3 NBA FanDuel Studs to Target on Thursday 5/6/21

With small forward lacking many viable options, is Kevin Durant worth targeting tonight? Which high-salaried players should we anchor our lineups with?

Basketball is the most consistent sport for daily fantasy purposes.

A top slugger in baseball will have his fair share of 0-for-4 days, and an elite fantasy football player is at risk of having games where his team's offense as a whole is shut down. A high-salaried NBA stud is generally going to get his, though. With so many possessions in a game providing opportunities to produce, top fantasy basketball options will be posting high scores just about every night.

While this consistency puts us in a good position to identify top plays, it also means you can't afford to miss when you're paying a heavy salary to roster someone. Even with strong value plays in your lineup, getting a dud from a stud is likely going to leave your lineup lacking.

Let's get right into it and look at which top players should be the focal points of your lineups today.

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

Fred VanVleet, SG, Toronto Raptors

FanDuel Salary: $8,000

It's not often that I completely disregard point guard in this column, but with so many viable players in great spots at the position, you can choose who to roster there based on your lineup build. Instead, we'll focus on the positions where the resources are more scarce -- and that starts with Fred VanVleet at shooting guard.

Not only is FVV our model's second-highest projected scorer at the position, but he's also numberFire's second-best point-per-dollar play among two-guards. Considering the lack of depth at the position tonight, that combination makes VanVleet a strong play.

Tonight, the Toronto Raptors are going up against a Washington Wizards squad that's on the back-end of a back-to-back. The 235 over/under for this match is the second-highest on the slate, while the three-point spread is the tightest we have as of right now, according to numberFire's Matchup Heat Map. Washington plays faster than any team in the league, per, making this an excellent pace-up spot for Toronto.

VanVleet's had a serious case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde lately, as he's racked up 53.7 or more FanDuel points in three of his last five, but has failed to eclipse 26 in the other two. A matchup with the Wizards usually leads to ceiling performances. On the season, the Wiz rank 25th against shooting guards, according to numberFire's DvP tool. Sign me up.

Kevin Durant, SF, Brooklyn Nets

FanDuel Salary: $10,600

The only thing thinner than the list of playable options at small forward is the hairline of Kevin Durant.

With the Brooklyn Nets vying for the top spot in the East while also trying to hold off the Milwaukee Bucks for a minimum of a top-two spot, Durant has been seeing big minutes, which, in turn, has led to rock-solid production for fantasy managers.

KD has seen at least 36.4 minutes of action in three straight outings, and he has garnered 54.2-plus FanDuel points in four of his last five. Now, while you might be able to attain higher ceilings from other players in this salary range, you'd be hard-pressed to get anywhere close to that at small forward.

Tonight, Brooklyn's contest with the Dallas Mavericks has an over/under of 234.5, and the Nets' implied total of 119 is tied for third-highest. In other words, Durant's volume is unlikely to take a dip here.

Going up against elite offenses has brought out the best in the league's best scorer. In nine matchups against teams that are inside the top-10 in offensive efficiency, Durant has averaged 32.4 real-life points (4.1 above his season average) to go along with 52 FanDuel points -- that includes five outputs of 54.2 or better.

I mentioned that small forward is extremely thin tonight, and our model very much agrees. With a projection of 47.4 FanDuel points, numberFire's algorithm has Durant out-scoring the third-ranked small forward by a whopping 15.8.

Domantas Sabonis, PF, Indiana Pacers

FanDuel Salary: $10,500

I featured Domantas Sabonis in this spot yesterday, and while he didn't bust, his 46.6 FanDuel points were nothing to write home about.

Obviously, the Indiana Pacers completely shitting pooping the bed against the Sacramento Kings had a lot to do with the big man's underwhelming performance, and I'd like to go right back to him tonight.

While it's not as thin as the other forward position, power forward is far from loaded on this slate, and yet Sabonis shouldn't be too chalk at all.

Over his last five games, the All-Star has totaled at least 44.3 fantasy points each time out, and that includes outputs of 54.5, 67.8, and 71.3. That'll do.

Indiana is still lacking plenty of key rotation players -- Myles Turner is out, JaKarr Sampson is doubtful, and Malcolm Brogdon, Jeremy Lamb, and Edmond Sumner are all questionable -- but Goga Bitadze's return (which did not go well) means that's Sabonis could end playing both the four and the five, as opposed to just lining up at center. That's great news because Atlanta has ceded the third-most fantasy points to power forwards over their last 30 games, according to FantasyPros.