With only four teams in action Thursday night, let’s face it, there aren’t always going to be four good options at every position. And that’s both before the contests start AND after. Not only were there not four guys you felt good about starting, but there also, in the end, weren’t four guys who performed very well, either. Let’s hope those two lists match up. Good luck.
POINT GUARD TARGETS
- Russell Westbrook @ CHI ($11,300) – Well, if you were worried, he came back last night, after missing only one game with a fractured cheekbone. And he came back in full beast mode, so rest easy. He’s been the best player in fantasy, arguably the most dynamic player in the entire league, and as long as KD is out, he will be dragging the Thunder towards the postseason all by his lonesome.
- Damian Lillard vs. DAL ($8,100) – I am going to cop to something: he’s my single favorite player to roll out in my daily lineups. He just always seems a little too cheap to me. He costs $8,100, he’s got a great matchup, and he has scored over 40 points in each of his last two, and over 30 in seven of ten.
- Rajon Rondo @ POR ($5,700) – He’s really hard to trust at this point, and it is even harder to imagine him returning to the triple-double machine he was in his best days with the Celtics. But, if you’re looking for a bright side, his last couple of games have been a step in the right direction. At his best, he can do the kinds of things the Mavericks need. Maybe they don’t need someone to penetrate and find the open man in their ball-movement offense (makes you wonder why he’s there). But anyone can use a guard who knows how to pick his spots well enough to shoot over 50% from the field when it’s going good, while dishing and grabbing boards. I can’t imagine his price going much lower.
- Aaron Brooks vs. OKC ($5,400) – Brooks is never going to be a consistent performer – suffice it to say that the Bulls are not better off suddenly having him playing more than 30 minutes a night. But with Rose and Butler both sidelined, he’s getting plenty of opportunity, and he is capable of taking advantage when the matchup is right, as evidenced by the 22-8 he logged last time out against Washington.
SHOOTING GUARD TARGETS
- Monta Ellis @ POR ($6,800) – The highest priced shooting guard on the board, he is a virtual lock for something like 25-35 fantasy points. He doesn’t often have a terrible game, because he can shoot, and gets plenty of looks, but he doesn’t do enough of anything else to put up really huge games too often either.
- Wesley Matthews vs. DAL ($5,600) – He’s got a higher ceiling and a lower floor than Ellis. You’re paying less and taking on additional risk, but when you factor in the much better matchup, that $1,200 is looking like low-hanging fruit.
- Dion Waiters @ CHI ($4,100) – There are not many choices, clearly. Good news first: he’s had 28 minutes on the floor in each of his last two, and totaled 25 shot attempts. The bad news: most people with that type of opportunity score more than 32 fantasy points. Total. In the two games.
- Arron Afflalo vs. DAL ($3,600) – He’s on this list because there is no one else, and also because, if you just refuse to spend up on Ellis or Matthews, I like Afflalo better than Waiters.
SMALL FORWARD TARGETS
- Nicolas Batum vs. DAL ($5,500) – In back to back games not two weeks ago, he had double-digits points twice, ten rebounds in one, and nine assists in the other. We’ve been waiting a while for him to put all that together. It’s probably not happening tonight. He is a guy that averages 26 fantasy points a game, but that has virtually nothing to do with what he might do that night – he has gotten to that point with a bunch of pretty bad games punctuated by a difficult-to-predict few really good ones.
- Al-Farouq Aminu @ POR ($4,600) – The second priciest guy on the list tonight, he comes off the bench for the Mavericks. Says it all, I guess, and what I mean by that is that it says “spend your money on a different position.” Aminu’s last four games: 28, 6, 34 and 14 fantasy points. Good luck.
- Tony Snell vs. OKC ($4,000) – Remember when this guy was a sneaky fantasy play for a while? Well, there are plenty of minutes to be had for Chicago right now – they need all the help they can get suddenly filling a void that was their entire starting backcourt. He’s been over 20 fantasy points in his last three, and played 40 minutes in the last one.
- Mike Dunleavy vs. OKC ($3,600) – Speaking of minutes. He’s getting them. The Bulls don’t like it. Fantasy owners don’t like it. But there it is: averaging 31 minutes a game in each of his last three, and in one of those games, he went for over 40 fantasy points. In the other two, he was well under 20, but you’re not getting consistency for $3,600. And OKC is also thin right now, so if there was ever a chance for Dunleavy to succeed in this matchup, this is probably it.
POWER FORWARD TARGETS
- Pau Gasol vs. OKC ($9,400) – Yes! Finally, a place to spend your money. Gasol is great, OKC could have trouble defending someone with his length, and he has 40+ fantasy points in six of ten. Best investment since the point guards.
- LaMarcus Aldridge vs. DAL ($9,100) – Another one! Wow. Dallas has success defending big men, but Aldridge has success against teams that have success defending big men. In other words, he’s good. And if Tyson Chandler is even a little slowed up by his hip injury, the look of that interior defense could change dramatically, not to mention leaving the glass wide open for Aldridge.
- Nikola Mirotic vs. OKC ($5,700) – He is playing through and with a shoulder injury that is definitely not helping him any, so pay attention to his status leading up to the game, but right now it does look like he’s on track to play. He’s had over 30 minutes three times in his last five games, and he is averaging just under 40 fantasy points in those three. These guys can use production from wherever they can find it these days.
- Mitch McGary @ CHI ($4,000) – He got ten minutes and fewer than five fantasy points in two of his last three games. So maybe you want to draft one of these other three guys and put a pin in jumping on this bandwagon just yet. But I don’t care, he’s staying on the list because the guy is a phenom when he’s out there, and I can’t wait to see what happens when he does enough to earn he trust of the coaching staff and starts playing to his potential – he had a game with 9 points, ten boards, two blocks and two steals just about a week ago… and he did it in FIFTEEN MINUTES.
- Joakim Noah vs. OKC ($7,400) – The Bulls need offense. Not necessarily what this guy is known for, but he’s a team guy and you’ll know he’s going to try to give him team what it needs. Double-digit rebounds in eight straight, this is a guy who scored 37 fantasy points while only scoring 4 actual points just a week and a half ago (4-11-8 with 3 blocks and a steal). If he starts scoring more, you could be looking at a price tag that doesn’t stop slowly growing for the rest of the year.
- Tyson Chandler @ POR ($6,500) – Another guy who you will want to at least check on his status before the game, but he looks like he will fight through whatever nagging injuries he has at the moment. If Dallas can manage to keep Aldridge on the outside for the most part, which is totally realistic, this could be a big rebounding game for Chandler.
- Enes Kanter @ CHI ($5,900) – He’s cheaper than Chandler, so he’s on this part of the list instead of vice-versa. But this is another example of that low-hanging fruit – even if it is only $600, that’s worth something when it is this easy to come by. He could easily outperform Chandler in this one, especially with the Thunder looking for production where they can find it.
- Robin Lopez vs. DAL ($3,800) – He was out for a while with the broken hand, but he has given the Blazers – and you – another option in the form of a player who consistently has a chance at a double-double, which is more upside than you usually see for under $4K.