This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
After seeing just three games on Thursday, the weekend kicks off with an exciting eight slate, giving us plenty of options when constructing a FanDuel lineup. As can be expected, some of the league's best will be on display Friday evening, including the reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, along with LeBron James, Stephen Curry and James Harden to name a few.
A quick reminder that FanDuel has gone back to its previous format, counting all nine of player's scores within your lineup after dropping the lowest player's total a season ago. With all nine selections counting towards your total score, it'll be vital to make each and every selection count. The good news is that we have plenty of efficient options in play given this massive slate.
Let's dive into this mouth-watering slate.
Unsurprisingly, there are a few matchups to target that will be especially enticing when it comes to DFS production. The following games are expected to be on the higher end of the scoring spectrum according to the FanDuel SportsBook:
Houston Rockets at Brooklyn Nets (Projected total: 240.5)
The Rockets have put on an impressive display of offense through the first four contests of the regular season, averaging an eye-popping 128 points per contest after dropping 159 points on the Wizards on Wednesday. James Harden and Russell Westbrook have shown early on that they're no joke when it comes to distributing and scoring the basketball. The Nets have also put up impressive point totals to start the year, with their best offensive output coming against Memphis on Sunday (133 points).
San Antonio Spurs vs. Golden State Warriors (Projected total: 225)
While this matchup isn't projected to rack up quite as many points as the Rockets and the Nets, it's still expected to be a breeding ground for fantasy production. The Warriors suffered another devastating blow following Wednesday's matchup, as Stephen Curry was diagnosed with a broken left hand, so the likes of D'Angelo Russell and Draymond Green will need to be up for the challenge. San Antonio has racked up 120-plus points in two of their three contests this year and could have an opportunity to feast on this young, inexperienced Golden State squad.
While the majority of Friday's matchups sit around the 214-217 range, there's one contest that's projected to have the least amount of scoring by a noticeable margin:
Cleveland Cavaliers at Indiana Pacers (Projected total: 210)
Given that there are plenty of options within this slate, it's certainly worth noting that this matchup is on track to have the least amount of scoring. The Pacers have struggled to a 1-3 start without the help of Victor Oladipo (knee), and the Cavs are a young team struggling to find their identity. It may be best to look elsewhere for value plays.
There are plenty of options at every position Friday given the depth of this slate, so there's no need to worry too much about paying up at one specific position. It'll be relatively easy to find affordable starters for your lineup, so the hardest part will be determining which positions to go after the big stars.
I view small forward as the position with the least amount of depth here. You have Giannis and LeBron at the very top, but the next player on the list drops to $7K (Gordon Hayward). This isn't necessarily the end of the world in a slate like this, but it could pay off to roll with one of the two starts at small forward and hunt for value plays or lower-priced starters at the other positions.
Injury Situations to Monitor
Kyle Korver, MIL
Frank Ntilikina, NYK
Ntilikina is being considered probable due to a sore neck, but it'll still be worth confirming that he's available to play closer to tipoff. He should be in store for a large chunk of minutes with Elfrid Payton (hamstring) and Dennis Smith (personal) out of commission.
Jaylen Brown, BOS
Derrick Rose, DET
Rose is probable for Friday's clash against the Bulls due to hamstring soreness, so there shouldn't be too much concern regarding his availability. However, if he's unable to take the court, Tim Frazier's value would increase substantially, especially with Reggie Jackson (back) also out.
Anthony Davis, LAL
Lakers' coach Frank Vogel stated Thursday that he expects Davis to be ready to roll after dealing with some shoulder soreness, though he'll be worth keeping an eye on leading up to tip.
Stephen Curry, GS
As mentioned earlier, the Warriors will be playing their first game of the season without Curry after he suffered a fractured left hand Wednesday. This could be a huge opportunity for D'Angelo Russell, though it'll also mean more minutes for the Michigan product, Jordan Poole.
Giannis leads the charge when it comes to elite players, checking in at $11,600 for the evening at small forward. LeBron James is closely behind, valued at $10,800. There's a steep drop off after James, however, with Gordon Hayward listed at $7,000 and plenty of starters behind him. If you're unwilling to snag either of these Tier 1 guys, there will be plenty of starters available for earnest prices.
Kyrie Irving ($10,300) and Russell Westbrook ($10,200) are the top two choices at point guard, followed by another star in Luka Doncic ($9,800). Again, there's plenty of value if you look further down on this list, you'll simply have to decide which stars you wish to roll with Friday night.
Harden ($11,200) and Andre Drummond ($10,100) round off the list of players priced at $10K or higher for this slate.
While there's plenty of star power available, there are also a handful of reasonably priced players who are likely to be heavily owned.
Kemba Walker ($8,700) is a reasonably priced point guard who has a favorable matchup. The Knicks are averaging 61.7 FanDuel points allowed to opposing point guards so far this season, and with Walker getting off to a hot start with his new team, I don't believe New York will find much success in defending the 29-year-old.
I would also expect DeMar DeRozan ($7,800) to be heavily owned in this one, especially considering he'll likely be defended by a rookie in Jordan Poole. DeRozan is averaging 34.16 FanDuel points over three contests this season, and he's scored 26 or more points in each of his last two games. He'll have a good chance to take advantage of a short-handed Golden State squad Friday night.
If I'm looking to pay under $10K at center, I'm looking at selecting Clint Capela, who'll be playing in a game that's expected to finish around 240 total points on the night. In addition, the Nets have struggled to slow down opposing centers in the early going, giving up 41.2 FanDuel points per contest. Capela is a strong scorer inside and can crash the boards, resulting in his top performance of the season to date Wednesday against Washington (44.9 FD points).
Eric Bledsoe, MIL @ ORL ($6,300):
I'll admit, Bledsoe has struggled mightily with his shot in the first week and a half of the regular season, but it's his contributions outside of the scoring department that catches my eye. In his last two games, he's dished out five or more assists while snagging four or more boards. Even when he's having an off night from the field, his hustle and ability to facilitate makes him a dangerous player. I don't think you can go wrong by scooping him up for this price.
Marcus Smart, BOS vs. NY ($5,400):
There are a few reasons I like Smart as a value play here. First off, he's coming off a pair of solid performances against the Knicks and the Bucks, stuffing the stat sheet on the way to 33-plus FanDuel points in both affairs. There's also the matter of where he slots into Boston's game plan for Friday evening. If Jaylen Brown (illness) is unable to take the court yet again Friday, Smart would be expected to draw the start at shooting guard and see a big chunk of minutes. He logged 39 minutes in Wednesday's matchup with Milwaukee, and he didn't disappoint (19 points, six assists, four rebounds and a steal). Even if Brown is cleared to play, the Oklahoma State product is still projected to handle around 28-30 minutes off the bench and will have a favorable matchup.
Kyle Kuzma, LAL @ DAL ($4,900):
Kuzma is set to make his regular-season debut after missing the first handful of matchups due to injury, and while it's unknown how much playing time he'll see in his first game back, I'm willing to take a flier on him for under $5K. Some may say Kuzma will see a decrease in opportunities and production this season after the addition of Anthony Davis, but with both James and Davis receiving the majority of the attention, there's an argument to be made that Kuzma could produce at a similar level. If he can settle into a groove early, he's a threat to put up north of 30 FanDuel points. The biggest question mark heading into Friday is just how long of a leash he'll have following an extended absence.