FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Sunday 5/16/21

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.

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

Injury Overview

As you likely know, this slate has the potential to be pretty wild. There are a whole host of injury/rest situations at play, and you'll need to be locked in on player news and our updated projections until lock. This slate could be turned on its head after this piece is published, but I'll do the best I can with the info we have as of Sunday morning.

Point Guard


Trae Young ($8,700) - Of the four point guards with a salary above $8,000, Young is the top point-per-dollar play, according to our projections. He gets a dream matchup versus the Houston Rockets, who have allowed the third-most FanDuel points per game to point guards over their last 15 (52.4). This game has a 231.0-point total, the highest on the slate, and the Atlanta Hawks' 121.0-point implied total is a slate-best mark (as of early Sunday afternoon). We have Young going for 42.7 FanDuel points.

Other Studs to Consider (listed in order of preference): Damian Lillard ($9,900), Luka Doncic ($10,100).

Value Play

D.J. Augustin ($4,000) - This is going to be the case for every value play I get into on this slate, but injury/rest situations -- most of which will unfold as the day progresses -- will dictate a lot of the values. As of now, Augustin is our model's top value pick at point guard as we project him for 22.2 FanDuel points (5.56 per $1,000). Augustin gets the same fantasy-friendly environment we just talked about with Young, and he's generated 24.3 and 24.4 FanDuel points in two of his last three outings.

Other Mid-Range and Value Options: Killian Hayes ($5,200), Cole Anthony ($5,000).

Shooting Guard


C.J. McCollum ($7,900) - As of early Sunday, the Portland Trail Blazers are 11.0-point favorites versus the Denver Nuggets, so oddsmakers must be expecting Denver to sit some key players. As such, the Blazers carry a very appealing 120.75-point implied total. We rate McCollum as the best point-per-dollar play at shooting guard, and he's posted at least 33.6 FanDuel points in five straight.

Other Studs to Consider (listed in order of preference): Paul George ($8,300), James Harden ($10,300).

Value Play

Bruce Brown Jr. ($5,200) - The Brooklyn Nets are on a back-to-back, so they're a key team to watch on this slate. If they sit their stars, Brooklyn will offer up a ton of value. Brown feels point-chasey after his 41.9-FanDuel-point outburst on Saturday, but our model pegs him for 26.9 FanDuel points (5.17 per $1,000) today. He's recorded at least 31.7 FanDuel points in three consecutive outings.

Other Mid-Range and Value Options: Josh Jackson ($5,200), Joe Ingles ($5,500)

Small Forward


Kawhi Leonard ($8,200) - On a normal mid-season slate, Kawhi's status is worth monitoring, so that's especially true today against the lowly Oklahoma City Thunder. He's gotten more than 31 minutes of run only once in his past four games, but in a matchup with OKC, Leonard could feast even in a limited role. We forecast him to score 44.3 fantasy points in 34 minutes, which comes out to 5.43 per $1,000. He's the best point-per-dollar play among the top-shelf small forwards.

Other Studs to Consider (listed in order of preference): Jimmy Butler ($9,000), Khris Middleton ($7,400).

Value Play

Louis King ($5,200) - King was a slate-breaker in his last game, popping off for 56.3 FanDuel points at the minimum salary. He's received a salary bump for this one, but he should still be a premier value option. Our algorithm has him producing 28.4 FanDuel points in 27 minutes against the Utah Jazz. That's 5.46 per $1,000.

Other Mid-Range and Value Options: Mfiondu Kabengele ($3,500), Dorian Finney-Smith ($4,400).

Power Forward


Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,100) - We have Giannis projected for 52.9 FanDuel points today versus the Chicago Bulls, which is 14.6 more than any other power forward not named Anthony Davis (and Davis is on a back-to-back). There's big opportunity cost in not using Giannis, and given the value that's likely to open up throughout the day, getting to his salary shouldn't be a big deal.

Other Studs to Consider (listed in order of preference): Anthony Davis ($10,600), Kristaps Porzingis ($7,000).

Value Play

Aleksej Pokusevski ($3,500) - Across all positions, Pokusevski is the slate's best point-per-dollar play as of early Sunday, per our model. We project him to amass 30.3 FanDuel points (7.21 per $1,000), and he may get some run against the Los Angeles Lakers' backups if this game gets out of hand. He's played 31 and 32 minutes in back-to-back games. We'll have to see how things stand later this evening, but as of now, power forward looks like the best place to find good low-salary options.

Other Mid-Range and Value Options: D.J. Wilson ($4,500), Dean Wade ($5,000), Robert Covington ($4,900).



Nikola Jokic ($10,700) - As we talked about above, the Nuggets are 11.0-point 'dogs against Portland, so that may mean oddsmakers are expecting Jokic to sit. If that happens, Nikola Vucevic is a fine alternative at the top end of the center pool. But assuming Jokic plays, the likely MVP is projected for 54.0 FanDuel points by our algorithm. That's 5.04 per $1,000. Jokic has scored at least 50.2 FanDuel points in three straight.

Other Studs to Consider (listed in order of preference): Nikola Vucevic ($9,400), Joel Embiid ($9,700), Bam Adebayo ($8,200)

Value Play

Chimezie Metu ($4,800) - With Richaun Holmes out, Metu is an elite value option despite a tough matchup with the Jazz. Metu has totaled between 21.5 and 30.8 FanDuel points in four consecutive contests, and we have him putting up 29.0 tonight, which amounts to 6.04 per $1,000. He's one of the best value plays on the slate as things stand.

Other Mid-Range and Value Options: Jarrett Allen ($6,400), Dewayne Dedmon ($3,900).