This article is part of our DFS College Basketball series.
It's that time of the week for another addition of the Thursday preview. As has been the norm since January, we are going steady with the bulk of the slate comprised of late-night of Pac-12 action. The list of shared games across both platforms includes Iowa/Indiana, Memphis/Cincinnati, Wichita State/UCF, Colorado/Oregon, Washington/USC, Utah/Oregon State. With DraftKings adding Arizona/California, Arizona State/Stanford and Washington State/UCLA.
I'll have some injury-specific notes later in the preview, and at this time in the season, we have a great idea of rotations and usage rates that are advantageous when comprising rosters. As always, we have plenty of useful tools to help you compile your rosters, especially our advanced daily lineups and lineup optimizer. Let's dive into the slate.
Luka Garza, Iowa, F ($8,700 FD, $9,400 DK)
No one in the country is playing better from an offensive standpoint than Garza is right now. The junior has racked up at least 20 points in each of his past nine contests and is shooting 52.9 percent from the field in that span. Garza has led his team by a wide margin this season in usage at 30.5 percent along with taking a whopping 34.5 percent of shots while on the floor. Even though his opponent only plays at the 213th-fastest tempo per KenPom, Indiana doesn't have a frontcourt player that can match the size and versatility of Garza down low. Even at his high price tag, I'm bullish on Garza to produce at least 45 DK points Thursday.
Tres Tinkle, Oregon State, F ($8,100 FD, $8,800 DK)
Tinkle has produced in all facets of the game as of late, averaging 33.5 DK points per contest in his past five clashes. The senior has been the go-to-guy for the Beavers, racking up a 28.2 percent usage rate along with seeing action in 86 percent of his team's minutes this season. To me, the matchup looks worrisome with Utah playing at one of the bottom-100 paces this season. Tinkle certainly has a safe floor of 30 fantasy points, however, he lacks the elite ceiling to justify playing him at his pricey salary.
Payton Pritchard, Oregon, G ($8,500 FD, $8,500 DK)
It feels that every time Oregon is on the slate, Pritchard comes in as the highest-priced guard. It's been with good reason, especially considering the All-American candidate is averaging 37.4 DK points per game through 11 conference clashes. He's been the main contributor for the Ducks this season, who have lacked frontcourt production. Pritchard has seen action in 87 percent of minutes ,along with accumulating a team-leading 28.1 percent usage rate. The matchup is tough, however, as he'll be facing off against the dynamic McKinley Wright along with the Buffaloes playing at a less-than-average pace. I'll be playing Pritchard in a few lineups Thursday, as I'm counting on him rising to the occasion in a huge test at home against league-leading Colorado.
Isaiah Stewart, Washington, F ($7,400 FD, $8,300 DK)
It's a bit perplexing to see Stewart at his high price tag considering his play of late, as he's averaged just 28.7 DK points across his last five games. It's not for lack of opportunity, as coach Mike Hopkins has played Stewart in 79 percent of minutes this season to go along with a team-leading 25.1 percent usage rate. The freshman gets a pace-boosted matchup against a USC team that plays in the top third of pace in the nation, and star freshman Onyeka Okongwu was placed in concussion protocol late Wednesday. I'm looking to use Stewart in tournament formats as he could be a sneaky-good fantasy contributor, especially if USC's Okongwu is ruled out Thursday.
CJ Elleby, Washington State, F ($8,600 DK)
Elleby is quietly having one of the best seasons in the conference, coming off a 34-point, 10-rebound game Saturday against Washington. Inconsistency is a factor for the sophomore, however, as he's had peaks of 60 DK points and valleys of just 11 DK points throughout conference play. Even though Elleby has seen a whopping 28.3 percent usage this campaign, he's been surpassed by guard Isaac Bonton in that regard at 28.9 percent. With the Cougars facing a UCLA team that plays at the 314th-fastest pace this season, I'm looking elsewhere at the forward position on DraftKings.
Justin Smith, Indiana, F ($4,600 FD, $5,300 DK)
The junior has been a solid fantasy option to this point in the season, averaging 21.7 DK points per game. Smith's stats look compelling in relation to his salary Thursday, as he's played in a team-leading 76 percent of minutes to go along with a 19.2 percent usage rate. Playing in a pace-boosted matchup against an Iowa team that plays at the 82nd-fastest pace this year, Smith is a great depth option to pair with the higher-priced forwards on the slate.
Daejon Davis, Stanford, G ($5,500 DK)
The sophomore looks to be a steal on DraftKings on Thursday. With Bryce Wills (undisclosed) and Oscar da Silva (head) both battling injuries, Davis could be in line for a huge uptick in usage. He's seen action in a team-leading 80 percent of minutes and has racked up a 19.3 percent usage rate this campaign with both aforementioned players healthy. Furthermore, he's been averaging 21.6 DK points per contest already and that's looking like a safe floor against an Arizona State team that plays at the 14th-fastest pace in the country. In my opinion, Davis is boarding must-start territory in the DraftKings-exclusive game.
Lester Quinones, Memphis, F ($5,100 FD, $5,000 DK)
Ceasar Dejesus, UCF, G ($4,900 FD, $5,200 DK)
Marcus Tsohonis, Washington, G ($4,400 FD, $5,200 DK)
Isaiah Mobley, USC, F ($4,200 FD, $4,400 DK)
Cody Riley, UCLA, F ($4,600 DK)
Precious Achiuwa (undisclosed), Memphis: Achiuwa missed practice Monday but is still likely to play in Thursday's game. If he's forced to sit, Lance Thomas and Isaiah Maurice would be in line for an uptick in minutes.
Jaevin Cumberland (undisclosed), Cincinnati: Cumberland is banged up and is questionable for Thursday's contest. His absence would open the door for a boost in minutes for Mika Adams-Woods and Chris McNeal.
Oscar da Silva (head) and Bryce Wills (undisclosed), Stanford: Da Silva has no timetable for a return after suffering a scary head injury in Saturday's loss to Colorado, and Wills missed the game. Their absences would grant more minutes for Daejon Davis, Lukas Kisunas and Spencer Jones.
Onyeka Okongwu, (concussion), USC: Okongwu was placed in concussion protocol late Wednesday. If he's forced to miss Thursday's contest, an uptick in usage and minutes would all be in line for Isaiah Mobley, Daniel Utomi and Nick Rakocevic.
Game To Target
Iowa @ Indiana (-1.5), 7 pm CT, o/u 149
The war of attrition in the Big Ten rolls on with an Indiana team that is in dire need of a win. This game has the highest total of the slate, along with Iowa playing at the 82nd-fastest pace. For the Hawkeyes, outside of Garza, Joe Wieskamp ($6,800 FD, $7,600 DK) has been outstanding this campaign. He's averaging 29.7 DK points per contest, and has racked up a 21 percent usage rate. A depth option I liked a few weeks ago and like again Thursday at his current price is Joe Toussaint ($4,400 FD, $4,900 DK). Even though he's played in just 45 percent of minutes, he's started the past 13 games and has racked up a 25.6 percent usage rate.
For the Hoosiers, they've riding a four-game losing streak in Big Ten play so they'll be desperate for a win. They get a nice pace-boosted matchup against Iowa. Their top option in Trayce Jackson-Davis ($7,100 FD, $7,400 DK). He's averaging 30.6 DK points per game this season, and he's racked up a 21.6 percent usage rate while playing in 71.1 percent of minutes. I already mentioned Justin Smith as a depth option, but I also like Aljami Durham ($4,000 FD, $4,800 DK). The junior has racked up a 19.7 percent usage rate while starting all 23 games for the Hoosiers.
Game to Avoid
Wichita State (-2.5) @ UCF, 6 pm CT, o/u 133
The lowest implied total on the slate to go along with two stingy defenses is an easy game to avoid for me. UCF sits 85th in defensive efficiency this season with the Shockers sitting at 15th in the country, per KenPom. UCF plays at the 218th-fastest tempo this year, so I'm looking for them to control the pace at home. Wichita State might be the most difficult team to figure out on the slate, as they have five players to accumulate a 20 percent usage rate and seven players seeing at least 45 percent of minutes. I can't advise with any confidence to play any of their players Thursday as it's frustrating trying to figure out who will take the reins on a given night.
If you're so inclined to play the early action, I really like Collin Smith ($5,200 FD, $6,900 DK) of the Knights. He's coming off a one-point performance against Tulsa, but he's leading the team with a 28.9 percent usage rate while on the court for 65.2 percent of minutes this season. I think he's a great buy-low candidate off his recent performance. Their depth option that's intriguing is Ceasar Dejesus ($4,900 FD, $5,200 DK). He's coming off an 18-point game against Tulsa and has started the past 14 games. He looks to be a nice bargain option at his current price with a 20.9 percent usage rate this campaign.
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