NBA DFS Picks Breakdown (Friday, Dec. 23): Tons of Injury Situations to Monitor Friday

Friday features a 14-game slate starting at 7 pm ET.

Let’s dive into some of the top plays on the slate using the FantasyLabs tools and metrics.

Also, don’t forget that for large-field tournaments, you can utilize our Lineup Optimizer to effortlessly create up to 150 lineups, or use our Lineup Builder if you like to hand-build your lineups.

Note: Projections and Leverages Scores/Ratings may change throughout the day after this article is posted. The NBA DFS landscape changes quickly.

Consult the NBA Player Models directly for any updates as we get closer to lock. Use the PrizePicks promo code LABS to get a $100 sign-up bonus for NBA player props.

NBA DFS Point Guard Picks

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The NBA will take a one-day break before a five-game slate on Christmas, so naturally, almost every team is in action on Friday. That means we have a lot of choices in DFS, and there is a ton of injury news to monitor. Make sure to continue to check back in with our NBA Models as the day progresses since every piece of news could have a major impact on the projections.

LaMelo Ball is coming off a monster performance in his last outing, racking up his first triple-double of the year with 25 points, 11 rebounds, and 12 assists. He’s now posted a positive Plus/Minus on FanDuel in all five games since returning from injury, and he’s racked up at least 45.0 FanDuel points in three straight.

LaMelo remains fairly priced at $8,900 on FanDuel, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 97%, and he leads the position with 11 Pro Trends. He would also get a bump if Terry Rozier is forced to miss his third straight game, with LaMelo increasing his usage rate to 34.4% over the past two contests.


Value

The Pelicans are on the second leg of a back-to-back, so we’re still waiting for their official injury report. That said, Brandon Ingram remains out of the lineup, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Zion Williamson misses another game in health and safety protocols.

Jose Alvarado saw a slight bump with Williamson out of the lineup on Thursday, racking up just under 25 minutes. He responded with 22.5 DraftKings points, and Alvarado has averaged 0.98 DraftKings points per minute this season. He’s way underpriced at $3,400, given his Bargain Rating of 98%.


Fast Break

Jaden Ivey hit a bit of a rookie wall over the past month, but he’s started to turn the corner. He’s posted a positive Plus/Minus in three straight games, and his playing time is trending in the right direction. He’s racked up at least 32.8 minutes in back-to-back games, and he’s averaged 0.95 DraftKings points per minute this season.

Chris Paul is going to have to handle most of the ball-handling duties for the Suns on Friday. The team will be without both Devin Booker and Cam Payneand Paul has unsurprisingly seen a big boost in value with both players off the floor.

He’s increased his usage and assist rates in that scenario, and he’ll take the floor in a massive pace-up spot vs. the Grizzlies.

NBA DFS Shooting Guard Picks

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CJ McCollum is PG-only on DraftKings, but he has dual eligibility on FanDuel. If Williamson is out of the lineup again, it’s going to be very tough not to play him at one of those positions. He increased his usage rate to 36.8% with Williamson out of the lineup on Thursday, and he racked up 67.1 FanDuel points thanks to 40 points, eight rebounds, and nine assists.

McCollum has seen a team-high +5.5% usage bump with Ingram and Williamson off the floor this season, and he’s posted a positive Plus/Minus in six of his past seven games. The Thunder have also played at the sixth-fastest pace this season, and the total on this game sits at a strong 232.5 points.


Value

If you’re looking to go a bit cheaper with the Pelicans, Trey Murphy stands out as a strong option at $4,600 on DraftKings. He’s currently projected for just under 32 minutes in our NBA Models, and he’s averaged 0.84 DraftKings points per minute this season.

Murphy has historically averaged a Plus/Minus of +3.51 with a comparable salary and minute projection, and he racked up 26.0 DraftKings points on Friday.


Fast Break

Tyrese Haliburton is currently questionable for the Pacers, and his absence would make Andrew Nembhardt basically a must-play. He’s averaged 39.2 minutes in two games without Haliburton this season, and he’s averaged 47.38 DraftKings points in those contests.

The Mavericks are a bit thin in at the moment, with Maxi Kleber, Dorian Finney-Smith, Josh Greenand Kemba Walker ruled out for Friday’s matchup vs. the Rockets. That could result in a few additional minutes for Spencer Dinwiddie. He’s projected for more than 37 minutes in our NBA Models, and he’s averaged 1.02 FanDuel points per minute over the past month.

That makes him an elite option at $6,500 on FanDuel, especially in an excellent matchup vs. the Rockets.

NBA DFS Small Forward Picks

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What’s left to be said about LeBron James at this point? He’s not capable of single-handedly carrying a team anymore, but he remains one of the best players in fantasy in his 20th professional season. He’s posted a positive Plus/Minus in four straight games, and he’s had to take on an expanded workload with Anthony Davis going down with an injury. He’s racked up at least 57.75 DraftKings points in back-to-back games, and he’s averaged 1.49 DraftKings points per minute with Davis off the floor this season.

LeBron is also in one of the best spots of the day Friday vs. the Hornets. The total on this game sits at 241.5 points, and the Lakers’ implied team total of 122.5 ranks second on the slate.


Value

Eric Gordon has been ruled out for the Rockets, which means KJ Martin should move into the starting lineup. He’s provided excellent fantasy value as a starter this season, averaging 13.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 1.7 assists across 30.5 minutes per game. It’s tough to pass up that kind of production at just $3,700 on DraftKings, especially since Martin can be used at both forward spots.


Fast Break

Naji Marshall was a disappointment for the Pelicans on Thursday, finishing with just 14.0 FanDuel points in 24.8 minutes. However, you can definitely go back to the well with him if Zion is inactive. He’s increased his production to 0.86 FanDuel points per minute over the past month, and he’s currently projected for just over 30 minutes in our NBA Models. That’s an appealing combination for someone with a cheap price tag across the industry.

Jaylen Brown didn’t have his best showing in his last contest, but he still owns an average Plus/Minus of +8.92 over his past 10 games on FanDuel. He continues to be priced at a discount as well, with his $8,800 salary resulting in a Bargain Rating of 96%.

He also leads the position with 12 Pro Trends and never seems to get the ownership he deserves. Brown has plenty of appeal against the Timberwolves, who have played at the fourth-fastest pace this season.

NBA DFS Power Forward Picks

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Giannis Antetokounmpo has barely had to break a sweat for the Bucks for most of the year. They own the best record in basketball despite getting barely any production from Khris Middleton, yet Giannis has posted an average Plus/Minus of -0.58 over the past month.

However, Giannis has reminded everyone of his elite fantasy potential over his past two games. He’s scored at least 42 points in both contests, and he racked up 71.8 FanDuel points in one of the toughest matchups in the league. The Cavaliers ranked first in defensive efficiency and last in pace, but Giannis still delivered a monster performance.

Giannis will square off with another Eastern Conference contender on Friday. The Nets have won seven straight games, so this game has a playoff-type feel to it. Giannis doesn’t stand out as a particularly strong value in our NBA Models, but he’s projected for less than five percent ownership across the industry. Giannis is always going to have appeal in tournaments at that kind of number.


Value

Eason’s Dance is another potential value for the Rockets on this slate. He’s down at $3,500 on DraftKings, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 96%, and he has a very fantasy-friendly skill set. He’s capable of knocking down 3-pointers and racking up defensive stats, and he’s averaged 1.04 DraftKings points per minute this season. He’s not projected for quite as many minutes as Martin, but he could make up for it with his superior per-minute efficiency.


Fast Break

Myles Turner has had a roller coaster of a year. He’s displayed a monster ceiling on some nights and disappears entirely on others. That’s been the story of his career, and unfortunately, the departure of Domantas Sabonis has done little to change things. However, Turner has seen a +4.5% usage bump with Haliburton off the floor, so he would carry some additional upside if Haliburton is unable to suit up. The Heat have also been a surprisingly good matchup for big men this season, giving Turner an Opponent Plus/Minus of +4.73 on FanDuel.

Zach Collins is another potential target on FanDuel, where his $5,300 salary comes with a Bargain Rating of 93%. He’s posted a positive Plus/Minus in five of his past six games, and he’s averaged 1.05 FanDuel points per minute this season.

NBA DFS Center Picks

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Don’t look now, but Nikola Jokic has thrown his hat back in the ring for a third straight MVP. The stud big man has led the Nuggets to wins in five of their past six games, and he has posted some sensational fantasy results in those contests. He has three games with at least 80.5 DraftKings points in his past five outings, which makes his 55.75 DraftKings points in his last game feel pedestrian. He did a triple-double for the third time in five games, but he had just 13 points, 13 rebounds, and 13 assists.

The Nuggets’ injury report will be important to monitor heading into lineup lock. Michael Porter Jr. told reporters he will play on Friday, but his minutes will likely be heavily limited. The biggest news is that Jamal Murray is questionable. If he’s ruled out, there’s no reason you can’t go right back to Jokic in a solid matchup vs. the Blazers. On a slate with tons of superstars, Jokic leads them all in terms of ceiling projection.


Value

We can continue to target Jalen Duren for value at the center position. He finally disappointed as a starter in his last game, finishing with just 22.0 DraftKings points against the 76ers. That said, fighting Joel Embiid on the interior is one of the toughest tasks in basketball. Prior to that performance, he recorded at least 11 rebounds in seven straight games, and he scored at least 29.75 DraftKings points in four straight.

Friday’s matchup vs. the Hawks is far friendlier, giving Duren an Opponent Plus/Minus of +3.34 on DraftKings. He also remains underpriced at $5,000, resulting in a Bargain Rating of 91%.


Fast Break

Deandre Ayton is another member of the Suns who should benefit from the team’s injury situation. He’s seen a team-high +6.6% usage bump with Booker and Payne of the floor this season, and he’s already averaged 1.35 DraftKings points per minute over the past month. He racked up 47.75 DraftKings points in his last outing, giving him plenty of appeal at $7,900.

Jonas Valanciunas is the final player to consider for the Pelicans if Williamson is ruled out. His minutes are a bit volatile, but he’s recorded double-doubles in back-to-back games. That includes a monster 67.1 FanDuel points two games ago, so very few players in this price range can match his upside.

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