This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
We have a big nine-game slate on tap Monday night, and six of those games have a projected total of 220 points or higher. That leaves us plenty of DFS options, certainly more than enough to diversify lineups in tournaments and try to steer clear of too many high-ownership spots. Despite some of the inevitable injury situations, most star players are healthy, and Kawhi Leonard is expected to take the court for the first time alongside Paul George.
As usual, we'll break down the positional outlook below, along with the games with the highest projected totals, possible chalk plays and some likely under-used 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 Monday's slate!
Here's a closer look at the games with the three highest projected totals on Monday's slate:
Portland Trail Blazers at Houston Rockets (Projected total: 231.5 points)
No surprise here, as two teams that pack plenty of firepower, play at top-10 paces, and average 118.5 points (Houston) and 112.8 points (Portland) per game should be projected to put up the highest combined score on the slate. Each of the two squad's elite backcourts should thrive in this spot, and Houston will naturally be even more potent if Clint Capela is able to make it back from his concussion.
Milwaukee Bucks at Chicago Bulls (Projected total: 230.0 points)
The Bucks are even a more prolific team than the Rockets at the moment, putting up a very Western Conference-like 118.8 points per game and averaging the third-most possessions per contest (110.6). The Bulls are also allowing an elevated 111.3 points per United Center tilt, and even though Chicago may struggle to hold up its end of the bargain here, pieces like Zach LaVine, Wendell Carter and Tomas Satoransky should be busy trying to keep up with Eric Bledsoe and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Boston Celtics at Phoenix Suns (Projected total: 226.5 points)
The Suns are still a better defensive team than last season in terms of raw metrics (allowing more than six points fewer per game thus far), but they're allowing an average of 115.7 per contest over the last three. Meanwhile, both squads rank in the top 10 in scoring, with Phoenix averaging 117.6 points per contest and Boston putting up 113.8 per game. Both team's principal pieces – Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Devin Booker and Kelly Oubre among them – should play major roles here, and keep an eye on Aron Baynes going up against his old Celtics teammates as well.
The nine-game slate leaves us in fine shape as far as supply at each position. At point guard, there are plenty of choices even if Kyrie Irving (shoulder) sits again and with Malcolm Brogdon (back) already ruled out. Shooting guard also survives the expected absence of Andrew Wiggins (illness) well, as James Harden, Donovan Mitchell and Devin Booker head up an impressive top trio.
Both forward spots are in solid shape even if Domantas Sabonis (hip) sits for Indiana, especially since Leonard is trending strongly toward taking the floor as per latest reports. There's also viable value options all the way down below the $4K range at both positions. As far as center goes, with both Clint Capela (concussion) and Mitchell Robinson (ankle) expected to take the floor, we could be looking at a clean bill of health for the position.
Notable Injury Situations to Monitor
Kawhi Leonard, LAC
Leonard will once again be listed as questionable for Monday's game with knee soreness that already cost him the last two games. As per Monday morning reports, he's expected to return for this contest, but his status will naturally be one to monitor closely throughout the day.
Kyrie Irving, BKN
Irving is considered questionable with a shoulder injury that already cost him Saturday night's game against the Bulls. Spencer Dinwiddie would fill in as the starter at point guard once again if Irving can't go.
Zach LaVine, CHI
LaVine is considered probable for Monday's game with an ankle sprain he's been dealing with since late last week. He notably played through it very successfully Saturday, putting up 36 points in 32 minutes against the Nets.
Malcolm Brogdon, IND
Jeremy Lamb, IND
Lamb is listed as questionable due to the ankle injury that's already cost him six games. If he were to miss again, it could be Justin Holiday filling in for Lamb at two-guard if Aaron Holiday is forced to slide over to point guard in place of Brogdon and McConnell.
Domantas Sabonis, IND
Sabonis is considered questionable for Monday's game with a hip injury. T.J. Leaf could be in for a start at power forward if Sabonis doesn't suit up.
T.J. McConnell, IND
McConnell has been ruled outl for Monday's game with a groin inury that already sidelined him Saturday. With Malcolm Brogdon (back) also sitting, Aaron Holiday is expected to slide over to point guard, while Naz Mitrou-Long could see backup minutes once again in McConnell's stead.
Danuel House, HOU
House is considered probable to return Monday from the back injury that's cost him the last three games.
Clint Capela, HOU
Capela is considered probable to return from his concussion for Monday's game against the Trail Blazers. Tyson Chandler would head back to the bench if Capela is healthy enough to play.
Andrew Wiggins, MIN
Wiggins is considered doubtful for Monday's game due to an illness. Josh Okogie (knee) would potentially draw the start at shooting guard if he's healthy enough to suit up, but Jarrett Culver or Treveon Graham could also get that call even if Okogie is available.
Patrick Beverley, LAC
Beverley is considered questionable for Monday's game due to a calf injury. Terance Mann could draw another start if Beverley sits.
Landry Shamet, LAC
Shamet will likely be considered questionable at best to play versus the Thunder on Monday due to an ankle injury that's already cost him three games. Lou Williams would be in line for another start if Shamet can't play.
Carmelo Anthony, POR
Anthony may make his Trail Blazers debut Monday, with that decision likely to be announced closer to tip-off.
Pau Gasol, POR
Gasol remains questionable with a foot injury that's prevented him from making his season debut thus far.
Serge Ibaka, TOR
Ibaka will likely be considered a game-time decision at best for Monday's game with an ankle sprain that's cost him the last four games. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson would likely be the biggest beneficiary once again if Ibaka isn't available
Mitchell Robinson, NYK
Robinson is considered probable to play against the Cavaliers on Monday as he deals with an ankle injury.
Larry Nance, CLE
Nance will likely be considered questionable at best for Monday's game after missing Sunday's loss to the 76ers with a thumb sprain. Alfonzo McKinnie and Ante Zizic could be the primary beneficiaries of another Nance absence.
Elfrid Payton, NYK
Josh Okogie, MIN
Okogie is considered questionable for Monday's game due to a knee injury after missing Saturday's contest versus the Jazz. He'd be in line for additional opportunity if he suits up, with Wiggins expected to miss the contest.
Hamidou Diallo, OKC
Notable Long-Term Injuries/Absences: Kyle Lowry, TOR; Caris LeVert, BKN; Gordon Hayward, BOS; Deandre Ayton, PHO; Victor Oladipo, IND; Edmond Sumner, IND; Reggie Bullock, NYK; Khris Middleton, MIL; Otto Porter, Jr., CHI; Gerald Green, HOU; Eric Gordon, HOU; Jusuf Nurkic, POR; Zach Collins, POR; Ed Davis, UTA; Andre Roberson, OKC
We have a quintet of five-figure players on Monday's slate, followed by seven players in the $9K range. That gives us no shortage of options to pay up for, and with all positions in relatively robust supply Monday as pointed out earlier, we don't have a pressing need to take one superstar over the other based on scarcity alone.
As far as specific price-based considerations for these top-shelf selections, it's obvious but still worth mentioning that James Harden ($12,500) could be worth every bit of his difficult-to-fit-in salary in what should be a highly competitive and fast-moving matchup against the Trail Blazers. Giannis Antetokounmpo ($12,300) can also offer a 5x return despite his own astronomical cost, given that he's taking on even more responsibility with Khris Middleton (quadriceps) out of action. However, a "buyer beware" warning could apply to Karl-Anthony Towns ($11,600), who not only draws a matchup against Rudy Gobert, but who's also playing his fourth game in six nights.
The elite players just alluded to and others on the high end of the pricing scale should all enjoy their fair share of popularity, but we have more than enough of them for ownership to spread out a good amount. However, there could be a solid amount of injury-related value chalk, with some of the players set to fall under that designation listed below the next section.
Keep an eye in particular on the statuses of Kyrie Irving and Domantas Sabonis, as potential confirmed absences on the part of both players could send the ownership numbers on value plays Spencer Dinwiddie ($5,500) and T.J. Leaf ($3,500) skyrocketing. Likewise, it appears that both Holiday brothers are headed for plenty of popularity with the confirmed absences of Malcolm Brogdon (back) and T.J. McConnell (groin).
Key and Likely Underowned Values
Dario Saric, PHO vs. BOS ($5,000)
Saric never seems to draw an abundance of attention from the field, especially on larger slates such as Monday's. He's rarely going to offer you a spectacular return, but he's certainly capable of delivering 5x against a Celtics team that's allowed 51.0 percent shooting to power forwards. Saric is enjoying career-best efficiency this season (46.0 percent shooting, including 40.0 percent from three-point range) and has scored 23.3 to 32.7 FanDuel points over his last three contests, sending him into this game with plenty of momentum.
Darius Garland, CLE at NY ($4,500)
Garland is putting together some solid performances in his starting role, even though his minutes rarely exceed the high 20s. He'd enjoyed a stretch of three straight games with more than 20 FanDuel points recently, including one over 30, but he's bumped down to 16.2 and 18.0 FanDuel points over his last two games. That should keep ownership fairly modest. However, consider that Garland does have a ceiling north of 30 FD points and will face a Knicks squad allowing the second-most FanDuel points per game (54.5) to point guards, along with top-five or league-high figures in points (26.5), assists (8.4) and steals (2.8) per game to the position.
Nicolas Batum, CHA at TOR ($3,600)
It's doubtful that many will even notice Batum, who just returned from a multi-game absence due to a finger injury, way at the bottom of the price scale Monday. That makes him a very good large-field tournament play at a salary that isn't likely to remain this low for very long. Batum already jumped back into a 29-minute role in his return Saturday versus the Knicks, scoring 26.8 FanDuel points with a stat line that included an impressive nine rebounds and six assists. He's capable of checking off every box on the stat sheet, and he'll have the benefit of facing a Raptors squad allowing the second-most FanDuel points per game (50.9) to small forwards, along with 26.0 points per contest.
Other likely much higher-owned value plays to consider: Spencer Dinwiddie, ($5,800); Collin Sexton ($5,700); Dennis Schroder ($5,700); Brook Lopez ($5,600); Coby White ($5,600); P.J. Tucker ($5,200); Tomas Satoransky ($4,800); Joe Harris ($4,800); Malik Monk ($4,800); Maxi Kleber ($4,600); Rodney Hood ($4,500); Jake Layman ($4,500); Frank Ntilikina ($4,300); Aaron Holiday ($4,100); Justin Holiday ($3,800); Terance Mann ($3,500); T.J. Leaf ($3,500)