- Picks for every position and price point in NBA DFS contests on Friday.
The NBA kicks off its weekend with a nine-game slate on Friday. Injuries to top-flight talent is one of the themes of the night, and that always leads to some under-the-radar value. We've got you covered with these plays and our NBA Optimizer to round out your DFS lineups.
Russell Westbrook, vs. Pelicans (FD: $12,300, DK: $11,600)
Projected Points: FD: 57.9, DK: 60.81
At this point in the season (and we haven’t even reached the All-Star Break) it’s easy to run out of superlatives for a guy like Westbrook. He’s clearly a fantasy beast, and all we are considering on a nightly basis is the price and the matchup. Against the Pelicans, you can confidently roster him in cash games at these prices. New Orleans, thanks to Rajon Rondo and a few others, is among the worst in the league at defending the opposing point guard. They allow 5% more scoring and 6% more rebounding (a particular issue when matching up with Russ) than league-average to the position. Westbrook is in a dream matchup here, and we aren’t worried about the minutes on a back-to-back.
Terry Rozier, vs. Hawks (FD: $6,500, DK: $6,600)
Projected Points: FD: 32.94, DK: 33.28
It sure looks like Kyrie Irving will sit out again on Friday as he nurses a quad injury. There’s no real reason to rush him back against the hapless Hawks, owners of the worst record in the NBA. Assuming Irving is out, Terry Rozier would take over again as the team’s starting point guard, and would likely log heavy minutes. Marcus Smart is out, as well, and on Wednesday Rozier put up a monster line in the spot start. He went for a triple-double with 17 points, 10 assists and 11 rebounds against the Knicks, and would have likely played more if the game hadn’t turned into a blowout (the Knicks put up 28 total points in the second half). Rozier’s price jumped after that game, but the opportunity is still very much there. Paying mid-tier salaries isn’t something to dismiss out of hand against a bottom-feeding defense.
Victor Oladipo, vs. Hornets (FD: $9,000, DK: $8,600)
Projected Points: FD: 43.85, DK: 44.26
No other player in the NBA has seen a greater range of prices this season than Oladipo. After starting the year in the mid-$6K tier, he vaulted all the way up to $10K as recently as last week. Now he’s back in $9k range, which is somewhat appropriate considering his output. He’s been fantastic from three, shooting 40% and has been one of the surprise scorers in the league. The upside comes from compiling defensive stats, and with FanDuel’s scoring system tilting toward blocks and steals, he offers as much upside as any shooting guard in the player pool. He went for 25 points against this Charlotte team last week, and should be in line for similar scoring production tonight. It's the ancillary stats that will be key to his value.
Donovan Mitchell, vs. Suns (FD: $7,900, DK: $7,800)
Projected Points: FD: 38.11, DK: 38.29
Playing the Suns offers that rare opportunity in DFS when we can target a team that plays a near league-high pace (102 possessions per game) and a near league-worst defense (109.4 points allowed per 100 possessions). There's no better player to roster in these situations than the opposing team's star and Mitchell’s been a revelation for the Jazz. The 13th overall pick is squarely in the Rookie of the Year discussion. He leads the team in minutes (31) and scoring (19 points per game), and is second among qualified Jazz in PER after Derrick Favors. It’s easy to see him getting up around 20 shots in this matchup because of the increased volume expectation. And in a close game, he has an upper-30s minutes expectation.
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Giannis Antetokounmpo, vs. Knicks (FD: $12,000, DK: $10,800)
Projected Points: FD: 56.95, DK: 57.45
Eric Bledsoe was ruled out very early on Thursday and is doubtful for Friday. Malcolm Brogdon left Thursday’s game early and is likely to miss major time. That leaves the Bucks perilously thin in the backcourt, and Giannis will be forced to pick up a majority of the ball-handling duties. This is a familiar spot for the Greek Freak, as he has transitioned into a point forward this season. The Bucks will need outsized minutes from their superstar and he’s the big money play worth spending up for on this slate. The Knicks are a terrible defensive team with no clear defender able to match up even remotely with Giannis's length. The DraftKings' price is particularly enticing, considering the expected usage bump. Make sure to monitor his status throughout the day, as he was reported leaving the arena after Thursday's game against the Timberwolves with a limp. If he's out, Khris Middleton would instantly become one of the best values on the slate.
Brandon Ingram, vs. Nets (FD: $6,400, DK: $6,800)
Projected Points: FD: 30.65, DK: 30.72
Projecting the Lakers’ minutes can be a nightmare, but Ingram is one of the few (if only) exceptions to that rule. While other players fall victim to the whims of Luke Walton’s rotations, Ingram sees a steady diet of 35-plus minute games. He’s added increased scoring responsibilities this season, shooting 27% more than his rookie year and improving to 34% from beyond the arc (29% last season). Ingram is also spending more time as a facilitator, injecting some life into his assist numbers. This is a solid matchup against the Nets, the third-worst defense in the league in terms of efficiency.
Kristaps Porzingis, vs. Bucks (FD: $8,300, DK: $8,300)
Projected Points: FD: 42.24, DK: 41.84
It was an encouraging sign to see Porzingis play 35 minutes on Wednesday after three straight games of 30 minutes or fewer. Blowouts and foul trouble were largely to blame for his lack of minutes in those games, but it was still good to see him get back into the mid-30s in a game that featured neither of those hindrances. Still, his recent minutes lull has him at his second-lowest FanDuel price on the season against a Bucks team getting shredded by opposing bigs. They’ll get Jabari Parker back tonight, but it’s tough to imagine that improving things all that much in the short term. Porzingis could wreak havoc indmismatches on the perimeter and interior. This is a fantastic time to buy low on a guy averaging 23 points and seven rebounds per game.
Frank Kaminsky, vs. Pacers (FD: $4,300, DK: $4,700)
Projected Points: FD: 27.47, DK: 28.04
Marvin Williams has already been ruled out for Friday’s action, leaving the likely spot start again for Kaminsky, who slid into the power forward duties on Wednesday. He played 30 minutes against the Hawks and scored 11 points while pitching in three rebounds. It was an uninspiring line, of course, but he shot below his season average from the field (40%) and only 1-for-4 from three (34% on the season). Even a moderate regression toward his season averages will result in easy profit at these prices. Let others be dissuaded by Wednesday’s performance. He’ll be in my cash game lineups again.
Julius Randle, vs. Nets (FD: $6,600, DK: $6,700)
Projected Points: FD: 33.33, DK: 33.8
Center is brutally thin for Friday’s slate, making the choices less than clear. Randle too often falls victim the problematic Lakers’ rotations mentioned in the Brandon Ingram section, and Luke Walton will pull his young big man at a moment’s notice if he misses even one defensive rotation. But Randle has held steady in the mid-to-upper 20s range of minutes lately, and when he’s incredibly productive on a per-minute basis. He’s put up double-digit rebounds in three of his last five games and is averaging 18 points per game in that stretch. The Nets are awful at defending the interior (Jahlil Okafor only compounds that issue), and Randle could have a field day in the low post.
Al Horford, vs. Hawks (FD: $7,700, DK: $7,600)
Projected Points: FD: 37.25, DK: 37.27
Horford is in play on Wednesday independent of whether Kyrie Irving is on the court. He gets a fantastic matchup against a Hawks defense allowing 4% more scoring and 12% more assists than league-average to centers. Horford is one of the best passing big men in the game and works well with the Celtics’ emphasis on ball movement. He also sees a usage bump when Irving is off the court. He got up 12 shots in only 23 minutes against the Knicks on Wednesday. He should expect similar per-minute volume against the Hawks.