Defenses to Avoid
Washington Wizards at Indiana Pacers: The Pacers are the best in the league in lowest points allowed per 100 possessions (89.3 defensive rating) and have allowed an opposing team to score at least 100 points only once this season (in their lone loss to the Bulls). While the Wizards are not a poor offensive team by any means (fifteenth in the league with a 101.5 offensive rating), sophomore sensation Bradley Beal (leg), who had contributed 20.6 points per game this season, is sitting out for the time being. While John Wall and Martell Webster have been playing extremely well of late, the Pacers always find a way to shut down the best offensive players with their suffocating defense. On a Friday night with a variety of other options (13 games in total), perhaps fantasy managers could look past the Wizards for a value play somewhere else.
Offenses to Use
New Orleans Pelicans at Philadelphia 76ers: The Sixers are dead last in the league in points allowed per game (109.1) and inversely, lead the league in pace (101.9). In addition, the Pelicans are eighth in the league in offensive rating (104.2 points scored per 100 possessions). This implies that we'll see a high-scoring, high-opportunity game from both teams, who play at a high pace and are not especially known for defense. As RotoWire's Andrew Schmalz wrote, “Teams with a higher pace create more opportunities for their players to accumulate fantasy statistics." This was evident in the first meeting between the two teams this season on November 16, where the Pelicans beat the Sixers 135-98. It would be reasonable to expect the teams to put on an offensive showcase once again.
Phoenix Suns at Utah Jazz: As the stumbling Jazz continue to journey through their nightmare season, the Suns will have an opportunity to scorch dry the city of lakes. Goran Dragic's Suns have been on fire of late even without Eric Bledsoe (shin), who has a chance of returning Friday. Over their last four games, the Suns have put up a 3-1 record, averaging 107.3 points per game during that span, topping it off with an impressive 120-106 win against Portland Trailblazers to snap their 11-game winning streak. Meanwhile, the Jazz are third-worst in the league in points allowed per 100 possessions (105.1 defensive rating), giving the Suns a chance to continue their offensive assault. With many solid options across all positions, the Suns are a safe bet for value play Friday.
Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Milwaukee Bucks, Phoenix Suns, San Antonio Spurs, Utah Jazz, Washington Wizards
Second game of a back-to-back: None. I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving!
DAILY PLAYER RECOMMENDATIONS
Goran Dragic (at UTA): Dragic has been on a tear over his last five games, averaging 22.6 points (51 percent FG), 4.2 rebounds, 9.0 assists and 1.8 three-pointers made during that span. Given the Jazz's poor perimeter defense, particularly against dribble-penetration, Dragic should have no problem exploiting the matchups. He should be considered a solid play by all means.
Brandon Jennings (vs. LAL): While Jennings hasn't exactly been on fire lately, averaging just 14.0 points (36 percent FG), 2.8 rebounds, 9.4 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.6 three-pointers made over his last five games, he has always found ways to torch the Lakers. In his first game against them this season, Jennings put up 23 points, five rebounds and 14 assists. The Lakers have had issues containing explosive point guards this season, and Jennings will have another opportunity to catch fire Friday.
Other options: Aaron Brooks (vs. BKN), Steve Blake (at DET), Michael Carter-Williams (vs. NOP)
J.J. Redick (at SAC): Redick has been fairly consistent this season in his role as a spot-up shooter for the Clippers. He has shot 18-for-32 from the field over his last three games, and a hot streak may be brewing. Redick scored just 13 and 15 points, respectively, in the Clippers' first two matchups against the Kings this season. However, the third time may be the charm, as Chris Paul (hamstring), although expected to play Friday, might play less aggressively from a scoring standpoint, giving Redick more opportunities as the Clippers' most lethal perimeter threat.
Other options: Gerald Green (at UTA), Klay Thompson (at OKC)
LeBron James (at TOR): James will be a safe play Friday, as the Raptors give up an average of 36.1 points (fifth-worst), 12.9 rebounds (sixth-worst) and 7.6 assists (tied for worst) to opposing small forward eligible players. Because James has the ability to put up large numbers in a wide variety of categories, he should easily be considered a top play at the small forward spot Friday. In the Heat's previous meeting against the Raptors early in the season, James posted 35 points (13-20 FG), eight rebounds, and eight assists.
Other options: Paul Pierce (at HOU), Chandler Parsons (vs. BKN)
Channing Frye (at UTA): Despite a poor start to the season, Frye has been insane over his recent stretch of games. He has scored at least 13 points in six of his last seven games and is averaging 18.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.8 steals and 1.3 blocks over his last four games. Playing against the league-worst Jazz on Friday, Frye should be a value play.
Ryan Anderson (at PHI): Ever since coming back from injury, Anderson has been torching teams from all over the place. Coming off a 21-point, 12-rebound double-double, Anderson is averaging 19.2 points (51 percent FG), 4.8 rebounds and 3.4 three-pointers made over his last five games. In his first game of the season, Anderson put up 26 points against the Sixers, featuring a 6-for-10 assault from downtown. Given the rapid pace of the Sixers' offense, Anderson could be poised for another monster showdown.
Other options: Blake Griffin (at SAC), Jared Sullinger (vs. CLE)
Miles Plumlee (at UTA): The Jazz have been scrambling at the center position, taking Enes Kanter (ankle) out of the starting lineup due to injury and motivational issues. They are among the league's worst against matchups at the center position, giving up 19.3 points (third-worst), 12.0 rebounds (third-worst) and 2.2 blocks (worst). Plumlee has been just sub-par of late, averaging 8.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.0 blocks over his last five games. That could change Friday, as Plumlee will face the weak interior of the plummeting Jazz.
Other options: DeMarcus Cousins (vs LAC), Pau Gasol (at DET)
Kobe Bryant (Achilles) isn't expected to return to action until December.
Steve Nash (back) is out indefinitely with general soreness.
Andre Iguodala (hamstring) is out until early December.
Bradley Beal (leg) will miss at least two weeks of action.
Larry Sanders (thumb) is out until mid December.
Rajon Rondo (knee) is looking close to 100 percent healthy but won't return until December.
Tyson Chandler (knee) is out until mid-December.
JaVale McGee (leg) is out until mid-December.
Danilo Gallinari (knee) is still without a timetable to return.
Kelly Olynyk (ankle) is out until early December.
Toney Douglas (leg) is not with the team Friday.
Carlos Delfino (foot) is out for an extended period of time.
Shelvin Mack (ankle) is out without a timetable.
Emeka Okafor (neck) is out with a herniated disc in his neck.
Matt Barnes (eye) is out recovering from retinal surgery.
Brandon Rush (knee) remains without a timetable to return, though he hopes to return Friday.
Deron Williams (ankle) is dealing with two sore ankles and a Friday return is possible.
Brook Lopez (ankle) is a game-time decision Friday.
Tobias Harris (ankle) made his season debut Sunday, but experienced soreness and will not play until the pain subsides.
Eric Bledsoe (leg) is improving and a Friday return is possible but unlikely.
Enes Kanter (ankle) is improving and a return to action Friday is possible.
Jameer Nelson (ankle) is a game-time decision Friday.
Kyle Korver (ribs) is dealing with a contusion and is questionable Friday.
Tony Wroten (back) is improving and could return to action Friday.
C.J. Miles (calf) is a game-time decision Friday.
Otto Porter (hip) is improving and could return soon.
Jason Terry (knee) has missed games due to personal reasons and a sore knee.
Al Harrington (knee) has been struggling to stay healthy.
Shane Battier (illness) is a game-time decision Friday.
Devin Harris (toe) could return Friday, but it is unlikely.
Chauncey Billups (knee) has been struggling to stay on the court with knee pain.