Jimmy Butler is an NBA fantasy favorite as the Chicago Bulls take on the lowly Los Angeles Lakers.
Six games makes for a busier-than-usual Thursday, continuing the trend of the final week of January. It’s little surprise, given that the league is about take an entire week off for All-Star festivities. Three of the biggest names who could be available tonight are game-time decisions. Anthony Davis is considered doubtful because of a concussion, Kyle Lowry is questionable with a wrist injury, and Carmelo Anthony’s knee could force him to miss his second straight game. All of those situations create opportunities for the players who typically fill in around those three.
PG: Jrue Holiday ($6,800) vs. SAC: Tyreke Evans is also dealing with a knee injury, but even if he plays Holiday is a great selection at point guard. The Kings have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points per game to point guards this year, and Holiday is in great form. He has at least 35.3 fantasy points in four of his last five games, and is averaging 34.3 per game across his last 10.
SG: Jimmy Butler ($8,700) @ LAL: Who on the Lakers’ roster can stop Butler? Moreover, who on the roster can make him work exceptionally hard on the defensive end? This is the sort of matchup in which Butler should feast. The Lakers are 25th in fantasy points allowed to shooting guards, and with Derrick Rose either out or playing at less than 100% because of a balky hamstring, Butler should see a higher-than-average usage rate on Thursday night.
SF: Danilo Gallinari ($6.900) @ WAS: Gallinari keeps up the theme of moderately priced players with great matchups getting into our Thursday lineup. The Wizards have surrendered the second-most fantasy points per game to small forwards this year. They’ve also allowed the highest three-point percentage in the league on the ninth-most makes per game. Throw in an over/under of 210, and Gallinari is essentially meeting ideal conditions in Washington. It certainly doesn’t hurt that he has scored at least 23 points in seven of his last 10 games.
PF: Ryan Anderson ($5,700) vs. SAC: Over the last two games, Anderson has put up 22.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 33 fantasy points per game. With Davis likely to sit on Thursday, Anderson should be prime beneficiary of a great matchup with the Kings, which have allowed the second-most fantasy points per game to power forwards. No team has surrendered more three-point field goals than Sacramento this season.
C: Pau Gasol ($8,700) @ LAL: Chicago has played Cleveland and Miami in its last two games. Cleveland has allowed the fewest fantasy points per game to centers this season, while Miami checks in at ninth-fewest. Gasol had 48 fantasy points against the Cavaliers and 44.4 against the Heat. He should find his task much easier against the Lakers, and their 28th-ranked defense against centers, on Thursday.