FanDuel NBA: Saturday Value Plays

FanDuel NBA: Saturday Value Plays

This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.

We have a solid seven-game main slate Saturday night, one that offers us the ideal amount of diversification for our DFS lineups without overwhelming us with choices. There are several games with eye-catching projected totals in this spot, even with the slate having less star power than it would have otherwise due to the suspension-related absences of Joel Embiid and Karl-Anthony Towns

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 take a more comprehensive look at Saturday's slate!

Slate Overview 

Here's a closer look at three games with elevated projected totals on Saturday's slate: 

Minnesota Timberwolves at Washington Wizards (Projected total: 226.0 points) 

Even with Towns out of action for this game, the oddsmakers at FanDuel Sportsbook expect the Wizards' spotty defense and the fast pace of both clubs to produce plenty of offense. There's little reason to doubt that after seeing Washington recently give up 159 points in a non-overtime game to the Rockets, and although Minnesota will bring less firepower to the table than Houston with Towns out, this should still be one of the more fertile DFS environments of the night. 

Toronto Raptors at Milwaukee Bucks (Projected total: 225.5 points) 

The Bucks have underachieved early despite the acceptable 3-2 record, and they come in allowing nearly four more points per game (112.2) than last season's 108.4. Meanwhile, both Milwaukee (120.0 points scored per game) and Toronto (114.6 per contest) are lighting up the scoreboard on the offensive end, making this another legitimate potential DFS hot spot. 

Charlotte Hornets at Golden State Warriors (Projected total: 225 points) 

The Warriors' starting five may be decimated, but the combination of their pace and a matchup against a Hornets squad allowing 117.6 points per game is enough for the oddsmakers to predict some offensive fireworks in this spot. D'Angelo Russell has proven capable of putting a team's offense in his shoulders before and already compiled 30 points in his first game without Stephen Curry on Friday, while there are several other rotational players on Golden State (Jordan Poole, Damion Lee) capable of stepping up offensively as well. 

Positional Breakdown 

Even with Curry out of action, the point guard position is well stocked Saturday with the likes of Damian Lillard, Kyrie Irving and a souped-up Ben Simmons (no Joel Embiid) up top and plenty of solid mid-tier and value options as well. Shooting guard boasts similar depth, with the likes of Bradley Beal and Russell leading the pack. 

The selections are a bit narrower at small forward, power forward and center, however, with injuries/suspensions playing a big role. SF is the most flush with viable choices of the three, while power forward is thinner with Blake Griffin's ongoing sabbatical and the possible absence of Draymond Green (finger). However, Jarrett Allen's inclusion at the position does help round out the depth on the lower end. Meanwhile, with Towns and Embiid out of the picture, the high end of the center position takes a hit, but Andre Drummond and Nikola Jokic, among others, are still available for those who want to spend up.

Injury Situations to Monitor 

Joel Embiid, PHI 

Embiid will miss Saturday's game against Portland due to his suspension for fighting with the Timberwolves' Karl-Anthony Towns earlier in the week. The rest of his first-unit teammates will all see a corresponding bump in usage with the big man out, while Jonah Bolden and Kyle O'Quinn should see extra minutes as his direct fill-ins down low. 

Karl-Anthony Towns, MIN

Towns will be out for Saturday's game against the Wizards while serving the first game of his two-game suspension for fighting with Embiid. A combination of Noah Vonleh and Jordan Bell will likely hold down the center position for Minnesota, but the usage of Towns' first-unit mates Robert Covington, Andrew Wiggins and Jeff Teague should bump up significantly. 

Draymond Green, GSW

Green is questionable with an index finger sprain for Saturday's game. If he misses, Eric Paschall will likely slide into the starting five at power forward, although Marquese Chriss is also a candidate. Meanwhile, the already massive expected usage of D'Angelo Russell would bump up even further.

Josh Richardson, PHI 

Richardson is considered probable for Saturday's game with a sore toe. Rookie Matisse Thybulle will be in line for extra opportunity should Richardson suffer a setback and miss the game or play limited minutes. 

Hassan Whiteside, POR 

Whiteside is considered a game-time call for Saturday's game due to knee soreness, while Zach Collins (shoulder), Jusuf Nurkic (leg) and Pau Gasol (foot) all remain out. Therefore, Skal Labissiere would likely be in for a starting assignment and significant minutes if Whiteside were to miss. 

Zach Collins, POR 

Collins will remain out of action due to his shoulder injury Saturday. Anthony Tolliver and Mario Hezonja will continue filling in at power forward for the Trail Blazers against the 76ers, with Tolliver likely drawing the start. 

Brandon Clarke, MEM 

Clarke is considered questionable for Saturday's game due to a back injury. Bruno Caboclo would stand a chance at some extra minutes behind Jaren Jackson at power forward if Clarke were to miss. 

Will Barton, DEN

Barton is questionable for Saturday's game due to a toe injury. Torrey Craig would likely slide into Barton's starting small forward role against Orlando should Barton miss, while Michael Porter Jr. would likely be in for a solid allotment minutes off the bench behind him. 

Reggie Jackson, DET

Jackson will remain out for Saturday's game versus the Nets due to his back injury. Derrick Rose and Tim Frazier will continue splitting up the minutes at point guard, with Frazier possibly getting the start and Rose remaining in his high-usage bench role. 

C.J. Miles, WAS

Miles is likely to remain out with his foot injury against the Timberwolves on Saturday. Troy Brown and Isaac Bonga project to continue filling in at small forward.

Notable Long-Term Injuries/Absences: Stephen Curry, GSW; Jusuf Nurkic, POR; Deandre Ayton, PHO; Blake Griffin, DET; Nicolas Batum, CHA

Elite Players 

Of the positions that actually have what would be considered truly elite options (power forward is out of that equation for me Saturday with Al Horford potentially the healthiest highest-priced player), small forward shapes up as the one where it may be most prudent to spend up. After Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,500) and Pascal Siakam ($9,000), the position takes a bit of a quick dip. Tobias Harris ($7,000) is still very appealing with Embiid out, but there are more question marks from that point downward. 

While the top-shelf options at PG, SG and C are all certainly worthwhile, the overall depth at each spot doesn't make any of them "must haves" in terms of trying to lock in a solid floor and also capture some impressive ceiling.

Expected Chalk

The suspensions of Towns and Embiid are going to create plenty of chalk on each of their squads. That may be even more the case in Philadelphia than Minnesota, as Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris and Al Horford all see their usage bump up enough with Embiid out to make them especially alluring. On the T-Wolves, Jeff Teague, Andrew Wiggins and Robert Covington should be pretty popular as well, while Noah Vonleh could certainly garner some attention in his own right as Towns' likely fill-in. 

Elsewhere, D'Angelo Russell is already set to be a highly owned selection, but he figures to be even more popular should Draymond Green ultimately miss with his finger injury. Jordan Poole should also garner plenty of clicks in either scenario as a value play. Similarly, Skal Labissiere could see plenty of action if Hassan Whiteside sits for Portland and would be another cost-savings option that many would likely flock to, and Derrick Rose should also continue to see a fair share of attention while Reggie Jackson remains out of action.

Key and Likely Underowned Values 

Jae Crowder, MEM vs. PHO ($5,400): 

The Grizzlies have been off since Tuesday, so Crowder will be well rested for this matchup and likely on the underowned side after having been off the slate for the last three days. The veteran wing also slumped to 13.5 FanDuel points in his last game against the Lakers, but he'd scored 24 to 29.9 FanDuel points in his first three games of the season, all solid-to-excellent returns on his current salary. The Suns are allowing 42.9 FanDuel points and 21.8 actual points per game to small forward thus far while also playing at an elevated pace of 109.5 possessions per game, all furthering Crowder's case. 

Isaiah Thomas, WAS vs. MIN ($4,900): 

Thomas won't be at this price level for much longer if he continues performing the way he has so far. The veteran point guard is averaging 28.8 FanDuel points per game after compiling 25.1 and 32.4 over his first two contests. Thomas' minutes were up to 24 in his most recent game, and even though he's likely to be closer to 20 on most nights, he's so much more of a dynamic presence than starter Ish Smith when healthy, it will be hard for coach Scott Brooks to keep him off the court. 

Markieff Morris, DET vs. BKN ($4,400): 

Morris continues to draw starts in place of Blake Griffin (hamstring/knee) at power forward and he's scored 18.3 to 30.7 FanDuel points in three of his past four contests. While his production will fluctuate, that inconsistency is factored into his bargain price. What's more, the Nets have been one of the worst defensive teams in the league in the early going and are giving up 40.8 FanDuel points per game to power forwards, along with 2.0 made threes per contest and 46.0 percent shooting. The Nets are also yielding the fifth-highest offensive efficiency rating in the paint (63.8) and sixth highest to opposing frontcourts (81.8), making Morris all the more appealing. 

Damion Lee, GS vs. CHA ($3,900):  

There will likely be plenty of attention bestowed upon Lee's teammate Jordan Poole at the same price, but Lee is an appealing option in his own right that you'll likely nab at lower ownership. The emerging wing has scored 37.2 and 24.8 FanDuel points in two of his last three games, playing 27 and 25 minutes, respectively. His playing time carries a bit of risk, but if he sees a similar allotment Saturday, he'll be in good position against a Hornets team allowing 47.2 FanDuel points per game to small forwards, including 2.4 made threes per contest. Lee is shooting 50.0 percent from distance in the early going this season and should be even more aggressive now that the Warriors are in more desperate need of offense with Stephen Curry (hand) out of the picture (and Green possibly missing Saturday's game as well).

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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