This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
We have a six-game slate on tap Saturday night, but there are some particularly big names already confirmed out of action, along with a couple of others that could well end up sidelined by tip-off. We're still working with a strong player pool overall, however, and as is often the case, some of these absences are also opening up opportunities for players whose prices don't reflect their current roles.
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:
Milwaukee Bucks at Portland Trail Blazers (Projected total: 228.5 points)
The Trail Blazers' offensive firepower could suffer if Hassan Whiteside (illness) is forced to sit out, but otherwise, these two fast-paced teams should combine for some offensive fireworks. The Bucks continue to be the top scoring team in the league (119.1 PPG) and are essentially at full health, putting them in a particularly good position against a Portland squad that's given up 113.2 points per game at home.
New Orleans Pelicans at Boston Celtics (Projected total: 224.5 points)
The Pelicans are another team with a couple of injuries that could affect their overall offensive output Saturday, as Jrue Holiday (elbow) and Derrick Favors (hamstring) are very iffy to play. Nevertheless, New Orleans has seen the likes of Lonzo Ball, JJ Redick and Josh Hart step up in Holiday's recent absences, while Jaxson Hayes is certainly capable of making up for a Favors absence. Then, the Celtics bring plenty of firepower in their own right and have all their key pieces at full health.
Philadelphia 76ers at Dallas Mavericks (Projected total: 223.5 points)
Even with Joel Embiid (finger) and Kristaps Porzingis (knee) unavailable for these two teams, the oddsmakers still expect a good amount of points to be scored in this spot. Philadelphia's defense has been notably more vulnerable on the road (109.8 PPG allowed) and is scoring a robust 115.1 PPG at home, which helps explain the elevated total.
We're in excellent shape at point guard Saturday, as there's essentially a clean bill of health and viable value into the high $3K range. At shooting guard, the potential absence of Jrue Holiday (elbow) leaves the top end potentially a bit thinner, but the good news is that you won't have to break the bank at the position with Zach LaVine checking in as the highest-priced option at a reasonable $8.6K and very appealing mid-tier options in Khris Middleton ($6.6K), C.J. McCollum ($6.4K), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander ($6.2K) and Josh Richardson ($6.1K).
Small forward is also deep for a six-games late, with Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James heading up the player pool and a strong mid-tier giving way to some value into the low $4K range. Power forward may be the thinnest spot overall Saturday due to the very likely absences of Anthony Davis (back) and Derrick Favors (hamstring) and the confirmed ones for Kristaps Porzingis (knee) and Paul Millsap (knee). And at center, the top tier is a bit more shallow than ideal due to Joel Embiid's (finger) absence and an ailing Hassan Whiteside (illness). Wendell Carter Jr.'s ankle sprain removes one very appealing mid-tier option as well, but there is some value to be had well into the $4K range (Enes Kanter, Jaxson Hayes).
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 at best for Saturday's game with a back injury that cost him Friday's contest. Kyle Kuzma and Jared Dudley should benefit in the form of extra minutes if Davis misses again. But either way, both players will be pushed into larger roles with LeBron James (illness) out.
Joel Embiid, PHI
Hassan Whiteside, POR
Whiteside is questionable due to an illness. Anthony Tolliver could potentially draw a spot start at center should Whiteside miss, while the usage of the likes of Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum and Carmelo Anthony would rise.
Kristaps Porzingis, DAL
Porzingis remains out with knee soreness. Maxi Kleber and Dorian Finney-Smith should continue handling most of the power forward minutes for the Mavericks, while Luka Doncic should continue to enjoy even more usage than usual.
Bruce Brown, DET
Brown is probable with a thumb injury.
Jrue Holiday, NOP
Holiday is doubtful with the elbow injury that's already cost him three games. J.J. Redick would likely serve as his direct replacement again at two-guard should Holiday miss, while the usage of Lonzo Ball should remain elevated as well in the event of a Holiday absence.
Derrick Favors, NOP
Favors is out with the hamstring injury that forced his early exit from Friday's game versus the Knicks. Jaxson Hayes, who provided an 18-point, 10-rebound double-double in extended opportunity Friday, could be in line for a spot start.
J.J. Barea, DAL
Barea is probable with an illness.
Paul Millsap, DEN
Millsap will not play due to a knee injury. Jerami Grant should see another spot start in his stead, while Michael Porter, Jr. could also benefit from extra minutes.
Arcidiacono is probable with an elbow injury.
Mario Hezonja, POR
Hezonja is questionable with a lower-back contusion. Nassir Little could enjoy some extra minutes in the forward rotation if Hezonja misses.
Dante Exum, CLE
Exum will not play due to illness. Matthew Dellavedova could see some extra run as a backup point guard as a result.
Nerlens Noel, OKC
Notable Longer-Term Injuries/Absences: Otto Porter Jr., CHI; Wendell Carter Jr., CHI; Zion Williamson, NOP; Darius Miller, NOP; Luke Kennard, DET; Blake Griffin, DET; Markieff Morris, DET; Reggie Jackson, DET; Jusuf Nurkic, POR; Zach Collins, POR; Skal Labissiere, POR; Robert Williams III, BOS; Larry Nance Jr., CLE; Kevin Porter Jr., CLE; Dylan Windler, CLE; Ryan Broekhoff, DAL; Andre Roberson, OKC
Even though we have just 12 teams in action, there's a quartet of five-figure players on Saturday's slate – Luka Doncic ($11.3K), Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11.2K), Andre Drummond ($11K), Anthony Davis ($10.8K). Doncic should hold even more value than usual with the confirmed absence of Kristaps Porzingis (knee) for Dallas. Drummond should also enjoy sky-high usage in the ongoing absence of Blake Griffin (knee) and Markieff Morris (foot) next to him in the frontcourt.
In the $9K range, it's worth noting Brandon Ingram ($9.7K) could potentially be playing without both Jrue Holiday (elbow) and Derrick Favors (hamstring), which would up his already expansive value. Nikola Jokic ($9.5K) could also see an uptick in usage with Paul Millsap (knee) already ruled out.
With Joel Embiid (finger) and Kristaps Porzingis (knee) out again Saturday, many of their respective first-unit mates should all enjoy an elevated level of popularity. The same should hold true for various Pelicans players if Jrue Holiday (elbow) misses yet again, and that will only be further cemented with Derrick Favors (hamstring) ruled out for New Orleans. And Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum could see extra clicks if Hassan Whiteside is unable to overcome his illness and suit up.
As customary, I've also compiled a list of some likely popular sub-$6K value plays and placed them below the next section, with some of those names deriving their likely elevated ownership due to those confirmed/expected injury absences and resulting expanded roles.
Key and Likely Underowned Values
George Hill, MIL at POR ($4,000)
Hill continues in a steady, dependable role off the bench, and after a recent brief downturn, he'll check into Saturday's game having scored 23.7 to 29.6 FanDuel points over his last three contests. Saturday, he gets a crack at a Trail Blazers squad that's been the most generous in the league to opposing benches, having allowed the highest offensive efficiency rating (48.7) to second-unit players. That figure is partly the byproduct of Portland surrendering the most points (41.6) and rebounds (18.5) per game to reserves, while it's also worth noting the Blazers have given up the fifth-most FanDuel points per game (49.3) to PGs on the season.
Mason Plumlee, DEN vs. CLE ($3,800)
Plumlee has seen some fluctuations in his production lately, having scored just 11.5 and 9.2 FanDuel points in two of his last three games, respectively. That should help keep his ownership subdued Saturday, but the big man is coming off having scored 21.0 FanDuel points in his last time out against the Mavericks on Wednesday, and he's also eclipsed the 20-FanDuel-point-threshold on three other occasions over the last seven games. The Cavaliers have struggled to limit centers' efficiency this season as well, allowing the third-highest offensive efficiency rating (33.9) to the position, as well as the fourth highest (46.4) to opposing second units. Cleveland is also ranked in the bottom 10 in offensive efficiency rating surrendered in the paint (58.1), while Plumlee is scoring 79.2 percent of his points in that area of the floor this season.
Other likely higher-owned value plays to consider: Eric Bledsoe, MIL ($5,800); Dennis Schroder, OKC ($5,500); Dwight Powell, DAL ($5,300); Marcus Smart, BOS ($5,100); JJ Redick, NOP ($5,100); Josh Hart, NOP ($4,600); Daniel Theis BOS ($4,400); Donte DiVincenzo, MIL ($4,200); Kyle Kuzma, LAL ($4,100); Jaxson Hayes, NOP ($4,100); Jerami Grant, DEN ($4,000)