Which players should you build around and which players should you fade in DFS as we tip off Thursday night's NBA action? Our experts have the answers.
Today's panel includes ESPN Fantasy's Kyle Soppe and Joe Kaiser, plus DFS expert Renee Miller.
Players to build around
I know this is a weird pick, but playoffs DFS is weird. You obviously have LeBron James, Paul George, and Giannis Antetokounmpo, to name just a few stars I'd like to choose from tonight, but I'm building around Stephenson for two main reasons. First, shooting guard is a nightmare. DeMar DeRozan has not been worth his salary so far in the playoffs, consistent with his reduced output versus Milwaukee on the season. I don't think that turns around on the road in what should be another slower-paced game for the Raptors. Stephenson, on the other hand, makes the perfect SG play tonight because he's playing higher than regular-season minutes (26 and 27 in the first two games), playing well (meaningful three-to-four category contributions with no turnovers) and is at home. The second reason to lock in Stephenson is his price. It has come up but is still low enough to expect a six times return on your investment tonight.
Kyle Soppe -- Paul George, Indiana Pacers
There's something to be said for urgency, and there is no denying that George will be playing with plenty of that in this spot with his season essentially on the line. You can ride that narrative and that narrative alone if you'd like, but there are numbers to support building around him. First of all, he's a high-usage player (top-25 player this season) and that number has been spiking down the stretch (40.3 minutes and 21.8 field goal attempts per game in April). The Pacers have scored at least 104 points in every one of those games, so it is difficult to see them reversing course in this critical game. George is converting within eight feet at the highest rate of his five seasons as a regular, and with this game owning a projected total 15 points higher than the other two games, I believe George continues to attack and is -- regardless of price -- the most productive fantasy player in this game.
Joe Kaiser -- Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
Two games into the playoff series against Toronto, and the Greek Freak is averaging 26 points, 11.5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and 0.5 blocks per game. Those games came on the road too, and now that the Bucks head home for Game 3, I think there's a good chance you can expect even more out of their star. During the regular season, Antetokounmpo's scoring rose from 21.7 PPG on the road to 24.1 PPG at home, his rebounding bumped up from 8.5 to 9.1 RPG, and his steals also made a noticeable leap from 1.3 to 2 SPG. In such a key game in the series, expect a monster effort out of Antetokounmpo on Thursday.
Players to fade
Hopefully you don't have to look at the cheap end of center tonight, but if you do, I like Jonas Valanciunas or Tristan Thompson over Gasol tonight. Memphis is showing why they were among the best at defending opposing centers, limiting Gasol to an average of 8 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1 block per game through the first two games of this series. His usage has been low, as this team runs through Kawhi Leonard, and to a lesser extent Tony Parker and LaMarcus Aldridge. If the Grizzlies are going to win one, I think it's tonight, and I'm not high on any Spurs on the three-game slate.
Kyle Soppe -- LaMarcus Aldridge, San Antonio Spurs
With three games on the slate, the PF position isn't exactly loaded, but I still don't want any part of Aldridge tonight. You're being asked to pay a premium for a name you know, and that's just not my style. It has been more than three weeks since the last time Aldridge had 15 points and 7 rebounds in a single game, and considering that it took him 42 minutes to attempt eight shots and grab four boards on Monday, I'm not optimistic he breaks through tonight. Nearly 62 percent of Aldridge's shots this season came within 16 feet, and given that the Grizz allowed the fewest paint points this season, I just don't see enough upside to justify rostering him, given the downside we saw in Game 2.
Lowry came through with a huge game to help the Raptors knot the series at 1-1 in Game 2, finishing with 22 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and 1 block. With that fresh in everyone's mind, there's a good chance Lowry's ownership will go through the roof tonight, but we have to remember how inconsistent and -- quite frankly -- disappointing Lowry has played in the playoffs in recent years. Is there a chance that he'll string together two big games in a row? Sure. But for the money it costs to roster Lowry, I'd rather go with a safer option or spend it on a cheaper option like Jeff Teague or Mike Conley (both playing at home tonight) and disperse the savings throughout the rest of the roster.