This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
We have a massive 13-game slate on tap Saturday night, one that gives us the luxury of viable choices at every position and price point. However, there are a number of big names that are on the injury report, which has the potential to dilute our options to an extent but also potentially opens up a number of opportunities for other lower-priced players. For such a large slate, there also aren't an inordinate amount of games with projected scoring totals that truly stand out, as only five of the 13 games have a figure exceeding the 220-point threshold.
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 three games with the highest projected totals on Saturday's slate:
Brooklyn Nets at Houston Rockets (Projected total: 232.0 points)
The Rockets take their customary spot as one of the teams participating in the game with the highest-projected total on the slate. Houston comes in scoring 119.6 points per home game while allowing 112.4 per Toyota Center contest. They're also playing at the fourth-fastest pace (107.8 possessions per game), while the Nets make for excellent dance partners with an average of 111.6 points scored per road game, 114.0 points given up per road contest and 107.0 possessions per game themselves. The Rockets look like they'll be down Clint Capela (heel) for this game, but they certainly have enough firepower elsewhere to keep the scoreboard humming.
New York Knicks at Washington Wizards (Projected total: 228.5 points)
The Wizards are another team that is usually involved in one of the games with the most offensive fireworks, due to their play on both sides of the floor. Washington continues to both score (119.8 PPG at home) and give up (NBA-high 122.7 PPG allowed at home) plenty of points. They naturally raise the offensive expectations of any team they face, something a light-scoring Knicks team needs (102.0 PPG scored on road). However, it's also worth noting New York is allowing 112.7 points per road game, likely keeping this a relatively high-scoring affair even if Bradley Beal (calf) misses for Washington.
Los Angeles Lakers at Portland Trail Blazers (Projected total: 223.5 points)
This total should come down some if LeBron James (ribs/groin) ultimately regresses from the current expectation that he'll take the court. For the time being, the total is a reasonable one, even with the Lakers' strong defense, given the Trail Blazers are allowing 111.7 points per home game, while Los Angeles is scoring 112.4 points per contest when traveling. Portland could also bring a slight bump in pace to the Lakers, as the Blazers are averaging 105.7 possessions per home tilt. In turn, the Lakers come in with 103.8 possessions per contest.
Other games with projected totals exceeding 220 points: Cleveland Cavaliers at Minnesota Timberwolves (222.5 points); Detroit Pistons at San Antonio Spurs (222.5 points)
With such a large slate, there is no true positional scarcity Saturday, even with the numerous injuries we have to account for. Even point guard still has plenty of options despite the confirmed (Trae Young), expected (De'Aaron Fox) and potential (Malcolm Brogdon) absences at the position. Shooting guard has a much cleaner bill of health, with only Bradley Beal (calf) seemingly in some doubt of playing among the prominent names. At small forward, the statuses of Giannis Antetokounmpo (back) and LeBron James (ribs/groin) are of utmost importance, but there's still the likes of Brandon Ingram, Paul George and Jaylen Brown to pay up for if that pair of superstars sits.
Power forward is arguably one of the healthiest positions, especially from the upper mid-tier on up, with the absences of Marvin Bagley III (foot), Rui Hachimura (groin) and Jabari Parker (shoulder) thinning out the sub-$5.5k level a bit. And at center, with Andre Drummond expected to play through his calf issue, the two main questions are Karl-Anthony Towns (knee) and Clint Capela (heel) in terms of injury. Even if those two big names miss, there's still the likes of Drummond, Joel Embiid, Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside in the top end, and value to be had into the high $3K level.
Notable Injury Situations to Monitor
NOTE: Injury reporting is especially fluid in the NBA, where the status of multiple players can change during the course of a day. Therefore, although the following serves as a foundation for the latest injury report as of the time the article is written (usually late morning Eastern time), check back throughout the course of the day with RotoWire for the latest news regarding the status of all players on that night's slate.
Trae Young, ATL
Young has already been ruled out with an ankle injury. His absence could open up an opportunity for Evan Turner to draw the start at point guard.
LeBron James, LAL
James is considered questionable with thoracic muscle and groin injuries. He participated in the non-contact portions of Friday's practice and will have his status updated Saturday.
Anthony Davis, LAL
Davis is probable with a knee injury.
Antetokounmpo is likely to be considered questionable at best with back soreness after missing Friday's game. Ersan Ilyasova would project for another start in his place should Antetokounmpo miss.
Malcolm Brogdon, IND
Brogdon is likely to be considered a game-time decision at best due to a groin injury after missing Friday's game. Aaron Holiday would likely draw another start should Brogdon miss.
Karl-Anthony Towns, MIN
Towns is considered questionable with the knee sprain that's cost him the last four games. Gorgui Dieng would be in line for another start should Towns miss again.
Bradley Beal, WAS
Beal is questionable with a lower leg injury. Jordan McRae and Gary Payton II would be the likeliest beneficiaries in terms of extra minutes, while the expected usage of the rest of the starting five would bump up significantly were Beal to miss.
Deandre Ayton, PHO
Ayton is likely to be considered questionable at best with his ankle injury. Aron Baynes would draw another start at center should Ayton miss.
Andre Drummond, DET
Drummond is probable with a calf bruise.
Marcus Smart, BOS
Smart is expected to play against the Raptors after overcoming an infection in both eyes, but he'll reportedly be on a minutes restriction. Jaylen Brown should continue as the starting shooting guard for the Celtics.
De'Aaron Fox, SAC
Fox is considered doubtful with the back spasms that forced him out of Thursday's matchup against the Timberwolves after just two minutes. Cory Joseph is slated for another start in his place.
Clint Capela, HOU
Jabari Parker, ATL
Alex Len, ATL
Len is likely to be listed as questionable at best with an ankle injury. Damian Jones would see a bump in backup center minutes should Len miss.
Marvin Bagley III, SAC
Bagley is out with a foot injury. Nemanja Bjelica projects for a start at power forward in Bagley's stead.
Kyle Kuzma, LAL
Kuzma is probable with an ankle injury.
Zach LaVine, CHI
LaVine is considered probable with a shoulder strain.
Wendell Carter Jr., CHI
Carter is considered probable with an abdomen injury.
Lauri Markkanen, CHI
Markkanen is considered questionable with an illness. Thaddeus Young would likely be the beneficiary of a spot start should Markkanen miss.
Wayne Ellington, NYK
Ellington will return from the Achilles injury that's kept him out the last 10 games. Ellington could be on a minutes restriction in the backcourt rotation in his first game back.
Dennis Smith Jr., NYK
Markieff Morris, DET
Eric Paschall, GSW
Paschall is likely to be considered questionable at best with a hip injury that cost him Friday's contest. Jacob Evans and Marquese Chriss are the likely beneficiaries in terms of playing time if Paschall misses.
Kevon Looney, GSW
Looney is out with an abdomen injury. Marquese Chriss should benefit from extra backup center minutes.
Omari Spellman, GSW
Spellman is likely to be questionable at best with an illness.
Mario Hezonja, POR
Mo Bamba, ORL
Bamba is likely to be considered questionable at best with an ankle sprain. Khem Birch would be the primary beneficiary of backup center minutes should Bamba miss.
Notable Longer-Term Injuries/Absences: Kyrie Irving, BKN; Caris LeVert, BKN; Stephen Curry, GSW; Klay Thompson, GSW; Jusuf Nurkic, POR; Zach Collins, POR; Rodney Hood, POR; Davis Bertans, WAS; Rui Hachimura, WAS; Thomas Bryant, WAS; Moritz Wagner, WAS; Luke Kennard, DET; Reggie Jackson, DET; Reggie Bullock, NYK; Matisse Thybulle, PHI; Otto Porter Jr., CHI; Chandler Hutchison, CHI; Nicholas Claxton, BKN; Jake Layman, MIN; Mike Conley, UTA; Robert Williams III, BOS; Justise Winslow, MIA; Al-Farouq Aminu, ORL; Victor Oladipo, IND; Zion Williamson, NOP; Darius Miller, NOP; Marc Gasol, TOR; Pascal Siakam, TOR; Norman Powell, TOR; Eric Gordon, HOU; Gerald Green, HOU
We have six players with five-figure salaries on the big slate, but four of them – Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,400), Anthony Davis ($10,800), Trae Young ($10,400) and Karl-Anthony Towns ($10,300) all have injury-related question marks of varying severity, as does LeBron James ($9,800). Young is already declared out, Antetokounmpo and Towns will likely be listed as questionable at best throughout the day, and Davis is probable.
James is also expected to play, although with multiple injuries in tow, that very much bears confirming closer to tip-off. Moving further into the $9K range, Andre Drummond (calf) is carrying a probable tag, while Bradley Beal ($9,500) is questionable with his own calf issue. It all makes for a tricky terrain in the upper ranges of the pricing scale Saturday, and monitoring the latest news closely on RotoWire throughout the day will be particularly pertinent as a result.
As already mentioned, the sheer size of the slate alone will inherently work to keep ownership fairly flat across the board. Naturally, there could be some exceptions if some of the star players with injury designations previously discussed end up being declared out – Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez and Ersan Ilyasova would see healthy ownership if Giannis Antetokounmpo (back) missed, while Gorgui Dieng would once again be very popular if Karl-Anthony Towns (knee) sat out another contest. Ditto for Anthony Davis if LeBron James (ribs/groin) were to experience a setback.
As usual, I've also compiled a list of some sub-$6K value plays – including Dieng – that should carry a fair share of ownership due to savings, enhanced roles due to injuries, or both.
Key and Likely Underowned Values
Justin Holiday, IND at NO ($3,600)
Holiday's typical inefficiency from in front of the arc tends to keep his overall production volatile, and by extension, his ownership modest when he's not drawing spot starts due to injury. However, he's an effective three-point shooter (career-high 37.3 percent success rate from distance) and has scored 17.4 to 25.1 FanDuel points in four of his last six games, solid-to-excellent returns on his current salary. The combination of Malcolm Brogdon's potential absence Saturday due to a groin injury and the matchup make Holiday a low-owned large-field tournament play worth considering. Holiday saw 30 minutes in Brogdon's absence Friday against the Heat and now faces a Pelicans squad allowing the second-highest offensive efficiency rating (47.9), the second-highest shooting percentage (48.4) and the highest three-point percentage (39.1) to opposing second-unit players.
Cory Joseph, SAC vs. PHO ($3,600)
Joseph is very likely to draw a start at point guard Saturday with De'Aaron Fox (back) considered doubtful for the contest. On a normally sized slate, that would likely lead to fairly robust ownership, but with 26 teams in action and Joseph having underwhelmed at times this season in the starting role, he's still likely to fly under the radar for the most part. The fact he's just $100 away from minimum makes him enticing, as does his tally of 32.7 FanDuel points over 40 minutes against the Timberwolves on Thursday after Fox exited the game with his injury two minutes in. There's also the matter of Joseph having put up 40 and 20.2 FanDuel points against the Suns in his prior two meetings with them this season, respectively, over an average of 30 minutes. Finally, consider Phoenix comes in allowing the eighth-highest shooting percentage (44.5) and eight-most FanDuel points per game (49.5) to point guards, along with the sixth-highest offensive efficiency rating (27.3).
Duncan Robinson, MIA vs. PHI ($3,600)
Robinson is another starter inexplicably priced just $100 from minimum, and he possesses the ability to pile up points in a hurry through his three-point marksmanship. The rookie is draining an outstanding 45.5 percent of his shots from behind the arc and is coming off scoring over 20 FanDuel points in three of his past four games. Robinson's intermittent dips below the 20-FanDuel point-threshold does give him some volatility and should keep his ownership low on such a huge slate, but he enjoys a secure role as the starting small forward and is facing a Sixers team that's allowed the third-highest shooting percentage (47.5) to the position, including the fourth-highest three-point percentage (41.9).
Other likely higher-owned value plays to consider: Gorgui Dieng ($5,800); Blake Griffin ($5,700); Elfrid Payton ($5,600); Bogdan Bogdanovic ($5,600); Collin Sexton ($5,500); Joe Ingles ($5,500); RJ Barrett ($5,400); Marcus Morris ($5,200); Lou Williams ($4,900); Isaiah Thomas ($4,800); Shabazz Napier ($4,700); Aaron Holiday ($4,700); Gary Payton III ($4,600); Nemanja Bjelica ($4,500); Garrett Temple ($4,300); Dorian Finney-Smith ($4,200); Aron Baynes ($4,100); JaVale McGee ($4,100); Rudy Gay ($3,900)