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

This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.

We have a compact four-game slate Saturday, but without any major short-term injuries save for one, there is still a robust player pool to choose from. What's more, there is solid distribution across the salary scale in terms of viable options, so you won't be painted into a corner at anyone spot. As usual, we'll break down the positional outlook below, along with the games with the highest projected totals, possible chalk plays and some likely underowned 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 games with the two most elevated projected totals on Saturday's slate:

Houston Rockets at Chicago Bulls (Projected total: 233.5 points):

The high-octane Rockets are unsurprisingly part of the game with the highest projected total on the slate. Houston is averaging the second-most points of any team on the road (120.5) while also giving up the most points per game when traveling (127.5). And while the home-floor Bulls are only scoring 102.7 PPG at United Center, they are allowing 110.7 per contest there. The Rockets also play at the fourth-fastest pace in the NBA (111.1 possessions per game), and they should enjoy particularly favorable matchups in the backcourt and at center in this contest.

New Orleans Pelicans at Charlotte Hornets (Projected total: 230.5 points):

The Pels and Hornets unsurprisingly check in right behind Rockets-Bulls in terms of projected points, as New Orleans and Charlotte have both scored and given up their fair share of points, while the Pelicans also play at the third-fastest pace in the league (112.1 possessions per game, including 114.1 per road contest). Then, the Hornets are surrendering 118.5 points per home tilt, while the Pelicans check in surrendering the second-most points per road contest (126.5), putting them right behind the Rockets in that category. Derrick Favors is also back in action for New Orleans, adding to the team's offensive firepower and depth.

Positional Breakdown

While our overall number of selections are naturally compressed with a four-game slate that also has a number of big names missing with long-term injuries, the lack of short-term absences helps prevent any one position from being a total washout. In fact, there really isn't one that comes truly close to fitting that description, although if we had to pick one that was thinnest, it would be small forward. Brandon Ingram and Danilo Gallinari are fine choices up top at $8,000 and $6,700, respectively, but with Otto Porter, Jr. (foot) sitting out for the Bulls, there's a bit of uncertainty beyond that point.

The guard spots feature a nice selection of elite options (Luka Doncic, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, D'Angelo Russell), strong upper mid-tier choices (Ja Morant, Terry Rozier, Jrue Holiday, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Zach LaVine), and solid value plays (Tomas Satoransky, Devonte' Graham, Dennis Schroder, Josh Hart, Alec Burks). Power forward survives the absence of Draymond Green (finger) relatively well. And at center, there are viable selections into the sub-$5k range with Jahlil Okafor ($4,800).

Notable Injury Situations to Monitor

Otto Porter, CHI

Porter will be out for Saturday's game with a left foot sprain. Chandler Hutchison, who's only played in two games this season himself due to a hamstring injury, is slated to enter the starting lineup at small forward. However, with Hutchison having worked up to just 19 minutes in a game thus far, it's also possible that Tomas Satoransky slides over to fill some small forward minutes at times, while Kris Dunn slots in at Satoransky's point guard spot.

Lonzo Ball, NOP

Ball will sit out Saturday's game due to a right adductor strain. Frank Jackson and Nickeil Alexander-Walker could see extra playing time.

Kristaps Porzingis, DAL

Porzingis is getting the second half of a back-to-back set off for rest. Dorian Finney-Smith, Maxi Kleber, Justin Jackson and Dwight Powell could all see extra minutes and usage.

Notable Long-Term Injuries/Absences: Zion Williamson, NOP; Nicolas Batum, CHA; Andre Iguodala, MEM; Stephen Curry, GSW; Klay Thompson, GSW; Draymond Green, GSW; Andre Roberson, OKC; Gerald Green, HOU

Elite Players

The well-balanced distribution of elite options Saturday despite just eight teams being in action gives you some flexibility in terms of who to pay up for. As alluded to earlier, small forward looks like our thinnest spot, so investing in an $8.8K Brandon Ingram is not a bad way to allocate resources. Not only does it offer you exposure to one of the highest projected scoring totals on the slate, but Ingram's price is reasonable enough that you can also comfortably slide in Danilo Gallinari ($6,7000 next to him and secure a rock-solid floor at a tricky position.

You will have to make a choice between James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Luka Doncic in terms of the five-figure players on the slate if you want to build a reasonably viable lineup elsewhere. In that regard, going with one of the two guys that have had two full days of rest (Harden, Westbrook) over the one playing a third game in four nights and on the second night of a back-to-back (Doncic) might be a tie-breaker. Westbrook ($10,000) is also notably $600 cheaper than Doncic.

Expected Chalk

The elite players will likely have their ownership distributed fairly evenly (relative to a four-game slate), as there are enough big names for that to happen. One very popular pivot off the five-figure club of Harden, Doncic and Westbrook will be D'Angelo Russell ($8,400), who racked up an absurd 82.3 FanDuel points Friday night against the Timberwolves. The price is certainly right on Russell, and although he put in 40 minutes on the court less than 24 hours ago, he'd also missed the previous three games, potentially giving him some reserves to work off Saturday night.

Notable short-term injuries are limited to one player (Porter) as noted earlier, so the rest of the chalky plays Saturday should come from the wide array of sub-$6.4K values available. Those are listed at the end of the article below the following section, but there are enough of those type of players for ownership to likely remain fairly well-balanced overall, with perhaps an exception or two in the form of Devonte' Graham ($6,400) and Dillon Brooks ($5,000), who have both comfortably outpaced their current salaries on multiple occasions this season.

Key and Likely Underowned Values

Kris Dunn, CHI vs. HOU ($4,400):

As alluded to when discussing the potential domino effect of Otto Porter's absence Saturday, there's a chance Dunn is an indirect beneficiary if Tomas Satoransky helps fill some of Porter's minutes at small forward. Irrespective of that possible development, Dunn has been enjoying a solid allotment of minutes in the high teens/low 20s throughout the season and has scored 22.4 and 31.1 FanDuel points in his last two games, respectively. Dunn is also currently shooting a career-high 45.5 percent, and he's averaging a respectable 6.1 shot attempts, along with 2.7 assists, 2.4 rebounds and a career-best 2.2 steals, across his 20.3 minutes per game on the floor. Finally, it's also worth noting the Rockets come in ranked in the bottom 10 in offensive efficiency rating (48.8) to backcourts and an NBA-high 56.6 figure to opposing second units, furthering Dunn's case at his very reasonable price.

Kyle Anderson, MEM vs. DAL ($3,900):

Anderson lost his starting small forward job to Jae Crowder to start this season, but he's still enjoying a solid role off the bench. The versatile wing is averaging 20.8 minutes per contest and is once again shooting at a 50.0 percent clip, helping him make good use of 5.5 shot attempts per contest. Anderson also continues to offer strong production in rebounds (4.1) and assists (2.3) relative to playing time, and he's already eclipsed 20 FanDuel points on three occasions, including the 30-mark once. He'll also draw a nice positional matchup versus the Mavs, which are allowing the third-most FanDuel points (57.4) to small forwards.

Tim Hardaway, DAL at MEM ($3,700):

Hardaway is another former starter on the other side of the Mavericks-Grizzlies matchup whose price carries minimal risk and that should check in at relatively low ownership. The veteran wing has scored 16.9 to 23.6 FanDuel points in five straight, and he's scored double-digit actual points in each of his last six contests overall. Hardaway is struggling with efficiency this season (career-worst 36.3 percent shooting), but he'll face a Grizzlies squad that's a far cry defensively from what they've been in recent seasons. Memphis checks in allowing the sixth-most points per game (117.9) and fifth-highest offensive efficiency rating (25.8) to small forwards, along with 48.8 FanDuel points per game to the position.

Other likely much higher-owned value plays to consider: Devonte' Graham ($6,400), Dennis Schroder ($5,700); Josh Hart ($5,600); Brandon Clarke ($5,500); Derrick Favors ($5,200); Danuel House ($5,200); Alec Burks ($5,100); Dillon Brooks ($5,000); Dwayne Bacon ($4,200); Chandler Hutchison ($3,600)

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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