FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Wednesday 1/15/20
If you're new to daily fantasy basketball -- maybe you started your DFS journey during the MLB or NFL seasons, or maybe basketball is your sport and this will be your first year giving it a shot -- you're in for a treat. The NBA scene changes on a week-to-week, day-to-day, and -- depending on injury news -- even a minute-to-minute basis, making every slate a unique one that requires an ever-changing approach.
With so much changing so quickly, we're here with plenty of tools to help you out. We have daily projections, a matchup heat map, a lineup optimizer, and a bunch of other great resources to help give you an edge.
Daily fantasy NBA is very reliant on opportunity, so you'll need to make sure that you're up-to-date with key injuries. Our projections update up until tip-off to reflect current news, we have player news updates, and the FanDuel Scout app will send push notifications for pressing updates regarding your players.
We'll also be coming at you with this primer every day, breaking down a few of the day's top plays at each position.
Let's take a look at who you should target on today's main slate.
It's a heavy 10-game set for tonight's action, and that means there will be a lot of injury news to be watching for around tip-off time. Be sure to be plugged in to capture all the value before lock.
Ben Simmons ($8,500) has played heavy minutes in most of his recent games, including at least 37 in nine of his past 10. Simmons will be playing without Joel Embiid tonight, as well. Without Embiid, Simmons has a 19.6% usage rate and a per-minute average of 1.16 FanDuel points. Those are pretty much in line with what he does while sharing the floor with Embiid -- so it's less a usage boost and more a bet on his heavy minutes and a matchup with the Brooklyn Nets, who are actually second in defensive rating over the past 15 games. It's still a big pace-up opportunity for Simmons, as the Nets are 6th in offensive seconds per play and the Philadelphia 76ers are 24th.
Kemba Walker ($6,700) is priced down for a reason, as he has played 18, 32, 29, and 27 minutes in four games since missing time. He's shot at least 50% from the field in all four of them, though. Walker draws a stellar matchup with the Detroit Pistons, who are 29th in defensive rating over the past 15 games. They're also just 20th against combo guards such as Walker.
Tomas Satoransky ($4,600) is listed as probable for a matchup with the Washington Wizards. Washington is 25th in defensive rating and 12th in pace over the past 15 games. Satoransky ranks as a high-floor play in my projections because of the promising matchup with his former team. Satoransky also projects for 5.56 FanDuel points per $1,000 in salary (or 5.56x value), easily clearing the rule-of-thumb mark of 5.00. Satoransky and the Chicago Bulls point guards are tied for the best composite game environment of the night.
Core Plays: Ben Simmons, Kemba Walker, Tomas Satoransky
Secondary Plays: Luka Doncic ($11,000), Goran Dragic ($4,600), Kris Dunn ($4,900)
Tournament Plays: Kyrie Irving ($7,900), Russell Westbrook ($9,200), Damian Lillard ($8,700)
There are a lot of reasons to treat James Harden ($11,700) as a core play, even with Westbrook back. The Portland Trail Blazers (21st) represent a pace-down matchup for the Rockets (2nd), but the game still has the highest total on the board and has plenty of shootout appeal. Harden still has a 33.2% usage rate and a per-minute average of 1.47 FanDuel points while sharing the floor with Russ.
Zach LaVine ($8,300) is another Bull to target against the Wizards. LaVine always logs heavy minutes (35 or more in seven straight games) and has a team-best 30.6% usage rate, which ranks him 12th in the entire NBA. The minutes and role in such a primo spot put LaVine in core-play territory.
The Sacramento Kings list Richaun Holmes as out and Bogdan Bogdanovic as doubtful, so Buddy Hield ($5,800) gets a situation bump. Hield posts a 26.2% usage rate without either of them on the floor, which is actually a dip from his rate with them. However, Hield is projected for 35.4 minutes, a top-10 number on the full slate. He's the only player below $7,300 to project for that many minutes, and minutes are often money in DFS, especially for someone who carries a significant usage rate.
Core Plays: James Harden, Zach LaVine, Buddy Hield
Secondary Plays: Andrew Wiggins ($6,600), Josh Richardson ($5,700), Jimmy Butler ($8,000)
Tournament Plays: Evan Fournier ($6,000), Dennis Schroder ($5,200), C.J. McCollum ($7,300)
LeBron James ($10,800) and the Los Angeles Lakers have a tough test with the Orlando Magic coming to town. To clarify, the Lakers are still 9.5-point favorites, but the Magic are a slow-paced team and boast the third-best defense over the past 15 games. Anthony Davis ($10,900) is questionable and has missed three straight games, though. James played in two of those and put up 64.7 and 45.4 FanDuel points in them. Overall, James has a 36.9% usage rate with a 1.58-FanDuel-point-per-minute average when Davis is out.
Tobias Harris ($6,600) has a team-best 25.9% usage rate when Embiid is off the floor, and he has been steady in recent games with five straight 30-plus-FanDuel-point outings. Harris is projected for roughly 35 minutes again against the Nets, who do rank sixth among 20 teams in action against small forwards. The volume and role help overcome that.
Jaylen Brown ($6,100) is preferable to his teammate Gordon Hayward ($6,400), and numberFire's projections back that up. The Pistons have been terrible defensively and are playing at the 19th-fastest pace in the NBA over the past 15 games, so they aren't an outlier in terms of being slow. Brown has a top-three floor/ceiling rating among small forwards in my model despite his shooting slump.
Core Plays: LeBron James, Tobias Harris, Jaylen Brown
Secondary Plays: Gordon Hayward, Jarrett Culver ($4,600), Harrison Barnes ($4,800)
Tournament Plays: Danilo Gallinari ($6,300), OG Anunoby ($4,600), Matisse Thybulle ($3,700)
Power forward is pretty deep -- and a lot of the options are affordable. Al Horford ($6,700) leads the Philadelphia 76ers in per-minute fantasy production with Embiid on the bench, and his usage rate ticks up by 3.9 percentage points to 22.2%. The Nets are -- again -- a good defensive team and rebound well (sixth over the past 15 games), but Horford still ranks top-five in floor/ceiling rating in my model and is second in tournament value among power forwards.
It sure sounds like Anthony Davis won't play, so Kyle Kuzma ($4,800) becomes a priority play despite a matchup with the Magic. Kuzma sees a 2.1 percentage point boost to his usage rate (up to 26.2%) with Davis sidelined. If Davis plays, then we have plenty of other places to pivot.
Jerami Grant ($4,000) has played 33.7, 27.0, and 33.0 minutes without Paul Millsap over the past three games. In them, he has been up-and-down (37.2, 15.4, and 25.4 FanDuel points). The Hornets are just 25th in rebounding over the past 15 games, and Grant has the upside and ostensible floor to be a priority play -- allowing us to spend up for studs elsewhere.
Core Plays: Al Horford, Kyle Kuzma, Jerami Grant
Secondary Plays: Lauri Markkanen ($5,100), Nemanja Bjelica ($5,300), Bam Adebayo ($8,200)
Tournament Plays: Domantas Sabonis ($8,300), Davis Bertans ($5,000), Marvin Bagley III ($5,200)
Clint Capela ($7,800) rarely puts forth a dud game, and he isn't prohibitively expensive. Westbrook is back, but even while sharing the floor with Harden and Westbrook, Capela generates 1.11 FanDuel points per minute. He should play around 33 to 35 minutes against a below-average rebounding team in Portland. Capela has double-digit rebounds in eight straight games.
Center overall is pretty poor for such a large slate outside of Capela. Steven Adams ($6,800) is in play for his consistency: 31.1 or more FanDuel points in seven straight games. Adams also has a 75th-percentile outcome of only 39.3 FanDuel points.
If seeking sheer upside, we have Andre Drummond ($10,200) and Nikola Jokic ($9,700), but both have floor concerns in their matchups and at their salaries. Capela is the only center I'd consider a core play, and the other centers will depend on game selection -- either tournament or cash-game.
Core Plays: Clint Capela
Secondary Plays: Steven Adams, Cody Zeller ($4,300), Mason Plumlee ($3,800), JaVale McGee ($4,500)
Tournament Plays: Nikola Jokic, Andre Drummond, Thomas Bryant ($4,400), Dwight Howard ($5,700)