It has been another tumultuous week of roster turnover in the NBA with COVID-19 continuing to impact almost every team to some degree. The Association has been able to roll on for the most part, though, and brings 10 games to the table on New Year’s Eve to close out 2021. Three of those games happen during the day, leaving seven scheduled to be on the DraftKings main slate, which locks at 7:00 p.m. ET. Leading up to tipoff, make sure to lock into @dklive on Twitter and have the DK Live app to keep up with the latest news and how it should impact your Friday lineups.
With so much changing on a continual basis, new bargain heroes emerge just about every night. Based on their current form, matchups and expected workloads, the four players below are set up for a great chance to outproduce their bargain-basement salaries. It’s always difficult to project too far ahead in this environment, so I’ll provide updates to these values on Twitter @ZT_Sports, and you can also find my four to play under $4K each day of the NBA season.
SG/SF Caleb Martin, Miami Heat at Houston Rockets, $4,300
The Heat had their most recently scheduled game postponed since they weren’t able to meet the minimum of eight required players available. They’ve added enough bodies and some players have cleared protocol since then to likely be able to play this game, but they’ll still be extremely short-handed. Max Strus, Duncan Robinson, KZ Okpala and P.J. Tucker are all out already and Jimmy Butler ($10,000; ankle) is listed as questionable, which should leave plenty of opportunity on the wing for Martin, who has played very well when given extra responsibility this season.
Martin missed seven games earlier this month in the health and safety protocols himself, but he posted 27.75 DKFP on 17 points in his return and 19.75 DKFP in a spot start in his most recent game on Tuesday. In his eight most recent games, he is averaging 26.2 DKFP on 14.1 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 28.7 minutes per game. He usually contributes across the box score when given an increased opportunity, and he should be busy in this very favorable spot against the Rockets, especially if Butler is out along with the rest of the players in protocols.
PF Obi Toppin, New York Knicks at Oklahoma City Thunder, $3,900
The Knicks are expected to be without Julius Randle, who was placed in the health and safety protocols on Thursday. All season Toppin has looked strong in limited playing time and put up solid numbers while continuing to provide highlight-reel dunks. He has only played 15.7 minutes per game, though, so he hasn’t been able to establish consistent fantasy value, averaging 8.6 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.0 assists. Randle’s absence could be the break the second-year forward needs, and he gets a great place to start on the road against the Thunder, who are shorthanded in the frontcourt as well.
Toppin has produced 1.04 DKFP per minute this season, so if he gets most of Randle’s run, he has a very high ceiling. He has played over 20 minutes seven times this season, posting 21.75, 25.5, 28, 22, 19, 34 and 17.5 DKFP. His usage rate has been 21.5% off the bench in December, and if he stays close to that rate while stepping into some of Randle’s massive 27.7% usage rate, he has an extremely high ceiling and a chance to finish the year with a monster game.
SG Aaron Wiggins, Oklahoma City Thunder vs. New York Knicks $3,800
On the other side of the Thunder-Knicks game, the Thunder bring a ton of value as well. Ty Jerome ($4,000) just went off for 47 DKFP in his most recent game while filling in for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ($9,400; ankle, questionable) and Isaiah Roby ($3,200) has returned with a couple of strong games while filling in at center. While both those players deserve consideration as well, Wiggins has been the value standout recently, and the second-round pick is showing he can contribute the rest of the season for the Thunder, who moved him into the starting lineup in mid-December.
Wiggins didn’t start producing right away when he joined the lineup but has been very productive over his three most recent contests. He had 24 points and 33 DKFP against the Pelicans on Sunday, 14 points and 24.75 DKFP against the Kings on Tuesday and 22 points and 37 DKFP against the Suns on Wednesday. He had at least five rebounds in each of those three contests and produced a solid 20.5% usage rate. His ceiling is much higher if SGA is out again, but either way, he should get enough run to return good value given how shorthanded the Thunder are on the wing.
PF/C Serge Ibaka, Los Angeles Clippers at Toronto Raptors, $3,200
Ibaka returns to Toronto, where he played three and a half seasons and helped win an NBA championship, and hopefully, he can find some of that form and step into a huge gap in the Clippers’ frontcourt. More than his visit to Narrative Street, though, Ibaka may be a great play since he should be in for a heavy workload with Isaiah Hartenstein (ankle), Nic Batum (ankle) and Ivica Zubac (protocols) already ruled out for this contest.
Ibaka struggled Wednesday and only played nine minutes in Boston, where he had four turnovers in the first half and didn’t play in the second half, finishing with just 5.75 DKFP. Before that game, though, the veteran big man seemed to be finding a little bit of a groove with over 16 DKFP in four straight games since returning to the rotation. In those four games, he averaged 9.3 points and 5.5 rebounds for 20.75 DKFP in 18.6 minutes per game. If he continues to produce at that rate while taking on more minutes, his return to fantasy relevance could coincide nicely with his return to Toronto. He’s a high-risk play at this point, but he comes at a salary barely over the minimum and also brings high upside.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is z.thompson) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and do not constitute a representation that any particular strategy will guarantee success. All customers should use their own skill and judgment in building lineups. I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.
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