• It’s Friday! We’re starting our weekend with an eight-game slate, starting with Tatum v. Jokic, going through a Milwaukee team full of sleepers (bad news, Jevon Carter is already priced out of the Value Plays) and ending with a possible Westbrook-led Lakers (LeBron is out, AD is questionable). The Pelicans really might be rolling with a frontcourt of Zion and Wemby next year, sorry Lakers fans. Before starting to discuss this slate, I just want to mention the amount of possible new starts breaking out this year. Desmond Bane and Shai went up a level, Banchero seems like the real deal and we haven’t even mentioned Cade and Mobley. They’re all playing today! Can you guess how many players are averaging more than 40 FPPG on DK? 31! Let’s get started on today’s games!

    Injury Report

    You shouldn’t be playing DFS without Sports Ethos’s LIVE Injury Report. Seriously. Give it a gander and bookmark it so we can keep you informed all year long!

    Tonight’s Props

    Thrive Plays of the Day

    Deandre Ayton U2.5BLKS (70 PTS) – I’m going to list Ayton’s minutes and blocks every game this season (minutes+blocks), starting in the beginning of the season:  30+0, 38+1, 29+1, 25+0, 8+0, DNP, DNP, 29+0, 16+2, 31+1, 33+0. 239 minutes, 5 blocks. This means Ayton needed 144 minutes to get a handful so far this season. Last year, he averaged 0.7 blocks a game and throughout his career, he only managed to get 3 or more blocks 25 times in 245 games (10% of his games). All the data point to this being the safest prop of the night.

    Marcus Smart O4.5ASTS (80 PTS) – The second-safest prop of the night. Smart put up double digit assist numbers his last three games and is still looking like the real PG we saw starting mid-season last year. He’s averaging 7 assists on the season and 8.8 last week, and the Boston Celtics are playing a Denver team that are bottom ten in assists allowed per game, with 26.5.

    Fred VanVleet O28.5PTS+ASTS (100 PTS) – Nick Nurse is well known for playing his starters heavy minutes and with Siakam out, VanVleet has an extra offensive responsibility. Last three games without Siakam, he surpassed this over comfortably with 36, 31 and 41 PTS+ASTS. Against an OKC team that is tenth in pace, Fred should get enough possessions to continue this trend.

    D’Angelo Russel O5.5ASTS (100 PTS) – More assists! D’Lo is averaging 5.7 assists on the season, down on his 7.1 per game last season. Despite this, he surpassed this over 7 out of 11 times this season. He had four straight games with 4 assists, where his poor shooting numbers led him to play under 30 minutes. In the games where he played over 30 minutes, he’s averaging 7 assists. Playing a tough Memphis game, I expect Russell to hoover around the thirty-plus minute mark and get you six or more assists.

    Shai Gilgeous-Alexander O26.5PTS (90PTS) – Check the leading scorers this season. There are ten players averaging 27 or more PPG this season, and Shai is fifth with 31.6! He surpassed this over in 80% of his games this season, and despite Toronto’s elite defense, I’m expecting Shai to stay near the top of the scoring leaders. Until OKC shuts him down, at least.

    Tonight’s Games Picks (EST)

    Cavaliers (+2)

    Raptors (-5)

    Suns (-7)

    Writer’s record


    DFS Pillar Plays

    Russell Westbrook

    Position: PG

    Salary: $7,300

    Monitor AD’s status closer to gametime on Sports Ethos’s LIVE Injury Report. If he sits, Westbrook could have a vintage night. The Lakers could not only be missing Davis, but Lonnie Walker is also questionable. This opens the door for Westbrook’s usage to go through the roof and he has no trouble racking up stats, even if it is in an inefficient way. In the last two games without LeBron, he put up 34.5 and 37.25 FPTS. But this could be his first game this season without both Lakers stars, so we have no real sample size.

    Cameron Payne

    Position: PG

    Salary: $5,700

    Payne is a play only if Chris Paul sits. He put up 46.5 FPTS in 35 minutes last game without CP3. He and Booker seem to be the major beneficiaries of CP3’s absence, as Booker is also a nice play with his $9,400 price-tag. He could very well be today’s highest scorer, with almost 60 FPTS in his last game. Could the Suns backcourt combine for over 100FPTS again?

    Jaden Ivey

    Position: SG

    Salary: $5,700

    Another “if player sits” move. Cade Cunningham is questionable and Ivey has yet to be the main ball-handler for a full game in the NBA. If college is any indicator, Ivey without Cade should be a stat-machine, enhanced by the defense and playmaking of his possible backcourt partner, Killian Hayes. Even with Cade, Ivey put up almost 50 FPTS against OKC on November 7th and last game, with Cade playing injured, he got 45 FPTS. Seems like great value, given his price tag is down from his first few career games (it has hoovering around $6,500).

    Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

    Position: PG

    Salary: $9,200

    Averaging over 50 FPPG this season and priced at $9,200 (his 4th lowest price this season), Shai provides good value. He’s a high floor play with a cheaper salary than most of your other stars today (think of Ja, Tatum, Jokic and Curry). If you want to go with other options, I also like VanVleet (without Siakam – $8,400/42FPPG) and Bane ($8,100/40.8FPPG), in that order. On this OKC team, I also like taking a shot on Poku at $5,200. He’s been playing really well lately.

    DFS Value Plays (<$5,000 Salary)

    MarJon Beauchamp

    Position: SF

    Salary: $4,400

    The Milwaukee Bucks are going to be without Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday again for their matchup against the Spurs. Last game, Beauchamp got the start and 34.5 FPTS, showcasing his potential. He’s a long wing who can shoot 3s, so he can give you points through defensive stats, rebounds, threes and high efficiency paint points. $4,400 for a guy who is probably going to start and get 30-plus minutes seems like a nice value play. Don’t forget Jevon Carter, he got 62.5 (!!!) FPTS last game and is priced out of the value plays ($5,300) but is still a solid play from this depleted Bucks roster. Just to finalize this Bucks analysis, Grayson Allen at $5,100 is also an interesting play, as is Pat Connaughton ($4,100), who might make his season debut today.

    Jalen Duren

    Position: C

    Salary: $3,900

    Duren had a double-double last game and 31 FPTS. Between him, Stewart, Sims and Hartenstein, this game projects to always have one true big man on each team on the floor, so Duren could match his last game’s production. Without Mitchell Robinson, Jericho Sims got the start last game, played 27 minutes and got 22.5 FPTS. The Knicks frontcourt minutes seem unpredictable, as we even got to see a few minutes of Toppin at the five, but Sims is a sleeper option today.


    Position Player Name Salary
    PG Shai $9,200
    SG Ivey $5,700
    SF Marjon B. $4,400
    PF ??? ???
    C Damian Jones* $3,600
    G ??? ???
    F ??? ???
    UTIL ??? ???
    REMAINING BUDGET $27,100 for 4 players


    *No AD

    If AD sits, this opens the Lakers frontcourt doors to Damian Jones and Wenyen Gabriel, so they could be very interesting flyer options. Also, Matt Ryan or Max Christie at the lowest price-tag possible today could be intriguing. Without AD, LeBron, Lonnie, Schroeder and Thomas Bryant, the Lakers have a really thin rotation.

    The Lakers and the Bucks could be playing without their top 2 and top 3 players and I’ve talked a lot about them today, so let me organize a list of my favorite swings on each team, in order of my favorite play:

    Marjon, Carter, Pat on the Bucks

    Damian Jones (no AD), Wenyen Gabriel, Matt Ryan on the Lakers

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