College Basketball Daily Fantasy Helper: Thursday 1/3/19

USC is in a great spot as they host a California team struggling on the defensive end. Who else should be at the top of your list for tonight's nine-game slate?

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

March Madness is still two 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 includes nine games. We get a total of five ranked teams spread across conference play in the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12.

Thursday, January 3rd
#25 Iowa at Purdue
#18 NC State at Miami
Penn State at #2 Michigan
Illinois at #21 Indiana
Utah at Arizona State
Minnesota at #22 Wisconsin
Colorado at Arizona
California at USC
Stanford at UCLA

Which players should you be targeting, and why?


Carsen Edwards, Purdue ($8,600): As far as elite DFS studs go in college basketball, Carsen Edwards is near the very top of the short list. Through 13 games, the junior guard is averaging 34.9 FanDuel points with 25.8 points, 3.5 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.6 blocks-plus-steals. He's managed two games of at least 46.1 FanDuel points, along with 11 total games above 30. His floor is really high, and that doesn't change with Purdue opening up Big Ten play against Iowa. The Hawkeyes rank 103rd in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to, and allow 71.0 points per game thanks in part to an above-average pace (70.5 possessions per game). Edwards is worth the investment if you can find value elsewhere.

Luguentz Dort, Arizona State ($7,200): While there's reason to love Purdue and other teams at the top, Arizona State's 78.75 implied total is just 2.5 off the top team and a single point outside the top three. Their matchup with Utah is a pace-down game for them -- the Utes are 326th in adjusted tempo -- but they also draw the second-worst defense on the slate and the 271st-ranked defense by efficiency. It couldn't hurt to have one or more Sun Devils against a team allowing 46.1% from the field and 37.2% from three. For Dort, who's shooting just 20% over the last four games, that's really encouraging for a potential bounce-back. Below $7,500, he's a steal if he gets back to the 37.3 FanDuel points he averaged in the first six games of the season.

Markell Johnson, NC State ($6,500): Johnson has had back-to-back games with low minutes because of blowouts. That should keep his ownership low, and that's why you should pounce on him in this spot. North Carolina State's pegged for 79.75 points -- third on the slate -- on the road at Miami. The Hurricanes are formidable, but the Wolfpack's quick-paced attack -- 12th in adjusted tempo -- might be too much. The 157-point over/under also calls for exposure somewhere, and why not Johnson. He's shooting lights out at 58.8% from the floor and 49.0% from three, and a usage over 20% is more than enough to make him an appealing option in the mid-range.

Derryck Thornton, USC ($5,800): USC isn't a very good basketball team. They check in 89th in Ken Pom's ranks and project to finish 16-15 overall and 9-9 in the Pac-12. But we don't need a team to be great to target their players, particularly in a plus matchup like this one. The Trojans will square off with the California Golden Bears, who rank 320th defensively -- the worst ranking among tonight's 18 teams. So it makes sense to see the Trojans down for 82.25 points as 12-point home favorites, despite an injury to Kevin Porter Jr. keeping him sidelined. Junior point man Derryck Thornton will be key in getting USC over the 80-point threshold. He's averaging just 9.0 points on the year, and while that hasn't increased in Porter's absence, he does come off a 16-point game and has three straight games of eight-plus shots. If he can knock down a few more shots -- while already assisting on 26.0% of his team's makes -- we could see a third straight game of 28-plus FanDuel points.

Elijah Weaver, USC ($4,500): USC isn't only dealing with an injury; they will be missing Jordan Usher, who's decided to transfer after averaging over 24 minutes in 12 games. Someone will have to step up in the backcourt, and it looks like it will be Weaver, the versatile 6'5" freshman out of Cocoa, Florida. Coach Andy Enfield said he'll play more off the bench but also maintain the backup point guard spot. Last game, that amounted to 29 minutes, which he converted to the tune of 13 points and 19.6 FanDuel points. With his team sporting such a high total, repeating that performance is not out of question.


Nick Rakocevic, USC ($8,000): With all the value in the backcourt, stacking Rakocevic along with the two guards might just be the play this evening. After all, unlike the others, the 6'11" junior brings the upside of 40-point fantasy outings, having posted four already this season. He has six double-doubles en route to 32.4 FanDuel points per game, which is above his salary-implied output (32.0) for this slate. Now, he has been a little volatile, just three games removed from an 8.8-point game, but he has the highest usage (23.9%) of active Trojans, and his 23.6 player efficiency rating (PER) leads the team. If you can't find the extra $400, teammate Bennie Boatwright ($7,600) is a nice consolation prize as well.

KZ Okpala, Stanford ($7,100): I will be straight-up with you: this is a tournament-only play. Okpala is much more volatile than a guy like Rakocevic, as he has failed to reach 20 FanDuel points on four occasions this season. Still, he has the ability to go for 35 or more, which he's done 3 times through 12 games. He has scored 20 or more points in two of three and three of five dating back to a 38.6-FanDuel-point game against Kansas. His Stanford Cardinal are 10th in terms of implied totals, though UCLA is 80th defensively and 228th in points allowed (73.5) per game. If the oddsmakers turn out to be low on Stanford, Okpala could be the guy benefiting most. Remember though: tourneys only.

Joe Wieskamp, Iowa ($5,900): The Iowa/Purdue game holds the night's third-highest over/under, at 151.5 points. Both sides will do their fair share of scoring, and Iowa's implied at 71.75 points accordingly. The big value, however, stems from forward Luke Garza being a game-time decision due to an ankle injury. Garza has started 11 games, averaging 22.5 minutes a game and using 24.8% of the team's offensive possessions while on the floor. If he's out, that opens up shots and usage for guys like Wieskamp. The freshman has a respectable 20.6% usage to being with, but he has taken 17 shots over the last two games, totaling 34 points en route to 32.3 and 15.5 FanDuel points, respectively. His minutes of late have been influenced by blowouts, but expect him to be productive in the event Garza sits again.

Eric Curry, Minnesota ($4,000): The redshirt sophomore and 6'9" big man made his 2018-19 debut back on December 30th, logging 17 minutes and tallying 10.7 FanDuel points against Mount St. Mary's. That's nothing to get excited about, but coach Richard Pitino said he'll give Curry more minutes going forward to bolster the defense. Even if that means 20 or so minutes, he's far too cheap for a guy expected to get decent run. He requires just 16 FanDuel points for four-times value -- oh, and he's exactly the kind of punt we need to fit in a couple studs above $8,000 tonight.

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.