3 NBA FanDuel Studs to Target on Tuesday 2/28/23
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 post 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?
Damian Lillard, PG, Trail Blazers ($11,200)
If your first inclination was to sell Damian Lillard's 71-point scoring output on Sunday, you've got the correct mindset for tournaments. It's also probably the wrong move today.
Usually, selling off the huge performance is the right idea, but in this case, the big game was substantiated by a significant role change. FanDuel's salary algorithm is still adjusting to Lillard's current role with Anfernee Simons and Jusuf Nurkic off the floor due to injuries, and the role is a whopper.
Lillard has a 41.6% usage rate with those two off the court, and that clip is the largest on this slate -- by a mile -- in a player's current floor condition. He's morphed that into 60.2 FanDuel points per 36 minutes, and Lillard has eclipsed 36 minutes in 9 of his last 11 games as Portland's lone beacon of hope.
He draws Golden State tonight, but these aren't your end-of-pandemic Warriors to fear defensively (113.8 defensive rating). Short of a blowout or injury, Lillard figures to pour in plenty of points in his home area tonight via his gigantic offensive role.
Anthony Davis, PF/C, Lakers ($11,000)
The Lakers' panic alarm was on snooze following the trade deadline, but it's blaring at full volume currently.
LeBron James is set to miss Tuesday's contest -- and a bunch more -- with a foot injury, per The Athletic's Shams Charania on FanDuel TV. Still clawing and praying for a spot in the play-in tournament, Los Angeles will now rest its hopes on Anthony Davis and the new pieces.
It's always a mystery where A.D. is physically, but if this season is any indication, he's at least a decent bet for fantasy production with James on the shelf. He's posted 61.8 FanDuel points per 36 minutes this year with James off the floor, sporting a team-best 31.0% usage rate in the split.
That mark is 54.8 per 36 in a much more limited sample without both A.D. and Russell Westbrook. Davis' floor is still pretty excellent sans LeBron, and the upside could be better in this showdown with Memphis, who plays at the second-fastest pace in the NBA.
Lakers fans need Davis to return to his December form, back when he was in the MVP race. I wouldn't be surprised if he rises to the challenge tonight with the Grizzlies still missing Steven Adams.
Lauri Markkanen, PF/SF, Jazz ($8,600)
Lillard and Davis come at the cost of alternatives. You could easily justify Luka Doncic over Lillard, and Domantas Sabonis is a worthy shout at the big spot versus Oklahoma City.
Lauri Markkanen doesn't have a close competitor at wing today among those over $8,000. Giannis Antetokounmpo will likely be limited due to multiple injuries, and Paul George and Kawhi Leonard still remain moderately volatile with Russell Westbrook taking so many touches. Markkanen's situation is improving for Tuesday.
The Jazz are without their entire starting backcourt. Jordan Clarkson and Collin Sexton are already out for this tilt with San Antonio. Ballhandling duties with be a committee in Utah, but we want to capture some of them given the Spurs' league-worst defensive rating (120.1). If there's a team where you can get by without a guard, it's this one.
In a tiny 187-minute sample without those two or the departed Mike Conley, Lauri has taken the lead. He's turned a team-best 27.7% usage rate into 44.8 FanDuel points per 36 minutes. Kris Dunn (30.3% usage) had a sizable impact in his 24 minutes during that sample, but Lauri is -- by far -- the most reliable target.
Markkanen is a high-floor option in a game with one of the loftier totals of the day (236.5 points).