With only four teams playing, there are often, well, only four viable options at each position. Here’s a look at almost every option out there, and some reasons why to draft, or not draft, them for your fantasy rosters. And with two opening games in brand new second-round series, there is no super-recent track record to fall back on like you got used to at the end of round one. Good luck.
POINT GUARD TARGETS
Chris Paul @ HOU ($9,800) – He is listed as Questionable, and apparently was limited in a shoot around that happened earlier today. You might want to wait a couple of days to get him at his best, but for the whole series, it’s going to be better for Paul that Beverly is out as well, so you should expect his best sooner or later. You’ll want to be back on board at that point.
Kyrie Irving vs. CHI ($8,500) – Kyrie might find the road a bit tougher than he is used to in this series. There is just a lot of speed, size, and strength all around the perimeter on Chicago’s side, and historically, if Kyrie can’t get his own offense on track, he’s not worth his price.
Derrick Rose vs. CLE ($7,400) – Rose had 34 fantasy points in 25 minutes in Game 6, but in a win that big, it might not be fair to judge what anyone’s fantasy point totals looked like. That game is not reality, but Rose’s health is right now, and this price seems to give you the chance to take advantage of that health.
Pablo Prigioni vs. LAC ($2,500) – He’s only on this list to explain why Terry isn’t (on the shooting guard list). This is a situation where an injury did not create a cheaper option out of thin air.
SHOOTING GUARD TARGETS
James Harden vs. LAC ($10,400) – The question obviously isn’t “do I want to start James Harden,” because then the answer would be easy: “Yes.” So the question becomes “do I start Harden or LeBron, or Blake Griffin?” And that’s an appropriate question, so consider this – the Clippers don’t have anyone who matches up well on the defensive end with Harden. Redick might be their best perimeter defender, but he is not quick enough to stay in front of him, and he can simply shoot over anyone else they have. It should be a good series for him, if not for the rest of the Rockets.
Jimmy Butler @ CLE ($8,700) – Butler is going to be a key player in this series. If the Bulls want to advance past the favorites in this one, he is going to have to come up big, and he is more than capable. Kyrie isn’t exactly known for his defense, and he will be worried about Rose anyway, which means Butler is either going to be able to exploit a matchup against Shumpert (and later, Smith), or the Cavs are going to be forced to throw LeBron at him. That will not only make him work harder than they would likely want, but also pull him further out towards the perimeter in a matchup that might require him to play down low (with Love missing time).
J.J. Redick @ HOU ($5,000) – Redick is going to be asked to do a lot in this series, with the bevy of wing players the Rockets have to mix and match all game long. But at the end of the day, they are going to need scoring, especially if CP3 is not 100%, and Redick can still shoot. If they can get him open looks, he could hit enough jumpers to be a decent value at this price.
Iman Shumpert vs. CHI ($4,100) – With J.R. Smith suspended for the first two games of the series, Shumpert will likely get the start and will definitely see an increased role. This price is based on more like 20-25 minutes than the 35+ he’ll hopefully see for a couple of nights.
SMALL FORWARD TARGETS
LeBron James vs. CHI ($11,100) – This series might end up seeming like a throwback to the Miami days. Without Love, the Cavs simply don’t have the bigs they need. They are going to have to have LeBron on the block more than he has this season, going back to a role that requires rebounding and interior defense, rather than sticking to the playmaker role he’s been in this season. This shouldn’t affect LeBron’s game any, simply replacing a couple of assists with a couple of rebounds, but it might impact the rest of the Cavs, especially the secondary players who rely on him for easy buckets.
Josh Smith vs. LAC ($6,500) – With Smith sitting as the second priciest player on the board tonight, obviously small forward isn’t that deep. You are going with Smith over Ariza on upside every day of the week (three games over 34 fantasy points in his last four, compared to only one in the entire last series for Ariza).
Mike Dunleavy @ CLE ($4,900) – Dunleavy somehow managed -.05 points in 21 minutes in game 5, which is actually impressive in a totally non-impressive sort of way. So yeah, there is risk. But he also drilled four threes in game 6, which is why he’s out there for this team. You can imagine a scenario where LeBron is given him as a defensive assignment in order to allow him the freedom to roll and helps teammates on D. If that leaves Dunleavy with a couple of wide open looks from behind the arc, he could certainly prove to be useful.
Matt Barnes @ HOU ($4,300) – He’s cheap, and he’s wildly inconsistent. If Chris Paul doesn’t play, he could be a good play, not as a direct replacement but as a guy who is not shy about jacking up some shots if he feels like that’s what the team needs.
POWER FORWARD TARGETS
Blake Griffin @ HOU ($10,300) – Blake didn’t score fewer than 57 fantasy points in any of his last four games. And that was against a team with good defenders matched up against him. He has to worry about Dwight protecting the rim, I guess, but his repertoire has expanded from nothing but a barrage of big dunks. And, I bet his speed gets him at least one of those too.
Pau Gasol @ CLE ($8,500) – Gasol should have his way with Cleveland’s interior defense. He is going to be able to get his shots and see passing lanes – with Love out, I expect him to match or better his season averages in points and assists in this one, and should at least come close on the boards.
Tristan Thompson vs. CHI ($5,000) – Let’s put it this way: as the series goes on, and he plays a ton of minutes without Love around, his price is going to go up, not down.
Taj Gibson @ CLE ($4,000) – Gibson, despite all the other talent on the Bulls, usually finds at least 25 minutes of time out there, and he can do a lot of things well. He can defend, and move the ball, and score when the opportunity presents itself. For $4,000, he should get you 20 fantasy points – not much more, but not much less, either.
Dwight Howard vs. LAC ($8,400) – Howard had a great final four games in the series against Dallas, proving he can still be an offensive force with 28 points in one game and 18 in another. But more importantly, from a fantasy perspective, he averaged 16 boards a game over that span, and that part of his production might be tough to replicate playing opposite DeAndre Jordan.
DeAndre Jordan @ HOU ($8,000) – One of my favorite things about the Clippers advancing is that it means we can watch this guy play for a little while longer. Free throws aside, he does just about everything well (take, for example, the 18 blocks he racked up in the last series against SA, or the 93 rebounds).
Joakim Noah @ CLE ($6,300) – Double-digit scoring in two straight to end the last series! It might not seem like much, but getting Noah to ten points is a big deal, and if he can keep it up, he is a very useful commodity at this price, when you consider everything else he does, and he does a lot.
Timofey Mosgov vs. CHI ($5,200) – Mosgov might not be a great fit for this series, seeming like someone who might not have anyone he matches up well with on defense, but no one against whom he creates a mismatch. With Love missing time, he’ll probably get minutes anyway, though, and he should be able to grab plenty of boards. If you are looking for a one-trick pony who can consistently get you around 20 fantasy points on short money with almost zero upside, he’s your man.