FanDuel NBA: Thursday Value Plays

FanDuel NBA: Thursday Value Plays

This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.

We have a typically compact four-game Thursday night slate. While having just eight teams to make selections from does shrink our player pool significantly, there are still plenty of viable options across the pricing scale. Additionally, it  helps from a DFS perspective that three of the four games on the slate have totals comfortably over the 220-point threshold.

As usual, we'll proceed to break down the positional outlook below, along with possible chalk plays and some likely under-owned 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 elevated totals on Thursday's slate:

Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Clippers (Projected total: 234.0 points)

One of the two clear marquee matchup of the night also features the highest projected score, not unusual considering the good health and offensive capacity of each team, as well as the fact the two squads combined for 241 points the last time they met. The Rockets continue to both score (119.7 PPG) and give up (114.3 PPG) plenty of points, while also playing at the second-fastest pace in the league (108.2 possessions per contest). The Clippers aren't far behind them at 107.0 possessions per game, and their 116.7 points scored per home contest rank them in the top 10, as well.

Utah Jazz at Atlanta Hawks (Projected total: 225.5 points)

Not many Jazz games carry as large a total this contest, but a matchup against the Hawks tends to have that effect. Atlanta has allowed the third-most points per game (118.7) while playing at a top-10 pace (107.3 possessions per contest), while the Jazz come in averaging a robust 116.7 points per game over the last three. This contest should represent a nice bump in pace for Utah and therefore boost up the appeal of their primary scoring pieces – Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles and Bojan Bogdanovic among them.

Los Angeles Lakers at Milwaukee Bucks (Projected total: 225.0 points)

This battle of titans from each conference still has some uncertainty surrounding it because of the questionable status of Anthony Davis due to an ankle injury, but it sounds as though he'll play. The total is already elevated due to the Bucks' matchup-proof-ness, which meets up with a formidable Lakers defense. The Bucks also come in averaging an NBA-high 121.0 points per game, including 122.3 per home contest. Milwaukee also co-leads the league in pace (108.4 possessions per game), which heightens the offensive expectations for a game that could feature three of the most explosive players in the league in LeBron James, Davis and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Positional Breakdown

PG: The trio of injured guards in this spot (Kyrie Irving-shoulder/Eric Bledsoe-lower leg/Mike Conley-hamstring) dilutes the overall pool, but Trae Young, Russell Westbrook and Spencer Dinwiddie still make for an attractive trio up top. There's a solid array of mid-tier and value options as well, with viable selections down to the high $3K range.

SG: There's much better health on the shooting guard front, with James Harden and Donovan Mitchell helming a position that also features strong mid-tier choices such as DeMar DeRozan, Khris Middleton and an underpriced Lou Williams ($5.5K). There's value to be found into the sub-$4K range as well, with the likes of Rodney McGruder, Patty Mills, Danny Green, Avery Bradley and Kyle Korver all residing in that part of the salary scale.  

SF: It doesn't get much better than Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James and Paul George up top, and that's exactly the trio that helms the small forward spot Thursday. The Jazz duo of Bojan Bogdanovic and Joe Ingles also make for a very appealing mid-tier in a matchup against the Hawks.

PF: An Anthony Davis absence would naturally dilute the overall depth, but there is still Kawhi Leonard for those who want to pay up. LaMarcus Aldridge and Jarrett Allen are strong mid-tier choices, but beyond Royce O'Neale ($4.3K), there's a lot of uncertainty and a dearth of trustworthy choices in the true bargain section of the position.

C:  We have an absolute clean bill of health at the position, making it one of the more well-rounded spots of the night. Clint Capela ($9.1K) and Rudy Gobert ($7.8K) sit up top, while Montrezl Harrell ($6.5K) has seen his price drop recently but retains plenty of upside. Then, there's plenty of value to consider in the latter portion of the $4K range with Brook Lopez, JaVale McGee, Dwight Howard, Alex Len and Ivica Zubac.

Notable Injury Situations to Monitor

Mike Conley, UTA

Conley is slated to miss multiple weeks with his hamstring issue. Donovan Mitchell projects to fill Conley's point guard spot, while Joe Ingles fills Mitchell's shooting guard spot.

Anthony Davis, LAL

Davis is considered questionable for Thursday's game due to an ankle injury. If he were to miss, Jared Dudley would likely draw a start at power forward, while LeBron James' usage particularly would be set to skyrocket.

Kyle Kuzma, LAL

Kuzma will miss Thursday's game with an ankle injury. Jared Dudley figures to absorb backup power forward minutes in Kuzma's stead if Anthony Davis (ankle) plays or draw a start if he misses.

David Nwaba, BKN

Nwaba is probable for Thursday's game due to an ankle injury.

JaMychal Green, LAC

Green will remain out for Thursday's game due to a lower back injury. Patrick Patterson should continue to benefit from extra minutes as a backup power forward.

Notable Long-Term Injuries/Absences: John Collins, ATL; Eric Bledsoe, MIL; Kyrie Irving, BKN; Caris LeVert, BKN; Wilson Chandler, BKN; Nicholas Claxton, BKN; Gerald Green, HOU; Eric Gordon, HOU

Elite Players

There are four players with five-figure salaries on Thursday's slate – James Harden ($11,400), Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,200), LeBron James ($10,300) and Anthony Davis ($10,200). As mentioned earlier, Davis is questionable with an ankle issue, and if he were to miss, James would take on as much value as Harden or Antetokounmpo due to the bump in usage he would see. 

Then, in the $9K range, Trae Young ($9,900) carries extra appeal because of the overall lack of depth at the point guard position, as does Russell Westbrook ($9,300). And, while not priced as high as the players just mentioned, Donovan Mitchell ($8,600) also sees his value enhanced by a combination of his reasonable salary, his ball-handling role as the starting point guard in Mike Conley's (hamstring) absence and his matchup versus the defensively vulnerable Hawks.

Expected Chalk

All of the stars mentioned in the prior section should see elevated levels of ownership based solely on how small Thursday's slate is. Additionally, James would be even more popular if Davis were to miss, as mentioned earlier. Mitchell should see plenty of clicks as well from those cognizant of how appealing his overall circumstances are Thursday, as described above. Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Donte DiVincenzo should all see a bump in ownership as well due to the ongoing absence of Eric Bledsoe (lower leg).

As usual, I've also compiled a list of some sub-$6K value plays that should carry a fair share of ownership due to savings, enhanced roles due to injuries, or both.

Key and Likely Underowned Values

Derrick White, SA vs. BKN ($4,300)

White has likely been driving DFS players a bit crazy lately with his yo-yo production, but that volatility will hopefully serve to keep his ownership low Thursday. The third-year guard has alternated 27.8- and 25.7-fantasy-point efforts with tallies of 3.7 and 9.7 over his last four games. Despite the fluctuations in his production, White is seeing steady playing time (21 to 32 minutes in 10 straight) despite a move to the bench for the last pair of contests. White's matchup works in his favor Thursday, as the Nets are allowing the ninth-highest offensive efficiency rating to point guards (26.7), along with the seventh-most FanDuel points per game to the position (51.1) for the season.

Landry Shamet, LAC vs. HOU ($3,600)

Shamet finally returned to action after a long absence due to an ankle injury two games ago, and he's encouragingly logged 21 and 25 minutes, respectively, over that first pair of contests back. He's only produced tallies of 14.8 and 12.4 FanDuel points in those games, so make no mistake, there's some risk involved. However, a $3.6K player with minutes in the 20s is difficult to come by, and the fact Shamet will be part of the game with the highest-projected total on the slate helps his cause. So, too, does the fact the Rockets come in surrendering the fifth-highest offensive efficiency rating to shooting guards (22.9), along with the most FanDuel points per game to the position for the season (61.8), including the most made threes (5.2) per contest.

Other values to consider: Danny Green, LAL at MIL ($3,800); Vince Carter, ATL vs. UTA ($3,700); Joe Ingles ($5,600); Lou Williams ($5,500); Joe Harris ($5,000): Garrett Temple ($4,700); Rudy Gay ($4,700); Rajon Rondo ($4,600); Emmanuel Mudiay ($4,300); Royce O'Neale ($4,300); Patrick Beverley ($4,300); George Hill ($4,000); Rodney McGruder ($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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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, including serving as the beat writer for teams in multiple sports. He has previously written for and remains an avid season-long and daily fantasy player in multiple sports as well.
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