This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
The NBA's seeding games roll on Friday, and DraftKings presents a five-game slate that tips off at 4pm ET. It's a rather challenging slate for DFS purposes, as only one game has a spread of less than 4.5 points at the time of this writing, while multiple injury scenarios presently list the totals for three games as off the board. The 76ers-Magic game is particularly affected, with Ben Simmons and most likely Aaron Gordon set to miss for each side.
As usual, we'll examine key injuries and proceed to break down the positional outlook below before delving into possible chalk plays and likely low-rostered bargains that could help you round out your lineups with a couple of superstars.
Without further ado, let's take a more comprehensive look at Friday's slate!
Game to Target
Boston Celtics at Toronto Raptors (Projected total: 218.5 points)
While this game won't carry the highest projected total, it could well be the most competitive. It carries the tightest spread at the moment with Toronto favored by a slim three points, and it should be a fierce battle between two conference rivals. Both squads are essentially at full health and the back-and-forth nature of the contest could lead to some solid fantasy production from multiple key pieces.
Game to Fade
Washington Wizards at New Orleans Pelicans (Projected total: OTB)
If the Wizards were at full strength, I'd consider this a much more attractive game. However, the Pels are favored by a robust 7.5 points, the biggest spread on the DK slate. Washington is trying to stave off elimination in East but it's a long shot, and they've neither scored nor been as defensively vulnerable in the restart bubble as they were before the season was suspended. The Pelicans may have a chance to take their foot off the gas in the second half, which would neutralize many talented pieces from maximizing their DFS upside. The fact Zion Williamson is now listed as out for rest only reduces the overall offensive expectations.
PG: Ben Simmons' absence is naturally the impactful one at this spot, although there is plenty of depth with the likes of Chris Paul, Ja Morant and Kyle Lowry in action. Lowry and Morant could be involved in the tightest games of the day and therefore particularly valuable for DFS purposes, while Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ($6.6K), Kemba Walker ($6K) and Shake Milton ($5.8K) could all turn out to be bargains at their current prices.
SG: There is good health overall at shooting guard, where Jrue Holiday, Fred VanVleet, Caris LeVert and Jaylen Brown make up a solid quartet up top. Even if Joe Harris misses his game with a groin injury, there is plenty of depth to work with and value options such as Evan Fournier below the $6K range.
SF: Harris and Aaron Gordon are both small-forward eligible and probably will miss their games, so the depth here is depleted. Nevertheless, Brandon Ingram, Tobias Harris, Jayson Tatum and Gordon Hayward are very strong options at the top of the pool, with the latter three in particularly favorable spots due to injured teammates (Harris) and involvement in what should be a very competitive wire-to-wire battle (Tatum and Hayward). There are also multiple sub-$6K values to consider, including Josh Richardson ($5K) who should see a big usage bump with Ben Simmons (knee) out.
PF: Ingram, Harris, Tatum and Hayward are all eligible in this spot also and boost up the depth at the top of the pool, while Pascal Siakam and Zion Williamson (UPDATE: Now OUT for rest) round it out. All are fine options Friday, and Al Horford ($6.6K) is also very much in play with the expectation he'll move into the starting five in place of Ben Simmons (knee).
C: Joel Embiid ($10.5K) will cost you a pretty penny, but he's worth the investment having averaged 48.3 DK points this season when Ben Simmons (knee) missed action. Those that can't quite float that salary will have the likes of Nikola Vucevic, Jonas Valanciunas and Thomas Bryant to choose from, while Daniel Theis and Derrick Favors could make for good values at $5.4K and $5.2K, respectively, in terms of pure centers.
Injury Situations to Monitor
NOTE: Injury reporting is especially fluid in the NBA, where the status of multiple players can change during the course of a day. Therefore, although the following serves as a foundation for the latest injury report as of the time the article is written (usually late morning Eastern time), check back throughout the course of the day with RotoWire for the latest news regarding the status of all players on that night's slate.
Ben Simmons (PHI) (knee)
Simmons will not play due to the subluxation of his left kneecap he suffered against the Wizards on Wednesday. His absence naturally has a seismic impact on the Sixers, who'll move Al Horford into the starting five. The usage of Philadelphia's entire first unit should bump up to a different degree, with Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris potentially the biggest beneficiaries.
Aaron Gordon, ORL (hamstring)
Gordon is considered doubtful due to a strained left hamstring suffered Wednesday against the Wizards. James Ennis and Khem Birch would likely handle power forward duties if Gordon can't go, while the usage of the remainder of the Magic's starting five would see a notable boost.
Zion Williamson, NO (rest)
Williamson will not play in what is a second game of a back-to-back set for New Orleans. Nicolo Melli should step into the starting five and the remainder of the Pelicans' first unit should see a bump in usage.
Joe Harris, BKN (groin)
Harris is questionable due to a bruised left groin. Were he to miss, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot - who thrived as Harris' fill-in two games ago against the Bucks - will likely draw the start at small forward.
Jarrett Allen, BKN (ankle)
Allen is questionable due to an ankle sprain. If he's unable to go, Rodions Kurucs would probably fill in as the starting center.
Terrance Ferguson, OKC (leg)
Ferguson will not play against the Grizzlies, which should allow Luguentz Dort another start at small forward.
Mike Muscala, OKC (concussion)
Muscala will remain out against the Grizzlies.
Tyus Jones, MEM (knee)
Jones is expected to remain out against the Thunder.
Glenn Robinson, PHI (hip)
Robinson is considered doubtful to play against the Magic.
Mike Scott, PHI (knee)
Jamal Crawford, BKN (hamstring)
Crawford will not play against the Kings after hurting his hamstring on Tuesday.
Michael Carter-Williams, ORL (foot)
Carter-Williams is questionable to face the 76ers after missing Wednesday's game against the Wizards.
Patrick McCaw, TOR (knee)
McCaw will remain out against the Celtics.
Joel Embiid ($10.5K) enters as the only five-figure player on the slate, but he could be an excellent play regardless of the cost with Ben Simmons (knee) out for Philly. Jrue Holiday actually checks in as the second-most expensive player with a salary of $9.3K. Even though the matchup against the Wizards would have been a tantalizing one earlier in the season, Washington naturally doesn't carry anywhere near the same offensive potency it did when Bradley Beal was on the floor. That means teams aren't forced to keep their foot on the gas as much, which has been reflected in most of their seeding games thus far.
In terms of other players capable of delivering elite-type production, Kyle Lowry ($8.7K) may be another excellent option in a matchup against a Celtics' team he's already averaged 44.8 DK points against in three games this season. Tobias Harris could also be poised for a huge game at a reasonable $8.3K salary, as he'll also benefit from the absence of Simmons and averages 40.6 DK points with his teammate off the floor this season.
The healthy frontline players on both the 76ers and Magic could be among the chalkiest plays Friday due to the injuries of Ben Simmons and Aaron Gordon, with Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic particularly standing out. Meanwhile, Al Horford, Evan Fournier and Shake Milton should also be among the more popular value plays on those teams. Otherwise, this is a slate devoid of a lot of big names such as LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden, so rostering could be fairly well spread out in terms of the more prominent players.
I've also put together a specific list of sub-$6K value plays that should find themselves in plenty of lineups as well and included them at the bottom of the next section.
Cory Joseph, SAC at BKN ($4,300)
Joseph isn't ever overly popular from a DFS standpoint, but he's often a reliable producer when he gets some run and will check into Friday's game having eclipsed 20 DK points in each of his last two contests. The veteran saw a whopping 42 minutes two games ago in a spot start and 27 off the bench in his most recent contest, so he could be in for solid volume again versus a Nets' team that could facilitate some solid production. Brooklyn comes in ranked in the bottom half of the league in offensive efficiency rating allowed to backcourts (47.8) and point guards (26.6), and Joseph has delivered at least a 5x return on his current salary in 19 games this season.
James Ennis, ORL at PHI ($3,700)
Ennis presents an opportunity to get a starter at what should be a low rostering rate. The veteran should draw a first-unit assignment at either forward spot with Jonathan Isaac (knee) out and Aaron Gordon (hamstring) highly doubtful to play. Ennis has delivered 21.5 and 20 DK points in the last two games as a starter despite being stuck in a 1-for-10 slump from distance. Howeer, the veteran is typically a much better three-point shooter and offers serviceable production in both rebounds and steals, and he should be in for a heavier workload offensively if Gordon is out of action as expected.
Alex Len, SAC at BKN ($3,000)
Len worked up to 15 minutes in his most recent contest after logging only three in his restart bubble debut the game prior, so it appears his conditioning is on the rise. He could be in for another bump in playing time Friday after turning in eight points, six rebounds and a steal – good for 15 DK points – against the Pelicans on Thursday. We've seen Len outpace his current minimum salary countless times over the years despite not seeing a boatload of minutes, and this season alone he's exceeded 20 DK points in 21 games. The Nets could make for strong facilitators considering they've allowed the third-highest offensive efficiency rating to centers (34.1), including the fourth-most points (23.3) and third-most rebounds per game (15.9) to the position. Brooklyn is also ranked in the bottom-10 in points in the paint allowed per game (44.4), while Len logs 74.5 percent of his scoring in that area of the floor.
Other typically higher-rostered value plays to consider: Shake Milton, PHI ($5,800); Derrick Favors, NO ($5,200); Buddy Hield, SAC ($5,100); Bogdan Bogdanovic, SAC ($5,100); Josh Richardson, PHI ($5,000); Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, BKN ($4,300); JJ Redick, NO ($4,100)