3 NBA FanDuel Studs to Target on Monday 1/9/23

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 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 an excellent 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 will likely leave your lineup drawing pretty close to dead.

Which top players should be the focal points of your lineups today?

Giannis Antetokoumpo, PF/SF, Bucks ($11,800)

On Friday, Giannis Antetokounmpo played the worst game I've seen from him since his MVP-level breakout years ago. That probably means it's the right time to buy in daily fantasy.

In a stellar matchup for bigs against Charlotte, Giannis' dud in that one was on the shortlist thus far for the most stunning DFS outcome of the year. Antetokoumpo posted just 9 points in a clunky 21 minutes in that one, but the reduced workload contributed to his low FanDuel score (21.2) as much as his 2-for-7 effort from the field did.

"The Greek Freak" is in a great spot to rebound. The Bucks will turn the page to New York on Monday after a weekend of rest. The team is still without Khris Middleton due to his knee injury, and that's been good news for Giannis; he averages 59.5 FanDuel points per 36 minutes with Khris off the floor this year.

Expect Giannis to still be tremendously popular on this slate. He'd eclipsed 61 FanDuel points in four straight before the stinker, and most of the FanDuel player base won't forget that.

Nikola Jokic, C, Nuggets ($11,400)

Of the top-shelf stars, Nikola Jokic has the best matchup.

The Lakers cede the third-most FanDuel points per game to opposing centers, the total in Denver is a whopping 241.0 points, and Jokic -- as always -- comes at the natural popularity discount that comes with the opportunity cost of a player only eligible at center.

Truthfully, with Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. now healthy, it's surprising to me Jokic has been so consistent recently in NBA daily fantasy. He's eclipsed 50 FanDuel points in 13 of his last 15 games, and one of the exceptions was Thursday's odd contest against the Clippers where the margin was nearly 40 at halftime. Nearly every night, Jokic is delivering fair production for this mark.

All of this is why Jokic clocks in with the best value score in our projections of any player above $10,000. It's rare to grab that at reduced popularity, but that appears to be the case for the Nuggets' franchise players entering Monday's showdown.

While there isn't a slew of per-dollar value to make Jokic and Giannis work easily together, that's the safest build for a cash-game lineup.

C.J. McCollum, PG/SG, Pelicans ($8,700)

There really isn't any fresh injury news impacting a star, but C.J. McCollum is still a fair proposition at this mark.

The Pelicans have now operated without Zion Williamson for the past five days due to Zion's hamstring issue, and that absence is conjoined with Brandon Ingram's long-term absence due to a toe injury. That's old news, but McCollum still benefits.

He averages 42.7 FanDuel points per 36 minutes with those two off the court this season, and he averaged 45.0 FanDuel points per 36 minutes in that floor condition last season. C.J. rested on Saturday following getting at least 41 FanDuel points in both games without Zion on Wednesday and Friday.

With a team-best 31.6% usage rate in the same scenario, McCollum will have ample chances to score in Washington.

It's worth noting the 237.5-point total in Sacramento is nearly 10 points higher than Pels-Wizards (227.5), so while many may flock to De'Aaron Fox, Fox's team is at full strength. It's possible McCollum will go a bit under the radar with the salary increase and lower total, but he's a total one-man band compared to Fox, Ja Morant, and other alternatives at guard today.