FanDuel NBA: Thursday Value Plays

FanDuel NBA: Thursday Value Plays

This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.

After another exciting day of action Wednesday, we're down to five games for Thursday's slate. However, there are still high scoring expectations in multiple contests, and thus far in Orlando, we've seen several teams produce more offense than expected. Whether it's the neutral site or teams simply having fresher legs after so much time off, DFS players have benefitted from some of the stellar individual offensive performances. With the likes of Devin Booker, James Harden, Russell Westbrook, LeBron James and Anthony Davis on the slate Thursday, we could be in for more of the same.

We'll proceed to examine the key injuries for the day below and will also break down the positional outlook, before reviewing possible chalk plays and some likely low-rostered bargains that could help you round out your lineups with a couple of superstars.

Before delving into the slate, a reminder that FanDuel has reverted to its previous format of NOT dropping the lowest scoring in lineups after a one-year experiment with that feature. Therefore, it will be important to be prudent with each selection, as each player's total will count toward your final score.

Without further ado, let's take a more comprehensive look at Thursday's slate! 

Slate Overview

Here's a closer look at the three games with the highest projected totals on Thursday's slate:

New Orleans Pelicans at Sacramento Kings

Projected total: 233.5 points

The two teams have losing records thus far in Orlando, but New Orleans certainly got a boost from the lifting of Zion Williamson's minutes restrictions in their most recent contest. Both squads are gunning for the No. 8 seed, so this could certainly be a spirited offensive contest, especially if the 232 points these two squads combined for the first time is any indication of what they might be able to do against each other. 

Los Angeles Clippers at Dallas Mavericks

Projected total: 231.5 points

The Clippers are likely to be in a foul mood after getting beat by Devin Booker's buzzer-beating jumper on Tuesday, and they could well come out with an aggressive approach. The Mavericks have actually been a solid defensive team overall this season, but they've surrendered an average of 112.0 points in their first two meetings with Los Angeles. The Clips also have Lou Williams back in the fold from his quarantine, and Reggie Jackson could actually contribute more offensively than the player he's replacing, Patrick Beverley, who'll sit Thursday due to a calf injury.

Indiana Pacers at Phoenix Suns

Projected total: 229.5 points

The Pacers have shown some offensive chops thus far in Orlando despite being without Domantas Sabonis (foot) for all three games, and both Malcolm Brogdon and Victor Oladipo for one game apiece. They could be without Brogdon again Thursday due to his neck issues, but with the opposing Suns also thriving in seeding games with a 3-0 record and Devin Booker red hot, oddsmakers are expecting plenty of offense here despite Indiana's solid defense.

Positional Breakdown

PG: Point guard is littered with injury designations Thursday, as Russell Westbrook (quadriceps), Jamal Murray (hamstring), Malcolm Brogdon (neck) and Goran Dragic (ankle) are all questionable. Westbrook may have the best chance of the bunch to play, but multiple absences from this group will naturally thin things out at the position overall. There is some good news in the form of very low prices on Eric Bledsoe ($4.7K), Monte Morris ($4.5K) and Reggie Jackson ($4K), all who should play sizable roles in their games.

SG: By contrast, shooting guard is in much better shape health-wise, although it does have one major absence in Jimmy Butler (foot). Otherwise, the top trio of Luka Doncic, James Harden and Devin Booker offers plenty for those who can pay up, while Paul George ($7.7K) and CJ McCollum ($7.3K) both are underpriced for their upside.

SF: Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11K) one-ups LeBron James ($10.1K) price-wise on this slate, and with Milwaukee still to clinch to the top seed in the East, Giannis could certainly be worth the salary. Meanwhile, after two eye-popping performances, T.J. Warren's price finally shot up all the way to $8.8K from a sub-$7K level, even vaulting him over Kawhi Leonard. Speaking of the Clippers' All-Star, there's a welcome drop in salary from his $8.4K price to Carmelo Anthony at $5.1K.

PF:  Anthony Davis and Kristaps Porzingis are at the top of the heap at disparate prices of $10.5K and $8.6K, respectively. However, the big story here is Michael Porter, Jr., who is still somehow priced at just $5.5K despite back-to-back double-doubles that have netted 55.9 and 49 FD points, respectively. Given his performances and price, there's little doubt Porter will be one of the most popular plays on the slate.

C: Jusuf Nurkic has made a quick ascension up the salary scale in short order and heads up the positional pool with a price of $9.1K. Nikola Jokic and Deandre Ayton are excellent consolation choices for those that can't afford Nurkic, with Ayton in a particularly good matchup against Myles Turner. Turner himself is in play at $6.4K, while Kelly Olynyk ($5K) and Hassan  Whiteside ($4.7K) both offer strong upside for their salaries.

Injury Situations to Monitor

NOTE: Injury reporting is especially fluid in the NBA, where the status of multiple players can change during the course of a day. Therefore, although the following serves as a foundation for the latest injury report as of the time the article is written (usually late morning Eastern time), check back throughout the course of the day with RotoWire for the latest news regarding the status of all players on that night's slate.

Russell Westbrook, HOU (quadriceps)

Westbrook is listed as questionable to face the Lakers. The perennial All-Star played 35 minutes Tuesday night against the Trail Blazers, so the injury may just be minor. If Westbrook misses, James Harden's workload would hit new levels, while Austin Rivers would potentially draw a spot start at point guard.

Jimmy Butler, MIA (foot)

Butler will not play against the Bucks. Andre Iguodala, Derrick Jones and Tyler Herro should both be the direct beneficiaries of his absence, while the usage and opportunity for the remainder of the starting five should see a nice bump.

Malcolm Brogdon, IND

Brogdon is considered questionable with the strained neck that has already cost him one game in the restart bubble and that he's played through the last two games. Aaron Holiday and T.J. McConnell would likely be big beneficiaries at point guard if Brogdon misses, while the usage rates of the remaining members of the starting five should rise as well.

Goran Dragic, MIA (ankle)

Dragic is questionable to play against the Bucks with the ankle sprain he suffered late in Tuesday's win against the Celtics.

Kelly Oubre, PHO (knee)

Oubre is considered doubtful with the knee injury that's kept him out since late February.

Wesley Matthews, MIL (calf)

Matthews is likely to be listed as no better than questionable after missing Tuesday's game. George Hill and Donte DiVincenzo would likely handle shooting guard duties if Matthews misses.

Aron Baynes, PHO (knee)

Baynes is likely to remain out against the Pacers, as he's apparently picked up a knee issue during practices as he's worked back from being sidelined by coronavirus earlier in the summer.

Elie Okobo, PHO (ankle)

Okobo will not play against the Pacers due to an ankle sprain.

Patrick Beverley, LAC (calf)

Beverley will not play against the Mavericks. Reggie Jackson will handle point guard duties in his stead.

Seth Curry, DAL (leg)

Curry is doubtful to play against the Lakers. J.J. Barea, Delon Wright and Justin Jackson could be the biggest beneficiaries of his absence.

Gary Harris, DEN (hip)

Harris is likely to be listed no better than questionable to face the Trail Blazers. Torrey Craig and Troy Daniels should benefit if the defensive-minded shooting guard sits for a fourth straight game.

Will Barton, DEN (knee)

Barton is likely to be listed as no better than questionable to face the Trail Blazers after missing the last three contests. Considering that Michael Porter has produced consecutive double-doubles of at least 30 points and 12 rebounds each in his stead, Barton may not be rushed back and isn't likely to fill a starting role even if he is available.

Jamal Murray, DEN (hamstring)

Murray is likely to be listed as no better than questionable to face the Trail Blazers with the hamstring tightness that has been keeping him out of action. Monte Morris would be set to fill in at point guard once again should Murray miss.

Dwight Howard, LAL (knee)

Howard will likely be listed as no better than questionable with the knee issue that caused him to miss Wednesday's contest against the Thunder. Markieff Morris may pick up some backup minutes behind JaVale McGee at center again if Howard misses.

Goga Bitadze, IND (knee)

Bitadze is listed as questionable after being available Tuesday.

Notable Longer-Term Injuries/Absences: Rajon Rondo, LAL; Eric Gordon, HOU; Domantas Sabonis, IND; Vlatko Cancar, DEN

Elite Players

We have four players with five-figure salaries on the slate, headlined by Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11.5K) and followed by Luka Doncic ($10.7K), James Harden ($10.6K), Anthony Davis ($10.5K) and LeBron James ($10.1K). Davis was dealing with a bit of an ankle issue against the Thunder on Wednesday and also racked up five fouls in 29 minutes, leading to a sub-par performance.

As far as four-figure-salaried players capable of elite production, Jusuf Nurkic and Nikola Jokic are intriguing in a matchup against each other, while T.J. Warren, Devin Booker and Michael Porter, the latter priced at just $5.5K, all stand out.

Expected Chalk

There should be plenty of rosters that house all the names mentioned in the section above, especially Porter, whose price is going to push his rostering rate through the roof. The slate is full of plenty of big names overall, but because there are so many stars, there's likely to be a flatter distribution of their presence in lineups than were it to be less star-studded ledger. Then, there are several key injuries as discussed earlier, which should continue to open up multiple value plays that benefit from those absences.

On that note, I've put together a specific list of sub-$6K plays that should find themselves in plenty of lineups – many due to injured teammates – and included them at the bottom of the next section.

Key Values

Cameron Johnson, PHO vs. IND ($4,200) 

Johnson has been given the reins of the starting power forward job in the restart bubble and has taken advantage of the opportunity, scoring 20.6 to 39.4 FD points in his first three contests. The rookie has encouragingly logged 40 and 38 minutes in his last two games, respectively, and with Phoenix sporting a 3-0 mark thus far in Orlando, coach Monty Williams is likely to stick with what's working. Johnson is a floor spacer that can check off all the boxes on the stat sheet and has shot an impressive 39.6 percent from distance, and although the Pacers are a tough matchup down low statistically, but they're still missing Domantas Sabonis (foot). Additionally, Johnson's ability to score from anywhere on the floor could help him to a strong return on a salary that remains very reasonable for his upside.

T.J. McConnell, IND at PHO ($4,100) 

McConnell has scored 31.6 and 27.3 FD points in two of his first three games in Orlando, accomplishing both figures while playing under 20 minutes. There's a chance Malcolm Brogdon (neck) misses Thursday's game, but even if he's active and on the floor, McConnell appears locked into a role that affords him minutes in high teens on many occasions. He'll have a chance deliver a strong on his modest salary against a Suns team that's surrendering the seventh-highest shooting percentage (46.3) to second units, and the ninth-highest offensive efficiency rating (26.8) to point guards overall. It's also worth noting McConnell has already proven capable of exploiting those weaknesses, as his best game of the season from a fantasy perspective came against this very same Suns squad when he posted 42.3 FD points on the strength of a 10-point, 11-assist double-double on Jan. 22.

Mason Plumlee, DEN vs. POR ($3,800)

As Nikola Jokic's backup, Plumlee typically doesn't get much attention from DFS players, but he's certainly capable outpacing his current salary by a significant degree. In fact, Plumlee just posted 20.2 FD points against the Spurs on Wednesday afternoon across just 15 minutes, and he's scored over 20 FD points in 23 games this season overall despite playing under 20 minutes in 13 of those contests. Plumlee picked up 20.3 FD points against the Trail Blazers once this season already, and Portland checks in allowing a top-10 offensive efficiency rating (32.8) to centers, along with the fourth-most points in the paint (45.9) per contest. In turn, Plumlee scores just under 80.0 percent of his points in that area of the floor and currently boasts his best shooting percentage (61.6) since his rookie 2013-14 season.

Other potentially low-rostered value plays to consider: Mikal Bridges, PHO ($4,800); Marcus Morris, LAC ($4,200; Jerami Grant, DEN vs. POR ($4,000)

Potentially higher-rostered value plays to consider: Victor Oladipo, IND ($5,600): Michael Porter, DEN ($5,500);Carmelo Anthony, POR ($5,100); Kelly Olynyk, MIA ($5,000); Kyle Kuzma, LAL ($4,700); Eric Bledsoe, MIL ($4,700); Lou Williams, LAC ($4,700); Monte Morris, DEN ($4,500); Danuel House,  HOU ($4,500);; Aaron Holiday, IND ($4,200); Reggie Jackson, LAC ($4,000); Tyler Herro, MIA ($3,900)

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Juan Carlos Blanco plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: jcblanco22, FanDuel: jc_blanco22, DraftPot: jc_blanco22, FantasyDraft: jc_blanco22, OwnThePlay: jcblanco22.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Juan Carlos Blanco
Winner of the FSWA 2016 Newcomer of the Year Award, Juan Carlos Blanco has been playing fantasy sports for over 20 years and covers NBA, MLB, NFL, CFL and Arena Football for Rotowire.com, including serving as the beat writer for teams in multiple sports. He has previously written for KFFL.com and remains an avid season-long and daily fantasy player in multiple sports as well.
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