FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Tuesday 5/18/21

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.

Point Guard

Russell Westbrook (FanDuel Salary: $13,000) - Westbrook, who has at least 50.0 FanDuel points in nine straight games, is a fascinating case today at $13,000. No other player on the two-game slate has a salary higher than $10,300.

Notably, Westbrook has struggled against the Boston Celtics this year, averaging 36.4 FanDuel points and 1.11 FanDuel points per minute in three games. However, the superstar fantasy guard averages 1.37 FanDuel points against top-10 point guard defenses usually.

He's not the best per-salary-dollar value on the slate or even at the position (he's actually fourth there in my model and fifth in numberFire's model), but if Westbrook goes off, nobody can really catch him on this slate. My model puts his ceiling at 68.6 FanDuel points, a full 10.0 more FanDuel points than anyone else's.

LaMelo Ball ($7,200) - Ball is rating as the best value at point guard for me. He is getting a bottom-10 point guard defense with the Indiana Pacers. Ball has taken 22, 19, 9, 10, 15, and 21 shot attempts in his past six games. He's also top-15 in touches per game over the closing five games of the regular season, so it's a pretty easy case to make for a solid outing.

Pacers Situation - The Pacers are listing a lot of guys as out or questionable. If Malcolm Brogdon ($7,300; considered a true game-time decision) is out, we can target T.J. McConnell ($6,900). Edmond Sumner ($3,900) is also questionable. Caris LeVert ($9,200; a shooting guard on FanDuel) would also get a boost. Keep an eye out here.

Others to Consider: Kemba Walker ($8,200), Malcolm Brogdon ($7,300)/T.J. McConnell ($6,900)/Edmond Sumner ($3,900)

Shooting Guard

Terry Rozier ($7,200) - Rozier is coming into the play-in with heavy minutes and good form: 40.3 minutes per game and 41.3 FanDuel points per game over his past five, all losses for the Charlotte Hornets, by the way. He's averaging 18.0 shots, 5.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists, and 2.0 steals, giving him a ton of volume and peripheral stats. He ranks just outside the top-10 in touches per game in that span.

Marcus Smart ($5,700) - Smart ranks as numberFire's third-best value overall and leads the way at shooting guard, per my model, as well. Smart has been steady: at least 21.1 FanDuel points in each of his past six games -- but just getting past 30.0 FanDuel points in one of them. He's a good mix of salary savings and safety, but we shouldn't expect a huge ceiling.

Others to Consider: Caris LeVert ($9,200), Bradley Beal ($10,000), Devonte' Graham ($6,400)

Small Forward

Miles Bridges ($6,800) - Small forward is really barren of big plays, and I'd have to think it's Evan Fournier ($7,100) who gets the most love overall, but Bridges is getting a much better individual matchups (the Pacers rank 26th against opposing small forwards since the trade deadline, per my database; the Washington Wizards are 14th). Bridges has put up 45.0 and 30.8 FanDuel points on heavy shot volume (21 and 18 attempts) in his two games since returning from health and safety protocols.

Rui Hachimura ($5,100) - Hachimura saves us $2,000 from Fournier and rates out similarly to Fournier when adjusted for salary in my model. Hachimura's splits are mostly unchanged when sharing the floor with Westbrook and Beal, via RotoGrinders' CourtIQ. The floor has been solid: between 18.1 and 26.2 FanDuel points over his past five games.

Others to Consider: Evan Fournier ($7,100), Oshae Brissett ($5,700), Caleb Martin ($3,500)

Power Forward

Jayson Tatum ($10,000) - With Domantas Sabonis ($10,300) questionable, I'm just going to focus on Tatum for the write-up, but a healthy Sabonis does rate out a little better than Tatum in my model. Tatum's Celtics hold the highest implied total of the night (though they're all fairly close), and Tatum is on quite a heater: 50.0 or more FanDuel points in four of his past six games. His usage rate is 34.5% without Jaylen Brown, and his per-minute FanDuel point rate is 1.33, via RotoGrinders.

Building around Tatum and Sabonis rather than Westbrook is a really intriguing route, as well.

Davis Bertans ($4,500) - Power forward has some pretty strong options, including Tatum and Sabonis at the top and PJ Washington ($7,200), but if we're looking to save salary and get to Westbrook, his teammate rates out well enough. Bertans' ceiling is effectively capped: he has surpassed 31.8 FanDuel points just one time this season. What really stands out is that Bertans has started two games to close out the season, leading to double-digit shot attempts in each.

Others to Consider: Domantas Sabonis ($10,300; the top power forward if healthy), PJ Washington ($7,200), Jalen McDaniels ($4,900)


Cody Zeller ($5,000) - Center is an auto-save spot because no player has a salary higher than $5,500. Zeller at least has the best matchup among the options, as the Pacers rank 28th against opposing centers since the deadline. Zeller's per-minute FanDuel rate is 1.05 on the season and jumps to 1.14 against bottom-10 center defenses over 17 games this season.

Others to Consider: Tristan Thompson ($4,400), Robert Williams ($5,500)