This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
We have a solid seven-game slate on tap Saturday night, one that may be considered to be close to the ideal size depending on your style of DFS play. A 14-team ledger such as this certainly allows for plenty of flexibility in terms of lineup construction and different potential high-scoring games to choose from. There are also a number of explosive elite players on the slate, giving you multiple pats to potential tournament-winning upside.
As usual, we'll proceed to break down the positional outlook below, along with 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 four games with the highest elevated totals on Saturday's slate:
Washington Wizards at Memphis Grizzlies (Projected total: 235.5 points)
Any time the Wizards are in action, you can essentially count on them to be part of the game with one of the highest projected totals. When they're paired up with a similarly fast-paced and defensively deficient squad as the Grizzlies, that's an even surer proposition. Washington (122.1 PPG allowed, most in NBA) and Memphis (116.4 PPG allowed, fifth most) typically lay out the red carpet for opposing offenses and also put up a solid amount of points themselves (117.7 PPG and 109.2, respectively). The Wizards (107.5 possessions per game) and Grizzlies (107.4 possessions per game) are also right next to each other at No. 5 and No. 6 in terms of pace, putting plenty of pieces from both sides here in play. That naturally includes Bradley Beal and Ja Morant (back) if he plays, as well as value options such as Dillon Brooks and Troy Brown Jr.
Detroit Pistons at Houston Rockets (Projected total: 226.5 points)
The Rockets are in their usual spot as part of a game with one of the top three highest-projected totals on the ledger. In this case, they're part of the game with the highest offensive expectation as of Saturday morning (with several more games still pending totals due to injury-related uncertainty). Houston can almost always be counted on to push the pace (108.1 possessions per game, third most), put up points (120.6 PPG, second most) and even give up their fair share (114.6 PPG, seventh most). The Pistons are about middle of the pack in scoring (108.7 PPG) and defense (108.8), so they set up as more than adequate dance partners for the Rockets.
Cleveland Cavaliers at Milwaukee Bucks (Projected total: 224.5 points)
The combination of the Bucks' offensive prowess (121.0 PPG, including 122.5 PPG at home) and pace (108.7 possessions per game, most in NBA) always put them in the conversation for a high projected total. The fact they're facing a Cavaliers squad allowing 113.3 points per game on the road doesn't hurt, either. Even factoring in a possible absence by Eric Bledsoe (shin), Milwaukee doesn't lose much scoring expectation with a talented veteran like George Hill and the talents of Giannis Antetkounmpo and Khris Middleton, among others, primed to make up for it.
Brooklyn Nets at Toronto Raptors (Projected total: 218.5 points)
The Nets have been one of the surprises of the East, especially considering they've now played multiple weeks without their original starting backcourt of Kyrie Irving (shoulder) and Caris LeVert (thumb). Brooklyn comes in ranked in the top half of the league in points per game (112.4) and pace (106.6 possessions per game) while also surrendering the seventh-most points per road game (115.1). Meanwhile, the Raptors score an elevated 116.3 points per home contest and play at a top-half pace as well (105.1 possessions per game), enhancing the already strong appeal of key pieces on both sides.
PG: We certainly have some injury questions at PG with the uncertain status of Ja Morant (back) and Eric Bledsoe (shin) – not to mention the continued absence of Kyrie Irving (shoulder) – but with seven games on the slate, we still have plenty to choose from. Luka Doncic and Russell Westbrook make for a fine way to start up top, and there's a strong mid-tier quartet in Kyle Lowry, Spencer Dinwiddie, Jamal Murray and Chris Paul even if Morant and Bledsoe sit. There's also viable value into the high-$3K range, making it a fairly solid picture at the position.
SG: We're also in good shape here despite some similar mid-tier injury concerns (Eric Bledsoe, Lou Williams) to the ones we have at point guard. James Harden, Bradley Beal and Jimmy Butler are as elite a trio as you could ask for up top, and there's value to be had here into the high $3K range as well.
SF: Except for the ongoing absences of Justise Winslow (back) and Otto Porter Jr. (foot), we have a very good health picture at small forward. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Paul George, the top two options, are in very good matchups against the Cavaliers and Bulls, respectively, and there's viable value here almost all the way down to minimum price (Solomon Hill, Kevin Porter, Markieff Morris).
PF: We don't have any injury concerns until we get down to the sub-$6K range with Brandon Clarke (oblique), and above that, we have impressive elite and mid-tier levels that include the likes of Kawhi Leonard, Bam Adebayo, Blake Griffin, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Rui Hachimura.
C: Except for the twin absences of the Wizards' top centers (Thomas Bryant-foot/Moritz Wagner-ankle), we essentially have a clean bill of health at center Saturday. The trio of Andre Drummond ($10,000), Nikola Jokic ($9,800) and Clint Capela ($9,600) are there for those who want to pay up, while a strong mid-tier level includes Montrezl Harrell, Tristan Thompson and Jonas Valanciunas. Trustworthy value isn't really there below the $4K level, however.
Notable Injury Situations to Monitor
Fred VanVleet, TOR
VanVleet is considered doubtful for Saturday's game due to a knee bruise. Norman Powell would continue filling in for VanVleet at shooting guard should he miss again.
Isaiah Thomas, WAS
Thomas is considered questionable for Saturday's game with a calf injury. Ish Smith would draw the start at point guard should Thomas miss.
Moritz Wagner, WAS
Isaac Bonga WAS
Bonga is considered questionable for Saturday's game with a head injury. Troy Brown Jr. would be in Iine for a start at small forward if Bonga misses.
Ja Morant, MEM
Morant is considered questionable for Saturday's game with a back injury after sitting out Friday's game for what was deemed to be maintenance purposes. Tyus Jones would start in Morant's place should he sit for a second straight contest.
Brandon Clarke, MEM
Clarke will likely be considered questionable for Saturday's game after sitting out Friday's game to rest an oblique issue. If Clarke were to sit for a second straight contest, Solomon Hill would likely fill in as the primary backup at power forward behind starter Jaren Jackson Jr.
Grayson Allen, MEM
Allen will likely be listed as questionable at best for Saturday's game with the ankle injury that's already cost him two games. Marko Guduric would be due for extra minutes as a backup shooting guard behind Dillon Brooks if Allen misses.
Patrick Beverley, LAC
Beverley will likely be considered questionable at best for Saturday's game with a concussion that cost him Friday's contest. Terance Mann and Derrick Walton Jr. would likely see the bulk of playing time at point guard should Beverley miss a second straight contest.
Lou Williams, LAC
Williams will likely be considered questionable at best for Saturday's game with the calf injury that cost him Friday's contest. Jerome Robinson and Rodney McGruder would be candidates to potentially see extra minutes in Williams' stead at shooting guard.
JaMychal Green, LAC
Green will likely be considered questionable at best for Saturday's game with the back injury that's already cost him the last three games. Maurice Harkless and Patrick Patterson would likely continue seeing extra run as backup power forwards if Green sits again.
Justise Winslow, MIA
Delon Wright, DAL
Eric Bledsoe, MIL
Bledsoe will likely be considered questionable at best for Saturday's game with a shin contusion that caused his early exit from Friday's contest. George Hill would be in for a likely start at point guard should Bledsoe miss.
Kyle Korver, MIL
Korver will likely be considered questionable at best for Saturday's game with a back injury. Donte DiVincenzo would stand to likely benefit from extra minutes if Korver misses.
Tyson Chandler, HOU
Chandler will likely be considered questionable at best for Saturday's game with the illness that's already cost him five games.
Terrance Ferguson, OKC
Ferguson will remain out for Saturday's game with a hip injury. Abdel Nader projects for another start at shooting guard in his place.
Paul Millsap, DEN
Millsap is questionable for Saturday's game with a right quadriceps strain. Jerami Grant would be poised for a start against his old Thunder teammates if Millsap were to miss.
Notable Long-Term Injuries/Absences: Kyrie Irving, BKN; Caris LeVert, BKN; Wilson Chandler, BKN; Reggie Jackson, DET; Landry Shamet, LAC; Goran Dragic, MIA; Dion Waiters, MIA; Eric Gordon, HOU; Gerald Green, HOU; Andre Roberson, OKC; Hamidou Diallo, OKC; C.J. Miles, WAS; Thomas Bryant, WAS; Jordan McRae, WAS
Despite the relatively modest number of games on the slate, we actually have seven five-figured salary players, an average of one per contest. James Harden ($12,400), Luka Doncic ($12,000), Bradley Beal ($10,700), Paul George ($10,600), Russell Westbrook ($10,400) and Andre Drummond ($10,000).
At the moment, none of these players are must-have options due to scarcity at their respective positions (in fact, the top three are all shooting guards). However, one situation to monitor as the day unfolds is that of Paul George as it relates to Kawhi Leonard's availability. Leonard would be playing on the second night of a back-to-back and third game in four nights were he to suit up Saturday, and the team has expressed a desire to keep him out of such scenarios.
Additionally, a pair of $9K Heat players, Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler, could be considered underpriced relative to some of their recent production. Antetokounmpo would also be due for a bump in usage should Eric Bledsoe (shin) sit out.
We should be okay in terms of ownership on higher-end pieces Saturday, considering the amount of five-figure salaries on the slate and the robust $8K and $9K ranges as well. Naturally, James Harden and Luka Doncic should see their usual level of elevated ownership based on their status as the highest-upside options on the ledger.
Injuries could certainly play a part of engendering cheaper chalk plays. That's in addition to the potential Paul George-Kawhi Leonard situation discussed in the previous section. As customary, I've highlighted a number of potentially popular value plays under $6K below the next section that are worthy of consideration, with some of those the byproduct of expected absences elsewhere on their team.
Key and Likely Underowned Values
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, TOR vs. BKN ($4,000):
RHJ would have been a higher-owned value play a few weeks ago when Serge Ibaka was on the shelf with an ankle issue. His popularity has naturally diminished somewhat since Ibaka returned, but Hollis-Jefferson has still put together some solid returns in recent games. The young veteran has tallies of 16.1, 18.7 and 29.2 FanDuel points over his last six contests, but single-digit totals in the three other games during that span should help keep his ownership down Saturday. However, Hollis-Jefferson should have some extra motivation going up against his former Nets teammates and is still seeing minutes in the teens. That could be enough for him to offer a solid return on his very reasonable price while facing a Brooklyn team that's yielded a 48.7 shooting percentage in the paint this season, an area of the floor where 70.3 percent of Hollis-Jefferson's points emanate from.
Kyle Anderson, MEM vs. WAS ($3,700):
Anderson now has two games under his belt after returning from a heel injury, and he bumped from 11 to 19 minutes in his most recent contest. Anderson should see another playing time increase Saturday and will have the benefit of participating in the game with the highest-projected scoring total of the night. The Wizards have been absolute sieve on defense this season and rank in the bottom 10 in offensive efficiency rating allowed to small forwards (25.6) and opposing second units (45.5). Washington is also surrendering a robust 50.7 FanDuel points per game to small forwards, furthering the versatile Anderson's case at his near-minimum price.
Markieff Morris, DET at HOU ($3,700):
Morris is never the subject of high ownership as a bench player, but he's worthy of a look for large-field tournament play Saturday. The veteran is prone to the occasional clunker, but a fast-paced matchup against the Rockets set him up for potential success. Morris has scored 16.4 and 20.1 FanDuel points over his last two games, respectively, while averaging 18.0 minutes in that span, and his floor-spacing ability should play well versus a Rockets squad ranked in the bottom 10 in offensive efficiency rating surrendered to opposing bench players (46.5), power forwards (27.3) and out of the paint (70.1), and that is allowing 55.0 percent shooting to power forwards on the campaign as well.
Other Likely Underowned Value play to consider: Wesley Matthews ($3,700)
Other likely higher-owned value plays to consider: Ish Smith ($5,800); Dillon Brooks ($5,800); Marc Gasol ($5,800); Jae Crowder ($5,600); Kendrick Nunn ($5,100); Troy Brown Jr. ($4,700); De'Anthony Melton ($4,500); Duncan Robinson ($4,400); Ian Mahinmi ($4,400); Jerami Grant ($4,200)