Thursday night was a fun spot to go for all of the marbles. The logic was there, as we took some shots on solid value picks like Dario Saric, Iman Shumpert, P.J. Tucker, T.J. McConnell, Jonas Valanciunas and Markieff Morris.
Shockingly, most of those guys were at least passable. Kieff would have been even better had he not gotten hurt in the first quarter, while the Wizards handled the Lakers easily and he wasn’t needed late, either. The rest were decent enough if our expensive studs panned out, but of an enticing three-pack of Russell Westbrook, James Harden and LeBron James, only Harden worked out.
In fact, Harden was the only player of that stud trio to even top 50. Westbrook continued his horrendous start to the year with a mind-boggling weak 34.9 fantasy points in a fantastic matchup against the Nuggets. That made little sense, while LeBron James struggled to recover from a remarkably slow start (4 fantasy points in the first quarter!).
James ended up producing a fine 45.3 fantasy point night, but his peripherals were nowhere to be found and he turned the ball over 9 times. Overall, this isn’t what we expected from point-Lebron, who we paid an alarming $11.8k to use.
In the end, Thursday was a one-stud night and Harden was the guy to build around. Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins also topped 40+ fantasy points, but were two more guys that did not live up to their price tags. With that being the case, we actually made some correct calls, but ultimately couldn’t overcome weak outings by Russ and LeBron.
Last night was a waste, but we can always pick up the pieces and try again. Here’s to finding the perfect lineup for Friday’s palatable 7-game slate:
PG: Mike James – Phoenix Suns ($5.5k)
James is still starting and logging around 30 minutes for the Suns, so we can try him again at this price. He’ll be at home against a Magic defense that has had trouble stopping point guards, while James comes in hot with 21+ fantasy points scored in each of his last six games. If his shot is falling early, he is set up to crush his perceived value.
PG: Eric Bledsoe – Milwaukee Bucks ($6.3k)
The same could be the case for Bleddy, who is slated to make his Bucks debut when the team travels to San Antonio to battle the Spurs. There could be some red flags here, as we don’t know for sure yet what his role will be and the Spurs do rank #1 against point guards.
That could all be problematic, but we’re still getting a stud point guard at a serious discount. Provided he starts and he doesn’t have a minutes cap, we may have to take the gamble in GPPs.
Overall, I’m not enamored with point guard today. I’m off of Russell Westbrook until he can prove he’s worth the money, while Damian Lillard is fun in theory against the Nets, but that game carries serious blowout risk in Portland. The other guys up top feel somewhat over-priced (Elfrid Payton is $8.1k!), so I don’t mind diving at both spots tonight.
SG: Lou Williams – Los Angeles Clippers ($5.5k)
The Clippers are dealing with a ton of injuries and if Austive Rivers sits out, they’ll be without their top four perimeter players. That has helped Sweet Lou log 26 and 29 minutes over his last two outings and provided the run remains, he’s a threat to crush his current price tag.
A matchup on the road with a good Thunder defense isn’t ideal, but Williams can score in bunches and will likely play a lot in this one.
SG: C.J. McCollum – Portland Trail Blazers ($7.3k)
I want all of the top shooting guards just like everyone else, but I think we have to either pick one or none tonight. Sweet Lou feels like a must and I also have a lot of interest in Kris Dunn, who is getting solid run and flat out being aggressive when he’s out there. I do find it tough to pass on C.J., however, as he’ll be at home against a terrible Nets defense.
I’d rather get the discount with McCollum, rather than pay $2.7k more to use teammate Damian Lillard in a likely blowout. The -9 spread at Bovada already has me worried, but for now I like McCollum to close out the night for us.
SF: Jaylen Brown – Boston Celtics ($5.5k)
Jayson Tatum (ankle) might not play tonight and Al Horford (concussion) has already been ruled out, so there will be extra minutes floating around in Boston tonight. Brown will have the comfort of playing at home, which should limit the impact of Charlotte’s talented perimeter defenders.
Brown can score the rock and add plenty of other stats, so given his run and upside, it should be difficult to pass on the value he has to offer.
SF: Paul George – Oklahoma City Thunder ($8.2k)
I like a lot of small forward options tonight, as Justise Winslow could be an elite value play again (30 fantasy points in his last outing) and both T.J. Warren and Evan Fournier (both priced at $6.8k) seem about as safe as they come. Pairing the two is one move, but I think I want a little more floor/ceiling with someone like Paul George.
PG-13 is not always the elite option we pay for, but he’s due for a big game and I think he gets it at home against a Clippers team that ranks just 16th against small forwards. L.A. is really hurting in the health department, too, so George could have his way in this one.
PF: LaMarcus Aldridge – San Antonio Spurs ($8.5k)
I will probably dance back and forth all day as to whether I want to pay up at both PF spots. Right now I love the idea of Ridge, who has been a beast for the Spurs and will be at home against a Bucks team that doesn’t really have an interior stopper on defense. Milwaukee oddly enough ranks #1 against power forwards, but they haven’t faced anyone of Ridge’s caliber this year.
Aldridge is the heart and soul of San Antonio’s offense right now, so I won’t let a tough matchup keep me off of him. We can look at Carmelo Anthony and Marcus Morris in this spot, but I like the safety of two potential studs at PF tonight.
PF: Blake Griffin – Los Angeles Clippers ($8.4k)
The Clippers are shredded right now due to injuries and they’ll be without two key offensive players in Patrick Beverley and Danilo Gallinari. They could be at risk of getting wasted on the road against a good Thunder defense, but OKC hasn’t been playing well and Steven Adams (calf) is questionable to suit up.
The L.A. injuries could give Griffin an even bigger offensive workload than usual, which potentially makes him the top value play on this entire slate. Adams being out would cement this pick for me, as there simply wouldn’t be anyone left in OKC that can contain Griffin.
His price is also too low given the upside he brings to the table. Many will be tempted to force Giannis Antetokounmpo and/or a top point guard into their lineup, but my favorite stud tonight is Griffin.
C: Aron Baynes – Boston Celtics ($4.8k)
With Al Horford already being ruled out for tonight’s tilt against the Hornets, I’m all for giving Baynes another try. I used him personally two days ago and he responded with 33 fantasy points. His matchup isn’t as easy this time around against the Hornets, but Charlotte ranks just 19th against opposing centers. Baynes should be needed with Dwight Howard in the lineup and this game is in Boston, so I like his chances of coming close to reaching value.
I’m not expecting 30+ fantasy points again, but anything close would be a big win. Center is pretty loaded tonight, but I’m not interested in Hassan Whiteside as he goes up against Rudy Gobert. It wouldn’t be shocking to see them cancel themselves out, while guys like Jusuf Nurkic (although he’s at home against the Nets) and DeAndre Jordan aren’t really worth their price tags right now. I do like Nikola Vucevic and Myles Turner quite a bit, so consider those two if you’re not into the idea of hitching your wagon to Baynes.