This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
We have our third nine-game slate of the week on tap Friday night. And for a ledger of that size, the injury report is pleasantly short on prominent, short-term injuries. That is an ideal scenario from the DFS perspective in terms of flexibility when building lineups, and it certainly helps ensure rostering should be spread out across the most popular plays. With such an expansive menu of games, we also see a fairly even balance between what should be hotly contested games that figure to entail heavy minutes for top players and some other scenarios where favorites may prevail by comfortable margins.
Here's a closer look at the three games with some of the highest projected totals on Friday's slate:
Charlotte Hornets at Golden State Warriors (Projected total: 232.0 points)
The Warriors are still chugging along at a Western Conference-high 106.4 possessions per game and allowing an average of 112.5 points. The Hornets are right behind them surrendering 112.3 per contest, including 115.8 on the road. Charlotte is also giving up 47.5 percent shooting when traveling, with a particularly elevated 40.8 percent from three-point range that could prove especially costly against Stephen Curry. Factoring in Golden State averages an impressive 115.8 points per home game and the Hornets check in with 112.7 away (compared to 110.2 at home) and there's a reasonable expectation this matchup could live up to scoring expectations.
Phoenix Suns at Chicago Bulls (Projected total: 228.5 points)
The Suns continue as one of the league's tougher defensive teams, even on the road where they allow a modest 108.4 points per contest. Phoenix also plays at a bottom-3 pace, but the Bulls operate at the third fastest (105.6 possessions per contest) and should therefore speed things up a bit here over a typical Suns' contest. Chicago is also averaging the fifth-most points scored (115.3) yet also allowing 115.4 at home, while the Suns are up to a solid 113.5 points scored per game, including 127.0 over the last three. With names like Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Zach LaVine all taking the floor, this could certainly be on the higher-scoring side despite Phoenix's normally stingy ways.
Sacramento Kings at Detroit Pistons (Projected total: 224.5 points)
The Kings have been a sieve on defense all season and are now allowing the most points per game (120.5) along with an NBA-high 49.2 percent and 40.4 percent shooting overall and from three-point range, respectively. Sacramento can also put up its share of points (114.1 per game) and the Pistons check in surrendering the third-highest shooting percentage (48.0). While Detroit is scoring a relatively 108.3 points per home contest, the Kings' defensive issues are such that they could coax an above-average game from Detroit's offensive pieces even with Delon Wright still out with a groin injury.
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, 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.
LeBron James, LAL (ankle)/ Status: PROBABLE
James is fully expected to continue playing through his ankle issue and should once again be even more of a focal point than usual with Anthony Davis (Achilles) still out.
Delon Wright, DET (groin)/ Status: OUT
In Wright's absence, Dennis Smith is likely to continue working as the starting point guard.
Bam Adebayo, MIA (knee)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
If Adebayo were to sit out, Precious Achiuwa and Kelly Olynyk could see extra minutes while the usage rates of Jimmy Butler and the remaining healthy members of the starting five would see a nice bump.
Al Horford, OKC (rest)/ Status: OUT
Tyler Herro, MIA (hip)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
Devonte' Graham, CHA (knee)/ Status: OUT
Dennis Schroder, LAL (COVID-19 protocol)/ Status: PROBABLE
Schroder is expected to be cleared to come back Friday after a four-game absence. His return could lead to a bit less facilitating for LeBron James.
Other notable injuries:
Anthony Davis, LAL (Achilles)/ Status: OUT
Kyle Kuzma, LAL (back)/ Status: PROBABLE
Cody Zeller, CHA (hip)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
Marcus Smart, BOS (calf)/ Status: OUT
Christian Wood, HOU (ankle)/ Status: OUT
Saddiq Bey, DET (ankle)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
Hassan Whiteside, SAC (COVID-19 protocols)/ Status: GTD
Otto Porter, CHI (back)/ Status: OUT
Lauri Markkanen, CHI (shoulder)/ Status: OUT
Dillon Brooks, MEM (thigh)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
Hamidou Diallo, OKC (groin)/ Status: OUT
Caleb Martin, CHA (COVID-19 protocols)/ Status: OUT
Blake Griffin, DET (team decision)/ Status: OUT
Cam Reddish, ATL (Achilles)/ Status: QUESTIONABLE
Despite the large slate Friday, there are only three players sporting five-figure salaries – LeBron James ($10,600), Damian Lillard ($10,300) and Stephen Curry ($10,000). James will continue to operate without Anthony Davis and faces a Trail Blazers' team that's had trouble defensively on the road, while Lillard could well be trying to match LeBron bucket-for-bucket while still working without trusted backcourt mate CJ McCollum (foot). Meanwhile, Curry is part of the game with the highest projected total of the slate as of early Friday, and as already noted earlier, will be facing a Hornets team very vulnerable to three-point shooting on the road.
There are also several players with salaries in the high four-figures that have the ability to deliver elite scores, including Domantas Sabonis ($9,900), Zach LaVine ($9,800), Kawhi Leonard ($9,700), Trae Young ($9,600) and Jayson Tatum ($9,400).
From that group, LaVine is an interesting play against a tough Suns' defense, as he's essentially proven matchup-proof this season and comes in averaging 32.9 points on 55.7 percent shooting - including 53.0 percent from behind the arc - over his last eight games. Leonard and Tatum could both carry an extra level of motivation Friday after an embarrassing team loss (Leonard) and an abysmal 4-for-20 shooting effort (Tatum) in their most recent matchups.
All the names mentioned in Elite Players section are naturally going to be very popular Friday, but the rostering of these top-shelf options should be fairly spread out with 18 teams in action.
In terms of other chalk, there doesn't appear to be a lot of spots for individual players to be overly rostered with such a light injury report and a large number of contests. However, in terms of game environments, the Hornets-Warriors matchup could certainly be a popular one to target beyond just Curry with LaMelo Ball and Andrew Wiggins two complementary pieces that could find themselves on plenty of lineups. The Suns-Bulls tilt could see a similar development as DFS players flock to the likes of Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Thaddeus Young and the red-hot Wendell Carter in addition to LaVine.
Josh Jackson, DET vs. SAC ($5,700)
Jackson has been a consistent producer for an extended stretch, scoring 23.4 to 47.1 FD points in his last 12 games and exceeding a 5x return (28.5 FD points) on his current salary in 12 of 30. The versatile wing is averaging a well-rounded 19.1 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.0 block across the former span and draws a premium matchup to continue his hot streak. As alluded earlier, the Kings are allowing the most points per game and highest shooting percentage and have also given up the sixth-highest offensive efficiency to second-unit players (44.2 percent). And with Saddiq Bey (ankle) questionable, it's possible Jackson draws a start at small forward, which naturally would only serve to boost his value.
T.J. McConnell, IND at BOS ($5,500)
McConnell's salary is especially appealing when considering he's scored 32.7 to 44.6 FD points in four of the last five games. The veteran is logging the second-highest allotment of playing time of his career (24.1 MPG) and is shooting an ultra-efficient 50.7 percent. McConnell is also averaging a career-high 1.8 steals per contest and should see healthy volume again in what should be a highly competitive matchup against a Celtics' team giving up the 10th-most FD points per game to point guards over the last five contests (55.9).
Malik Monk, CHA at GS ($4,900)
Monk could be in prime position to thrive off the bench again versus the fast-paced Warriors, who have allowed the third-highest offensive efficiency to second-unit players (45.1 percent) on the season. He's scored 27.2 to 38.9 FD points in three of the last four contests and 27.0 to 43.0 FD points in five February games overall. The fourth-year guard's efficiency is off the charts, as he's shooting a career-best 47.3 percent from three-point range on a career-high 5.1 three-point attempts per contest. With the Hornets-Warriors projected for the highest combined total of the night, Monk is one of those value plays who could make a major impact in a GPP lineup by virtue of the flexibility he can offer elsewhere.