Well, no one said getting in an accelerated NBA regular season in the middle of a pandemic with games in multiple cities after an abbreviated offseason would be easy, and that reality is extremely apparent on Friday’s fantasy basketball slate. As of Friday morning, there are multiple key names dealing with injuries, fatigue or issues with the health and safety protocols that could have a major impact on this 10-game slate. Now more than ever, it’s vital that you stay plugged into the latest breaking news and how it impacts your lineup, so follow @dklive on Twitter and download the DK Live app to stay up-to-the-minute with all the latest news leading up to tipoff.
Of the 20 teams in action, the Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies are the three playing for the second night in a row, so keep an especially close eye on the news of what they will choose to do with their star players. While plenty of opportunities could open up throughout the day, given the information we have Friday morning here are four players who seem primed to outproduce their minimal salaries based on form, matchup and expected workload.
PG/SG Raul Neto, Washington Wizards at Boston Celtics, $3,900
Russell Westbrook ($10,400; finger) dislocated his finger on Wednesday and was already likely to sit out either tonight in Boston or tomorrow when the Wizards finish their back-to-back with a matchup at home against the Heat. Especially after the injury, I think tonight is the game he’ll miss, meaning there should be plenty of work for Neto, who has picked up two starts this season in previous games in which Russ rested.
In his first start in place of Westbrook, Neto showed off a high ceiling by playing 32 minutes against the Magic and producing 22 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals for 40.5 DKFP. His second start wasn’t quite as productive since the Wizards blew out the Timberwolves and he only played 22 minutes with 12 points, two assists, two steals and 19.5 DKFP. Even coming off the bench, he has been fairly productive and involved when given playing time, so he should be ready to produce if he gets the start and decent usage against the depleted Celtics.
PF/C Daniel Theis, Boston Celtics vs. Washington Wizards, $4,300
Speaking of those shorthanded Celtics, Boston was already dealing with multiple injuries and now Grant Williams ($3,400), Tristan Thompson ($4,600), Robert Williams ($4,100) and Carsen Edwards ($3,000) are all listed as questionable due to contact tracing. If they end up being out against Washington, get ready for plenty of run for Theis, who will be about the only big man available aside from Tacko Fall ($3,000), who has played only six minutes all season. Tacko Friday might be fun too, but look for Theis to end up playing most of the minutes in that scenario in a perfect matchup to get his game back in gear after a slow start.
Theis produced 1.4 DKFP per minute last season with Boston but has seen that average drop to 0.8 DKFP per minute in his nine games this season. Part of that is definitely due to playing next to Thompson in the two-big starting lineup. He has shown some signs of breaking out of his slump in the new year, though, with 15 points and 23.75 DKFP last Sunday against the Pistons and 13 points and 22.75 DKFP against the Heat on Wednesday in his most recent matchup. He struggled with just two points and 5.75 DKFP in the game in between those contests, but if more playing time comes his way he won’t have that bust potential. Even if Theis doesn’t score a bunch of points against the Wizards, he should put up good peripheral stats and rebounds since Washington has been the third-best matchup for opposing centers this season, allowing centers to shoot 59% from the field and grab a league-high 12.84 rebounds per contest.
SF/PF Eric Paschall, Golden State Warriors vs. Los Angeles Clippers, $4,400
The Warriors have been giving their sophomore forward plenty of usage in the second unit. He has a usage rate of over 20% in five of his past six games since moving to the bench and he has scored double-digit points in each of those contests. He had 19 points and three rebounds in 20 minutes against the Clippers in the first game of this two-game series and produced 24.25 DKFP.
On the season, Paschall has averaged 11.8 points and 18.8 DKFP per game, but he has been even better with 21.4 DKFP in his six games in the second unit. He isn’t playing a ton of minutes, but when he’s on the floor he clearly has the green light and the confidence of Steve Kerr and his teammates. If Paschall gets more minutes due to game flow, he would have a very high ceiling since he has produced at least 1.1 DKFP per minutes in five of his past six games. Even if he stays around 20 minutes per game off the bench, though, he’s a very solid option at this salary in a forward spot.
PG Chris Chiozza, Brooklyn Nets at Memphis Grizzlies, $3,000
The Nets are another team that looks like they will be very shorthanded. They’ll be taking on the Grizzlies in the second game of their back-to-back, and don’t overlook Chiozza at the minimum salary since it’s likely he’ll get plenty of run for the second night in a row. Kyrie Irving (personal) is away from the team and will not play while Spencer Dinwiddie (knee) is out for the year with a ruptured ACL and Tyler Johnson ($3,200; health and safety protocols) missed last night’s contest and could also be sidelined for this matchup. With all those players out, the point guard options for Brooklyn are reduced to Caris LeVert ($7,400) and Chiozza, who played 16 minutes off the bench Thursday against the 76ers. He finished with eight points, six assists, three rebounds and 23.75 DKFP while also producing a 29.8% usage rate that was second on the team behind LeVert.
Chiozza played a season-high 27 minutes in the Nets’ previous matchup with the Grizzlies, scoring 14 points and finishing with 21.25 DKFP in 27 minutes against Memphis. He helped send that game to overtime and seems to be set up for another heavy workload unless Johnson is able to return and step into a huge role. Since that doesn’t seem likely, I think Chiozza is a nice option at just $3K and won’t have to do a ton to bring back a great return on investment at this low price point.
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