Timberwolves-Rockets (Game 1)
No one expects this series to be competitive as far as the number of games. But the Timberwolves have a lot of high-end talent that can punish the Rockets when it comes to fantasy numbers. As for the Rockets, they have two guys who can light it up on any given night and a handful of solid role players.
James Harden ($11,100): Harden will see a good bit of Jimmy Butler, but is likely to get plenty of switches and mismatches. He was over 50 fantasy points in three of four games against Minnesota this season. This the best offense against a below average defense. Harden is going to have his hand in plenty of points and assists.
The Other Locks
Karl-Anthony Towns ($9,600): The Rockets proved to have almost no answer for Towns in the regular season. He’s playing in his first playoff game, which is worrying, but this is a matchup he’s dominated over the last two seasons. He’s going to get his points and rebounds en route to another big game.
Chris Paul ($8,100): This is why they brought him here. He averaged 41.8 fantasy points in four games against Minnesota this season. He takes a backseat to Harden in the offense, but that doesn’t stop him from putting up solid numbers in all categories.
Jimmy Butler ($7,800): Butler looked just fine coming off the knee injury in the last game of the season. That said, he wasn’t great against the Rockets. They took him away and forced other guys to beat them, which didn’t work for Minnesota. Without Luck Richard Mbah a Moute, taking away Butler is a bit tougher. Butler’s playoff experience looms large for the Timberwolves.
Jeff Teague ($6,500): Teague had 52.5 fantasy points against the Rockets on Mar. 18. Like Butler, Teague is a guy with playoff experience who can elevate his game this time of year. But his salary is a bit too high for my liking given that he’s going to be hounded by Chris Paul all game.
Taj Gibson ($5,000): Gibson was built for playoff basketball. He didn’t play well against the Rockets this season, but he’s a guy you can count on to show up in the playoffs. Unfortunately, his tough defense doesn’t always translate to fantasy numbers.
Risky But Rewardable
Clint Capela ($6,400): While Towns posts big numbers against the Rockets, Capela returns the favor. He averaged 38.1 fantasy points in four games against the Timberwolves. He’s still a risk at this salary, but you should feel confident in him getting you at least 30 fantasy points.
Eric Gordon ($5,000): Gordon was pretty disappointing coming off the bench for Houston this season. He hit value in just 38 percent of games as the sixth man. He’ll get his shots and this is a good matchup, but there isn’t a lot of trust in him to deliver.
Andrew Wiggins ($5,800): Wiggins could go either way on Sunday. He could be invisible the entire game or he could show up just enough to just get you value. Either way, he’s not worth adding.
Minnesota: Jamal Crawford ($3,800) and Derrick Rose ($3,100) will get minutes because Thibodeau. But neither are reliable options. Really no Minnesota bench player is reliable because Thidodeau will play his starters 50 minutes in a 48-minute game.
Houston: Trevor Ariza ($4,600) and P.J. Tucker ($4,500) will get shots as starters and there’s a good chance one of them delivers over value. Gerald Green ($4,400) is another guy who will get minutes and shots. Take your pick on those three and hope it’s the right call. My personal favorite is Ariza.
There’s a lot to like in this series when it comes to high salary guys. There’s less to like when it comes to value players. Taking anyone not in the starting lineup on the Minnesota side is a risky option. While identifying the right role player on Houston can make or break you.