Friday features a 12-game slate starting at 7 p.m. ET.
Let’s dive into some of the top plays on the slate using the FantasyLabs tools and metrics.
Note: Projections and Leverages Scores/Ratings may change throughout the day after this article is posted. The NBA DFS landscape changes quickly.
NBA DFS Point Guard Picks
If you’ve enjoyed the return of the NBA but have been wondering, “where are all the injuries,” then Friday’s slate is for you. We have a host of big names currently listed as questionable – Joel Embiid, Anthony Davis, and Donovan Mitchell just to name a few – while others like James Harden, Kyrie Irving, and Jimmy Butler are all sidelined. Monitoring the news heading into lineup lock is going to be vital, and late swapping will be even more important than usual.
The absence of Harden means Tyrese Maxey should assume a stud role for the 76ers. He’s already been fantastic recently, posting an average Plus/Minus of +7.81 over his past 10 games, and he’s increased his usage rate to 35.3% with Harden off the court. He’s averaged a stout 1.46 DraftKings points per minute in that situation, and he’s projected for just under 38 minutes in our NBA Models. Even if he sees a bit of regression on a per-minute basis, he should absolutely smash his $6,500 price tag on DraftKings.
Harden’s absence should also allow De’Anthony Melton to move into the starting lineup, making him another elite value on DraftKings. He’s priced at just $4,400, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 99%, and he’s averaged 0.98 DraftKings points per minute this season. He has the potential to play around 30 minutes for the Knicks, and Melton has historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +4.01 with a comparable salary and minute projection (per the Trends tool).
Both members of the 76ers’ new-look backcourt have been priced up aggressively on FanDuel, but they should be the first two players into your lineup on DraftKings.
Kyle Lowry was asked to take on a larger role with Butler sidelined in their last game. He posted a season-high 23% usage rate, and while that number isn’t going to blow you away, it represents a sizable increase from his average of 16.5% across his first eight games. Lowry has already been an excellent value of late, so an increased usage rate is definitely appealing in a potential smash spot vs. the Pacers. They rank fourth in pace and dead last in defensive efficiency, and Miami’s implied team total of 115.25 ranks fourth on the slate.
Anfernee Simons is currently questionable, but he would warrant plenty of consideration if he’s able to suit up. He’s scored at least 42.6 FanDuel points in back-to-back games, and he’s played at least 37.9 minutes in both contests. He averaged just under a fantasy point per minute in games without Lillard last year, and he’s currently projected for 38 minutes in our NBA Models.
NBA DFS Shooting Guard Picks
Paul George has had an up-and-down season from a fantasy perspective, but his ups have been massive. He had 78.8 FanDuel points two games ago, and he had 61.2 FanDuel points in his second game of the year. Both of those contests came with Kawhi Leonard out of the lineup, and he remains sidelined on Friday. Overall, George has increased his usage rate to 33.4% with Leonard off the floor, and he’s averaged 1.25 FanDuel points per minute.
He draws an elite matchup Friday vs. the Spurs. They’ve played at the fastest pace in the league this season, and they rank just 27th in defensive efficiency. George owns an Opponent Plus/Minus of +1.99 on FanDuel, where his $8,800 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 92%.
The Heat opted for just an eight-man rotation with Butler sidelined in their last game, so there were plenty of minutes available for those players. That included Max Strus, who logged just under 33 minutes as a member of the starting lineup. Strus struggled to just 19.0 FanDuel points in that spot, but he’s posted an average Plus/Minus of +5.69 so far this season. He should maintain a similar workload vs. the Pacers, giving him the potential for a much better performance.
Tyler Herro is also worth consideration for the Heat. He’s obviously a bit more expensive than Strus, but he brings plenty of upside to the table. He racked up 26 points and 12 rebounds in his last contest, and he leads the team with a 30.6% usage rate with Butler off the court. He’s averaged 1.17 DraftKings points per minute in that situation, so he brings stud-like upside at a slightly lower salary.
Buddy Hield has been an outstanding source of value recently. He’s scored at least 35.5 DraftKings points in each of his past five games, and he’s gone for at least 40.25 in back-to-back contests. Overall, he’s averaged 1.13 DraftKings points per minute this season, and he’s played at least 35.6 minutes in his past two outings. His price tag on DraftKings has barely budged during that stretch, and his $6,100 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 88%.
NBA DFS Small Forward Picks
It’s Kevin Durant season in Brooklyn. The new “Big Three” of Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Ben Simmons is down to one, with Kyrie and Simmons both sidelined for Friday’s game vs. the Wizards. Durant continues to score the ball at an elite rate, averaging a career-best 32.5 points per game through his first eight contests. He’s unsurprisingly been even more aggressive as a scorer with Irving and Simmons off the floor, increasing his usage rate to 39.6% in that situation.
However, the biggest benefit could be in his peripherals. Durant’s rebounds and assists are both down this season, largely because those are the only two things that Simmons can actually do on a basketball court. Durant should have to be much more active on the glass and as a distributor with Simmons and Irving sidelined, so the stage is set for a big performance. He’s going to do everything but mop the floor for the Nets in this matchup.
Cameron Johnson’s salary on FanDuel is mind-boggling. He’s posted a positive Plus/Minus in five straight games, and he’s coming off 47.9 FanDuel points in his last contest. He was 7-11 from 3-point range in that contest, and while that’s not going to happen every night, he remains underpriced for his role with the Suns. He should play upwards of 30 minutes in this spot, and he’s averaged 1.03 FanDuel points per minute this season. His $4,500 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 97%, and he’s a slam-dunk at that price tag.
Jalen McDaniels replaced Gordon Hayward in the second half of Wednesday’s contest, and he attempted a career-high 18 shots. He had never had more than 14 shots in a game, but the Hornets are going to need his offense with all their injuries. Hayward will join LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier, and Miles Bridges on the sidelines on Friday, so there are plenty of minutes and shot attempts up for grabs. He’s a steal at $4,500 on DraftKings.
Lauri Markkanen could fly a bit under the radar on Friday, but he remains too cheap at $7,300. He’s averaged 1.19 DraftKings points per minute this season, and he already has three games with at least 51.75 DraftKings points. He also has an excellent matchup vs. the Lakers, who have played at the second-fastest pace this season.
NBA DFS Power Forward Picks
Giannis Antetokounmpo absolutely eviscerated the Pistons in his last outing, racking up 32 points, 12 boards, four assists, five steals, and two blocks. He finished with 68.0 DraftKings points, and the craziest part is that he did it in just 29.5 minutes. The Bucks are now off to a 7-0 start despite not having Khris Middleton, and Giannis is obviously a huge reason why.
Giannis has averaged 1.88 DraftKings points per minute this season, and despite his dominance, it feels like he could carry lower ownership than usual on Friday. That could change if a bunch of injury value opens up, but Giannis is currently projected for less than six percent ownership in our NBA Models. That would be a mistake. No one in basketball carries a higher ceiling on a nightly basis, and he owns an Opponent Plus/Minus of +3.24 vs. the Timberwolves. This contest features just a 3.5-point spread and a 227-point total, both of which are ideal for fantasy purposes.
Tobias Harris is another member of the 76ers who should benefit from the absence of Harden. He’s played just 17 minutes with Harden off the floor this season, but he’s averaged a stout 1.33 DraftKings points per minute in that sample. Harris has scored at least 30.75 DraftKings points in three straight games, so he’s a nice value at just $5,800.
P.J. Washington is coming off a subpar showing in his last outing, but he racked up 43.25 DraftKings points in each of his previous two games. He’s averaged 0.90 DraftKings points per minute this season, and he’s currently projected for 34.15 minutes in our NBA Models. He’s another nice option at just $5,800.
Jarred Vanderbilt has been a solid source of value for the Jazz this season. He’s getting the opportunity to play more than he has in previous seasons, and he’s responded with an average of 28.18 FanDuel points per game. He’s posted a positive Plus/Minus in three straight games on FanDuel, and he’s coming off 33.0 minutes in his last outing.
NBA DFS Center Picks
Joel Embiid has missed the past two games with an illness, and he’s questionable for Friday’s matchup vs. the Knicks. If he’s able to suit up, he’s an interesting buy-low target at just $10,000 on FanDuel. Embiid is another candidate to pick up the slack with Harden sidelined, something he had no problem doing last year. He increased his usage rate to 38.7% in games without Harden, resulting in an average of 52.01 FanDuel points per game.
The Knicks have also been a much friendlier matchup this year than they have been in the past. They’re up to eighth in pace, and Embiid owns an Opponent Plus/Minus of +1.83. His ownership could also be down after missing two straight games, making him a strong GPP target.
Nic Claxton has seen an uptick in playing time recently with Simmons sidelined. He played 31 minutes two games ago, and that figure increased to 34.6 minutes in his last contest. Claxton has averaged 1.03 FanDuel points per minute this season, so any spike in playing time is appealing. He’s a nice option at just $5,900 on FanDuel, given his Bargain Rating of 82%.
Kevon Looney leads the position with an Opponent Plus/Minus of +6.64 on DraftKings, and he racked up 29.4 minutes in his last outing. He responded with 32.25 DraftKings points, and if he sees a similar workload vs. the Pelicans, he’s going to be a nice value at just $4,200.
Myles Turner played just 20.2 minutes in his last game, but he’s projected to see more than 30 minutes on Friday. Turner has barely been on the floor this season, but he’s averaged 1.27 DraftKings points per minute when he has been. He has plenty of upside on DraftKings, where his $5,700 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 98%.