FanDuel NBA: Saturday Value Plays

FanDuel NBA: Saturday Value Plays

This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.

Saturday brings a solid nine-game slate, although at present, there are only three games with eye-catching projected totals in excess of 220 points. There are some potential grind-it-out Eastern Conference matchups earlier in the night, and a couple of possible lopsided scenarios at play as well.

Before delving into the slate, a reminder that FanDuel is reverting 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 get dive into Saturday's slate!

Slate Overview

As just alluded to, there are three games that particularly stand out in terms of their projected total Saturday: 

Sacramento Kings at Utah Jazz (Projected total: 223.5 points) 

The Jazz have held each of their first two opponents to under 100 points, so this is a somewhat interesting number. Utah's season-opening game against the Thunder sported a similarly elevated projected figure before falling way short, and it's worth noting the Kings will be missing Marvin Bagley (thumb), and potentially, De'Aaron Fox (hip). 

Los Angeles Clippers at Phoenix Suns (Projected total: 229.5 points) 

The Clippers flashed their ability to light up the scoreboard with a 141-point haul at the expense of the Warriors on Thursday and now get a defensively questionable Suns squad here. Phoenix is missing Deandre Ayton (suspension), but Aron Baynes and Frank Kaminsky proved capable of holding down the fort Friday against the Nuggets with 34 points and 18 rebounds between them.   

New Orleans Pelicans at Houston Rockets (Projected total: 239.0 points) 

This game is projected as one of the bigger potential blowouts of the night, but one in which both teams should be able to put up a solid amount of points. The Rockets are projected for much more, and rightly so – the Pels have allowed an average of 126.0 points over their first two games. James Harden and Russell Westbrook are obvious targets here for Houston, although various secondary pieces could thrive in this fast-paced environment as well. 

Positional Breakdown

The guard positions are fairly deep with options across the salary scale Saturday, unsurprising given that there's 18 teams in action. Even small forward, traditionally a position of greater scarcity in terms of quality choices, has more viable choices than usual, as there are options even below the $5K range. At center, even the potential absence of Embiid and the guaranteed one of Ayton don't dilute the pool enough to cause concern – there's still something to like at every price point, including the sub-$5K range. 

Power forward is where some heavy resources might best be spent Saturday. Julius Randle ($9,100) heads the pack in terms of price and is certainly worth considering against a Celtics squad that's struggled against Al Horford and Pascal Siakam at the position over its first two games. There are a handful of other big names near the top, although one, Kevin Love ($8,400), is in a particularly tough matchup against the Pacers. There's also a big spike in uncertainty once you go below the $6,300 range (Serge Ibaka), so going cheap, with just a couple of exceptions, may not be the most advisable Saturday.

Injury Situations to Monitor

Joel Embiid, PHI 

Embiid will not play Saturday, so expect Jonah Bolden, Kyle O'Quinn and Al Horford to each receive bumps in value.

Enes Kanter, BOS 

Kanter is out again for Saturday's game with a knee bruise. Daniel Theis started Friday night's victory over the Raptors but is considered questionable in his own right with ankle soreness. If neither big man can take the floor Saturday, second-year pro Robert Williams would be one of the better value plays of the slate. 

Bojan Bogdanovic, UTA

Bogdanovic is likely to be questionable at best for Saturday's game with his left ankle sprain after missing Friday's contest against the Lakers. Jeff Green slid into the starting lineup Friday as part of the domino effect of Bogdanovic's absence, and the same would likely hold true Saturday if he were to miss a second straight contest. 

De'Aaron Fox, SAC

Fox suffered a hip injury Friday night versus the Trail Blazers, although he put in a 34-minute workload. Fox can be considered questionable for Saturday's contest. If he were to miss, Cory Joseph would become an appealing value option at point guard as the likely starter in his stead, while Yogi Ferrell would also see a bump in workload. 

Marvin Bagley, SAC

Bagley's thumb fracture will keep him out multiple weeks, thrusting Nemanja Bjelica into a starting role at power forward. Bjelica began his starting tenure Friday night versus Portland and finished with nine points, seven rebounds, one assist and one steal across 28 minutes. 

Jeremy Lamb, IND 

Lamb is dealing with a hip pointer that has him as listed as a game-time decision for Saturday's contest against the Cavaliers. Indiana could opt to handle a potential Lamb absence in a couple of different ways, including sliding Malcolm Brogdon over to his familiar two-guard spot and giving Aaron Holiday a start at point guard. 

Reggie Jackson, DET 

Jackson will be considered a game-time call due to his ongoing back issues. Derrick Rose, who's already seeing plenty of run off the bench and scored 27 points over 25 minutes against the Hawks on Thursday, would be an excellent mid-tier option if he were to draw the start. 

Markieff Morris, DET 

Morris is considered probable for Saturday's contest with his own back injury.

C.J. Miles, Troy Brown, Jordan McRae, WAS 

The trio is likely to remain out for Saturday's game against the Spurs. The absences of Miles and Brown should continue affording Isaac Bonga the start at small forward, while McRae's should afford rookie Admiral Schofield a few extra minutes as Bradley Beal's primary back up at two-guard. 

Long-Term Injuries/Absences: Paul George, OKC; Victor Oladipo, IND; Isaiah Thomas, WAS, Deandre Ayton, PHO; Blake Griffin, DET

Elite Players 

The nine-game slate brings a solid amount of star power with it. James Harden ($11,500) leads the pack and is locked into the game with the highest projected total of the night. The likes of Russell Westbrook ($10,200) and Kawhi Leonard ($9,800) round out the very top tier of plays, although Ben Simmons ($9,600), already appealing, could vault to a whole new level were Embiid's absence to be confirmed. 

With point guard having plenty of depth Saturday, Westbrook and Simmons are great luxuries to have if you can afford them, but not absolutely necessary. Even Harden carries a bit of "buyer beware" at his elevated price, as the Rockets' large projected advantage and an array of other solid options at shooting guard don't make him a must-have. 

As customary, rostering Leonard carries a bit more urgency due to small forward traditionally being a thinner position. There are some solid mid-tier alternatives in Pascal Siakam ($8,800), Tobias Harris ($7,300) and Gordon Hayward ($6,800) to name but a few, so there's ways to work around Leonard if he can't be afforded. 

With center also reasonably well-stocked despite Embiid's  absence, power forward is where it may be most prudent to invest heavy dollars Saturday. Julius Randle ($9,100) is in a potentially tough matchup against the Celtics, but his usage and role are already proving to be a boon for his numbers through two games and he warrants heavy consideration in both cash games and GPPs. 

Expected Chalk

Harden and Westbrook combined for 107.1 fantasy points in the Rockets' opener, and that was with them being far from efficient. Given the matchup against the Pelicans and the sky-high projected total, both are likely to carry heavy ownership Saturday. Simmons should also be an extremely popular choice with Embiid out and carry robust ownership even if the big man plays. 

In terms of injury-influenced chalk, Derrick Rose ($5,700) is likely to see his name clicked on plenty irrespective of Jackson's status, but especially if the latter is forced to sit. Rose is likely to see minutes in the mid-20s at minimum regardless of circumstance and has already proven highly efficient with that type of workload. 

On the cheaper end of things, the Celtics' Robert Williams ($4,200) would likely be flocked to if Theis does indeed miss, while Joseph could be particularly popular value point guard play if Fox is felled by his hip issue. Ditto for Jeff Green at power forward at minimum price if Bogdanovic misses, even though Green failed to take much advantage of his starting opportunity Friday (10.1 fantasy points over 23 minutes).   

Key and Likely Underowned Values

Marcus Morris, NYK vs. BOS ($5,500): 

Morris took a big step down in his second game after blowing up for 40.3 FanDuel points in the opener against the Spurs. His game always carries a bit of hit-and-miss, but his price is extremely reasonable relative to upside. Moreover, knowing Morris' competitive streak, there's little doubt he'll have a bit of extra juice Saturday night against his former teammates, which have given up the most rebounds (13.8) and 40.8 FanDuel points per game to small forwards over the first two contests. 

Rui Hachimura, WAS at SA ($5,400): 

Hachimura has sort of been a forgotten man among first-rounders, with so much attention heaped on players selected in the top 10. However, all the young big has done over his first two games is post 26 and 30 fantasy points, respectively. He'll have a test against LaMarcus Aldridge on Saturday, but the price and the fact he encouragingly logged 34 minutes Friday against the Thunder both put him in play at likely modest ownership. 

Markelle Fultz, ORL at ATL ($4,900): 

Not many may have noticed, but the Fultz Reclamation Project got off to a good start Wednesday night against the Cavaliers. The 2017 first overall pick managed 24 fantasy points over 23 minutes in that contest and saw just two fewer minutes than starter D.J. Augustin overall. With a matchup against a fast-paced Atlanta squad that was defensively challenged against point guards last season, Fultz is an intriguing value option. 

Frank Kaminsky, PHO vs. LAC ($4,200):  

Teammate Aron Baynes is likely to get more attention from the field as the starting center, but Kaminsky is highly capable of paying off his modest price off the bench. The young big saw his playing time shoot up to 32 minutes in the Suns' first game without Deandre Ayton (suspension), an allotment of playing time he parlayed into 31.7 fantasy points. He could be in for similar opportunity Saturday against a Clippers frontcourt that's allowed 50.5 FanDuel points to power forwards and 41.4 to centers over its first two games.

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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