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FantasyDraft NBA: Saturday Values

Juan Carlos Blanco

Winner of the FSWA 2016 Newcomer of the Year Award, Juan Carlos Blanco has been playing fantasy sports for close to 20 years and covers NBA, MLB, and the NFL for Rotowire.com, including serving as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' beat writer. He has previously written for KFFL.com and remains an avid season-long and daily fantasy player in multiple sports.

Saturday night brings us another robust slate, with 11 games on the docket after a solid 10-game ledger Friday. The stars will be out once again, with the likes of James Harden, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry all in action. With much to pay up for, letís look at how best to budget your dollars Saturday.

GUARDS

James Harden, HOU vs. DAL ($18,900): Harden is unexpectedly back to playing point guard for the time being in the wake of Chris Paulís knee injury, a development that is music to DFS playersí collective ears. The Beard averaged career highs in assists (11.2) and rebounds (8.1) last season while often manning the point, and heís already sporting a 31.5 percent usage rate over the first two games with Paul off the floor. The Mavericks have also surrendered 61.6 fantasy points per game to point guards in the new season, along with the third most points (29.6) on the fourth highest field-goal percentage (51.8).

Mike Conley, MEM vs. GS ($14,200): Conley averaged 25.3 points, 9.3. assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.7 steals in three games versus the Warriors last season, and he posted 43.25 fantasy points in the Grizzliesí opener versus the Pelicans on Wednesday. The Warriors come into Memphis on the back end of a back-to-back after a hard-fought victory over the Pelicans on Friday and have surrendered the fourth most fantasy points to point guards (59.1) over their first two games. Conley and Marc Gasol essentially serve as the Memphis offense at present, leaving Conley poised for very high usage in a matchup in which heíll be playing up in pace.

De'Aaron Fox, SAC at DEN ($10,200): The Kings will be on their third game in four nights to open the season Saturday, and given George Hillís veteran status and Foxís impressive efforts over the first two games, that may even be enough to persuade coach Dave Joerger to give his first-round pick a run with the top unit. However, even if Fox remains in a bench role, he presents as an appealing option against a Nuggets squad thatís given up 52.9 fantasy points per game to point guards over its first two games, a number partly comprised of 15.0 assists surrendered per contest. Fox has scored 25.00 and 33.00 fantasy points, respectively, in his first two games over an average of 24 minutes, so heís already proven capable of being very efficient with relatively modest playing time.


FORWARDS/CENTERS

LeBron James, CLE vs. ORL ($18,300): James offers a nice savings over another elite forward/center option in Giannis Antetokounmpo ($19,200) and provides virtually the same upside, particularly against a Magic squad heís enjoyed plenty of success against in the past. James is already averaging 55.62 fantasy points over his first two games and is sporting a robust 26.1 percent usage rate during that span, while the Magic check in allowing an average of 46.6 fantasy points to small forwards over their first pair of contests.

Nikola Vucevic, ORL at CLE ($14,000): Vucevicís price remains unchanged despite him having accumulated 63.0 fantasy points against the Nets on Friday. That effort followed a 45.75 fantasy-point performance in the opener versus the Heat, as the seven-footer has started off the season shooting 67.6 percent from the field, including 54.5 percent from three-point range. In what should be competitive battle, Vucevic should be heavily involved for all four quarters while often facing off against Kevin Love, who he holds a two-inch height advantage on.

Jonas Valanciunas, TOR vs. PHI ($9,300): Valanciunas opened the season Thursday by exploding for 49.75 fantasy points on the strength of a 23-point, 15-rebound double-double versus the Bulls. He now draws a matchup against a Sixers squad thatís surrendered 60.0 fantasy points per game -- including 24.0 points and 18.6 rebounds Ė to centers over the first two contests. He was productive in this matchup last season as well, averaging 13.3 points and 11.0 rebounds across 28.5 minutes in four games, and at a four-figure price, he presents as one of the slateís best value plays.

UTILITY

Nikola Jokic, DEN vs. SAC ($17,200): Jokic managed to generate a respectable 32.50 fantasy points in a tough matchup versus Rudy Gobert and the Jazz in the opener but struggled with his shot, going just 3-for-10 from the field. He should have an easier path to success Saturday, as despite Willie Cauley-Steinís seven-foot frame, the Kings have given up an average of 60.0 fantasy points to centers over their first two games, a number thatís mainly comprised of 23.4 points, 16.7 rebounds, 3.9 steals and 3.3 blocks allowed per contest.

J.J. Barea, DAL at HOU ($8,400): Dennis Smith, Jr. is already ruled out for Saturdayís contest, likely affording Barea another start at the point. He parlayed such an opportunity into 29.25 fantasy points Friday, and heíd also generated 25.75 fantasy points in the opener over just 18 minutes off the bench. Harden isnít especially renowned for his defense, and accordingly the Rockets check in having allowed 26.3 points, 7.7 assists and 5.9 rebounds to point guards over the first two games, with a lot of those numbers having been compiled since Paul left the opener early with his knee injury.

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.