FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Friday 2/12/21

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.
DAL NO 233.5 -3.0 118.25 116.5 9 118.9 26
DEN OKC 223.0 -12.0 117.50 123.2 5 113.9 15
LAC CHI 228.0 -6.5 117.25 128.4 2 117.6 24
UTAH MIL 232.5 -1.5 117.0 124.1 4 111.2 10
MIL UTAH 232.5 1.5 115.50 131.0 1 103.7 2
SAC ORL 223.5 -7.5 115.50 116.3 11 119.3 27
CHA MIN 227.0 -4.0 115.50 113.0 18 118.7 25
NO DAL 233.5 3.0 115.25 118.7 8 115.2 18
ATL SA 227.0 -1.5 114.25 115.1 16 115.1 17
POR CLE 222.0 -4.5 113.25 121.3 6 113.4 13
LAL MEM 218.5 -8.0 113.25 115.8 12 113.9 14
SA ATL 227.0 1.5 112.75 110.0 21 111.1 9
BOS DET 216.0 -7.5 111.75 115.5 15 117.0 21
MIN CHA 227.0 4.0 111.50 100.8 30 115.7 19
CHI LAC 228.0 6.5 110.75 116.4 10 112.7 12
NY WSH 218.0 -3.5 110.75 102.5 26 124.0 30
CLE POR 222.0 4.5 108.75 101.1 29 123.4 29
ORL SAC 223.5 7.5 108.0 101.1 28 123.2 28
WSH NY 218.0 3.5 107.25 107.3 23 106.1 3
OKC DEN 223.0 12.0 105.50 104.7 24 117.5 23
MEM LAL 218.5 8.0 105.25 112.0 19 102.8 1
DET BOS 216.0 7.5 104.25 108.4 22 114.3 16

Point Guard

Key Stud: Look, there's no way I'm going to start at point guard with anyone other than tonight's chalk -- Russell Westbrook ($8,700). The Washington Wizards will be without Bradley Beal (rest) for their bout with the New York Knicks, and with Beal off the court this season, Russ has seen a massive 39.7% usage rate while averaging 1.49 FanDuel points per minute, according to RotoGrinders. New York is the league's third-stingiest defense to point guards this year, per numberFire's DvP tool, so if you're looking for a reason to differentiate from the masses, there ya go. That said, it is an 11-game slate -- there will be plenty of opportunities for you to be contrarian elsewhere. Westbrook's salary means that he would need only 43.5 FanDuel points to achieve our baseline value figure of 5.0, and he's eclipsed that in half of his games this season (all with Beal in the lineup).

Other Studs to Consider: Oh boy...this is a long list. Let's start with De'Aaron Fox ($8,900). Despite the fact that Fox carries his highest salary in more than a full calendar year, he's still worthy of consideration. He'll be facing an Orlando Magic team that ranks 28th against point guards, and he's posted at least 46.7 FanDuel points in four of his last five outings. Trae Young ($10,100) faces off against the San Antonio Spurs, who are dead last against the position. Though his salary doesn't give him much wiggle room for anything but a ceiling performance, Atlanta is down plenty of bodies (including Rajon Rondo, Young's backup), and the matchup is ripe for smashing.

But wait -- we're not done. We also have Luka Doncic ($11,200) and Damian Lillard ($9,500). Doncic's Dallas Mavericks have the highest implied total on the slate, which means he's very much in play. Doncic's opponent, the New Orleans Pelicans, has ceded the ninth-most fantasy points to point guards over their last 15 games, per FantasyPros. That said, this is a slate where we can load up with studs everywhere -- so my exposure to Luka and his slate-high $11,200 salary will be limited. Lillard's had one of the safest floors in fantasy (more than 44 fantasy points in 11 of his last 12), but he hasn't showcased the slate-breaking ability we'd hope for. The matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers is fantastic, so I'd have more exposure to Lillard in my cash-game lineups.

Mid-Range and Value Options: Hamidou Diallo ($7,000) is also likely to be chalky coming off back-to-back outings with more than 40 fantasy points. The Oklahoma City Thunder will still be without Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Theo Maledon, and George Hill for tonight's matchup with the Denver Nuggets, so Diallo's volume should remain high. Denver's a tough matchup for point guards, so there is some buyer beware here.

With Kemba Walker out tonight, Payton Pritchard ($3,900) has the potential to be one of the best values on the slate. Pritchard recorded 25.5 fantasy points in 29.1 minutes last night. In the five games that he's seen at least 25.3 minutes this season, the rookie has averaged 26.3 FanDuel points per contest. Speaking of potential value, Raul Neto ($3,700) fits that bill for Washington. Neto's had at least 19 fantasy points seven times this campaign (including four outings with 21.5-plus), and he would need just 18.5 to achieve baseline value.

Honorable Mentions: Our model also has Ja Morant ($7,100), Coby White ($5,600), Derrick White ($4,700), and Patty Mills ($3,800) accruing value figures better than 5.0.

Shooting Guard

Core Value Plays: Shooting guard is a position where you'll conserve some salary tonight to pay up for studs elsewhere. Our model's third-best projected value on the entire slate is Jordan Clarkson ($4,700). Clarkson has underwhelmed in his last two games with Mike Conley out of the lineup, but he has seen 30.0 and 27.5 minutes, respectively. Tonight, the Utah Jazz will take on the Milwaukee Bucks in a game that has the second-highest projected total on the slate. numberFire's algorithm has Clarkson producing 30.4 FanDuel points in this matchup.

With Cole Anthony, Evan Fournier, Michael Carter-Williams, Frank Mason, and Aaron Gordon all banged-up for the Magic, my model is very high on Terrence Ross ($4,900). Ross will go up against a Sacramento Kings defense that's surrendered the most fantasy points to shooting guards this season. The 30-year-old has put up 30.3 and 36.7 FanDuel points in his last two, and he should have a solid ceiling if those aforementioned players are unable to suit up.

The Memphis Grizzlies will be without De'Anthony Melton, Brandon Clarke, and Desmond Bane, which should make Dillon Brooks ($5,200) one of the better value plays as he's up against the Los Angeles Lakers. Brooks has amassed 38.0 and 28.4 fantasy points in his last two games without those players in the lineup, and our model projects him for 29.0 tonight.

Finally, we have to give some thought to Kevin Huerter ($5,300). With De'Andre Hunter and Rajon Rondo out, Huerter should continue to be utilized heavily. He has averaged 35.1 fantasy points in 36 minutes of action over his last four.

Honorable Mentions: Josh Jackson ($5,500) is averaging 32 FanDuel points over his last six games -- he's my model's sixth-best projected value at the position. Donte DiVincenzo ($5,000) has topped 25 fantasy points in four of his last five games.

Key Stud: Donovan Mitchell ($8,300) has posted 51.1 and 61.3 FanDuel points in his last two games with Conley inactive. The Bucks are the league's stingiest team against shooting guards, but that shouldn't matter with the kind of volume Mitchell is bound to get.

Other Stud to Consider: DeMar DeRozan ($7,800) is facing an Atlanta Hawks D that ranks 20th against shooting guards in 2020-21. DeRozan has gone for at least 40 FanDuel points in 13 of his 23 games this season, including three of his last four.

Small Forward

Key(ish) Studs: Due to the absences of their teammates, there are two studs at small forward who stand out above the rest -- Kawhi Leonard ($10,000) and Khris Middleton ($8,000). With Paul George off the court, Kawhi is averaging 1.41 FanDuel points per minute. He posted 57.1 on Wednesday without PG13. Meanwhile, Middleton is averaging 1.42 fantasy points per minute when he's not sharing the court with Jrue Holiday, which is an eye-popping 0.25 per-minute bump. Middleton's recorded 62.6 and 40.5 in his last two with Holiday out.

LeBron James ($10,500) should also be in that conversation if Anthony Davis is ruled out. King James has had outings with 55.0, 60.5, and 69.8 FanDuel points in three of his last four contests.

Core Value Plays: With Gary Harris and P.J. Dozier out, we're finally starting to see the immense upside from Michael Porter Jr. ($5,500) seeping through. Porter erupted for 40 FanDuel points on Wednesday, and tonight he'll dance with an OKC defense that's allowing the most fantasy points to small forwards in 2020-21.

Joe Ingles ($4,900) has exceeded 32 fantasy points in two of his last three games, and he is my model's third-best projected value at the position. Milwaukee has allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to small forwards over their last 15 games.

James Ennis ($4,200) has posted season-high marks in both minutes and FanDuel points in consecutive games -- 31.2 and 33.5 FanDuel points, respectively -- and he should be one of the slate's top values if Fournier and at least one of Orlando's other guards can't go. Ennis would need just 21 fantasy points to attain a value figure of 5.0. In fact, Ennis is a core play for me if both Fournier and Anthony don't suit up.

Other Value Options: Our model's top-three projected values at the position are Danilo Gallinari ($4,100), Denzel Valentine ($4,400), and Keldon Johnson ($5,200) -- in that order. Gallinari has a friendly matchup against a San Antonio squad that ranks 23rd against the position. Valentine is averaging 26.2 fantasy points over his last five. Johnson has showcased the highest upside of the three, and his opponent, the Hawks, allows the ninth-most fantasy points to small forwards.

I'd also put Lu Dort ($4,800) in that conversation. Dort put up 32 FanDuel points on Wednesday with SGA, Maledon, and Hill out of the lineup.

Power Forward

Key Studs: Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,000) is on the slate, so we're definitely going to want to build some lineups around him. The two-time MVP has managed at least 57.8 FanDuel points in six of his last nine games, including more than 60 in five of those outings. Despite the fact that Utah has been one of the top defensive teams in the league over the last three season, Giannis has averaged 64.4 fantasy points against them in five matchups during that stretch.

Jayson Tatum ($9,500) is squaring off against a Pistons team that ranks dead last versus power forwards and is fresh off surrendering 61.6 FanDuel points to Domantas Sabonis last night. Tatum sees a 3.5-percentage-point bump in usage and averages an additional 0.23 FanDuel points per minute with Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart off the court this season, which means this could finally be the game where he pops.

Other Stud to Consider: Julius Randle ($8,600) gets a titillating draw in the Washington Wizards. My model projects Randle for 44.3 fantasy points tonight.

Core Play: The Pistons are likely to be without both Mason Plumlee and Blake Griffin, which makes Isaiah Stewart ($3,600) my model's best-projected value on the entire slate. Stewart dropped 35.9 FanDuel points in 31.2 minutes with Plumlee out last night, and that kind of total would have him approaching a value figure of 10.0. He's the "free square" on tonight's slate.

Other Value Options: Patrick Williams ($4,400) continues to produce -- he's now averaging 26.7 fantasy points over his last five games and putting up 25.5 on Wednesday. Like Tatum, Daniel Theis ($4,900) will also face a Detroit team that can't defend the interior.


Studs to Consider: In 10 games against teams that are below-average at defending centers this season, Nikola Jokic ($10,800) has averaged an insane 60.3 FanDuel points, and that includes four outputs of 68-plus. Tonight, the Serbian will face a Thunder frontcourt that's eighth-worst against the position, and he'll do so at his lowest salary in over a month. An opportunity to roster The Joker for under $11,000 is not one to be taken lightly.

The other Nikola, Nikola Vucevic ($9,800), gets an even more mouth-watering matchup against a Kings squad that's permitting the third-most fantasy points to the five spot this season. Vuce has played a bottom-seven positional defense seven times, and he's managed an average of 49.6 fantasy points in those games.

Value Options: Al Horford ($6,200) gets a tough draw in Jokic and the Nuggets, but we're talking about a guy who has surpassed 59 FanDuel points in two of his last three games. In fact, Horford has managed at least 38.2 fantasy points in four of his last seven games. Seeing as though he would need just 31 to hit value tonight, there's potential for tremendous value -- he's my model's top-projected value at the position.

If you want to save even more, you can look to Cody Zeller ($5,200). Zeller is matched up with a Wolves team that's allowing 8.0 more fantasy points per game to centers than any other team in the league.