FanDuel Bargain Bin
Today’s Thursday NBA slate has just two games, but they’re both interesting. With just a couple top stars on the slate tonight, we’ll look for bargain plays that offer a reasonably high floor to complement a more solid, mid-range value lineup than a stars and scrubs lineup. 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.
Tyler Ulis $4000: Neither Suns guard, Ulis or Mike James, is doing much of anything to win the permanent starting job. Despite playing at least 25 minutes in the last two games, and starting, Ulis hasn’t reached even 20 fantasy points. James is playing fewer minutes and producing even less. They get the best PG matchup of the day (Houston ranks fourth in fantasy points to opposing PGs), but neither is a guy I can trust in cash games.
Shaun Livingston $3200: If and only if Stephen Curry is unavailable tonight, Livingston should be on your radar and in lineups. He filled in with a full stat line Monday vs. Orlando (16 points, 6 assists, 2 rebounds and a steal) but with Curry expected to play tonight, Livingston will most likely be back in the 16-18 fantasy point range tonight in Boston.
Marcus Smart $5800: Smart had an uncharacteristically bad game vs. Brooklyn, which can’t totally be explained by Kyrie Irving’s return, because Smart still played 34 minutes. I expect a bounce back in a neutral matchup with Golden State, and generally consider Smart a solid cash game fill-in for slightly less salary cap than Devin Booker or Klay Thompson. An added incentive to roster Smart is the Warriors’ third-most turnovers per game rank—pencil in 2-3 steals for Smart.
Nick Young $3300: Young can be streaky to say the least, but he has now played exactly 20 minutes in three consecutive games, producing between 15 and 35 fantasy points in that span. His ability to shoot 3s and nab multiple steals gives him great upside for the price. The floor is single digits, though, so tournaments only, please.
Trevor Ariza $6000: I include Ariza here a lot, but it’s only because he is super solid for the price. There is some debate about the value of several Rockets’ players with the pending return of Chris Paul tonight. My personal opinion is that Paul creates more and better shots for his teammates than almost any other point guard in the league. I think Ariza continues to produce at the same level he has been, while Eric Gordon may take a usage hit once Paul is fully implemented.
Josh Jackson $3300: There are enough stars on this slate to consider going as low as Jackson, and on a Suns team where not much is constant, he has played right around 18-23 minutes in most games. The fast pace and high scoring nature of this game (Vegas total 228 points) makes it a good one to roster cheap bench players from the 12.5-point underdog Suns. Jackson’s minutes are fairly steady but his production is all over the place, so yes, another tournament option. By the way, two-game slates are more for tournaments than cash games anyway.
Marquese Chriss $4500: Perhaps I am hungry for another five-block game, given their value on FanDuel (3 pts each), but on a short slate where Tyson Chandler is ruled out, I expect Chriss to be another Sun who can take advantage of the fast pace and fairly loose play of the Rockets (fourth in turnovers), middle of the league in rebounding rate and defensive efficiency. The expected debut of Greg Monroe may slightly impact Chriss (and Alex Len, see below), but with Chandler out I think there are enough big man minutes to go around. Monroe is not likely to see more than 15-18 minutes off the bench.
Marcus Morris $5000, Jayson Tatum $5600: The Warriors rank seventh in fantasy points allowed to power forwards this season, opening the door for either Boston big to reach value. Tatum is edging out Morris in minutes played, but both are proving to be capable scorers and rebounders and are coming off stellar games vs. Brookyn Tuesday night. Let salary dictate whom you roster, with Tatum being the slightly safer play.
Alex Len $4800: While the field will be all in on Al Horford and Clint Capela, Len has been terrific when Chandler is out, as he will be tonight. I’ve mentioned the game factors that support using the Suns in general, and while Capela will provide some resistance at the rim, Len’s usage and talent should push him into 6X value range tonight.