FanDuel NBA: Thursday Value Plays

FanDuel NBA: Thursday Value Plays

This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.

While we get just a three-game slate Thursday after an exciting 11-game ledger Wednesday, the NBA helps make up for it by putting some of its brightest stars on the floor. There will be plenty to pay up for Thursday with no less than five players priced at $10K and up, although there is offsetting value to be found at each position as well. As we'll also break down, each of the three contests is expected to see a solid amount of points, which is always key for DFS purposes.

Before delving into the slate, a reminder that FanDuel is reverting 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 get dive into Thursday's three-game slate!

Slate Overview

Despite the small three-game slate Thursday, the good news is each contest carries an elevated projected total. Let's take a closer look at each:

Atlanta Hawks at Detroit Pistons (Projected total: 223.0 points)

No team played at a faster pace than the Hawks last season, as Atlanta averaged an NBA-high 108.3 possessions per game, including 108.7 per home contest. They also allowed the most points per game (119.4) and scored the eighth-most per home game (115.8), leading to a plethora of elevated totals throughout the season. For their part, the Pistons opened the season Wednesday with an unexpected 119-point tally on the road against a Pacers squad that gave up the fewest points per game of any team on its home floor last season.

Milwaukee Bucks at Houston Rockets (Projected total: 231.5 points)

The star power and corresponding offensive fireworks will be in plentiful supply Thursday at Toyota Center with the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Russell Westbrook and James Harden on the floor. Milwaukee churned out the sixth-most possessions per game (106.4) last season and scored an NBA-high 117.3 points per game, while also giving up 110.4 points per road contest. Meanwhile, Houston played at a slower pace of 102.0 possessions per game, but they racked up 116.6 points per Toyota Center tilt and have arguably upgraded at point guard with Russell Westbrook taking over for Chris Paul.

Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State Warriors (Projected total: 226.0 points)

D'Angelo Russell already looks like dynamic fit at shooting guard alongside Stephen Curry, meaning the Warriors' backcourt should keep on humming despite the expected season-long absence of Klay Thompson (knee). The Clippers put up 112 points in their opener against the Lakers on Tuesday, although it took four double-digit scoring efforts on the second unit to get there.

Positional Breakdown

With only six teams in action, there are unsurprisingly sharp drop-offs in quality options at each position past a certain point. However, power forward arguably shapes up as one of the thinner ones overall. John Collins ($8,300) and Draymond Green ($8,000) represent your most reliable choices, while Jabari Parker ($4,500) and P.J. Tucker ($4,400) could serve as solid value options. The rest of the picture at the position is muddled, however.

Center is another spot where the pool is a bit narrower than ideal. Andre Drummond requires a five-figure investment up top, while Clint Capela ($8,400) is more reasonably priced but still expensive. Montrezl Harrell ($7,000) should therefore see plenty of ownership at his mid-tier cost, especially because uncertainty about playing time and role plague most of the other choices at the position. Meanwhile, both guard spots run fairly deep for a three-game slate, as there are cheap plays worth considering as low as $4,000 at point guard (Landry Shamet) and $3,900 at shooting guard (Wesley Matthews).

Injury Situations to Monitor

Blake Griffin, DET

Griffin is in for a multi-week absence, so Markieff Morris is slated to draw another start in his stead Thursday.

Eric Bledsoe, MIL

Bledsoe is considered probable for Thursday's game with a ribs injury he sustained in preseason. Veteran George Hill waits in the wings should Bledsoe have a setback and would make for a strong value play at $3,800 if he were to start, but all signs point toward Bledsoe being able to suit up.

Trae Young, ATL

Young was dealing with a minor back issue several days ago, but he's fully expected to play Thursday.

John Collins, ATL

Collins was dealing with an illness late in preseason, but he's fully expected to play against the Pistons on Thursday.

Paul George, LAC

George is expected to remain out with his shoulder injury for about another three weeks, at minimum. Patrick Patterson and JaMychal Green should continue sharing minutes at power forward in his stead.  

Kevin Huerter, ATL

Although Huerter will be available Thursday, it will be in a limited bench role according to latest reports, as the second-year guard continues to recover from a knee injury. First-round pick Cam Reddish will be drawing the start at shooting guard in Huerter's stead and should be in for a solid workload.

Willie Cauley-Stein, GSW

Cauley-Stein is expected to be out with a foot injury until some point in November. For the time being, Kevon Looney will assume the starting duties at center, although Marquese Chriss (toe) is expected to log a solid amount of minutes off the bench as well.

Marquese Chriss, GSW

Chriss is dealing with a toe infection but is considered probable for Thursday's game. The young big is expected to rotate with Kevon Looney at center to open the season with Cauley-Stein out of action.

Alec Burks, GSW

Burks is probable for Thursday's game with an ankle injury he's been nursing since preseason. Burks is expected to serve as D'Angelo Russell's primary backup at shooting guard and play a key role in the backcourt rotation this season. If he were to miss or be limited, promising rookie Jordan Poole would be in line for extra minutes.

Elite Players

Despite just three games, the star power is off the charts Thursday with Giannis Antetokounmpo (12,200), James Harden ($11,400), Stephen Curry ($10,300), Andre Drummond ($10,300), Russell Westbrook ($10,000) and Kawhi Leonard ($9,800) in action.

Given his season-opening 32-point, 23-rebound double-double Wednesday, the continued absence of Griffin and the general lack of truly dependable options at center, Drummond is a high-priced player particularly worth considering. The back-to-back games are always a concern, but given how early into the season it is, the effect of that should certainly be reduced.

At power forward, Griffin's absence significantly reduced the depth at the position on such a short slate. However, John Collins ($8,300) is a worthwhile investment, as the position thins out fairly quickly Thursday after Collins and Draymond Green ($8,000), who's also viable. Collins is also drawing a matchup against Markieff Morris, who had a hand in facilitating a 27-point, 13-rebound double-double for the Pacers' Domantas Sabonis on Wednesday.

The point guard and shooting guard spots have more volume in terms of options, although the likes of Curry, Harden and Westbrook can naturally be paid up for. Small forward is helmed by Antetokounmpo and Leonard and then sees an abrupt $4,800 drop down to Morris, but there's some viable value depth below him. Needless to say, however, both Giannis and Kawhi are always in play regardless of price, and Leonard is arguably underpriced relative to his current role and usage with Paul George (shoulder) out of action.

Expected Chalk

With such a small slate, the big names just listed should all carry even heavier ownership than usual.

Injuries are not expected to be a big factor Thursday in terms of creating opportunities that will lead to chalk plays. Even Reddish, who'll start for Huerter, may go somewhat overlooked with Antetokounmpo, Leonard, Morris and Eric Gordon all above him at small forward.

Derrick Rose ($5,500) could also be a popular value option for those looking to open up salary to fit multiple high-priced studs. Rose went for 29.9 fantasy points across 26 minutes in the opener against Indiana on Wednesday while starter Reggie Jackson had a forgettable night with five points, five assists and six fewer minutes of playing time.

Key Values

Luke Kennard, DET at ATL ($4,800):

Kennard came into Wednesday's opener against the Pacers dealing with a knee issue, and all he did was rack up 30 points on the strength of 8-for-13 shooting, including six three-pointers. He logged 28 minutes despite his second-unit role, and he could even be in the starting lineup Thursday versus a Hawks team that gave up robust fantasy production to virtually every position last season and plays at an accelerated pace, as noted earlier.

Jabari Parker, ATL vs. DET ($4,500):

Parker could start on some teams, and although he'll back up star-in-the-making John Collins in Atlanta, he should still see a solid allotment of minutes, especially since he's also capable of filling in at small forward. Parker's upside is well-established, and he has the ability to blow away his current price with multi-category contributions if he sees enough playing time.

Cam Reddish, ATL vs. DET ($4,400):

As already alluded to, Reddish will draw the start for Huerter on Tuesday. With the latter only expected to play about 15 minutes, the rookie should see a solid allotment of minutes. Reddish is still a raw talent with only one college season under his belt, but his price, opportunity and the pace of his team's play all set him up to potentially offer a solid return on his modest price.

Pat Connaughton, MIL at HOU ($3,600):  

Connaughton is likely to carry low ownership from his spot in the lower rung of the shooting-guard pool, but he's certainly capable of delivering if he logs his expected allotment of minutes off the bench. The fifth-year wing generated career highs across the board during the 2018-19 campaign and proved to have a ceiling north of 30 fantasy points on multiple occasions during the latter portion of the regular season. Connaughton is a solid rebounder in addition to efficient shooter, and with Tony Snell now in Detroit, he should have a clear path about 20 minutes at minimum off the bench as the primary backup for Wesley Matthews ($3,900). Matthews is worth considering in his own right, but he should carry fairly robust ownership as a sub-$4k starter.

ALSO CONSIDER: Alec Burks ($4,000), GSW vs. LAC; Tony Snell ($3,500), DET at ATL

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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