3 NBA FanDuel Studs to Target on Monday 2/14/22

Nikola Jokic has put hearts in the eyes of NBA daily fantasy players all season. Is he worth his salary on Valentine's Day?

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 ($11,300)

If you're a fantasy basketball player, don't take Nikola Jokic for granted.

Jokic's floor -- in one of the wildest seasons in recent memory -- has been tremendous. He's posted at least 50 FanDuel points in 14 of his last 15 games. While the desire to take chances with a value play at center is always present, he is a stable rock in cash games about any night he plays.

Monday should be no exception. His Nuggets host the Orlando Magic, and the Magic shouldn't be a brutal matchup for the big man. They've allowed the ninth-most FanDuel points per game to centers (55.62), and Orlando plays at the 12th-fastest pace in the NBA. That's a substantial boost in possessions for Denver (23rd in pace).

The Nuggets could also still be without their starting point guard, Monte Morris. Jokic doesn't need the extra work, but he does see a team-best 3.8-percentage-point increase in usage when Morris is off the floor this season.

Stay loyal this Valentine's Day with fantasy basketball's one true love.

Dejounte Murray, PG/SG, San Antonio Spurs ($10,800)

The best environment of the day is in Chicago. The Bulls will host the Spurs in a game that features -- arguably -- the hottest players in the NBA at the moment.

One of those is Dejounte Murray. Murray is averaging an Earth-scorching 2.10 FanDuel points per game since San Antonio shipped Derrick White off in a trade last week. That's come with a 30.8% usage rate, but we know Murray contributes in all categories well beyond scoring.

Murray's production has wildly fluctuated at times recently, but now as the clear top guy, he does bring a floor higher than you might expect. He's posted at least 54 FanDuel points in four of his past five contests.

The 233.5-point total on deck is mouthwatering, and maybe surprisingly, the Spurs are just a 4.5-point road underdog. It's not really a surprise when you look at San Antonio's +0.4 net rating. That's 14th in the league, and it means they're a much better team than their 22-35 record would otherwise indicate.

Perhaps Murray's Spurs can continue to regress towards a better record with a big win in Chicago -- and he'll certainly lead the way.

DeMar DeRozan, SF/SG, Chicago Bulls ($10,400)

No one in the Association is scoring like DeMar DeRozan at present.

DeRozan has posted at least 35 real-life points in five straight games, and not even recent scoring leaders Joel Embiid or Devin Booker can boast that claim. Impressively, that's been with Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic present and demanding their fair share of touches.

Well, on Monday, LaVine will sit with knee soreness. DeMar's role has catapulted into another galaxy in that event this month. With LaVine off the floor in February, DeRozan has turned a gigantic 40.0% usage rate into 1.36 FanDuel points per minute.

Any concerns I shared Friday about DeRozan "regressing" towards his role's expectation are temporarily muted. Not only does he have a role worth this salary, but it's hard not to prioritize as perhaps the best offensive role on the slate. Jokic's extra work on the glass may nudge him ahead overall, but "Deebo" is right there.

He's in the same game environment as Dejounte Murray, but unlike Murray, he's also got a revenge narrative against his former club. Don't be surprised to see 35-plus on the board once again against the Spurs.