FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Saturday 4/3/21
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:
News with familiar stars will definitely impact Saturday's NBA daily fantasy slate. Joel Embiid has missed 10 games with his knee injury for the Philadelphia 76ers, but the center is listed questionable but has been projected to return and fill a huge void for Philly. The Washington Wizards will hope for the same from Bradley Beal, who has missed three games with a hip injury and is listed questionable once again.
The Indiana Pacers' stars have been on the struggle bus the past 24 hours, as well, as Domantas Sabonis was initially questionable for Friday's contest and played, but he was ruled out quickly after an in-game ankle injury and appears closer to doubtful for Saturday. Indiana also scratched Malcolm Brogdon late on Friday with a hip injury, and his status is unknown for Saturday.
The Cleveland Cavaliers will also travel to South Beach minus a couple of their big men, as Jarrett Allen will miss the game with a concussion, and Larry Nance Jr. will also be absent as he fights a non-COVID related illness.
Ben Simmons ($7,800): There is always an opportunity to buy low in blowout situations, and all 76ers options are on the table as a result of three straight games with shortened minutes for starters due to noncompetitive games. Strangely enough, Simmons may welcome Joel Embiid back with open arms in terms of his fantasy production if Embiid indeed returns Saturday. Simmons averages 1.15 FanDuel points per minute in games with Embiid this year, but he has struggled mightily the past week without him at just 1.02 FanDuel points per minute for that period of time. The Minnesota Timberwolves also give up the third-most FanDuel points per game to opposing point guards.
Goran Dragic ($4,800): The new Miami Heat rotation is certainly in flux as they welcome Victor Oladipo into the fold, but before a maintenance day on Thursday, Dragic did start the previous two games. Dragic is still second on the Heat in usage (25.0%), and that largely has come from playing off the bench and not sharing the court with Jimmy Butler as much, so it is not as if Dragic would be significantly impacted if he's moved to the bench. At 0.96 FanDuel points per minute on the season, Dragic is at least interesting when there is a path to 30-plus minutes against a poor Cleveland defense.
DeMar DeRozan ($8,000): DeRozan's floor has been his fantasy value for years, but it actually has been his ceiling this season which has made him an attractive DFS option. In a shaky San Antonio Spurs rotation, DeRozan is still the guy to target, posting the highest usage (29.1%) and FanDuel points per minute (1.15) over the past two weeks of anyone averaging at least 20 minutes for the Spurs. DeRozan also saw a slight salary decrease despite his outburst of 54.5 FanDuel points against the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday, but that was in 46 minutes due to double-overtime.
Tyrese Haliburton ($5,600): Try to not fall out of your seat, but a young, talented Sacramento Kings player has a poor floor in daily fantasy but is absolutely still worth consideration in many spots. Haliburton has still eclipsed 35 FanDuel points in three of his past seven games and sees a nice matchup against the slightly faster Milwaukee Bucks -- at least in terms of pace. Haliburton's presence as a shooter will be valuable against the Bucks, who surrender the fourth-most three-point makes in the NBA and are on the second night of a back-to-back.
Khris Middleton ($7,500): On the other side of Haliburton in one of the better fantasy games of the day, Khris Middleton presents a floor to the rookie's ceiling. Middleton has scored at least 33 FanDuel points in seven of his last nine games, which is plenty valuable at a challenging small-forward spot on this slate. Middleton is also due for some scoring regression, as despite averaging 20.3 real-world points on the year, he has failed to surpass 20 points for three straight games for the first time all season. The blowout risk is less heavy than usual for Milwaukee, as well, as they are just 6.5-point road favorites against Sacramento.
Deni Avdija ($4,000): A talented lottery pick seeing more than 30 minutes in a plus matchup at $4,000. There is a very simple equation to land on Avdija, but he likely is only a core play if Bradley Beal missed Saturday. If that is the case, Avdija makes for an affordable plug to save salary at an extremely weak position, but the starting lineup news will be critical to determine his FanDuel viability. Avdija has a great matchup with the Dallas Mavericks if he does get his opportunity, as Dallas has allowed the sixth-most FanDuel points per game to opposing small forwards.
Julius Randle ($9,000): The emergence of RJ Barrett has eaten into Julius Randle's role slightly, but Barrett has always been a hot-and-cold pro who recently is far out-performing his season-long and career averages. That makes Randle, the New York Knicks' do-it-all forward, an interesting consideration in what should not be a tremendously popular spot, as Randle is just averaging 37.4 FanDuel points over his past four games. He has still been the go-to guy in terms of usage (28.2%) and FanDuel points per minute (1.09) for New York the past two weeks through this proverbial cold spell, which means his ceiling is still at its usual sky-high level.
Dean Wade ($4,600): Many DFS players may opt to spend down at both power forward spots to harness some of the Cavaliers' value options due to the absence of normal starters Jarrett Allen and Larry Nance. Of the Cavs' value picks, Wade is the go-to option for me, as the smaller four man seems able to play in more situations and roles, and that led him to a team-high 38 minutes on Thursday -- including some blowout run. This is a truly fascinating DFS situation, as Wade is the lower-ceiling, higher-minute option, Kevin Love is by far the most talented option but is on a minutes limit, and Isaiah Hartenstein has produced the best on a per-minute basis but has also struggled with fouls. Exposure to all three may be key in tournaments.
Other Notable Plays: Harrison Barnes ($5,800), Kevin Love ($4,500), Isaiah Hartenstein ($4,300)
Wendell Carter Jr. ($6,200): Carter has huge shoes to fill in Orlando Magic with Nikola Vucevic getting sent out. Thursday's contest against the New Orleans Pelicans was a great start, as Carter stuffed the stat sheet with 21 points and 12 boards in a 39.4 FanDuel-point performance. There should be no reason to expect a reduction in the 30 minutes he saw in that contest. At a team-high 1.29 FanDuel points per minute since being acquired by Orlando, Carter is by far the most productive and trustable option on a Magic squad lacking overall talent, and that should continue to keep opportunities coming his way.
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.