FanDuel NBA: Monday Value Plays

FanDuel NBA: Monday Value Plays

This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.

We have a robust nine-game slate on tap Monday night, giving us plenty of options to choose from at all price points and levels of risk. We have three games with projected totals of well over 220 points as well, and an injury report that's not so extensive as to dilute the player pool.

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.

Slate Overview

Here's a closer look at the three games with the highest elevated totals: 

Minnesota Timberwolves at Phoenix Suns (Projected total: 234.0 points) 

It's no surprise to see these two teams as the participants in the game with the highest expected total of the night. The T-wolves continue to play at one of the fastest paces in the league (109.0 possessions per game) and the Suns are also in the top 10 with 106.8 per contest. Both teams also check in with a bottom-10 ranking in points per game allowed, with Minnesota yielding 117.1 and Phoenix giving up 114.2 per contest. With both teams also at relatively full health, this is a contest that could live up to its billing and produce some of the higher individual DFS scores of the night. 

Sacramento Kings at Houston Rockets (Projected total: 227.0 points) 

The Rockets are another team that's typically a sure bet to be part of a prolific offensive game, considering they're currently playing at the fastest pace in the league (109.5 possessions per game). The Kings have been about middle of the road on defense and are playing at one of the slowest paces in the league (101.3 possessions per contest), but Russell Westbrook, James Harden and company should still have their fair share of success in this spot. 

Detroit Pistons at New Orleans Pelicans (Projected total: 226.5 points) 

The Pelicans are playing at the league's fourth-fastest pace (108.3 possessions per contest) and give up the second-most points per game (120.2). The Pistons have allowed 109.9 points per game on the road as well, which, when combined with New Orleans' significant defensive deficiencies and accelerated pace of play, could certainly lead to plenty of offense in this game.

Positional Breakdown

PG: We're in strong shape at this position, especially if Ja Morant makes his expected return from a back injury. Malcolm Brogdon is also probable to play despite a hand injury, and even with De'Aaron Fox (ankle) and Mike Conley (hamstring) sitting out, we have viable options all the way down into the high $3K range. 

SG: Outside of Fred VanVleet's uncertain status due to a knee bruise, we also have a relatively clean bill of health at shooting guard and fine options across all price points. James Harden is the only truly elite option, but an attractive mid-tier includes Jrue Holiday, Devin Booker, Zach LaVine and Donovan Mitchell, with the latter having a bit higher projection than normal while filling in for Mike Conley (hamstring) at point guard. As with point guard, there is also value down into the high $3K range. 

SF: Small forward is already in formidable shape, and it will get even stronger if Gordon Hayward (hand) is able to return. Giannis Antetokounmpo is there if you're able to pay up, and you could make a case for players all the way down to the $3.8K range if Maurice Harkless draws the start for Kawhi Leonard (rest). 

PF: Even if Leonard does sit, we still have the likes of Domantas Sabonis, Jayson Tatum and Kevin Love as a strong trio to pay up for, while Blake Griffin and Aaron Gordon are potentially underpriced options relative to their upside. If paying down, there's value down in the sub-$4K range with Royce O'Neale expected to draw another start for the Jazz. 

C: Center is well-stocked with the likes of Andre Drummond, Karl-Anthony Towns and Clint Capela up top, and only Nikola Vucevic (ankle) as a confirmed absence. Even Aron Baynes has a chance to return from his calf injury, which would strengthen an already solid mid-tier that includes Montrezl Harrell, Steven Adams and Tristan Thompson, and there's potential bargains, albeit somewhat risky ones, in the $4K range in the form of Enes Kanter and Ivica Zubac.

Notable Injury Situations to Monitor

Kawhi Leonard, LAC 

Leonard may be held out of Monday's game for rest purposes. If he were to sit, Maurice Harkless would likely be in for a start at small forward. 

Ja Morant, MEM 

Morant is slated to return from his back injury. The star rookie has missed the last four games, and his return would send Tyus Jones back to a bench role. 

Landry Shamet, LAC 

Shamet is considered a game-time decision as he recovers from an ankle injury. 

Malcolm Brogdon, IND 

Brogdon is considered probable to return from a hand injury. 

Gordon Hayward, BOS 

Hayward is labeled as questionable for Monday's game after going through practice Sunday. If he's able to return, it would be his first appearance since breaking his hand Nov. 9, and he could be on some sort of minutes restriction. 

Robert Williams, BOS 

Williams will not play in Monday's game due to a hip injury, which should afford Enes Kanter additional minutes behind Daniel Theis at center. 

Fred VanVleet, TOR 

VanVleet is likely questionable at best after leaving Sunday's contest against the 76ers with a knee bruise. Norman Powell would likely move into the starting shooting guard role should VanVleet sit. 

Tyson Chandler, HOU 

Chandler is doubtful for Monday's game with an illness, and his likely absence will afford Isaiah Hartenstein extra minutes behind Clint Capela

Derrick Favors, NOP 

Favors is considered questionable due to the personal matter that's kept him out of recent contests. Jaxson Hayes would likely draw another start at center if Favors remains away, with Jahlil Okafor backing him up.

Dario Saric, PHO 

Saric is considered probable due to lower back soreness. Cameron Johnson would likely draw a start at power forward should Saric suffer a setback. 

Mikal Bridges, PHO 

Bridges is considered probable for Monday's game with a finger sprain. 

Aron Baynes, PHO 

Baynes has a good chance to play after missing the last four games with a calf injury. Any type of appearance by Baynes would represent a hit to the minutes of Frank Kaminsky

Terrance Ferguson, OKC 

Ferguson is expected to miss Monday's game with a hip injury. Abdel Nader will likely draw a third straight start at small forward in his stead. 

Mike Conley, UTA 

Conley will miss Monday's game with the hamstring injury that's already cost him two contests. As has been the case, Conley's absence is expected to push Donovan Mitchell to point guard, while Joe Ingles and Royce O'Neale fill in at shooting guard and small forward, respectively. 

Kyle Anderson, MEM 

Anderson is considered doubtful with a heel injury. Solomon Hill is expected to continue logging backup minutes at small forward behind Jae Crowder in Anderson's stead. 

Jacob Evans, GSW 

Evans is considered probable to play after overcoming the hip injury that's sidelined him since Oct. 30. The rookie is expected to return to a backup role at small forward, although his minutes could be limited after a long absence.

Notable Long-Term Injuries/Absences: Deandre Ayton, PHO; Nikola Vucevic, ORL; Stephen Curry, GSW; Klay Thompson, GSW; Al-Farouq Aminu, ORL; Eric Gordon, HOU; Gerald Green, HOU; Brandon Clarke, MEM; Otto Porter Jr., CHI; Chandler Hutchison, CHI; Andre Iguodala, MEM; De'Aaron Fox, SAC; Marvin Bagley, SAC; Victor Oladipo, IND; Reggie Jackson, DET; Hamidou Diallo, OKC; Andre Roberson, OKC; Jake Layman, MIN

Elite Players

With 18 teams in action Monday, we have plenty of star power, with a quintet of five-figure salaries up top in the form of James Harden ($12,200), Giannis Antetokounmpo ($12,100), Karl-Anthony Towns ($11,200), Andre Drummond ($10,800) and Russell Westbrook ($10,200). We also have an appealing second tier, even if Kawhi Leonard sits, with Brandon Ingram ($9,500), Pascal Siakam ($9,100) and Clint Capela ($9,000)

Positional scarcity won't dictate the rostering of any of the big-name players Monday, but Harden, Westbrook, Capela and Towns hold extra appeal due to the elevated projected totals associated with their games. Drummond is also in a particularly good spot while facing a Pelicans team that currently sports the seventh-lowest rebounding rate (48.9 percent) in the league. 

One other player not mentioned above that could actually be one of the top fantasy-point-per-dollar values on the slate is Paul George ($8,700), whose usage should be through the roof if Leonard is rested. 

Expected Chalk

High ownership rates shouldn't be an issue Monday with so many teams on the floor, although some of the elite options could enjoy even more popularity than usual due to the fertile offensive environments their games are expected to provide. Paul George would also likely see a spike in ownership if Kawhi Leonard is officially announced as out.

Key and Likely Underowned Values

Ivica Zubac, LAC at IND ($4,200)

Zubac's ownership rate should be in the single digits on Monday's large slate, but his price and matchup give him a chance to offer a solid 5x-6x return. The young big hasn't been a fruitful fantasy play too often in recent games – another factor that will certainly serve to keep clicks on his name at modest levels – but he did rack up 30.4 FanDuel points just two games ago against the Bucks, offering a glimpse at his upside. The Pacers come in allowing the most FanDuel points per game to centers (43.3), along with the most rebounds (12.8), fourth-highest shooting percentage (48.0) and sixth-highest offensive efficiency rating (32.5) to the position. Zubac's volatility makes him a large-field tournament play for the most part, but one that could pay off.

Trevor Ariza, SAC at HOU ($4,100):

Ariza has played well in three of his first four games back from a groin injury, and Monday he serves as cost-effective exposure to the game with the second-highest projected total of the night. The veteran should also have a bit of extra motivation playing against his former team, and the Rockets allow the third-most FanDuel points per game (53.3) to small forwards, along with the sixth-highest offensive efficiency rating (46.5) to opposing second units. Ariza has scored between 18.0 and 26.7 FanDuel points in his last three games, solid-to-excellent returns on his current salary.

Grayson Allen, MEM at GS ($4,000):

Allen continues to offer some solid production off the bench for the Grizzlies, and his three-point marksmanship should play well Monday against a Warriors squad allowing the highest three-point percentage (39.9) overall, along with a bottom-10 offensive efficiency rating (45.8) and 38.7 percent shooting from three-point range to opposing second-unit players. Allen has scored between 18.9 and 23.9 FanDuel points in three of his last four games, but with a pair of single-digit fantasy-point tallies over the last seven contests as well, his volatility is likely to scare some away. 

Other likely higher-owned value plays to consider:

Jae Crowder ($5,700); Harrison Barnes ($5,600); Dillon Brooks ($5,500); Coby White ($5,000); Kris Dunn ($5,000); Ben McLemore ($5,000); Joe Ingles ($4,300); Enes Kanter ($4,200); Cameron Johnson ($4,100); Royce O'Neale ($3,900)

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire. Juan Carlos Blanco plays in daily fantasy contests using the following accounts: DraftKings: jcblanco22, FanDuel: jc_blanco22, DraftPot: jc_blanco22, FantasyDraft: jc_blanco22, OwnThePlay: jcblanco22.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Juan Carlos Blanco
Winner of the FSWA 2016 Newcomer of the Year Award, Juan Carlos Blanco has been playing fantasy sports for over 20 years and covers NBA, MLB, NFL, CFL and Arena Football for Rotowire.com, including serving as the beat writer for teams in multiple sports. He has previously written for KFFL.com and remains an avid season-long and daily fantasy player in multiple sports as well.
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