This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
We're down to just a single-game slate Saturday, as the Lakers and Rockets face off in a potential elimination game. Houston is down to its proverbial last out, and given the Rockets' offensive anemic performance in Game 4, their outlook is bleak.
With just one game on the ledger, we're dealing with FanDuel's single-game contest rosters, which are comprised as follows:
- MVP- (Garners points at 2x the normal rate)
- STAR- (Garners points at 1.5x the normal rate)
- PRO- (Garners points at 1.2x the normal rate)
- Two Utility spots- (Garner points at normal rate)
With the pricing also being different than in conventional FanDuel contests on multi-game slates and top players inevitably headed for heavy rostering, there are definitely strategic elements particular to single-game rosters. Finding key value plays for the two utility spots is undoubtedly important, as it enables you to fill out the multiplier spots with some of the top projected producers.
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 of the value plays 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 dive into Saturday's single-game slate!
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Houston Rockets (Projected total: 215.5 points):
This modest projected total is unsurprising considering we had yet another low-scoring affair in Game 4. Three of the first four contests in the series have finished with totals of 209, 214 and 210 points. The Lakers have now held the Rockets to 115 points or less in six of seven meetings since the start of the campaign. Although Houston was able to shoot an impressive 42.4 percent from three-point range Thursday in Game 4, they were just 28-for-65 from in front of the arc. Lakers coach Frank Vogel notably gave Markieff Morris the start in place of JaVale McGee, a move that had a modest impact offensively but seemed to pay dividends on the defensive end with P.J. Tucker and Robert Covington totaling just three points (all Covington's) over 57 combined minutes on the floor.
FanDuel single-game rosters don't have traditional positions that match those on a starting five, so we'll instead break down some candidates for the top three multiplier positions instead:
MVP (2x): LeBron James "slumped" to 52.5 base (non-multiplier) FD points Thursday, but he still produced an excellent score with the 2x multiplier and once again shapes up as a top candidate for this spot. James Harden shot just 2-for-11 from the floor in Game 4, but with 10 assists accompanying his 21 points, he was able to cross 50 FD points. He still carries the upside to serve as a strong pivot off James for this spot, especially because he'd shot 52.7 percent, including 47.8 percent from distance, over the first three games of the series. Anthony Davis also eclipsed 50 FD points in Game 4 and is now shooting a blistering 62.0 percent in the series, including 40.0 percent from three-point range, qualifying him as a third option to consider here.
STAR (1.5x): Russell Westbrook was once again below his usual assist and rebounding levels in Game 4, as he had only three boards and dimes apiece. However, a second straight strong shooting effort (8-for-16) helped lead to 25 points and a solid base FD-point tally of 42.1. Given his upside but fluctuating production in some categories thus far, he remains an excellent candidate for this 1.5x spot.
PRO (1.2x): Given how disappointing Robert Covington was in Game 4 (13.1 base FD points in 24 minutes), he carries a bit more risk for this spot going into Game 5. However, there are no such doubts with Rajon Rondo, who once again impressed off the bench with a near triple-double of 11 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists across 29 minutes. Given his ability to stuff the stat sheet but his sometimes spotty shooting, Rondo profiles as a close-to-ideal candidate to fill this spot with.
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 (ribs)
Davis is probable with a right rib contusion he's nursed for a couple of games. He's fully expected to play.
LeBron James (groin)
James is considered probable with groin soreness. He's fully expected to play.
JaVale McGee (ankle)
McGee is probable for Game 5, but he was already a healthy scratch in Game 4 with Markieff Morris drawing the start in his place.
Danuel House, HOU (personal)
Other injuries to monitor:
Dion Waiters, LAL (groin)- DOUBTFUL
The four highest-priced players on the slate continue to be LeBron James ($16K), Anthony Davis ($15.5K), James Harden ($15K) and Russell Westbrook ($13K). All four players were discussed earlier in the positional breakdown with respect to where they might best be slotted into the multiplier roster spots. James and Davis should continue to see highly elevated usage as long as this game remains close, with Harden and Westbrook having relatively comparable levels of involvement on the other side.
With only one game on the ledger, the quartet listed in the prior section should be even more popular than usual. Additionally, important complementary pieces such as Eric Gordon and Rajon Rondo should be in an abundance of lineups. Robert Covington and P.J. Tucker should also be rostered plenty – even with the duds the pair produced in Game 4 – as there's simply too narrow a pool of players for the two Rockets starters not to get plenty of clicks on their names.
Note: On a multi-game slate, I typically try to highlight players that would be considered under-the-radar plays in this section. Naturally, with such a limited player pool, there will be very few low-rostered players that are likely to also be viable from a DFS perspective, so I'll instead focus on two of the best candidates to provide a strong return relative to salary for the two Utility spots in single-game lineups:
Alex Caruso, LAL vs. HOU ($8,500)
Caruso has had a presence in this series, as he's put up tallies of 23.4 and 30.6 FD points in Games 1 and 4, respectively. He's eclipsed 20 FD points on four occasions overall this postseason and has logged at least 20 minutes in seven of nine playoff games. As a second-unit player that sometimes shares the floor with some very high-usage options, Caruso's offensive involvement naturally fluctuates. However, he has a good matchup statistically versus a Rockets team allowing the seventh-highest offensive efficiency rating (44.2) to second units, and against which he also posted 18.2 and 20 FD points in two regular-season games.
Austin Rivers, HOU vs. LAL ($7,500)
As mentioned earlier, Rivers is expected to once again benefit from the absence of Danuel House (personal) after posting 27.5 FD points across 28 minutes in Game 4. There's certainly some risk attached here considering Rivers had only played between seven and 16 minutes in the first three games of the series, but he should be in for another solid allotment of playing time in House's absence. Rivers put up eight shot attempts during his time on the court Thursday, and if he exhibits a similar degree of involvement in Saturday's do-or-die contest, he should have a good chance of paying off his very modest salary.