We have a nice 6 game slate here for Thursday NBA DFS action with an early Thursday game in London! Normally we do not even have this many games, so it is a nice change. We do have a few with blowout risk and quite a few injury concerns. Guys like Draymond Green, Pau Gasol, Derrick Rose, and Mike Conley are all popular fantasy picks that are in serious danger of sitting this one out. We do not have a ton of confirmed news yet, but keep an eye on the injury reports as it could upgrade or downgrade some of the guys we mention here. Below we highlight some of the top plays at each position based on price and potential production. Let’s take a look:
Ish Smith ($7000) – The high end of the Point guard scale is not too appealing today with Guys like Steph Curry likely seeing less minutes in a probable blowout. The one guy I would consider paying up for though is Ish Smith. Some might balk at his high price, but he has been putting up great numbers since becoming the starter in Philly after the trade. He has at least 43 fantasy points in 5 of his last 8 games. At $7000 that is a return on 6X or better. Chicago has been weak at defending the point guards all season, so could have a nice return in 30+ minutes of action based off his recent results.
Tony Parker ($5100) – Old man value is an underrated thing in daily fantasy and Parker has been giving it to us. In 5 of his last 7 games he has returned 28 fantasy points or more which is good for over 5.5X value. He should see a full allotment of minutes in what is expected to be a close back and forth game with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Throw in the fact he will see some Kyrie Irving defense and you can see why Tony Parker has another chance to return good value and give you upside at his current price point.
Mario Chalmers ($6300) – His price just keeps rising, but it’s warranted based off of his recent production. Mike Conley has been banged up and missing games. With Conley out, Chalmers has stepped in and produced with the minutes he has seen. Over the last four games he has averaged 35 fantasy points in 36 minutes of action. His recent lines have averaged out to about 15 points, 4.5 rebounds, 6.5 assists and about 2 steals over this recent stretch. As long as Conley is out, Chalmers makes a solid cash game play based off his recent production.
Jimmy Butler ($8800) – Butler has been very good lately and his price has come up to reflect it. He has not scored below 40 fantasy points in his last 8 games and is averaging around 46 over this stretch. Derrick Rose may not play here and we always see Jimmy get a bump in numbers when Rose is out. He is back to being the Jimmy Minutes of old with about 38 minutes played per game recently too. He produces across the board and his scoring and assist numbers go up with Rose out. All those factors together make this a great spot to target him in for cash game play.
Victor Oladipo ($7100) – EARLY – Dipo is now the starting point guard for the Orlando Magic and his numbers have risen with his new role. He has 30 or more fantasy points in 5 of the last 6 games with the lone exception being the 25 point blowout to the Cavs a few games back. In four of those games he has reached 35 points or more, so he is returning 5-6X value on a consistent basis. His matchup is tough against Kyle Lowry, but he is playing well over 30 minutes lately and contributes stats across the board. I still prefer to find the money to pay up for Butler, but I would not be upset taking Dipo if I needed the extra $1700 to upgrade somewhere else.
Rodney Hood ($5900) – With Burks and Favors out, Hood has really stepped up his game. He has seen 30 minutes or more in 5 of his last 7 and has produced no less than 27 fantasy points in any of those games. He’s flashed a ceiling of 40ish points in 3 of those games as well, so he makes sense for safety and upside based off his recent performances. He gets a paced up match up against a Sacramento Kings team here that has yielded big games to opposing players all season. The high pace leads to extra possessions and more points scored. Both of those things are positive for his fantasy value.
Gordon Hayward ($7200) – Everything we said about Rodney Hood above also applies to Hayward here. His usage and fantasy scores are up with Burks and Favors out. He is taking more shots, playing more minutes, and accruing more stats across the board. He gets a top tier matchup against a fast paced Sacramento team which should help him score closer to his ceiling value. Hayward consistently scores in the mid 30s with upside into the low 40s. That makes him a safe cash game play, although the upside is limited.
Kawhi Leonard ($8100) – Many will steer clear of Kawhi and Lebron today as the two are matched up against each other, but that may not be the best idea. Kawhi and Lebron have both put up some big stat lines against each other and it has a lot to do with the amount of minutes they both see. Kawhi is the only guy on the Spurs who can actually slow Lebron down and make him work for his production, so every minutes Lebron is on the floor, Kawhi will be too. Both guys have already put up 40-50 fantasy points in previous matchups with each other, but Kawhi is much cheaper than Lebron which makes him the preferred play. Many will shy away, so his tournament ownership should be low. With the added minutes and his ability to contribute across the board, this is a great spot to target him in for tournaments.
Tony Allen ($5300) – With Matt Barnes banged up, we have seen Allen’s minutes rise into the mid 30 range. His production has come along with it as he has averaged over 30 fantasy points in every game he has seen 30 minutes in the last two weeks. If Barnes remains out, Allen should be in line for another 30+ minutes and 30+ points today. The 7X and 8X returns when he was in the mid $4K price range are likely gone, but even at $5300 he will still return 5-6X on his salary.
LaMarcus Aldridge ($6900) – All the LMA fans and fantasy owners have been pulling their hair out as his production was way down since becoming a Spur. The last week though reminded us just how good this guy really is. He has at least 35 fantasy points in five of his last six. He has scored 39 or more on four of those occasions as well. That makes his recent floor a safe 5X with upside. He gets one of the softer matchups on Cleveland against Kevin Love here and will need to be prominently featured for the Spurs to have a chance to keep up with the Cavs. He has not had less than 9 rebounds in any of the last six games too, so he is right in line with a double double average per game over his recent stretch. He should see full run here in a competitive game against another very good team and I think he is cash game safe at a price that still seems a tad low.
Nikola Mirotic ($5900) – Maybe we get some value opened up due to injuries later on in the day, but as things stand right now the only other guy I am considering at the power forward slot is Mirotic. With Pau Gasol out, all of the PF options for the Bulls should get a bump up. Bobby Portis and Taj Gibson are also in play, but Mirotic is my favorite of the three. He is starting at the small forward spot and may even see some time at the power forward position in this one too. He has consistently returned a safe 25-30 points with Pau active and has flashed a ceiling into the 40s on a few recent occasions. With Pau out and Rose questionable, the whole team should get a tick up in usage and production, so Mirotic becomes a solid cash play with GPP upside for today.
Nikola Vucevic ($7100) – Vucevic is still a little too cheap for his recent production. It is not the easiest matchup in the world against Toronto, but they will need him to play well in order to have a chance to win. He is coming off back-to-back 40+ fantasy point performances where he averaging over 20 points, 9.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 2 defensive stats per game. He is playing a ton of minutes and is directly involved in a lot of the plays the Magic are running. He gets some looks when they dump it down to him and he gets some points cleaning up misses and finishing on dump downs when the guards drive to the hoop. He has so many ways he can reach value, especially with how well he is passing out of double teams lately. His price is not restrictive and he can easily fit into a solid lineup today without forcing you to punt a position or two.
Joakim Noah ($5100) – Noah is in a great spot today. Pau is likely out and the Bulls face a Philly team that has allowed big fantasy scores to centers. Noah’s value comes more from the other stats than his scoring. A big point production game from Noah is still only about 12-15 points, but he can add double digit rebounds, a bunch of assists, and some defensive stats to it in order to make value. Noah also is a solid shot blocker and part of the reason centers do so well against Philly is the number of blocks they can accrue against Jahlil Okafor who is basically an undersized center that should be playing power forward. Noah’s minutes should be up with no Pau and that should float the rest of the stats towards his ceiling as well. We have seen him put up 25-30 fantasy points in less minutes than he should see today, so the potential upside here is tantalizing.
Tim Duncan ($5300) – I debated guys like Duncan, Valaciunas, and Okafor for the third spot. Ultimately I decided this should be a better game for Duncan and his price was too good to ignore. We all know that Duncan is being rested and used sparingly this season to keep him healthy and fresh for the playoff push. Duncan has seen 25+ minutes in only 3 of the last five games. In those three, he has scored 39, 39.5, and 41 fantasy points. At a price of $5300, that is 7.5-8X value. This game with Cleveland should be close and that will likely mean we do see 25-30 minutes from Duncan. He has reached his value with big games in scoring, rebounding, assists, and blocks, so we have a ton of ways to see him get to both value and his ceiling. He is risky as he is the first to sit out a rotation if the game gets ugly either way, but we have very few guys in the $5K range with 40 point upside that is real and easy to see. I will not use him in cash, but he is definitely a perfect upside play for tournaments.