FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Thursday 11/18/21

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
Total Away
Implied
Total Home
Implied
Total Away
Pace Home
Pace Washington Miami 206 99.75 106.25 27 25 Golden State Cleveland 205 106.5 98.5 3 27 San Antonio Minnesota 221 109.25 111.75 1 11 LA Clippers Memphis 221 110 111 2 4 Philadelphia Denver 209 100.75 108.25 15 16 Toronto Utah 214.5 102.5 112 12 8


Thursday's five-game slate could be missing one of its biggest stars.

Fresh off an eruption in Brooklyn, Stephen Curry is questionable because of a hip injury against the Cavaliers. Cleveland is shorthanded, as well, so the Warriors may choose to play it safe with Curry given their depth and currently stellar record.

The Cavs will still be without Evan Mobley (elbow), but they could potentially get both Jarrett Allen (illness) and Lauri Markkanen (conditioning) back in a lineup that desperately needs help. The salaries were increased on Cleveland's role players, so there's minimal value here compared to Wednesday.

Miami may get Bam Adebayo back after a two-game absence due to a knee injury; he's questionable. Kyle Lowry should return from Wednesday's rest game. On the other side, Washington appears to be in line to rest Spencer Dinwiddie on Thursday. Aaron Holiday or Raul Neto should start in his place.

Toronto is largely over-salaried (turns out an average offense can't have five starters at $7,000 or above all be consistently successful DFS options), but that may get better if OG Anunoby (hip) sits on Thursday. Backups bigs Precious Achiuwa (shoulder) and Chris Boucher (back) might miss the contest, as well.

It should be status quo on the injury front in the final game of the night. Joel Embiid (COVID-19), Matisse Thybulle (COVID-19), and Danny Green (hamstring) will all be missing again for Philadelphia. Denver is likely to be sans Will Barton due to his ongoing back issue.

Guards

Donovan Mitchell ($8,600): Though the 9.5-point spread is concerning, Mitchell's salary is fair for his dominant role. His 34.1% usage rate in all floor situations is 4th in the league amongst qualifying players, and he comes in at the 10th-highest salary on this slate. Toronto's 108.8 defensive rating (9th-worst in the league) and 12th-highest pace make them a fine target compared to the stingy defensive matchups that Nick Nurse's bunch have presented historically.

D'Angelo Russell ($7,200): The fantasy game of the day is the Wolves' matchup with San Antonio. It features a 221.0-point total, and with all three Minnesota stars (Russell, Anthony Edwards, and Karl-Anthony Towns) taking turns nightly, the safest spot of exposure is Russell. Russell is amazingly averaging more FanDuel points per minute (1.04) than Edwards this season, and his usage (27.1%) is higher than Towns'. At a significant salary discount to Towns and Edwards and boasting a comparable role, D-Lo checks plenty of boxes.

Shake Milton ($5,300): Shake Milton is free! Milton started and played 35 minutes in Danny Green's stead on Tuesday, and the blowout run there is notable with Philly headed to Denver as 7.5-point underdogs. Milton's 0.85 FanDuel points per minute this year is a fine clip; he just needed to get more opportunities. Expect him to start and play significant minutes again, and importantly, he's got a role inside of them (22.8% usage rate in all floor situations; third-best on the Sixers).

Others to Consider:
Darius Garland ($6,000): He's at 1.05 FanDuel points per minute this season with Allen and Mobley off the floor. More-than-fair salary.
Jordan Poole ($5,600): A must-start in all formats if Curry misses. A fine salary with upside if Curry plays.
Derrick White ($5,300): Great plug-in for game stacks. Spurs' rotation is messy, but White returned Tuesday to a 31-minute role he should keep.
Raul Neto ($3,800): numberFire's top overall point-per-dollar option. Likely to start for Dinwiddie. Both he and Austin Rivers should start and see close to 30 minutes at punt salaries.

Wings

Jimmy Butler ($9,700): It should come as no surprise that one of the NBA's toughest dudes played 36 minutes fresh off an ankle sprain, but Butler did as the do-it-all catalyst Wednesday without Adebayo and Lowry. Lowry definitely returns tonight, and Adebayo has a chance. Still, this salary is totally fair given that "Buckets" has eclipsed 50 FanDuel points in 7 of the last 10 contests he's played. Butler's 1.9 steals per game (11th in the NBA) always give a nice lift to his scoring output.

Tobias Harris ($7,500): The three-quarter blowout last time out didn't let Harris show what a dominant role he still has in Philadelphia with no Embiid. He was averaging 1.10 FanDuel points per minute in that game before getting the final period off, and he still has a team-best 28.9% usage rate in floor situations without Embiid this season. Shake Milton will eat into that, but it also will help Philadelphia keep pace with a similarly shorthanded Denver squad.

Aaron Gordon ($5,100): Gordon has somewhat fallen rear-first into the secondary scoring role for the Nuggets as Will Barton, Michael Porter Jr., and Jamal Murray were forced out of the lineup. He shares an identical salary to Monte Morris today, but with guard far more loaded than forward, it's natural to land on Gordon instead. Gordon's ceiling is much higher than Morris', which he demonstrated Saturday versus Atlanta (48.7 FanDuel points). With two poor games since, Gordon is unlikely to be popular.

Others to Consider:
Paul George ($10,100): The Clippers "others" are pitching in more, and it's hurt George's ceiling. Still a rock-solid floor with a 34.9% usage rate.
Andrew Wiggins ($6,500): Owner of a 29.9% usage rate with Curry off the floor, so he's a must if Steph sits. Salary is a touch high if Curry plays.
Royce O'Neale ($4,800): Was $100 less than Bojan Bogdanovic on Tuesday. Now is $1,000 less. The better Jazz value wing as a result.
Jeff Green ($4,400): Well-projected by numberFire and should see minutes. Hasn't done much with them, though. Still a better ceiling than Dean Wade.

Bigs

Nikola Jokic ($11,600): Jokic has been playing NBA 2K22's MyCareer mode without his supporting cast lately. He dropped in 35 points and 16 boards and still lost by double figures in Dallas. He's got a video game-like 38.5% usage rate in 103.2 minutes without Barton and Porter on the floor this season, and he's turned into a whopping 1.88 FanDuel points per minute. He's the safest stud on the board and also carries the highest ceiling. The only problem is he plugs center from value options.

Draymond Green ($7,000): Especially if Steph Curry sits, Green is viable at what is a bizarre day for the center position. After Jokic, the next two best options might be minimum-salary punts whose roles could evaporate depending on injury situations for their teammates. Green has played just 85 minutes without Curry this season, so his drops in usage (0.4 percentage points) and FanDuel points per minute (-0.19) might be a fluke more than anything else. Cleveland is terribly small if Jarrett Allen sits again; they allowed the rebound-allergic Nets to collect 50 boards on Wednesday. That helps Draymond, too.

Dewayne Dedmon ($3,700): A Twitter follower of mine said Dedmon was "bad chalk" on Wednesday. I don't agree with that; it took a floor game with one field-goal make to keep Dedmon from eclipsing value. He's averaging 0.94 FanDuel points per minute this season, as well, so he's viable if Adebayo sits again. Perhaps his popularity will be lower after he saw such a high draft percentage on Wednesday.

Others to Consider:
Rudy Gobert ($8,500): The good? Gobert's still insane 15.4 rebounds per game this season. The bad? Tough to justify over Jokic if you're using a lot of salary at center.
Ed Davis ($3,500): Started for Mobley Wednesday and saw 25 minutes (including crunch time). Role is far from stable, but if Bam returns and relegates Dedmon to the pine, Davis is the best punt at the five.