FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Thursday 2/6/20

Tonight's five-game slate is full of stars, but some mid-range options are in spots to excel. Who are Thursday's best plays?

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.

The Slate

Away Home Over/
Houston LA Lakers 236.0 -7.5 114.25 121.75 2 14
New Orleans Chicago 231.0 +5.0 118.0 113.0 3 10
San Antonio Portland 230.0 -3.5 113.25 116.75 15 21
Philadelphia Milwaukee 227.0 -8.5 109.25 117.75 23 1
Orlando New York 205.5 +2.5 104.0 101.5 26 20

One game stands alone as a dud -- the matchup with the Orlando Magic and New York Knicks. This is a fun small slate.

Point Guard

We've got a few stud point guards in Russell Westbrook ($10,300; questionable) and Damian Lillard ($10,300), but my model prefers Ben Simmons ($8,600) against the Milwaukee Bucks' league-best defense. Simmons' price is down $1,200 from just a few games ago for a matchup with the league's best defense against distributing guards such as Simmons. Simmons, though, went for 57.4 FanDuel points against the Bucks back on Christmas Day over 38 minutes (15 points, 14 assists, 7 rebounds, and 5 combined steals and blocks). Simmons' savings and ceiling go a long way on this slate, especially if Westbrook sits and removes all but one other point guard with an elite high-end outcome.

Eric Bledsoe ($6,300) rates out well on the other side of that matchup. The Philadelphia 76ers are seventh against combo guards such as Bledsoe, but Bledsoe consistently plays 30-plus minutes and can be had at a very reasonable salary. Bledsoe actually rates out with the best floor/ceiling combination in my projections, given the low salary and expected involvement in a game that should favor the Bucks.

Core Plays: Ben Simmons, Eric Bledsoe, Damian Lillard
Secondary Plays: Russell Westbrook, Michael Carter-Williams ($4,100), Dejounte Murray ($5,300)
Tournament Plays: Tomas Satoransky ($5,700), Coby White ($4,200), Lonzo Ball ($6,500)

Shooting Guard

James Harden ($11,500) without Westbrook is a monster. He has a 45.3% usage rate without Westbrook and puts up an average of 1.72 FanDuel points per minute. Even with Westbrook, Harden ranks well for tonight's matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers. LA is just average on the perimeter against combo guards such as Harden. His ceiling is the highest of the night.

Zach LaVine ($8,300) is in play mostly because the Chicago Bulls are just very banged up right now. LaVine should be thrust into a bigger role as a result. Without the relevant Bulls on the floor, LaVine boasts a 31.5% usage rate -- paired with a per-minute average of 1.10 fantasy points. LaVine's also got a juicy matchup with the New Orleans Pelicans, who are the most generous defense to shooting guards among teams playing tonight.

Evan Fournier ($5,200) can save salary to get to other studs despite his status in the dud game of the night. Fournier still rates with the best floor/ceiling rating at the position because of his low price. Fournier has the third-best floor value rating among all players on the board, based on numberFire's projections, too.

Core Plays: James Harden, Zach LaVine, Evan Fournier
Secondary Plays: C.J. McCollum ($6,700), Jrue Holiday ($7,100), Terrence Ross ($4,500)
Tournament Plays: DeMar DeRozan ($7,600), Khris Middleton ($7,300), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope ($3,700),

Small Forward

LeBron James ($10,700) and Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,400) again share a slate, and they're the only two above $8,200. Their ceilings are just so much better than the rest of the position that there's opportunity cost in fading them. James is the preference for the simple fact that his matchup is softer -- actually tied for the best of all small forwards tonight. James (46.8) and Giannis (48.3) have 25th-percentile outcomes in my projections higher than any other small forward's 75th-percentile outcome (Brandon Ingram ($8,200) at 46.5).

Tobias Harris ($6,200) is second in floor value rating, per numberFire, and it's easy to see why: he almost always logs minutes (40.7, 38.3, 36.8, 35.2, 32.4, and 25.2 the past six games). The 25.2 came in a blowout loss, and his price has fallen $1,200 from late January. He projects for 34.1 minutes tonight.

Core Plays: LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Tobias Harris
Secondary Plays: Carmelo Anthony ($5,300), Rudy Gay ($3,500)
Tournament Plays: Brandon Ingram, Trevor Ariza ($4,400), Chandler Hutchison ($4,500)

Power Forward

Anthony Davis ($9,800) is cheap -- but not necessarily safe or consistent. Davis' past three FanDuel scores have been 79.0, 41.8, and 25.5 over 38.8, 29.7, and 29.1 minutes. Davis -- like James -- has a great overall game environment against the Rockets. Also like James, his floor (46.1 in my model) is still higher than any other power forward's ceiling (Zion Williamson ($7,500) at 44.8).

Speaking of Zion, he's again in a good spot against the Bulls, who are average-at-best against versatile forwards like Williamson. Williamson has cleared 30 minutes in two straight games and has been a very consistent producer with at least 26.3 FanDuel points in every game so far.

LaMarcus Aldridge ($6,600) is the second-best per-dollar play at the position -- behind Davis -- in my projections. Aldridge faces his longtime former team up in Portland. The Blazers are second-worst against fantasy power forwards among 10 teams playing tonight, and the Spurs/Blazers game has the tightest spread among the four games with good totals.

Core Plays: Anthony Davis, Zion Williamson, LaMarcus Aldridge
Secondary Plays: Derrick Favors ($5,000), Al Horford ($5,700), Robert Covington ($5,500)
Tournament Plays: Kyle Kuzma ($4,500), Thaddeus Young ($5,700), Luke Kornet ($4,300)


Joel Embiid ($9,000), Hassan Whiteside ($8,700), and Nikola Vucevic ($8,200) are the top three per-dollar center plays in my model -- in that order. So we'll want to spend up often at center tonight. Embiid went for 53.7 FanDuel points against the Bucks on Christmas Day (31 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks). Embiid's 30.6% usage rate is one of two marks better than 20% among centers playing tonight (Vucevic at 26.0% is the other).

Brook Lopez ($5,500) is the first place to look for salary relief in his matchup opposite Embiid. He stretched the floor for five three-point attempts back in that Christmas Day matchup and now has played 31.5 or more minutes in three of the past four games.

Core Plays: Joel Embiid, Brook Lopez
Secondary Plays: Hassan Whiteside, Nikola Vucevic
Tournament Plays: Dwight Howard ($4,400), Bobby Portis ($3,600)