Five games on our breakaway Thursday slate and with news of Kyle Lowry and Kawhi Leonard resting, we already know how our chalky bread will be buttered. Expect heavy ownership on a few key members of the Raptors (VanVleet, Siakam, Ibaka) in a lovely matchup with the Suns, and of course, love for the big studs on the Thunder (Westbrook, George). A key piece of info that will help determine our slate builds today is the status of Joel Embiid (back) who may end up sitting this one out.
Fred VanVleet, Raptors ($5,400, $5,000, $19) – Likely the chalkiest player on the slate and someone we should be locking in for cash games because of price. Perhaps less so on Yahoo where he is pricier, but on FanDuel you can expect over 65 percent ownership in cash. It comes down to the fact that Lowry is out, FVF will start, and should see north of 30 minutes today against a Suns team that ranks among the bottom seven in defensive efficiency facing opposing point guards.
Kemba Walker, Hornets ($8,700, $9,200, $32) – An exceptionally fantastic depressed price on Yahoo for us to take advantage of. Obviously, less of a value on DK or FD. But the matchup is pristine since no team on this slate allows more FD points per game to opposing PGs (47.5) than the Kings. A week ago, I was thinking that perhaps Kemba isn’t at full strength health-wise since he struggled mightily from the floor, but two 30-plus point games later and he looks back to his old self. This matchup is expected to be close (-3), with a high enough total (close to 230) and the Hornets are at home in what should be a competitive game led by Kemba.
Cheap Nuggets Bench Guard (Will Barton, Monte Morris, Malik Beasley) – This is a good spot for one or more of these guys with the Nuggets 12-point home favorites against a less than stellar Bulls team that recently hurt Wendell Carter and doubtful for tonight. Barton would be my favorite of the trio, but he missed shootaround today with a personal issue so we’re not sure if he will even play today. Beasley has been a big part of the offense, logging 32, 37, 40, 31, 36 minutes over his last five but relies mostly on his shooting and doesn’t offer much in terms of peripheral stats (just one rebound, no assists/steals/blocks last game – as an example). Morris will be lowest percentage and the least desirable of the trio if all play since he managed just 3.2 FDP in 14 minutes last game. But he may see closer to his 24.2 MPG today playing some backup point behind Jamal Murray.
OTHERS TO CONSIDER
(CHEAP) Delon Wright, Raptors ($4,600, $4,500, $10) – more run with Lowry out
(MIDRANGE) Jeremy Lamb, Hornets ($5,700, $5,900, $19) – nice midrange play in good matchup
(PRICEY) Russell Westbrook, Thunder ($11,800, $12,500, $52) – will be even higher % if Embiid is out
Pascal Siakam, Raptors ($7,000, $6,700, $29) – The surprise stud is having a very nice season, averaging a point-per-minute. He will be among the five highest-owned guys on the board today and his price recently rose following a monster 59.75 DKP game in 44 minutes against the Wizards. It is a solid matchup and good spot for him but the price is a bit high and the Suns’ one strong suit is guarding opposing power forwards (allowing three FDP less than the average team). Since most of us are going to want to load up on Raptors, if we think the game stays close, it may be wise to spend elsewhere on the likes of FVF, Ibaka and Powell to get our exposure here today (in GPPs).
Jerami Grant, Thunder ($5,500, $6,200, $23) – Seeing more minutes recently since Nerlens Noel went down. Grant’s best value is on DraftKings at just 5.5k. He has played over 40 minutes twice in the past three games (though one of those went to overtime) and he’s shooting over .550 over his last 10 games. We’re not as worried about Grant topping 30 minutes tonight if this game blows out, but it is certainly something to keep in mind.
CASH – Norman Powell, Raptors ($3,900, $3,600, $10) – Never one of my favorite plays, but it’s a whole new ballgame with Kawhi resting tonight. Powell doesn’t start when Kawhi is out but could see upwards of 27 minutes tonight and is much too cheap to not just lock in for cash game lineups. He averages just 0.77 FP/M with sub par usage (16 percent) but it is a good matchup and the price is just far too tempting.
OTHERS TO CONSIDER
(CHEAP) Bobby Portis, Bulls ($4,600, $4,800) – minutes limited to ~27 but big fan tonight if Carter out
(MIDRANGE) Marvin Bagley Jr, Kings ($5,200, $6,100, $16), Serge Ibaka, Raptors ($6,500, $6,400, $20) – I know I have Siakam listed and have written words about him but if you’re paying attention you’ll note that I prefer Ibaka today for the price – the Suns’ 63.7 FDP allowed to centers is the worst on the slate
(PRICEY) Paul George, Thunder ($9,800 on DK), Kyle Kuzma, Lakers ($6,900 on DK) – A couple of decent plays, particularly on DK – I’d stack this game in a tournament in case the Lakers can keep it close
Willy Cauley-Stein, Kings ($6,500 DK, $26 Y!) – Very fair prices on these two sites, but a bit more expensive on FanDuel where he’s 7.6k. He does have some days where he plays less than 30 minutes doesn’t hit value but a close game with the Hornets in what should be a fast-paces environment is a good spot for him. Only concern is that Biyombo is a solid defender. Nevertheless, WCS should grab his double-digit boards tonight and he has topped 40 DKP in three of his last five.
GPP ONLY – DeAndre Ayton, Suns ($6,600, $7,200, $28) – Ayton’s volatility doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, nor does the matchup and potential foul trouble. But I have a slight preference to the rookie over Steven Adams today only because I can see Adams playing less minutes in a blowout of the Lakers. With his up-and-down performances, it’s hard to trust the kid in cash, but I’m inclined to lean his way in GPPs.
If Chandler and/or Embiid out: Mike Muscala, 76ers ($3,600, $3,400, $10) – Never someone I go out of my way for, but certainly interested at a bottom-barrel price point if either of Chandler or Embiid sit.