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FantasyDraft NBA: Thursday Picks

Juan Carlos Blanco

Winner of the FSWA 2016 Newcomer of the Year Award, Juan Carlos Blanco has been playing fantasy sports for close to 20 years and covers NBA, MLB, and the NFL for Rotowire.com, including serving as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' beat writer. He has previously written for KFFL.com and remains an avid season-long and daily fantasy player in multiple sports.

Thursday’s five-game slate features plenty of strong individual matchups, and with a relative dearth of elite options, there’s much to consider, especially in the mid-tier. With plenty to sift through, let’s dive into how your dollars might best be deployed:

GUARDS:

Premium Option

Dennis Schroder, ATL vs. DET ($14,000): The top end at guard is barren on Thursday’s short slate, but Schroder is priced fairly and in a good matchup. The Pistons’ point-guard defense has been one of its weak spots, as they’ve allowed the eighth most fantasy points (48.5) to the position on the season, including the fourth most (54.2) over the last 10. They’re also ranked in the bottom five in rebounds (7.4) and assists (9.3) allowed to ones on the season, and have yielded the second highest shooting percentage (46.0) as well. Schroder has had down games over his last two contests (25.75 and 23.75 fantasy points), but he’s still averaging 34.7 on the season and posting a team-high 29.9 percent usage rate.

Mid-Tier

Spencer Dinwiddie, BKN vs. NY ($12,500): Dinwiddie has been impressive in his stint as the starting point guard overall, and he’s scored between 29.75 and 43.00 fantasy points in six of his last seven games. The fourth-year guard derives a substantial amount of fantasy production from assists, and there’s good news on that front in terms of the matchup. In addition to the fact that the 55.2 fantasy points they’ve allowed to ones over the last five contests represents an increase of more than eight fantasy points over their season average, the Knicks have also surrendered the fourth most assists (9.5) to point guards on the season. Furthermore, Dinwiddie is averaging 1.15 fantasy points per minute since taking over as the starter for D’Angelo Russell (knee) on Nov. 14.

Affordable

Yogi Ferrell, DAL at GS ($8,900): Caris LeVert ($10,400) and Ferrell’s teammate J.J. Barea ($11,300) are both intriguing as well if you can spend up, but Ferrell sets up as an excellent point-per-dollar value based on expected pace of play, matchup and recent performance. He’ll draw another start with Dennis Smith, Jr. (hip) still sidelined and will face a Warriors defense that’s allowed the fifth most fantasy points (51.0) to point guards, including the most (59.4) over the last 10. They’re also yielding the second most assists (9.7) and fifth most three-pointers (2.5) to the position, while Ferrell has scored between 22.00 and 32.00 fantasy points in four of his last five.

FORWARDS/CENTERS:

Premium

Kevin Durant, GS vs. DAL ($21,900): Durant boasts a 35.8 percent usage rate and is averaging 1.69 fantasy points per minute in the three games Stephen Curry (ankle) has missed. He’s scored between 51.75 and 73.00 fantasy points in those contests, while the Mavericks check in allowing the third most fantasy points (45.3), third most assists (3.8), third most steals (2.1) and 2.7 made three-pointers per contest to small forwards. With Draymond Green (shoulder) also doubtful for Thursday’s contest, the stage appears set for an even larger role for Durant.

Mid-Tier

Harrison Barnes, DAL at GS ($14,200): On the other side of the court, Barnes is in a good spot against his former teammates as well. Barnes has been extremely reliable from a fantasy perspective, scoring no fewer than 24.50 fantasy points in any game this season and between 30.50 and 40.50 fantasy points in four of his last five. Golden State has also allowed the 10th most fantasy points (42.4) to small forwards on the campaign, along with the fifth most assists (3.6), third most steals (2.1) and second most made three-pointers (3.2).

Affordable

Taurean Prince, ATL vs. DET ($11,000): While there are a number of interesting options in the $12K range, Prince has been outperforming his current price recently and offers just as much upside as some of those players priced over $1K higher. He’s scored between 28.00 and 41.75 fantasy points in the last four games, while the Pistons have allowed the sixth most fantasy points (44.5), seventh most rebounds (8.6), second most assists (4.1), fourth most steals (1.9) and second most blocks (1.3) to small forwards on the season, offering Prince plenty of paths to fantasy success.

UTILITY:

Kevin Love, CLE vs. LAL ($13,900): Love continues to be very reasonably priced relative to upside, which he’s most recently demonstrated by scoring between 34.25 and 56.75 fantasy points in the last seven games. He’s rattled off five double-doubles during that span as well and will be in prime position to continue generating that caliber of production Thursday. The Lakers check in allowing the fourth most fantasy points (52.6) to power forwards over the last 10 and third most fantasy points (40.2) to centers on the season, the two spots at which Love should see time in Thursday.

Taj Gibson, MIN vs. SAC ($11,200): Gibson is shooting a career-best 53.9 percent and averaging a career-high 8.5 rebounds this season, as he’s managed to carve out a consistent niche on the T-Wolves’ star-studded starting five despite plenty of competition for usage. Gibson has scored between 27.75 and 43.50 fantasy points in four of the last five games and will be in a favorable spot against a Kings squad that’s allowed the most fantasy points (49.9) to power forwards on the season, and the second most over the last 10 (55.2) and five (59.7). They’re also yielding the most points (25.2), rebounds (12.7) and made three-pointers (2.6) on the season to fours, furthering Gibson’s already strong case.

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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.