Can the NBA give the Toronto Raptors a break? With the Raptors playing the Orlando Magic on Friday night, they’ll be playing in their sixth game since February 25th. SIXTH. This is something that I would take into account when playing NBA DFS as I’ll be cautious playing many players from Toronto. Even though Nick Nurse isn’t known for resting players, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him sit a couple guys on Friday night.
Also, Fred VanVleet could miss his fifth straight game on Friday, which could open up a ton of value on the Raptors. There will be plenty of star players to choose from, so the more value we have, the more studs we can insert into our lineups. While it remains to be seen what news happens throughout the day, here are my favorite pay-up and value options at each position for DraftKings’ main slate on Friday.
Pay-up option: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ($10,300)
When watching the Oklahoma City Thunder, some would think that they are blatantly tanking. However, when you get an opportunity to watch guys like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey, you realize that Oklahoma City has a fantastic young core to build around for the future. While Giddey remains sidelined with a hip ailment, Gilgeous-Alexander has been playing lights out recently. Gilgeous-Alexander has scored 29 points in eight of his last nine appearances, and he’s posted 57+ DraftKings points in four of those nine games. The dynamic point guard gets an opportunity to face the fastest-paced team in the NBA in the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night. Additonally, the Timberwolves have surrendered the most DraftKings points per game (57.50) to point guards in their last seven games.
Value option: Malachi Flynn ($3,900)
I know I said above that I’ll be cautious playing players from the Raptors, but Malachi Flynn could be an exception. Given what we’ve seen in the past week, I’d be surprised if VanVleet makes his return to the court with a knee injury on Friday night. And if VanVleet misses another game, Flynn would draw another start for Toronto. Despite his recent success in the starting lineup, DraftKings has priced him down. So either DraftKings knows something that we don’t already, or they made a mistake in their pricing. Seeing that he’s scored 30+ DraftKings points in both his outings before Thursday night’s game, Flynn could be a free square on the green site.
Pay-up option: James Harden ($11,500)
Some may have been wondering why James Harden wasn’t listed as my favorite pay-up option at point guard. But I love the idea of potentially having Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in my lineup at the same time, especially if more value opens up. Harden has looked extremely comfortable in his first three games with the Philadelphia 76ers, recording 50+ DraftKings points in all three of them. We’ll need 55-60 DraftKings points from Harden to make him worth paying up for, which is certainly possible with Joel Embiid commanding most of the attention from teams. And with the Cleveland Cavaliers having two defensive stalwarts in Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley, the 76ers may need Harden to contribute even more on the offensive end. I’m also fine going down to Zach LaVine or D’Angelo Russell if you’re unable to afford Harden.
Value option: Aaron Holiday ($4,400)
Devin Booker was placed in the league’s health and safety protocol ahead of the Phoenix Suns’ game against the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night. Booker will miss his second straight game on Friday, which opens up a lot of value for the Suns again with Chris Paul also sidelined. Cameron Payne and Landry Shamet are solid options, but I like Aaron Holiday more than the latter on Friday night. Even though Shamet joined the starting lineup on Wednesday, it was Holiday who saw 28 minutes compared to Shamet’s 21. With Booker and Paul out, Holiday is operating as Phoenix’s primary guard off of the bench, allowing him to get plenty of opportunities to contribute in DFS. Outside of Holiday and Shamet, Immanuel Quickley and Bones Hyland are other value guards to consider on Friday.
Pay-up option: RJ Barrett ($7,700)
Amid the woes that the New York Knicks have experienced, they have to be elated with how RJ Barrett has been playing recently. Barrett has scored 46, 24, and 30 points in New York’s first three games out of the All-Star break. In terms of DFS, Barrett has produced 40+ DraftKings points in five of his last six games. While he’s beginning to approach a salary that makes me uncomfortable paying up for him, I believe Barrett can continue his recent streak of success against a shorthanded Suns squad on Friday night. If you’re not looking to spend up at small forward — which is understandable most nights — then Cameron Johnson and Jae Crowder are great options between $5,000-$6,000.
Value option: Matisse Thybulle ($3,900)
Ever since the 76ers acquired Harden from the Brooklyn Nets, all eyes have been on Harden, Embiid, and Tyrese Maxey. However, Matisse Thybulle has also been playing well in the starting lineup coming out of the All-Star break. In Philadelphia’s last three contests, Thybulle has played in 23+ minutes in each game, resulting in him notching 21+ DraftKings points in each of those games. Thybulle is known for his stifling defense, but he’s contributed 8+ points in three consecutive games, along with 3+ steals/blocks in each of the last three games. If we can get 20+ minutes again from Thybulle on Friday night, there’s a good chance he easily returns 5x value for under $4,000 on the green site.
Pay-up option: DeMar DeRozan ($9,900)
One of the popular games to choose from on Friday night is going to be the anticipated matchup between the Chicago Bulls and the Milwaukee Bucks. Even though the Bulls don’t have Lonzo Ball, it’s still a clash between two of the top-tier teams in the Eastern Conference. It’s a pace-up game for Chicago, and both teams are in the top half of the league in pace, so there should be plenty of scoring happening. That means that DeMar DeRozan should be lighting up the scoreboard for the Bulls. DeRozan scored 35 points in his last meeting with the Bucks this season, and he’s returned 5x value at his current salary in eight of his last 10 games. Seeing that DeRozan is under $10,000 on DraftKings for the first time in his last seven appearances, I’m very interested in forcing him into my primary lineup on Friday.
Value option: Aleksej Pokusevski ($4,900)
Aside from Gilgeous-Alexander and Giddey, the Thunder want to get a good look at their other young players to see who fits their plans for the future. If someone were to say that Aleksej Pokusevski is the next greatest player of all time, I wouldn’t question it. All jokes aside, Pokusevski has been effective when given more minutes this season. While garnering 26+ minutes in his last two games, Pokusevski has supplied 34+ DraftKings points in each contest. Kenrich Williams has been sidelined for the Thunder in recent weeks, and if he’s ruled out again on Friday, Pokusevski is poised for another productive showing in a massive pace-up game versus the Timberwolves. Chris Boucher is another guy I’d consider if you need to save even more salary at power forward.
Pay-up option: Giannis Antetokounmpo ($12,300)
People are going to see Nikola Jokic matched up with the Houston Rockets on Friday night and instantly think to insert him into their lineups. While I won’t blame anyone for going with Jokic in DFS, Giannis Antetokounmpo also has a positive matchup with the Bulls, and there’s probably less of a chance of a blowout than Jokic has. Chicago surrenders the seventh-most DraftKings points per game (47.74) to power forwards this season, which only aids Antetokounmpo’s chances of returning value on Friday. Also, Antetokounmp has earned a double-double in nine straight meetings with the Bulls, and he’s scored 28+ points in seven of those nine meetings. Bobby Portis and Clint Capela are two guys I’d consider at the center position if you’re looking for someone in the $6,000-$7,000 range.
Value option: Isaiah Roby ($4,600)
Okay, maybe I have too many Thunder players on my list on Friday. It’s always risky having multiple players from Oklahoma City in the same lineup, however, there’s a ton of value to be had from a few guys right now. Isaiah Roby has benefitted from injuries to multiple big men for the Thunder recently, which helped him accrue a season-high 51.75 DraftKings points against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday. After facing the Nuggets, Roby will have a nice matchup with the Timberwolves on Friday. Minnesota allows the 10th most DraftKings points per game (55.68) to centers this season and Oklahoma City doesn’t have many bodies in their front court, so minutes shouldn’t be an issue for Roby.