We’re back to a three-game slate Thursday, giving us a narrow player pool that some key injuries will thin out further. There are still some big names in action, however, and with only one five-figure-salary player, putting together a balanced lineup shouldn’t be inordinately difficult.
Despite the aforementioned absences, there’s some good news for Thursday’s trio of games. There’s no spread bigger than 4.5 points, and there are a pair of games with projected totals of over 225 points.
Jimmy Butler, MIA (conditioning): QUESTIONABLE
Tyler Herro, MIA (ankle): PROBABLE
If Herro suits up as expected, he could be in a prime position to enjoy elevated usage if Jimmy Butler (conditioning) also sits out.
Kevin Porter, HOU (knee): QUESTIONABLE
Devin Vassell, SAS (knee): DOUBTFUL
In Vassell’s likely absence, Josh Richardson (ankle) could be set for a starting shooting guard role if he plays through his probable designation as expected.
Other notable injuries:
Jakob Poeltl, SAS (knee): OUT
Michael Porter, DEN (heel): OUT
Josh Hart, POR (ankle): PROBABLE
John Wall, LAC (knee): GTD
Norman Powell, LAC (groin): GTD
Max Strus, MIA (shoulder): PROBABLE
We have one player with a five-figure salary on Thursday’s slate – Nikola Jokic ($11,500).
Jokic just saw a streak of eight consecutive double-doubles snapped Tuesday against the Mavericks, but he’s scored over 40 FD points in 15 straight games. He ran into foul trouble in his only other game against Portland this season, but he still generated 32.3 FD points in 27 minutes in that Oct. 24 contest. The Blazers have also given up over 57 FD points per game to centers in the last seven, adding to his appeal.
Other likely chalk plays include:
Jimmy Butler, MIA ($9,900)
Damian Lillard, POR ($9,500)
Lillard scored 36.8 FD points in 32 minutes during his Sunday return from a calf injury, and with three full days of rest, he should be very popular.
Bam Adebayo, MIA ($9,000)
Adebayo bounced back from an atypically poor outing against the Grizzlies two games ago to score 40 FD points in his most recent game against the Pistons, and he should be in even more lineups than usual if Butler sits.
Tyler Herro, MIA ($8,400)
Herro has scored over 40 FD points in five straight games, including 47.1 and 48.6 FD points in his last two. He should be in plenty of lineups based on his recent performances alone, and even more if Butler sits out.
Keldon Johnson, SAS ($7,500)
Johnson is already averaging 31.8 FD points per game, but with Devin Vassell (knee) likely out Thursday, he should be a popular pivot in what could be the highest-scoring game of the night.
Tre Jones, SAS vs. HOU ($6,400)
Jones is averaging 29.5 FD points per game on the season, but he’s boasting a 27.9% usage rate and putting up 48.9 FD points per 36 minutes with Vassell and Jakob Poeltl (knee) off the floor. Jones has also flashed excellent upside for his salary under any scenario – he’s scored 30.9 to 57.1 FD points in nine of 23 games – and the Rockets check in allowing the second-most FD points per game to point guards (57.3) over the last 15 games.
Kawhi Leonard, LAC at MIA ($5,200)
Seeing Leonard at this salary is certainly noteworthy, even if the veteran wing has earned the reduced figure with his so-so performances thus far. Leonard’s minutes had been kept under 30 until Wednesday’s matchup against the Magic, but he’s averaging a serviceable 22.1 FD points per contest and has scored 25.2 on a couple of occasions. The matchup against the Heat could also yield strong dividends, as Miami is allowing an NBA-high 30.8 offensive efficiency rating to small forwards, along with an NBA-46 FD points per game to threes.
Bones Hyland, DEN at POR ($5,000)
At times, Hyland’s production has certainly had a rollercoaster quality, but he’s flashed an outstanding ceiling for his bargain salary. Hyland has already exceeded 45 FD points on two occasions, and he’s put up at least 31 in five games overall. The Trail Blazers surrendered 19.7 FD points to him over 18 minutes back on Oct. 24 as well, and Portland checks in allowing over 47 FD points per game to point guards in the last 15 contests.
ALSO CONSIDER: Tari Eason, HOU at SAS ($4,600)
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 Rotowire.com, including serving as the beat writer for teams in multiple sports. He has previously written for KFFL.com and remains an avid season-long and daily fantasy player in multiple sports as well.