In a traditional FanDuel NBA lineup, you have a $60,000 salary cap to roster nine players. The salary cap is the same in the single-game setup, but the lineup requirements are different.
You select five players of any position. One of your players will be your MVP, whose FanDuel points are multiplied by two. You also choose a STAR player (whose production is multiplied by 1.5) and a PRO (multiplied by 1.2). Two UTIL players round out the roster, and they don't receive a multiplier for their production.
This makes the five players you select essential in more than one way; you need to focus on slotting in the best plays in the multiplier slots rather than just nailing the best overall plays of the game.
Who would have guessed after a lopsided Game 1 that we'd be here?
A pivotal Game 3 has minimal injury report traffic, too. Only Cody Zeller (foot) is unfinalized in status for tonight's game, and he's probable for his usual limited minutes. Tyler Herro (hand) is already out for this one, so his potential return would come Friday at the earliest.
At The Top
At long last, FanDuel appears to have made Nikola Jokic ($18,500) a true choice or option to avoid on this slate.
His salary -- $3,500 clear of all challengers -- is cumbersome coming off of his second-worst game since the start of May (55.2 FanDuel points). Jokic's upside comes from stuffing stat categories, but Miami, despite what Erik Spoelstra tried to say, forced him into a 40.4% usage rate in Game 2. That resulted in 41 points with fewer contributions than normal in all other categories. If that holds, Jokic will get his, but he's not nearly as menacing on FanDuel.
In a game that might decide the series, I love pivoting to Jimmy Butler ($15,000) at MVP off a pair of stinkers in Denver. Butler has posted 46.9 FanDuel points per 36 at home this postseason, which trails only Jokic, Anthony Davis, and Devin Booker across the NBA. He's been quiet, but the guy who eclipsed 50 FanDuel points in five of seven against Boston is lurking.
Jamal Murray ($14,500) has posted double-digit assists in both games -- largely feeding Jokic. However, without Nikola's usual playmaking activity, he's not a realistic threat for MVP if he can't get to that 30-point mark. Murray's scoring average has dropped a bit on the road (26.4 PPG) from his mark at home (27.4 PPG).
Finally, how can you exclude Bam Adebayo ($14,000) up here when he's totaled at least nine boards and four assists in both games and leads the Heat in usage rate (25.7%) to this point in the series? This matchup seems to have totally awoken his offensive skillset.
In The Middle
Tyler Herro's salary increase has totally mucked up a tier that could be quite popular to fill out multiplier spots behind Jokic.
Surprisingly, Aaron Gordon ($11,000) leads this tier for good reason. Gordon's defensive acumen will at least keep him on the floor despite just 26.2 FanDuel points per 36 to this point. Gordon's seven rebounds in Game 2 were his highest total since May 5th, and don't think Denver benching Michael Porter Jr. ($10,500) didn't have a huge hand in that.
Porter's defensive effort was apparently poor, resulting in just 26 minutes on the floor and sitting in favor of Bruce Brown ($9,000) late. Rocking a low 17.7% usage rate in this series, MPJ's talent might outweigh his actual opportunity at this salary.
We all expect Gabe Vincent ($10,000) to pull back, but he just keeps scoring. Vincent's 75.0 eFG% in this series isn't super likely to last forever, but he's at 54.5% for a lengthy playoff run at this point, and his role is arguably the sturdiest in this tier. He's a better process play than MPJ, which I don't believe is how the field will see the two.
Finally, Caleb Martin ($9,500) is still a potential dart in tournaments, but he lost his starting job and hasn't eclipsed 25 minutes in either game. His shot has cooled with his salary, so it's an option, but he's just not ideal for size matchups in this series.
At The Bottom
The Nuggets are favorites getting plenty of betting steam, so expect Brown andKentavious Caldwell-Pope ($7,500) to receive a lot of buzz here.
At some point, KCP's 36-minute role should materialize into something. I've gone from fading him to start the series to now jumping on the wagon at what could be increased popularity. Brown hasn't broken the 20-FanDuel-point threshold despite doing so in three of four against the Lakers.
We've seen the highs and lows of Max Strus ($8,500) in two games, but I'm not worried about Strus' shot as much as his role. Given that 59.1% of Strus' fantasy-point volume comes from scoring, he can chip in 15 points that aren't worth nearly as much as other players who contribute across the board. As his salary gets here, I tend to jump ship.
Kyle Lowry ($8,000) has continued to see minutes in the low 20s, but Strus, Vincent, or both dropping back to Earth could open the door. I've been sneaking Lowry into multiplier spots (to no avail) in hopes the guy who eclipsed 30 FanDuel points thrice this postseason walks through the door.
We likely got the ceiling for Kevin Love ($8,000) in Game 2, but a lesser game could still work at the salary. He topped 20 FanDuel points for the first time since May 1st in that one, but if his strong play continues, they could continue to increase the veteran's role closer to the 32 minutes he saw to close out Milwaukee. There's no load management in June.
My primary operative for fading Jokic will be the lack of help below $7,500. Christian Braun ($7,000) and Jeff Green ($6,500) saw at least 15 minutes, but Braun needed three steals for either to meaningfully contribute.
On Miami's side, Duncan Robinson ($7,000) has blown up in similar spots before and shouldn't be too popular. His infamous mean mug came with very little FanDuel scoring versus real-life impact. Haywood Highsmith ($6,500) also remains a super volatile play at Spoelstra's whim. He's topped 26 minutes in two of Miami's last five but has essentially DNP'd the other three.