With only two games on tap for Thursday night, four options at every position covers just about all of them. Here are some reasons to start (or not to start) each of the options from every position, across the price spectrum. Good luck.
POINT GUARD TARGETS
Chris Paul @ SA ($9,800) – Paul’s performance in game five was a baseline for what you should expect out of the all-world point (45 fantasy points), but if you’re paying up for him, it’s because you expect more. Luckily, in an elimination game, both the Clippers in general and Paul himself, specifically, also will be expecting more.
Derrick Rose @ MIL ($7,400) – Rose has scored fewer than 20 points in three of the last four games in this series, but the thing is, he looks like the best player on the floor again. He’s been playing upwards of 40 minutes every night, and he’ll be looking to redeem himself, and avoid a game 7, going all out on the road in this one.
Michael Carter-Williams vs. CHI ($6,400) – Coming off the best game we’ve seen from him in a while, you have to be concerned about the apparent ankle injury he sustained in game 5, despite what he says about the severity. He was two boards and an assist away from a triple-double, and flashed the kind of potential he obviously possesses. It’s always been a question of whether or not he can score at this level, because he does everything else well.
Tony Parker vs. LAC ($5,200) – Sometimes you wonder how the Spurs do it, no? Parker is banged up and playing 30 minutes a night, you see Paul playing at his best and Griffin on every highlight reel, and here the Spurs are, one win away from advancing yet again. Parker, at this point, is not an upside play, but he will get you twenty or so fantasy points just by being out there. And the fact is, you need some kind of cheap options on your roster, and these two might look a lot more appealing than the cheap guys at the other positions.
SHOOTING GUARD TARGETS
Jimmy Butler @ MIL ($8,700) – Butler and Rose are a nasty tag-team, and the 50+ fantasy points Butler has had in each of the last two games is evidence of exactly that. With the Bucks’ backs against the wall, their young defensive studs will likely be looking for their own offense, trying to stave off elimination, which could open the door for another big game out of Butler.
Khris Middleton vs. CHI ($6,100) – Middleton is a stud in a lot of ways, even if the price doesn’t necessarily reflect that. The Bucks are looking for offense wherever they can find it, and even if that’s not always Middleton’s forte, he’s gotten up between 15-20 shots in every game in this series.
J.J. Redick @ SA ($4,900) – Redick has transformed himself from the gunner he was in college to a very useful two-way player, which doesn’t necessarily translate for fantasy purposes. But he still can shoot the lights out, and if CP3 and Griffin are making the Spurs focus their attention elsewhere, he could hit enough shots to be a useful option in this one.
Manu Ginobli vs. LAC ($4,800) – Ginobli and Parker are similar options, on the cheap side, with limited upside, but consistently getting you right around 20 fantasy points. And that consistency is valuable, especially on a night where inexpensive options are few and far between. It makes a lot of sense to have at least one of these guys rostered.
SMALL FORWARD TARGETS
Kawhi Leonard vs. LAC ($8,700) – If you are wondering how the Spurs keep doing it, look no further. The best defensive player in the league, shooting almost 50% from the floor and 80% from the line, grabbing more than seven boards a game from a wing spot, you really couldn’t ask any more from a small forward.
Giannis Antetokounmpo vs. CHI ($6,100) – He is just not scoring lately in this series. Let’s face it, the Bucks aren’t the only team in this series who play some serious defense, so you need to root for Giannis to do a little of everything else but score. And he can certainly do that, but it is just harder to predict.
Mike Dunleavy @ MIL ($4,600) – He’s made 13 threes in the series. That and a handful of rebounds makes for a useable option for this price.
Matt Barnes @ SA ($4,000) – The problem with Barnes is downside. He’s not going to top out at much more than 20 fantasy points, but his floor is in the single digits. For an extra few hundred bucks, you can raise that floor by 15 points.
POWER FORWARD TARGETS
Blake Griffin @ SA ($10,300) – Power Forward is the deepest position tonight, and the only one where there are actually options other than the ones here. And Griffin is at the front of the pack. No matter what happens in this series, the Clippers have got to be happy with their star forward. He is averaging 24-13-7 with a block and two steals against a great team (and hitting 70% of his free throws on top of it all!).
Pau Gasol @ MIL ($8,800) – Gasol has been a rock for the Bulls all season, and this series has been no exception. He is averaging just about 45 fantasy points a night through five games, with a double-double in all of them.
Tim Duncan vs. LAC ($8,500) – The Big Fundamental. That nickname has never been more fitting than in this series. Shooting just over 55% from the floor through five games, his efficiency ratings are enough to make you salivate when you know his minutes are going to spike like they inevitably will in the playoffs.
Boris Diaw vs. LAC ($5,200) – A primary reason why there are so many power forward options relative to other positions, he basically plays center for the Spurs. The choice here is really whether you prefer him over the two Milwaukee options, and to me, the answer is yes. He should be able to get you a double-double about half the time with the PT he is seeing in this series (about five extra minutes a night compared to the regular season).
DeAndre Jordan @ SA ($8,000) – He is a stud, but the Spurs know how to defend big men. Despite that, he is good enough to get his own pretty regularly. For example, take a look at games 2 (20-15 with three blocks) and 5 (21-14 with two blocks). His best games of the series, and it is no surprise that in those two games, he attempted 33 foul shots. Simply put, Pop is not going to let him REALLY get going. As soon as he finds his groove, he hits the line, and unlike most players, those freebies don’t help him, but stop him in his tracks. Basically, pay up because he’s good if you want to, but be aware that his upside has been slashed.
Joakim Noah @ MIL ($6,100) – This would be my center in a single fantasy lineup. The rest of these options are either too expensive or too… terrible. Noah does not often see games with fewer than a dozen rebounds, which is enough to validate the price. And with the way the Spurs can trip up Jordan, Noah’s upside might be the same or better than any other center you might want to consider.
Zaza Pachulia vs. CHI ($4,600) – The last usable center on the board, he is less usable, in my opinion, that similarly priced options at other positions. He has had double digit rebounds two times in the series, and double-digit points none times. Yeah, none.
Tiago Splitter vs. CHI ($2,800) – Don’t start Tiago Splitter. Or anyone else lower than him on the board.