On this Friday the 13th, the NBA has nine matchups on tap, so don’t be afraid to get your squad together for another big fantasy basketball slate. LeBron James ($10,000) and the Lakers stop by his old haunts in Miami in the featured early game, and Kawhi Leonard ($9,000) and the Clippers are on the road in Minnesota in the second game of the nationally televised doubleheader. Those superstars are just two of the 10 players priced at $10K or higher, so there are lots of options to consider if you’re looking to pay up.
Whether you choose to go with multiple high-salary plays or are just looking to stretch your salary cap as far as you can, take a look at these top four options in play for under $4K.
PG/SG DE’ANTHONY MELTON, MEM vs. MIL, $3,900The Grizzlies face the unenviable task of hosting the red-hot 22-3 Milwaukee Bucks without their starting PG, promising rookie Ja Morant (back), who will sit out this contest but is expected to return for Saturday’s game against the Wizards. Tyus Jones ($3,700) could get extra run in place of Morant and also offers a nice ceiling, but Melton has been the more productive option lately and offers more varied production in multiple categories. With Grayson Allen (ankle) also out, there should be plenty of work for Melton and Jones, but I like Melton’s recent form a bit better.
Melton played over 20 minutes in the four games that Morant missed earlier this month with his back issue and averaged 28.9 DKFP on 9.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.8 steals in 24.4 minutes per game. He had over 28 DKFP in three of those four games while Jones only reached that level once during that span. Even if things get one-sided, Melton should be able to pile up stats in garbage time. His ability to stuff the stat sheet gives him a very high ceiling if he plays 25-30 minutes against Milwaukee.
PF/C MARQUESE CHRISS, GS at UTA, $3,800Playing against the Jazz in Utah isn’t a great matchup, but Chriss is lined up for too much work to ignore him in Salt Lake City. Draymond Green (rest) is out and Eric Paschall ($4,700; hip) is doubtful, so Chriss will get all the minutes he can handle in the frontcourt along with Willie Cauley-Stein ($4,500), Omari Spellman ($3,100) and Kevon Looney ($3,000). We may even see the debut of Alen Smailagic ($3,000), but Chriss is the best play under $4K.
Chriss logged 24 minutes on Wednesday and finished with 12 points, 10 rebounds, three blocked shots and an impressive 36.5 DKFP. He will look to build on that and will likely get even more minutes to produce. Chriss has at least 24 DKFP in seven of his previous eight contests in which he has played over 20 minutes. He’ll look to build on that double-double and has an extremely high ceiling for the Warriors in this matchup.
SF/PF TREVOR ARIZA, SAC vs. NY, $3,800Since returning from a groin injury that cost him almost a month of the season, Ariza has stepped into a substantial role for the Kings and been quietly productive. In his five games at full strength, Ariza has averaged 28.9 minutes coming off the bench with 8.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.6 steals resulting in 23.75 DKFP per contest.
Ariza played 29 minutes on Wednesday despite the return of Marvin Bagley ($6,200), who could eventually eat into his workload if he and Richaun Holmes ($5,600) start sharing the floor. Ariza seemed secure in his role on Wednesday, though, and continued to produce in multiple categories even though he isn’t being called upon to shoot a ton. He had over 18 DKFP in four straight before finishing with 16.25 DKFP against the Thunder, but he should be able to bounce back enough to be a good value play in this favorable matchup against the Knicks.
PG/SG MICHAEL CARTER-WILLIAMS, ORL vs. HOU, $3,500Carter-Williams passed through Houston last season for a brief 16-game stint before being traded to the Bulls, who released him before he caught on with Orlando. He’ll get a chance to take on his old team in an expanded role on Friday since Markelle Fultz ($5,200; illness) has been downgraded to doubtful.
With Fultz out Wednesday, Carter-Williams played 21 minutes and totaled 20.5 DKFP on five points, six assists, two rebounds a block and a steal. He out-played D.J. Augustin ($4,400), who started and played 27 minutes but only had 7.75 DKFP. Even if Augustin gets another start, MCW should get enough playing time off the bench to put together a varied and productive stat line against the Rockets. If Houston runs away from the Magic early, he could also help clean up garbage time and pile up stats in multiple categories at that point as well.
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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 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.