After essentially conceding Thursday night to March Madness, the NBA returns in grand fashion Friday with a massive 12-game slate. The oversized schedule essentially insulates DFS participants from the thinning out of the player pool due to injuries, even as there are some big names sporting questionable or worse designations heading in. There's also good news in that the majority of games are projected by oddsmakers to be reasonably competitive, setting up what should be a fun night of DFS play.
Dallas Mavericks at Philadelphia 76ers (-3) (O/U: 217.0 points)
Portland Trail Blazers at Brooklyn Nets (-14) (O/U: 225.5 points)
Los Angeles Lakers at Toronto Raptors (-8.5) (O/U: 224.5 points)
Memphis Grizzlies (-4.5) at Atlanta Hawks (O/U: 236.0 points) Washington Wizards at New York Knicks (-4.5) (O/U: 224.0 points) Denver Nuggets (-2.5) at Cleveland Cavaliers (O/U: 221.5 points) Oklahoma City Thunder at Miami Heat (-15.5) (O/U: 220.0 points) Indiana Pacers (-3) at Houston Rockets (O/U: 239.5 points) New Orleans Pelicans at San Antonio Spurs (-3.5) (O/U: 237 points) Los Angeles Clippers at Utah Jazz (-7) (O/U: 218.5 points) Boston Celtics (-9.5) at Sacramento Kings (O/U: 224.5 points) Chicago Bulls at Phoenix Suns (-6) (O/U: 230.0 points)
Although spreads are already available for each of Friday's 12 games, there's still plenty of uncertainty and the possibility of line movement due to a number of big-name players currently on the injury report. One of the most prominent examples is in Philadelphia, where Joel Embiid's questionable status due to a back injury keeps the game's projected total off the board for now (Update: it has now been added as of late Friday morning). Other notable potential absences include those of Trae Young and De'Aaron Fox, which would certainly affect the outlooks for their respective games if they came to pass. The three games with the highest projected totals of the night – the Grizzlies-Hawks, Pacers-Rockets and Pelicans-Spurs – could all live up to their considerable offensive expectations, especially if Young takes the floor for Atlanta. It's conceivable a lineup consisting exclusively of key players from those matchups would be viable enough to return handsome dividends in cash games or tournaments, given the combination of explosive offensive players and defensive question marks attached to those teams. Injury Situations to Monitor NOTE: Injury reporting is especially fluid in the NBA, where the status of multiple players can change during the course of a day. Therefore, although the following is a foundation for the latest injury report as of the time the article is written, check back throughout the course of the day with RotoWire for the latest news regarding the status of all players on that night's slate, including those carrying injury designations that aren't listed in this section. Joel Embiid, PHI (back): QUESTIONABLE If Embiid were to sit, the usage for the remainder of the starting five would naturally see a sizable boost while DeAndre Jordan and Paul Millsap could see additional playing time. LeBron James, LAL (knee): QUESTIONABLE If James can't go Friday, Stanley Johnson and Carmelo Anthony could handle the majority of power forward minutes. Trae Young, ATL (quadriceps): QUESTIONABLE Should Young not play, Delon Wright would likely draw a start at point guard while the remainder of the first unit would see a boost in their usage. Ja Morant, MEM (back): PROBABLE If Morant does return to the lineup as expected, Tyus Jones would shift back to a bench role. Kyrie Irving, BKN (personal): OUT With Irving unable to play due to his vaccination status, Goran Dragic could see another start at point guard. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, OKC (ankle): QUESTIONABLE If Gilgeous-Alexander sits out, Tre Mann would likely draw a start at point guard and other first-unit players would see more responsibility. De'Aaron Fox, SAC (hand): QUESTIONABLE If Fox can't suit up Friday, Davion Mitchell could draw the start at point guard. Brandon Ingram, NOP (hamstring): OUT In Ingram's sixth consecutive absence, Naji Marshall may receive another start. Donovan Mitchell, UTA (calf): OUT In Mitchell's absence, Nickeil Alexander-Walker and Jordan Clarkson will likely handle shooting guard duties. Jimmy Butler, MIA (ankle): QUESTIONABLE If Butler misses out, Caleb Martin (knee) and Max Strus could handle the majority of minutes at small forward. Other notable injuries: Zach LaVine, CHI (knee): QUESTIONABLE Chris Paul, PHO (thumb): OUT Paul George, LAC (elbow): OUT Anthony Davis, LAL (foot): OUT Zion Williamson, NOP (foot): OUT Damian Lillard, POR (abdomen): OUT John Collins, ATL (finger, foot): OUT Jarrett Allen, CLE (finger): OUT Anfernee Simons, POR (quadriceps): OUT Jusuf Nurkic, POR (foot): OUT Norman Powell, LAC (foot): OUT OG Anunoby, TOR (finger): OUT Ben Simmons, BKN (back/conditioning): OUT Josh Giddey, OKC (hip): OUT Seth Curry, BKN (ankle): QUESTIONABLE Cameron Johnson, PHO (quadriceps): OUT Myles Turner, IND (foot): OUT Lonzo Ball, CHI (knee): OUT Bojan Bogdanovic, UTA (calf): OUT LaMarcus Aldridge, BKN (hip): OUT Elite Players We have eight players with five-figure salaries on Friday's slate – Nikola Jokic ($11,200), Joel Embiid ($11,100), Kevin Durant ($11,000), LeBron James ($10,900), Dejounte Murray ($10,800), Luka Doncic ($10,600), Trae Young ($10,300) and Ja Morant ($10,100). Jokic just eclipsed 60 FD points in his most recent game and hasn't scored under 50 in seven straight. He also gets to face an undermanned Cavaliers frontcourt still missing Jarrett Allen(finger). If Embiid can overcome his questionable status, he'll look to extend a streak of three straight outings with at least 50 FD points. Durant has produced 37.5 and 41.2 FD points in his last two matchups, but he dropped 74.7 against the Knicks three games ago and sports a 32.3 percent usage rate while averaging 48.2 FD points per 36 minutes with Irving off the floor. If James can overcome his knee issue, he'll once again spearhead the Lakers' attack against the Raptors, a team he posted 46.3 FD points against two games ago. Murray has scored between 53.8 and 63.8 FD points in seven straight and draws an excellent matchup against a Pelicans side he's already posted 62.4 FD points against earlier this season. Doncic has scored over 51 FD points in five of the last six, a sample that includes two tallies greater than 60 and one over 70. If Young plays through his quad issue, he'll look to add to a recent body of work that includes efforts of 60.1 and 71.2 FD points. Morant draws a favorable positional matchup whether or not Young plays, as the Hawks are ranked in the bottom 10 in offensive efficiency allowed to point guards. Morant has also averaged 49.9 FD points across his last 10 games. Expected Chalk Other likely chalk plays include: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, OKC ($9,900) If SGA can overcome his questionable status, he should very popular as the Thunder's usage leader and due to his four tallies of over 60 FD points in the last six. Devin Booker, PHO ($9,800) Booker has scored 46.8 or more FD points in four of the five games he's played since returning from COVID-19 protocols and should log heavy minutes in what could be a wire-to-wire battle against the Bulls. Jayson Tatum, BOS ($9,600) Tatum is averaging 51.7 FD points over his last seven games, a stretch where he's shooting 49.4 percent. He also posted 50.8 FD points in his last game against the Kings. James Harden, PHI ($9,500) Harden's usage would see a major boost should Embiid sit, but he's projected to be very popular irrespective of his teammate's status. Pascal Siakam, TOR ($9,500) Siakam just put up 49.7 FD points against the Lakers two games ago and has managed at least 49.4 in four straight, which should keep him in plenty of lineups Friday. Key Values Robert Williams, BOS at SAC ($6,500) Williams is averaging 35.9 FD points per game in his last eight, a stretch where he's shooting 73.5 percent while averaging a double-double (10.0 points, 10.0 rebounds) and 2.6 blocks. The big man also trampled the Kings for 54.4 FD points across only 27 minutes on Jan. 25, and Sacramento comes into Friday's interconference battle allowing the second-highest offensive efficiency to centers (35.4 percent) along with the second-most FD points per game to the position (58.6). Williams has also encouragingly seen over 30 minutes in six of his last eight outings, a span of playing time that would give him ample opportunity to once again deliver a strong return. Andre Drummond, BKN vs. POR ($5,600) Drummond got himself into foul trouble early against the Magic on Tuesday, leading to just 17.2 FD points across 18 minutes in Brooklyn's rout. However, the big man has otherwise produced 27.4 to 47.8 FD points in four of the last five and should have another strong opportunity to generate a similar caliber of production Friday. Drummond is averaging 47.2 FD points per 36 minutes with Irving off the floor this season, and the short-handed Trail Blazers are now allowing the third-highest offensive efficiency to centers (34.4 percent) and 55 FD points per game to the position on the season. Lonnie Walker, SAN vs. NOP ($5,400) Walker comes into Friday with three straight 20-point efforts and is averaging 25.9 FD points over his last 12 on the strength of averages of 18.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists. He's also shooting 46.1 percent, including 40.0 from distance, over that stretch, and the Pelicans are surrendering the seventh-highest three-point shooting percentage on the road (36.0). New Orleans is also allowing the 12th-highest offensive efficiency to second-unit players (41.3 percent) and has given up 41 FD points per game to two-guards over the last seven. ALSO CONSIDER: Kevin Huerter, ATL vs. MEM ($5,200); Jordan Clarkson, UTA vs. LAC ($5,000); Goran Dragic, BKN vs. POR ($4,800)