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FantasyDraft NBA: Friday Picks

Juan Carlos Blanco

Winner of the FSWA 2016 Newcomer of the Year Award, Juan Carlos Blanco has been playing fantasy sports for close to 20 years and covers NBA, MLB, and the NFL for, including serving as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' beat writer. He has previously written for and remains an avid season-long and daily fantasy player in multiple sports.

Tonight’s seven-game slate isn’t as voluminous as that of a typical Friday night in the NBA, but it provides us more than enough diversity in terms of lineup construction. An absence of any players over the $20K mark also makes it a bit easier to take a balanced approach and perhaps fit in multiple pieces that are just a rung below the ultra-elite. Without further ado, let’s dive into some of the best options at each price point:


John Wall, WAS at DET ($16,900): Wall saw a dip in playing time in Wednesday’s blowout loss to the Hornets, but he still compiled 31.50 fantasy points in 24 minutes. Prior to that contest, he’d scored 45.25 to 66.00 fantasy points over an eight-game period, a stretch during which he’s sported a 32.9 percent usage rate and averaged 1.33 fantasy points per minute. He should certainly be back up to a normal allotment of playing time Friday in a plus matchup against the Pistons, who have allowed the seventh-most fantasy points (47.5) to point guards on the campaign, including 54.7 over the last five. Moreover, they’re surrendering the most assists (9.5) and second-highest shooting percentage (45.0) to the position, while Wall already lit up this same squad for 26 points (on 66.7 percent shooting), 10 assists, three rebounds, two blocks and one steal across 34 minutes back on Oct. 20.

Will Barton, DEN vs. PHO ($12,200): The Kings’ Bogdan Bogdanovic ($12,400) is also a viable tournament option for those willing to pay up the extra $200, while Darren Collison makes for an intriguing same-price pivot from Barton for GPPs in an appealing matchup against the Lakers. However, Barton is slated for another start Friday at point guard in place of Jamal Murray (concussion) and should thus see plenty of minutes against a Suns squad allowing the second-most fantasy points (49.9) to ones on the season, including 53.0 over the last five. They’re also allowing the third-highest shooting percentage (44.0) to the position on the campaign, while Barton has scored 30.75 to 39.75 fantasy points in three of his last four contests, including 39.00 over 34 minutes in his Wednesday start versus the Clippers.

Jarrett Jack, NY at UTA ($9,000): The Suns’ point guard duo of Tyler Ulis ($8,000) and Isaiah Canaan ($7,900) are also interesting tournament-only options in what should be a fast-paced matchup against the Nuggets, but Jack is certainly worthy of consideration for tournaments despite the slightly higher price. The veteran point guard has admittedly seen some fairly drastic fluctuations in his production, including in the last two games, when he posted just 8.00 and 16.25 fantasy points, respectively. However, Jack saw just 12 minutes in the former and took a scant five shot attempts over 28 minutes in the latter. Prior to that pair of contests, he’d scored 28.25 to 48.00 fantasy points over a four-game sample, and he’d compiled 20.50 to 33.00 in another four contests over the previous six. The Jazz’s defensive reputation is well-founded, but Utah comes in allowing 49.3 fantasy points to point guards over the last five, along with the third-highest shooting percentage (44.0) to the position on the season.


Nikola Jokic, DEN vs. PHO ($17,600): Naturally, Andre Drummond ($18,200) is always under consideration at this price level given his considerable upside. Meanwhile, Jokic comes at a slight discount and is now averaging 40.55 fantasy points on the season after scoring 37.00 to 67.00 fantasy points in five of the last six games, making him an appealing play in his own right. The young big man is sporting a 30.4 percent usage rate and averaging 1.45 fantasy points per minute over that stretch, tops among Nuggets starters. Jokic also scored 38.75 fantasy points over 36 minutes against this same Suns squad on Jan. 3, and Phoenix continues to be as vulnerable as ever to centers. The Suns have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points (38.5), points (16.2) and rebounds (11.2) to fives on the season, leaving Jokic with plenty of opportunity to replicate or exceed his well-balanced line from his first meeting against them.

Domantas Sabonis, IND at LAL ($12,400): JaMychal Green ($11,800) is also worthy of a look for those who need the savings, although his usage should see at least a slight downturn if Marc Gasol returns Friday from the illness that cost him the Grizzlies’ last contest. Meanwhile, Sabonis should be in for plenty of run in Myles Turner’s continued absence due to an elbow injury, leaving him poised to extend a 10-game stretch during which he’s scored 22.50 to 37.75 fantasy points. The second-year big boasts a 23.6 percent usage rate and is averaging 1.11 fantasy points per minute with Turner off the floor this season, and the Lakers come in allowing the sixth-most fantasy points (38.2) to centers, along with the third-highest shooting percentage (56.0).

Wayne Ellington, MIA at BKN ($9,400): Jonas Valanciunas ($10,500) is also in play for tournaments at a slightly higher cost, but Ellington has been providing solid value on his typically modest price tag, especially with the expanded opportunity he’s seeing in the wake of Dion Waiters’ season-ending ankle injury. Ellington has scored 24.25 to 33.50 fantasy points in six of his last eight games, a stretch during which he’s seen more than 30 minutes in all but one contest. The veteran sharpshooter is averaging a robust 12.0 shot attempts over the last seven games as well, a notable bump from his season figure of 8.5. Ellington’s former Brooklyn teammates are also allowing 44.0 fantasy points per game to two-guards on the campaign, and Ellington should approximate or exceed another 30-minute workload Friday with backcourt mate Tyler Johnson (ankle) already ruled out.


LaMarcus Aldridge, SA at TOR ($16,300): Aldridge continues to be the one constant in the Spurs’ offensive attack in the wake of Kawhi Leonard’s injury-marred season, and following a 56.50 fantasy-point haul on Wednesday against the Nets, he’s now averaging 39.60 fantasy points per game on the season. He’s also boasting a 30.6 percent usage rate with Leonard off the floor, and his matchup against the Raptors could leave him poised for more superior production. Toronto has allowed the seventh-most fantasy points (45.2) to power forwards on the campaign, including 48.1 (along with 50.0 percent shooting) over the last 10.

Hassan Whiteside, MIA at BKN ($15,500): Whiteside just trampled the Bucks for 56.25 fantasy points on the strength of a 27-point, 13-rebound double-double on Wednesday. He’d scored 37.50 to 44.75 fantasy points in four of his previous five contests as well, a stretch during which he’d averaged a team-high and elite 1.44 fantasy points per minute. It’s also worth noting that he racked up an efficient 32.00 fantasy points over just 20 minutes against this same Brooklyn squad on Dec. 29, which was only his second game back after a 13-game absence from a knee injury. Now back at full health, he should be poised for another strong return, considering the Nets are surrendering the second-most fantasy points to centers on the season (39.4), and the most over the last 10 (49.1). Brooklyn’s league-worst 43.5 team shooting percentage is also playing a large part in them allowing the most rebounds (16.6) to the position over the latter span, a deficiency that should afford Whiteside plenty of opportunities on the glass Friday.

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The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Juan Carlos Blanco plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: jcblanco22, FanDuel: jc_blanco22, DraftPot: jc_blanco22, FantasyDraft: jc_blanco22, OwnThePlay: jcblanco22.