This article is part of our Yahoo DFS Basketball series.
Yahoo has excluded the early game from their featured offerings, so we'll be focusing on four games instead of five Saturday.
When dealing with a slim slate like this one, two factors are readily apparent. Your cash game lineups can almost play themselves, but you'll need to deviate a bit from the obvious choices without hemorrhaging too much value. If you want to make a splash in a tournament, you're going to have to make more calls involving second-unit players with upside that will see low ownership.
Your first decision to make involves the evening's highest-priced player. Russell Westbrook ($55) is 16 dollars more expensive than the next available player, who happens to be his teammate, Paul George ($39). San Antonio plays with one of the slowest paces in the league, but I believe that this game will speed up the Spurs considerably more than it will slow down the Thunder. Westbrook has failed to meet projections in both contests against the Spurs (41.2 YFP per game), and Paul George (31 YFP per game) hasn't fared much better. The burning question to answer is whether or not we can find players that can produce similar totals for less, and I think the answer is yes. I'm probably going to find a way to afford Westbrook in my cash lineups – it's foolish to bet against him. In tournaments, I think you have to look the other way, unless you really feel Westbrook can explode with an insurmountable total that will outpace the field. As it is, the numbers don't bear out that conclusion.
There are several spots that can get us into the 300-point range by avoiding the Thunder, with the Heat-Wizards game providing numerous possibilities, and Memphis gives us value at several positions due to injury concerns. My only concern with Memphis is the slow pace against the Mavericks and the potential for some DNP's due to the back-to-back game. The Magic-Clippers matchup also promises to be a high-scoring affair, and we'll try to give you the best of the best on this slate without mentioning Westbrook or George, even though I can't fade them entirely.
As per usual, I'll target two players at each position along with a small list of players at each spot. We'll also target a player to fade at each position.
Bradley Beal, WAS at MIA ($33): Beal has outpaced projections in all three of his meetings against Miami, sporting a 43.3 YFP average over three contests. The Heat have given up 33 YFP per game to opposing shooting guards over the past five games, but this average includes role players like J.J. Redick and Reggie Bullock. Beal's floor can be reasonably set at 40, with potential for more if game flow cooperates.
Goran Dragic, MIA vs. WAS ($26): Dragic has had comparable success to Beal, averaging 34 YFP in three games against the Wizards, a total he replicated last week. Close to the Yahoo median price, Dragic is a good target for cash lineups due to a reliable floor and the ability to put up a decent total even if his shot fails him. In a tournament, I might look for a cheaper, riskier pick with more upside.
GUARD(S) TO AVOID:
Ben McLemore ($13) and Kobi Simmons ($10), MEM at DAL: Many will gravitate towards these two as value selections due to the numerous injuries in the Grizzlies' backcourt, but the issue of a back-to-back along with the injection of rookie Xavier Rathan-Mayes into the mix makes this a risky play on Saturday. While most of McLemore's output has looked promising, I don't see a pressing need to play either player unless you need to accommodate Westbrook. If you choose to go that way, then I would consider McLemore the better option, but there may be some DNP's that could make things a bit more interesting for the remaining players.
Markieff Morris, WAS at MIA ($19): Morris should turn out to be a low-owned target on Saturday due to the more favorable options on the team, but the Heat have been particularly weak against power forwards, yielding an average of 33 YFP per game over the past five games. One of those players was Morris, who put up 36.1 against the Heat last week.
Jonathon Simmons, ORL at LAC ($13): While the numbers indicate that Mario Hezonja should see the biggest production increase with Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier still sidelined, Simmons has put up an average of 29.5 YFP in the past two games while seeing no less than 34 minutes in both games. Simmons is an excellent value play that should reap dividends while others target Hezonja instead.
Other forwards to consider: Tobias Harris, LAC vs. ORL ($32)
FORWARD TO AVOID
Otto Porter Jr., WAS at MIA ($29): I see a lot of people flocking to Porter with a lack of viable forwards on the docket, but when you consider Porter's underwhelming history against the Heat with a $29 price, you are probably paying a bit too much when you could spend a bit less elsewhere. He hasn't really blown away projections in over two weeks, and I don't expect that trend to be broken on Saturday.
LaMarcus Aldridge, SA at OKC ($35): There are a lot of good plays at center on this slim slate, but it would be wise to make room for Aldridge, who remains the best chance for superior production for the Spurs, especially with Pau Gasol questionable with a shoulder injury. The Thunder should help speed up the number of Spurs possessions and give Aldridge several opportunities to pad his stat line with rebounds in addition to a decent scoring total.
Nikola Vucevic, ORL at LAC ($32): Orlando's big man did a number on the Clippers with 48 YFP in their last meeting and while the addition of Tobias Harris will result in a new challenge for Vucevic, I think this high-paced contest will result in a lot of production on both sides. Vucevic will see a slight bump in output as he tries to shoulder the load inside with Aaron Gordon still on the bench.
CENTER TO AVOID
Marcin Gortat, WAS at MIA ($12): Gortat hasn't seen more than 30 YFP in three weeks, and he faces an uphill battle against Hassan Whiteside and a Heat interior that actually isn't all that bad defensively. While he comes at a tempting price, those who take this risk will likely be disappointed with the result.