FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Friday 1/22/21

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 11-game slate, which locks at 7:00 PM Eastern.

Slate Overview

Via Brandon Gdula's matchup sheet, this table shows each team's spread and implied total (plus the over/under for their game). It also includes opponent-adjusted offensive rating and the adjusted defensive rating for each team's opponent, including league-wide ranks for each.

Teams are sorted by implied team total.

Team Opp Over/
Spread Implied
Rank Opp Adj.
LAC OKC 219.0 -13.0 116.0 117.7 2 108.2 9
ATL MIN 225.5 -6.0 115.75 103.1 26 112.1 24
HOU DET 228.5 -3.0 115.75 111.4 13 112.5 26
BKN CLE 224.0 -7.0 115.50 108.1 20 113.2 28
PHI BOS 222.5 -4.5 113.50 111.2 14 106.5 4
CHI CHA 228.5 3.0 112.75 103.3 24 111.9 23
TOR MIA 222.0 -3.0 112.50 111.4 12 109.0 12
DAL SA 222.0 -2.0 112.0 119.0 1 111.7 21
SAC NY 218.5 -4.0 111.25 109.5 16 111.2 17
IND ORL 217.5 -4.0 110.75 109.0 18 107.9 7
PHX DEN 218.5 -2.0 110.25 112.8 10 111.5 20
SA DAL 222.0 2.0 110.0 112.7 11 111.3 18
MIN ATL 225.5 6.0 109.75 103.2 25 111.7 22
MIA TOR 222.0 3.0 109.50 114.8 5 104.7 2
BOS PHI 222.5 4.5 109.0 114.2 8 107.9 8
DET HOU 214.5 -3.0 108.75 105.7 21 109.0 11
CLE BKN 224.0 7.0 108.50 101.6 28 109.4 13
DEN PHX 218.5 2.0 108.25 115.4 3 110.2 15
NY SAC 218.5 4.0 107.25 100.7 29 113.0 27
ORL IND 217.5 4.0 106.75 104.5 23 107.5 5
CHA CHI 214.5 3.0 105.75 102.3 27 110.4 16
OKC LAC 219.0 13.0 103.0 108.3 19 107.8 6

The Houston Rockets have the third-highest implied total on the slate, and with John Wall, Christian Wood, and Danuel House Jr. all likely out, there should be immense opportunity for value there. The Minnesota Timberwolves are taking part in the game with the second-highest total on the slate, and with Karl-Anthony Towns out and Ricky Rubio and Juan Hernangomez questionable, some lower-salaried players could be bumped into larger roles. In that same matchup, the Atlanta Hawks are also banged up, but they have the second-highest implied total behind only the Los Angeles Clippers. And, unlike LA, Atlanta is not favored by double-digits.

Let's aim to get some stacks from the aforementioned squads if we can. Here are the best plays on a freaking loaded slate!

Point Guard

Key Studs: On the season, the San Antonio Spurs have surrendered the third-most fantasy points to opposing point guards, according to numberFire's defense-versus-position tool. Tonight, they'll have to face the nightmare that is Luka Doncic ($11,000). Our model projects Luka to ourscore every other player on the slate by 5.1 FanDuel points -- not too shabby. In his last seven outings, Luka's had five outputs of more than 56 fantasy points. That'll play. Kyrie Irving ($9,200) is a damn-near must-start with Kevin Durant out. Irving is bound to see insane usage against a Cleveland Cavaliers team that ranks dead last against the position when adjusted for competition. Kyrie has eclipsed 50 FanDuel points in three straight.

Other studs to consider: Though our algorithm isn't quite as high on him, Trae Young ($9,900) gets a tasty draw in the Wolves. When adjusted for competition, Minnesota ranks third-worst against point guards. For a while there, Young was in a bit of a funk (by his standards) as he didn't reach 46 FanDuel points in five straight and seven out of eight, but in his last two, he's dropped 52.1 and 64.8 fantasy points. He should stay hot tonight. Malcolm Brogdon ($8,500) faces an Orlando Magic defense that's third-most generous to the position. Finally, De'Aaron Fox ($7,800) gets a tough draw, but he's always worth considering at a salary under $8,000.

Core Plays: In order to be able to afford all the stars on this slate, you'll need to save salary somewhere -- might I suggest Jalen Brunson ($3,900)? Brunson is one of our model's top-projected values on this slate. In the two games since he's returned from a four-game absence, Brunson has totaled 27.4 and 33.9 minutes of action and produced 20.5 and 28.3 FanDuel points, respectively. With the Dallas Mavericks still missing plenty of bodies, look for Brunson to continue to be utilized heavily. Two other core(ish) plays at the position should be Goran Dragic ($5,200) and LaMelo Ball ($7,200). Dragic is numberFire's top-projected value at point, and he should continue to benefit from the absences of Jimmy Butler, Avery Bradley, and (possibly) Tyler Herro. Meanwhile, Ball's salary is quite reasonable for a player who drops more than 40 fantasy points with regularity (five times since December 30th). The rookie faces a Chicago Bulls D that's ceding the second-most fantasy points to point guards this campaign.

Shooting Guard

Key Stud: No Durant means we'll fire up James Harden ($10,700) without thinking twice. In three games with the Brooklyn Nets, Harden has garnered 73.4, 56.2, and 52.0 FanDuel points -- and that was with KD in the lineup. According to Gdula's matchup sheet, the Cavs rank dead last against point guards and ninth-worst against shooting guards this season. Not much else needs to be said.

Core Plays: When adjusted for competition, no team ranks worse against shooting guards than Atlanta -- enter D'Angelo Russell ($8,400). Russell's had multiple games where he's exceeded 50 fantasy points in January, and that's an attainable number without KAT in the lineup tonight. Elsewhere, Victor Oladipo ($8,500) has seen usage rates of 43.3% and 37.1% in his first two games in Houston, and that could be even higher tonight with Christian Wood out. Oladipo's averaging 1.54 fantasy points per minute in his short stint with the Rockets so far. Our model projects him to play 35.45 minutes tonight, which would result in an outing of 54.6 fantasy points at that average.

Value Options: Should he suit up tonight (he's listed as available), Seth Curry ($4,500) could return fantastic value. Curry is averaging 27.1 FanDuel points per game this season, and at his salary, he would need just 22.5 to accrue a value figure of 5.0. Curry's our model's third-best projected value at the position. Cam Reddish ($4,500) is currently questionable, but our model projects him to be the best value at the position were he to play.

Small Forward

Key Stud: The Rockets rank third-worst against small forwards when adjusted for competition, and they'll be going up against Jerami Grant ($8,400) tonight. Grant has recorded at least 41.8 FD points in seven of his last eight games, and there's no reason to think that he'll cool off tonight. Grant's floor makes him an even better option for cash games.

Other stud to consider: Kawhi Leonard ($9,500) faces an Oklahoma City Thunder unit that's giving up the most fantasy points to the small forward position this season. However, the Clips being favored by a slate-high 13 points means there's significant blowout potential here.

Core Plays: Jaylen Brown ($7,600) hasn't been fantastic in his last three games, but with his salary continuing to fall, an explosive outing would make him a lineup-winning value. Our model projects Brown to eclipse a 5.0 value figure with ease. Our algorithm's top-projected value at the position is Eric Gordon ($5,200). In the six games where he's seen more than 25 minutes of action, Gordon has averaged 29.6 FanDuel points. With Wood, Wall, and House all likely out, Gordon could see his minutes creep into the high 30s.

Other options: With Durant inactive, Joe Harris ($4,800) is back on the value radar. Cleveland ranks second-worst against small forwards, per Gdula. numberFire's algorithm has Harris as the third-best value at the position. According to RotoGrinders, in 144 minutes with Al Horford off the court this season, Lu Dort ($5,500) is averaging 1.04 FanDuel points per minute, 0.22 higher than when Horford does suit up. In his last two games with Horford out, Dort has posted 50.6 and 33.5 fantasy points. He's very much in play.

Power Forward

Core Plays: On the season, no team is allowing more fantasy points to power forwards than the Charlotte Hornets. That gives us the option of going with either Lauri Markkanen ($6,700) and Thaddeus Young ($3,800). Markkanen has averaged 33.9 minutes in the three games since he's returned from a seven-game absence, and he's topped 30 FanDuel points in each of those three. As for Young, he has recorded at least 22.6 FD points in 6 of his 10 efforts this season. Young would only need 19 fantasy points to achieve a value figure of 5.0.

Other options: If both De'Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish are out, John Collins ($6,800) would be a surefire core play. Collins dropped 47.2 fantasy points on Wednesday with both of those players inactive.

Studs to consider: The three studs worth mentioning are Domantas Sabonis ($9,300), Julius Randle ($8,900), and Kristaps Porzingis ($8,400). Sabonis is probably not worth paying up for given that you can get a similar floor/ceiling profile at $400 less with Randle, who has a better matchup. Randle is facing a Sacramento Kings team that's allowed the seventh-most fantasy points to the power forward position. He has also totaled fewer than 42.9 FanDuel points just once in his last 10 games. Meanwhile, Porzingis has seen his fantasy production increase in each of his five games this season, topping out at 51.6 on Wednesday. When adjusted for competition, the Spurs rank 23rd against power forwards.

Value option: In four games where Horford has been inactive this campaign, Isaiah Roby ($4,500) has posted 35.4, 34.3, 23.3, and 25.8 fantasy points. Tonight, he would only need 22.5 to reach a value figure of 5.0.


Core Play: Our model's top-projected value on the entire slate is DeMarcus Cousins ($4,500). In the one game Christian Wood has missed this season, Cousins exploded for 44.3 FanDuel points. At his salary, Cousins could very well end up being the best bang for your buck on the entire slate.

Key Stud: In his last three games, Clint Capela ($9,200) has posted 56.0, 55.0, and 79.2 fantasy points. Tonight, he'll face a Wolves team that's allowing 5.68 more FanDuel points per game to centers than any other team in the league. Given the matchup and Atlanta's sky-high implied total, Capela could wind up being one of the premier studs tonight.

Other stud to consider: If Nikola Jokic ($11,200) is on a slate, you have to consider rostering him. Jokic has scored more than 55 fantasy points in six of his last eight, including 60-plus five times. Jokic faces a Phoenix Suns team that ranks 24th against centers when adjusted for opponent.