FanDuel NBA: Saturday Value Plays

FanDuel NBA: Saturday Value Plays

This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.

After eight days of games, the injury bug has started to rear its head in Orlando, which is especially evident Saturday despite the fact there's just a five-game slate on tap. There are big names on the injury report, too, with LeBron James and Jimmy Butler leading the way. Naturally, the confirmed and potential absences could wreak havoc with projections and should also open plenty of reasonably priced options that should see expanded opportunity.

We'll proceed to examine the key injuries for the day below and will also break down the positional outlook, before reviewing possible chalk plays and some likely low-rostered 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

In a testament to how many health-related question marks hang over Saturday's ledger, only one of the five games has a projected total as of early Saturday morning. Here's a closer look at that one contest:

Clippers at Trail Blazers (Projected total: 234.0 points) 

The two teams have combined for 208 and 214 points in their first two meetings this season, so this total is particularly noteworthy. However, the reasoning here is the uptick in offense that's been seen in the bubble, and the Trail Blazers have certainly been one of the teams contributing to the high scores. Three of Portland's four games have finished with totals of 275, 252 and 240 points, and the Blazers are in hot pursuit of the Memphis Grizzlies, which they trail by just a single game.

Meanwhile, the Clippers have been putting some points up in their own right, scoring 126 points apiece in their two victories thus far and 115 in a loss to the Suns. With both teams nearly at full health — Patrick Beverley and Hassan Whiteside are the only two injuries of note overall, while Montrezl Harrell remains away — this game could live up to its high-scoring expectations.

Positional Breakdown

PG: Point guard is one of several positions littered with injury questions Saturday. Mike Conley (knee), Jamal Murray (hamstring) and Goran Dragic (ankle) are legitimately questionable, while Kendrick Nunn (personal) is already out. Damian Lillard makes for an excellent option up top at $9.7K, considering Patrick Beverley (calf) is out for the Clippers and the Portland-L.A. game has a projected total of 234 points.

SG: Luka Doncic, Devin Booker and Paul George are a high-upside trio up top, and their presence helps make up for the absence of Jimmy Butler (foot) and the potential one for Donovan Mitchell (leg). There's also strong options from the $7.3K price point on down in the form of CJ McCollum, Khris Middleton, Victor Oladipo, Jordan Clarkson and Gary Trent.

SF: We have some big injury questions here as well that will need resolution, as LeBron James (groin), T.J. Warren (foot) and Dorian Finney-Smith (hip) are all legitimately questionable, while Will Barton (knee) will remain out. However, those seeking elite production will still have access to Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard up top.

PF:  Anthony Davis is likely to play with his ankle issue, and Paul Millsap should be back from his rest day. The rest of the position is at relatively good health overall, although Royce O'Neale (calf) is questionable and Domantas Sabonis (foot) remains away from Orlando. Of note is that Michael Porter ($7.8K) does finally carry a price worthy of his production, although he's arguably still a bargain after compiling no fewer than 49 FD points in his first three starts. Bam Adebayo ($7.6K) will be in a very good spot due to extra offensive responsibilities and his matchup with the Suns frontcourt, while Kyle Kuzma ($5.5K) could also be an outstanding value play if LeBron James misses with his groin soreness.

C: Myles Turner (ankle) is questionable and Hassan Whiteside (hip) is doubtful, while Rudy Gobert is likely to return from the rest day he took Friday. The top of the pool is strong with Nikola Jokic, Jusuf Nurkic and Deandre Ayton in addition to Gobert, while Kelly Olynyk could offer a nice return on his $4.8K salary with multiple key absences on the Heat.

Injury Situations to Monitor

Anthony Davis, LAL (ankle)

Davis is probable to play against the Pacers with the ankle issue he's been dealing with.

LeBron James, LAL (groin)

James is questionable to play with the groin soreness that cost him Thursday's game against the Jazz.

Jimmy Butler, MIA (foot)

Butler will not play against the Suns. Andre Iguodala and Derrick Jones should be the direct beneficiaries of his absence, and all healthy members of the Heat starting five should thrive with Kendrick Nunn (personal) out and Goran Dragic (ankle) questionable to play.

Donovan Mitchell, UTA (lower leg)

Mitchell is likely to be listed as questionable at best with the lower leg issue that cost him Friday's game against the Spurs.

Rudy Gobert, UTA (rest)

Gobert is likely to play after sitting out Friday for rest.

Mike Conley, UTA (knee)

Conley is likely to be listed as questionable at best with the right knee soreness that cost him Friday's game against the Spurs.

Royce O'Neale, UTA (calf)

O'Neale is likely to be listed as questionable at best with the calf soreness that cost him Friday's game against the Spurs.

T.J. Warren, IND (foot)

Warren is questionable to face the Lakers with a sore foot. Justin Holiday and Edmond Sumner may be the biggest beneficiaries of a Warren absence.

Myles Turner, IND (ankle)

Turner is questionable with a left ankle sprain. If he's unable to go, Goga Bitadze and T.J. Leaf could be the primary beneficiaries if Turner misses.

Kendrick Nunn, MIA (personal)

Nunn has left the Orlando bubble for the time being due to a personal matter. With Goran Dragic also questionable due to an ankle sprain, Tyler Herro or Duncan Robinson may take over starting point guard duties.

Goran Dragic, MIA (ankle)

Dragic is questionable with the ankle sprain that's cost him Thursday's game against the Bucks.   

Kelly Oubre, PHO (knee)

Oubre is doubtful with the knee injury that's kept him out since late February.

Markieff Morris, LAL (hip)

Morris is probable to play against the Pacers.

Dwight Howard, LAL (knee)

Howard is probable to play against the Pacers.

Patrick Beverley, LAC (calf)

Beverley will be listed as questionable with the calf injury that's caused him to miss Thursday's game against the Mavericks.

Hassan Whiteside, POR (hip)

Whiteside is doubtful due to a left hip strain.

Seth Curry, DAL (leg)

Curry is questionable to play against the Bucks with the leg soreness that's already cost him two games. Delon Wright and Justin Jackson could be the biggest beneficiaries of his absence.

Dorian Finney-Smith, DAL (hip)

Finney-Smith is questionable due to a left hip strain. If he misses, Justin Jackson and Maxi Kleber could be the biggest beneficiaries.

Gary Harris, DEN (hip)

Harris will not play against the Jazz. Torrey Craig should continue to benefit from Harris' absence.

Will Barton, DEN (knee)

Barton will be out again against the Jazz. Michael Porter will continue to start at small forward.

Paul Millsap, DEN (rest)

Millsap is likely to play against the Jazz after resting Thursday against the Trail Blazers.

Jamal Murray, DEN (hamstring)

Murray is listed as questionable with the hamstring injury that's cost him the first four games in the bubble. Monte Morris would be set to fill in at point guard once again should Murray miss.

Alex Caruso, LAL (neck)

Caruso is questionable to play against the Pacers. If he's unable to suit up, Quinn Cook may see some minutes at backup point guard.

Doug McDermott, IND (knee)

McDermott is questionable with the right knee soreness that caused him to be a late scratch from Thursday's game against the Suns. JaKarr Sampson could draw a start at power forward if McDermott misses.

Aron Baynes, PHO (knee)

Baynes will remain out against the Heat.

Elie Okobo, PHO (ankle)

Okobo will not play against the Heat due to an ankle sprain.

Notable Longer-Term Injuries/Absences: Rajon Rondo, LAL; Montrezl Harrell, LAC; Domantas Sabonis, IND; Vlatko Cancar, DEN; Juwan Morgan, UTA

Elite Players

There are three players with five-figure salaries Saturday, beginning with Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11K) leading the way and Luka Doncic ($10.4K) and LeBron James ($10K) right below him. James is the iffiest of the three by far, as he's dealing with a sore groin and may therefore be limited even if he does play. Antetokounmpo could potentially have a hard time paying off his salary to the tune of a 5x-6x return, as he played just 30 minutes against the Heat and the Bucks may opt to limit him to an extent after already having clinched the top seed.

Damian Lillard ($9.7K) may be one of the most productive elite-level players Saturday with Patrick Beverley potentially out or limited for the Clippers and Portland vying for the No. 8 seed. Jusuf Nurkic and Kawhi Leonard, both priced at $8.5K, also have a chance to significantly outpace their salaries, while Paul George ($7.7K) and Michael Porter ($7.8K) have been offering production befitting of players with much higher price tags. Bam Adebayo ($7,600) is also in line to potentially offer much more than 5x his salary given how high his usage should be and his favorable matchup down low against Deandre Ayton.

Expected Chalk

Chalk is going to be a fluid concept until we get some more definitive answers on the many injuries in play.

On that note, I've put together a specific list of sub-$6K plays that should find themselves in plenty of lineups — many due to injured teammates — and included them at the bottom of the next section. For example, Kyle Kuzma and Anthony Davis will be especially popular if LeBron James misses, while Michael Porter and Nikola Jokic will be on even more rosters if Jamal Murray is out once again with his hamstring strain. Then, both the Clippers and Trail Blazers have reasonable prices attached to all of their superstars, and with how competitive that game is projected to be, the likes of Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic should certainly get plenty of clicks on their names.

I've also identified several sub-$6K players that could be highly rostered — many due to potential absences of teammates — and listed them below the next section.

Key Values

Marcus Morris, LAC at POR ($4,300) 

Morris is sporting an excellent price for a player of his upside that can rack up points in a hurry when he gets hot, and he also is involved in a game that has a 234-point projected total. Morris is also in an excellent positional matchup, as the Trail Blazers have allowed the fifth-highest offensive efficiency rating (26.4) to power forwards. Particularly notable in Morris' case is the fact Portland has yielded the sixth-highest shooting percentage (47.4) to fours, including the highest three-point percentage (40.7) to the position. Morris comes in shooting a career-high 41.0 percent from distance, and he's compiled 28.8 and 28.5 FanDuel points over the last two games, respectively.

Cameron Payne, PHO at MIA ($3,800)

Payne has been excellent off the bench in the bubble, scoring between 21.3 and 24.1 FD points over his first four games. The oft-injured guard is finally enjoying some good health and is taking advantage of it, averaging 11.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.3 steals while shooting 54.3 percent, including 53.3 percent from distance. The Heat has been about middle of the pack against second units and have a negative defensive efficiency rating (-3.8) versus opposing benches, while Payne has logged no fewer than 19 minutes and as many 22 minutes in each contest thus far.

Derrick Jones, MIA vs. PHO ($3,600) 

Jones could be in line for a major boost in opportunity Saturday, considering Jimmy Butler (foot) and Kendrick Nunn (personal) are definitely out, and Goran Dragic (ankle) could ultimately sit as well. While others are likely to focus on the direct beneficiaries of those absences – which certainly isn't a bad idea – Jones may make for a great way to differentiate in tournaments and is extremely low risk. The fourth-year pro does have career highs across the board this season (8.6 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.1 APG and 1.0 SPG), and while he hasn't been very productive in Orlando overall (three games), he did post 18.3 FD points over just 14 minutes against the Bucks on Thursday. Jones is also shooting an excellent 51.5 percent overall, while the Suns check in allowing 46.8 percent shooting and a top 10 offensive efficiency rating (25.6) to fours on the campaign.

Other likely lower-rostered value plays to consider: Andre Iguodala, MIA ($4,400); Justin Holiday ($3,800); JaMychal Green, LAC ($3,700)

Other likely higher-rostered value plays to consider:

 Kyle Kuzma, LAL ($5,500); Ivica Zubac, LAC ($5,200); Kelly Olynyk, MIA ($4,800); Jordan Clarkson, UTA ($4,700); Gary Trent, POR ($4,700); Lou Williams, LAC ($4,500); Tyler Herro, MIA ($4,500); Cameron Johnson, PHO ($4,500); Jae Crowder, MIA ($4,300); Duncan Robinson, MIA (4,100); Reggie Jackson, LAC ($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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