With only four teams in action, there are often really only four viable options at each position. Here’s a look at almost every option out there, and some reasons why to draft them for your fantasy rosters (or not). Good luck.
POINT GUARD TARGETS
Stephen Curry @ MEM ($10,300) – He has underperformed for the last two games, primary because he has gone 4-21 from behind the arc. This is exactly why people say “jump shooting teams don’t win in the playoffs,” so it’s a good thing “defense wins championships” and Golden State also excels there. I, for one, expect Curry to get back on track with his shot, which should boost his fantasy totals into the 40+ range.
Jeff Teague @ WAS ($7,000) – Teague is one of those rare players who almost relies on defensive stats for his value. In Game 1, facing John Wall, his production suffered – not because Wall is a great defender, but because he is such a great ball-handler. With two steals per game since Wall started missing time, Teague’s fantasy value has spiked, and now all you’re looking for is a decent point and assist total and he could be an easy 30 point performer for you. Solid buy at this price.
Mike Conley vs. WAS ($5,800) – He doesn’t rebound, or get defensive stats, or score consistently. He’s a better basketball player than he is fantasy basketball player, if that makes sense. But his team needs a few more buckets than they’ve been getting, so you can expect him to step up and try to take care of that for him. He’s got a very good chance of scoring you something like 25 fantasy points, but without much upside beyond that.
Ramon Sessions vs. ATL ($5,000) – Teague is a tough matchup for anyone, and any increase in value based purely on minutes is already baked into this price. He cost $2,500 two games ago.
SHOOTING GUARD TARGETS
Bradley Beal vs. ATL ($7,900) – Beal is stepping up in a big way in this series right now, even if Pierce is the only guy you see on Sportscenter. With Wall out, a guy with 3 assists/game all season has 15 in the last two. When you see him playing with the confidence that comes with feeling like you’ve got a handle on one of the league’s best defenses, it seems like every jumper he puts up there is going to fall. With a handful of rebounds, something he’s done his whole career, and defensive stats thrown in (averaging more than a steal/game all year), and 40% efficiency from deep, an increase in assist totals bumps him up into a fantasy level with some of the best players in the league.
Klay Thompson @ MEM ($7,400) – The fact that he is second on this list is a testament to how well Beal has been playing, because Klay has gone over 30 fantasy points in two of three in this series so far. He’s playing very well, and has been able to pick up some offensive slack with Curry’s shooting disappearing for the last couple of games.
Kyle Korver @ WAS ($6,200) – Korver is the kind of guy you like having on your team, as a fan of the team. Not as a fantasy owner. He is so solid on the court, doing what his team needs at every turn, you’d love it to see that kind of usefulness translate into fantasy value, but it just doesn’t. He’s not looking for his own game enough to be a valuable fantasy asset night in and night out. He is priced like this for upside, but the floor could fall out on you at any minute, and it doesn’t even mean he played poorly – it just means he excelled at help defense and blocking out on the weak side all night, maybe set a few awesome screens, played some solid defense. Coaches love him.
Courtney Lee vs. GS ($4,800) – Lee is getting the minutes over any other options Memphis has, and he is taking advantage of his time out there, averaging something like 12-2-2-2 over the series so far, which is good for just over 20 fantasy points/game, not bad for this price in a playoff series.
SMALL FORWARD TARGETS
DeMarre Carroll @ WAS ($7,000) – Listed as Questionable, there are, indeed, a lot of questions about Carroll. After seeing him refuse to re-enter the game last time with the outcome on the line, I just don’t know if I trust him in this spot no matter what the medical staff says. And with that as your top option at the position, the “Stud” category has been eliminated. One of these guys better step up his game. Ironically, too, if Carroll does play, this is the only position with an actual, viable fifth option.
Tony Allen vs. GS ($5,600) – Allen is known as a defensive force, and he is that. Eleven steals and two blocks counts for something on the fantasy board, but it counts for more in real life. That’s where his value lies, but in this series, they need his athleticism for more than that, and if they can get it, he turns into a cheaper play with actual upside, which is always fun.
Otto Porter vs. ATL ($5,600) – People see Pierce hitting fall-away game winners on ESPN and see Porter listed as SF for the Wizards, and they just skip right on past him, thinking “it’s playoff time now, Pierce will be in there.” But remember, Pierce, really, is playing Power Forward. Porter is out there 35+ minutes a night, playing D, rebounding, hitting threes, even dishing it a little. And this is after a regular season in which he was playing 20 minutes a night. It’s almost as if the Wiz were playing possum, never unveiling their best lineup until the playoffs. If they can survive Wall’s injury, they are scary all of a sudden, and Porter is a big reason why. Let’s just say that averaging 14-9-3 will endear you to the coaching staff.
Paul Pierce vs. ATL ($5,300) – OK, OK, Pierce is also a big reason why. But here’s the thing – he just doesn’t play enough minutes or get up enough shots to drop huge fantasy totals anymore. He WILL get you 25-ish fantasy points, so if you’re looking for consistency (or a game winning jumper), he’s your man.
Harrison Barnes @ MEM ($4,500) – You can go even lower than this, because Iguodala and Green are both getting consistent minutes, but those plays are just too risky. Not that Barnes is risk-free, but at least he’s out there contributing.
POWER FORWARD TARGETS
Paul Millsap @ WAS ($8,500) – I am grouping these three together because this is your decision. They are all priced closely enough together that price shouldn’t be your determining factor. If you’re going with anything cheaper, you’ve obviously decided to spend elsewhere, but if you like one of these big men, the question becomes “which one?” Millsap has the highest upside, with easy double-double potential, so that every bit he does above that is gravy, and he could threaten the 50-fantasy point mark easily.
Draymond Green @ MEM ($8,000) – Next in line, Green is a very different player, providing defense and versatility more than just the traditional scoring and rebounding you get from this position. For a savings of only $500, though, you are probably losing out on 20 points of upside.
Zach Randolph vs. GS ($7,500) – He is averaging 21-8. If he can snag those extra couple of rebounds, he will get you 40+ fantasy points, and he is almost a shoo-in for 30+. For a savings of $1,000, that’s interesting. Millsap’s ceiling might be higher, but not by much, and his floor is actually lower.
Nene Hilario vs. ATL ($4,200) – Don’t start him. His last game was fantastic, but that’s exactly what he does best – random (read: non-repeating) great games, interspersed among a bunch of very ordinary games. Especially with the whole “Paul Pierce is playing Power Forward” thing.
Al Horford @ WAS ($8,100) – It looks like the injury that forced him from game 3 for a stretch isn’t going to affect him going forward, but his advantage over Gortat was speed, which is why you’ve seen his fantasy scoring average go up by almost 10 in this series compared to the regular season. So if this injury slows him down at all, he might seem much more like his normal 30-ish fantasy point scorer (which was $1,000 cheaper). I might want to see him going full speed before I trust him again.
Marc Gasol vs. GS ($8,100) – Anyone with a hook like that is ok in my book. But in all seriousness, Gasol has proven himself to be a serious gamer, looking like he wants to win this series. Not willing to roll over for the best regular-season team in the league, he is averaing 19-10 through the first three games of the series, and the 21-15 he came up with in game 3 to give the Grizz the series lead was a huge performance in a huge spot. They’ve got one more at home tonight, so I will be looking for another nice game here.
Marcin Gortat vs. ATL ($7,000) – Gortat ran into a tough one in this series with Atlanta’s interior presence. He is someone better left for the Conference Finals, if they can make it that far.
Andrew Bogut @ MEM ($5,300) – The Warriors have been blessed all season with only needing to play Bogut in games where he made sense. And this, apparently, is a series full of games where Bogut is not needed. That might be surprising, because you think Bogut might match up well with Gasol, because they are so similar. But the thing is, they are very similar players, but not. If I were trying to be mean, I might say it’s because everything Bogut does well, Gasol just does better. So they might as well try to present Gasol with a mismatch on the other end.