This Thursday serves up a seven game NBA slate. It’s a lopsided night as each game carries a spread of at least 6.5 points, and the Lakers are favored by the Warriors by nearly two touchdowns…without LeBron James. Damian Lillard, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons remain out, along with the usual Kings. In this column, I generally set $6000 FD/$5000 DK 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. Tonight’s slate tips at 7:00 pm EST.
Shake Milton, Philadelphia 76ers vs. New York ($4300 FD, $4700 DK)
A potential for 100 percent ownership exists here, as Milton was fantastic in a ugly 76ers loss on Wednesday night, while the team hosts the Knicks in a Top 10 PG matchup for fantasy. Milton does a little bit of everything, which keeps his floor reasonably high while an extra burst of scoring like he had last night provides the upside.
Aaron Holiday, Indiana Pacers vs. Portland ($4200 FD, $4800 DK)
Victor Oladipo will play tonight but that doesn’t mean he’ll play 40 minutes and to the exclusion of any Holiday upside. His being back out there definitely hurts both Holiday brothers, but there are two reasons for including Aaron here. It’s a great matchup (fifth-best for PGs and overall for fantasy) and the Pacers get a pace bump from Portland; plus, they are still down Jeremy Lamb. With Indiana favored by almost 10 points, there’s a good chance Oladipo doesn’t play much in the second half as he works through the back soreness. I’m not counting on garbage time from Holiday in cash game lineups, but do think he’s worth a cheap look as a low-owned tournament differentiator.
Jordan Poole, Golden State Warriors vs. LA ($4600 FD, $4900 DK)
Shooting guard is a little slim tonight, but there’s a lot to like about Poole. His price, of course. The fact that he played really well against the Lakers a couple weeks ago (19 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal) in 23 minutes and has now seen over 30 MPG in every game since. Although the Lakers are huge favorites here, the game does have the highest point total and fastest average pace.
Dennis Schroder, Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Sacramento ($5500 both)
Schroder gets a little overlooked with the way that Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is turning heads with his double-double performances, but Schroder is quietly holding value as well. He also contributes in multiple categories, is a very capable scorer and passer, and sees about 30 MPG. In two games vs. the Kings this season, Schroder is averaging 35 fantasy points, exactly the same as SGA.
Markieff Morris, LA Lakers vs. Golden State ($3900 FD, $3100 DK)
LeBron James won’t play tonight, which opens things up in the forward department for LA. The Lakers are also massive favorites against a Warriors team that ranks 24th in defensive efficiency and gives up the fourth-most overall fantasy points to opponents, second-most to opposing small forwards. Morris played just 14 minutes in his Lakers debut, and didn’t do much. I expect his playing time and production to increase, and this is a great spot to gamble on it happening sooner rather than later given his near minimum salary.
Al Horford, Philadelphia 76ers vs. New York ($4800 FD, $5200 DK)
Horford and Tobias Harris should be popular options tonight with Embiid ruled out, but Horford is the dramatic saving option. He turned in a well-rounded stat line last night, 10 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals for around 5X value. It’s another nice matchup for Philly tonight, and Horford has done well when given ample opportunities.
Kyle Kuzma, LA Lakers at Golden State ($4100 FD, $3900 DK)
Kuzma is arguably the more obvious James fill-in (compared to Morris), but Kuzma has been all over the place this season when it comes to both usage and production so he’s far from a ‘safe’ play in my book. He does have two very nice games against Golden State, averaging 29 fantasy points in this matchup this season. For the price, I expecthim to hit about 5-6X value, but a total dud wouldn’t stun me.
Mitchell Robinson, New York Knicks at Philadelphia ($5400 FD, $5000 DK)
Robinson is playing great right now. He had 16 rebounds last night (a minimum of eight in each of his last five games) and has a total of 12 blocks in his last three games since the break, a span in which he’s averaging about 35 fantasy points per game. I like him a lot tonight given the massive salary savings he offers over the other options, and the fact that Embiid is out only helps his cause.
Myles Turner, Indiana Pacers vs. Portland ($6000 FD, $5200 DK)
We loved Turner in an excellent spot vs. Charlotte Tuesday, and we love him again in an excellent spot tonight. Portland’s defensive woes are well-known, and they rank as the sixth-best center matchup even with the Hassan Whiteside upgrade. It’s a nice spot for Whiteside too, but Turner’s price is eye-catching on DraftKings. We can’t expect eight blocks tonight, but we could see some offensive output, maybe?
Also consider: Harry Giles III ($4400 FD(PF), $5500 DK)