FanDuel Bargain Bin
Today’s Thursday NBA slate is comprised of four games, with a little bit of everything—offense, defense, fast and slow. We’ll want to work in LeBron James, Joel Embiid, and maybe a top PG tonight, making big bargains a priority. In this column, I generally set $6000 as the bargain threshold, and I try to indicate when I think a position is particularly well-suited--or not--to using the cheap plays given the landscape of the particular slate.
Terry Rozier $4000: We’re watching for updates on Kyrie Irving’s status for tonight’s game, as well as Marcus Smart’s. If both players, or even one, is going to sit out, Rozier becomes a valuable play. He’s proven his effectiveness in a larger role, and Philadelphia ranks third in fantasy points allowed to point guards. He’s generally going to get you at least 4X value, which won’t kill your cash game lineups but has 30-plus fantasy point potential here.
Isaiah Thomas $5700: Thomas is only going to continue getting better. I’m still reserving him for GPP play only, but at this salary, he’s going to exceed value soon…and against the faster paced, poor defensive backcourt of the Orlando Magic seems like a great time for that to happen.
Evan Fournier $5700: Vegas has this Orlando-Cleveland game at 226 total points, so you’re going to want some exposure. Fournier appeared here Tuesday in a much worse matchup (Minnesota, 28th vs. SG) and absolutely crushed with 32 real points in 35 minutes. Since Cleveland is even worse defensively than Orlando, and Fournier is clearly feeling it right now, he’s a player I love to use in the SG slot tonight.
P.J. Tucker $3700: He’s not starting, and has been doing very little with 20-24 minutes, but with Gerald Green and Trevor Ariza out tonight, I think it’s very possible that Tucker shows up. He’s played a big role before, so we know he’s capable of double-digit scoring and rebounding…maybe he breaks out here. Even if he’s merely mediocre at this price, he allows you to fit another star in your lineup and on short slates like this one, I need that.
Jonathan Simmons $4900: Simmons has been starting for the Magic, with variable results. He appears to be over the sore back, playing 31 and 32 minutes in the last two games. Though struggling with the tough wing defense of Milwaukee and Minnesota recently, he was able to get loose for 23 real points in a good matchup with the Wizards. I’m thinking we see that version of Simmons tonight as the Magic travel to Cleveland, who’s allowing the second-most fantasy points to small forwards.
Taj Gibson $5600: Minnesota players get a big pace bump, which is especially notable for PG and PF positions. Further, Houston has allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing PFs over the last five games. As the Timberwolves are humming along with the third-highest offensive efficiency, Gibson has scored at least 12 and an average of over 15 points in five of his last six games. He’s also averaging nearly eight rebounds per game and almost always kicks in a block or steal or three. All in all, Gibson is a sound play in any format tonight.
Jayson Tatum $5200: I’m high on Tatum again tonight, partially because of the nice matchup with the 76ers generous frontcourt and partly because the Celtics are likely to be without one of, if not both Smart and Irving. Tatum is a good play almost every night at this price, but has some extra upside with fewer veterans on the court in what should be a fast and competitive game.
Ryan Anderson $4500: You might also consider Luc Mbah a Moute ($3500), named the starter for Trevor Ariza and PF eligible, but Anderson is the safer play. Having been largely disappointing this season, Anderson scored 30 points in his last two games while still putting up okay peripheral stats. He should be called upon to play over 30 minutes with the two suspended forwards.
Jusef Nurkic $6500: Not a true bargain, Nurkic is as cheap as I’m comfortable going tonight. If you’re going down from Joel Embiid or Karl-Anthony Towns, both justifiable decisions, consider that Nurkic gets the best center matchup of the slate with the second-ranked Pacers (in fantasy points allowed to centers). Though he’s failed to score double-digit points in three of his last four games, he does have eight blocks and three steals in that span, along with his usual rebounds and assists. Based on some recent low fantasy lines, I expect lower than appropriate ownership of Nurkic tonight. Take advantage in a GPP.