FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Wednesday 1/13/21

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 and COVID-19 situations. Our projections update up until tip-off to reflect current news and we also have player news updates.

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.

Please note: When I'm referencing a player's value figure, it is the number of fantasy points scored for every $1,000 in salary. Typically, a value figure of 5.0 (meaning, 5.0 FanDuel points for every $1,000 in salary) is the minimum baseline we'll be targeting.

Let's take a look at who you should target on tonight's seven-game slate, which locks at 7:00 PM Eastern Time. (Note: the matchups between the Atlanta Hawks and Phoenix Suns, Utah Jazz and Washington Wizards, and Orlando Magic and Boston Celtics have all been postponed.)

Point Guard

There's only one point guard with a salary in the five-digits, and that's Luka Doncic ($11,300). Doncic gets a tough matchup tonight -- the Charlotte Hornets rank fifth-best against point guards, according to Brandon Gdula's matchup sheet. That said, how much stock should we even put in a matchup for a guy like Luka? For tonight's contest, the Dallas Mavericks will be without Jalen Brunson, Josh Richardson, Maxi Kleber, Dwight Powell, and Dorian Finney-Smith -- that's a lot of bodies who were getting regular minutes. Sure, Kristaps Porzingis is expected to make his season debut, but he's likely to be limited. In essence, Donic should see huge volume, and he was already averaging 60.9 FanDuel points in his last four games coming in. He's a stud you should definitely have some exposure to. His teammate, Trey Burke ($4,500), is our model's second-best projected value at point guard -- if you're looking to save salary.

There's another stud we need to consider due to his delicious matchup, and that's Damian Lillard ($9,200). First off, Lillard has underwhelmed in consecutive games, which could drive his roster percentage down. Second, Dame faces a Sacramento Kings defense that's surrendering the most fantasy points to opposing point guards this season. Lillard has had outputs of 49.5, 52.8, and 65.9 so far in this campaign, so despite some duds, we know that the upside is still there.

With Reggie Bullock doubtful for the New York Knicks, both Elfrid Payton ($5,700) and Austin Rivers ($4,500) are in play. Our model has Payton projected for a 5.4 value figure, fourth-best on the slate. He would need 28.5 to get to 5.0, and he's recorded more than 29 in six of his last nine outings. Meanwhile, Rivers has topped 32 minutes of play in four of his last five games, and his FanDuel outputs in those outings were 13.9, 34.6, 27.0, and 19.3 -- he doesn't need much to return a decent value figure, but he's still a volatile and risky play.

Finally, the Memphis Grizzlies are going up against a Minnesota Timberwolves team that's ranked as the third-worst defense against point guards when adjusted for competition -- enter Tyus Jones ($6,200). Jones would need 31 FanDuel points to return a baseline value figure, and he's recorded 41.8 and 36.5 in his last two outings.

Shooting Guard

If Eric Bledsoe ($5,300) suits up tonight (he's questionable with an eye injury), he might just be the play of the day at shooting guard -- and that's because Lonzo Ball is expected to be inactive due to a knee injury. In 117.7 minutes with Ball off the court this season, Bledsoe has seen a 5.1% bump in usage and is averaging an additional 0.25 fantasy points per minute. numberFire's algorithm has Bledsoe projected for 33.9 minutes tonight, and if he sticks with his 1.06-FanDuel-point-per-minute average with Ball off the court, that would result in a total of 35.9 fantasy points. That's fantastic value at his salary.

At the high-end salary range, we have C.J. McCollum ($9,200) and Paul George ($9,000). Like Lillard, McCollum's matchup with the Kings is fantastic. Sacramento allows the fourth-most fantasy points to shooting guards this season. McCollum, who needs 46 fantasy points to reach our baseline value, has put up at least 47.7 in half of his games so far. Meanwhile, PG13 has racked up at least 48.5 FanDuel points in four of his last six efforts. The New Orleans Pelicans rank as the fourth-worst team against shooting guards, according to Gdula.

Donte DiVincenzo ($4,600) is our algorithm's second-best projected value at shooting guard. Donte would only need 23 FanDuel to achieve a value figure of 5.0, and he's topped 23 in 7 of his 11 outings this season. Our model's top-projected value is Buddy Hield ($5,000), though his projections tend to be loft compared to his production. That said, Hield is capable of producing a value figure north of 5.0, though don't expect much of a ceiling to go along with it. I'd prefer to roster DeVincenzo, especially considering that the Detroit Pistons cede the third-most real-life points to shooting guards this season.

Small Forward

By all accounts, the small forward position has viable options tonight at each salary tier. Starting at the top, we have Kevin Durant ($10,100), LeBron James ($9,900), and Kawhi Leonard ($9,200). In 93 minutes without Kyrie Irving and Spencer Dinwiddie on the court, KD has averaged 1.53 FanDuel points per minute on a 36.1% usage rate. Durant has played at least 34.98 minutes in each of his last six games, and that would equate to a 53.5 fantasy output at his 1.53 per-minute average. Durant would need 50.5 to reach a 5.0 value figure. The fact that the Brooklyn Nets are on the back end of a back-to-back is concerning, but Durant did say that he plans on playing tonight.

The Los Angeles Lakers are also on the back-end of a back-to-back, and LeBron's recent production makes him a risky proposition. James hasn't topped 50.9 FanDuel points in any of his last six, and he's scored fewer than 43 in three straight. Meanwhile, his opponent, the Oklahoma City Thunder, rank as the fourth-toughest matchup for small forwards when adjusted for competition. As for Kawhi, to be quite frank, he's either going to go a long way toward winning you some cash, or he'll completely tank your lineup. In nine games this season, Leonard has eclipsed five times, and he's failed to reach 38 in any of the other four. numberFire's models like him tonight, as they project him to return a 5.2 value figure.

With Ball out, Josh Hart ($4,400) is our model's top-projected value at small forward. Hart would need 22 FanDuel points to return our baseline value figure of 5.0, and he's trumped that number in five of his nine games this season -- the increased volume certainly won't hurt his case. For $100 less, Miles Bridges ($4,300) is also worth considering. Bridges gets a matchup against a Mavs defense that's fourth-worst against small forwards, per Gdula. Bridges has amassed at least 21.4 fantasy points in 7 of his last 10 outings, and he would need 21.5 to record a 5.0 value figure. Our model projects him for 24.3 tonight.

With Jusuf Nurkic questionable for tonight's bout with the Kings, Carmelo Anthony ($4,500) could see a bump in usage. With Nurkic banged-up for much of Monday's game, Melo played a season-high 35.3 minutes and posted a season-best 41.5 FanDuel points. Anthony is numberFire's fourth-best projected value at small forward. Our model also has Khris Middleton ($7,400) and Kyle Anderson ($5,400) returning value figures better than 5.0. Middleton is averaging 40.5 FanDuel points over his last four -- he'd need 37 for our baseline value. Anderson would need 27, and though he's only reached that number once in his last five contests, a matchup with the Wolves doesn't hurt.

Power Forward

Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,000) is projected to outscore all power forwards by 6.6 points, though with the Milwaukee Bucks being 10.5-point favorites, the blowout potential is a very real concern. In the high-end range, our model prefers Julius Randle ($9,100). Randle is fresh off his worst game of the season, which could depress his roster percentage. He had amassed at least 43.9 FanDuel points in each of the four games prior to that dud on Monday.

We don't yet know whether Anthony Davis ($9,800) -- who is also nursing a toe injury -- will play on the back-end of a back-to-back, but if he does, he is very much in play. On the season, only two teams allow more fantasy points to power forwards than the Thunder. Davis has managed at least 49 fantasy points in five of his last nine games, and he just so happens to need exactly 49 to reach our baseline value figure of 5.0.

Now, onto some values plays. James Johnson ($4,200) should have a large role with Dallas lacking bodies. Johnson has topped 25 fantasy points three times this season, and at his salary, he'd only need 21 to accrue a 5.0 value figure. As an added bonus, he faces a Charlotte Hornets team that's ceded the most fantasy points to power forwards this season. His teammate, Kristaps Porzingis ($8,000) is a risky play given that this is his first in-game action in nearly five months. Marcus Morris ($3,800) is our model's top-projected value at the position. Morris hit 25.1 minutes in his last game, and should that happen again, he should be able to produce against a Pels defense allowing the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing power forwards.

For Memphis, Brandon Clarke ($5,600) is numberFire's third-best projected value at the position. Clarke needs 28 fantasy points for a 5.0 value figure, and he's topped that number in four of his last eight outings.


To KAT or not to KAT? That's one of the biggest question marks on this slate. Constructing a roster to include Karl-Anthony Towns ($10,500) likely won't be easy, but it could very well pay off. Our model has KAT projected for 11.7 more FanDuel points than any other center on the slate -- that's a rather large gap. In three games this season, Towns has produced 50.7, 47.9, and 52.6 FanDuel points. He saw a whopping 37 minutes in his return on Saturday, so his workload shouldn't be much of a concern. On the season, the Grizzlies are ceding the seventh-most fantasy points to the center position.

If you decide not to KAT, there are a number of viable options to consider. Though he has underwhelmed for much of the season, Brook Lopez ($4,500) is in play tonight. Lopez would need 22.5 to achieve a 5.0 value figure, and he has eclipsed that number in each of his last five games. It also doesn't hurt that his opponent, the Detroit Pistons, are surrendering the second-most blocked shots to centers this season, which just so happens to be Brook's money-maker.

The Nets rank as the fourth-worst team against centers when adjusted for competition, which brings Mitchell Robinson ($6,000) into play. Robinson has posted at least 33.4 FanDuel points in four of his last six contests, and he'd only need 30 to give us a 5.0 value figure.