As the first round continues, there are three games being played on Thursday night. One of many good things about the playoffs, though, is that these teams are chock full of good fantasy options. Here are a few of those options you might want to target (or not), at every position and price range. Good luck.
POINT GUARD TARGETS
Stephen Curry @ NO ($10,300) – With the series shifting to New Orleans, it’s possible the Warriors could all of a sudden find themselves in a position where they need a huge individual performance to pull out a win, and I know who the best candidate is to do it for them.
Kyrie Irving @ BOS ($8,100) – Kyrie has been dominant in the first two games of the series, averaging 43.25 fantasy points so far. And he has been doing it with some very efficient scoring, which is somewhat surprising against the backcourt of Bradley and Smart, both proven defenders. If there is a game where Boston pushes Cleveland to the brink or even steals a win, it could be this one. In order for that to happen, the Celtics’ defense is going to need to disrupt Kyrie Irving.
Derrick Rose @ MIL ($7,500) – If there is one number that makes me want to draft Rose onto my squad for this one, it is the 38 minutes he played in Game 2. He is averaging just about 40 fantasy points per night so far in the series, with solid play all over the floor, racking up the fantasy value in a way that reflects actual value on the court: points, rebounds, assists, defense. And no matter what kind of arguments we heard all season about how good the Bulls remained while Rose was out, the truth of the matter is that Rose is the one guy on this roster who elevates the Bulls from “solid underdog” to “legitimate TITLE contender.” Yes, title.
Isaiah Thomas vs. CLE ($6,900) – Coming off the bench, sure, but playing 31 minutes and getting up 14 shots per game through two in this series. He is averaging just shy of 40 fantasy points, too, so you know he is making the most of those opportunities. In fact, if you’ve watched one of these games, it might be surprising that he’s not more expensive, because Cleveland just doesn’t have anyone to stay in front of him.
SHOOTING GUARD TARGETS
Jimmy Butler @ MIL ($8,000) – You might think that the re-emergence of Rose would mean Butler is taking a back seat, but it does not. What it means is that the Bulls are no longer the inside-out team we saw all year, with Gasol really facilitating a lot of the offense. Instead, the offense is flowing through their perimeter studs, and it is boosting both of their values.
Klay Thompson @ NO ($7,600) – It is at least theoretically possible that Golden State’s offense slows down as tick as they move to playing a couple of road games across the country.And when that happens, have you noticed it’s usually not Curry who suffers first?
Khris Middleton vs. CHI ($6,000) – He’s averaging 33 fantasy points per against the Bulls so far, and that was on the road. He’s got a combined seven blocks and steals in the two games, along with a 20-point scoring average. You should really expect more of the same throughout the series, and that means good value at this price.
Eric Gordon vs. GS ($5,200) – New Orleans needs points in this series, and Gordon can still jack up shots, no matter what else he can or can’t do. He’s got 33 shots attempted in two games so far, including seventeen three-point attempts, and he is more than capable of keeping up that pace.
SMALL FORWARD TARGETS
LeBron James @ BOS ($10,700) – If Boston can somehow get Cleveland on the ropes in this game – and if they’re going to do it at all, now’s their chance – then it will fall to LeBron to step up and try to carry his team. And you know he doesn’t feel like losing a playoff game in Boston after all his history there, so you could expect big numbers whether or not he drags them to a W.
Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. CHI ($6,100) – He’s the second most expensive SF on the board – quite the drop-off. But he is an interesting options because he has managed usable fantasy performances in two games so far without having even a decent offensive performance. If he can hit on closer to half of his shots on the home floor, combined with the rebounding and defense that he brings consistently, he could be a key performer for your fantasy squad.
Quincy Pondexter vs. GS ($5,300) – His involvement comes and goes, which makes him a permanently risky option. He’s not someone you would likely even consider without such a narrow slate of games, and for good reason – so remember that as you are trying to talk yourself into him as an upside play.
Mike Dunleavy @ MIL ($4,700) – Especially with Mirotic sidelined for this one, Dunleavy will see plenty of time, and looks. He is averaging almost 35 minutes a game so far, and has connected on seven threes. He is the perfect complement to the slash and kick game that can be initiated by either Rose or Butler.
POWER FORWARD TARGETS
Anthony Davis vs. GS ($10,900) – Davis is a bona-fide superstar, and he has shown it in the first two games, even with a pretty obviously inferior team. He has just over 50 fantasy points so far, and the crazy thing is, you look at his two lines and you still see a lot more potential upside. You can almost expect 50 from him, and hope for 70. He can score – you’re expecting 20+ and hoping for 35. He can rebound – you’re expecting 8 and hoping for 15. And he can fill it up everywhere else too. When you look at the guys Golden State has to try to slow him down, it’s obvious that a 35-15 game with multiple blocks and steals and a handful of assists is well within his reach, and you could see him take a game from the best regular season team in the league single-handedly.
Draymond Green @ NO ($7,900) – The Warriors know he is small to D up Davis, but they need Green’s versatility and toughness out there, and they will continue to for as long as they survive this postseason. With lines of 15-12-7 and 14-12-5 with three steals in each game, you know what you are getting into here, and you just have to hope he can hit both of those double-double thresholds to get you an elite performance instead of just a serviceable one.
Jae Crowder vs. CLE ($4,300) – Crowder’s minutes have bounced around ever since he got to the Celtics, but he got 30 in Game 2 because he has proven to be a good fit for this series, with the combination of speed and size to be useful in a lot of different ways. He’s not going to be a big scorer, but with ten points in each of the first two, all you need to see is a handful of rebounds and he can be a good value at this price, someone you can rely on for consistent points, if not a lot of upside.
Taj Gibson @ MIL ($3,800) – With Mirotic going down, Gibson could be the beneficiary of more time on the floor, and he has shown himself to be a reliable contributor when he is out there, even if he is not doing anything to really set himself apart. If he does get the time, though, he has the kind of size that could be effective at cleaning the boards against a Bucks lineup that relies on athleticism more than pure size to get the job done on the glass.
Andrew Bogut @ NO ($6,600) – He almost seems like a no-brainer for the rest of this series. His only issue all season has been that he didn’t always get the minutes. Golden State had the luxury of only using him when the matchup called for it, and they needed his services. When you’re dominating the regular season anyway, you do just that, and keep your big man fresh. Well here he is, fresh, and clearly the Warriors have decided he is a good fit for this pairing. With just over 30 minutes per in the first two, he has a total of 28 rebounds and 8 combined blocks and steals – in other words, he comes exactly as advertised.
Joakim Noah @ MIL ($6,300) – There is just no scoring. But watching him rebound out there in that Bulls uniform, he reminds me of the Worm back in the day. With 30 boards through two, with defensive stats and assists, you are just wishing and hoping for those couple of random, stray garbage hoops that gets him to double-digits, because that could mean an elite fantasy performance.
Zaza Pachulia vs. CHI ($5,200) – A handful of points, a handful of rebounds, and maybe a little of something else. He’s not going to win you any tournaments. You’ll never decide to play him in the utility spot, so the only reason to trot him out there is if you are convinced the two guys priced above him are due for really, really down outings.
Timofey Mozgov @ BOS ($4,900) – He is not a great matchup for Boston, with just enough size and strength to get to his spots on the offensive end and to serve as a rim-protector on defense (eight blocks in two games). He’s just got a size advantage on everyone Boston trots out there, and should therefore continue to get some time out on the court for the next two (or maybe three) games of the series.