3 NBA FanDuel Studs to Target on Friday 1/14/22

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 up for someone. Even with strong value plays in your lineup, paying up and getting a dud is likely going to leave your lineup drawing pretty close to dead.

Which top players should be the focal points of your lineups today?

Joel Embiid, C, Philadelphia 76ers ($10,700)

If someone told me Joel Embiid would post 31 points in 32 minutes on Wednesday and be a total bust on FanDuel, I would have looked around for prank cameras.

It was an outlier day for JoJo both on the glass (only six boards) and taking care of the basketball (seven turnovers), and that dwindled his FanDuel output despite the success scoring on Charlotte. Still, Embiid's recent sample is incredibly solid for this salary.

Since the start of December, Embiid -- across a variety of floor conditions -- has posted a mammoth-sized 1.63 FanDuel points per minute. That also comes with a 36.7% usage rate that is unheard of for most bigs in the NBA not named Nikola Jokic.

The lone drawback on Embiid regressing towards his norm? His matchup. The fun-sucking Celtics hosting his 76ers in a game with a paltry 211.5-point total. Still, the Celtics have allowed the 12th-most rebounds per game (45.7) despite a glacial pace, and they generally have struggled with size this season.

Luka Doncic, PG/SG, Dallas Mavericks ($10,500)

At least one more game in COVID-19 protocols for Kristaps Porzingis allows us to strap into the Luka Doncic rollercoaster one more time.

Doncic has been far less consistent than last season, but his night-to-night upside is still there with his role. He's posted at least 54 FanDuel points in three of his last six games, and his workload without Porzingis on the floor this season is inarguably the top one on the entire slate.

The Mavericks' franchise player has posted 1.41 FanDuel points per minute on a gigantic 38.0% usage rate with K.P. off the floor this year.

Memphis -- riding an 11-game winning streak -- poses a stingy defense for Doncic to face on Friday, but some extra possessions should help. The Mavs (28th in pace) are in a significant pace-up spot against the Grizz (12th), and Doncic can stuff all three major stat categories with the extra work.

Jimmy Butler, SF/SG, Miami Heat ($9,200)

The forward spots are so desolate that Jimmy Butler is Option "A" without the reasonable assurance he'll even suit up.

Butler has missed three straight games with an ankle injury, but the Heat won't be afraid to give him big run right away once he returns. We saw that back on December 26th, when Butler returned from an eight-game absence to log 34 minutes in his first game back. If he's active Friday, he should have a workload solid enough to pay off this salary.

Any time "Jimmy Buckets" has been on the floor sans Bam Adebayo, he's outpaced this salary significantly. Since Adebayo went down on November 29th, Butler is averaging 1.30 FanDuel points per minute on a gaudy 28.3% usage rate. He's posted more than 50 FanDuel points twice in six games played in that time period.

Atlanta is far from a bad matchup. The Hawks have slipped to the third-worst defensive rating in NBA (113.1), and Miami's usually-slow pace (27th) will see a big lift from Trae Young's constant urge to push the pace for Atlanta (12th).

If Butler doesn't suit up, the top option I'll be deploying at small forward is a potentially limited Caris LeVert. There have certainly been better days for the small forward spot.