3 NBA FanDuel Studs to Target on Wednesday 2/2/22

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 ($11,400)

With both Nikola Jokic and Joel Embiid on the slate Wednesday, the safest stocks to put salary in both have returned to the FanDuel main slate.

In terms of choosing between the two, the slight edge has to go to Jokic on the matchup. The Jazz not only take a dip as a defense without Rudy Gobert, but it tanks. Utah has a 107.0 defensive rating with him on the floor, and that drops to a 114.8 defensive rating when he's off it. That difference over the whole season would be the best and worst marks in the NBA.

With Gobert out for Wednesday, Jokic should have free reign. The Nuggets' star hasn't missed a beat really since the calendar turned to 2022. In January (and a game yesterday to start February), Jokic led the NBA in FanDuel points per minute (1.78). He hasn't fallen short of 50 FanDuel points since a January 13th blowout of Portland.

Without any "can't-miss" value at the pivot, there's really no other place worth spending salary as a priority. Embiid (1.75 FanDuel points per minute in January) was the second-most productive player in January, and the two have roles currently unmatched by the entire league.

Luka Doncic, PG/SG, Dallas Mavericks ($11,200)

While he doesn't quite match Embiid or Jokic, there are worse places to spend salary than towards Luka Doncic in a great matchup.

Doncic continues to operate with his Mavericks co-star on Wednesday. Kristaps Porzingis will sit a second straight contest with a knee injury, and Luka has had a massive role this season when Porzingis has been off the floor for any reason. He's turned a gigantic 38.0% usage rate during those floor situations into 1.55 FanDuel points per minute.

The Mavs draw Oklahoma City in this game. The Thunder are a better-than-perceived defense overall, but they are allowing the most FanDuel points per game (48.12) to opposing shooting guards. That's likely closer to the role Doncic will play with Jalen Brunson on the court a majority of the time for Dallas.

There is a concern here; it's a 12.0-point spread over an OKC squad now missing Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Still, Doncic has eclipsed 60 FanDuel points in four of his last seven games (even once in a blowout), so his upside is fairly unmatched in tournaments by other guards on the slate.

Jaylen Brown, SF/SG, Boston Celtics ($8,400)

The forward position is by far the most challenging to find a target for this nine-game slate.

LeBron James is likely out due to his knee issue. James Harden's production level playing with Kyrie Irving (1.21 FanDuel points per minute) is well below what's required for his salary. Therefore, we're left with the Boston duo once more at small forward, but this time, they have a tremendous matchup against the Charlotte Hornets.

The Hornets are just a bad defensive team. They have the fifth-worst defensive rating in the NBA (112.4), and they combine that with the second-fastest pace in the entire league. Both of those should be a massive help to the 21st-paced Celtics who have struggled to score at times.

As of this moment, Jaylen Brown has taken the lead role from Jayson Tatum in the offense. Over the past four games, Brown (33.7%) has a much higher usage rate than Tatum (31.8%). Their salaries say the opposite.

Even with the C's involved, the 223.5-point total in this contest is the second-highest on the slate. While Tatum is viable, Brown seems to have a similar upside at a lower salary, and it's much simpler to get back to the high salaries at the center position with Brown over his teammate.