Friday’s nine-game slate gives us plenty of options at every position. Of note, the Cavaliers are coming off the first game of a back-to-back to play the Pacers, which could mean big things for Victor Oladipo.
Damian Lillard, POR at NOP ($9,000)
Lillard, after missing two straight games with a calf injury, did not seem hampered at all in the Trail Blazers’ most recent contest Wednesday against the Rockets. He played 32 minutes, dropping 29 points, eight assists, five rebounds and two steals. Those numbers translated to 51.0 fantasy points -- his sixth-highest mark on the season.
In addition to coming off one of his best games of the year, Lillard has a favorable matchup Friday against New Orleans, which struggles to defend point guards. The Pelicans give up the fifth-most fantasy points to point guards on the season, including the second-most rebounds, second-most steals and third-most threes. Lillard sliced through the Pelicans in their most recent matchup on Dec. 2, collecting 29 points, eight assists, five rebounds and one steal (49.0 fantasy points) -- nearly an identical game to the one he just put up against Houston two days ago. He’s also checking in at his fifth-lowest price of the season and has averaged 42.5 fantasy points when priced at $9,000 or lower, not to mention he’s eclipsed 50 fantasy points on six occasions this season. All things considered, he appears to make for a viable play in both cash and tournaments.
Victor Oladipo, IND vs. CLE ($9,500)
After missing four games with a knee injury and looking a little sluggish in his first two games back, Oladipo returned to form in the Pacers’ most recent game Wednesday against Miami, dropping 26 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals for 45.4 fantasy points. From a matchup standpoint, things look great for Oladipo on Friday.
The Cavaliers are coming off a massive, 133-99 blowout loss to the Raptors in Toronto and have to travel to Indiana for the second night of their back-to-back set. The Cavs will be on tired legs and will be resting Isaiah Thomas (possibly among others), giving the Pacers and Oladipo a chance to run up and down the floor. The last time Indiana and Cleveland met, Oladipo popped off for 50.1 fantasy points by way of 33 points, eight rebounds, five assists and a steal. He’ll come in at his fourth-highest price of the season, which is somewhat discouraging, but he’s also flashed huge upside, dropping at least 55 fantasy points in six contests, including three games over 68 fantasy points.
Otto Porter, WAS vs. ORL ($7,100)
Porter returned from a one-game absence due to a hip injury Wednesday against the Jazz, playing 37 minutes and producing 14 points, six rebounds, three steals and one assist (29.7 fantasy points). Porter averages 38.2 fantasy points per game in contests where he’s seen 35-39 minutes, so his the fact that he’s healthy enough to play 37 minutes is encouraging for his potential production Friday. He’ll also be entering a favorable matchup against Orlando, against which he dropped 29.3 fantasy points in just 22 minutes during the teams’ most recent matchup.
The Magic have struggled against small forwards overall this season, giving up the second-most fantasy points to the position, including the second-most points, most assists and third-most threes. Porter is no stranger to having dud fantasy nights when he’s struggled shooting the ball, so I would advise taking the risk in a tournament, rather than cash. He has plenty of upside, however, as he’s reached or passed 50 fantasy points on five occasions in this campaign.
Ersan Ilyasova, ATL vs. BKN ($5,600)
Ilyasova has found his touch over the past 10 games, shooting 45.2 percent from beyond the arc en route to 14.3 points per game. He’s also chipped in 8.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.0 steal across 30.2 minutes per game over that stretch. All of that has led to him posting six 30-plus fantasy point outings over the past 10. In his favor, the Nets check in as the fifth-fastest paced team in the league while giving up the fourth-most fantasy points to power forwards over the past 10 outings, including the most rebounds, third-most steals and second-most blocks on the season.
In three previous outings against Brooklyn, Ilyasova has played well, averaging .99 fantasy points per minute. If Ilyasova’s 30.2 minutes per game over the past 10 contests hold true Friday, it seems fair to assume he’ll over around 30 fantasy points in this matchup. As a result, he appears to be a reasonable play in both cash and tournaments.
Dwight Howard, CHA vs. UTA ($8,800)
Howard’s price is a little too steep for me in cash, but I think there’s enough upside to warrant deploying him in a tournament. He’s averaged 16.6 points, 12.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.0 steal across the past seven contests, which has translated to 39.7 fantasy points. He’ll also be matched up against the Jazz, who will be without Rudy Gobert, forcing coach Quin Snyder to throw a combination of Derrick Favors and Ekpe Udoh at Howard.
That duo hasn’t done particularly well at stopping centers over the past five contests, allowing the eighth-most fantasy points to the position over that stretch. Howard has four 50-plus fantasy point outings on the season and could be in for another one Friday.