With more games on the schedule than most weeks, Thursday offers up plenty of fantasy options this time around. With only five games going, it’s not like you have a lot of top options at every position, but you are going to have some decisions to make about where to allocate your salary cap. Good luck.
POINT GUARD TARGETS
- John Wall vs. MEM ($8,300) – He doesn’t necessarily seem it unless you watch him closely, just because of the style that he plays, but he is a very consistent play in DFS. He is near but not at the top of his category overall, he won’t break your bank, but he gets you that savings without the back-breaking downside: his bad games still net you in the low 30’s. You get that way with a diverse skill-set, which you know he must have when you see him score 6 points in a game, and still net you 40+ fantasy points like he did last week against Miami.
- Kyrie Irving @ SA ($7,600) – With Kawhi Leonard and a good scheme down low, the Spurs might be able to make this a slow night for LeBron and Love, and Irving has the penetration ability to wreak havoc when he needs to. With Irving you are not getting a point guard who has the offense flowing through him at all times, so you really want to grab him on a night when he’ll have a chance to score for himself, and that could be tonight.
- Jordan Clarkson vs. NY ($5,400) – His minutes are up lately, and with them, so are his fantasy scoring average, and his price. He hasn’t scored fewer than 20 fantasy points in three weeks, and there is no reason to believe the Knicks will make him break the trend.
- Alexey Shved @ LAL ($5,000) – He’s shown enough for you to think he should continue to see some heavy usage as long as Hardaway, Jr. isn’t playing, and against the Lakers, if he’s getting the minutes, he should be a good buy at $5,000.
SHOOTING GUARD TARGETS
- James Harden @ UTA ($10,800) – Utah plays some really good defense, so maybe Harden doesn’t have a 60 point fantasy night. And maybe that makes him too rich for your blood, but this is the thing – if you don’t draft him, he is one of those guys who will have you frantically refreshing the box score in hopes that he’s not going off on someone else’s (or lots of someones’) team, sinking your fantasy hopes single-handedly.
- Khris Middleton @ IND ($6,300) – He isn’t consistent, but thankfully, he’s also not so expensive that a fantasy night in the mid-twenties is going to sink you.
- Bradley Beal vs. MEM ($5,500) – He is someone who scores consistently in the mid-to-high 20’s, at least lately. And what that means is that if you think the guys just above him on the list have match-ups that will prevent them from reaching their highest upside, Beal is going to get you the exact same production, but at a savings.
- Wayne Ellington vs. NY ($5,000) – The Lakers are one of those teams that keep cropping up useful fantasy players based on nothing but opportunity. You don’t have to beat yourself up for not being overly familiar with Ellington’s game – no one is, and no one ever would be if the Lakers weren’t faltering so hard this season. But right now, he playing upwards of 40 minutes a night, which is enough for anyone to be useful (and especially so agains the Knicks).
SMALL FORWARD TARGETS
- LeBron James @ SA ($10,600) – He’s phenomenal. And even when he is not having his most dominant type of performance, he has the ball in his hands enough, and can do enough different things, that he is a fantasy force regardless. As with all the top players, then, it becomes a question of cost. Can you afford to pick him out without destroying your chances if he “only” gets you 30 fantasy points? If you’re confident in your other picks, he is the ultimate example of “consistent, with upside,” but it’s not free. Spend wisely.
- Kawhi Leonard vs. CLE ($8,100) – Small forward is thin tonight, and even the guys who are playing don’t have great match-ups. Leonard is one of those guys. Playing, and playing well lately, but he is going to have to contend with LeBron all night long. And now only does LeBron have the physical presence to perhaps at least try to control Leonard’s rebounding, while also demanding so much out of Kawhi on the defensive end that he might find it difficult to truly assert himself on offense.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo @ IND ($6,900) – In a tough match-up tonight, maybe you want to wait until next time around to jump on this bandwagon. But I have been touting Giannis for months now, and have seen his price steadily increase that entire time, and so regardless of whether you want to start hime tonight, consider yourself on notice: this guy is legit. His success feels a lot more like a coming-out party than a statistic anomaly, and his 50+ points fantasy outing last time out has finally put the exclamation point on his game, as he finished with 29-5-4 with 3 blocks and 3 steals. With that kind of game, this price is not high enough yet.
- Josh Smith @ UTA ($6,300) – The usage has certainly gone down on his new team, so you can only attribute his increased production to increased efficiency. Smith might not strike you as the efficient type, and you’d be right (just check out his FG % over the past few weeks), but he is taking advantage of the minutes he’s getting off the bench to do what the Rockets need, which is more than the Hawks ever would have said about him.
POWER FORWARD TARGETS
- Derrick Favors vs. HOU ($7,800) – With Favors’ skill-set and no Howard in the middle for Houston, this is a great opportunity for Utah’s big power forward to flex his muscle. He gives you a solid chance at 20-10 every night, and, in fact, is almost averaging that over his last handful of games.
- Kevin Love @ SA ($7,600) – Maybe Love is starting to get acclimated… or maybe he just had a couple of good games in a row. But either way, try to imagine how you would have felt if I told you could could have Love at this price back when he first signed with Cleveland. You would have either thought you were the luckiest guy in the world or just thought an advantage that big is no advantage at all since everyone will pounce on it. But with Love, the apprehension is real, and there are plenty of players scared off perhaps the preseason outlook,,,,,,,, don’t [sFor $7,600, this guy is capable of seriously producing, and
- Andrea Bargnani vs. LAL ($5,800) – He’s shoots well from the field, he hits an occasional three, plays good interior defense – the guy has been a godsend for the Knicks since he joined the starting lineup. And for fantasy owners, he is just another very useable option where before there was none. For $5,800, you are buying yourself 20+ fantasy points (he’s been over that mark in 9 of 10) with 40-point upside.
- David West vs. MIL ($5,600) – He is not flashy. His last two double-doubles were 10-10 and 14-11. But, on the bright side, either one of those will still get you 30+ fantasy points, and for West, those two games came out of just his last three. He’s the kind of player, unfortunately, who you have to utilize while he’s healthy, so jump on that now before it changes.
- Rudy Gobert vs. HOU ($7,800) – Houston being a little banged up certainly helps his cause, but Gobert has been playing well of late against just about everyone. In the past few weeks, he is averaging a double-double in more than 35 minutes a night, providing a steady contribution on defense and on the boards, which can lead to plenty of opportunities for his own offense. And when that happens, he is capable of a big night, like the 15-24 he had against a solid frontcourt in Memphis just about a week back.
- Marc Gasol @ WAS ($7,500) – He hasn’t scored fewer than 30 fantasy points in a game since last month. He’s got enough size that he just seems to stumble into a couple of blocks every night, something that could come ver easily against a penetrating team like Washington.
- Jordan Hill vs. NY ($5,400) – He is another beneficiary of a real lack of talent across this roster, and an example of how opportunity plays as much of a role as skill in fantasy sometimes. He has scored between 22-27 fantasy points in each of his last five games, so while it’s not flashy, at least you know what you are getting yourself into, and in a good matchup, he has a better chance of improving on that slow and steady pace than falling off it.
- Cole Aldrich @ LAL ($3,600) – It might be too soon to trust him completely, but if the Knicks last game was any indication, he has inserted himself back into the mix as the primary option for New York in the middle. In 29 minutes, he went for 17-13 on 7-12 shooting, the kinds of numbers that stand out in a frontcourt that otherwise features guys like Jason Smith and Lou Amundson. If Aldrich and Bargnani are playing well together, the Knicks may have landed on a combo that can give them a respectable presence down low, and one that can give fantasy owners a couple of legitimate options, even if the team continues to struggle.