This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
Editor's note: James Harden was deemed questionable due to league safety protocols after this article was written
After three seasons on the DraftKings beat for NBA DFS, I've moved over to cover FanDuel, and you can look for my articles on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday this season.
Whether you're a Mass Multi Entry player or a recreational user who only posts a single lineup, my article will aim to get you up to speed with everything you need to achieve optimal success. With that in mind, let's get this season going! We've got a massive 13-game slate to kick things off after an exciting first night of games.
CHA @ CLE (+3) O/U: 215.5
NYK @ IND (-8) O/U: 212
MIA @ ORL (+4.5) O/U: 218.5
WAS @ PHI (-7.5) O/U: 229
MIL @ BOS (+3.5) O/U: 226
NOR @ TOR (-4.5) O/U: 230
ATL @ CHI (+1.5) O/U: 231.5
OKC @ HOU (-7) O/U: 226
SAS @ MEM (-2.5) O/U 231
DET @ MIN (-4.5) O/U: 224.5
SAC @ DEN (-8.5) O/U: 225.5
UTA @ POR (-1.5) O/U: 229
DAL @ PHO (+1) O/U: 236
(odds provided by FanDuel Sportsbook and are subject to change)
Games to target - BOLD
Games to fade - ITALIC
With so little data, leaning on the information from Vegas is even more critical as the season kicks off. Offensive and defensive efficiency for teams and usage rates for individual players are only speculative at this point, so there are sure to be some surprises. With a slate as large as this one, firing GPPs is usually a more +EV route due to the low probability of identical lineups, but I'd recommend starting small as the season begins. Loading up on smaller-field cash games and single-entry GPPs is probably wise, along with taking a shot or two in a low-cost 20-max or 150-max tournament. Of all the teams in play tonight, I'm most interested in the Grizzlies against the Spurs. Their lineup looked unstoppable in the preseason, and I will keep my exposure high to them until further notice. The Pelicans also figure to be one of the higher-paced explosive squads in the early going, and both Atlanta and Chicago seem poised to take a step forward. I like both teams in the second-highest-paced affair of the evening. Conversely, I'll go along with Vegas in assuming that the Knicks-Pacers matchup won't leave us much in terms of fantasy production, and I'm also wary of giving any exposure to the Hornets-Cavs game. However, I won't rule either out when going unique in a large-field tournament.
Just a note to keep in mind for FanDuel this season - late swaps are still available, but the site limits your exposure to four players for a single team in most contests.
Our injury section will never be a complete list as we'll omit ongoing injury issues, but it will touch on the most recent and prominent situations on the slate.
PG Kemba Walker, BOS (knee) - OUT
This will be an ongoing issue until further notice. To cover, newcomer Jeff Teague ($5,800) should be the primary beneficiary in his absence.
C Kevin Love, CLE (calf) - OUT
C Kristaps Porzingis, DAL (knee) - OUT
As Porzingis battles back to 100%, the outlook at center is a bit messy currently. Only Boban Marjanovic ($3,600) distinguished himself in preseason action, but Maxi Kleber and Dwight Powell are both good to go for the opener. It's best to steer clear of this situation until it solidifies somewhat.
C Clint Capela, ATL (Achilles) - DOUBTFUL
Although officially listed as doubtful, the Hawks should expect to be without Capela for at least a couple of games. John Collins ($7,700) will likely slide to the five and allow Danilo Gallinari ($5,700) and DeAndre Hunter ($3,800) increased opportunity at the four spot.
ELITE PLAYERS ($9,000-plus)
Among the top players on the slate, Luka Doncic ($11,400) is my favorite spend-up option in what should be an incredibly fast-paced affair. The second player above 10k is a close call, but I would opt for James Harden ($10,800), if he plays, over Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,500) tonight. I think both players will give us close to 5x value, but I like Harden's situation against an Oklahoma City team that's plagued with several defensive question marks.
A little further down the list, Trae Young ($9,700) stands out in a fast matchup, and I'll give my usual high exposure to top centers like Karl-Anthony Towns ($9,400), who I think can get the better of Christian Wood. I favor KAT slightly over Joel Embiid ($9,400). I'm also excited to see what Damian Lillard ($9,200) can do to begin the season despite a pretty tough matchup against the Jazz.
Along with the elites listed above, several players in the 7-8k range figure to be trendy tonight.
Bradley Beal, WAS ($8,100) @ PHI
Beal's salary is at a great point to begin the season, and I think he's an ideal play to take advantage of while his number is this low. It looked like a back injury might limit his initial participation, but he showed up with 15 points and five assists in 28 minutes of action in Saturday's preseason game. With a litany of injuries on the squad, I expect Beal to play almost 40 minutes in this matchup.
Deandre Ayton, PHO ($7,300) vs. DAL
Due to the one-center limit on FanDuel, I usually begin most builds here, and I think Ayton is the baseline player in that category tonight. Aside from perhaps Jonas Valancuinas ($6 700), there isn't much logic in going lower the Ayton, but I like him due to the matchup's fast pace. Compared to the elevated prices of Towns, Embiid and Jokic, Ayton can save you some much-needed cash and provide enough production that can justify fading the more expensive options. Those who place priority with elite guards will likely flock to Ayton tonight.
Brandon Ingram, NOR ($7,300) @ TOR
I would not advise fading Ingram tonight against the Raptors. While you should usually take most preseason metrics with a grain of salt, Ingram was brilliant in the short exhibition period. He's a multi-category contributor who could easily break 5x value at this salary. You'll also find that the SF position is a bit thin tonight, making Ingram a very chalky lock for me.
Jrue Holiday, MIL ($7,000) @ BOS
I'm not especially thrilled about the pace of this game, but I think Holiday will be very popular at a price that tempts you to see what he can do in this offense. Holiday has real boom/bust potential in Milwaukee, and right now, it's anyone's guess as to how well he'll gel with Giannis and Khris Middleton. While he isn't my favorite in cash, he's a great target that comes in just above FanDuel's median price.
VALUE PLAYS ($6,667 and under)
This season, I will consider value plays as any player below FanDuel's median of $6,667 and will usually give you a couple of players far below that amount,
Lonzo Ball, NOR ($6,600) @ TOR
The Pelicans' backcourt situation should prove interesting, as Eric Bledsoe ($5,600) is now in town and provides an interesting value option. I prefer Ball here because right now, he's in the midst of negotiating his rookie contract. Typically, players in Ball's position are eager to prove their worth unless they've proven to be a really bad apple already, and I don't think the guard falls in that category. I would be surprised if Ball didn't exceed 5x value at this salary.
Coby White, CHI ($6,200) vs. ATL
White's ascension to the starting job was always a foregone conclusion, and the potential for a breakout season on the horizon was also a given. This may be the year that White takes it to the next level. There's no shortage of talent on this roster, and that makes White incredibly valuable as the director of the offense. He's freakishly accurate from long range and will be able to pad his totals with assists to Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter. I wouldn't sleep on the Bulls or White, especially if he's dialed in from downtown.
Michael Porter, DEN ($5,400) vs. SAC
Count on Porter to be very chalky at this price. Although he began the season with many defensive question marks, he took his game to another level in the bubble and improved in just about every aspect. Will Barton's return to health will be the largest factor impacting the youngster's usage, but I still expect him to see 30 minutes per game.
Dillon Brooks, MEM ($5,100) vs. SAS
The Grizzles probably won't settle down until Jaren Jackson returns to the lineup, but I think Brooks will end up as the biggest surprise when most of the hype surrounds Ja Morant and Brandon Clarke as the big beneficiaries. I've admittedly been high on the Oregon product from the get-go, and I think in the short term, he could pop for at least 5x value as long as Jackson is sidelined.
Further down the list, here are five potentially low-rostered bargains to watch on the slate tonight and could go a long way to help you afford the elites:
PF Nerlens Noel, NYK ($3,900) @ IND
SG Jordan Clarkson, UTA ($4,400) @ POR
SF Deni Avdija, WAS ($3,500) @ PHI
SF Anthony Edwards, MIN ($4,800) vs. DET
SG Devin Vassell, SAS ($3,500) @ MEM
And finally, the best advice I can give you, and I'll offer it in every article. Use our advanced lineup tool to check your players and stay up-to-date on starting lineups before game lock!