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  • Picks for every position and price point for Friday's 10-game NBA DFS slate.
By Doug Norrie
January 05, 2018

Friday night brings a 10-game slate in the NBA, though many of the upper-echelon superstars get the night off. That doesn't mean we need to follow suit. These plays, plus Lineuplab's PlayerLab, will have you on your way to making winning lineups for FanDuel and DraftKings.

Point Guard

Damian Lillard, vs. Hawks (FD: $8,700, DK: $8,500)

Projected Points: FD: 42.66, DK: 44.38

Lillard returned from a four-game injury absence on Tuesday, only to be welcomed back to action with a blowout at the hands of the Cavaliers. It’s tough to blame too much on his performance considering he went 8-for-15 from the field on his way to 25 points and six rebounds in only 33 minutes of action. He’ll get an easier matchup Friday against a Hawks team allowing more than league-average scoring and assists to point guards thanks to Dennis Schroder’s subpar defense. Lillard had no minutes restriction in his first game back and only lost run because of the blowout. He’s averaging 37 minutes per game on the season, the seventh most in the league, and has a high floor anytime the game stays close.

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Goran Dragic, vs. Knicks (FD: $6,800, DK: $6,600)

Projected Points: FD: 35.52, DK: 36.64

After a 13-game stretch of seeing 30 or fewer minutes, Dragic has played 38 and 37 in the last two. It’s an encouraging sign that Erik Spoelstra is trusting him with more on-court time. He’s been fantastic in that stretch, averaging 25 points 10 assists and five rebounds while shooting 50% from the field. His prices on both sites haven’t come close to catching up with this recent opportunity and he draws a fantastic matchup on Friday against the Knicks, who are among the worst in the league at defending the point guard position. They are better with Frank Ntilikina on the court, but lately Jarrett Jack has been taking up more of the point guard duties. If Dragic’s minutes hold steady, he’s one of the best points-per-dollar plays on the slate.

Shooting Guard

Tyreke Evans, vs. Wizards (FD: $8,400, DK: $8,000)

Projected Points: FD: 40.87, DK: 41.69

An off-season signing meant to spell Mike Conley and provide some bench scoring, Evans has been thrust into the starting point guard duties for the Grizzlies and currently owns the highest usage on the team at 27.6%. He’s shooting a career-best 47% from three and getting to the line four times a game. All that has led to an average of 20 points per game and, for a point guard, he’s also active on the boards at five rebounds per game. He might see some John Wall treatment on the defensive end, which is no easy task, but Evans has a solid minutes projection as long as the game stays close. Without Conley, the Grizzlies need Evans’s versatility and playmaking ability. His price has come down 7% on FanDuel, and he makes for a solid cash-game play because of his well-rounded game. With Andrew Harrison likely to miss Friday’s game, Evans’s minutes become even more secure.

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.

Donovan Mitchell, vs. Nuggets (FD: $7,500, DK: $7,500)

Projected Points: FD: 37.27, DK: 37.38

Mitchell is making something of a push into the Rookie of the Year conversation. He’s second on the Jazz in minutes and first in usage at 28%. He’s a scorer first and foremost, with 18 points per game thanks to the confidence typically seen only in professional chuckers. Denver ranks 18th in defensive efficiency this season, though they counter some opponent fantasy production by playing the 18th-ranked pace in the league. I’m most encouraged by the recent minutes, with Mitchell playing 35 or more in three of the last five games. That’s elite run for anyone, but highly unusual for a rookie. The Jazz have found the scorer they desperately needed with this roster, and we can assume Mitchell continues to see outsized opportunity.

Small Forward

Giannis Antetokounmpo, vs. Raptors (FD: $11,000, DK: $10,700)

Projected Points: FD: 57.07, DK: 57.38

Even with 10 games on the docket Friday, only two players have salaries over $10K: Giannis and Joel Embiid. That’s pretty rare considering the size of the player pool, but it does speak to why we’ll be playing a lot more players in the mid-range of the salary structure. Giannis has dipped some in the short term with his fantasy performance (outside of his last game) and he’s seen a commiserate price decrease on both sites. He’s now at his third-lowest FanDuel and fifth-lowest DraftKings price of the season. The addition of Eric Bledsoe has led to a bit of a drop off in Giannis’s overall production, especially in the scoring department. But he now has that baked into his price, and considering the nature of the slate, I think we see him as a popular play. If even moderately cheaper value surfaces through punt plays at other positions, fitting Giannis on either site won’t take much work at all.

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Kawhi Leonard, vs. Suns (FD: $8,100, DK: $7,600)

Projected Points: FD: 41.21, DK: 40.79

The Spurs brought Leonard along slowly as he worked his way back from injury and, some of the rust showed in his first few games. They’ve slowly increased his minutes and rested him on back-to-backs, but some of the restrictions came off in his last game against the Knicks where he looked like prime Kawhi. He finished with 25 points, eight rebounds, four assists and four steals in just 31 minutes in that contest, his best game of the season. At full strength, Leonard is a top-four (or higher) player in the league and has established himself as one of the best, if not the premier, two-way players in the league. If the minutes trend continues, then he should be in line for about 33, with the only real risk being a Spurs blowout of the Suns. I’m encouraged that the plan for Kawhi might supersede that if the Spurs want to get him back to playing full time. His price isn’t fully there if you believe he sees a full complement on Friday.

Power Forward

Derrick Favors, vs. Nuggets (FD: $6,400, DK: $6,000)

Projected Points: FD: 34.1, DK: 33.14

Without star center Rudy Gobert, the Jazz have been forced to play Favors more at the five and hope to get away with some small-ball lineups. Favors sees a noticeable increase on the glass with Gobert off the court, getting roughly a 9% uptick in rebounds. His usage jumps, as well, and his minutes remain high considering how thin Utah is in the frontcourt. Favors is a fantastic value on this slate against a Denver squad allowing 3% more scoring than league average to power forwards and centers, with league-average rebounding.

Serge Ibaka, vs. Bucks (FD: $5,900, DK: $5,500)

Projected Points: FD: 30, DK: 29.96

I’m typically bearish on Ibaka’s minutes because the Raptors have so many different rotations, which always makes him a risk if Dwane Casey opts to go in a different direction with his wings and frontcourt. But we have a recent comp for Ibaka’s playing time with him getting 33 minutes in regulation on New Year’s Day against these very Bucks. Milwaukee won’t destroy other teams with size, meaning Ibaka can stay on the court for longer stretches as the small-ball five, and he doesn’t compromise the defense because the Bucks offensive core is centered in the backcourt and on the wing. Ibaka took a season-high 19 shots in that game and always has fantastic upside if the blocks and steals materialize. The price makes for solid, mid-tier cap relief.

Center

Al Horford, vs. Timberwolves (FD: $7,000, DK: $7,400)

Projected Points: FD: 34.25, DK: 34.46

Horford is often a DFS afterthought because his price never seems to move out of this $7K range and he doesn’t do any single thing all that well, from a fantasy perspective. But he does a little of everything, averaging 14 points, eight rebounds and five assists per game, and has solid upside when he puts everything together in a single outing. Even the scoring can pop when he’s shooting well from beyond the arc (he averages 3.2 attempts per game). He should see significant playing time guarding the combination of Karl-Anthony Towns and Taj Gibson. Horford is a versatile defender, and I’m optimistic about his minutes because of the matchup.

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Dwight Howard, vs. Lakers (FD: $8,600, DK: $8,400)

Projected Points: FD: 40.16, DK: 41.72

The Lakers have improved dramatically on defense this season and now rank in the top half of the league in defensive efficiency. But they still play at the league’s fastest pace, and opposing centers score and rebound at better than league-average clips against them. Howard is a double-double threat every night and has gotten there in 10 of his last 14 games. He makes a solid DraftKings play because of the double-double bonus and should see solid minutes if the game stays close. The Lakers have no relevant answer for his low post presence, evidenced by his 21 and 12 in their previous meeting this season.

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