3 NBA FanDuel Studs to Target on Friday 3/18/22

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 ($11,300)

Especially with Joel Embiid nursing an injury, there's no doubt where to go at the top of Friday's pool of big men.

Nikola Jokic is justifiable any night in any matchup. Still, he may not be as popular as he should be on Friday -- especially if DeAndre Jordan brings a minimum-salaried option at the position.

The Nuggets' center has risen to the NBA lead for FanDuel points per minute in March (1.91) following a couple of sour outings from Giannis Antetokounmpo. He posted 62.6 FanDuel points in 28 minutes on Wednesday. That'll certainly help the per-minute average.

A key reason why Jokic may be underutilized is the lower 222.5-point total in Cleveland. The Cavs also have Evan Mobley, who is an outstanding defender at the position. Nonetheless, Cleveland just isn't playing up to their usual standard at the moment. They've posted the ninth-worst defensive rating in the NBA this month.

Nothing is changing with Jokic's gaudy role on Friday -- and neither should the desire to roster him.

Kevin Durant, SF/PF, Brooklyn Nets ($11,000)

Let's try this again.

Dallas has one of the best defensive units in the league, and they found a way to squash Kevin Durant on Wednesday with constant double teams. Durant also shot just 40.0% from the field. It was a tough night at the office.

Still, the disposition should be that Durant's role is basically unmatched at small forward. Because the game is in Brooklyn, Kyrie Irving will be out, and Durant has a whopping 36.2% usage rate without Kyrie and James Harden on the floor this season. He's posted 1.52 FanDuel points per minute in that floor condition.

Importantly, the young, tanking Portland defense likely can't replicate that effort. They have the second-worst defensive rating in the NBA in March, and they didn't exactly limit Trae Young as a lone wolf on Monday. Young dropped in 46 points and 12 boards.

The 14.5-point spread is a concern in this spot, but Durant has played at least 28 minutes in every game since returning from injury -- including several blowouts. He'll probably see ample court time in this tremendous matchup to pay off this salary.

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

Dejounte Murray is becoming fairly undeniable as one of the best -- if not the best -- point guards in the NBA.

Getting it done in a variety of ways, Murray has eclipsed 53 FanDuel points in seven straight contests. His fantasy basketball comparison might actually be the big man Nikola Jokic since Murray's production is not always based on scoring. That said, he's posted at least 25 points in the last eight contests.

The Spurs host the Pelicans on Friday, and this game comes loaded with a 237.0-point total that should make it one of the key areas to target on the slate. There's a perfect mini-stack to snag over 30.0% of both squads' usage based on their projected starters; it's Murray with C.J. McCollum.

Trae Young, Ja Morant, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, De'Aaron Fox, Kyrie Irving, and Donovan Mitchell are all uncertain (or confirmed out) for Friday's game. Thankfully, the best option is Murray, and by all accounts, he's ready to rock in this pristine matchup.