This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
It seemed that the post-deadline NBA world was starting to get settled, but we then saw a week full of high-profile injuries that should lead to some excellent value plays on DraftKings.
The biggest news is that Derrick Rose (knee) may miss the rest of the season due to a torn meniscus, leaving Aaron Brooks ($4500) as the Bulls' new starting point guard, at least for the time being. Brooks is a bit costly for a guy who recorded just 24.5 DraftKings points over 28 minutes in the first game sans-Rose, but the injury should still lead to some nice DFS opportunities. With fewer Chicago possessions eaten up by point guard iso plays, Jimmy Butler ($7900) and Pau Gasol ($9800) should have big games Friday night against a Minnesota team that's dead last in defensive rating (108.6).
Joakim Noah ($6800) is also worth a look, as he carries a very friendly price for a player coming off five straight games with 30-plus DK points. After Friday, the Bulls draw another favorable fantasy matchup Sunday, facing a Clippers team that ranks second in points scored and 22nd in points allowed.
Late Note:Pau Gasol (illness) is now questionable, adding Taj Gibson ($4300) and Nikola Mirotic ($3800) to the list of intriguing Bulls. If Gasol sits, Butler and Gibson approach must-start status. It would even be reasonable to use all four of Butler, Gibson, Mirotic and Brooks, though I'd probably limit myself to two or three of those guys in a bigger tournament.
While it doesn't have the same long-term implications as the injury to Rose, Sacramento will be in a tough spot Friday night against the Spurs, with DeMarcus Cousins (ankle) considered doubtful. Given that Darren Collison (hip) is already out for at least three-to-six weeks, the Kings are in serious danger of getting blown out on their own home court, even after beating the Grizzlies on Wednesday. Of course, someone needs to put up shots, and Rudy Gay ($7300) should be up to the task. Between the blowout potential and a matchup with Kawhi Leonard/Danny Green, Gay isn't exactly a safe play, but he does carry a ton of upside at that price.
Also, Jason Thompson ($3500) and Reggie Evans ($3000) become interesting bargain-bin power forward options in Cousins' absence, while Ray McCallum ($3300), Andre Miller ($3300) and Ben McLemore ($3600) are all candidates to have usage rates far higher than what their ability warrants.
The other star player unlikely to suit up Friday night is Kyrie Irving (shoulder), who won't travel to Indiana for Friday's game against the Pacers, after suffering an injury during Thursday's win over the Warriors. Coming off a massive showing against arguably the league's best team, LeBron James ($10,300) is the obvious candidate to benefit. Iman Shumpert ($3500) also becomes a more attractive option, as he may get some extra playing time at the point, albeit in lineups alongside the ball-dominant LBJ. J.R. Smith ($5000) may also get a few extra minutes, which pushes him back into the discussion for a game in which I'd typically avoid him. You can even make a case for Kevin Love ($7800), but I'll probably wait until Sunday's game against the fast-paced Rockets to jump on that bandwagon.
Speaking of which, there's some chance the Rockets won't have Patrick Beverley (illness) and/or James Harden (knee) for Friday's game against the Nets. Another Beverley absence would simply extend Jason Terry's ($3300) brief run as a reasonable option, while a Harden absence would be far, far more interesting. Simply put, every Rocket with a significant role in the rotation would get a boost from Harden's absence, as the hefty increase in shots to go around would make up for the likelihood that the team finds scoring more difficult than usual. I think Harden will end up playing, but I'm ready to pounce on Terry, Trevor Ariza ($5900) and Corey Brewer ($4100), if The Beard is unable to suit up.
Now that we've covered all the injury situations involving superstars, let's turn our attention to the Nuggets frontcourt, which has required close watching pretty much all season. Kenneth Faried (thumb) is probable to return for Friday's game against Utah, but Jusuf Nurkic (ankle) has already been ruled out, and Darrell Arthur (calf) is doubtful. It thus seems likely Faried ($5200) will start and handle a heavy workload, despite recently being demoted to the bench. Long known for his night-to-night inconsistency, Faried offers fantastic upside for that price.
J.J. Hickson ($3200) may also get a prime opportunity, as the Nuggets don't really have any other candidates to start at center against a Utah team with good size. Lastly, the little-known Joffrey Lauvergne ($3500) could push 30 minutes, especially if Wilson Chandler (thigh) misses another game. Danilo Gallinari ($5500) is the more obvious beneficiary of Chandler's absence, but Gallo isn't worth that kind of salary against a slow-paced team. Looking ahead to Sunday, the Nugget-Pelicans matchup in Denver could be a battle of the banged-up fronctcourts.
One final note: With Jose Calderon (Achilles) doubtful for Friday's game against the Pistons, Langston Galloway ($5200) becomes an even safer bet to top 35 minutes, while Alexey Shved ($3000) is in the mix for 25-plus minutes. Shved may be terrible, but he's still averaging 12.7 DK points over just 13.1 minutes this season, giving him enormous upside for a min-priced player.
That's all I've got for now. Here are some of the top choices for the upcoming weekend (Fri.-Sun.) on DraftKings…
John Wall, WAS (Fri. at PHI, Sat. vs. DET) $8600 – With Wall a bit banged up, and Brad Beal (leg) again sidelined by a stress fracture, the Wizards have looked nothing short of hideous over the past couple of week. Luckily, the NBA has a few teams that allow other teams to pretend their problems aren't real, and the Wizards get to face one (or arguably two) of those squads this weekend. As much as I like the matchups, it's probably even more important that Wall carries such a reasonable price tag for a guy averaging 41.6 DK points this season. The production hasn't been there lately, but he's a good bet to top 40 points Friday night, and remains a nightly threat to approach 60 points.
Other options:Russell Westbrook, OKC (Fri. vs. POR, Sun. at POR), $11,200; Chris Paul, LAC (Fri. at MEM, Sun. at CHI) $10,200; Damian Lillard, POR (Fri. vs. OKC, Sun. at SAC), $7800; Kyle Lowry, TOR (Fri. vs. GS, Sat. at NY), $6800 Reggie Jackson, DET (Fri. vs. NY, Sat. at WAS), $6100; Langston Galloway, NY (Fri. at DET, Sat. vs. TOR), $5200; Isaiah Canaan, PHI (Fri. vs. WAS, Sun. at IND), $3700; Alexey Shved, NY (Fri. at DET, Sat. vs. TOR)
Wayne Ellington, LAL (Fri. vs. MIL, Sun. vs. OKC), $4200 – I've never been a fan of Ellington's in the NBA, but with Nick Young (knee) temporarily sidelined and Ronnie Price (elbow) done for the season, the Lakers are simply running low on warm bodies. Ellington thus logged 38 minutes in Wednesday's win over the Jazz, and while he'll never put up big numbers on a per-minute basis, he's competent enough to turn in a decent stat line when he gets heavy run. Averaging 16.7 DK points over 23.2 minutes this season, Ellington should be able to provide 25-to-30 points Friday night.
Other options:Jimmy Butler, CHI (Fri. vs. MIN, Sun. vs. LAC), $7900; Joe Johnson, BKN (Fri. at HOU, Sat. at DAL), $5900; Iman Shumpert, CLE (Fri. at IND, Sun. at HOU), $3500; Willie Green, ORL (Fri. at ATL, Sun. vs. CHA), $3200; Courtney Lee, MEM (Fri. vs. LAC, Sat. at MIN), $3200
Rudy Gay, SAC (Fri. vs. SA, Sun. vs. POR), $7300 – Gay and LeBron James figure to be the most popular options at small forward Friday night, and while I'm ready to pivot to Corey Brewer in the event of a James Harden (knee) absence, it's hard to deny that Gay deserves to be widely rostered. Gay regularly put up 35-to-45 DK points in DeMarcus Cousins' absence earlier this season, and that was with Darren Collison (hip) still in the lineup. Assuming Cousins (ankle) doesn't make a surprise appearance Friday, even a blowout shouldn't stop Gay from providing solid production. If the Kings actually manage to keep things close, Gay could be in for a huge night of 50-plus DK points. Realistically, it's hard to imagine the Kings keeping it close without a big night from their small forward. In terms of ceiling relative to price, Gay is the top option at his position. That will likely remain true for Sunday's game against Portland, if Cousins misses another contest.
Other options:LeBron James, CLE (Fri. at IND, Sun. at HOU) $10,300; Gordon Hayward, UTA (Fri. at DEN, Sat. vs. MIL), $7900; Luol Deng, MIA (Fri. at NO, Sat. vs. ATL), $5900; Nicolas Batum, POR (Fri. vs. OKC, Sun. at SAC), $5500; Corey Brewer, HOU (Fri. vs. BKN, Sun. vs. CLE), $4100; Tony Allen, MEM (Fri. vs. LAC, Sat. at MIN), $3500; Joffrey Lauvergne, DEN (Fri. vs. UTA, Sat. vs. NO), $3500
J.J. Hickson, DEN (Fri. vs. UTA, Sat. vs. NO), $3200 – If you've paid any attention to the Nuggets this season, it's pretty clear that coach Brian Shaw isn't a big fan of Hickon's, which puts Shaw in a group that includes pretty much every one of Hickson's previous coaches. Of course, Hickson's real-life shortcomings have never stopped him from providing nice numbers on a per-minute basis, and he's currently averaging 18.2 DK points over 19.1 minutes per game this season. We know the Nuggets prefer to limit him to about 15-to-20 minutes, but with Jusuf Nurkic (ankle) and Darrell Arthur (hip) both unlikely to play, the team may have little choice but to let Hickson log 25-plus minutes. I also like teammates Kenneth Faried ($5200) and Joffrey Lauvergne ($3500), as all of these guys are candidates to get significant run.
Other options:Pau Gasol, CHI (Fri. vs. MIN, Sun. vs. LAC), $9800; Greg Monroe, DET (Fri. vs. NY, Sat. at WAS), $7900; Derrick Favors, UTA (Fri. at DEN, Sat. vs. MIL) $7400; David Lee, GS (Fri. at TOR, Sun. at BOS), $4400; Jason Thompson, SAC (Fri. vs. SA, Sun. vs. POR), $3500; Marreese Speights, GS (Fri. at TOR, Sun. at BOS), $3300; Kevin Seraphin, WAS (Fri. at PHI, Sat. vs. DET), $3000
Marcin Gortat, WAS (Fri. at PHI, Sat. vs. DET), $5200 – With everything crumbling around him, the Polish Hammer has picked an unusual time to start looking like the guy we saw last season. While still a bit hard to trust, Gortat has 41.5, 36.75 and 29.75 DK points in his last three games, as he heads into a couple of matchups that are among the best for centers. He doesn't quite offer the best ceiling at a loaded position, but Gortat is at least a 50/50 bet to provide six fantasy points per $1000 of salary Friday night.
Other options:Hassan Whiteside, MIA (Fri. at NO, Sat. vs. ATL), $7800; Andre Drummond, DET (Fri. vs. NY, Sat. at WAS) $7800; Al Jefferson, CHA (Fri. at BOS, Sun. at ORL), $7500; Rudy Gobert, UTA (Fri. at DEN, Sat. vs. MIL), $6500; Brook Lopez, BKN (Fri. at HOU, Sat. at DAL), $6400; Nikola Pekovic, MIN (Fri. at CHI, Sat. vs. MEM), $6100; Tyler Zeller, BOS (Fri. vs. CHA, Sun. vs. GS), $4700