FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Thursday 3/18/21

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

All injury updates are via the NBA's official injury report or numberFire's player news.

Slate Overview

This table is via Brandon Gdula's matchup sheet -- it shows the over/under for each game, as well as each team's spread and implied total. The table also includes each squad's offensive rating, adjusted for opponent, as well as opponent-adjusted defensive rating for the opposing team, including the respective league-wide ranks for each of those ratings.

Teams are sorted by their implied total.

Team Opp Over/
Spread Implied
Rank Opp Adj.
UTAH WSH 236.0 -10.5 123.25 122.2 2 116.2 27
POR NO 241.0 -1.0 121.0 120.0 7 121.2 28
PHX MIN 229.5 -10.5 120.0 118.0 8 116.2 26
NO POR 241.0 1.0 120.0 120.2 6 122.2 29
ATL OKC 226.5 -7.0 116.75 114.3 11 110.3 12
LAL CHA 225.5 -7.5 116.50 112.0 14 113.3 19
WSH UTAH 236.0 10.5 112.75 105.5 23 105.6 4
OKC ATL 226.5 7.0 109.75 99.1 27 113.4 21
MIN PHX 229.5 10.5 109.50 101.6 26 106.5 5
CHA LAL 225.5 7.5 109.0 110.9 16 101.2 1
NY ORL 208.5 -6.5 107.50 105.6 22 113.9 23
ORL NY 208.5 6.5 101.0 98.3 28 106.9 7

Point Guard


Damian Lillard ($10,400) - As I outlined in the studs to target column, Lillard is a great play tonight. He'll be facing a team that he dropped 50 real-life and 68.2 FanDuel points on just two days ago. In fact, two of Dame's three best fantasy performances this season have come against the New Orleans Pelicans. New Orleans ranks dead last against points guards over their last 15 games, according to FantasyPros. The Portland Trail Blazers carry the second-highest implied total on the night, so we'll want exposure to those points by rostering Lillard.

Other Studs to Consider (in order of preference):
Chris Paul ($6,900) - Has at least 36.7 FanDuel points in 16 of his last 24 games. Minnesota has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing point guards this season.
LaMelo Ball ($8,200) - Potential tournament differentiator after managing only 29.8 and 19.2 FanDuel points in his last two. Lakers have been fourth-most-generous to the position over their last 15 games.

Value Play

Raul Neto ($3,500) - With Russell Westbrook's status unclear (was listed as out, now listed as "available"), Neto looks like he could be one of the best value options on tonight's slate. The 28-year-old has eclipsed 20 FanDuel points in three of his last four games, and at the minimum salary, he would only need 16.5 to return 5X value (or 5.0 fantasy points for every $1,000 in salary). With Westbrook off the court, Neto averages a rock-solid 0.94 FanDuel points per minute, according to RotoGrinders.

Other Mid-Range and Value Options:
Ricky Rubio ($5,400) - Put up 47.4 FanDuel points on Monday and is averaging 34.0 over his last five games. Malik Beasley, Jordan McLaughlin, and Jarrett Culver are all still out for the Wolves.
Lonzo Ball ($6,700) - Has at least 37.1 fantasy points in 6 of his last 12. Portland ranks fifth-worst against the point in 2020-21.

Shooting Guards


Donovan Mitchell ($8,300) - The Washington Wizards are ninth-worst against two-guards over their last 15 games, which certainly helps Mitchell's outlook. The 24-year-old has had at least 41.8 FanDuel points in 10 of his last 17 games, and he averaged 45.3 in seven games without Mike Conley in the lineup -- that includes outputs of 51.1, 53.1, and 61.3 fantasy points. No team has a higher implied total than the Utah Jazz tonight, so an explosive performance within the realistic realm of possibilities.

Other Studs to Consider:
Bradley Beal ($9,500) - Beal might be the stud to target if Westbrook can't go. In six games with Brodie not in the lineup, Beal has averaged 55.4 fantasy points per game.
Devin Booker ($7,500) - Has recorded 32-plus fantasy points in 16 of his last 17, including nine outputs of 37.3-plus. Dropped a season-high 57.5 in his last matchup with Minnesota.

Value Play

Joe Ingles ($4,400) - Ingles could end being one of the best value plays on the slate with Conley out. In seven games with Conley inactive this season, Ingles has averaged 29.8 FanDuel points per game, and that includes four outings with at least 34.1. As I'm sure you're aware, the matchup with Washington is a good one.

Other Mid-Range and Value Options:
Reggie Bullock ($3,800) - Has 22 or more FanDuel points in three of his last five games and New York will be without Immanuel Quickley for this one. Orlando ranks 27th versus shooting guards this campaign.
Talen Horton-Tucker ($3,700) - Has 30.4 and 38.8 fantasy points in his last two for the shorthanded Lakers. Charlotte is allowing the fifth-most fantasy points to shooting guards over their last 15.
Jordan Clarkson ($5,200) - Like Mitchell and Ingles, Clarkson should benefit from Conley's absence.

Small Forward


LeBron James ($10,800) - LeBron is one of only two small forwards projected to score more than 34.5 FanDuel points by our models on tonight's slate. James is our algorithm's top-projected scorer on the entire slate, edging out Lillard by 2.3 fantasy points. The matchup is titillating, as the Hornets are surrendering the second-most fantasy points to small forwards, per numberFire's DvP tool. LeBron smashed the Timberwolves for 56.4 fantasy points on Tuesday, making it the fourth time in his last eight games that he's surpassed 56.

Other Studs to Consider:
Brandon Ingram ($7,800) - Has at least 37.3 fantasy points in 7 of his last 11 bouts, including five with more than 40. Portland has been tough on small forwards all season.
Gordon Hayward ($7,300) - Has more than 50 in two of his last five but fewer than 31 in the other three. The Lakers are second-stingiest to small forwards in 2020-21.

Value Play

RJ Barrett ($5,900) - Barrett was going to be a recommended play even before Quickley was declared out, but now it's been cemented in stone. The 20-year-old has accrued 29 or more FanDuel points in seven of his last eight, including 33.6, 41.2, and 50.5 in his last three. On the season, the Magic rank 26th against small forwards. numberFire's algorithm projects Barrett for 32.7 fantasy points, making him the second-best value option at the position -- that could get even loftier when Quickley's absence is factored in.

Other Mid-Range and Value Options:
Josh Hart ($4,700) - Put up 34.8 against the Blazers on Tuesday and has now recorded at least 27 in four of his last seven.
Mikal Bridges ($4,900) - Has topped 24 FanDuel points 25 times this season. The Wolves are allowing the second-most fantasy points to small forwards over their last 15 contests.
Terrence Ross ($5,900) - Tough matchup, but he has popped for 32 or more fantasy points in 9 of his last 12 efforts. Ross is questionable tonight with right knee soreness.

Power Forward


Zion Williamson ($8,400) - After three straight duds coming out of the All-Star break, Zion rebounded against these same Trail Blazers on Tuesday with 47 FanDuel points -- he also dropped 54.2 on them just over a month ago. The three underwhelming performances out of the break were clearly due to blowouts, as the Pels entered the fourth quarter of those three contests with an average of 28.7. Tonight's draw has a spread of just one point, so that's not likely to be something we have to lose sleep over.

Other Studs to Consider:
Julius Randle ($9,200) - Has at least 47 FanDuel points in six of his last eight. Orlando ranks 20th against power forwards this season.
John Collins ($7,500) - My preferred spend at the position if Clint Capela doesn't suit up. Is in play regardless against an Oklahoma City interior that's allowed the most fantasy points to power forwards over their last 15 games.

Value Play

Jae Crowder ($3,800) or Dario Saric ($3,800) - Both Crowder and Saric are benefitting from Cam Johnson's absence and are in play against a Minnesota team that's ceded the fourth-most fantasy points to power forwards over their last 15 games. Crowder is a pretty safe bet, as he's managed at least 21.9 fantasy points in four of his last five. However, he has maxed out at 26.5 over his last 10 games. Meanwhile, Saric has put up 18.6 or more fantasy points in eight of his last nine, including one outing with 32.5 in the beginning of March.

Other Mid-Range and Value Options:
Royce O'Neale ($4,400) - Has amassed 24-plus fantasy points in 8 of his last 13. Wizards are 29th against the position this season.
Kyle Kuzma ($6,000) - Has 34.0, 42.1, and 45.1 fantasy points prior to Tuesday's 21.1-point dud. Charlotte has given up the third-most fantasy points to power forwards this season.
Aleksej Pokusevski ($4,300) - Has seen 29.4 or more minutes in four straight. Posted 32.1 and 44.0 FanDuel points in two of those games, with 13.4 and 14.1 in the other two. Has a middling matchup tonight.



Rudy Gobert ($8,700) - This one is rather clear-cut -- Gobert has showcased tremendous upside of late and will be facing a Wizards team that's allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing centers this season. In his last six games, Rudy has had outputs of 47.1, 52.3, and 77.1 FanDuel points, among others. He certainly has that kind of upside tonight.

Other Studs to Consider:
Deandre Ayton ($6,800) - Has now exceeded 36 FanDuel points in four of his last seven games and faces a Wolves defense that ranks dead last against centers. That said, Minnesota has been tougher on the position lately.
Clint Capela ($8,100) - Must be considered if he suits up. Capela has surpassed 47 fantasy points in four of his last five games. OKC ranks 21st versus the opposition's centers in 2020-21.
Nikola Vucevic ($10,000) - Has eclipsed 48 fantasy points in 6 of his last 10. Knicks are 22nd against fives this season.

Value Play

Alex Len ($3,500) - Len amassed 29.9 FanDuel points in 23.9 minutes last night, making it the second time in three games that he'd managed at least 23.2 fantasy points. At the minimum salary, that output would be more than enough to return adequate value. Tonight, Len will go up against a Jazz team that's allowed the 11th-most fantasy points to opposing centers over their last 15 games.

Other Mid-Range and Value Options:
Moses Brown ($4,400) - Al Horford's return to the lineup should limit Brown's rostership, but he may still be a viable play. Brown had accumulated 24.4 and 24.8 fantasy points in his last two games with Horford active.
Nerlens Noel ($4,900) - Has 25.9-plus fantasy points in five of his last eight. That said, Orlando is third-stingiest to opposing centers this season.