College Basketball Daily Fantasy Helper: Thursday 1/17/19

Robert Franks is tonight's top dog as Washington State faces a poor California defense. Who should you pair him with on Thursday night?

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 8:00 p.m. EST and includes five games. While we get four Pac 12 matchups, the game with the lowest spread (2.0 points) takes place in the Big Ten as sixth-ranked Michigan State travels to Lincoln to take on a strong Nebraska team.

Thursday, January 17th
#6 Michigan State at Nebraska
Oregon at Arizona
Stanford at Washington
Oregon State at Arizona State
California at Washington State

Which players should you be targeting, and why?


James Palmer, Jr., Nebraska ($8,000): Kicking off the night is the Big Ten battle between the 'Huskers and Spartans. While this is an intriguing game that's expected to stay close, there aren't many great DFS plays with two really good defenses taking the floor. Michigan State's ranks eighth by's adjusted defensive efficiency, allowing 90.4 points per 100 and 66.8 points per game. So Palmer is more of a tournament-only play, and that's because his price is in a good spot if he's able to have a good night. He's averaging 30.8 FanDuel points a game, and in four Big Ten games, that sits at 33.3 thanks to a big outing against Maryland. He has a very high floor -- around 25 points -- because of his ability to go for over 20 real-world points, which he's done eight times this season. In cash games, though, you either want to pay up for Washington's Jaylen Nowell or down for Oregon State's Stephen Thompson, Jr., depending on how your roster construction shapes up.

Paris Austin, California ($7,100): The game with the most fantasy goodness involves two Pac 12 foes in California and Washington State. At Wazzu, this game has been handed a slate-high 158.5-point over/under, which is a whole 12.5 points higher than any of the other four contests. So even as 6.0-point underdogs, the Golden Bears sport the second-highest implied total (76), second only to their opponent. Their highest-priced guard, Austin, is the guy to target in this kind of high-scoring affair as he averages 13.6 points per game with three games of 20 and two more with 15 or more. He also chips in 4.9 assists, 2.8 rebounds and 1.2 steals-plus-blocks per game, all on a 22.0% usage rate and a 29.8% assist rate. Don't overthink it; get Cal exposure at the top.

Remy Martin, Arizona State ($6,600): Even as 4.0-point home favorites with a respectable 75.0-point total, the Arizona State Sun Devils might go a bit overlooked given the landscape of this shorter slate. But Oregon State doesn't own a top-50 defense, and the Beavers and their slow pace aren't likely to slow down the high-tempo Sun Devils. Sophomore point man Remy Martin will look to lead the charge at Wells Fargo Arena, where his team averages an impressive 84.3 points this year. If Martin can get in on the scoring, he should crush four-times value (4 points per every $1,000 in salary). After all, he's gone for more than 30 FanDuel points in the three games he's scored 20 or more real-world points. And the assist production has been there to provide a solid floor as he's totaled 23 dimes over the last four games.

Darius McNeill, California ($6,100): Joining his Cal teammate, McNeill is one of the best plays in the middle tier of guards. The 6'3" sophomore is third on the team in scoring (12.5 points per game) with 2.4 threes in 32.0 minutes a game. Luckily for him, the Cougars have allowed 156 threes on an astounding 446 three-point attempts to date this season. Both marks rank outside the top 300 and amount to 9.8 made threes and 27.9 attempts per game, respectively. The upside is there as it has been at times this season. McNeill has had quite a few games with fewer than 20 FanDuel points, but he's scored 20 or more three times en route to three games above tonight's salary-implied output (24.4 at 4.0 points per $1,000). This is a particularly good play if you're stacking up on Bears and Cougars tonight (you probably should be).

Viont'e Daniels, Washington State ($5,300): On the other side, we get another low-floor, high-ceiling guy in Wazzu senior Viont'e Daniels. Daniels averages 16.2 FanDuel points, which is well below his implied total of 21.2. But this game environment works in his favor. The Cougars' team total (81.5) is not only the highest of the slate, but it's 5.5 points clear of any other team, leaving them as the only one with an implied total over 80. In two of the three games in which Daniels has scored in double figures, his team has tallied over 80 points, something they've done eight times this year. Look for him to do it again here against a weak Cal defense.


Robert Franks, Washington State ($8,600): How weak is this Cal team defensively? Per KenPom, they are 337th in defense, having allowed 113.2 points per 100 possessions and 80.1 per game (333rd in the nation). Working even more in Franks' favor is the Bears' lack of rebounding as their 45.4% rebound rate is in the bottom 10 among all teams. With a rebounding rate of 13.6% on his own (20.9% on the defensive glass), Franks leads the team with 7.9 rebounds per game, which nicely supports his scoring (22.1 points a night). It's for that reason that his average of 35.5 FanDuel points is second on the slate, only to the Beavers' Tres Tinkle ($8,800), and he comes at a $200 discount to Tinkle. Of course, Tinkle is worth consideration in all formats, as well.

C.J. Elleby, Washington State ($7,800): If you're opting for Tinkle, or if you would rather spend big at guard and pay down some at forward, Elleby is a great pivot from Franks. At 28.2 FanDuel points per game, he has similarly high potential but will come at lower ownership, in all likelihood. The lower price and ownership shouldn't keep you off of him in cash, though. The standout freshman has just three games of fewer than 20 FanDuel points, and two of those came way back in November. He's been seeing minutes in the 30s when he hasn't been in foul trouble, doing particularly well on his home floor. At Beasley Coliseum, he's shooting 52.7% overall and 42.1% from three, tallying averages of 14.4 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.4 blocks-plus steals.

Noah Dickerson, Washington ($6,000): The Cougars in-state rivals draw a favorable matchup of their own against a Stanford Cardinal team ranked outside the top 100 in adjusted efficiency margin, offensive efficiency and defensive efficiency. Through 16 games, Stanford has given up 75 or more points seven times, including three in conference play this month. Washington has the fourth-highest total on the slate, but they could move beyond their 74.5 implied total. If so, that probably means Dickerson ate on the interior. After carrying a much higher price early in the season, the senior's up-and-down play has him at a buy-low cost in this matchup. And if he's on, he could be a GPP winner. On four occasions, he's tallied more than 30 FanDuel points, with two double-doubles to his name in 2018-19.

Kimani Lawrence, Arizona State ($4,900): There's very thin value below $5,000 tonight, which puts Lawrence at the top of our wish list at a hair under that threshold. The potential high-scoring game flow should bode well for him as his minutes are down to 22 per game over the last six. He needs scoring and efficiency to find value, which is 19.6 points at his salary today. Early in the year, he was doing really well at that, scoring in double-digits seven times going into the month of December, but while he's tapered off since, the potential for 30 FanDuel points is there.

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.