FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Thursday 1/5/23

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

Away Home Game
LA ClippersDenver228.5111.8116.82016

Three teams are on the second leg of a back-to-back and not whole on Thursday's injury report: Memphis, Orlando, and Houston.

We do know a little about the Magic from yesterday, though. Bol Bol is still in COVID-19 protocols, Moritz Wagner is still suspended, and Jalen Suggs has a chance to return from a 19-game absence due to an ankle injury. Suggs is officially questionable.

I'd watch Ja Morant closely in the second half of the back-to-back for an otherwise healthy Grizzlies squad.

In H-Town, Collin Sexton (hamstring) remains out for the Jazz. The Rockets appear to be at full strength.

The Celtics and Mavericks are also at relatively full strength, but the nightcap is where things get a bit interesting. The LA Clippers have Paul George (hamstring) listed as questionable to play in Denver. Nicolas Batum (ankle) is already out.


Luka Doncic ($12,800) has the highest salary he's had all year entering this primetime spot versus Boston. You'd need roughly 65 FanDuel points to pay it off, but Luka has delivered that mark in four of his last six. Value to squeeze him in is the tougher part there; he's worth it if possible.

Ja Morant has failed to eclipse 50 FanDuel points in four of his last six since Desmond Bane ($6,600) returned, so Luka is actually the better per-dollar value at the top here. Like I mentioned in the open, I wouldn't be shocked if Morant is rested in favor of Tyus Jones ($4,900), though.

Part of my appeal to fade Luka would be the dropping salary of his teammate, Spencer Dinwiddie ($6,100) -- along with other mid-range bargains. Marcus Smart ($6,000) is in that boat on the other side of the Mavs, and Jordan Clarkson ($6,800) might be the best per-dollar play of the day at his salary. His team-best 27.6% usage rate with Sexton off the floor is a steal.

Jalen Green ($7,200) and Derrick White ($5,400) are others showing value in our projections at the moment, but also, if the Clippers rest either point guard, the surviving one would be in the mix.


Spending in different spots will be the theme of this section.

In the national television duel with Luka, Jayson Tatum ($10,800) shouldn't attract much attention. He's been under 55 FanDuel points in five of his last seven, but the way I see it, Jaylen Brown is due for a clunker -- where Tatum carries the scoring load -- soon. J.B. has put up 29-plus points in six consecutive games, shooting 53.3% in that stretch. Is tonight that switch-up for the C's?

Don't be scared of the elevated salary of Kawhi Leonard ($9,000), either. In his one game this year with Paul George inactive where he played full minutes, he posted 51.2 FanDuel points against Washington on a 44.6% usage rate. That'll do.

With Franz Wagner ($6,500) returning, Paolo Banchero is a much tougher sell. Banchero's posted fewer than 40 FanDuel points in five of his last six with Franz active.

Of course, both Des Bane and Dillon Brooks ($5,500) will be enormously popular if my theory on Ja comes to fruition. They're fine plays with Morant, per our projections, so perhaps the best outcome for a tournament strategy would be Ja plays. If he's out, both will be enormously popular with other studs.

Beyond those two, Michael Porter Jr. ($5,700), Tim Hardaway Jr. ($5,600), Malik Beasley ($4,800), and Gary Harris ($3,800) are grading well in our projections. Harris should still start for Orlando despite Wagner's return.


Nikola Jokic ($11,500) has seen his salary drop entering Thursday's contest, but this isn't the slam dunk it used to be.

L.A. has made strides guarding big men this year, allowing the 12th-fewest FanDuel points per game to opposing centers after being a bottom-five squad last year. That's probably a direct result of a deeper commitment to Ivica Zubac ($6,600). Still, Jokic, coming off a stinker in Minnesota, will be a contrarian way to spend salary as others flock to Luka.

There are alternatives. Namely, Christian Wood ($8,100) has been over 40 FanDuel points in four of his past five since rejoining the starting lineup, and he'd fit well into a build fading Luka. Jaren Jackson Jr. ($7,000) would also be wildly interesting if Ja sits given a monstrous rate of 57.2 FanDuel points per 36 minutes in that floor condition.

Wendell Carter Jr. ($5,900) is an other-worldly value play given he saw regular, non-blowout minutes for the first time since returning from injury last night and dropped 13 points and 13 boards. I wouldn't fade him in any format.

Houston's Jabari Smith ($5,000) remains a stellar value play as he was yesterday, joined by Kelly Olynyk ($5,500) and Al Horford ($5,200) near the top of our projections. I'll personally lean away from Horford's erratic minutes of late -- especially with Robert Williams ($5,000) slated to return Thursday.