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?
Stephen Curry, G, Golden State Warriors ($10,800)
Standards at the top aren't as high on Tuesday's three-game slate.
There aren't a lot of stars with a comfortable median projection at their salary, so the focus is on upside in tournaments. Eight days ago, Stephen Curry posted a season-high for any player with 86.4 FanDuel points, and that definitely qualifies.
The Warriors guard should surprise no one when he scored 30-plus points at this stage. Where Curry has taken his largest fantasy leap in 2021 thus far are his peripheral stats. Curry's 7.24 assists and 6.75 rebounds per 36 minutes would both be high-water marks for him since his 2014 MVP season, and that could even rise in lieu of scoring as Klay Thompson returns.
The Dubs face off with Brooklyn in the game of the day on Tuesday. The potential championship preview of top teams includes a 221.5-point total and two squads that are top-11 teams in terms of pace.
Steph is the clear top target on the Golden State side for it.
Kevin Durant, F, Brooklyn Nets ($10,600)
Game theory is a massive component of small NBA slates in any tournament format.
Would Kevin Durant at this salary be a priority on a full slate? Likely not. He's failed to hit desired "value" at this salary in 11 of his 14 games this season, and frankly, it's not surprising. Durant doesn't have much to play for right now, and the Nets bludgeon most teams nightly now with a deeper bench and two top-five players on the planet.
His median projection, therefore, isn't great. But his upside is there.
Durant's scored 55-plus FanDuel points three times this season. They've all been on national television, and Durant's averaged a 36.0% usage rate in those games. That's a significant jump over his season-long 31.9% usage rate that includes those three contests.
Against his former team that he left in bizarre circumstances, the motivation to take on extra usage should be there once again. It may also go under-the-radar if other daily fantasy players simply just look at his recent performance relative to salary.
Paul George, F, Los Angeles Clippers ($10,000)
The forgotten star of the day might be Paul George, but he also has the best role.
George's FanDuel-point totals have cooled after a hot October. He's shooting just 41.7% from the field compared to his 50.0% mark from a month ago. Still, the good news is his role hasn't really changed.
George's season-long usage rate is 34.3%. That's actually increased to 34.9% in November through the tough stretch. The difference is fewer of his shots are falling, and more of Reggie Jackson's are. That's not a reason to avoid George at this reduced salary.
George has also played at least 36 minutes in seven of the eight games in November. He's getting court time that many stars are not at this stage, and that only boosts his floor.
Using George and Durant together -- when many will see them as a this-or-that choice -- is one of my favorite ways to be different on this three-game slate.