It's not often that we find a player in his 15th NBA season emerging from the waiver wire in fantasy hoops, but Al Horford of the Boston Celtics is proving to be an exception. On Wednesday, the crafty veteran produced his third straight double-double of the season in a loss to the Washington Wizards, moving him to 48th overall on the ESPN Player Rater.
The Celtics are employing a deliberate maintenance plan with Horford and the combination of his return to Boston and this rest program is working in his favor. Horford has been stellar on defense with 4.3 combined blocks and steals per game to go along with solid scoring and rebounding metrics. He had stretches of relevance last season with Oklahoma City, but his role and production appear more sustainable and bankable with Boston.
You'll need to work around Horford's schedule as the team strategically rests the five-time All-Star every few games, but busy defensive metrics and solid passing production could be the reward. Horford, after all, is still a free agent in right around 50% of ESPN leagues.
The non-fantasy story of last night's slate was undoubtedly the Lakers blowing a 26-point lead against the Thunder. The Lakers entered the game 230-0 over the last 25 seasons when leading by at least 25 points, including the playoffs. The fantasy story of the night might have been another impressive line from teenage rookie Josh Giddey. Giddey posted his first NBA double-double and now has at least eight assists in three of his five outings this season. Still widely available in most leagues, Giddey is already making a name for himself in Oklahoma City.
Sticking with the Thunder, forward Darius Bazley was also brilliant in the comeback victory with 20 points and a rich line that included four steals and four 3-pointers. Bazley could feast on rebounding chances this season on a team that is very thin at center, while 3-and-D performances like last night's outing suggest there is a fun fantasy ceiling in place.
The Kings downed the Suns thanks to a successful shot just before the buzzer from a surging Harrison Barnes. The UNC product made a sizable leap in scoring efficiency last season, posting his first campaign with a true-shooting rate above .600. Now up to 26.8 PPG for the Kings through four games this season, Barnes is taking -- and making -- more 3-pointers and free throws than ever before. It's not often that you see such a sizable shift in shot distribution and sheer scoring success a full decade into a career, but Barnes' emergence as a solid statistical force appears to be entirely real.
This Miles Bridges thing keeps happening. You know, the part where he's suddenly an All-Star caliber forward for Charlotte? Bridges posted a team-high 31 points in a win over the Magic, marking the fourth time this season he's paced the Hornets in scoring. Now up to 26.2 PPG, Bridges is suddenly a must-have fantasy force.
Even with Bradley Beal struggling from the field, the Wizards pulled off a win over the Celtics in Boston. Montrezl Harrell helped pick up the slack with a season-high 25 points and 11 boards in his 25th 25-point performance off the bench over the last five seasons, trailing only fellow Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams. Until the team gets a healthy Thomas Bryant back, Harrell should enjoy tons of opportunities to produce with Washington.
Injuries of note
Analytics advantage for Thursday
Thursdays are often lighter slates, but today offers a surprisingly robust six-game schedule. Sifting through the projected point totals for Thursday, the matchup between the Memphis Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors stands out. The total for this game is nine points higher than the next closest contest of the night. Finding ways to stack with either of these rosters in DFS could be a shrewd path to follow as Memphis paces the league in offensive rating and Golden State sits sixth.
There are also some intriguing streaming options to consider in redraft formats, as the Grizzlies' Desmond Bane is efficiently averaging 19.3 PPG to go with helpful assist and defensive production. For Golden State, while scoring guard Jordan Poole has cooled a bit, he may still be of interest.
DeMar DeRozan, Chicago Bulls: The presence of several other high-usage offensive stars on the Chicago roster serves to keep DeRozan's price point modest in DFS play tonight against the Knicks. Even though New York boasts a solid defense, DeRozan's awesome consistency -- he's scored between 39-40.5 DraftKings points in each of his last three games -- proves bankable.
Andre Drummond, Philadelphia 76ers: A "stroll down Narrative Street" is always fun. Drummond faces his longtime former team tonight and could play a large role as the 76ers are heavy home favorites, suggesting he could play additional minutes if a blowout does unfold. Even in a competitive outcome, the team's need to get Joel Embiid some rest could support a solid double-double showing from Drummond.