This article is part of our DFS College Basketball series.
Welcome back to another addition the DFS preview. I'm back on my usual Thursday night slate, which showcases less normal. We have just three games for DraftKings and four games for FanDuel, so we don't have many options to choose from. I've found in these lighter slates, it's imperative to find the right value options when rounding out your lineup. As always, we have plenty of useful tools to help you compile your rosters.
I'll break down some of the top players, bargains and games to target and avoid tonight, while doing a little deeper dive into the depth options with the light slate. As the season wears on, we'll have more statistics and get a better picture of what to expect on a nightly basis. Early this season, we look to be heading for a season of parity (I'm looking at you Kentucky), which means some likely blowouts could be closer than the experts think. Let's dive into the action.
Both FanDuel and DraftKings:
Georgetown (-1) @ Penn State O/U: 149
Florida (-18.5) vs Towson O/U: 130
Michigan State () @ Seton Hall* TBD
Mississippi St. (-15.5) @ Louisiana-Monroe O/U: 132.5
*Spread not available with Myles Powell injury. KenPom calls for a 74-70 win for Michigan State
***Odds provided via FanDuel Sportsbook and are subject to change
It appears quite difficult with so many games with low totals, and it's quite rare to see a slate sans a total over 150. Some of that could be the slight decline in shooting and scoring to start the season, but that gives us a great challenge to provide ourselves with some variation and find hidden gems. On paper, the Penn State and Georgetown game looks to be our best bet for fantasy production, considering each team places at a sub-80 pace per KenPom. Other than that, a few likely SEC blowouts provide us with a challenge. I'll outline the top players, value options and games to target and avoid for Thursday's slate.
Cassius Winston; Michigan State, G ($8,300 FD, $8,800 DK)
Winston played through a horrible tragedy of losing his brother late last week, playing 26 minutes in the rout of Binghamton. He's the highest-priced player on the slate with good reason, considering he's seen 31 percent usage and taken 29 percent of shots when he's on the floor this season. I have no problem playing Winston on Thursday with a close game expected. Another thing going for the senior is that Pirate stalwart Myles Powell ($8,000 FD, $5,300 DK) is unlikely to play in the game due to an ankle injury, so he could face less push back than was originally expected with Powell in the lineup. With Michigan State banged up with injuries to start the season, Tom Izzo could lean upon Winston heavily to the tune of 32 minutes-plus Thursday. I would attest that Winston is the safest bet on the slate, albeit expensive, averaging 33 fantasy points a game thus far this season.
Kerry Blackshear Jr.; Florida, F ($8,100 FD, $8,900 DK)
Blackshear has been off to a hot start after transferring from Virginia Tech. He's made a seamless transition, averaging 15 points, 11.5 rebounds and two assists thus far. What's interesting is that Blackshear doesn't have the ball-dominating stats that you would expect, accumulating a 21 percent usage to go along with just 16 percent of shots taken when he's on the floor. His price tag is quite high for lower usage, and it can't be understated that Florida ranks 344th in tempo this season per KenPom. I'd prefer other options than Blackshear on the slate tonight, as he'll likely have high ownership in all formats.
Omer Yurtseven, Georgetown, F ($7,000 FD, $9,000 DK)
After sitting out last season and transferring from NC State, Yurtseven has had a dominant start to his Hoyas career. The senior has averaged 18.5 points and 13.5 rebounds early this season, dominating against lesser competition. Fantasy points all count the same, and Yurtseven's usage has reached 31 percent while taking 25 percent of his shots when he's been on the floor. At $9,000, he's a bit of a stretch on DraftKings, but at $7,000 for FanDuel, he's a must-play for me in all formats. Facing a tougher opponent for the first time this season, look for a double-double and north of 30 minutes for the senior from Turkey on Thursday.
Tyson Carter, Mississippi State, G ($7,700 FD only)
Surprisingly the fourth senior to be highlighted thus far has been lights out for the Bulldogs this year. Carter has played all but five minutes in the first two games this season, and has averaged 25.5 points, 4.5 assists and four rebounds. If that's not enough to persuade you to play Carter, he's taken 31 percent of his team's shots while on the floor, and has racked up a 31 percent usage rate. The Bulldogs have played lesser competition and Carter has still played at least 35 minutes each game, so there's no reason to think coach Ben Howland won't deploy the same strategy in a likely blowout Thursday. For FanDuel, I'll be stacking Carter and Yurtseven in all lineups, while sticking with depth options I'll highlight later.
Myles Powell; Seton Hall, G ($8,000 FD, $5,300 DK)
As I mentioned before, Powell is unlikely to play in Thursday's game due to an ankle injury, so I can't stress enough how important it is to check our injury reports prior to submitting your lineups. Even if he plays, it's hard to see the star having a solid game against one of the top teams in the country at less than 100 percent. His likely absence certainly opens the door for other guys to contribute, many of which I'll highlight later.
Jamari Wheeler, Penn State, G ($5,400 FD, $5,300 DK)
It's been a slower start than expected for Wheeler, but considering the lack of talent Penn State has played to this point, it's not a cause for concern. The sophomore has played at least 20 minutes each game this season, and has averaged five points, three assists and three boards. Even though his usage is just 15 percent this year, I would attest most of that too the lack of competition. In a game expected to be closer Thursday, Wheeler will get plenty of minutes and is a threat in all facets of the game, adding to his fantasy appeal and a reasonable price.
Noah Locke, Florida, G ($3,900 FD, $4,800 DK)
Locke is looking dirt cheap, especially on FanDuel, considering his game logs to this point. The sophomore has taken on a starting role to start the season, and has seen at least 27 minutes in each game. In the opening game against North Florida – a similar situation for what's expected Thursday – Locke put up 14 points and two rebounds. His usage has been great too, creeping up to 20 percent to go along with taking 27 percent of his team's shots when he's on the floor. Pair Locke with Yurtseven and Carter, especially on FanDuel, and that's a solid start to a lineup.
Thomas Kithier, Michigan State, F ($4,200 FD, $4,500 DK)
I love the depth of the slate for Thursday, and we grab another bargain in Kithier. The sophomore has averaged 19 minutes each game to start the season, and owns a 13 percent usage rate. What's interesting is that Kithier is featured in Michigan State's most popular lineup this season, being used 25 percent of the time. I expect coach Tom Izzo to lean on that lineup heavily, which means opportunities for both points and rebounds inside. For the bargain price tag, I love the thought of instilling Kithier into lineups, with the potential to give you points at three-to-four times his price.
Iverson Molinar, Mississippi State, G ($5,400 FD only)
The freshman has made a statement through the first two games of the year, assuming the role as the team's starting point guard. He's averaged 8.5 points, 3.5 assists and 1.5 rebounds in 23.5 minutes per game this season. Molinar's usage rates confirm his bargain status, as he's been used in 25 percent of possessions while taking 22 percent of his shots when on the floor. The past two games for the Bulldogs have been a bit lopsided, and with Thursday expected to follow a similar narrative, Molinar should still be expected to see plenty of minutes and opportunities.
(I've listed a bunch more in other games highlighted below)
Games to Target
Georgetown (-1) vs. Penn State, o/u 149, 6:30 p.m. EST
A close game expected, as well as the highest over/under on the slate, it's pretty obvious that this is the top game to target. Georgetown plays at the 30th fastest pace this season per KenPom, with Penn State checking in at 97th in tempo. I've already listed a few players to target from this game, and we'll continue with that pattern. For Patrick Ewing's Hoyas, I think guard Mac McClung ($5,600 FD, $5,500 DK) has the potential to break out Thursday. He's already logged 24 percent usage rates and 29 percent of his team's shots, along with averaging 11.5 points in the early going. For Penn State, aside from their top player Lamar Stevens ($7,400 FD, $6,600 DK), I also like Izaiah Brockington ($4,400 FD, $4,900 DK) coming off the bench for the Nittany Lions. He's played at least 18 minutes each game this year, and has scored double-figures in both contests. His 24 percent usage rate while he's on the floor is more evidence to add Brockington to your lineup from the bargain bin.
Michigan State @ Seton Hall, 8:30 p.m. EST
Our second-highest total on the slate Thursday is another Big East vs Big Ten showdown. This has the potential to be a tight-nit contest, with KenPom calling for a 74-70 victory for the Spartans. Michigan State has really spread out their minutes through the first two games, but I really like freshman Rocket Watts ($4,600 FD, $5,200 DK) as a cheap option in the early going. He's played at least 22 minutes in each game this season, and has hoisted 18 percent of shots while he's been on the floor. With Myles Powell's (ankle) likely absence coming, the two guys most likely to pick up the slack are Quincy McKnight ($6,700 FD, $7,200 DK) and Sandro Mamukelashvili ($7,200 FD, $7,500 DK). When Powell went down Saturday, both players combined for 44 percent of their team's points. Each player has been used in at least 19 percent of possessions, combining to take 45 percent of their team's shots in the early going.
Game to Avoid
Florida (-18.5) vs. Towson, o/u 130, 7 p.m. EST
Aside from Locke of which I already mentioned, this game as an absolute avoid for me. Not only does this game have the lowest total on the slate, the Gators play at the 344th fastest tempo, with Towson checking in at 298th fastest. Last time out, Florida scored held Florida State to 63 points, and I can't anticipate Towson scoring more than that Thursday. The only players I'd even think about playing in my lineups from Towson would be Brian Fobbs ($7,100 FD, $5,900 DK) and Allen Betrand ($6,500 FD, $5,400 DK). Fobbs is the prefered option for me, as he's racked up a 29 percent usage rate while taking 31 percent of his team's shots this year. I don't have any preference of players at their current prices from the Gators besides the aforementioned Locke.
Mississippi St. (-15.5) @ Louisiana-Monroe, o/u 132.5, 7:00 p.m. EST
I already mentioned how much I love Tyson Carter and Iverson Molinar, but with the Bulldogs checking in at 291 in tempo per KenPom, it's tough to judge any other players who will perform Thursday. The only other player worth a look is Reggie Perry ($7,500). He's grabbed 27 percent usage this season, but at his price and with the likely blowout to ensue, I like Carter and Molinar more Thursday. For Louisiana-Monroe, they check in at 311th on KenPom's tempo rankings this season, and don't look all too appealing. Their top options, and most expensive, do have some quite impressive numbers however. JD Williams ($6,900) has averaged an unheard of 37 minutes this season, playing at least 40 in two of three contests. Michael Ertel ($7,500) has matched those numbers through three games, and the two players combine to take 60 percent of their team's shots when they're on the floor (which is pretty much the entire game in this case). I'd prefer the cheaper option in Williams but deploy both at your own risk in the likelihood of a blow out.