Thursday’s are usually quiet in the NBA, but not this one with six games on the schedule. There is a lot of top-tier talent available in DFS with the Thunder, Celtics, Raptors and Nuggets among the teams set to take the floor. That could lead to some tough lineup decisions on Yahoo, so let’s try to make things a little easier by highlighting some players to target and avoid based on their matchups.
Donovan Mitchell, UTA vs. MIN ($40): The Timberwolves are really struggling to stop anyone down the stretch, allowing an average of 121.2 points across their last 15 games. That sets things up nicely for Mitchell, who has the fourth-highest usage rate (32 percent) in the league. In three previous meetings against them this season, Mitchell has averaged 26.3 points, four rebounds and seven assists. Look for another strong performance from him Thursday.
Tyus Jones, MIN at UTA ($10): The Timberwolves continue to deal with injuries to their backcourt. Jeff Teague (foot) and Derrick Rose (elbow) sat out Tuesday’s game against the Nuggets, leaving Jones to score 27.9 Yahoo points over 27 minutes. Both Teague and Rose are questionable for this contest against the Jazz, so if they don’t play, don’t hesitate to deploy Jones.
Guard to Avoid
Dennis Schroder, OKC at IND ($18): Schroder laid an egg against the Nets on Wednesday, scoring just 11.4 Yahoo points despite playing 29 minutes. That marks the fourth time in the last five games that he has scored 24.3 Yahoo points or fewer. He’s only shooting 41 percent from the field and he receives fewer scoring opportunities when Russell Westbrook and Paul George are healthy, so it’s hard to see a path to him being successful against a Pacers team that allows the fewest points per game (103.9) in the league.
Paul George, OKC at IND ($48): After shooting a stunningly low 28.7 percent from the field across his previous six games, George busted out for 25 points on 9-for-18 shooting against the Nets. Despite his shooting woes, his all-around contributions have enabled him to score at least 40.2 Yahoo points four times during that seven-game stretch. Expect him to have an extremely high floor once again versus his former squad.
Jae Crowder, UTA vs. MIN ($15): With how poorly the Timberwolves have played defensively, targeting players on the Jazz could be a sound strategy. While Mitchell stands out as a top option, Crowder could also provide some value at a much cheaper price. He’s scored at least 24 Yahoo points in eight of his last 10 contests and has a relatively high minutes floor despite coming off the bench. In fact, he actually averages more minutes (28) than starter Derrick Favors (24).
Forward to Avoid
Tim Hardaway Jr., DAL at DEN ($17): The Mavericks don’t exactly have a lot of talent left on their roster, which could have opened up an opportunity for Hardaway to be productive down the stretch. However, he’s shot just 39.3 percent from the field since joining the team and was even demoted to the second unit in their last game Tuesday against the Spurs. His value is mostly based around his ability to score, so any reduction in playing time is huge when coupled with his lack of efficiency. The Nuggets allow the seventh-fewest points per game (107.3) in the league, so this is not the night to deploy Hardaway.
Nikola Vucevic, ORL vs. CLE ($44): The Magic aren’t going to make the playoffs if they keep losing to bad team. While they themselves aren’t exactly world-beaters, they’ve recently suffered defeats at the hands of the Bulls, Knicks, Cavaliers, Grizzlies and Wizards. Yuck. Vucevic is still doing his part, though, and has scored at least 42.8 Yahoo points in nine of his last 10 games. He destroyed the Cavaliers for 28 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks when these two teams met earlier this month and he should excel in their rematch.
Marc Gasol, TOR vs. LAL ($19): The Raptors depth up front has caused Gasol’s fantasy value to take a hit since he was acquired from the Grizzlies. That won’t be a problem Thursday after Serge Ibaka was suspended for an altercation with Marquese Chriss on Monday. Add the extra minutes to the fact that the Lakers play at the fifth-fastest pace (103.7 possessions per game) in the league and Gasol is hard to pass up at this price.
Center to Avoid
Willie Cauley-Stein, SAC at BOS ($20): The Kings might be receiving some reinforcements with Marvin Bagley (knee) listed as questionable for this matchup. That’s good news for the team, but not for Cauley-Stein, who could lose some playing time if Bagley does indeed return. Even if Bagley doesn’t, this is not a good matchup for Cauley-Stein against a tough Celtics defense. With Gasol priced a dollar cheaper, go with him over Cauley-Stein.