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NBA DFS: Best plays for Friday, January 21st

Jimmy Butler could be extra-motivated following his ejection on Wednesday, making him a nice pay-up option at the small forward position on Friday.

Portland Trail Blazers v Miami Heat Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The weekend is upon us and we have an 11-game slate to dissect in NBA DFS on Friday. There is only one team on the second leg of a back-to-back on Friday and that is the Golden State Warriors. Klay Thompson was active for the Warriors on Thursday night and it’s already known that he won’t be available for Friday’s contest versus the Houston Rockets.

At first glance, with DraftKings’ pricing on Friday, they are almost forcing us to go with a balanced lineup. There isn’t much value below the $4,000 salary range as of now, but there are plenty of options in the $4,000-$5,500 range at each position. With plenty of choices to make, here are my favorite pay-up and value options at each position for Friday’s NBA main slate on DraftKings.

Point Guard

Pay-up option: Dejounte Murray ($10,100)

Even on an 11-game slate, I have a feeling that the majority of the field is going to gravitate toward James Harden and Kyrie Irving at the point guard position. While I don’t blame them for using Harden or Irving with Durant sidelined for the Brooklyn Nets, Dejounte Murray presents a similar ceiling as both Harden and Irving in the same game. Plus, Irving has shooting guard eligibility, so we can play him there instead. Murray has been a major bright spot for the San Antonio Spurs this season, posting 48.7 DraftKings points per game, and he is one of the biggest triple-double threats in the NBA. The dynamic point guard has recorded two triple-doubles in his past 10 games, but he’s been close multiple times to more, including a showdown with the Nets on January 9th where he was one rebound short of a triple-double. I expect the Spurs to be able to keep it close against a Durant-less Nets team on Friday night, allowing Murray to have a productive showing.

Value option: Jalen Suggs ($4,800)

The Los Angeles Lakers are struggling on the defensive end and guards have given them trouble all season. Los Angeles has given up the second-most points per game (51.26) to point guards on DraftKings. Jalen Suggs has recently returned to the lineup for the Orlando Magic and has been playing well as of late. The rookie guard has eclipsed 25+ DraftKings points in seven of his last 10 games and he just produced 35.75 DraftKings points on Wednesday versus the Philadelphia 76ers. If we can get 25-30 minutes from Suggs on Friday night, we should easily get 5x value from him at $4,800.

Shooting guard

Pay-up option: Kyrie Irving ($9,500)

As I said above, Irving has shooting guard eligibility on DraftKings, making him my favorite pay-up option at the position. Irving excels with the ball in his hands and with Durant not on the court for the Nets, he should see an even higher usage alongside Harden. On Wednesday versus the Washington Wizards, Irving scored 45.75 points, giving him 45+ DraftKings points in back-to-back games. The Spurs surprisingly play at the fourth-fastest pace while the Nets play at the seventh-fastest pace in the NBA, so we should get plenty of scoring in this game. I expect Irving to be a ton of scoring for Brooklyn on Friday night. If you need the salary savings, Terry Rozier is also a viable option at shooting guard.

Value option: Max Strus ($4,600)

Amid Duncan Robinson’s woes this season, the Miami Heat have found another sharpshooting wing in Max Strus. Strus is shooting an outstanding 41.7 percent from deep and he’s played in 28+ minutes in seven of his last 10 appearances. With Kyle Lowry and Tyler Herro still out for the Heat, Strus should continue to get a decent allotment of minutes on Friday night. Also, the Atlanta Hawks surrender the eighth-most points per game (42.42) and the second-most three-pointers per game (3.72) to the shooting guard position on DraftKings, setting Strus up to be a massive value. You could also go with Patty Mills in a matchup with his former team.

Small Forward

Pay-up option: Jimmy Butler ($9,400)

Some people may look at the game logs for Jimmy Butler and assume he either struggled or got injured in Miami’s last game versus the Portland Trail Blazers. However, he was ejected early in the contest, causing him to score only 11.25 points on DraftKings. Following his ejection, I’m expecting Butler to be ultra-aggressive on Friday night versus the Hawks. Atlanta has been hot in recent games, but Butler just notched 48.25 DraftKings points versus this Hawks squad last Friday. You could go all the way up to LeBron James or go down to Bojan Bogdanovic if you need other options at the small forward position.

Value option: Joe Ingles ($4,200)

With Donovan Mitchell out for the Utah Jazz, there is a ton of usage to go around to the other members of the Jazz. In Wednesday’s game against the Houston Rockets, Joe Ingles saw 31 minutes, logging 10 points, five rebounds, and six assists. Ingles does a bit of everything when Mitchell is sidelined and he’s a double-double candidate with him being utilized as more of a facilitator. He had 10 potential assists in Wednesday’s contest and he should have another increased workload in Friday’s game versus the Detroit Pistons. It also helps that the Pistons give up the fifth-most points per game (44.49) on DraftKings to small forwards this season.

Power Forward

Pay-up option: Jayson Tatum ($9,700)

Jayson Tatum has been up-and-down this season in DFS as he’s become even more of a focal point for the Boston Celtics. Tatum is coming off of a dismal showing versus the Charlotte Hornets, where he shot 5-for-19 and concluded the contest with only 12 points. While people hesitate to use him following his woeful performance, I am going to take a chance on Tatum in a favorable matchup against the Trail Blazers. Tatum hasn’t scored fewer than 30 points in each of his last five meetings with Portland. The talented forward is averaging a career-high 8.5 rebounds per game so a 30+ point double-double is a legitimate possibility on Friday.

Value option: Jonathan Kuminga ($4,900)

The Warriors are visibly missing Draymond Green’s presence on both ends of the floor. Despite Green’s absence, rookie Jonathan Kuminga has been getting more minutes and making the most of them. Kuminga has played 25+ minutes in his last three games and he’s returned 5x value at his current salary in each of his last four outings. Even on a back-to-back, I expect Kuminga to continue seeing extended minutes for the Warriors in their game against the Rockets on Friday night. De’Andre Hunter and Royce O’Neale are also viable value options at the power forward position.

Center

Pay-up option: Joel Embiid ($11,000)

Joel Embiid recorded his second career 50-point game on Wednesday, tying his career-high in points in a single game. Embiid was unstoppable versus the Orlando Magic and he likely would have scored even more if he didn’t make a pit stop to the locker room in the first quarter. After going nuclear at home on Wednesday, Embiid gets to try and replicate that performance at home versus the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday. The Clippers have struggled against centers in recent weeks, allowing 61.44 DraftKings points per game to the position in their past 15 games (fourth-most in the NBA). Nikola Jokic has a nice floor, but on an 11-game slate, he’s easy to fade with other options on the board. I’d also consider Giannis Antetokounmpo if you are paying up at center and you aren't going with Embiid.

Value option: Montrezl Harrell ($4,600)

Montrezl Harrell has been a consistent offensive contributor off of the bench for the Washington Wizards this season. He’s been extremely consistent as of late, scoring in double-digits in each of his last 10 appearances. On top of that, Harrell has returned 5x value at his current price in nine of his last 10 games despite never exceeding 26 minutes played in any of those games. Harrell will get to face an undersized Toronto Raptors squad on Friday that tends to have Pascal Siakam play the center position at times. Barring foul trouble or an injury, it’s hard to imagine Harrell not making it 10 straight games of returning 5x value on DraftKings.