Friday offers us a healthy 11-game slate with only four marquee players in the $10K-plus range. The differential between these players and their lesser-priced counterparts is widest at the center position, which makes DeMarcus Cousins ($10,900) the most sensible spend-up play despite facing Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets at high altitude.
Other positions will give us similar value at a lower price, which is why LeBron James and Russell Westbrook arenít ideal, despite their usual output. Below weíll select three options at each position- one in the $7K-$9k range, one around the DK baseline of $6,250, and one low-salary, high value target.
Devin Booker, PHO at LAL ($7,800): The Suns have already played the Lakers twice and Booker has torched them both times, averaging 30.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists over the two contests. I see no reason to think that the Lakers backcourt will have a better solution to stop him.
Donovan Mitchell, UTA at BKN ($6,500): Ricky Rubio is a game-time decision, but even if Rubio plays, I like Mitchell against the Nets, who will still be without DíAngelo Russell in an exploitable matchup. He had a healthy 35.3 DKFP against them with Russell in the lineup last week, so an uptick from that total is entirely possible.
Shabazz Napier, POR at SAC ($3,300): Despite some tantalizing options for Portland, the potential for another blowout loss by Sacramento makes me wary of going for Lillard or other first-unit Blazers due to the likelihood that they will sit when the game gets out of hand. As a result, I like Napier here. When the Blazers gave him 27 minutes against Orlando on Wednesday, he delivered 32 DKFP in what was a closer-than-advertised matchup. If they see an opportunity to rest Lillard and/or McCollum later in the game, Napier should crush value at this price.
Other guards to consider: DeMar DeRozan, NY at TOR ($7,800), Bradley Beal, MIA at WAS ($7,500), Lou Williams, LAC at CLE ($6,500)
Blake Griffin, LAC at CLE ($8,800): Donít let Clevelandís recent change of fortune fool you. They are still dreadful defensively, and If Love continues to start at center Griffin should see some wide-open lanes at the four, where the Cavs are having the most trouble. Some might balk at the price, but Iím not hesitating.
Tim Hardaway, Jr., NY vs. TOR ($6,700): I struggled a bit at this spot due to the plentiful array of options at this price, but I seem to gravitate back to Hardaway due to the high ceiling he can achieve on any given night. It was a tight call between featuring Hardaway and T.J. Warren ($6,500), who averaged 41 DKFP over two matchups against the Lakers, and Iíd still give a nod to the potential there. Itís hard to deny Hardawayís five-game tear, where heís averaging 20.6 points and 6.8 rebounds over the past week, but an equal argument can be made for Warren.
Derrick Favors, UTA at BKN, ($5,900): Favors continues to be the Jazzís answer for filling Rudy Gobertís spot while heís sidelined, and the veteran should be reliable for decent output due to his increased usage. He should be featured prominently again here, as he torched the Nets for 24 points in their last meeting and looks to continue the trend here.
Other forwards to consider: Kyle Kuzma, LAL vs. PHO ($6,700), Lauri Markkanen, CHI vs. CHA ($6,300), Nicolas Batum, CHA at CHI ($6,000)
As previously stated, I like Cousins here, but there are a few other plausible options worth considering if you spent up elsewhere (Griffin, DeRozan, James, etc.).
Andre Drummond, DET at IND ($8,900): He thumped the Pacers in their last outing, and at a $2K discount from Cousins, Drummond is a good option if you need to spread that surplus cash at another position. In his last four contests, heís averaging an insane 18.8 rebounds per game. Hard to fade that kind of output.
Jusuf Nurkic, POR at SAC ($7,000): I have the same fear as I had with Portlandís backcourt, but Nurkic only sees an average of 27 minutes a game as it is, and heíll have the potential to rack up a lot of boards in short order against the Kings, who canít defend at any position particularly well.
Jonas Valanciunas, TOR at NY ($5,100): Is it time to buy back into Valanciunas? Ok, maybe not. Iím probably going with Marcin Gortat ($5,200) at a similar price, but as a GPP play you can make an argument after the Raptorsí center put up a respectable 21 points and 6 rebounds against a tough New Orleans frontcourt. Kristaps Porzingis and Enes Kanter stand in his way, but his potentially low ownership and low price will let you spend high at other spots in a GPP.