FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Sunday 1/24/21
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. 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 break down today's main slate on FanDuel:
Welcome back, Washington Wizards -- possibly. They are expected to return after six straight games postponed due to COVID-19, but they may be without their star point guard Russell Westbrook. Westbrook is still questionable with the quad injury he was nursing before Washington's turmoil. However, they will be tremendously shorthanded to the point where their offensive efficiency might be horrific, as they will be without regular contributors Rui Hachimura, Davis Bertans, Ish Smith, Deni Avdija, and Troy Brown. Missing five of your top nine players is not ideal.
Elsewhere in the association, Jayson Tatum is out again due to COVID-19 protocols for the Boston Celtics. Dejounte Murray may miss the San Antonio Spurs' matchup with the depleted Wizards due to his ankle injury, as he is questionable. Trae Young is also nursing a bum ankle for the Atlanta Hawks, which has his status in jeopardy. There could be plenty of value with Spurs and Hawks if their primary ball-handlers miss Sunday's action.
Kemba Walker ($6,800): No Jayson Tatum, no problem. The Celtics' point guard could not have returned at a more opportunistic time with Boston's best player on the shelf, and he has been a monster since returning. Walker already has a 36.0% usage rate and is averaging 1.32 FanDuel points per minute -- which would lead Boston if he kept at that pace for the entire season. Now, the issue has been total minutes, and the Celtics have exercised caution. But playing 28 minutes last game indicates that Kemba is nearing a full starter's load on top of being effective on a per-minute basis.
Elfrid Payton ($5,300): The New York Knicks' excursion with Immanuel Quickley appears to have ended quickly (are we sure that he is not Emmanuel Mudiay in disguise, by the way?). Payton is back to a starter's role, as he has played at least 31 minutes in each of his last three games. The book on Payton has been written, as he will not dominate usage or score in bunches, but he will receive plenty of minutes against a high-paced Portland Trail Blazers squad that surrenders the eighth-most FanDuel points to opposing point guards.
Bradley Beal ($10,300): Usage records could be broken if Westbrook sits on Sunday. Who else could the Wizards turn to besides Beal to score the ball with so many options on the shelf? The obvious risk to Beal's stock is a blowout with Washington missing so many pieces and being out of action for two weeks, but even in three quarters with maximum usage against a Spurs team that allows the sixth-most field goal makes per game, Beal still has a high floor. His numbers this year are gaudy even without the usage bump, as he is already near the top of the league in both overall usage (36.4%) and FanDuel points per minute (1.43).
DeMar DeRozan ($7,700): This is a salary discount for DeRozan from the start of the season, and he has showcased quite the ceiling for a dude in this range. DeRozan has eclipsed 45 FanDuel points in 8 of his 14 games this season. He'll probably be on the positive side of a blowout of a shorthanded Washington team that -- in their own words -- can't guard a parked car, but he still may be able to eclipse value in a shorter night if Dejounte Murray misses the game. On top of the great spot he already resides in, DeRozan sees significant bumps in usage (+3.8 percentage points) and FanDuel points per minute (+0.12) when Murray is off the floor this year.
Gordon Hayward ($7,800): The Charlotte Hornets still have no idea what they want to do with their backcourt rotation, as it appears LaMelo Ball is now losing playing time, so the best place to target their surprisingly effective offense is Hayward -- who leads Charlotte's starters in both usage (25.6%) and FanDuel points per minute (1.09). Hayward has eclipsed 40 FanDuel points in 7 of the full 12 games he has played this year -- leaving two due to injury -- and has seen at least 32 minutes in each of the last 9 full games he has played, and that is despite blowouts. Hayward is a cornerstone play at a shaky position.
Evan Fournier ($5,500): Without Markelle Fultz out for the season, Fournier is realistically going to shift to Orlando's point guard. Fournier has a 30.8% usage rate since returning from injury two games ago and is averaging a team-best 1.25 FanDuel points per minute in that span, which is higher than Nikola Vucevic and his roughly $9,500 salary each night. The pace is not tremendous in this game, but you get a positional stack with Hayward and Fournier in what truly reflects two top ball-handling options at small forward. This pairing is hard to turn down in any format.
Julius Randle ($9,100): The happenings of Tom Thibodeau have drastically altered the landscape of the NBA by making this sentence a reality -- the Knicks' best player might have the best fantasy floor in the entire NBA. Randle has scored at least 43 FanDuel points in 10 of his last 11 games -- and there have been four games in that span with a margin of victory of 15-plus points. Randle's do-it-all style has him combining a 25.6% usage rate with a rate of 15.39 rebounds per 36 minutes, and that will put him on triple-double watch just about any night. Sunday should be no different with the huge pace increase versus Portland.
John Collins ($6,600): Power forward beyond Randle is a bit of an abyss, but there are a couple arrows pointed in the direction of Collins as the second-best option on the slate. If Trae Young does indeed miss Sunday's game, all Hawks should see an increase in usage. But with the large salary increase to Clint Capela, the most salary-efficient starters to target would be Collins and Cam Reddish. Collins has flashed a ceiling by eclipsing 35 FanDuel points in 5 of the 14 full games he has played, and numberFire's projections are bullish on him to potentially do so again with 36.0 projected points for Sunday.
Bismack Biyombo ($4,900): Center is usually my favorite position to target with plenty of options; this is not one of the days that fits the mold. Clint Capela is now $10,000 in light of his monstrous recent outings. Nikola Vucevic is still in his season-long salary range despite Aaron Gordon taking away 11.56 rebounds per 36 minutes when they share the court. And Andre Drummond is a role player for the Cleveland Cavaliers despite averaging 1.44 FanDuel points per minute. Therefore, Biyombo is a salary efficient option who has returned to decent minutes (28.0 per game) against a Magic squad surrendering the sixth-most FanDuel points to opposing centers. In essence, he is the best way to cover up the eyesore of a position, allowing you to spend your salary wisely elsewhere.
Other Notable Plays: Nikola Vucevic ($9,500), Andre Drummond ($8,600)
Austin Swaim is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Austin Swaim also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username ASwaim3. 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.