FanDuel Daily Fantasy Basketball Helper: Wednesday 10/20/21

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 NBA 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

Away Home Away
Indiana Charlotte 110.5 112.5 4 18
Chicago Detroit 111.75 106.75 13 23
Washington Toronto 109 112 1 14
Boston New York 107.25 109.25 20 30
Philadelphia New Orleans 114 110.5 12 10
Cleveland Memphis 104.25 111.75 25 8
Houston Minnesota 111.75 117.75 6 5
Orlando San Antonio 102.75 109.25 17 15
Oklahoma City Utah 104.5 117 7 16
Denver Phoenix 109.5 115.5 27 24
Sacramento Portland 114.5 120 9 19

Welcome to the real show.

Tuesday's two-game slate was a nice appetizer, but an 11-game slate is what makes NBA daily fantasy one of the best formats in any of fantasy sports.

In this section, I typically try to highlight key injuries, as that drives a vast majority of the value in NBA DFS. Most of the salaries include potential absences already known, but there are still some minor notes to include.

Of course, the large story of yesterday was Ben Simmons getting suspended by the 76ers. Simmons is unlikely to play moving forward after the incident, and his leave opens up more of a role for Tyrese Maxey than otherwise anticipated.

Of the actual injuries on the slate, the largest news is with Boston. Jaylen Brown and Al Horford are questionable to play because of COVID-19 protocols and general conditioning, and Brown's absence particularly would shift more work onto Jayson Tatum. (Editor's Note: Brown is confirmed playing and starting for Boston.)

Elsewhere, Toronto may be missing Chris Boucher, who is questionable with a finger injury.

Top pick Cade Cunningham will not make his debut for Detroit on Wednesday as he continues to deal with an ankle injury.

Also, Chuma Okeke has already been ruled out for Orlando with his hip injury, which will shift the Magic to potentially a dual-center lineup with Mohamed Bamba and Wendell Carter Jr. What could go wrong?


Bradley Beal ($9,400): The Wizards were fantasy machines last season. They were the top team in the NBA in pace with the worst defensive rating. Tonight, they open in a spot against the Raptors that may not be popular but should be. Beal embarks on his first game of the year with no co-star after Russell Westbrook was dealt to the Lakers. In floor situations without Westbrook last year, Beal posted a 39.9% usage rate and 1.44 FanDuel points per minute. Giddy up.

Fred VanVleet ($8,800): Two of the largest increases in usage without their 2020-21 backcourt mate face off in the same game. With Beal on the other side, VanVleet also gets the Toronto backcourt to himself this year after Kyle Lowry was traded to Miami. VanVleet posted a 39.4% usage rate -- essentially Beal's role -- in floor situations without Lowry and Pascal Siakam last season, and Siakam remains out in the short term due to his shoulder injury. In a friendly matchup, VanVleet is largely undervalued in most projections tonight.

Jalen Green ($5,500): Opening night always brings the opportunity to buy low on rookies, and the second-overall pick Green should carry some popularity in this spot for that reason. The Rockets' contest with Minnesota is arguably the best fantasy target of the day, as it has the second-highest total (229.5) between two top-six teams in pace last season. Green could be a large part of Houston's offense out of the chute; he posted a 22.5% usage rate in the preseason.

Josh Giddey ($4,400): I already have a betting ticket on Giddey to win "Rookie of the Year". He was at +2300 on FanDuel Sportsbook when it was available, and if you don't know the Australian prospect by now, just wait. Giddey averaged 13.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists in a preseason that shot him into the Oklahoma City projected starting lineup for the opener. Giddey should have every opportunity to secure usage behind Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and he is just under-salaried in this spot as a nightly triple-double threat with a clear and obvious path to 30-plus minutes.

Others to Consider:
Devonte' Graham ($6,000): His role should be massive with Zion out. The salary is fair in this spot, but he provides a nice floor in this salary tier and helps stack Philadelphia value.
Derrick White ($5,600): Could just potentially be under-salaried for his new role without DeMar DeRozan. Likely a path to 30-plus minutes.
Killian Hayes ($5,200): Second-year breakout? With no Cunningham, he should see 30-plus minutes on a Detroit team that is seemingly wide open for a top scorer.
Tyrese Maxey ($4,600): Obvious cornerstone of value without Simmons. A must in cash and single-entry formats. Talented player (0.92 FanDuel points per minute last year) as well.


Jayson Tatum ($10,200): If Jaylen Brown misses tonight's contest, there isn't a better spot to spend salary than Tatum. His floor is high with the usage (34.5%) and production (1.33 FanDuel points per minute) Tatum posted in floor situations without JB last season. A turned-over Boston roster has essentially no other scoring options besides Tatum, Brown, and Marcus Smart (if he counts). Expect both Tatum and Smart to see massive roles without Brown.

(Editor's Note: Brown is playing and starting for Boston, but Tatum still remains a top-tier option due to his responsibility in the Celtics' offense.)

Tobias Harris ($7,200): As a full disclaimer, I almost never roster the oft-injured, low-minute Joel Embiid in regular-season contests. That is a personal tendency because, on most nights, Philadelphia is more concerned with his health than his production. Therefore, Harris is the best way to access the high-end of this offense. In floor situations without Simmons last year, Embiid obviously led the way in usage (42.5%), but Harris's 28.5% usage was a 4.1% increase over his standard usage rate, and it is more than acceptable for his salary here.

Jerami Grant ($7,200): With Cade Cunningham already slated to miss Wednesday's opener, last year is a good sample to draw from on what Detroit's offense will look like. It's easy to target Grant's 28.5% usage rate and 1.03 FanDuel points per minute mark with confidence without Cunningham potentially taking Grant's offensive role away. Detroit is only a five-point underdog, but that number will always be worth a double-check for the lowly Pistons this year before deploying their starters in DFS.

Others to Consider:
Jaren Jackson Jr. ($7,000): Potential for a monster season without Valanciunas in the fold. Could be worth buying low on a player that could have an $8,000-plus salary a majority of the year.
Isaiah Stewart ($5,200): No Mason Plumlee means a full role for Stewart as the starter as long as Kelly Olynyk does not snipe his job. That likely doesn't happen in one game.
Doug McDermott ($4,700): McDermott is the starting small forward for the Spurs this season. His 27.65 projected minutes by numberFire may be on the low end with Devin Vassell as an undersized backup.
Aaron Gordon ($4,600): With an offseason to work in, he likely sees a higher usage and more offensive looks than last year in a Denver offense we generally want to target.


Karl-Anthony Towns ($10,800): Two of the best overall plays on the slate are the big men in the best game. I like deploying Towns as my Wolves' exposure with the usage situation between Anthony Edwards and D'Angelo Russell fairly unknown at this point. In floor situations with all three on the court, Towns was second in usage (26.9%) to Russell (27.6%) and provided tremendous production (1.34 FanDuel points per minute). In single-entry formats, Towns is far easier to roster than guessing the backcourt correctly.

Christian Wood ($8,200): Hooray dual-position eligibility! It is no longer a choice between Towns and Wood, and the answer may very well be "both". Wood posted 1.21 FanDuel points per minute after the James Harden deal last season, and that even includes an end-of-season stretch where his production was significantly hampered by Kelly Olynyk in the same frontcourt. Wood gobbled up 11.51 rebounds per 36 minutes when Olynyk was off the floor last season, and he should be able to grab the boards he wants with only the low-efficiency Daniel Theis and rookie Alperen Sengun as the only other bigs on the roster.

Others to Consider:
Robert Williams ($6,300): If "Timelord" sees 30-plus minutes consistently for Boston, his salary will be above $8,000. This could be a tremendous buy-low spot -- even in a so-so game environment.
Mo Bamba ($5,300): Like Maxey, Bamba is plug-and-play value if he starts for the Magic. His higher production rate (1.26 FanDuel points per minute last year) will make him far more popular than Wendell Carter.
Wendell Carter Jr. ($5,300): Carter is an interesting tournament pivot from Bamba at the same salary. Both could exceed value handily sharing minutes in the front court. Very possible Orlando doesn't stay big, though.