This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
We have a seven-game main slate on tap Saturday, one that has an extensive list of walking wounded and confirmed absences. The news on many of these players should be rolling out consistently throughout the day, so check back with Rotowire for the latest on these scenarios. Even with all the possible absences, we do have what shapes up as an intriguing slate that has plenty of potential high-scoring games and a host of big names that are healthy and taking the floor.
As usual, we'll break down the positional outlook below, along with the games with the highest projected totals, possible chalk plays and some likely under-owned bargains that could help you round out your lineups with a couple of superstars.
Before delving into the slate, a reminder that FanDuel has reverted to its previous format of NOT dropping the lowest scoring in lineups after a one-year experiment with that feature. Therefore, it will be important to be prudent with each selection, as each player's total will count toward your final score.
Without further ado, let's take a more comprehensive look at Saturday's slate!
Here's a closer look at the games with the three most elevated projected totals on Saturday's slate:
Houston Rockets at Minnesota Timberwolves (Projected total: 234.0 points)
Naturally, a game involving two teams ranked in top five in pace and top 10 in both points scored and points allowed has the highest projected total of the night. There's very few scenarios where a healthy amount of points aren't scored here, although one factor to be aware of is that both squads are not only on the second night of back-to-back sets, but playing their third game in four nights overall.
New Orleans Pelicans at Miami Heat (Projected total: 231.0 points)
Rightfully a close second is this contest, one in which the Heat could particularly thrive. Not only do the Pelicans allow the most points per game in the NBA (122.8), but they also play at the second-fastest pace (111.6 possessions per game). Miami is operating at a pretty brisk clip in its own right (107.0 possessions per contest), and the injuries on both squads open up some intriguing value plays (discussed further in this article).
Atlanta Hawks at Los Angeles Clippers (Projected total: 225.5 points)
Kawhi Leonard's status is up in the air as of Saturday morning due to knee soreness, but there's still plenty of firepower available to both squads. That's especially true now that Paul George has made his debut for the Clippers and looked to be in midseason form while doing so. Even if George is on fairly limited minutes again, he's already proven capable of taking on plenty of responsibility of Leonard is out. Meanwhile, the Hawks will trot out a healthy squad that can both score and give up plenty of points.
Although we have a robust injury report Saturday, the fact there's seven games on the main slate does help to cushion some of those confirmed/potential absences, especially with some talented players set to fill in.
At point guard, we have a strong and price-diverse selection even if Malcolm Brogdon (back) joins Kyle Lowry (thumb) on the injured list. Luka Doncic, Trae Young, and Damian Lillard slot in up top, and there's viable value into the sub-$5K range. Shooting guard is reasonably stocked, even if Andrew Wiggins (personal) misses another game and RJ Barrett is forced to sit with his quadriceps injury. There's viable value as far down as Bryn Forbes at $4,100, and Rodney McGruder ($3,700) would also be an option if Kawhi Leonard (knee) sits.
At the forward spots, we're in good shape even if Leonard can't go, although small forward is thinner overall. There's still plenty of elite options like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Pascal Siakam, Paul George and Domantas Sabonis, among others, as well as an assortment of mid-tier/value plays at both spots. And at center, we do have two big names in Clint Capela and Myles Turner down. However, we arguably have reasonable options all the way down to the $4.1K level with Alex Len to go with, even as we don't fully trust mid-tier options like Marc Gasol ($6,000) and Dwight Powell ($5,600).
Notable Injury Situations to Monitor
Kawhi Leonard, LAC
Leonard will apparently be a game-time call due to knee soreness. Since this isn't a back-to-back set, there doesn't appear to be any load management at play here. Maurice Harkless and Rodney McGruder would fill in at small forward again if Leonard misses, while Paul George's usage would presumably be through the roof.
Russell Westbrook, HOU
Westbrook will sit out Saturday's game for rest. Austin Rivers could see an expanded on-ball role as a result.
Andrew Wiggins, MIN
Malcolm Brogdon, IND
Brogdon was forced from the Pacers' game against the Rockets on Friday after just nine minutes due to back spasms. T.J. McConnell could be in line for a start if Brogdon misses.
Jeremy Lamb, IND
Lamb remains out Saturday with his ankle injury, setting up Aaron Holiday for another start.
Myles Turner, IND
Dwayne Bacon, CHA
Bacon is considered probable for Saturday's game with a knee injury.
Elfrid Payton, NYK
Payton is considered questionable for Saturday's game with the hamstring injury that's already cost him eight games. Frank Ntilikina (abdomen/groin) or Dennis Smith, Jr. would hold down the fort at point guard if Payton misses again.
RJ Barrett, NYK
Barrett is dealing with a bruised right quadriceps but is considered probable for Saturday's game.
Frank Ntilikina, NYK
Ntilikina is considered probable for Saturday's game with abdominal/groin soreness. He would be in line for a start at point guard if Elfrid Payton (hamstring) misses.
Danuel House, HOU
House is considered a game-time call for Saturday's game due to the back injury that already sidelined him the past two games. Ben McLemore would presumably continue filling in for House should the latter miss a third straight contest.
Clint Capela, HOU
Capela will not play Saturday due to the concussion that also sidelined him for Friday's game. Tyson Chandler should draw another start at center.
Landry Shamet, LAC
Shamet will miss his third straight game Saturday due to his ankle injury, which should afford Lou Williams another start at shooting guard.
Lonzo Ball, NOP
Ball is considered questionable for Saturday's game against the Heat due to his hip injury. Jrue Holiday would continue slotting into Ball's point guard spot should Ball miss again, while Frank Jackson would also be set for extra run off the bench.
Brandon Ingram, NOP
Ingram is considered probable for Saturday's game against the Heat with the knee injury that cost him the last two games.
Josh Hart, NOP
Hart will not play Saturday versus the Heat due to his knee and ankle injury. His absence should continue to lead to enhanced opportunities for the likes of E'Twaun Moore on the second unit.
Jahlil Okafor, NOP
J.J. Redick, NOP
Justise Winslow, MIA
Winslow will not play in Saturday's game due to the concussion that's already cost him four games. With Goran Dragic also questionable with an illness, Kendrick Nunn and Tyler Herro could be in for even more run than usual.
Goran Dragic, MIA
Jimmy Butler, MIA
Butler is also considered questionable for Saturday's game due to an illness. If he were to miss, Duncan Robinson could be in for a start at small forward with Derrick Jones, Jr. already ruled out with a hip injury.
Derrick Jones Jr., MIA
Carmelo Anthony, POR
The recently-signed Anthony will not make his team debut Saturday due to coach's decision.
Pau Gasol, POR
Gasol is considered questionable to make his season debut Saturday due to the foot injury that's prevented him from play thus far this season.
Patrick Beverley, LAC
Beverley is considered questionable for Saturday's game due to a calf injury. Derrick Walton Jr. could be in for a start at point guard if Beverley is out.
Serge Ibaka, TOR
OG Anunoby, TOR
Anunoby was able to practice Friday with his eye injury and is expected to play in Saturday's game.
Evan Turner, ATL
Turner is questionable for Saturday's game due to the Achilles injury that's already cost him eight games.
Vince Carter, ATL
Carter will remain out for Saturday's game due to personal reasons.
Notable Long-Term Injuries/Absences: Zion Williamson, NOP; Kyle Lowry, TOR; Victor Oladipo, IND; Edmond Sumner, IND; John Collins, ATL; Khris Middleton, MIL; Nicolas Batum, CHA; Gerald Green, HOU; Eric Gordon, HOU; Dion Waiters, MIA ; Jusuf Nurkic, POR; Zach Collins, POR; Kevin Huerter, ATL
In terms of five-figure players Saturday, we're looking at James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Karl-Anthony Towns, Luka Doncic, Kawhi Leonard, Trae Young, Pascal Siakam and Damian Lillard. That's a big list for a seven-game slate, but all eight players deserve the lofty figures. However, Leonard's status will naturally be one to monitor, and with the uncertainty regarding both his health and how usage between he and Paul George will be worked out, he could be a prudent fade at $10,700 if he does play. Speaking of George, he's arguably underpriced at $9,100 based on how healthy his shoulders appeared to be in his debut and the fact Leonard could miss or be limited in Saturday's contest.
In terms of positional scarcity as it relates to prioritizing the top-shelf options, Antetokounmpo and Siakam are especially worthy of consideration in that regard relative to a drop-off at small forward after them. Below Siakam, you also have the very appealing George and then injury question marks (Brandon Ingram) and some solid but not fully reliable mid-tier choices. The one exception to the latter is Marcus Morris ($6,400), who's priced just about right and has been a 30-fantasy-point player on multiple occasions. Finally, over at center, Towns is your one truly elite option and should be prioritized if you want to pay up at the position, but be mindful he's on the second night of a back-to-back and third game in four nights.
The elite players are in plentiful enough supply Saturday that we should see ownership fairly spread among those players. If Leonard is confirmed out, Paul George should see especially robust ownership, however, while James Harden and Karl-Anthony Towns could also their already-elevated popularity move up a tick due to their participation in the game with the highest projected scoring total of the night.
On the mid-tier/value side, the long list of injuries should drive plenty of ownership. I've put together my usual list of such plays underneath the next section. Many of the players listed there are positioned for extra minutes and opportunity due to absences elsewhere on their squads, with many of them still sporting a price that they've outpaced recently and could well do so again Saturday.
Key and Likely Underowned Values
Chris Boucher, TOR at DAL ($5,000):
Boucher wouldn't have qualified as a likely low-owned value play a couple of games ago, but teammate Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is the darling of the moment for the time being after two strong games. Boucher's price has come down over $1K since the Raptors last game, one in which he posted just 11.9 FanDuel points and played a modest 14 minutes. That's likely going to scare a fair amount of people off him, but with totals of 22.1 to 33.9 FanDuel points over the three games prior to that contest and Serge Ibaka (ankle) still out of action, Boucher is still a larger-field GPP option. It's also worth noting the Mavs rank in the bottom half of the NBA in offensive efficiency rating allowed to centers (30.7) and Boucher is also capable of supplementing his scoring and rebounding with solid numbers in defensive categories (multiple steals and blocks in two of last three games).
Jake Layman, MIN vs. HOU ($4,400):
Layman never seems to draw an inordinate amount of clicks despite some improved play early this season. The young veteran is averaging a career-high 10.0 points per game with the help of career-best 33.3 percent shooting from distance, and his 7.3 FanDuel points in his last contest is going to have him go even more under the radar than usual. However, Layman had scored 19.0 to 27.1 FanDuel points in his four previous games and has been seeing minutes in the high 20s at minimum with regularity. Layman is also in that desirable spot of being a part of the game with the highest projected total of the night and will face a Rockets squad allowing the highest offensive efficiency rating to opposing benches (51.3) in the league.
Aaron Holiday, IND vs. MIL ($4,000):
Holiday continues to draw starts at shooting guard with the trio of Victor Oladipo, Edmond Sumner and Jeremy Lamb all sidelined. The 2018 first-round pick has been coming on strong, scoring over 20 FanDuel points in four of his last five games while logging between 27 and 31 minutes in each contest. Holiday does have an interesting shooting profile – he's draining a wholly inefficient 38.7 percent of his attempts overall, but an impressive 41.7 percent of his tries from distance – and he's putting in serviceable work in rebounds and assists as well. The Bucks have been challenged on the defensive end of things all season with the departure of Malcolm Brogdon this offseason, and they come in allowing the fifth-highest offensive efficiency rating (23.6) to shooting guards, along with 38.5 percent shooting from three-point range to the position.
Other likely much higher-owned value plays to consider:
Robert Covington ($5,800); Brook Lopez ($5,700); Rudy Gay ($5,400); Kendrick Nunn ($5,400); Tyler Herro ($5,100); Kenrich Williams ($4,800); De'Andre Hunter ($4,600); Rondae Hollis-Jefferson ($4,500); Austin Rivers ($4,500); Josh Okogie ($4,300); T.J. McConnell ($4,300); Jarrett Culver ($4,200); Doug McDermott ($4,100); Alex Len ($4,100); E'Twaun Moore ($3,900); Dennis Smith ($3,900); Taj Gibson ($3,800); Duncan Robinson ($3,600)