With six teams in action on Thursday night, there are plenty of interesting choices to make, so here are a few options to consider at every price level as you build your roster on Thursday night:
POINT GUARD TARGETS
- Kyle Lowry vs. CHA ($10,200) – He’s averaging over 41 fantasy points a game, and he’s gotten there recently. He’s had eight of his last ten over 40, and six over 45, and with a home matchup with Charlotte, there’s no reason to think he slows down now.
- Damian Lillard vs. MIA ($9,800) – There are three PGs priced at $9,800 or more, including Lillard, and it’s easy to say you’d rather trust Kemba Walker in what looks like a better matchup on paper. But Lillard has been playing great, Miami plays good D across the board, and Portland is going to need to get some points somewhere. Trusting Walker to go off for the third game in a row while facing off against Lowry might be a tall order.
- Patrick Beverley @ NY ($5,100) – $5,100 is a good price for a consistent 20+ fantasy points. And right now, who knows what is going on with New York’s backcourt? They haven’t been a great matchup for opposing point guards so far, but Mike Conley and John Wall have played well in back-to-back games since the shake-up, and the door is certainly open for Beverley to do the same. And the fact that he’s got a relatively high floor makes it a painless choice to make.
- Jose Calderon vs. HOU ($4,800) – Despite everything else going on with the Knicks, Calderon is getting the minutes, and with their attempts to possibly move him, the Knicks will be utilizing him heavily, pumping up his value, which will be even easier to accomplish with Carmelo still missing time.
SHOOTING GUARD TARGETS
- James Harden @ NY ($10,300) – He’s on the list because it doesn’t matter who he is playing, not really. And when the matchup is right, wouldn’t you rather root for the guy than hope he comes up short so he doesn’t beat you?
- Dwayne Wade @ POR ($9,100) – The matchup with Portland is not great, and Wade comes with plenty of his own risk, in terms of limited minutes, etc. But the next few guys on the list have more immediate injury concerns, so Wade is where it’s at if you want a “stuf” SG not named Harden. He played 34 minutes and got you 40+ fantasy points last time out, and that was a few days ago, so he should be rested. That’s the best set of circumstances you can hope for with Wade at this point.
- Tim Hardaway, Jr. vs. HOU ($5,100) – With all the change in the roster and with Melo being out, Hardaway has a good chance at not only more minutes, but more shot opportunities as well. He has demonstrated an ability to score, if nothing else, and if he throws in even just a handful of rebounds, assists, or defensive stats you could be looking at a very useful fantasy game.
- Lou Williams vs. CHA ($4,600) – He is a risky play with a low ceiling, but that’s what you get for $4,600. He is getting a ton of minutes right now with DeRozan out, and he’s gone over 25 fantasy points in three of his last four. DeRozan is on track to return soon, so you might as well take advantage of the value play while it’s there.
SMALL FORWARD TARGETS
- Josh Smith @ NY ($6,100) – With Carmelo out, Smith is the only player on the board priced over $6,000. He had a real tough stretch of games after he got to Houston, but for the last few nights, he has been coming off the bench, and thriving. His minutes have stayed basically the same, so it’s just a change in role, basically being on the court with Houston’s bench players, where he can be a featured option on offense for short bursts. This actually seems like the perfect kind of role for him, and 21 and 16 points off the bench in the last two means Houston probably won’t be in any hurry to change up that approach.
- Nicolas Batum vs. MIA ($5,900) – He came into the year battling some injuries, and he has under-performed. Not shocking. Lately, you’ve seen his shooting improve, which could be a sign his game is ready to bust out like it did last year when he definitely helped some people win some fantasy contests.
- Michael Kidd-Gilchrist @ TOR ($5,400) – He’s seeen an uptick in rebounding since Big Al went down, which is emblematic of how good of a player he is, even if he’s not always the best fantasy player. He’s a two guard, but he recognizes what the team needs, and he does his best to give it. You have to respect that, and can’t argue with repeated double-doubles in your lineup.
- Trevor Ariza @ NY ($5,600) – The Rockets are really good, and Ariza spends a lot of time out on the floor. He can’t shoot, but he can do a little of everything else. He’s a solid bet for 20-25 fantasy points.
POWER FORWARD TARGETS
- LaMarcus Aldridge vs. MIA ($10,000) – He’s the only PF on the board tonight who can even remotely be described as a stud. His downside is 35 fantasy points. MIA is a tough matchup? Maybe, which means 35 points. That’s how good this guy is – 20-8 is basically a lock.
- Cody Zeller @ TOR ($5,100) – Zeller is #2 on the board tonight. Apparently, power forward is going to be an important decision. He has seen close to 30 minutes in each of his last two, which is something.
- Amir Johnson vs. CHA ($4,600) – He is one of those players who gets the low price because of inconsistency, not lack of upside. You never know if he’ll get the minutes, or if he’ll perform if he does, so he’s doubly-inconsistent. But he has cracked 25 fantasy points four times in his last ten, well more than most guys at this price point.
- Cole Aldrich vs. HOU ($6,000) – He’s listed as a power forward here, but he plays center for the Knicks. He gets his value from scrappy points in the paint and rebounding. I get the excitement about this kid – he’s got good hands, nice touch around the rim, and he plays hard. He’s got the size, and now, the opportunity. The whole thing works. But he’s still a matchup play, and Dwight Howard has been looking good lately – maybe not the best night for Aldrich to be out there representing your hopes and dreams?
- Chris Bosh @ POR ($8,500) – Portland is great at defending centers in most matchups, but Bosh is not most matchups. He will be able to score on Portland with his mid-range game, so his total overall value is going to be determined by how well he can board to complement those numbers.
- Dwight Howard vs. NY ($8,500) – As mentioned above, he’s looked good lately, and in this matchup with a chaotic and undersized Knicks team, he could go out and grab you twenty boards. He’s a very solid play tonight – if you were ever going to trust him, now might be the time.
- Chris Kaman vs. MIA ($4,400) – With Freeland and Lopez both missing the game tonight, Kaman is in line for a start. He couldn’t do it for 82 games anymore, but we’ve seen him be productive in the past and there is no reason to think he couldn’t do it in short stints again now. Exactly the kind of buy-low injury play you need to fill out your roster on a slow night.
- Bismack Biyombo @ TOR ($4,000) – He’s hard to trust, but he is also cheap, which is nice. He’s getting plenty of run with Al Jefferson missing some time, but it’s on him to do something with it. Basically, you are rooting for as many rebounds as possible, and maybe a few blocks, because he’s not going to score. Thankfully, both of those things are definitely possibilities against this Toronto team.