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 up for someone. Even with strong value plays in your lineup, paying up and getting a dud is likely going to leave your lineup drawing pretty close to dead.
Which top players should be the focal points of your lineups today?
Nikola Jokic, C, Denver Nuggets ($11,600)
In NBA2K22, you basically just hog the ball to grind badges and attribute upgrades in their "MyCareer" mode.
That's what it looks like Nikola Jokic is doing for Denver with Michael Porter Jr., Jamal Murray, and Will Barton all on the shelf. Murray hasn't played this season, but Jokic has a 38.5% usage rate that he's turned into 1.88 FanDuel points per minute in 103.2 minutes this season without any of the three on the floor.
He is well-positioned to match his monstrous, 66.1 FanDuel-point outing from Monday in Thursday's contest with Philadelphia. The Nuggets are still 7.5-point favorites as the Sixers still don't have Joel Embiid, and Denver and Philadelphia are actually both top-16 teams in pace this season after the Nuggets were the slowest team in the NBA a year ago.
The only flaw in Jokic's profile is that he clogs center from potential value options, but his tremendous floor is worth that issue.
Jimmy Butler, F, Miami Heat ($9,700)
Off an ankle sprain, Butler commanded a 31.0% usage rate in 36 minutes as Miami was without Bam Adebayo and Kyle Lowry for the contest. He dropped in 58 FanDuel points, which was his 7th outing of 50-plus FanDuel points in his last 10 games. His production seems just here to stay.
Miami will get Lowry back off a night of rest, but Adebayo is still a question mark with his knee issue. Still, Butler has a multitude of ways to score his points beyond just scoring -- including 1.9 steals per game (11th in the NBA).
At a weak wing position with Paul George losing the slightest bit of work to his teammates, Butler makes sense as the Heat take on the upstart Wizards. He's easy to stack with Washington value options like Raul Neto as the Wizards rest Spencer Dinwiddie on Thursday.
Donovan Mitchell, G, Utah Jazz ($8,600)
Mitchell's role is among the best in the entire league. He is fourth amongst all qualifying players in usage rate (34.1%) in all floor situations, and he's averaging a 1.24 FanDuel points per minute mark that should be well worth this salary.
Mitchell, though, usually sees 36-plus minutes in games the Jazz need him. But the problem is that Mitchell has played 32 or fewer minutes in four of the last six games as they bludgeon teams on their homestand.
It's definitely a risk again Thursday. Utah is a 9.5-point home favorite over the scrappy Toronto Raptors, but the matchup is too solid to ignore for a potential blowout. Toronto has the ninth-worst defensive rating (108.8) in the league, and this matchup features two top-12 teams in terms of pace.
Mitchell has still exceeded 44 FanDuel points in six of the Jazz's last eight games despite the myriad of blowouts, so his floor is pretty serviceable with a great ceiling if Toronto keeps things tighter than the 35-point margin they secured over the Sixers on Tuesday.