FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Wednesday 12/22/21

If you're new to daily fantasy basketball -- maybe you started your DFS journey during the MLB or NFL seasons, or maybe basketball is your sport and this will be your first year giving it a shot -- you're in for a treat. 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 basketball is very reliant on a player's 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, we have player news updates, and the FanDuel Scout app will send push notifications for pressing updates regarding your players.

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.

Let's break down today's main slate on FanDuel.

The Slate and Key Injuries

Away Home Game
Cleveland Boston 212.5 103.25 109.25 18 19
Orlando Atlanta 213 102.25 110.75 8 17
Houston Milwaukee 225.5 107.75 117.75 1 10
Denver Oklahoma City 214.5 110.5 104 23 15
LA Clippers Sacramento 219.5 113 106.5 11 2

COVID-19 Protocol Update
Due to the advanced number of players in COVID-19 protocols, I want to provide just a manual list of those players moving forward and then discuss the other injury news separately. Only players that significantly impact the slate are listed:

Player Team Status
Giannis Antetokounmpo Milwaukee Out
Trae Young Atlanta Out
Clint Capela Atlanta Out
Jarrett Allen Cleveland Out
De'Aaron Fox Sacramento Out
Bobby Portis Milwaukee Out
Evan Mobley Cleveland Out
Al Horford Boston Out
Marcus Morris LA Clippers Out
Terrence Ross Orlando Out
Danilo Gallinari Atlanta Out
Terence Davis II Sacramento Out
Davion Mitchell Sacramento Out
Donte DiVincenzo Milwaukee Out
Josh Richardson Boston Out
Isaac Okoro Cleveland Out

This slate is as ravaged as a weekday slate has been by COVID-19 protocols...but wait! There's more!

The largest name questionable with a conventional injury is Christian Wood of Houston. Wood is questionable with knee soreness, and we've seen his availability keenly impact the overall competitiveness of the team.

In Orlando, both Cole Anthony (ankle) and Wendell Carter Jr. (leg) are questionable. Mohamed Bamba (knee, COVID-19 protocols) has already been ruled out.

Aaron Gordon is questionable for the Nuggets with a hamstring injury.

Note: The Toronto Raptors at Chicago Bulls game has been postponed Wednesday. It is not featured in this helper.


Tyrese Haliburton ($8,100): I tweeted that Haliburton was a star watching him against Golden State on Monday, and he's certainly playing like one now. Haliburton's low usage rate has shot to 24.9% since the COVID-19 protocol wave Sacramento faced on Friday, and he's averaged 1.20 FanDuel points per minute in this span. With over 36 minutes played in four straight, he's still a value at this elevated salary as the clear top guy on the Kings currently.

Ricky Rubio ($6,800): Rubio -- not Darius Garland -- should lead an undermanned Cavaliers backcourt this evening. During floor situations without Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley this season, Rubio's 1.14 FanDuel points per minute blows away Garland's mark of 0.92. Garland's not a bad play; he's got definite scoring upside. But, seeing a 1.0 percentage-point decrease in usage when sharing the floor with Rubio this year, the best process is to just drop $400 in salary to the pride of Spain.

Delon Wright ($4,700): Wright's projection tells most of the story. He'll likely step into a starting role for Trae Young, who, as mentioned, is in the COVID-19 protocols. At this salary, just about any starting point guard in the NBA would be in play, but the veteran Wright is well-known to be capable, and his 0.77 is serviceable in such an expanded role. The starting lineup will be key, though, as Lou Williams would be a much more productive option (0.85 FanDuel points per minute) if he gets the nod.

Others to Consider:
Jrue Holiday ($9,600): Way, way over-salaried with Khris Middleton returning, but there's enough value to get to it in spots.
Darius Garland ($7,200): Probably has more upside than Rubio in a vacuum, but his best work has come with Rubio off the bench.
Armoni Brooks ($4,500): If Wood is out, no Rockets can be trusted. If he plays, Brooks has talent and saw 31 minutes in his return from injury.
Grayson Allen ($4,200): Still should log heavy minutes for the Bucks. Your guess is as good as mine if he does anything with them.


Paul George ($9,200): It was shocking to see George drop from a trustable, five-digit salary option to being over-salaried in the $9,000, but his elbow injury (or fatigue) clearly played a role in that. That was confirmed Monday as he returned to a 36.8% usage rate that he parlayed into 1.48 FanDuel points per minute -- even with five turnovers. With that role, he's a key priority today against a Sacramento team that has a wretched 117.0 defensive rating in this shorthanded period without De'Aaron Fox.

Khris Middleton ($7,700): Middleton didn't return on Friday or Saturday with his knee injury, but he's off the report and ready to face Houston on Wednesday. At nearly $2,000 less in salary than Jrue, he's an obvious target with team-best marks in usage rate (34.5%) and FanDuel points per minute (1.18) during floor situations this season without Giannis Antetokounmpo. Houston's 121.0 defensive rating in the last 10 games -- at the top pace in the league -- certainly doesn't hurt his projection, either.

Buddy Hield ($5,800): The salary increase is worth thinking about, but Hield still has the definitive ability to drop 30 points and pay off this salary on scoring alone. Hield averages 21.53 points per 36 minutes during floor situations without Fox this season, and he's played at least 36 minutes in this shorthanded, three-game stretch for Sacramento. Hield has at least three steals in two of those three games as well, and that will only boost his floor should he be struggling to score from the field.

Others to Consider:
Jaylen Brown ($7,500): Jayson Tatum is just over-salaried now that Brown is back. Brown has upside at this mark in a space we need to spend salary.
Kevin Huerter ($5,500): With the Wright/Lou Williams situation so volatile, Huerter is the stable place to attack the Young absence. 6.0 percentage-point usage increase without him.
Cedi Osman ($5,300): Should see a boatload of minutes in the Cavs' frontcourt -- the "more productive" version.
Dean Wade ($4,800): Should see a boatload of minutes in the Cavs' frontcourt -- the "lower salary" version.


Nikola Jokic ($11,400): With the Bulls and Raptors potentially postponed, Jokic could be the only center option above $8,000 on a slate without loads of value. Holy chalk, Batman. Still, a blowout win was the only thing that kept him from a seventh straight game over 54 FanDuel points, and he's still averaging 1.76 FanDuel points per minute in the month of December that's almost over. No other stud on this slate is even a guarantee for 45 FanDuel points; deploy him with confidence.

Robert Williams ($5,600): "Timelord" should step into -- at the bare minimum -- a similar role that Enes Freedom had on Monday. That's good enough to pay off this salary. Williams has had to fight both Freedom and Al Horford for playing time, but he's averaging a team-best 1.05 FanDuel points per minute -- yes, even over Tatum and Brown -- when the two are off the floor. That explains his lofty projection by numberFire, and he's got the secret sauce next to Jokic -- forward eligibility.

Lauri Markkanen ($4,900): I typically don't throw players with small forward eligibility in at big, but Markkanen likely starts at the four next to Kevin Love tonight. He's the single best bet in the Cavs' frontcourt for 35-plus minutes; they really try to play Love in limited stretches, and Osman and Wade should compete with each other at the small forward spot. That's a role worth targeting for any player but especially a capable one at 0.82 FanDuel points per minute this season.

Others to Consider:
John Collins ($7,400): Well worth eating similar popularity to Jokic. 1.06 FanDuel points per minute without Trae this season.
Harrison Barnes ($6,100): Rock solid floor, but he's got a minimal ceiling. Works in some wing spots, but mostly ranks behind the Cavs' options.
Kevin Love ($5,700): How much will he play? Total lock button if I was guaranteed 30-plus minutes. Likely ends in the 22-25 minute range. I'll be here.
Chuma Okeke ($5,500): Carter Jr. and Bamba may miss tonight. 0.89 FanDuel points per minute with the pair off the floor. Solid.