If you're new to daily fantasy basketball -- maybe you started your DFS journey during the MLB or NFL seasons, or maybe basketball is your sport and this will be your first year giving it a shot -- you're in for a treat. 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 basketball is very reliant on a player's opportunity, so you'll need to make sure that you're up-to-date with key injuries. Our projections update up until tip-off to reflect current news, we have player news updates, and the FanDuel Scout app will send push notifications for pressing updates regarding your players.
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.
Let's break down today's main slate on FanDuel.
The Slate and Key Injuries
Away Home Game
Pace Golden StateDetroit210108.5101.51710 IndianaCharlotte214106108163 LA LakersBoston214.5106.5108222 OrlandoBrooklyn213.5100.511398 Oklahoma CityMilwaukee215101.25113.7576 LA ClippersNew Orleans216.5110106.51417 ChicagoDenver209.5103.25106.251030 DallasPhoenix211.5101.75109.75204 TorontoSacramento220108.25111.75274
Evaluating the NBA slate this morning is a guessing game with all the stars as total question marks.
From there, LeBron James is the next hurdle to clear. James is questionable to return from an abdominal injury on Friday, although the Woj Bomb predicting he'd reappear Friday in Boston makes it seem as if he's a decent bet to return for Los Angeles. On the other side of that game, Jaylen Brown (hamstring) and Robert Williams (knee) are both unknown commodities to return for the Celtics.
Thankfully, though, a bulk of the injury news is with stars at the top, and many might play. Salaries still haven't adjusted to OG Anunoby's announced absence with a hip issue. On Thursday, Khem Birch started for Toronto and saw decent minutes.
James Harden ($9,900): This looks like a slate to spend on bigs and forwards, but Harden works if a high-salaried guard piques your interest. Over the past three games, Harden (31.0% usage) has overtaken Kevin Durant (27.8%) in the team's pecking order. Harden likely has been more assertive as his shooting woes have subsided; he's shot over 46% from the field in four of the last five games. Orlando's 110.5 defensive rating (fourth-worst in the NBA) isn't scary, either.
De'Aaron Fox ($7,800): Fox has eclipsed value in three of the last five games at this salary, and on Wednesday, he failed to do so but still scored 28 points. Fox's concern early in the season was his shot (37.7% field goal percentage in October), but like Harden, he's posted an improved mark (at least 42%) in four of the last five games. The 220.0-point total between his Kings and the Raptors is a great target considering Toronto is also on the second leg of a back-to-back.
Jalen Brunson ($6,500): No salary adjustment means no gameplan adjustment. Brunson started, saw 36 minutes, and dropped in 39.3 FanDuel points for the Mavericks on Wednesday in this identical matchup with Phoenix. The Villanova alum had a 25.9% usage rate on Wednesday -- decently in line with his 27.4% usage rate this season in floor situations without Luka. His 8.71 assists per 36 minutes without Doncic this season give him a better second avenue to FanDuel points than Tim Hardaway Jr.
Others to Consider:
Fred VanVleet ($8,400): We expected a 35-plus percent usage rate this season for him without Kyle Lowry, but Anunoby's emergence stunted that. Does it take place now?
Devonte' Graham ($5,800): He's been awful recently, but his minutes and usage rate (22.0%) are still there in a game I want to stack.
Bruce Brown Jr. ($4,700): No salary adjustment despite two games with 30-plus FanDuel points without Joe Harris. That works.
Patrick Mills ($4,000): Also no salary adjustment despite 31-plus minutes and eclipsing value in two games without Harris. Also works.
Paul George ($10,100): George was pretty mediocre (40 FanDuel points) in a game last night versus a stingy Memphis Grizzlies defense, but he's in a solid bounce-back spot even on the second leg of two in two. George's 35.2% usage the past week is actually up from his season-long mark (34.9%) despite better scoring outputs from his teammates recently. New Orleans' 113.2 defensive rating is the worst in the NBA, and they play at a fast enough pace (17th) for opportunities to exploit it.
Will Barton ($6,400): Back injuries are a kind I get squeamish about, but Barton seemed totally normal dropping in 19 points, 9 boards, and 8 assists on Thursday. Now recovered, he likely plays against the Bulls on Friday, and his role should be huge once again. Barton has taken at least 14 shots in five of the six games without Michael Porter Jr., so he is definitively the "Robin" to Nikola Jokic's "Batman". The expectation personally is Jokic plays, but that still leaves plenty of room for "Trill".
Josh Hart ($5,200): The Pelicans' coaching staff is finally realizing that Hart helps their defense considerably, and he's getting solid minutes for it. He's seen at least 37 minutes in three of the past four games -- all of which with Brandon Ingram back. He's a solid value plug in his new role, and numberFire's lofty projection might be selling him short considering it's only for 31.8 minutes of work.
Others to Consider:
Jayson Tatum ($9,300): I will get here regardless of Jaylen Brown's status. Better role without him, but better efficiency with him.
Scottie Barnes ($6,800): Prefer him to Gary Trent Jr. at similar salaries. Trent is scoring 30-plus to get to his totals, while Barnes hasn't scored more than 20 in four games. Better overall role.
Aaron Gordon ($5,100): Minutes? Check. Production? Not as much. A must if Jokic surprisingly sits.
Mikal Bridges ($5,100): Weird, but Bridges has a better usage rate and per-minute production with Deandre Ayton than without him. More of a wing, less of a big.
Kristaps Porzingis ($9,000): Porzingis didn't disappoint without Doncic on Wednesday. He dropped in 49.1 FanDuel points in just 31 minutes as the game got slightly out of hand late. He averages 1.48 FanDuel points per minute in floor situations without Doncic this season, and the matchup didn't prove to be debilitating on Wednesday. There's not a lot of quality stars with heightened current roles that are injury-free on the slate like Porzingis -- a surprise to fit that description, assuredly.
Domantas Sabonis ($8,700): The salary is the one drawback on the Pacers' big man. He is in a similar prime spot against Charlotte that he opened the season. Sabonis dropped 48 FanDuel points to open the year on the Hornets, and it's because they are terrible at defending his strengths. Charlotte allows the third-most points in the paint (48.7) and most second-most rebounds (49.3) per game to opponents in the league. His recent slump will likely leave him unpopular, too.
Draymond Green ($6,900): Narratives are largely overrated, but with NBA stars at times, it can be the primary fuel of motivation for players and teams coasting towards a deep playoff run. Green's return to his home state might spark some urgency at a reduced salary here. His ceiling is non-existent for tournaments, but he's worth highlighting as a cash game and single-entry option; he's posted at least 30 FanDuel points in each of the last four games -- many in blowouts. He becomes a building block if Steph sits with his injury. (Editor's Note: Green is out Friday along with Steph Curry. Check numberFire's projections for the best value plays in their space.)
Others to Consider:
Nikola Jokic ($11,300): Think he plays, and he's well worth it. 54.5 FanDuel points last night in a poor game that was a blowout loss.
Wendell Carter Jr. ($6,200): Well-projected by numberFire, but his minutes have been sporadic. The Nets' tendency to play small doesn't ease that concern, either.
Isaiah Stewart ($5,100): Salary hasn't budged despite cruising past value in three games without Kelly Olynyk. We ride again.
Khem Birch ($4,100): 24 minutes starting for Toronto last night. An even better matchup Friday; Sacramento allows the third-most offensive rebounds in the NBA.