3 NBA FanDuel Studs to Target on Tuesday 1/25/22

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?

Nikola Jokic, C, Denver Nuggets ($11,800)

The lofty salary is just about the only case against Nikola Jokic at the moment.

The Nuggets' star big man has the highest player efficiency rating in NBA history so far this year, and he hasn't slowed down in January. He's posted 1.72 FanDuel points per minute this month that's come with a ridiculous floor. He's reached 53 FanDuel points in 8 of his 11 contests this month.

His last outing was the same matchup as Tuesday's -- the lowly Detroit Pistons. They weren't a problem for him on Sunday (62.8 FanDuel points), and they don't profile to be one. The smaller Pistons lineup is allowing the sixth-most total rebounds per game (46.6) and the eighth-most paint points per game (48.4) in the league.

Jokic's current state is a role that mirrors Chris Paul in terms of points and assists, but he also adds 13.37 rebounds per 36 minutes on the season. That's terrifying to fade at any reasonable salary.

James Harden, SG/SF, Brooklyn Nets ($10,500)

A Brooklyn Nets home game means that Kyrie Irving will be on the shelf.

Until FanDuel is more proactive about adjusting James Harden's salary for these known misses, he'll almost always be in play. That's no different against the Lakers on Tuesday.

Harden averages 1.48 FanDuel points per minute this season during floor conditions without Irving and the sidelined Kevin Durant. That's come on a usage rate that's not only a high mark (34.5%), but it is also the only mark amongst Nets starters over 26.0%. The usage rate tree behind Harden is incredibly muddy.

The Los Angeles defense is one to attack in daily fantasy. They have just a 109.9 defensive rating (11th-worst in the NBA), and they play at the third-fastest pace in the NBA. Even with Brooklyn down two stars, this game carries a 227.0-point total and a 2.5-point spread.

Harden -- with this same floor situation -- blistered the Lakers for 71 FanDuel points on Christmas Day. The potential to do the same Tuesday makes him a top-shelf priority.

Dejounte Murray, PG/SG, San Antonio Spurs ($10,300)

Don't cross Dejounte Murray off quite yet despite the return of his teammates.

Murray was a star with Derrick White and Keldon Johnson in COVID-19 protocols earlier this month, but he's maintained a great level of production even since they've returned. Since that time, Murray has carried a team-best 27.1% usage rate to 1.39 FanDuel points per minute.

He's also provided a level of consistency. Murray has posted at least 53 FanDuel points in 7 of his last 11 contests overall. One of those 11 contests was against this same Houston Rockets squad on January 12th. Murray dropped 69.5 FanDuel points in a home win.

The largest risk of Murray subsides on Tuesday; his 17-30 Spurs are less likely to get blown out by the equally-terrible Rockets. In a full game with a 235.0-point total, Murray's floor is actually much higher than his FanDuel-point total on a night-to-night basis would imply.

For that reason, I'd rather take the salary savings with Dejounte for similar consistency issues on either side of his salary with Luka Doncic and Stephen Curry -- both with far tougher matchups than the league-worst Houston defensive rating (114.5).