FanDuel NBA: Saturday Value Plays
FanDuel NBA: Saturday Value Plays

This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.

We have a five-game slate Saturday night, and there are a handful of big names with uncertain statuses for their contests. However, the oddsmakers are still anticipating some scoring, with three of the five contests checking in with projected totals well over 220 points. The ultimate outcome of some of those aforementioned injuries will likely move expectations in one direction or another, but it shapes up as a solid night for DFS overall, one that won't overwhelm with too many decisions due to only 10 teams being in action.

As usual, we'll proceed to break down the positional outlook below, along with possible chalk plays and some likely under-owned bargains that could help you round out your lineups with a couple of superstars.

Before delving into the slate, a reminder that FanDuel has reverted 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 the three games with the highest projected totals on Saturday's slate:

Atlanta Hawks at Memphis Grizzlies (Projected total: 233.5 points)

We start right off with one of those injury-related question marks, the biggest of the night in fact. That would be Trae Young, who missed Friday's game with an illness and whose status for this contest is firmly up in the air as of Saturday morning. The two teams combined for just 215 points when they met three games ago in a 127-88 Grizzlies blowout, but Atlanta was notably playing its third game in four nights. If Young suits up, this game could live up to expectations, considering the Hawks allow the second-most points (122.3) of any road team and are playing at the fourth-fastest pace in the league (107.6 possessions per game), while the Grizzlies check in just behind them at 106.2 possessions per contest.

Sacramento Kings at Portland Trail Blazers (Projected total: 230.5 points)

These two squads have combined for 234 and 243 points in two of their first three meetings, so the total here is completely within reason. The fact Damian Lillard is also back at full health from a groin injury certainly helps the cause, as does the 116.7 points per game Portland scores at home, and the 114.8 per contest they give up there as well. The Kings has actually be a solid defensive team on the road (110.4 PPG allowed), but they've given up 117.0 points per contest over their last three games overall.

Philadelphia 76ers at Golden State Warriors (Projected total: 225.5 points)

Another star point guard whose recent return boosts his team's offensive expectations is certainly Stephen Curry, who already poured in 23 points across 27 minutes in his return Thursday versus the Raptors. Curry could be in for a minutes bump Saturday and help Golden State's offense significantly in the process. The 76ers will continue without three-fifths of their first unit (Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Josh Richardson), but they've managed 130 and 125 points in two of their last three games without the trio. The Warriors also continue to be one of the most defensively vulnerable teams in the league, allowing the fourth-most points (115.2) of any team on its home floor.

Positional Breakdown

The big question at point guard is the health of Trae Young (illness). Ben Simmons (back) remains out of action as expected, as does Derrick Rose (ankle) and Darius Garland (groin). That thins out the depth overall on a five-game slate, but there's still a strong upper/mid-tier that includes Damian Lillard and is boosted by the recent return of Stephen Curry.

Shooting guard only has Josh Richardson (concussion) as an injury of note, as the position is in strong shape otherwise. The good news is there won't be any issue fitting in two safe-floor/solid-upside players, as the most expensive option is C.J. McCollum at just $7.7K. There's also a big drop-off in price after Donovan Mitchell ($7.4K), with Buddy Hield checking in as the next priciest selection at just $5.7K.

Small forward also has a clean bill of health until the sub-$5K range, where Kevin Porter (concussion) remains out as far as short-term injuries are concerned. Here, too, there won't be any need to break the bank while locking down some safe plays, with Andrew Wiggins at the top of the player pool at a salary of just $7.8K and six starting players (Bojan Bogdanovic, Carmelo Anthony, Will Barton, De'Andre Hunter, Harrison Barnes, Trevor Ariza) slotting in within the $4.6K and $5.6K range.

Power forward has the benefit of good health as well, with only Draymond Green (knee) in doubt to suit up as far as short-term injuries go, and a chance that Richaun Holmes (shoulder) makes his return from a long absence. Some longer-term injuries (Jaren Jackson, Brandon Clarke, Marvin Bagley) do thin out the depth some, but there is some value to be had as far down as the low $4K range (Jerami Grant, Mike Scott).

Finally, center is somewhat of a mixed bag. Joel Embiid (shoulder) remains out, while Andre Drummond (calf) and Tristan Thompson (knee) are both sporting questionable tags. Nevertheless, there's still a solid trio to pay up for if one is so included, as Nikola Jokic, Hassan Whiteside and Rudy Gobert are all healthy and in solid matchups. Then, Jonas Valanciunas ($7.1K) could be one of the better fantasy-point-per-dollar values of the night in an excellent matchup against the Hawks.  

Notable Injury Situations to Monitor

NOTE: Injury reporting is especially fluid in the NBA, where the status of multiple players can change during the course of a day. Therefore, although the following serves as a foundation for the latest injury report as of the time the article is written (usually late morning Eastern time), check back throughout the course of the day with RotoWire for the latest news regarding the status of all players on that night's slate.

Trae Young, ATL

Young is currently questionable with the illness that cost him Friday's game.

Andre Drummond, CLE

Drummond is questionable due to the calf injury that's cost him the last two games.

Tristan Thompson, CLE

Thompson is questionable with the knee injury that's cost him the last three games.

Josh Richardson, PHI

Richardson remains out with the concussion that's cost him the last two games.

Draymond Green, GSW

Green is questionable with the knee injury that's cost him six of the last seven games.

Brandon Knight, DET

Knight is probable with left knee soreness.

Darius Garland, CLE

Garland is out with a groin injury.

Kevin Porter, CLE

Porter is out with a concussion.

Richaun Holmes, SAC

Holmes is questionable to return from the shoulder injury that's sidelined him since Jan. 7.

Alfonzo McKinnie, CLE

McKinnie is questionable with the heel injury that's kept him out of action since before the All-Star break.

Kevon Looney, GSW

Looney remains out with a hip injury.

DeAndre' Bembry, ATL

Bembry is likely to be listed as no better than questionable with the abdomen injury that's kept him out since Jan. 20.

Notable Longer-Term Injuries/Absences: Ben Simmons, PHI; Joel Embiid, PHI; Klay Thompson, GSW; Clint Capela, ATL; Jaren Jackson, MEM; Brandon Clarke, MEM; Derrick Rose, DET; Luke Kennard, DET; Jusuf Nurkic, POR; Marvin Bagley, SAC; Justise Winslow, MEM; Grayson Allen, MEM; Ky Bowman, GSW; Dante Exum, CLE; Skal Labissiere, ATL; Zach Collins, POR

Elite Players

We have a rarity at play Saturday night, as there are no players with five-figure salaries. What's more, the most expensive, Trae Young ($9.8K), could sit out due to an illness. There is a trio of other players right below him in the $9K range in Nikola Jokic ($9.7K), Hassan Whiteside ($9.6K) and Damian Lillard ($9.4K) that could all pay off in their respective matchups, however.

The $8K range also has a couple of potentially elite performers Saturday, with John Collins ($8.4K) at the top of the list. Not only does Collins have an appealing positional matchup against the Grizzlies, but he could be primed for an especially big night if Young sits out, even though he did disappoint against Memphis two games ago. Rudy Gobert ($8.3K) and Stephen Curry ($8.2K) are also very worthy of consideration in their matchups against the Pistons and injury-depleted 76ers, respectively.

Expected Chalk

There will automatically be some chalk with only 10 teams on the floor Saturday, but there certainly could be additional pockets of high ownership due to injuries. That would be especially true on the Hawks if Trae Young (illness) sits out, with John Collins' popularity particularly likely to skyrocket. Collin Sexton should also continue to draw plenty of clicks with Darius Garland (groin) still out and the possibility both Andre Drummond (calf) and Tristan Thompson (knee) remain sidelined as well. Main Grizzlies pieces such as Ja Morant and Jonas Valanciunas should also see elevated ownership due to their tantalizing matchup against the Hawks.

As customary, I've also put together a specific list of sub-$6K value plays that should find themselves in plenty of lineups – some due to injury situations on their respective teams – and have included those below the next section.

Key and Likely Underowned Values

Tyus Jones, MEM vs. ATL ($4,600)

Jones has come on in recent games, scoring 28.5 to 40.7 FanDuel points in his last three games. The high end of that range came against this same Hawks squad on the road just three games ago, and over only 19 minutes at that. The success against Atlanta isn't necessarily surprising when considering the Hawks rank last in offensive efficiency rating allowed to second-unit players (48.5), and they're yielding league-high or bottom-10 figures in points (40.5), rebounds (17.8), assists (8.4), steals (3.8) and blocks (2.4) per game allowed to the bench players. Atlanta is also allowing 51.5 FanDuel points per game to point guards over the last 10, along with the seventh-highest offensive efficiency rating (27.4) to the position for the season. The fact the Hawks are also yielding the fourth-highest overall shooting percentage (48.6) of any road team also ups the chances of a robust assist total for Jones, who's already averaging a career-best 8.5 dimes per 36 minutes this season.

Jerami Grant, DEN at CLE ($4,400)

Grant continues to see a solid allotment of playing time off the bench on many nights, as he's logged between 20 and 29 minutes in each of his last six contests on the second unit. The veteran forward has scored 21.4 to 35.3 FanDuel points in four of his last five games as well, but now that Paul Millsap has returned to health and a starter's role, the bulk of the ownership lies with him as opposed to Grant. That could make the latter a solid tournament play Saturday, considering the Cavaliers come in with a -3.2 defensive efficiency rating against power forwards and have allowed the sixth-highest shooting percentage (47.3) to the position. The Cavs have also surrendered the fifth-most FanDuel points per game (55.1) to fours over the last 10 games, a notable spike from the 40.2 per contest they surrender on the season. Cleveland is also tied for the second-highest offensive efficiency rating (47.5) allowed to opposing second units, furthering Grant's case.

Other likely lower-owned value plays to consider: De'Anthony Melton, MEM vs. ATL ($4,400); Monte Morris, DEN at CLE ($4,200); Kyle Anderson, MEM vs. ATL ($4,200); Mason Plumlee, DEN at CLE ($4,100)

Other likely higher-owned value plays to consider: Shake Milton, PHI ($5,900); Buddy Hield, SAC ($5,700); Mike Conley, UTA ($5,400); Kevin Huerter, ATL ($5,300); Eric Paschall, GSW ($5,200); Bogdan Bogdanovic, SAC ($5,100); Will Barton, DEN ($5,100); Dillon Brooks, MEM ($4,800); Nemanja Bjelica, SAC ($4,800); Paul Millsap, DEN ($4,700); Josh Jackson, MEM ($4,600); Alec Burks, PHI ($4,500); Gary Harris, DEN ($4,500); Mike Scott, PHI ($4,300)

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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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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 Rotowire.com, including serving as the beat writer for teams in multiple sports. He has previously written for KFFL.com and remains an avid season-long and daily fantasy player in multiple sports as well.
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