This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
After a monstrous 14-game slate on Saturday, we're looking at a moderate five-gamer here. The good news is that all of them happen to be playing at night, making the player pool a little larger for the main slate. That's good news with such few games available, so let's go ahead and get into it!
TOR vs. OKC: In a battle between two surging teams, we have Toronto entering this matchup as a 2.5-point road favorite. That makes it one of the most enticing games to target, as we anticipate all the starters get a full workload with so many key injuries on both rosters.
NOP vs. HOU: This and the next game are expected to be the most lopsided results. This matchup is much more attractive than the next one, with both clubs sitting Top-8 in pace. Houston is in a particularly favorable spot and enters this matchup as an 8.5-point favorite in a game with a total of 225. That's why they have the highest implied team total on this slate and are projected for about 117 points.
DEN vs. SAC: This could be the biggest mismatch on the slate. We have a Denver team who's absolutely rolling facing a Sacramento team who's mightily struggling. That's why the Nuggets enter as a 7.5-point favorite. Not to mention, these are the two-slowest paced teams in the NBA. That makes this 216-point total a big surprise. And while this isn't a betting article, an under looks like a solid play here.
MEM vs. CHA: While these are both bad teams, it doesn't mean we need to avoid it for DFS purposes. Actually, it's one of the best games to target. The reason for that is due to these teams ranking 24th and 26th in defensive efficiency, making both offenses intriguing. That's why we have Memphis as a 3.5-point favorite in a game with a total of 217.
LAL vs. DAL: This is a battle between two of the best teams in the Western Conference. What's annoying is we have two fantasy relevant players on each team and then a bunch of nobodies. While Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis are all in play, it's tough to trust anyone else. That has Los Angeles entering this matchup as a 4.5-point favorite.
PG: With Russell Westbrook likely resting, Luka Doncic represents the cream of the crop here at $10,600. Kyle Lowry is next at $8,000 while Chris Paul sits at $7,300. Jamal Murray, Terry Rozier and Ja Morant all make up the middle tier. If you're looking for cheap players. Austin Rivers, Chris Clemons, Rajon Rondo, Lonzo Ball and Cory Joseph are all in play.
SG: James Harden is the most expensive player on the slate and rightfully so. Jrue Holiday and Fred VanVleet follow him up in the $8,000s while Devonte' Graham and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander sit in the $7,000-range. Buddy Hield is a nice value at $5,700 and Ben McLemore could be looking at a ton of shots at $3,800.
SF: LeBron James and Brandon Ingram are the only viable options here above $6,000. Will Barton, OG Anunoby, Miles Bridges, Danuel House Jr., Harrison Barnes and Tim Hardaway Jr. make up the mid-tier. There aren't many viable options below $4,500 at this position.
PF: If James sits out, Anthony Davis would be one of the best plays on the slate at $10,800. Kristaps Porzingis follows him up, but is much worse with Luka Doncic on the floor. Richaun Holmes, Serge Ibaka and Jaren Jackson Jr. all sit in the $7,000-range. Derrick Favors is a nice value at $6,400 while Chris Boucher, P.J. Tucker, Nemanja Bjelica and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson all make solid cheap options.
C: Nikola Jokic is the only premium center with Clint Capela sidelined. Jonas Valanciunas and Steven Adams are next just below $7,000. If you're looking for someone cheap, Dwight Powell, Bismack Biyombo and JaVale McGee are all available.
Injuries to Monitor
Pascal Siakam/Norman Powell/Marc Gasol (TOR): All three of these guys remain sidelined due to long-term injuries. Kyle Lowry, Fred VanVleet and Serge Ibaka have all taken on more usage in the first unit while Chris Boucher and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson have shown flashes in the second group.
Danilo Gallinari (OKC): Gallinari has been ruled out due to an ankle injury. While Darius Bazley has been starting in his absence, he's hard to trust. Dennis Schroder has actually taken on the most usage in his absence, but he's also out. Look for Terrance Ferguson to play 35 minutes.
Russell Westbrook (HOU): Westbrook is being rested for this game in the second half of a back-to-back set. Look for James Harden to post a usage rate north of 40 percent while attempting around 30 shots. Chris Clemons, Ben McLemore and Austin Rivers should fill the extra minutes.
Eric Gordon (HOU): Gordon has been out for over a month because of knee surgery, but there's some talk that he could return here. If he does, look for him to get up a ton of shots in the absence of Westbrook but also be on a minutes' restriction.
Kyle Kuzma/LeBron James/Anthony Davis (LAL): All of these guys enter this matchup with a probable tag. While all three are expected to suit up, keep an eye on it for this second half of a back-to-back set. If any sit, look for Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to pick up minutes.
These have been two of the best playmakers in the NBA and many people will debate this one. Personally, it's a no-decision for me, with Harden as the best play of the slate. The reason for that is because he's playing without Westbrook and gets the far superior matchup. In fact, Doncic faces a Top-3 Lakers' defense while Harden faces the 27th-ranked Pelicans.
James Harden, HOU ($11,500)
Harden is going to be the chalkiest player on the slate. But if you're not using him, you're in big trouble. With Russell Westbrook missing this game, the highest usage player in the NBA is likely looking at an even bigger workload. That means a guy who's already averaging 60 FanDuel points per game is looking at an 80-point upside against an awful Pelicans' D. While he's chalky, don't fade Harden!
Nikola Jokic, DEN ($9,500)
With limited options available at center and Jokic representing the only premier player, look for him to be over 25 percent owned. DFS players are also surely familiar with his recent form, averaging nearly 50 fantasy points per game across his last 11 fixtures. That's going to make him very chalky against a poor Kings' defense.
Chris Boucher, TOR ($5,100)
People tend to fall in love with per-minute producers and this guy has become the apple of every DFS player's eye. The reason people keep playing him is because Marc Gasol and Pascal Siakam are both injured, opening up a ton of frontcourt minutes. While Boucher has been inconsistent, he's scored at least 37 FD points in two of his last three games. What worries me is he's played 14 or fewer minutes in two of the four contests where those injured guys have missed and that'll make me fade him as a chalk guy.
Jonas Valanciunas, MEM ($6,600)
While many people will be pivoting to Jokic at center, Valanciunas is the best per-dollar play. What I really love is this matchup, with the Hornets surrendering the second-most fantasy points to opposing centers this season. That's huge for a guy who's averaging 35.2 FanDuel points per game over his last 14 outings despite playing just 27 minutes per outing.
Derrick Favors, NOP ($6,400)
Favors has been brilliant all season long, but it's hard to see that because of all the time he's missed. Injuries and family matters have hurt his minutes, but we're still talking about someone who's averaging 27 FD points across just 22 minutes per game. That's a stellar rate from a guy who's played 30 minutes in back-to-back games coming into this contest, averaging about 40 fantasy points per game during that span. The matchup is also tasty, as he'll be facing a Houston club who ranks 23rd in points allowed.
Ben McLemore just missed the cut for the chalk section, but that's going to make him tougher to use. These two aren't expected to be as highly owned, but both come in as really nice values. In the last two games that Westbrook has missed, Clemons is averaging 30 FanDuel points per game while Rivers has posted 33 fantasy points in both of those outings. Rivers is the one who's seen more playing time, but both boast 7X upside at these dirt-cheap price tags in such a premier matchup.