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 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 an excellent 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 will likely leave your lineup drawing pretty close to dead.
Which top players should be the focal points of your lineups today?
Nikola Jokic, C, Nuggets ($12,500)
Whether he becomes optimal or not, Nikola Jokić is a pivot point on this slate for everybody.
Jokic’s monstrous 40-point, 27-rebound effort on Sunday was his third time over 78 FanDuel points in four games. Obviously, that type of output would do even at this lofty salary. The question is whether or not — at enormous popularity — Jokic can get there. There are reasons for and against it.
The huge benefit here is his standing in the fantasy environment of the day. The 234.5 point total in Denver–memphis is massive, and the Nuggets (20th in pace) should see a lift with how quickly the Grizzlies play (7th).
the downside? Not only does Memphis allow the seventh-fewest fantasy points to centersbut if Michael Porter Jr other Jamal Murray are both out (as listed as possible per today’s injury report), Denver’s overall offense drops enough that Jokic is averaging just 59.9 FanDuel points per 36 minutes.
Overall, “The Joker” is a top-notch process play, but at immense popularity, he’s a tougher choice.
Yes Morant, PG, Grizzlies ($10,700)
If tasked with just one stud from that game, I’d definitely prefer Yes Morant.
At the very least, Morant is well-rested. He was ejected in just 14 minutes in the Grizzlies’ last contest. Still, he can pay off this salary in a massive way in that same elite environment Jokic has.
With Desmond Bane‘s continued absence still in the fold, Ja has held a 36.6% usage rate during that floor condition. For comparison, Jokic’s is just at 31.1% in his floor condition — though he’ll add quite a bit more on the glass. It’s an elite scoring role.
Plus, the defensive matchup for Morant is much better. Denver has struggled to defend scoring point guards for years, and they’re allowing the second-most FanDuel points to the position this season.
This elevated salary above Morant’s median mark this season should make him a better option in tournaments, too.
Jimmy Butler, SF/PF, Heat ($10,000)
There’s no sure thing behind these two, but Jimmy Butler is another interesting pivot off Jokic in tournaments.
Curiously enough, Butler’s usage rate drops 0.9 percentage points with Lowry off the floor. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; he goes into facilitator mode. Jimmy sees an uptick of 1.31 assists and 6.56 FanDuel points per 36 minutes during floor conditions without Lowry.
facing Chicago, his former team, the slow-footed Heat should see a rise in total possessions, too. The Bulls play at the 10th-fastest pace in the league, dwarfing Miami’s mark (26th).
I’ll be underweight on Jokic in tournaments — not cash games. Butler is a fun alternative when looking to spend there, and he, Morant, and other stars likely won’t be too popular with minimal per-dollar value on the slate.