The NBA is going full swing as it enters its first Saturday action of the season. There will be 11 games on the FanDuel main docket tonight, starting at 7:30 ET. One theme thatís already relevant is that of injuries and/or players resting. Chris Paul (knee), Joel Embiid (rest), Myles Turner (concussion), Elfrid Payton (hamstring), Dennis Smith Jr. (knee) and Derrick Rose (doubtful, ankle) join the list of players that were already going to miss Saturdayís games due to previous injuries. These absences lead to opportunities on their teams to fill the vacancies, which will be reflected in the value plays below.
James Harden, HOU vs DAL ($11,000): With Chris Paul out, Harden moves back to point guard, which pushes his expected value up to where it was last season. Eric Gordon also benefits from Paulís absence, moving back into the starting line-up and projecting as an impact player.
Reggie Jackson, DET at NY ($5,500): Jackson has produced in the first two games like it was spring of 2016, which is an excellent sign for him. He missed large chunks of last season injured, and even when he played he was under par. At his current average of 38.7 fantasy points through two games, he is great value at his current price tag.
J.J. Barea, DAL at HOU ($3,900) and D.J. Augustin, ORL at CLE ($3,000): Both of these are injury substitutions that could give starter production for punt prices. Barea already started on Friday in place of Dennis Smith Jr., scoring nine points with 10 assists, a rebound, a block and a steal in 27 minutes of action. Augustin took over in the second quarter when Elfrid Payton left the game, and notched 10 points with five boards, two rebounds and a steal in the resulting 23 minutes to end the game.
Blake Griffin, LAC vs PHO ($9,800): Griffin showed in his first game action, against the Lakers, that heís ready to take on a much more all-around approach with Chris Paul gone. He was handling the ball, running the offense, and just operating at the focal point of everything that the Clippers do. This leads to great potential on Saturday, against a Suns defense that was just torched by the Lakers.
Evan Fournier, ORL at CLE ($5,800): Fournier also stepped up in Paytonís absence on Friday, and projects as a primary option on Saturday as well. He is averaging 22.5 points, five boards, four assists and 1.5 steals through two games.
Dario Saric, PHI at TOR, ($5,100): Shoutout to Dillon Brooks, who produced 44 fantasy points in his season debut, but is such an unknown that itís unclear how much of that was fluke vs repeatable. Saric gets this spot, though, on the strength of his potential with Joel Embiid out. Saric spent the preseason as the back-up center, and last season he showed that he has nightly 20/10 potential if heís given minutes and opportunity. Ben Simmons ($7700) and Robert Covington ($6800) could also potentially benefit from Embiidís absence.
Nikola Jokic, DEN vs SAC ($9,000): Jokic had a monster second half to last season, once he moved into the starting line-up for the Nuggets. He had a pedestrian season opener, but it was against Rudy Gobert so that could be understandable. He has a great bounce-back opportunity against a much weaker Kings unit in what could be a fast-paced, high-scoring game.
Nikola Vucevic, ORL at CLE ($8,400): Vucevic had the stat line of the night on Friday, dropping 41 points with 12 boards and three assists on the Nets. He has a size advantage on Kevin Love on Saturday night, and Love also isnít the greatest defender, so Vucevic has the chance to continue his hot start to the season.
Clint Capela, HOU vs DAL ($6,900): Capela entered the season with projections to possibly make the leap to full-on impact player. He had a pedestrian game one against the Warriors, but that could be because they small-balled him off the court. However, in Game 2 against the Kings he bounced back for 22 points, 17 boards and four combined blocks/steals in 28 minutes of action.