3 NBA FanDuel Studs to Target on Friday 1/21/22

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?

LeBron James, SF/PF, Los Angeles Lakers ($11,000)

My one concern about LeBron James tonight? Fatigue.

LeBron's January has been stellar. He's carried a 33.3% usage rate for the month that he's turned into 1.47 FanDuel points per minute. That production would definitely do at this salary, but he's endured a small slump recently with two of his last five games below 49 FanDuel points.

The biggest reason why is his efficiency. LeBron has dropped to just 49.4% from the field this month, which would be his lowest of the year. Taking on extra pressure and more responsibility with Russell Westbrook increasingly growing accustomed to the bench justifies that. The Lakers have also drawn some more difficult defensive matchups with Utah and Memphis recently.

Still, there's little reason to be concerned about James as a five-point road favorite in Orlando on Friday. The Magic's 112.1 defensive rating is the sixth-worst mark in the NBA, and as L.A. continues to mix and match parts around LeBron, there really isn't a second trustable option to exploit it.

This game carries a decent total to stack (219.0), and James and Cole Anthony are great building blocks to do so.

Joel Embiid, C, Philadelphia 76ers ($10,800)

Wednesday, Nikola Jokic posted the highest score of any player on FanDuel against the Clippers (89.8 points). On Friday, Joel Embiid will get his crack at the same matchup.

Embiid's 50-point outing in Orlando was overshadowed by Jokic's monstrous triple-double, but Embiid has been much better than Jokic scoring recently. He's posted over 30 points in 11 of his last 12 contests. The only reason Embiid is not the one carrying a salary close to $12,000 is that he hasn't always had the same production on the glass.

L.A. should help with that. The Clippers are last in the NBA in estimated defensive rebounding percentage (73.9%), and they've allowed the third-most paint points per game (48.9) in the NBA as well. Ivica Zubac is doing his best, but the Clips just don't have the dudes inside to stop dominant centers.

At over $1,000 lower in salary than Jokic, Embiid is my favorite stud of the day. There are not really any other centers that are top-shelf priorities, either. I certainly won't be entering a single-entry tournament without him.

Ja Morant, PG, Memphis Grizzlies ($9,100)

The additional workload without Desmond Bane and Kyle Anderson allowed Ja Morant to run wild on Wednesday.

He posted a season-high 62.6 FanDuel points against Milwaukee, and really, his 26.2% usage rate in the game does not do his role justice. It doesn't factor in that Morant dished out a career-high 14 assists setting up the Grizzlies' random cast of supporting characters.

At the same salary, Denver is a matchup in which he can find similar success. The Nuggets allow the sixth-most paint points per game (48.2) in the league, and it really helps that we saw a similar, multi-level scorer (Reggie Jackson of the Clippers) post 28 points and 12 assists against them on Wednesday.

Many of the top guards of the day face concerns due to role changes or a large spread, but Morant and Kyrie Irving are top-notch plays that can allow one to access the true, five-digit salary studs at wing and center on the 11-game slate.