Utah Jazz (28-11) at Toronto Raptors (19-17)
The Toronto Raptors faced what was essentially a G-league team on Friday night and played down to their opponent for the first half. They turned it around in the second half with a comeback behind our fantasy star of the night, Fred VanVleet. He finished with 37 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists with four three-pointers. FVV has been excellent this year and is on fire of late. He ranks in the top-15 fantasy players and could make a push with his recent hot streak.
The Utah Jazz has been one of the healthiest teams of late, that is until Friday night. They played with only two regular rotation players, Trent Forrest and Hassan Whiteside, both of who only see limited minutes nightly. With all the absences, Eric Paschall stepped up with 29 points and was a huge reason why the game was close in the first place. Elijah Hughes started his first career game for the Jazz and did not disappoint. He finished with 26 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and two steals. While Paschal and Hughes both had career games, they can only be looked at for about the next week as they will see a diminished role as soon as the Jazz get healthy and Covid-free.
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San Antonio Spurs(15-23) at Philadelphia 76ers(22-16)
The 76ers were in full control on Friday, winning 119-100 while facing a depleted Spurs team with three starters on the Covid-19 list. Joel Embiid got his team rolling early with 11 first-quarter points and continued the whole way finishing with 31 points, 12 rebounds, and seven assists. Embiid has been on fire lately with 30 or more points in eight of his last nine games. He ranks in the top-10 fantasy players and should continue to keep this elite status as the year goes on. Seth Curry continued his career year on Friday night with 23 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists. He has been operating as the starting point guard with Tyrese Maxey and Shake Milton both out of the lineup and could keep this role with how well he has been playing. Curry ranks just inside the top-80 category players and could rise the ranks if he continues to produce these all-around stat lines.
The Spurs battled all game but were unable to match the scoring of the 76ers. Dejounte Murray played his second game since coming back from the league’s health and safety protocols and has shown no ill effects. He finished with 27 points, nine assists, five rebounds, and three steals. Murray got right back to stuffing the stat sheet on Friday and will look to continue his career year and most improved player campaign. He ranks just outside the top-20 fantasy players and could make a push into the top-20 during this week with a depleted squad.
Milwaukee Bucks(26-15) at Brooklyn Nets(24-13)
In a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, the Bucks were once again victorious, winning 121-109. Giannis Antetokounmpo battled foul trouble for most of the game but still managed to finish as the game’s leading scorer with 31 points while adding nine assists and seven rebounds. He has been dominant all year but because of poor free-throw shooting, he ranks just outside the top-15 category players. Bobby Portis was able to provide a spark while Giannis was in foul trouble and finished with 25 points and 12 rebounds. Portis has been a spark for the Bucks all year and has shown it in the stat sheet as he ranks in the top-60 fantasy players.
The Nets played their first game without Kyrie Irving since his return as he can only play in their away games right now. Kevin Durant was the star of the Nets last night finishing with 29 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists. James Harden ended with 16 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists. Both of these players rank inside the top-five fantasy players, it just depends who will provide more than the other on any given night. David Duke Jr. has started the last two games but has struggled to produce next to the Nets stars. He can be monitored in deeper leagues if he remains in the starting lineup.
Washington Wizards(19-20) at Chicago Bulls(26-10)
The Bulls beat the Wizards 130-122 in a very high-scoring game on Friday night. Zach LaVine led the way with 27 points but struggled from beyond the arc, finishing just 1-6 on threes. Nikola Vucevic provided an all-around stat line, finishing with 16 points, 14 rebounds, seven assists, and four steals. He does not have the fantasy upside that he did in Orlando but still remains a top-45 player with the ability to provide in all categories. Ayo Dosunmu and Coby White added 21 and 18 points off the bench and were a huge spark in last night’s win. Although they both saw extended roles, their playing time will be decreased when Alex Caruso returns.
The Wizards welcomed back Spencer Dinwiddie from the league’s health and safety protocols on Friday, but it was not enough to push past the Bulls. Bradley Beal finished with 26 points and six assists but struggled with five turnovers. Kyle Kuzma continued to feast on the boards as he finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds for his 15th double-double of the season. Although he has stepped up as a rebounder, he is still outside the top-100 players and does more harm in category leagues than he does good.
Dallas Mavericks(21-18) at Houston Rockets(11-29)
Even without Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis on Friday, the Mavericks had no problems as they cruised to a 130-106 win over the Rockets. Tim Hardaway Jr. led the way off the bench with 19 points and seven assists, just one short of tying his career-high. He has limited upside off the bench most nights and struggles to see around 30 minutes most nights. Jalen Brunson stepped into a larger role like he always does without Doncic and finished with a 15 point, 10 assist double-double. Brunson has been excellent this year and will continue to see performances like this if either of the Mavs stars were to miss any time.
The Rockets continue to face struggles, but this is expected from such a young and rebuilding team. Christian Wood led the way with a measly 20 points while struggling in all other aspects last night. Jae’Sean Tate had a well-rounded performance finishing with 15 points, eight rebounds, and five assists. Tate has struggled fantasy-wise this year as he ranks just inside the top-150 but has flashed some upside in a few games this season.
Minnesota Timberwolves(19-20) at Oklahoma City Thunder(13-25)
The Timberwolves steamrolled the Thunder on Friday, winning 135-105. D’Angelo Russell led the way with a well-rounded performance of 27 points and 12 assists. D-Lo has been great this year averaging over 18 points and six assists while ranking in the top-80 of category players. Anthony Edwards started the game firing off threes making five of his six threes in just the first quarter. He ended with 24 points, seven assists, and six rebounds. Ant Edwards has taken a massive leap in his second year and has been paying off for fantasy managers as he ranks in the top-40 players.
The Thunder could not do much to stop the Wolves on defense and did nothing to match them on offense. Lu Dort finished as the leading scorer with 18 points with Aaron Wiggins scoring 13 as the second-leading scorer. Wiggins added seven rebounds, four assists, and two steals. He is worth a look in deeper leagues as he has played over 26 minutes in each of his last seven games.
Sacramento Kings(16-25) at Denver Nuggets(19-18)
Another night of Nuggets basketball where Nikola Jokic dominates as they win 121-111 behind another great night from the reigning MVP. Jokic finished with 33 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists while going 3-6 from behind the arc. He continues to be the most dominant player both in real life and in fantasy as he is the number one player in category leagues. The only downside to his game is that he ranks top-10 in turnover per game. Jeff Green finished as the second-leading scorer with 18 off the bench but he can be ignored in most fantasy formats.
The Kings lose their third straight game on Friday night but it was not without a bright spot in De’Aaron Fox. He finished with 30 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. Fox has had his fair share of struggles this season as he ranks outside the top-100 players. He has struggled from a fantasy perspective mainly because of poor shooting numbers and the emergence of Tyrese Haliburton in his second season. Haliburton finished with 14 points and six assists on Friday but has been much more involved in the offense over the past two weeks. Unlike Fox, Haliburton has been excellent for fantasy managers, ranking in the top-35 players in category leagues.
Cleveland Cavaliers(22-17) at Portland Trail Blazers(14-24)
The Cavaliers made a late push behind Darius Garland to seal a 114-101 win over the Trail Blazers. Garland finished with 26 points and six assists. With Collin Sexton and Ricky Rubio both out for the season, Garland has unlimited upside now as he has full control of the offense. He has been a top-30 fantasy player and could push into the top-25 now that he is the only real ball-handler besides Rajon Rondo. Jarrett Allen finished with yet another double-double in last night’s win, with 13 points and 13 rebounds.
The Blazers continue to play without Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum and continue to struggle as a result. Norman Powell has seen an increased role with both players out and finished with 19 points in last night’s game. Anfernee Simons has been the biggest beneficiary with all the injuries but struggled last night, scoring 14 points on 6-15 shooting. He should remain a very solid fantasy option until one of Lillard or McCollum return.
Atlanta Hawks(17-21) at Los Angeles Lakers(21-19)
The Lakers keep on rolling as they win their fourth straight game in a 134-118 win over the Hawks. LeBron James led the way as he always does with 32 points, nine assists, eight rebounds, four steals, and three blocks. James provided in all categories on Friday night as he remains one of the best fantasy players in category leagues. Malik Monk added a career-high 29 points on 7-12 three-point shooting. Monk has been an excellent pick-up for the Lakers and should continue to be a primary scorer next to LeBron James.
The Hawks continue to struggle because of a mix of injuries and underperforming in games. Trae Young continued to shine last night as he has all year ending with 25 points, 14 assists, and nine rebounds. He remains a top-10 fantasy player throughout his team’s struggles with the upside to creep into the top-five. John Collins returned to the lineup last night and finished with 21 points and eight rebounds. Collins has been a top-35 category player and it looks like he has returned to that form in just one game back from the Covid-19 list.