Considering there are only three games being played Thursday night, the number of top-flight options available is a pleasant surprise. Good luck.
POINT GUARD TARGETS
Stephen Curry vs. PHO ($9,300) – You have to wonder if Bledsoe potentially playing point instead of Knight might be a bad thing for Curry. Bledsoe is strong and athletic enough to fight through screens and get back on defense, and big enough that he might be able to contest that jumper and maybe even just slow him down, even a little. But this game could also turn into a shootout, so it’s not like Curry’s upside is going anywhere.
Goran Dragic @ CLE ($6,700) – Dragic has had a few poor-to-mediocre games very recently, but prior to that (we’re talking about a week ago), he was absolutely dominating. He’s the exact kind of guard who could exploit the defensiveness weaknesses in Cleveland’s backcourt, though, so this could be the one to get him back on track.
Rajon Rondo @ HOU ($5,800) – Rondo definitely has started to play better with his new teammates – at least on the court. And if he is going to continue that trend, you’re going to want to get in on drafting him right now. Because we’ve seen the way he can stuff a stat sheet, which means this price tag could rise in a hurry, if his last performance was any indication: 17-7-10 with a block and two steals.
NOTE – Brandon Knight is listed as Doubtful for the Phoenix-Golden State game.
SHOOTING GUARD TARGETS
James Harden @ DAL ($11,300) – I know, fantasy isn’t reality. But on a night when Steph Curry and LeBron are both playing, Harden is by the far the most expensive option, and for good reason. He has a great matchup tonight, so you expect him to have one of his better games, you know, within realistic expectations based on past performance. So, you can realistically root for 80, I guess. In his last ten games he is averaging just a smidge over 53.5 fantasy points per game.
Eric Bledsoe @ GS ($7,900) – He’ll be running the point in this one, and in what could turn out to be a high-scoring affair, having the ball in his hands a lot will not be a bad thing. He’ll also have his hands full on defense, but he should still have the energy left on offense to get you something in the range of 30 fantasy points.
Monta Ellis vs. HOU ($6,500) – He has the potential to be a real value in this one. The bad games he has seem to be against elite defensive teams who are able to just slow down the Mavericks as a whole. When their offense is clicking, he gets enough looks to easily get you 30+ fantasy points, and they should be able to move the ball against the Houston defense.
J.R. Smith vs. MIA ($5,600) – He’s no lock for productivity, but he is getting 30+ minutes a night, so the chances are there. Basically, when Kyrie and LeBron aren’t handling all of the scoring, he chips in, and in those games, he can have 30-fantasy-point upside. In this one, LeBron could dominate the ball, so you might want to temper your expectations for the role players on the Cavs, but he is still consistently around 20 points if you’re looking for someone who won’t just completely bottom out.
SMALL FORWARD TARGETS
LeBron James vs. MIA ($9,900) – Speaking of LeBron, he might, amazingly, actually be a value in this one. The matchup is not great on paper, but he is really not affected by teams that rely on protecting the interior to create effective team defense. Teams who actually defend well on the perimeter are usually going to cause him more problems, which is not Miami, and he will be motivated to perform, of course, against this particular opponent.
Josh Smith ($6,700) & Trevor Ariza ($6,600) @ DAL – Both listed as Small Forwards here, they are both in the starting lineup right now with injuries to Motiejunas and Jones, and they are each averaging just about 30 fantasy points per game over the past couple of weeks. Ariza, for his part, has been the more consistent of the two, with no games under 29 points in his last five, while Smith has had games in the teens combined with a couple of performances pushing 50 fantasy points.
Chandler Parsons vs. HOU ($6,500) – He’s been over 35 fantasy points in each of his last two, with at least 15 shot attempts in each. With that level of opportunity, he has shown that he can produce. All of the scorers on Dallas are seeing an uptick in efficiency with Rondo’s improved play, which I suppose was the point from the start. It would be nice to see that trend continue, because there could be value to find with the depressed prices for the players on this roster.
P.J. Tucker @ GS ($5,300) – Another guy playing out of position with Knight’s injury, the move to SG in the starting lineup should increase his scoring opportunities somewhat, but you are hoping he can still push double-digits in rebounds in order to provide real value, and he has only been able to do that sporadically. The hope is he can use his out-of-position size to accomplish it in a game where neither team has a truly dominant rebounder.
POWER FORWARD TARGETS
Markieff Morris vs. PHO ($6,100) – With Draymond Green, Kevin Love and Terrence Jones all with a legit chance of missing their games, this Morris is the highest priced PF on the board. On paper, those top three options all have bad matchups anyway, but if Green were active, he’s be interesting as exactly the kind of athletic PF who could be the exception to Phoenix’s prowess at small-balling big men into bad games. But if none of them play, my guess is you have a guard or center in your utility spot.
Dirk Nowitski vs. HOU ($5,900) – He still gets lots of minutes, relative, at least, to all your other options tonight. He is good for a performance in the mid-20’s virtually every night, and he still has upside in the high 30’s if he can get his hands on double-digit boards, which is definitely possible with Houston’s frontcourt all banged up.
Marcus Morris @ GS ($5,800) – This Morris isn’t always racking up the minutes you want to see, by far his biggest issue. Because when he is out there, he’s been productive, averaging over 30 fantasy points a night in his last six, with four games over 35 points in that span.
Tristan Thompson vs. MIA ($4,000) – He doesn’t necessarily get all the minutes, but obviously his value takes a little bit of a jump with Love out. Even when he is out there, the Cavs aren’t exactly drawing up plays for him, though. His fantasy value isn’t likely to come from scoring – you’re really just hoping he manages to get to 10 to help complement his rebounding, the one real noticeable strength in his game right now – he has 29 rebounds in his last three, despite only averaging 21 minutes per contest.
Hassan Whiteside @ CLE ($7,200) – Whiteside could definitely have a strong rebounding performance in this one, with a couple of teams that slow it down enough to allow him to play with good position most of the night. I think a double-double is easily within reach for this one, so if his range is something like 20-35 points, I would expect the high end of the spectrum in this one.
Tyson Chandler vs. HOU ($5,300) – Dwight Howard is expected to play in this one, but who knows how effective he will be. Chandler relies heavily on rebounding for whatever fantasy value he has, and Howard shouldn’t impact that, especially is his minutes are limited.
Andrew Bogut vs. PHO ($4,700) – The best big man on the floor for this one, double-digit rebounds seems within reach, as long as the minutes are there. And, with a couple of slashers like Bledsoe and Tucker in the backcourt he could also get you a couple of blocks in even limited action, which would boost his fantasy appeal pretty quickly.
Timofey Mosgov vs. MIA ($4,700) – His biggest risk is that sometimes he is just hardly out there at all, but in his last ten games, he is averaging 13-7 when he gets at least 25 minutes of PT. And, he seems to be a good fit in this matchup against Miami, like he should find a role in the gameplan somewhere.