This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
We're back down to a compact three-game slate on Halloween night, but two of those games have projected totals that cross that desired 220-point threshold. Unsurprisingly, it's a pair of Western Conference tilts that have the expectation of elevated offense, with all four squads boasting multiple players with high offensive upside.
Before delving into the slate, a reminder that FanDuel is reverting 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 Thursday's slate!
Here's a closer look at the two games that have elevated point totals Thursday:
Denver Nuggets at New Orleans Pelicans (Projected total: 224.5 points)
The Pelicans should get Jrue Holiday (knee) back for this contest, and while Derrick Favors is expected to miss the game with his own knee issue, rookie Jaxson Hayes proved plenty capable of filling his shoes Monday (19 points across 24 minutes vs. Warriors). The Nuggets also bring plenty of firepower, even as they've yet to truly hit their stride.
San Antonio Spurs at Los Angeles Clippers (Projected total: 227.5 points)
Kawhi Leonard against his former team and coach is the biggest storyline of this contest, and both teams are also expected to keep the scoreboard operator busy. Each squad's average scoring total this season matches the projected number almost perfectly, as the Spurs average 114.3 points per contest while the Clippers are at 112.0 points per game.
We've got a Code Red in terms of options at the center position in Thursday's small slate. Nikola Jokic ($10,400) is at the top of the heap and Montrezl Harrell ($7,200) is a fine mid-tier option below him. After that, things fall a bit off the cliff, even though there's some potentially solid value (but still risky for cash games) in Jahlil Okafor ($3,600) and Meyers Leonard ($3,700). Ivica Zubac ($4,400) has been solid thus far, but he has a tough matchup down low against Jakob Poeltl and LaMarcus Aldridge to contend with.
Shooting guard seems to be the most well-stocked position top to bottom with solid options like Jimmy Butler, Jrue Holiday and DeMar DeRozan up top, and viable value selections such as DeAndre' Bembry, Josh Hart, Tyler Herro and Bryn Forbes as well. Point guard and power forward are also in good shape relative to such a short slate, with small forward likely the position of most concern behind center. While there's Kawhi Leonard, Brandon Ingram and Justise Winslow up top, the pickings get a lot slimmer/ more uncertain from there.
Injury Situations to Monitor
Kawhi Leonard, LAC
Leonard is probable for Thursday's game against his old Spurs teammates after resting in the first half of Los Angeles' back-to-back set Wednesday against the Jazz.
Trae Young, ATL
Young will not play in Tuesday's game against the Heat due to the ankle injury he suffered versus Miami on Tuesday. While the injury is apparently not as bad as originally feared, it will keep Young out Thursday and likely thrust DeAndre' Bembry into a starting role.
Jrue Holiday, NOP
Holiday is considered probable for Thursday's game against the Nuggets with a knee injury. The issue has cost him the past two games, but Holiday was able to practice both Tuesday and Wednesday without issues.
Derrick Favors, NOP
Favors is doubtful for Thursday's game with the knee soreness that already cost him Monday's contest. Jahlil Okafor and rookie Jaxson Hayes should once again hold down the fort at center for New Orleans against Denver.
De'Andre Hunter, ATL
Hunter is probable for Thursday's game due to a dental infraction. His likely presence is an especially positive development for Atlanta, considering backup Evan Turner is out with an Achilles injury.
Derrick Jones Jr., MIA
Dion Waiters, MIA
With reduced depth at each position Thursday, all of the big names at the top of the pool warrant consideration and can also likely be fit into lineups without causing too much imbalance elsewhere. However, one top-shelf player that looks especially worth rostering Thursday given scarcity is Nikola Jokic ($10,400). He's the highest-priced player on the slate, but he also is head and shoulders above all the other selections at center in terms of upside. What's more, there isn't really much there besides Jokic except Montrezl Harrell ($7,200) and a host of riskier options that have playing time/matchup issues to contend with.
A small slate such as Thursday's always makes ownership one of the biggest puzzles to solve for tournaments. The absences of Trae Young and Derrick Favors only serve to narrow the pool further and creates what should be fairly heavy DeAndre' Bembry ($4,700) and Jaxson Hayes ($3,800) ownership for those looking for value (which is also why neither player makes our "likely underowned" value list below). Then, on the higher end of the salary spectrum, expect Nikola Jokic ($10,400), Kawhi Leonard ($10,300) and Jimmy Butler ($9,200) to be the subject of plenty of clicks.
Young's absence in Atlanta could also bump up the ownership on teammate John Collins in particular, considering the big man went for 30 points against this same Heat team Tuesday following Young's exit from the game after just 11 minutes. Other generally popular plays based solely on performance should be the Heat's Bam Adebayo ($8,300) and Rudy Gay ($4,400) at either end of the pricing spectrum.
One injury-related situation that actually should help ease a bit of chalk is the expected return to action of Jrue Holiday from a knee issue after a two-game absence. Holiday's expected participation in Thursday's battle against the Nuggets should see ownership come down a bit on Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart compared to what it otherwise would have likely been had Holiday missed again.
Key and Likely Underowned Values
Bryn Forbes, SA at LAC ($4,400):
Forbes is averaging 24.1 FanDuel points per game over his first three, scoring double-digit actual points in each game and also demonstrating some nice rebounding prowess out of his two-guard spot with between four and seven boards in each contest. The Clippers are allowing 58.1 FanDuel points per game to the shooting guard position early on, along with 5.2 made threes per contest and 48.0 percent shooting to the position.
Meyers Leonard, MIA at ATL ($3,700):
Several of his other teammates are rightfully grabbing the headlines during the Heat's strong start, but Leonard has quietly been doing some solid work down low. The veteran big is capable of stretching the floor when given the opportunity, although the majority of his value has come from his work on the boards thus far. Leonard has seven- and nine-rebound efforts in his first four, the latter tally coming against the Hawks in the first game of the home-and-home series Tuesday, when he scored a season-high 23.8 fantasy points.
Malik Beasley, DEN at NO ($3,600):
Beasley was a highly valued and productive member of the Nuggets second unit last season and postseason. However, his rather non-descript start to the new season is likely to keep his ownership down to an extent. Beasley has just one double-digit scoring effort over Denver's first four games, but he's already eclipsed 20 fantasy points twice and is capable of offering solid multi-category production if he sees the minutes. His playing time has been somewhat up and down early, but a matchup against a Pelicans team allowing the highest offensive efficiency rating (60.8) to opposing backcourts could lead to a nice return on his near-minimum price.