team-best 30.2% usage rate in that span. Despite the Jazz's defense prowess, our algorithm pegs Beal for 40.8 FanDuel points (5.04 per $1,000). There's some blowout risk with the Washington Wizards a 10.0-point 'dog, but the 223.0-point total in the game is 9.0 points more than any other game's over/under.

Gary Payton II, SG, $4,200 - The Golden State Warriors are the go-to spot for value tonight as all of Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins are expected to be out. That opens up just about all the shots. In a date with the Toronto Raptors, we project Payton for 36.2 FanDuel points, which comes out to a massive 8.62 per $1,000. With all the absences on this slate, value won't be hard to come by, but Payton profiles as the best low-salary play out there.

Others to Consider: Cole Anthony ($7,400), Derrick Rose ($6,200), Grayson Allen ($4,200)


Jayson Tatum, SF/PF, $9,700 and Jaylen Brown, SG/SF, ($7,200) - It should be the Tatum and Brown show for the Boston Celtics, who will be missing Dennis Schroder and Al Horford. With those two off the floor this year, Tatum owns a 33.8% usage rate while Brown's at a 31.0% clip, per RotoGrinders' CourtIQ. Brown generates an impressive 1.27 FanDuel points per minute in that split while Tatum is at 1.09. Even in what should be a slow-paced matchup versus the New York Knicks, Brown and Tatum can eat. According to our numbers, Tatum is out on his own tonight as the top option on the slate. Our model projects him for 51.8 FanDuel points (5.34 per $1,000), which is 8.0 clear of the field. Brown's projection sits at 38.4 FanDuel points (5.34 per $1,000).

Pascal Siakam, PF, $7,800 - Siakam is a sneaky-good play who might slip through the cracks. He's taking on a Golden State team that is super short-handed, and he'll surely benefit from the absence of Green's defense. The Raps are rested, with their last game coming back on Tuesday, and Siakam has posted between 35.4 and 41.7 FanDuel points in five straight games. Plus, Toronto has several game-time calls on the injury report, so he could be asked to shoulder even more of the load depending on how those shake out. As of now, our algorithm has Siakam forecasted for 38.1 FanDuel points (4.89 per $1,000).

Juan Toscano-Anderson, SF/PF, $3,700 - Much of what I said for Payton fits here, as well. JTA is one of the Dubs' other elite plays. Rarely much of a factor scoring the ball, Toscano-Anderson should have to do more of that in this one, and he should be in for a lot of minutes, which will allow him to add in plenty of peripheral stats, too. We project him for 31.5 FanDuel points -- 8.51 per $3,700. He's a great play. If it looks like JTA will be super popular, I'll be a little more hesitant to swallow the chalk with him than I am Payton, because JTA still might not take many shots.

Others to Consider: Paul George ($8,900), Julius Randle ($8,800), Franz Wagner ($6,000), Alec Burks ($5,500)


Jarrett Allen, PF/C, $8,200 - If the Wiz-Jazz game ends up being a blowout, the best fantasy environment may wind up being the Cavs-Bucks affair, which has the second-highest total (214.0) and a 3.5-point spread in favor of Cleveland. Allen will get a Milwaukee interior that is sans Brook Lopez and Portis, and he won't have to battle Evan Mobley -- who is out -- for boards and shots inside. With the Cavs' expected inactives off the floor this season, Allen produces 1.14 FanDuel points per minute, and his shot-blocking ability gives him a great ceiling. He's projected for 40.8 FanDuel points (4.98 per $1,000), according to our numbers.

Robert Williams, PF/C, $5,600 - An alternative to Brown and Tatum is Williams. With Horford and Schroeder off the court, Williams boasts just a 13.8% usage rate, but he averages 1.03 FanDuel points per minute. We project him for 32.2 minutes tonight, and he could smash value with that kind of run -- which is exactly what our model projects. We have Williams totaling 36.8 FanDuel points (6.58 per $1,000).

Others to Consider: Rudy Gobert ($9,200), Robin Lopez ($3,800), DeMarcus Cousins ($3,800)