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  • Picks for every position and price point on Friday's NBA DFS slate.
By Doug Norrie
December 29, 2017

The NBA takes over for another big night of action on Friday, with nine games and plenty of marquee names. After a Thursday night full of chalk plays across the industry, we should see ownership normalize. Nights like this are full of tough decisions, but you can gain an edge by using our NBA Lineup Optimizer.

Point Guard

John Wall, vs. Rockets (FD: $8,600, DK: $8,600)

Projected Points: FD: 43.89, DK: 45.45

Wall struggled against the Hawks on Wednesday, going just 3-for-9 from the field and adding nothing in the rebounding or defensive boxes on the stat sheet. This kind of spotty performance, combined with some minutes-monitoring as he works back from injury, have led to a price decrease on FanDuel. He’s sitting at his second-lowest price of the season, there and is once again an excellent value. Wall is among the best point guards in the game and ranks only behind Russell Westbrook and James Harden in time spent on the ball this season. He draws a pace-up matchup against the Rockets who run the eighth-fastest tempo in the league, and could still be without their primary point guard defender in Chris Paul.

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Darren Collison, vs. Bulls (FD: $6,300, DK: $5,800)

Projected Points: FD: 30.07, DK: 30.35

Victor Oladipo has already been ruled out for Friday, and Collison is one of a few beneficiaries of his absence. Oladipo owns a top-10 usage on the season, so his absence opens a lot of opportunity for Indiana’s guards. Collison sees about a 12% usage bump with Oladipo off the court this season. On Wednesday, Collison played 35 minutes (well above his season average) and took 13 shots (tied for his most on the season). DFS players should expect similar opportunity on Friday, though he does draw a tough matchup with Kris Dunn on the defensive end. That being said, Collison is one of the best dollar-for-dollar point guard plays thanks to the loss of Oladipo.

Shooting Guard

James Harden, vs. Wizards (FD: $11,800, DK: $11,600)

Projected Points: FD: 61.97, DK: 65.81

The Rockets are getting close to criminally insane with Harden’s minutes this season, and he’s been asked to shoulder even more of the load with Chris Paul off the court. That could be the case again Friday after the team ruled out Paul early for Thursday’s game. The production is there every game, evidenced in part by his 32-point and nine-assist per game averages. He has the second-highest on-ball time in the league and is playing more than 40 minutes per game over his last five contests. At this point, Mike D’Antoni isn’t even pretending to find ways to spell him. Harden has a high floor in this game even in a tougher matchup against Washington.

Get further analysis of Friday's NBA DFS slate, lineup optimizers and more at Lineup Lab, your home for all your NBA, NFL and MLB DFS lineup needs.

Jordan Clarkson, vs. Clippers (FD: $7,000, DK: $6,400)

Projected Points: FD: 36.32, DK: 37.35

One great place to take advantage of positional plays on FanDuel (and, to a lesser extent, DraftKings) is when we can play a labeled shooting guard who is really a point guard. This is the case with Harden, of course, and also with Clarkson with Lonzo Ball out. Clarkson’s drawn the start in the last two games and averaged 37 minutes, 20 points, five rebounds and five assists. His FanDuel price has corrected to some degree (up 27% since Wednesday), but it’s still not enough considering this marked shift in role and opportunity. The Lakers are incredibly thin at point guard without Ball and Clarkson should continue pushing high-30s minutes in a fantastic matchup against the Clippers, a defense with a bottom-third defensive rating.

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Small Forward

Lance Stephenson, vs. Bulls (FD: $5,800, DK: $5,600)

Projected Points: FD: 32.84, DK: 33.76

As is the case with Darren Collison, Stephenson also benefits from the loss of Oladipo. He drew the spot start on Wednesday and put up one of the best fantasy performances of the evening, finishing with 16 points and 15 rebounds as an overwhelming chalk play. He figures to be one of the highest-owned plays again, even with the 20% price hike slate-over-slate. That may scare off some folks, but it shouldn’t. Considering the aggressive pricing algorithms on both sites, this still represents a bargain on Stephenson who should see 35-plus minutes, along with a 12% usage bump when Oladipo is off the court.

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Otto Porter, vs. Rockets (FD: $6,700, DK: $6,200)

Projected Points: FD: 32.89, DK: 32.37

The strides Porter made with his three-point shooting last year have carried over into this one, with his 45% mark from distance making him an ideal complementary piece next to John Wall and Bradley Beal on Washington’s first unit. He’s able to space the floor and chip in on the boards as well. If the Wizards can hang here (no guarantee) then we should see mid-30s minutes out of Porter.

Power Forward

Kyle Kuzma, vs. Clippers (FD: $7,400, DK: $7,500)

Projected Points: FD: 40.62, DK: 41.29

On Wednesday, we saw what Kuzma’s basement looks like, and it wasn’t pretty. He was flat-out awful against the Grizzlies going 4-for-24 from the field and a gut-wrenching 1-for-11 from three. We can only hope others will use that game log and recency bias as reasons to avoid Kuzma on Friday. If anything, I’m encouraged by the outsized shot volume, which continues a recent trend of the rookie shooting more, especially from three. Brandon Ingram re-entering the starting lineup did little to curb Kuzma’s usage (the 24 shots were his most of the season), and the Lakers are now running much tighter rotations.

Carmelo Anthony, vs. Bucks (FD: $6,100, DK: $6,100)

Projected Points: FD: 30.32, DK: 31.32

The Thunder are starting to figure things out with their offense and have won eight of their last nine games, with quality wins over Toronto and Houston in their last two. Though much has been made of the Thunder deferring more to Russell Westbrook in the short term, Anthony has still seen a steady diet of shots. He’s averaging 20 points a game over the last four, thanks largely to 43% shooting from three. We are mostly interested in the cheaper price point on FanDuel, where the power forward position is incredibly thin on Friday. Anthony offers relative safety in the middle salary tier compared with the field.

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Center

DeAndre Jordan, vs. Lakers (FD: $7,700, DK: $8,100)

Projected Points: FD: 38.59, DK: 39.65

The Clippers could get Blake Griffin back on Friday which would shift around some of their team projections. But it would be cause for optimism for Jordan, who surprisingly sees a usage decrease with Griffin off the court. Jordan’s fantasy production is overwhelmingly tied to the rebounding department, where he leads the league with 15.2 per game. He has been especially good in the short term, pulling down at least 20 in three of his last six games. He’s also incredibly efficient near the rim on offense, with the fourth-highest effective field goal percentage in the league. The Lakers have no real answer for Jordan on the interior, and the pace of play should only help his rate stats.

Steven Adams, vs. Bucks (FD: $7,400, DK: $6,300)

Projected Points: FD: 32.88, DK: 33.99

Speaking of proficient guys near the rim, Adams is right with Jordan. The former has the seventh-best effective field goal percentage and sixth-best true shooting percentage in the league. This stems primarily from Russell Westbrook powering to the rim on the pick and roll, leaving Adams diving to the rim for either the dish or the put back. He’s a double-double threat almost any night, and Milwaukee is desperate for an improvement at center where they are running out the undersized combo of John Henson and Thon Maker. They are allowing 3% more rebounding and 5% more scoring than league-average to opposing bigs.

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