Fantasy basketball tips and projections for Friday

Orlando's Cole Anthony is one of the NBA's top breakout players so far this season. Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

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What you need to know for Friday's games

We're looking at a relatively light Friday night in the NBA with just six games, highlighted by the Sixers visiting the Celtics, the Knicks taking on the Raptors in Toronto, and the Nuggets visiting the banged up Suns in Phoenix. The Sixers at Celtics matchup is the early game on ESPN at 7:30 p.m. ET and the Nuggets at Suns is the ESPN late game at 10 p.m. ET

Plenty of big names in these games have been struggling and it will be interesting to see who steps up. Jordan Poole and Tyus Jones have been disappointing for the Wizards thus far while the Magic may turn to Cole Anthony, who has been on a tear of late.

Joel Embiid was a late scratch on Wednesday with an illness and may or may not play tonight, while Nicolas Batum should play through a finger injury that knocked him out on Wednesday. Paul Reed was a big disappointment on Wednesday as Marcus Morris weirdly got the start, while the return of Batum would limit the minutes of Robert Covington, who played well in that game.

Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have been struggling for the Celtics with both of them floundering in fantasy over the last two weeks, while Al Horford should play a big role with Kristaps Porzingis still out due to his calf injury.

Julius Randle has returned just 16th-round fantasy value over the last two weeks and RJ Barrett has reverted over that stretch, returning 24th-round fantasy value thanks to some sub-par shooting and a lack of peripheral stats. For the Raptors, O.G. Anunoby has also been struggling thanks to low rebounds and inefficient shooting from both the field and free throw line. I'm staying away from all three tonight.

It will be interesting to see if the Spurs let Victor Wembanyama play through his hip injury but I'm getting the sense he's on the verge of missing his first game of the season after he played well against the Hawks on Thursday night. Jeremy Sochan had a monster line in that game with 33 points and Devin Vassell added 25 off the bench. If Wemby is out, Zach Collins, Cedi Osman and Charles Bassey could all make some noise. They'll be facing the Pelicans who will finally be at full strength as it sounds like Trey Murphy III (leg) should make his season debut tonight.

Eric Gordon should have another big game for the Suns as they learn to live without Bradley Beal (back) and could be missing Devin Booker after he suffered an ankle injury in his last game. Denver's Michael Porter Jr. is coming off his best game of the season when he hit 11-of-17 shots and seven 3-pointers for 30 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and a steal against the Rockets on Wednesday.

Friday's Stream Team

This segment nominates three key streaming options ahead of that day's action. A streamer, by our standards, is a player available in at least half of ESPN men's basketball leagues.

De'Anthony Melton, PG/SG, Sixers (36.5% rostered in ESPN leagues)

Melton has scored in double figures in 10 of his last 11 games and has returned fifth-round fantasy value over the past two weeks. He's averaged 16.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.3 steals and 3.1 3-pointers over his last nine games and has quietly been a very solid fantasy option for the Sixers. I don't love the matchup against the Celtics, but he had 16 points, seven rebounds and five triples against them in their last meeting on Nov. 15.

Cole Anthony, PG, Magic (36%)

Anthony is thriving without Markelle Fultz (knee) and has returned sixth-round fantasy value over the last two weeks. He's also scored in double figures in nine straight games and has averaged 18.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.7 blocks and 1.6 3-pointers over his last seven. He's especially hot right now, scoring 25 and 30 points in his last two games and Fultz will be in street clothes again tonight against the Wizards, who don't play defense and have won just three games.

Eric Gordon, SG/SF, Suns (24.9%)

With Bradley Beal (back) out and Devin Booker (ankle) questionable, Gordon should keep things rolling against the equally banged up Nuggets tonight. Gordon has scored in double figures in nine straight games and had back-to-back 20-point games before cooling off on Wednesday against the Raptors. He should bounce back in Denver for his first meeting with the Nuggets this season. Just don't expect much more than points, 3-pointers and a steal or two from the veteran.

Al Horford, PF/C, Celtics (17.1%)

Horford has been on a tear since Porzingis went down, torching the Hawks for six points, 15 rebounds, a steal and two blocks on Sunday and then lighting up the Bulls for 16 points, nine rebounds, six assists, two steals, three blocks and four 3-pointers on Tuesday. Nikola Jokic is amazing but isn't exactly known for shutting down opposing big men, so Horford should get plenty of action and fantasy production again on Friday night.

Projections and Injury Reports

Fantasy projections powered by ESPN Analytics.* Projections assume all players who are listed as GTD will play. Injury aggregation by Rotowire.com. Players available in at least 50% of ESPN leagues are listed in italics.

Washington Wizards at Orlando Magic
7 p.m. ET Amway Center, Orlando

BPI Projection: Magic by 6.6 in the 2nd highest-scoring game of the slate.

Injury Report:
Wizards: Ryan Rollins, (OUT - Knee); Delon Wright, (OUT - Knee)
Magic: Jonathan Isaac, (GTD - Ankle); Paolo Banchero, (GTD - Ankle); Markelle Fultz, (OUT - Knee); Wendell Carter Jr., (OUT - Finger)

Wizards projections:

  • Kyle Kuzma, SF/PF: 40.4 FPTS (22.6 pts, 6.3 reb, 5.0 ast, 2.4 3PM)

  • Jordan Poole, PG/SG: 26.1 FPTS (16.0 pts, 2.5 reb, 3.4 ast, 2.1 3PM)

  • Deni Avdija, SF/PF: 24.0 FPTS (10.7 pts, 5.4 reb, 3.1 ast)

  • Tyus Jones, PG: 23.5 FPTS (10.4 pts, 2.9 reb, 3.6 ast)

  • Daniel Gafford, PF/C: 22.0 FPTS (9.9 pts, 7.8 reb, 1.3 ast, 1.7 blk)

  • Bilal Coulibaly, SG: 15.8 FPTS (9.0 pts, 3.6 reb, 2.3 ast)

  • Corey Kispert, SG/SF: 15.6 FPTS (8.6 pts, 2.5 reb, 1.2 ast)

Magic projections:

Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics
7:30 p.m. TD Garden, Boston

BPI Projection: Celtics by 2.5 in the 5th highest-scoring game of the slate.

Injury Report:
76ers: Jaden Springer, (GTD - Illness); Joel Embiid, (GTD - Illness); Nicolas Batum, (GTD - Finger); Danuel House Jr., (OUT - Quadriceps); Kelly Oubre Jr., (OUT - Ribs)
Celtics: Kristaps Porzingis, (OUT - Calf)

76ers projections:

Celtics projections:

  • Jayson Tatum, SF/PF: 47.8 FPTS (28.4 pts, 7.7 reb, 4.3 ast, 3.1 3PM)

  • Jaylen Brown, SG/SF: 37.0 FPTS (21.6 pts, 4.5 reb, 3.7 ast, 2.4 3PM)

  • Jrue Holiday, PG/SG: 31.9 FPTS (13.6 pts, 6.8 reb, 4.7 ast)

  • Derrick White, PG/SG: 30.8 FPTS (14.2 pts, 3.9 reb, 4.6 ast, 2.1 3PM)

  • Al Horford, PF/C: 18.3 FPTS (6.3 pts, 5.9 reb, 1.8 ast)

  • Sam Hauser, SF: 17.7 FPTS (8.8 pts, 2.9 reb, 1.0 ast, 2.4 3PM)

  • Payton Pritchard, PG: 13.2 FPTS (5.4 pts, 2.6 reb, 1.9 ast)

New York Knicks at Toronto Raptors
7:30 p.m. Scotiabank Arena, Toronto

BPI Projection: Raptors by 1.6 in the 6th highest-scoring game of the slate.

Injury Report:
Knicks: None reported
Raptors: Christian Koloko, (OUT - Illness)

Knicks projections:

Raptors projections:

Memphis Grizzlies at Dallas Mavericks
7:30 p.m. American Airlines Center, Dallas

BPI Projection: Mavericks by 8 in the 3rd highest-scoring game of the slate.

Injury Report:
Grizzlies: Brandon Clarke, (OUT - Achilles); Steven Adams, (OUT - Knee); Xavier Tillman, (GTD - Knee); Jake LaRavia, (OUT - Eye); Luke Kennard, (OUT - Knee); Marcus Smart, (OUT - Foot); Ja Morant, (OUT - Suspension)
Mavericks: Olivier-Maxence Prosper, (GTD - Ankle); Tim Hardaway Jr., (GTD - Back); Maxi Kleber, (OUT - Toe)

Grizzlies projections:

Mavericks projections:

San Antonio Spurs at New Orleans Pelicans
8 p.m. Smoothie King Center, New Orleans

BPI Projection: Pelicans by 14.1 in the highest-scoring game of the slate.

Injury Report:
Spurs: Doug McDermott, (GTD - Illness); Victor Wembanyama, (GTD - Hip)
Pelicans: Jose Alvarado, (GTD - Ankle); Matt Ryan, (GTD - Calf); Trey Murphy III, (GTD - Knee); Larry Nance Jr., (OUT - Ribs)

Spurs projections:

Pelicans projections:

Denver Nuggets at Phoenix Suns
10 p.m. Footprint Center, Phoenix

BPI Projection: Suns by 1.1 in the 4th highest-scoring game of the slate.

Injury Report:
Nuggets: Vlatko Cancar, (OUT - Knee); Aaron Gordon, (GTD - Heel); Jamal Murray, (GTD - Ankle); Peyton Watson, (GTD - Illness)
Suns: Devin Booker, (GTD - Ankle); Bradley Beal, (OUT - Back); Damion Lee, (OUT - Knee)

Nuggets projections:

Suns projections: