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Yahoo DFS Basketball: Thursday Picks

Alex Rikleen

Rikleen writes the NBA column "Numbers Game," which decodes the math that underpins fantasy basketball. A certified math teacher, Rikleen decided the field of education pays too well, so he left it for writing. He is a Boston College graduate living in Delaware.

Game 3s start Thursday, which is good news and bad news for daily gamers. The good news is with multiple games already in the books, we have more than one data point to use when considering a player’s playoff role. The bad news is that with the Cavaliers and Spurs up 2-0 over the Pacers and Grizzlies, respectively, the latter teams may make some major adjustments, decreasing the value of that extra data.


Kyrie Irving, CLE at IND ($40):
The Pacers had no answer for Irving in Game 2. He went 14-of-24 from the field (58 percent), and watching the game, I was shocked to discover he had missed even that many. He is averaging 30.0 points and 41.3 fantasy points per game this series. Just over 40 fantasy points is not a ton at this price, but with only three games on the slate, the scores required to win should be very low, so it should be enough.

Tony Parker, SA at MEM ($15): Now that we’ve reached the playoffs, the Spurs’ contingent of elders is no longer at risk of playing limited minutes. The Spurs won the first two games comfortably, so Parker averaged a modest 23.0 minutes, pretty close to his season average. But the series moves to Memphis on Thursday, and it is a must-win scenario for the Grizzlies. A closer game would likely lead to extra run for Parker, who already put up sizable profits in Games 1 and 2 with 24.4 and 21.6 fantasy points, respectively.

Other suggestions: Malcolm Brogdon, MIL vs. TOR ($17)

Guard to Avoid

DeMar DeRozan, TOR at MIL ($41): DeRozan is the most expensive guard available, but many of the cheaper options have matched or exceeded his recent production. DeRozan’s fantasy game is heavily dependent on his scoring output, since he gets relatively few rebounds or assists compared to other players in his price range. Assuming an average game in all other categories, DeRozan needs to score about 30 points in order to profit. He averaged 27.3 in the regular season, and he’s down to 25.0 per game this series. The playoffs are still young, but at this point the Bucks have the second-best defensive rating of all 16 teams.

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Paul George, IND vs. CLE ($48):
George is the reason the Pacers have kept this series competitive. Though they are down 2-0, they lost Game 1 by a single point, and they were down by only four points with 18 seconds left in Game 2. He is averaging 30.5 points in 41.5 minutes, in addition to 7.0 assists and 6.5 rebounds. That all amounts to 49.3 fantasy points per game – as is the case with Irving, while that is not a gigantic haul for this price, with the small slate and lower contest scores, our targets are lowered. Additionally, George’s floor is very high, as he’s scored at least 40 fantasy points in nine straight games.

Vince Carter, MEM vs. SA ($10): Frankly, Carter is probably a worse option than Stephenson, listed below. But I want to talk about how much fun I’m having watching the two oldest players in the league, Carter and Manu Ginobili, guard each other head-to-head in meaningful playoff minutes. Fantasy sports are supposed to be fun, and watching these two geezers stay relevant – neigh, important! – has been super enjoyable. These guys were drafted before one of the starters in this series (Wayne Selden) learned to read*. And while Stephenson is a better option, Carter has increased his minutes from 24.7 during the regular season to 30.5 in this series, posting a profit in both games.

* Selden was four years old when Ginobili was drafted and Carter had finished his rookie season.

Other suggestions: Lance Stephenson, IND vs. CLE ($13); Serge Ibaka, TOR at MIL ($25)

Forward to Avoid

Load up on forwards – put one in your utility spot. This is a very strong night for forwards. There is not a single one that costs above $15 that I will go on record advising against. Zach Randolph is the biggest risk/reward guy, scoring 10.1 fantasy points in Game 1 and then 35.5 in Game 2, but I’m not betting against Z-Bo in the Grindhouse.


Greg Monroe, MIL vs. TOR ($16):
Monroe hit a stride over the last week of the season, and he has carried that momentum into the postseason. Averaging 24.0 minutes, he is scoring 16.0 points and 30.7 fantasy points in this series. Additionally, he’s on a five-game streak with at least 10 points and 20 fantasy points.

Other suggestions: Tristan Thompson, CLE at IND ($14)

Center to Avoid

There are only six centers above minimum salary, and five of the six are fairly priced (and the sixth is Monroe, an excellent discount). Jonas Valanciunas is the only one of the six whose minutes have not increased during the postseason.
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.