FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Saturday 2/27/21

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:

The Slate

IndianaNew York216.5+1.0108.75107.751330
DenverOklahoma City225.5+7.0116.25109.252811
New OrleansSan Antonio228.0+4.0116.00112.002110

A fairly clean injury slate in the NBA does still have some major question marks and new developments. Tobias Harris injured his knee in Thursday's contest for the Philadelphia 76ers and has already been ruled out for Saturday's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Malik Beasley has also been suspended for 12 games from the Minnesota Timberwolves' lineup stemming from his criminal charges in the offseason. Both of those new absences should open up usage in both the Philadelphia and Minnesota small forward spots.

There are also a couple of major question marks at the top of the slate, as well. Kristaps Porzingis missed Thursday's contest with a back injury, but he is questionable for the Dallas Mavericks' date with the Brooklyn Nets. If he were to miss, that would open up minutes in Dallas's jumbled frontcourt, and that allowed James Johnson the start Thursday. DeMar DeRozan is also questionable with his personal situation, and an update will be key as the San Antonio Spurs will once again also be missing Rudy Gay, Keldon Johnson, Derrick White, and others due to COVID-19 protocols.

Point Guard

Kyrie Irving ($9,000): The Nets are a two-man show as Kevin Durant remains on the shelf, and the far more salary-efficient option of the star duo remaining is Irving. It is Irving, not James Harden, who leads Brooklyn in usage over the past two weeks (29.8%), and Irving has posted a tremendous 1.36 FanDuel points per minute in that stretch ,as well. Irving had a poor game in the Nets' blowout of the Los Angeles Lakers but is still averaging exactly 45.0 FanDuel points per game over the past five contests even with that clunker built in. With a quietly nice floor, Irving gets to attack a Dallas squad that has allowed the 11th-most FanDuel points per game to opposing point guards.

Darius Garland ($5,700): Garland's season has been interesting as the Cleveland Cavaliers have dramatically reshaped their roster. Over the past two weeks, Garland is still second on the Cavs in usage (25.0%), third in FanDuel points per minute (0.87), and is one of the few Cleveland players with a defined rotational spot -- and a great one -- averaging 37.8 minutes per game. He's got at least eight assists in three straight games. Cleveland sees the biggest pace-up spot on the entire slate, and Garland is an affordable path to get exposure to it against a 76ers team that loves to play fast and has much less blowout potential missing one of their stars.

Other Notable Plays: Luka Doncic ($10,600), Mike Conley ($6,200), Theo Maledon ($4,300)

Shooting Guard

DeMar DeRozan ($7,600): DeRozan, as mentioned in the intro, is a question mark with a personal issue, but his situation is far more optimistic than the handful of his teammates already ruled out of the contest due to COVID-19 protocol. The Spurs' season has been so badly disrupted by COVID-19 that there is not a lot of recent data on how DeRozan would integrate back into a team that has shifted toward Dejounte Murray without him, but there is plenty of upside remaining. Considering the number of Spurs out due to the protocol, DeRozan would likely get his top-shelf role back, and he has already surpassed 40 FanDuel points 12 times this season. And because of Murray's recent hot streak of scoring more than 55 FanDuel points in back-to-back games, DeRozan may come at a significantly lower draft percentage than Murray does at a position that is harder to fill.

Seth Curry ($4,700): Shooting guard does not have its usual punching power on this slate, but it is hard to turn down Curry, who will see a usage bump without Tobias Harris in this spot against Cleveland -- a team that sports the sixth-worst defensive rating in the NBA. Unlike Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons, Curry has a fairly low salary with the expectation to still see upwards of 30 minutes, and he has eclipsed 27 FanDuel points in back-to-back contests. With Harris and his large offensive role on the shelf, many Philadelphia players will be popular on Saturday, but Curry is one of their few bonafide value options with no role questions, and his 47% shooting from three-point land always brings scoring upside in any matchup.

Other Notable Plays: Collin Sexton ($6,900), Eric Bledsoe ($4,900), Lonnie Walker ($4,200)

Small Forward

Evan Fournier ($6,600): Back-to-back blowouts have cooled the momentum of Fournier inside the Orlando Magic offense, but as they continue to operate without a primary point guard, that ball-handling role has been filled by the Frenchman. Fournier is up to a 27.3% usage rate and 1.10 FanDuel points per minute in the past two weeks with the offensive hierarchy clearly defined -- Nikola Vucevic, Fournier, and Terrence Ross off the bench. No other Orlando player sports better than 21.3% usage. Fournier's path to a ceiling at this salary is simply just the game staying within reach, as he averaged 39.3 FanDuel points per game in the three close contests he has played since returning from injury. The Magic are distant 10.5-point underdogs to the Utah Jazz on Saturday, but Utah is at least on the second half of a Florida back-to-back after losing to the Miami Heat on Friday.

Justin Holiday ($4,500): Few things generally surprise me during research as a daily participant in basketball DFS, but Justin Holiday's recent stretch of games certainly did. Holiday is notorious for his unproductive 0.67 FanDuel points per minute and logging a lot of empty minutes for the Indiana Pacers. But quietly, Holiday has started to put together some good production. Over the past four games, he has averaged 26.7 FanDuel points per night and has posted more than 28 FanDuel points in three of the four contests. That is major upside at this salary for a player with no role concerns or questions (33.9 minutes per game in February). And while his usage is still extremely low, the time may be right to buy into Holiday's usual low salary before it climbs with his production.

Other Notable Plays: RJ Barrett ($5,400), Josh Richardson ($4,500), Dorian Finney-Smith ($4,200)

Power Forward

Julius Randle ($8,900): Up to this point in this primer, there has been a little more emphasis than usual on saving salary, as the frontcourt has plenty of names worth spending salary on. New York Knicks forward Randle is never going to get a hard "no" from me, because a player with a 29.0% usage and 11.65 rebounds per 36 minutes the past two weeks is a constant triple-double threat with a great floor/ceiling combination. Randle may also see a slight uptick in usage again if Elfrid Payton cannot go due to his hamstring injury, and that certainly does not hurt matters. If there is one concern around Randle, it is this particular matchup against the Pacers. So far this season, Indiana has held him to 15.0 real-world points per game, compared to his 23.3 season-long average, but the Knicks' rotation from those previous clashes in December was vastly different than the current one being uplifted by the first-time All-Star.

Zion Williamson ($8,800): The salary is elevated on the New Orleans Pelicans' star, but it might still be too low for a player who is seemingly improving game to game. Zion has averaged 27.6 points per game this month, and it might be getting better as he continues to get the frontcourt largely to himself. Steven Adams is down to just 24.1 minutes per game in February, and Williamson sees a 3.0-percentage-point increase in usage over the entire season when Adams is off the floor. Williamson's rebounding is actually his largest area of opportunity in terms of fantasy production, as his February mark of 6.0 rebounds per game is down from January's 7.2 boards per game. But even if his board work stays at the current level, he's a fantastic play on a nightly basis.

Other Notable Plays: Darius Bazley ($5,400), Royce O'Neale ($4,400), Trey Lyles ($4,000)


Karl-Anthony Towns ($9,700): With Malik Beasley now suspended and D'Angelo Russell still out of action, the 'Wolves are going to largely surround their offense around Towns and first-round pick Anthony Edwards. Edwards will be a popular choice on Saturday due to the positional replacement and fit, but it is actually Towns who has seen a gigantic bump this season when Malik Beasley sits. Towns has a 36.0% usage without Beasley, which is 8.7 percentage points higher than his season-long average, and his scoring averages shoot through the roof as well, as KAT averages 34.29 real-world points per 36 minutes with Beasley out. The Washington Wizards remain a terrible defense (fourth-worst defensive rating in the NBA), so even at this lofty salary, Towns is worth a look as the primary offensive option in the best game of the day in terms of pace.

Other Notable Plays: Jarrett Allen ($8,300), DeAndre Jordan ($5,400)

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.