FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Thursday 12/8/22
Since it's much simpler to predict than baseball or football, daily fantasy basketball would get plenty of votes as the best sport to play on FanDuel. Players usually stick to the same minutes and produce at roughly the same rate. Sounds easy, right?
As a result, NBA daily fantasy is highly reliant on a player's opportunity, so you'll need to ensure that you're up-to-date with key injuries. Our projections update up until tip-off to reflect current news, we have player news updates, and the FanDuel Scout app will send push notifications for pressing updates regarding your players.
With so much changing so quickly, we're here with plenty of tools to help you. We have daily projections, a matchup heat map, a lineup optimizer, and a bunch of other great resources to help give you an edge.
We'll also be coming at you with this primer daily, breaking down a few of the day's top plays at each position.
Let's break down today's main slate on FanDuel.
The Slate and Key Injuries
For just a three-game slate, there is a boatload of traffic on Thursday's injury report.
That starts with two serial offenders in Miami. Amidst a bevy of probables, the Heat already have Jimmy Butler (rest) listed as questionable for this game, and Dewayne Dedmon (foot) joins him. However, the visiting Clippers are the more complicated side here.
Marcus Morris (illness), John Wall (knee), and Norman Powell (groin) missed yesterday's game in Orlando, and I wouldn't expect any of them to play. Luke Kennard (calf) rested yesterday, so he could be fine for today. Kawhi Leonard (ankle) and Paul George (hamstring) are unknown, but George said he expects to play tonight.
It doesn't stop there. In San Antonio, Devin Vassell (knee) is expected to join Jakob Poeltl (knee) on the bench for the Spurs. Jeremy Sochan (quad) and Keita Bates-Diop (foot) are also still out. The visiting Rockets have Kevin Porter Jr. (knee) listed as questionable, too.
Due to recent injuries (that have now returned) on Portland, both Damian Lillard ($9,500) and Anfernee Simons ($8,800) are tremendously over-salaried. Neither breaks a 4.20 value score in our projections. Yikes.
As a result, guard is better to attack in the upper mid-range. The best game of the day is in San Antonio, so Jalen Green ($6,700) and Tre Jones ($6,400) are in obvious consideration as the triggermen for their clubs. Green's role could be monstrous if Kevin Porter Jr. ($7,700) can't play. He's held a whopping 33.5% usage rate this season with KPJ off the floor.
Opposite the Blazers duo, Jamal Murray ($7,100) still has a fair salary. Outside of Tuesday's clunker, he's posted 37.9 FanDuel points per 36 minutes this season without Porter Jr. on the floor.
With a continued full role next to Murray, Bruce Brown Jr. ($5,600) tops our projections at guard today. However, given I don't believe John Wall suits up for the Clippers, Reggie Jackson ($5,600) should overtake him once that absence is official given he's already second at present. L.A. could be down Kawhi Leonard ($5,200), as well.
Paul George ($8,300) played 32 minutes last night, and he'll likely play around the same tonight should he go. He's the clear building block in this range.
Even if Jimmy Butler ($9,900) plays, his gaudy salary isn't even projecting a value score above 4.00 in Miami's loaded offensive hierarchy. We want 5.00 or better. On the other hand, George has posted 42.1 FanDuel points per 36 minutes with Leonard, Wall, and Norman Powell off the floor this season.
Tyler Herro ($8,400) is salaried at his production rate without Butler, so he's a cross-off if Jimmy goes. If he doesn't, his 28.5% usage rate now doesn't seem like a value at the mark.
Devin Vassell and Jakob Poeltl's absences have been a firecracker for the fantasy outlook of Keldon Johnson ($7,500). Johnson's 35.0% usage rate is insane without the pair on the floor this year, and he's posted 39.4 FanDuel points per 36 minutes in that floor situation. He's a full-blown stud when also factoring in Houston's awful 116.1 defensive rating (third-worst in the NBA).
Caleb Martin ($4,600) was a total dud on Tuesday in Butler's absence, but he's still locked into a full-time role at a low salary with or without him. Martin heads our projections at wing today, followed by a not-too-shabby value crew of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($4,600), Eric Gordon ($4,400), Doug McDermott ($3,600), and Malaki Branham ($3,500).
Marcus Morris ($4,900) is also there if he's feeling well enough to play.
There will be plenty of salary to spend on this slate, and two bigs are the safest place to put it.
Nikola Jokic ($11,500) is a free square in cash games, and you'd really only stray away from him in tournaments to roster Alperen Sengun ($6,500) at the pivot instead. He's eclipsed 47 FanDuel points in seven of his last eight games -- the only exception being Tuesday's clunker. There's no concern about a role change so long as MPJ remains off Denver's floor.
The other place -- which is a bit dicier -- is Bam Adebayo ($9,000). This isn't a slate where per-dollar value appears to be worth everything, so Adebayo's cushy floor (at least 38 FanDuel points in seven of his last eight) mirrors Jokic's for the salary. Given a team-best 28.5% usage rate with Butler off the floor, Adebayo leaps into must-play territory if his co-star sits.
Since Jokic exists, Sengun isn't my favorite play, but he did see 34 minutes last game, and he's a do-it-all center in the fantasy game du jour. I'd rather turn to Jabari Smith ($5,900) at power forward, who bucked his season-long trend next to Sengun last game. He broke 30 FanDuel points for the first time with both he and Sengun logging at least 32 minutes.
I'll mostly use wings -- like Keldon -- to plug power forward because, outside of Kenyon Martin Jr. ($4,400) in the event KPJ sits, there's hardly any value at big to trust. You can have your money if Zach Collins ($5,200) erupts in 20-ish minutes; that's been his cap of playing time, and he's yet to do it since Poeltl's injury.