FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Friday 5/14/21

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 eight-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 since the league's trade deadline.

Teams are sorted by their implied total.

Team Opp Over/
Spread Implied
Rank Opp Adj.
LAC HOU 229.5 -11.5 120.50 119.3 7 124.7 30
WSH CLE 230.5 -7.5 119.0 111.6 17 119.5 27
UTAH OKC 222.5 -13.5 118.0 119.3 8 124.2 29
GS NO 229.5 -5.5 117.50 113.6 12 109.2 7
MEM SAC 225.5 -8.5 117.0 118.0 9 118.6 26
PHI ORL 218.5 -13.5 116.0 109.8 19 120.2 28
DAL TOR 218.5 -13.5 116.0 117.0 11 111.5 10
DEN DET 217.5 -9.5 113.50 119.8 4 114.1 17
NO GS 229.5 5.5 112.0 105.9 23 110.6 9
CLE WSH 230.5 7.5 111.50 99.3 28 109.5 8
HOU LAC 229.5 11.5 109.0 103.8 24 106.1 5
SAC MEM 225.5 8.5 108.50 112.5 14 112.4 13
OKC UTAH 222.5 13.5 104.50 85.0 30 102.8 2
DET DEN 217.5 9.5 104.0 101.2 26 109.0 6
ORL PHI 218.5 13.5 102.50 93.3 29 103.4 4
TOR DAL 218.5 13.5 102.50 107.2 22 111.9 12

Point Guard

Russell Westbrook ($12,500) - Westbrook is probably the easiest play on tonight's complicated slate. Over his last seven games, Westbrook is averaging 71.5 FanDuel points per contest, including at least 67.5 in six of them. At 119.0 points, the Washington Wizards have the slate's second-highest implied total -- not that we need any more justification to roster Russ.

Rajon Rondo ($3,800) or Yogi Ferrell ($3,500) - Thus far, the Los Angeles Clippers have ruled out Patrick Beverley, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, and Terance Mann, while Reggie Jackson is listed as doubtful. That means that the primary ball-handling duties will fall on the shoulders of Rondo or even Ferrell. Rondo has racked up 21.7 or more FanDuel points in 8 of his last 15 games, including outputs of 25.7, 28.3, 35.1, and 38.5. He could easily post a number like that tonight if he gets a full allotment of minutes. If he's declared out between now and tipoff, Ferrell would be in a position to be one of the slate's top values.

Other Options (listed in order of preference): Tyus Jones ($4,200) Malachi Flynn ($5,600), Jordan Poole ($5,000), Luka Doncic ($10,100), Saben Lee ($4,100)

Shooting Guard

De'Anthony Melton ($3,600) - Get this -- the Memphis Grizzlies will be without Ja Morant, Grayson Allen, Jonas Valanciunas, Jaren Jackson Jr., Dillon Brooks, Brandon Clarke, and Kyle Anderson due to injuries and rest tonight. For now, that leaves Melton as one of the few players left who will actually, ya know, play. This season, Melton has played more than 22.4 minutes on 18 different occasions, and he has eclipsed 20 FanDuel points in 15 of those outings -- that includes performances of 27.8, 30.2, 32.3, 33.8, 35.1, 38.3, 39.0, 39.9, and 53.6. At just $100 more than the minimum salary, Melton has tremendous upside against a terrible Sacramento Kings defense. Doubling down on Memphis shooting guards by rostering Desmond Bane ($4,000) is certainly a viable option.

Khyri Thomas ($5,800) - Thomas is not just our model's top-projected point-per-dollar play at shooting guard, he's also predicted to be the top scorer at the position. With the Houston Rockets already having declared Kevin Porter Jr., Christian Wood, John Wall, Danuel House Jr., DaQuan Jeffries, Sterling Brown, D.J. Wilson, Eric Gordon, and Avery Bradley as out, Thomas should continue to see heavy minutes, this time against a Los Angeles Clippers team that will be without nearly half of its roster. Our algorithm has Thomas posting 39.7 fantasy points in 34.1 minutes of action.

Other Options: Desmond Bane ($4,000), Luke Kennard ($4,000), Justin James ($3,500), DeAndre Bembry ($3,900), Buddy Hield ($7,000)

Small Forward

Stanley Johnson ($3,500) - In today's episode of "Where the hell did that come from?" we present to you, Stanley Johnson. In 43.1 minutes against the Chicago Bulls last night, Johnson erupted for 35 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, and an astonishing 63.5 FanDuel points. Tonight, Johnson's at the minimum salary, and the Toronto Raptors have already ruled out Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam, Rodney Hood, and Paul Watson, while Jalen Harris and Yuta Watanabe are doubtful. Don't think twice about rostering Johnson.

Kent Bazemore ($4,900) - The Golden State Warriors are likely to be another team that rests most of their players tonight, as they could very well be without Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins, and Kelly Oubre (among others). That leaves Bazemore as the likely top option for this offense. Over the last six weeks or so, Bazemore's had seven games with at least 28.6 FanDuel points, including a 57.3-point outing toward the end of April. Our model has the 31-year-old projected for 29.9 tonight, making him one of the best plays at the position.

Other Options: Michael Porter Jr. ($7,600), Jontay Porter ($3,500), Justise Winslow ($3,500), Nicolas Batum ($4,300)

Power Forward

Kenyon Martin Jr. ($7,500) - As I outlined in today's studs column, Martin Jr. is one of the safest plays on this nine-gamer. KJ has averaged 44.1 fantasy points over his last five games, including a low-water mark of 39.8 during that stretch. Houston's short rotation should ensure that he sees a heavy dose of minutes, and he shouldn't have a tough time feasting on the Clippers' JV team.

Xavier Tillman ($3,900) - Over the last month or so, we've seen what Tillman can do when given serious minutes, something he's bound to get tonight given the state of the Grizzlies' roster. In the six games in which he's played more than 24 minutes this year, Tillman has averaged 30.1 FanDuel points. A matchup with the Kings only makes him more enticing.

Other Options: Marcus Morris ($4,300), Killian Tillie ($3,500), Juan Toscano-Anderson ($5,400), Freddie Gillespie ($3,800)


Nikola Jokic ($10,600) - There are enough value options on this slate that you should be able to afford to dish out elsewhere, and Jokic might be worth it. The Denver Nuggets are resting Aaron Gordon and Facundo Campazzo, but it seems like coach Mike Malone will have a tough time convincing the MVP frontrunner to sit one out. Jokic has had fewer than 50 fantasy points just once in his last seven games, and I'm sure he'd like to finish his likely MVP campaign with a strong statement. If Jokic is declared out, pivoting to Joel Embiid ($9,600) is a viable option.

Other Options: Joel Embiid ($9,600), JaVale McGee ($3,500), Chris Boucher ($6,400 - only if he starts), Chimezie Metu ($4,200), Jahlil Okafor ($3,600)