Not sure we could see a better four-game Thursday slate than the one we get today. It is fully loaded with four glorious matchups featuring many of our favorite teams loaded with stars and DFS goodness. With so many expensive guys in good spots to choose from (Westbrook, George, Towns, Curry, Durant, Holiday, Randle, Beal, Booker, Nurkic) we will have to be truly take stands on the pricey players we think can exceed value today.
Not sure we could see a better four-game Thursday slate than the one we get today. It is fully loaded with four glorious matchups featuring many of our favorite teams loaded with stars and DFS goodness. With so many expensive guys in good spots to choose from (Westbrook, George, Towns, Curry, Durant, Holiday, Randle, Beal, Booker, Nurkic), we will have to truly take stands on the pricey players we think can exceed value today. Moreover, our attention to injury news and detail will help steer us into the direction of cheap value plays which should help us build teams in what will be some very stars-and-scrubby builds today. The one way to differentiate for this slate is to build lineups from the mid-range with the likes of Rose, McCollum, Kuzma, Cousins, etc. Whether that’s the right approach depends on the status of guys like Jeff Teague and Damian Lillard. Let’s get to the bottom of it all (prices listed for DK, FD and Y!).
Derrick Rose, Timberwolves ($6,500, $6,600, $22) – Listed as a cash and GPP play only if Teague sits out. Teague is still dealing with a sore foot and had is unable to run well, so I doubt we see him out there today. Rose may still be overlooked in this scenario because it was Jerryd Bayless ($3,600, $4,000, $12) who had the big game against the Suns on Tuesday (35.3 FDP in 28 minutes) with both Teague and Tyus Jones out, but that was because of a big 118-91 blowout where Rose wasn’t needed and only played 23 minutes despite getting the start. If both Teague and Jones are out, I’m leaning the way of Rose as a higher-priced pivot off a chalky Bayless.
PAY UP FOR: Russell Westbrook, Thunder ($12,700, $10,200, $52), Stephen Curry, Warriors ($9,100, $9,800, $43) – Westbrook will be almost everyone’s top projected raw points guy and for good reason. How many guys you know average a triple-double for the season? The main concern, if any, is blowout (huge 11.5 spread with the Thunder favored at home with no Anthony Davis). I do prefer Karl-Anthony Towns today as my top pricey guy but will certainly have Westbrook on one-of-three lineups today. Note that the Pelicans’ defense against PGs is horrendous as they rank bottom-five in defensive efficiency against the position. As for Curry, it’s a rare sight to see him under five digits on DK and FD which makes him incredibly tempting. No team on this slate allows more FD PPG to opposing point guards (49.2, which is five points above average).
GPP PLAYS: Elfrid Payton, Pelicans ($5,400, $5,700, $18) or Tomas Satoransky, Wizards ($5,400, $6,000, $21) – Payton is having a horrible season. He missed a good chunk of it with injury and hasn’t truly adapted to his role, posting career lows in points, rebounds and assists. But he’s only 24, has played just 17 games and there’s must be some rainbow around the corner for him. Payton is coming off a horrendous shooting night (1-for-7 against the Pistons) and has topped 30 FDP just twice in his last nine games. Just a feeling that without Davis, he has one of his ceiling games today and tops 30 minutes. Satoransky I likely until say my sixth lineup but he’s intriguing as a low-owned pivot today in what should be a high-scoring matchup (234.5 implied points). He has averaged nearly 30 DKP and 34 minutes per game over his last 10.
Also consider Rajon Rondo, Lakers ($6,500, $5,200, $17) if he is active today and Teague is out.
Andrew Wiggins, Timberwolves ($5,600, $6,300, $23) – Rarely do I use Wiggins in DFS, but I love the matchup hoping he avoids that stout KCP defense. The Lakers allow top-five fantasy points in the league against opposing small forwards and shooting guards and today we have a game with a high total (229), close spread (1.5) and two teams projected to score an average of three points each, more than their season average. It’s a huge pace bump game for the Wolves (+3.4) and if Wiggins could certainly blast off with one of his ceiling games. He doesn’t do much else besides score, but his RPG has seen a decent bump with Robert Covington out as he’s grabbed seven or more in four of his last seven.
Devin Booker, Suns ($7,500, $8,300, $36) – Booker was ejected last time out and that keeps his price reasonable yet again. He has also had some bad game logs lately, so you likely won’t see a better price on him than the one you see today on DK. It is hard to pass up on, even if the matchup with the Blazers is a tough one. Expect 35 minutes, north of 45 DKP and an all-around bounce-back effort today.
IF LILLARD IS OUT: CJ McCollum, Blazers ($6,300, $6,600, $23) – Another guy I don’t use often, but picking on the Suns is on the third page of the How to Play Hoops DFS playbook. Lillard may play, but if he doesn’t, expect McCollum and Nurkic’s usage to bump up significantly. CJM dropped 31 real points (42.75 DKP) in 38 minutes against the Thunder on Tuesday and is averaging 32 DKP and nearly three more minutes on the road (35.4) this season.
PUNT PLAYS: Andre Iguodala, Warriors ($3,800, $4,400, $11) or Lance Stephenson, Lakers ($4,100, $4,000, $12) – If you’re going the stars and scrubs route than one of these guys may end up fitting the bill for you today. Iggy is boring with little upside on a loaded roster but is getting his solid 20-23 minutes per game averaging over a fantasy point per game over his last 10. Stephenson has more interest to us if Rondo is out. It’s all about projecting his minutes, which can be a tough task, but Lance is averaging 0.95 FP/M and can do it all.
MID-RANGE SUNS: Kelly Oubre ($5,700, $6,000, $20), Josh Jackson ($5,300, $5,300, $20) – Booker is playing so this hurts the ceiling possibilities of both of these guys. Jackson is coming off a 51.5 FDP game where he hit season-highs in points (27), rebounds (10) and blocks (3) and we’ll see some folks expecting a replication, which I wouldn’t bet on today. Oubre is as GPP as they come but he’s topped the 30-minute mark in five of his last eight and is averaging 0.91 FP/M. The matchup against opposing Blazers’ small forwards is literally the only spot to take advantage of here. Note that Jackson is a PF on FanDuel and that Oubre is an SG on FanDuel and SF on Yahoo.
SPEND-UP or JUST FADE: Paul George, Thunder ($9,600, $10,800, $49), Kevin Durant, Warriors ($9,000, $9,500, $49) – George dropped 66.6 FDP on the Blazers on Tuesday and it was his first game above 60 FDP since December 22. He has been steadily staying between the 36-50 range, and spending up for him is a tough call if he gets some Jrue Holiday defense as opposed to the porous E’Twaun Moore. Not sure I can go here today with the big 11.5 spread and all the preferred pricey spend-ups. Same goes for Durant, as usage is spread even thinner now with Cousins back in the mix. But damn is that a cheap DK price for him compared to what we’re used to. I’d expect to see Durant more than 25% owned on DK but I still prefer to pay up for Curry if just one lineup and having to pick between the two.
Also consider Brandon Ingram, Lakers ($6,200, $6,600, $24) and for large-field GPPs, Michael Beasley, Timberwolves ($3,700, $3,900, $10; PF on Y!).
Kyle Kuzma, Lakers ($6,900, $7,100, $30; SF on Y!) – The Lakers’ primary scorer without Lebron, Kuzma has dropped 50+ DK points in two of his last three, on the road against the Thunder and Rockets. His ownership levels won’t necessarily be all that high but a 40-point effort in 35-plus minutes of a competitive game feels well within reach – and with possibly a bit more in the tank than that.
GPP: Otto Porter, Wizards ($6,100, $7,100, $22; SF on Y!) – I’ve picked my spots well with Porter, but it’s still tough to pay 7.1 on FanDuel for a guy coming off the bench today. Much more reasonably priced on DK and Y! at sneaky, low ownership. He’s averaged over 30 minutes and nearly 34 DKP over his last ten games.
Julius Randle, Pelicans ($7,800, $8,900, $35) – Randle is in a true smash spot as we’re waiting for that monster Davis-less game. Center Jahlil Okafor has soaked up a chunk of his usage with two back-to-back 40 DKP outings, but it’s time for the pendulum to swing back Randle’s way with Okafor likely having a tough time with that Steven Adams defense today and possibly busting as chalk. Randle is damn pricey, and for that reason, he will be less than 20% owned across the industry. But he is one of my favorite pound-for-pound plays on the slate today.
Karl-Anthony Towns, Timberwolves ($10,200, $11,400, $49) – Damn, I just wish he wasn’t so expensive. Towns should feast today in a fast-paced matchup where the Wolves are expected to score four points higher than average today against a team that’s been hemorrhaging fantasy points to opposing centers (five points above average). A 70-burger isn’t out of the question at all here today, if this game can stay close.
Jusuf Nurkic, Blazers ($8,000, $9,500, $33) – Very lovely prices for the Blazers’ big man on DK and Y!. And even more tempting if Lillard ends up sitting this one out. If you think the Lakers suck against big men, the Suns are the absolute worst. They allow a league-high 64.7 FDP to opposing centers, which is wild, considering the league average is 54.6. I’ll have Nurkic on all my teams today if Lillard is out because that usage has to be soaked up somewhere.
DeMarcus Cousins, Warriors ($5,800, $6,400, $20) – Minutes limit, yes, but we’re still talking about a guy who has been one of the league’s top fantasy-point-per-minute producers of the last half-decade. Cousins dropped 31 and 26.25 DKP respectively in his first two games (21 and 15 minutes). Price is still good, and if we think he may play north of 22 minutes today then he behooves our consideration in a solid matchup he should dominate against Thomas Bryant.
Jahlil Okafor, Pelicans ($4,900, $5,500, $12) – It’s going to be so hard to fade him, but that’s something I’m considering in GPPs. Just because he will be so highly owned, has a tough matchup with Adams (and can foul out) and because – in the NBA and in fantasy sports in general – anything can happen. It’s hard to build lineups without him though, based upon how many pricey studs we have today.
Also consider a sneaky Ivica Zubac, Lakers ($4,700, $4,800, $12) as a sharp pivot off Okafor and also Dragan Bender, Suns ($4,600, $4,600, $12; PF on FD) if DeAndre Ayton and Richaun Holmes are out today.