Saturday's eight-game slate has a plethora of teams playing the tail end of back-to-backs, with Portland, Houston, L.A. Clippers, Oklahoma City, Utah, Miami, Boston, Charlotte, Memphis, Milwaukee and San Antonio playing on consecutive days. The Rockets will try to continue their 14-game winning streak with a second game at home, where they play the Bucks with an over/under of 222, easily the highest on Saturday's slate. Conversely, the lowest over/under at publication is the Spurs/Mavs matchup at 198, where San Antonio returns home after a beat down by Houston.
With Houston in mind, let's first look at our $50-plus players and address the hottest DFS debate running. James Harden or Chris Paul? Have the Rockets' winning ways sealed the deal for a new normal with these two players? Will Paul continue to outduel him? The short answer is yes. Harden's primarily problem is getting the ball in the hoop. He has actually fared better than most years in field-goal and 3-point percentages, but the excellent games have evened out with some awful ones. Harden simply cannot lean on assists any longer, so his penchant for heaving up a lot of missed shots exposes him and makes his price overblown at $58.
Giannis Antetokounmpo faces the red-hot Rockets, and while he hasn't scored less than 46 YFP since October, this might be the night to spend his hefty $59 price tag elsewhere. I like both Russell Westbrook ($58) and LeBron James ($60) as both have decent matchups, and Westbrook looked a lot more like himself last night against the Sixers, but I will give the nod to James as my favorite $50-plus play against Utah and more rest than any of the other choices. Also, Saturday's pool of forwards has few exploitable spots.
I'll now highlight two players to pick and one to avoid at each position, with equal weight given to the honorable mentions listed at each spot.
Chris Paul, HOU vs. MIL ($41): I'm riding the hot hand and sticking to my aforementioned hypothesis. The Rockets have yet to lose with Paul in the lineup and unless Giannis Antetokounmpo finds a way to will the Bucks into contention, I don't see that changing. This is just a ridiculous price for Paul when you consider his resurgence is the most-talked about thing in the NBA next to what LeBron and Lonzo whisper about.
Jimmy Butler, MIN vs. PHO ($41): I consider this cheating because I would normally feature a lower-priced player, but I'm going to use both Paul and Butler a lot Saturday and save elsewhere. In two games against the Suns, Butler has torched them for an average of 44 YFP, and the Wolves face a traveling Phoenix team that has no answers in the backcourt.
Other guards to consider (all at low low prices to offset): C.J. McCollum, POR at CHA ($27), Jawun Evans, LAC at MIA ($10), Josh Jackson, PHO at MIN ($10)
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Guard to Avoid:
Tyreke Evans, MEM vs. BOS ($30): Evans faces one of the league's toughest defenses against backcourts and his rising price makes it tougher to reach value. Mike Conley's extended absence will keep Evans at this price for a while, and against an easier matchup I could stomach it better.
Khris Middleton, MIL at HOU, ($30): Houston will be focused on stopping Giannis Antetokounmpo, so I will put faith in the high pace of this matchup and go with Middleton, as his stable floor and decent ceiling make him a good all-around play. He's averaged 23.2 points and six assists the last five games.
James Johnson, MIA vs. LAC ($20): Johnson comes off a double-double against Portland and a good game against the Hornets to face the Clippers, who still have a gaping hole at the four where Blake Griffin used to be. Johnson plays great in the post and also patrols the perimeter, so a few 3-pointers aren't out of the question.
Other forwards to consider: Taj Gibson, MIN vs. PHO ($24), Al-Farouq Aminu, POR at CHA ($19), Dion Waiters, MIA at LAC ($17)
Forward to Avoid:
T.J. Warren, PHO at MIN ($28): Warren has tapered off since a 43.1 YFP performance against the Sixers 12 days ago, and $28 is just too much to spend on the potential variance of Warren's line in Minneapolis on Saturday. The name alone will draw ownership, but there are much better options to be had.
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Karl-Anthony Towns, MIN vs. PHO ($43): Towns is one of my favorite picks. He's been rock-solid in two meetings against the Suns and historically plays better at home. While he's the most expensive center on the slate, I will use him as my high-spend in tandem with a Butler or Paul frequently on Saturday.
Clint Capela, HOU vs. MIL ($29): The Bucks are still a little undersized up front, and both Harden and Paul have found ways to get Capela the ball early and often. While he's hovered around 30 YFP recently, he has a ceiling of at least 20 points more in the right setting. He'll do a good bit of the heavy lifting as Houston looks to continue its streak.
Other centers to consider: Kevin Love, CLE vs. UTA ($35), Dwight Howard, CHA vs. POR ($34), Kelly Olynyk, MIA vs. LAC ($14)
Center to Avoid:
Pau Gasol, DAL at SA ($19): Although Kawhi Leonard will rest Saturday, I don't see anything spectacular coming from Gasol. Gregg Popovich has already prepared the offense for Leonard's arrival and It looks like Gasol is taking the biggest hit. Morale will be a bit low as well, after getting stung by Houston on Friday.