Wednesday was a disaster when it came to my daily fantasy basketball picks. Russell Westbrook (65) and James Harden (55) were worth pairing together, but I missed out on superior value with guys like Ben Simmons, Aaron Gordon and LaMarcus Aldridge all going nuts.
I admittedly fell in love with what I felt would be an elite value pick at center, while Jonathon Simmons would have cratered even the best of teams (7 fantasy points!). It just wasn’t my night and then I continued losing with the late game thanks to the Golden State Warriors struggling against the Los Angeles Lakers.
That was a bummer, but Thursday offers up a fun five-game slate. There has already been a lot of injury news that has trickled in, so you’ll want to consider that when building. This is another LeBron James/Giannis Antetokounmpo slate, too.
I opted to pair the two last time, but the value plays didn’t show up. I’m not so sure I’ll go that route this time, but I want to get my core plays and then see if some cheaper options can open things up for me. Let’s get to it:
PG: Ricky Rubio – Utah Jazz ($5.5k)
Rubio is slowly working his way back into a more stable role and he remains dirt cheap, so I’m fine with taking a shot on him tonight. There are some really nice point guard options, but I’m picking my spots in terms of paying up tonight.
Rubio has the ability to easily get me 30-35 fantasy points and there’s nobody to fear defensively on the Clippers with so many injuries to their roster. Rubio should be locked into around 30 minutes of playing time and at this price he has a chance to crush his perceived value.
PG: Jerryd Bayless – Philadelphia 76ers ($3.7k)
I don’t love Bayless as a player, nor do I love a date with the league’s most efficient defense. That being said, the Sixers won’t have Joel Embiid on hand and T.J. McConnell has also been ruled out for this game. Philly will need guard play and Bayless was already getting around 20 minutes per game.
Bayless is a solid candidate to get good run tonight and if this game with the Celtics stays close, he shouldn’t have that much trouble smashing this price tag.
SG: Donovan Mitchell – Utah Jazz ($6.8k)
Mitchell continues to have a solid offensive role with the Jazz, who are not a team with a ton of elite scoring options. He’s going to continue to get around 30 minutes and he has the green light to let it rip, so he carries with him some tantalizing upside.
Ideally Mitchell comes in at a slightly cheaper price, but it’s a palatable price tag and he’s got a nice matchup against a slumping Clippers team.
SG: J.J. Redick – Philadelphia 76ers ($5.1k)
Using the Sixers could blow up in my face, but anytime guys are going to be forced into action due to a bunch of injuries, you need to consider targeting them. Redick has already been steady in terms of run and scoring, but with the Sixers he’s also facilitated a bit more than he has in the past.
That could be even more so the case tonight, as the Sixers are pretty banged up. Embiid being out means Redick will be free to attack as a scorer all night long and with the absence of McConnell, perhaps he creates more than usual, as well.
SF: Giannis Antetokounmpo – Milwaukee Bucks ($11.8k)
I don’t think you can go wrong between The Greek Freak or King James. They’re similar prices and both should get 50+ fantasy points. Giannis has more upside to his game and is in a better contest that should stay closer. If that’s right, Antetokounmpo will be necessary for GPPs and James might not be a bad guy to fade.
SF: Sam Dekker – Los Angeles Clippers ($3.8k)
Dekker is a big risk, but this is a GPP lineup and somebody in L.A. has to benefit from all of the injuries. That’s probably going to fall on Lou Williams for the most part, but he’s super pricey and with all the injuries, Dekker’s run should increase.
Dekker isn’t an elite scorer, but he is a versatile forward who can do a little bit of everything. If he can get on the floor for 25+ minutes, I think he smashes this price tag. Wesley Johnson is also in play at $4.7k, but his floor is right down there with Dekker. I see no harm in taking on a little more risk.
PF: John Collins – Atlanta Hawks ($5.9k)
Atlanta is another team decimated by injuries right now, which leaves Collins as the only viable choice for the center spot. He should start and get a lot of run tonight, and against the Cavs that could lead to nice production down low.
I would prefer to save more at one PF spot, but Collins has crushed in the past and has solid upside. He feels more reliable than Kenneth Faried and other spare PF options.
PF: Ben Simmons – Philadelphia 76ers ($9.9k)
I don’t have the cash to pair up The Greek Freak and King James and feel good about it, but I think you can get the same value with Simmons and save some money in the process. Simmons showed everyone again last night how menacing he can be and with Joel Embiid out, he’s going to be attacking at will in this one.
I absolutely fear a tough matchup against a stout Boston defense, but Simmons racks up stats across the board and has too much upside to ignore tonight.
C: DeAndre Jordan – Los Angeles Clippers ($7.4k)
I like a lot of centers tonight, but DJ has to step up with Blake Griffin down for the count. The Clippers could just as easily fold (and maybe they will), but Jordan still has the potential to dominate the glass and get easy buckets. He’ll be facing a Jazz defense that isn’t nearly as formidable with Rudy Gobert still sidelined, so a coined 20-20 night really isn’t out of the question.
I also like Jusuf Nurkic at this same price, but with Jordan being needed more, I’m expecting him to turn in the better line.