This article is part of our Yahoo DFS Basketball series.
Thursday's four-game NBA slate should be full of value despite the modest number of teams in action, as the four bottom-five defenses set to take the court have had trouble limiting fantasy production all season. The Rockets-Suns and Pelicans-Lakers matchups pitting those pathetic units against each other project to be the most fruitful fantasy games as a result, but it's important not to ignore the rest of the slate to truly maximize value.
Archie Goodwin, PHO vs. HOU ($16) - Even with two subpar outings thrown in, Goodwin has still averaged 26.2 fantasy points per game in seven appearances since Brandon Knight's groin injury handed him the starting point guard job. Goodwin's scoring and assist numbers have vacillated greatly over that span, but his 26-point, six-assist effort on Jan. 26 and 18-point, 12-assist game Tuesday demonstrate the type of upside the third-year guard possesses. With a matchup against Houston's 29th-ranked defense on tap, Goodwin's high ceiling makes him well worth his modest $16 price.
Devin Booker, PHO vs. HOU ($20) - Doubling up on Phoenix guards could be the key to victory Thursday, as both Booker and Archie Goodwin offer exceptional value at their prices. The rookie out of Kentucky has stepped up since his minutes increased around the time Brandon Knight went down with a groin injury, outplaying his $20 price in each of the last eight games dating to Jan. 19. Booker's long-range accuracy is a much-needed skill for a Suns team bereft of scoring options, meaning the 20.8 PPG and 3.0 made three-pointers he has averaged over the last eight games should be sustainable as long as Knight is out. With another heavy offensive load expected against the league's second-worst defensive team, Booker should have no problem exceeding expectations once again.
Guard to Avoid:
Damian Lillard, POR vs. TOR ($48) - Lillard has been quiet by his lofty standards lately, topping 41.0 fantasy points just once in his last eight games while twice being held to less than 30.0. Since he's facing the best defensive unit in action Thursday, playing the point guard doesn't make much sense from a matchup perspective, either. Lillard probably won't completely sink your team, but there are smarter ways to spend $48 with so many other options in better positions to succeed.
Ryan Anderson, NO vs. LAL ($27) - Some might shy away from Anderson following Monday's clunker, but the sharp-shooting big man should have no problem rebounding (both literally and figuratively) against an atrocious Lakers team. Anderson's 47.2 fantasy-point outing Saturday against the Nets with Anthony Davis in the lineup showed that his recent run of success has been tied more to the absence of Tyreke Evans (knee). Heading into the first leg of New Orleans' double-header Wednesday, Anderson is averaging 37.6 fantasy points per game since the one in which Evans got injured, making him a strong value play at just $27.
Josh Smith, HOU vs. PHO ($14) - Smith has played much better since being traded to Houston, averaging 21.7 fantasy points per game in seven games with the Rockets. While that production is nothing to write home about, it makes the versatile forward a solid value play at just $14. Smith has seen some minutes at center with Dwight Howard battling shoulder pain and the referees, but his ability to contribute across the board should allow him to rack up fantasy points regardless of which position the Rockets choose to deploy him at against Phoenix's 28th-ranked defense.
Forward to Avoid:
Kristaps Porzingis, NY at DET ($32) - Porzingis seems to have hit a rookie wall of sorts, living up to his $32 valuation just once in the last nine games. The 7-foot-3 Latvian still needs to bulk up a bit, and all of his recent opponents except for the lowly 76ers have managed to limit him to single-digit rebounds by taking advantage of his lack of strength. Porzingis' consistent mid-teens scoring and nearly 2.0 blocks per game are nothing to sneeze at, but his recent output just isn't worth $32.
Robin Lopez, NY at DET ($15) - Lopez has blocked at least one shot in six straight games, coinciding with a solid stretch that has seen him average 22.8 fantasy points per game. While the center isn't a flashy pick, his solid production makes him the most reliable choice in a crop of middling options available to those who don't want to spend $42 on Andre Drummond. He's coming off his second-best fantasy performance of the season, and that momentum could well be enough to carry Lopez to another strong outing relative to his peers.
Center to Avoid:
Jon Leuer, PHO vs. HOU ($17) - There are many intriguing fantasy plays to be found in the Suns-Rockets game, but Leuer isn't one. The big man has been worked back very slowly from a back injury, playing less than 16 minutes combined in two appearances since re-joining the lineup Friday in New York. While it's possible that his minutes will start to increase as he gets healthier, investing $17 in hopes of Leuer getting more playing time is a very high-risk, low-reward maneuver.