Welcome to Friday Night in the NBA! Below I’ve given you some of my favorite plays at varying price ranges. And as a side note, remember that the NBA is volatile as far as injuries and stomach flus and what not, so always be sure to keep up with the latest news so you don’t get stuck with a dud. I prefer to use Twitter for my up to the second information. Here’s a very short list of fantasy basketball people I follow who update that kind of information.
Michael Carter-Williams ($8,700) Phi vs Det
MCW is coming off a career high in points, and he should be able to carry over that offensive momentum against Detroit. The Pistons have been treacherous at defending opposing point guards lately, ranking dead last in efficiency vs that position. Kyle Lowry and John Wall have both carved up this Detroit defense in the past week; now it’s Cater-Williams’ turn.
Darren Collison ($7,100) LAC vs LAL
Collison isn’t priced at a bargain anymore, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore him for some of the “bigger name” options in his salary range. Since taking over for the injured Chris Paul, Collison is averaging 32 fantasy points per game, which is more than serviceable output for his mid-range price. I have a strong inclination that he will expand on that average against the shaky backcourt defense of the Lakers.
Shaun Livingston ($4,200) Mia @ Bkn
Deron Williams has already been ruled out for Friday’s game, so Shaun Livingston will likely draw another start in his absence. While the matchup against Miami is far from desirable, he is averaging 29 fantasy points per game in his last two starts. A combination of Livingston’s high allotment of minutes, ability to contribute in several categories, and bargain basement price makes him a very good play on Friday.
Gordon Hayward ($7,700) Uta vs Cle
Because Hayward plays in a smaller market for “non-contending” team, he often flies under people’s radar. He is averaging a whopping 46 fantasy points in his past three games, which is significantly higher than fantasy stars like Steph Curry, Lebron James, and Kevin Love. The Jazz rely on him heavily to make things happen on offense, which has subsequently yielded him one of the higher usage rates in the NBA. A home date versus Cleveland provides a better than average scenario for Hayward to keep up his torrid pace.
Jamal Crawford ($6,100) LAC vs LAL
I think Crawford is in a similar position to his teammate Collison, who I previously mentioned in the point guard section. Since Chris Paul’s injury, Crawford has been taking on more ball-handling responsibilities for the Clippers. This his bumped his average assist totals up to 7 in the past three contests. He has always been a threat to score 20+ every night, and now that he has a more well-rounded game, he can be trusted in all of your DFS lineups.
Rodney Stuckey ($4,100) Det @ Phi
Stuckey is one of my favorite sleeper picks of the night. He recently came back from a shoulder injury last game, so there is a bit of risk associated with him not being in-sync with the offense. However, the fact that he took 13 shots in 20 minutes on Wednesday is encouraging moving forward. Stuckey should have a chance convert on his likely high number of attempts against Philadelphia’s league worst defense.
Josh Smith ($7,700) Det @ Phi
If you haven’t noticed by now, it’s a pretty good strategy to target players going up against Philadelphia. In addition to their atrocious defense, they play at the fastest pace in the NBA, which creates more possessions, and subsequently more shots, rebounds, assists, steals, etc in the process. Having said that, a fast-paced, wide-open style of game falls right into Josh Smith’s wheelhouse. He loves to rack up transition points, long rebounds, assists, and steals on a nightly basis, meaning this matchup should be a “stat-stuffing feast” for him.
Paul Pierce ($6,000) Bkn vs Mia
With Brooklyn’s two best offensive players (Deron Williams and Brook Lopez) sidelined with an injury, the Nets will be looking for someone to fill the void. Last game it was Joe Johnson, who poured in 27 points. However, Johnson is a streaky shooter that can’t be relied upon night to night. That’s where Pierce comes in. He has averaged 27 fantasy points in his last seven games, and I think that number can only increase with Brooklyn leaning more on him as a scorer.
Wesley Johnson ($4,000) LAL @ LAC
After a minor injury, Johnson has resumed his starting role in the Lakers rotation, seeing more minutes and production as a result. He’s not a “high-upside” guy by any means. In fact, he’s one of those players who you hope they can somehow string together 20+ fantasy points for your head-to-head and 50/50 style contests. I think Johnson can get to that 20+ fantasy point territory for a third straight time on Friday, given he is seeing 35+ minutes in a likely high-scoring affair.
Blake Griffin ($9,600) LAC vs LAL
Some people think that Chris Paul’s absence will hurt Blake Griffin, but I think the exact opposite is true. Chris Paul was great at facilitating the ball to everyone on the team, so without him, I believe the Clippers will need to get it to Blake in isolation situations even more in the half court offense. For this reason, Griffin’s upside is even higher with CP3 out, which was on display Wednesday to the tune of 29 points, 6 rebounds, and 8 assists. Expect more of the same against a Lakers team that ranks 2nd to LAST at defending the power forward position.
Greg Monroe ($6,500) Det @ Phi
Even though he has been playing better as of late, Monroe still comes at a nicely discounted price. He has achieved or flirted with a 20 point 10 rebound stat line in four of his five past games, which has translated to a healthy 29 fppg average over that span. Not to beat a dead horse (and not to insinuate that the 76ers are a dead horse), but this matchup with Philadelphia sets up fantastically for Monroe (and all the Pistons) to expand on their recent averages.
Tobias Harris ($5,500) Orl @ Sac
Tobias is prone to throwing up a “dud” here and there, but in a matchup against Sacramento’s bottom 10 frontcourt defense, he should post one of his better 15 point 10 rebound type of stat line. He is starting and logging heavy minutes (upwards of 40) for the Magic, and I like him even more if Nikola Vucevic is forced to sit out his second straight game with a concussion.
Dwight Howard ($9,000) Hou @ Atl
D12 just shred apart his old team on Wednesday, and now he has a similarly appetizing matchup against the Hawks. Atlanta’s rebounding rate and overall efficiency against the Center position has gone downhill since Al Horford’s injury. Expect Howard to exploit both of those weaknesses en route to another satisfying fantasy night.
Joakim Noah ($8,000) Chi @ Mil
Play Centers against Milwaukee! It’s as simple as that. For the past year and a half, Milwaukee has been giving up monster games to opposing Centers, and I don’t see them bucking that trend on Friday (pun intended). Noah has been heating up as of late, which leaves him with a sizzling 40 fantasy point average in his last four contests. Needless to say, I’m very keen on Joakim Friday. Note: Noah is dealing with an illness, so be sure to double check his availability for Friday’s game.
Anderson Varejao ($6,800) Cle @ Uta
Anderson Varejao has really been picking up the slack with Andrew Bynum shipped out of town. He’s registered six straight double-digit rebounding performances, prompting a 36 fantasy point average in the past week. He is set up very nicely in a matchup against Utah, who ranks 25th in defensive efficiency to Centers and 20th in rebound rate. It would be quite “cavalier” of you to put him in your lineup.