College Basketball Daily Fantasy Helper: Thursday 12/20/18

Facing the nation's top defense, can Duke's R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson be trusted on Thursday night?

College basketball season is back! And this year, with it comes the return of college basketball DFS.

March Madness is still four months away, but you can get in all the college hoops hype by playing daily contests at FanDuel today. If you've played NBA DFS before, it's quite simple: pick a total of eight players -- four guards, three forwards and one utility spot you can use for either position. Stay within the $50,000 salary cap and field the team you think will score the most fantasy points.

Where scoring differs from NBA is in the blocks and steals categories, with each worth two FanDuel points apiece rather than the three you get in daily NBA contests.

Now that you're in the know, we can attack today's main slate, which locks at 7:00 p.m. EST and consists of only three games. However, that includes a top-15 clash as Duke hosts Texas Tech at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Thursday, December 20th
#12 Texas Tech at #2 Duke
Ohio at Purdue
Utah State at #21 Houston

Which players should you be targeting, and why?


R.J. Barrett, Duke ($8,900): As the Blue Devils take on the Red Raiders, they'll be tasked with scoring against the nation's top defense, according to's adjusted defensive efficiency rating. Allowing just 87.2 points per 100 possessions, when adjusted for opponent, Tech is giving up an NCAA-leading 51.2 points per game. However, they haven't faced a team as talented as this Duke squad -- one that's averaged 93.6 points a game and 120.7 adjusted points per 100 (second in the nation). And they're led by R.J. Barrett's 24.5 points per game, which come on averages of 19.2 shots (5.6 from three) and 6.0 attempts from the free-throw line. Barrett's 34.6% usage rate leads the team by nearly 6 percentage points, which speaks to him truly being the focal point offensively. It won't be easy, but the young gun has yet to produce fewer than 29.8 FanDuel points in a single game while averaging 39.8 for the year and 48.5 (!) over his last four. He's the top point-per-dollar play of the night, even in this perceived tough matchup.

Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech ($8,300): By KenPom's ranks, the Red Raiders are just eight spots behind the Blue Devils, so this should be a very competitive game. Oddsmakers somewhat agree, pegging this with a 10.0-point spread in Duke's favor. If Tech's going to keep it in reach, Culver's going to be the reason why. The sophomore guard is averaging 19.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.3 blocks-plus-steals en route to 33.4 FanDuel points per game. On five occasions, he's scored at least 20 real-world points, which has helped him to six games of at least 30 FanDuel points, including five of 35-plus. Culver leads the team with a 29.1% usage rate and 31.4% assist rate, which should play well with a pace-up game on hand.

Matt Mooney, Texas Tech ($6,300): Speaking of the difference in pace, Duke's averaging 75.0 possessions per game to Texas Tech's 67.9. That's a difference of 7.1 possessions, which inherently boosts the floor and upside of most players on the court. Mooney should be no exception. He's second behind Culver in usage rate, and his 21.4% assist rate has amounted to 3.3 assists to go with his 11.0 points a game. Mooney has a versatile game, one that he's been able to turn into 25-plus FanDuel points twice along with six other games of 20 or more. He has an already high floor, but the Raiders' need to score more points than usual raises his floor even more, which is right around 4.0 points per $1,000 in salary (25.2 FanDuel points) at this price.

Gavin Block, Ohio ($4,100): A lot of people will be on the Purdue side of things in this matchup, and for good reason. The Boilermakers' 82.5-point implied total is tops on the slate by more than three points, and they are the far better team. However, their defense isn't elite, having allowed 69.5 points per game and 97.3 adjusted points per 100 through 11 contests. They've been had for 70-plus points seven times this year, including four times in the last five games. Ohio's 65.0-point implied total is low, but our models say it's a little too low -- and, hey, someone's got to score for the Bobcats. Block, a 6'6" senior, is averaging a mediocre 15.3 FanDuel points, but he's played 22.9 minutes a game off the bench, exceeding 26 minutes in five games. He went off for 29-plus FanDuel points in back-to-back games a few weeks ago, so don't count him out for a big game. Plus, you need to save some salary if you're going to afford a Barrett and/or Zion.


Zion Williamson, Duke ($9,200): Like his teammate and fellow star freshman, Williamson is as close to matchup-proof as you get in the NCAA. In averaging 41.0 FanDuel points, his low-water mark has been 27.8 with upside of 65.2. He doesn't get the same high minutes -- he averages 26.3 a game -- as Barrett does, but his upside is probably higher due to his ability to get boards in bunches in addition to getting buckets close to the rim. The Red Raiders have done well to limit opponent rebounds -- ranking 10th and 16th in defensive and total rebounds allowed -- but Duke checks in 9th in rebounding in large part because of Zion's 17.0% rebound rate. Whether you're going with one or both of the future lottery picks, you can't go wrong either way.

Doug Taylor, Ohio ($7,300): The Bobcats are up against a 17.0-point spread tonight, but it's worth noting that Purdue bested Ball State by just 9 points in West Lafayette, and the Boilermakers have one win in their last five games. They're not going to be the most confident crew, so Ohio could hang around, particularly if they get a good game from Taylor. The talented senior forward isn't setting the world on fire with his 8.4 points a game, but he has contributed 9.1 rebounds (3.6 offensive), 1.9 blocks and 1.3 steals. Just last year, he led the MAC with 2.0 blocks on a 9.0% block percentage. If you're playing on such a short, top-heavy slate, you're going to have to get cute. This is a spot to do it as Taylor's blocking prowess gives him 30-fantasy-point upside at a mid-range price.

Grady Eifert, Purdue ($4,600): Finally getting to the Purdue side of this one, you're almost definitely going to need two punts to fit in a big gun or two, and Eifert's a great way of accomplishing that while also gaining cheap exposure to Purdue's high total. The senior has started all 11 games this season and is playing 23.5 minutes per night. His averages -- 4.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 0.7 blocks-plus-steals -- aren't great, but the minutes are there in a plus matchup. If he returns 15 or more FanDuel points -- which he's done four times so far this season -- you're gold.

Brett Oswalt is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Brett Oswalt also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username BRO14THEKID. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in his articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.