This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
The last few weekends were flush with bargain-bin options on DraftKings, but the madness finally seems to be settling down as we get further away from the All-Star break.
We've also had a relatively quiet week in terms of injuries, with most of the recent beneficiaries now carrying prices that reflect their new roles.
Friday's 12-game slate is lacking in obvious sub-$4000 options, and with a number of superstars carrying favorable price tags, it will be more important than ever to keep an eye on late-breaking news.
That 6:45 PM ET news nugget may turn some $3000 scrub into an excellent value, in turn allowing you to roster that Curry-Harden or Cousins-James combo that previously appeared all but unattainable.
As of early Friday morning, the team that bears closest watching is the Houston Rockets, with Patrick Beverley (foot) and Terrence Jones (back) considered questionable for a matchup with the Pistons at the Toyota Center.
A Jones absence would make Donatas Motiejunas ($5100) and Josh Smith ($6300) far more intriguing, while a Beverley absence would bring min-priced Jason Terry ($3000) into play. JET logged 28 and 32 minutes when Beverley missed two games last week, turning in performances of 18.25 and 25 DK points.
Corey Brewer ($3700) is also a candidate to benefit, but he's been so bad lately that I'll probably only consider him if both of Beverley and Jones are unable to play.
Some bigger names would also get boosts from a Beverley absence, with Detroit's Reggie Jackson ($6600) drawing a more favorable matchup, while James Harden ($10,400) could see a slight bump in usage. I already like Greg Monroe ($7800) and Andre Drummond ($7800), so I'll likely have some piece of this game in pretty much every Friday lineup.
The other key player to watch is Toronto's Kyle Lowry (rest), who missed the previous three games while dealing with a variety of minor ailments. Unfortunately, the prices have caught up on both Greivis Vasquez ($5000) and Lou Williams ($5600), though both are still very much in play if Lowry can't face the Hornets on Friday. Williams topped 31 DK points in each of the past three games, with Vasquez surpassing 23 in each contest.
Elsewhere, injuries to Orlando's Evan Fournier (hip) and Luke Ridnour (hamstring) may seem like a mere blip, but absences would help both Victor Oladipo ($7000) and Elfrid Payton ($4800) get more minutes. Oladipo's a candidate to top 40 minutes either way, and he draws a fantastic matchup with the Kings, coming off a career-best 38 points in Wednesday's loss to the Suns.
In terms of players already ruled out for Friday, Boston's Avery Bradley (elbow) tops the list, making the already-intriguing Isaiah Thomas ($6000) a strong play against the Pelicans. Marcus Smart ($4000) and Evan Turner ($5200) also get a boost, but I'll just stick with Thomas, thank you very much.
While there will surely be more injuries announced before tip-off, that's about all we've got as of early Friday morning.
Looking ahead to Saturday, Portland's Arron Afflalo and Nic Batum should get some extra looks from beyond the arc in Minnesota, with Wes Matthews (torn Achilles) out for the the rest of the season, following an unlucky injury in Thursday's win over the Mavs.
Of course, it would kind of stink to benefit from this one, as Matthews is one of my favorite players, and he was having a fantastic contract season. Fortunately, he's only 28 years old, and his game isn't overly dependent on high-end athleticism. He should be back draining three-pointers at some point next season, hopefully in a Portland uniform. Odd that the Blazers recently traded for Afflalo, who is kind of like a poor man's Matthews, only more famous thanks to Kendrick Lamar's jealousy.
For Sunday, the Clippers may again be without Jamal Crawford (calf) and Matt Barnes (hamstring) for a matchup with the Warriors, in which case J.J. Redick would likely top 40 minutes for a third straight game while somehow serving as the clear-cut third-best player on an NBA contender. You'll only need to think about seven roster spots, as Russell Westbrook will be back in action.
Anyway, here are some of the top non-Westbrook choices for the upcoming weekend (Fri.-Sun.) on DraftKings…
Brandon Knight, PHO (Fri. at BKN, Sat. at CLE) $6200 – Knight has been a mixed bag since joining the Suns, and while playing next to Eric Bledsoe figures to hurt his usage, I expect a bump in minutes and pace to ultimately make up the difference. Suns coach Jeff Hornacek played a balancing act with his deep guard group all season, and he now finds himself in a spot where he only trusts Knight and Bledsoe. As a result, BK logged 40 and 39 minutes in the last two games, going for 27.25 and 46.25 DK points. While the initial results with Phoenix may indicate otherwise, I actually think Knight is one of Friday's safest options, with 50-FP upside to boot.
Other options:Steph Curry, GS (Fri. vs. DAL, Sun. vs. LAC), $9500; John Wall, WAS (Fri. vs. MIA, Sat. at MIL) $8800; Reggie Jackson, DET (Fri. at HOU, Sun. vs. CHA), $6600; Deron Williams, BKN (Fri. vs. PHO, Sun. vs. UTA), $6400 Jeff Teague, ATL (Fri. vs. CLE, Sat. at PHI), $6400; George Hill, IND (Fri. vs. CHI, Sat. at NY), $6300; Isaiah Thomas, BOS (Fri. at NO, Sun. at ORL), $6000; Elfrid Payton, ORL (Fri. vs. SAC, Sun. vs. BOS); Ricky Rubio, MIN (Sat. vs. POR); Russell Westbrook, OKC (Sun. vs. TOR); Chris Paul, LAC (Sun. at GS)
Victor Oladipo, ORL (Fri. vs. SAC, Sun. vs. BOS), $7000 – Oladipo's price has come up a bit, but he's still my favorite player at any position for Friday night. He went for 52 DK points on the strength of a career-best 38 points in Wednesday's win over the Suns, also topping 35 minutes for a fifth consecutive game. In addition to offering the kind of upside we saw Wednesday, 'Dipo has topped 27 DK points in each of his last 10 contests, making him an excellent play for cash games. Best of all, he gets to face a Sacramento team that ranks first in pace (101.9) and 23rd in defensive rating (103.7) since the All-Star break. And, if Evan Fournier (hip) and Luke Ridnour (hamstring) sit again, Oladipo is a strong bet to go over 40 minutes. Even if those guys play, I wouldn't bet against the former Hoosier crossing that threshold.
Other options:James Harden, HOU (Fri. vs. DET, Sat. at DEN), $10,400; Monta Ellis, DAL (Fri. at GS, Sun. at LAL); Joe Johnson, BKN (Fri. vs. PHO, Sun. vs. UTA), $5600; Wayne Ellington, LAL (Fri. at MEM, Sun. vs. DAL), $4700; Jason Richardson, PHI (Fri. vs. UTA, Sat. vs. ATL), $4100; Arron Afflalo, POR (Sat. at MIN)
Mike Dunleavy, CHI (Fri. at IND, Sun. at SA), $3600 – LeBron James is in an excellent spot, as he usually produces his best regular-season performances in games that require him to carry his team. Unfortunately, it's a bit hard to roster multiple superstars, and James will surely be a popular choice in Friday contests, while other studs carry more tolerable price tags. I'm thus a bit more inclined to look in Dunleavy's direction, after the sharpshooting veteran logged 30-plus minutes in each of Chicago's past four games. The ceiling here doesn't seem all that high, but there's always some chance Dunleavy heats up from beyond the arc, as he did on his way to 42 DK points last Friday against the Timberwolves.
Other options:LeBron James, CLE (Fri. at ATL, Sat. vs. PHO) $10,500; Josh Smith, HOU (Fri. vs. DET, Sat. at DEN), $6300; Tobias Harris, ORL (Fri. vs. SAC, Sun. vs. BOS), $6300; Trevor Ariza, HOU (Fri. vs. DET, Sat. at DEN), $5700; Paul Pierce, WAS (Fri. vs. MIA, Sat. at MIL), $4500; Nicolas Batum, POR (Sat. at MIN)
David West, IND (Fri. vs. CHI, Sat. at NY), $5600 – There was definitely a point this season when I muttered something about never using West again, but there's no need to be stubborn when a player clearly carries a favorable price. A mini-slump has West's salary at its lowest point in quite some time, yet his role obviously remains unchanged for a Pacers squad that's fighting to make the playoffs. West should still see minutes in the low-30s if Friday's game is reasonably close, and he averages right around one DK point per minutes. True, West's upside doesn't approach that of Greg Monroe or Draymond Green, but you've got to save money somewhere on a night with limited bargain-bin options.
Other options:Anthony Davis, NO (Fri. vs. BOS, Sat. vs. MEM), $10,800; Greg Monroe, DET (Fri. at HOU, Sun. vs. CHA), $7800; Derrick Favors, UTA (Fri. at PHI, Sun. at BKN) $7600; Draymond Green, GS (Fri. at vs. DAL, Sun. vs. LAC), $7100; Nikola Mirotic, CHI (Fri. at IND, Sun. at SA), $5700; Donatas Motiejunas, HOU (Fri. vs. DET, Sat. at DEN)
DeMarcus Cousins, SAC (Fri. at ORL, Sat. at MIA), $9500 – Cousins is tough to pass up at this price, even more so in a matchup with Orlando's Nikola Vucevic, who doesn't exactly making his living on the defensive end. I'm not at all worried about Cousins' recent lack of production, as it can easily be attributed to a combination of injuries, foul trouble and blowouts. He doesn't appear to be bothered by the ankle injury that sidelined him last week, and the Magic aren't exactly in shape to be blowing anybody out of the water. Orlando has slowed down its pace since moving on from Jacque Vaughn, but I still love the Oladipo-Cousins combo for Friday night. As for Saturday, I'll probably still have some Cousins stock, but a matchup with Hassan Whiteside is obviously less appealing for DFS purposes. For real-life purposes, it should be a pleasure to watch, with a decent chance that a fistfight breaks out.
Other options:Andre Drummond, DET (Fri. at HOU, Sun. vs. CHA), $7800; Al Jefferson, CHA (Fri. vs. TOR< Sun. at DET), $7600; Rudy Gobert, UTA (Fri. at PHI, Sun. at BKN), $7200; Tyson Chandler, DAL (Fri. at GS, Sun. at LAL), $6500; Alexis Ajinca, NO (Fri. vs. BOS, Sat. vs. MEM), $4900