FanDuel NBA: Saturday Value Plays
FanDuel NBA: Saturday Value Plays

This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.

We have a nine-game slate on tap Saturday night, giving us a healthy menu of options at every position. The injury report is fairly robust, as is usually the case when 18 teams are in action, but there are also multiple players expected to make their returns from multi-game absences. Additionally, there are plenty of healthy elite players in action, and several of them can be found in the game with the highest-projected total of the night (Lakers-Rockets).

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!

Slate Overview

Here's a closer look at the three games with the highest projected totals on Saturday's slate as of late Saturday morning:

Los Angeles Lakers at Houston Rockets (Projected total: 233.5 points)

The marquee matchup of the night may feature the return of Anthony Davis from a back injury, but even if he sits, there is naturally still plenty of star power and intrigue in his battle of two of the Western Conference's elite. The Lakers are a very strong defensive team, but both the Rockets' offensive prowess (119.8 PPG per home contest) and defensive vulnerability (114.0 PPG allowed overall) should help this game live up to its high-scoring expectations.

Detroit Pistons at Atlanta Hawks (Projected total: 230.5 points)

Both squads check in with relatively good health and Atlanta particularly continues to have trouble limiting scoring (117.0 PPG allowed), raising expectations in this spot. The Pistons have also allowed 111.2 points per road game, and outside of Blake Griffin (knee), both teams should have its main scoring threats available and raring to go for this up-in-pace matchup. It's also worth noting both squads rank in the bottom five in shooting percentage allowed (Detroit, 47.5 percent; Atlanta, 47.2 percent), upping scoring expectations.

Phoenix Suns at Boston Celtics (Projected total: 224.5 points)

The Celtics have averaged an impressive 114.5 points per home game, while the Suns allow an almost identical 114.3 per road contest. Devin Booker also has a history of excelling versus Boston, and the Celtics have been struggling defensively recently while allowing 115.0 points per game over their last three. Jaylen Brown will miss this game for Boston due to his thumb injury, however, while Kemba Walker is now questionable with knee soreness. Therefore, this number could continue trending downward.

Positional Breakdown

Point guard is arguably one of the healthiest positions Saturday, even when considering Kemba Walker's questionable status. The position is headed up by Trae Young ($10.4K), while Russell Westbrook ($9.4K) and Ben Simmons ($9.3K) round out the top three. There's also plenty of value to be had all the way into the high $3K range.

At shooting guard, James Harden ($11.5K) kicks things off up top, and after him, there's a nice drop-off to Devin Booker ($8.8K), who could well outpace his price with Kelly Oubre Jr. (concussion) set to miss another game. The potential absence of CJ. McCollum (ankle) and the confirmed one of RJ Barrett (ankle) does thin things out a bit in the mid-tier, but Fred VanVleet's expected return from his hamstring injury helps offset that.

Small forward features the absences of Kelly Oubre Jr. (concussion) and Jaylen Brown (thumb), but otherwise, the position is in fairly solid shape. There's a steep price drop from LeBron James ($11.1K) to Pascal Siakam ($7.6K), while the trio of Tobias Harris ($6.8K), Danilo Gallinari ($6K) and Gordon Hayward ($5.7K) are all arguably underpriced based on the respective injury situations on their clubs.

Power forward does have a pair of notable injury concerns in the form of Anthony Davis (back-questionable) and Draymond Green (out-finger), but otherwise, short-term injuries are basically non-existent. There are also some potentially rewarding fantasy-point-per-dollar opportunities in the form of John Collins ($7,800) and Jayson Tatum ($7,600), and there are some viable value plays to consider down into the high $3K range.

Center starts off in excellent shape up top with the quartet of Karl-Anthony Towns, Andre Drummond, Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside, while Nikola Vucevic and Clint Capela headline a very strong second tier. The absence of Joel Embiid (finger) and the questionable designation for Steven Adams (knee) are both blemishes, but otherwise, the position is well-stocked down into the $4K range.

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.

Anthony Davis, LAL

Davis is considered questionable with his back injury. Kyle Kuzma would be due for another start should Davis miss.

Kemba Walker, BOS

Walker is questionable with knee soreness. With Jaylen Brown (thumb) also ruled out and Marcus Smart (ankle) likely starting in his place, Brad Wanamaker could be in for a start at point guard if Walker misses.

Rajon Rondo, LAL

Rondo is considered questionable with a finger injury.

Alex Caruso, LAL

Caruso is probable with neck soreness and has cleared concussion protocol.

Kelly Oubre Jr., PHO

Oubre will not play due to a concussion. Mikal Bridges is slated to draw another start at small forward.

Fred VanVleet, TOR

VanVleet is expected to make his return from the hamstring injury that's cost him five games. His return would likely result in a minutes hit of some degree for Norman Powell.

Cameron Johnson, PHO

Johnson is questionable due to a quadriceps bruise.

Daniel Theis, BOS

Theis is probable with right knee soreness.

Jaylen Brown, BOS

Brown is out with a thumb sprain. Marcus Smart (ankle) is the likely spot start at two-guard in his stead.

Marcus Smart, BOS

Smart is probable with an ankle sprain.

Alex Len, ATL

Len is likely to be considered questionable at best with the back injury that cost him the last two games.

RJ Barrett, NYK

Barrett will not play due to an ankle sprain. Reggie Bullock (neck), who's listed as probable, will likely draw the start at two-guard, while Damyean Dotson will see a bump in minutes as well.

Reggie Bullock, NYK

Bullock is probable with a neck injury.

Brandon Knight, CLE

Knight is likely to be considered questionable at best with knee soreness that cost him Friday's game.

Ante Zizic, CLE

Zizic will likely be considered questionable at best with the illness that cost him the last three games.

Allen Crabbe, MIN

Crabbe is expected to make his Timberwolves debut Saturday, where he'll slot into the backcourt rotation.

Austin Rivers, HOU

Rivers will not play due to a thumb sprain. Chris Clemons could see a bump in opportunity as a backup point guard.

Michael Carter-Williams, ORL

Carter-Williams is questionable to return from a 13-game absence.

Draymond Green, GSW

Green will not play due to a finger sprain. Eric Paschall, Marquese Chriss and Omari Spellman could all see bumps in opportunity as a result.

Jacob Evans, GSW

Evans will not play due to a concussion.

Glenn Robinson III, GSW

Robinson is questionable with an ankle sprain. Eric Paschall could see a spot start at SF in his stead.

C.J. McCollum, POR

McCollum will likely be listed as questionable at best due to an ankle sprain that caused him to exit Friday's game against the Mavericks. If McCollum misses, Gary Trent Jr. could end up drawing the spot start at two-guard if McCollum misses, while the usage rates of the likes of Damian Lillard and Hassan Whiteside could see a significant bump.

Terrance Ferguson, OKC

Ferguson is likely to be listed as questionable at best due to the illness that caused his early exit from Friday's game against the Heat.

Steven Adams, OKC

Adams is likely to be considered questionable at best with the knee injury that cost him Friday's game.

Abdel Nader, OKC

Nader is likely to be considered questionable at best with the ankle injury that's cost him the last two games.

Nemanja Bjelica, SAC

Bjelica is probable with an ankle injury.

Bogdan Bogdanovic, SAC

Bogdanovic is slated to return from the ankle injury that's cost him the last six games.

Mike Conley, UTA

Conley is expected to return from the hamstring injury that's cost him the last 14 games.

Notable Longer-Term Injuries/Absences: Stephen Curry, GSW; Klay Thompson, GSW; Joel Embiid, PHI; Blake Griffin, DET; Luke Kennard, DET; Jonathan Isaac, ORL; Al-Farouq Aminu, ORL; D.J. Augustin, ORL; Robert Williams III, BOS; Dennis Smith Jr., NYK; Frank Kaminsky, PHO; Kevon Looney, GSW; Wendell Carter, Jr., CHI; Daniel Gafford, CHI; Kevin Porter Jr., CLE; Jabari Parker, ATL; Richaun Holmes, SAC; Gerald Green, HOU; Jusuf Nurkic, POR, Zach Collins, POR; Skal Labissiere, POR

Elite Players

There are no shortage of opportunities to spend up Saturday, as a total of six players with five-figure salaries on the slate (James Harden, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns, Trae Young and Andre Drummond). Then, there are also four healthy players in the $9K range – Rudy Gobert, Russell Westbrook, Ben Simmons and Hassan Whiteside – that are all capable of delivering 5x-6x returns on their current salaries.

Simmons and Whiteside could be in particularly advantageous positions with Joel Embiid (knee) already ruled out and C.J. McCollum (ankle) is legitimate danger of sitting out. And, the same naturally applies to James, who could be suiting up once again without Anthony Davis (back).

Expected Chalk

We should see a fairly balanced ownership landscape due to the amount of games on the docket. However, as usual, injuries to prominent players could lead to some spikes in popularity for their teammates. That holds true in the case of multiple 76ers (Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, Al Horford), as well as the healthy members of the Celtics' starting five with Jaylen Brown (thumb) out and Kemba Walker (knee) potentially set to miss. As alluded to earlier, LeBron James could also receive even more clicks than usual in the event of another Anthony Davis absence. Then, Damian Lillard and Hassan Whiteside could be on even more rosters than usual if C.J. McCollum (ankle) sits out.

As customary, I've also compiled a list of multiple sub-$6K value plays that should be particularly popular – many of them also due to injuries on their team – and have listed them underneath the next section.

Key and Likely Underowned Values

Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, DET at ATL ($4,400)

Mykhailiuk has hit his stride in recent games, scoring 21.2 to 29.7 FanDuel points in five of his last six contests. The sharpshooter boasts a scorching 47.5 percent success rate from three-point range over that span on an average of 6.7 three-point attempts per contest. Mykhailiuk is locked into the starting shooting guard role as well and draws the best matchup in the league for his position, as the Hawks are allowing the most FanDuel points per game (59.4) to twos, along with the fifth-highest offensive efficiency rating (22.8) to the position. Mykhailiuk has already proven the ability to offer 5x-6x returns on his current salaries, and with a large slate, his ownership should still be reasonably low.

Nerlens Noel, OKC vs. POR ($4,000)

Noel made a successful return from an ankle injury versus the Heat on Friday, racking up 29.2 FanDuel points across 21 minutes. The fact Steven Adams (knee) missed the contest certainly helped his cause, but Noel has been averaging minutes in the high teens the majority of the season even with Adams healthy. Adams could well miss Saturday's game as well, and ownership could potentially tilt more toward his expected replacement in the starting five, Mike Muscala, than Noel. The Trail Blazers also come in ranked in the bottom-10 in offensive efficiency rating (32.9) allowed to centers and have allowed the second-highest offensive efficiency rating (47.1) to opposing second units.

Wes Iwundu, ORL at GS ($3,900)

Iwundu is logging backup small forward minutes at present and has eclipsed 20 FanDuel points in four of his last six games, including one tally over 30 two games ago versus the Lakers. The third-year wing's minutes appear secure at the moment, and Saturday, he'll face a Warriors squad that's surrendered 45.1 FanDuel points per game to threes over the last 10 contests, along with 47.0 percent shooting. Golden State has also allowed the fifth-highest offensive efficiency rating (46.6) to opposing second units, furthering Iwundu's case at a salary he's made a habit of outpacing recently.

Other likely higher-owned value plays to consider: Tristan Thompson, CLE ($5,800); Bojan Bogdanovic, UTA ($5,700); Evan Fournier, ORL ($5,600); Joe Ingles, UTA ($5,600); Dennis Schroder, OKC ($5,500); Markelle Fultz, ORL ($5,400); OG Anunoby, TOR ($5,100); Marc Gasol, TOR ($5,000); Damion Lee, GSW ($4,900); Tomas Satoransky, CHI ($4,800); Norman Powell, TOR ($4,800); Terence Davis, TOR ($4,400); Larry Nance Jr., CLE ($3,800)

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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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, including serving as the beat writer for teams in multiple sports. He has previously written for and remains an avid season-long and daily fantasy player in multiple sports as well.
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