This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
We have a solid nine-game slate for Saturday night. There are a fair share of injuries as we might expect with a slate of this size, but we also have a couple of returns on tap that help keep the player pool flush with choices for any budget. As of Saturday morning, five of the nine games also have projected totals north of the desired 220-point threshold, which is certainly always a good sign for us when trying to put together DFS lineups.
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!
Here's a closer look at the three games with the highest elevated totals on Saturday's slate:
Detroit Pistons at Milwaukee Bucks (Projected total: 228.0 points)
The Pistons aren't often confused with an offensive powerhouse, but they're not completely inept on that front (128 points Friday) and also give up plenty of scoring as well (113.6 PPG allowed on the road). Then, the Bucks are not only the highest scoring team in the league overall (120.8 PPG), but the highest-scoring team on its home court by far (126.2 PPG). The total here is therefore understandable and certainly enhances the already strong appeal of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Eric Bledsoe, who've primarily shouldered the load in the ongoing absence of Khris Middleton (quadriceps).
Portland Trail Blazers at Cleveland Cavaliers (Projected total: 225.0 points)
Damian Lillard (back) is expected to be back on the floor for the Trail Blazers on Saturday night, and both teams check in ranked in the bottom half of the league in points allowed (Trail Blazers 116.7; Cavaliers 112.1). Portland also brings a significant bump in pace for Cleveland, as the Blazers average 107.6 possessions per game (eight most) while the Cavs check in with a much more deliberate 102.4 possessions per contest. Therefore, Cleveland pieces such as Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson see their already formidable upside increase further.
Toronto Raptors at Atlanta Hawks (Projected total: 223.5 points)
The Hawks' defense has seemingly fallen apart since a strong early start, with Atlanta now allowing the fifth-most points per game (117.6), including 128.3 over the last three. They're also playing their third game in four nights Saturday, while the Raptors come in with the benefit of having had the previous two nights off. Therefore, potent Toronto pieces such as Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam could be in especially advantageous positions here, as well as viable Raps mid-tier and value options such as Norman Powell and Terence Davis.
Even with a few big names befallen by injury Saturday, the fact there's 18 teams in action still gives us plenty of supply to work with across the board. Therefore, we won't be dealing with any particularly depleted positions. At point guard, the possible return of Damian Lillard helps the top end of the position round out nicely, even with the Pacers' Malcolm Brogdon (back) and the Raptors' Kyle Lowry (thumb) still out of action. We also have solid mid-tier options and value plays all the way down into the high $3K range.
Shooting guard is also in pretty good shape. Jeremy Lamb is expected to return from an ankle injury and Josh Hart may be able to make it back from his knee issues. At small forward, Otto Porter (foot) and the Heat trio of Justise Winslow (concussion), Derrick Jones Jr. (hip) and Dion Waiters (suspension) remain out, but the top shelf and mid-tier is at full health. Power forward is also in fine shape at the top end but will be a tad depleted in the middle without Derrick Favors (back), Serge Ibaka (ankle) and Aaron Gordon (ankle).
Finally, center does have Nikola Vucevic (ankle) unavailable and Hassan Whiteside (hip) as questionable, but there are reasonable, albeit somewhat risky options, all the way down to near minimum price in the form of Meyers Leonard ($3,700) and Alex Len ($3,600).
Notable Injury Situations to Monitor
Damian Lillard, POR
Lillard is questionable for Saturday's game with his back injury. His return would result in the usage of several other Blazers starting five players take a hit, most notably C.J. McCollum.
Hassan Whiteside, POR
Whiteside is considered questionable for Saturday's game due to his hip injury. Skal Labissiere was the biggest beneficiary of Whiteside's absence Thursday versus the Bucks, putting up a 22-point, 12-rebound double-double that also included five blocks, three assists and one steal.
Aaron Gordon, ORL
Nikola Vucevic, ORL
Vucevic is out for Saturday's game and will miss multiple contests with his ankle injury. Khem Birch is expected to get the starting nod in his stead Saturday, with Mo Bamba also set for extra minutes.
Malcolm Brogdon, IND
Brogdon is considered doubtful for Saturday's game with his back injury, which should afford Aaron Holiday another start at point guard.
Jeremy Lamb, IND
Lamb is expected to return from his ankle injury for Saturday's contest, which would presumably send Justin Holiday back to the second unit.
T.J. McConnell, IND
McConnell is expected to return to action from his groin injury in Saturday's game.
Justise Winslow, MIA
Derrick Jones Jr., MIA
Jones remains out Saturday with his hip injury. His ongoing absence should continue opening up opportunity for Duncan Robinson.
Derrick White, SAN
White is considered questionable for Saturday's game with a foot injury. Patty Mills would likely continue seeing a slight bump in playing time if White misses.
Cam Reddish, ATL
Reddish will likely be considered doubtful at best for Saturday's game due to his wrist injury. Another absence for the rookie would likely result in extra opportunity for DeAndre' Bembry.
Avery Bradley, LAL
Tony Snell, DET
Snell will likely be considered a game-time decision at best for Saturday due to his hip injury. Bruce Brown would be set up for another start at small forward should Snell miss.
Derrick Favors, NOP
Favors will not play in Saturday's game due to his back injury. Jahlil Okafor (ankle) would be in line for a potential start should he be able to return from his own five-game absence, and Jaxson Hayes would be ready to step in again should Okafor miss as well.
Jahlil Okafor, NOP
Okafor is considered questionable for Saturday's game with the ankle injury that's already cost him five games. If he's able to suit up, he could be in for a start at center with Derrick Favors (back) already ruled out.
Josh Hart, NOP
Notable Long-Term Injuries/Absences: Jusuf Nurkic, POR; Zach Collins, POR; Khris Middleton, MIL; Zion Williamson, NOP; Ed Davis, UTA; Otto Porter Jr., CHI; Kevin Huerter, ATL; John Collins, ATL; Dion Waiters, MIA; Andre Iguodala, MEM; Elfrid Payton, NYK; Reggie Bullock, MIA; Edmond Sumner, IND; Reggie Jackson, DET; Kyle Lowry, TOR; Serge Ibaka, TOR
We have a quartet of five-figure salaries on Saturday's slate, and it's worth noting three of the four players – Anthony Davis ($11,700), LeBron James ($11,300) and Joel Embiid ($10,100) – will be on the second night of back-to-backs. The same applies to the top three players in the $9k range: Andre Drummond ($9,700), Trae Young ($9,700) and Jimmy Butler ($9,600). Therefore, while are naturally still viable, it's worth keeping in mind that they won't exactly be at their most rested.
There's the usual pretty robust list of injuries we'd typically find on a nine-game slate, but the majority of top-end choices at each position are healthy. And with a strong mid-tier core across all five positions Saturday, there isn't any one elite play that you might want to latch onto due to scarcity. Therefore, rest might be your one big differentiator Saturday, and if so, it's worth noting Damian Lillard, Pascal Siakam and Brandon Ingram are three players all averaging over 40 FanDuel points per game that won't be on the second night of back-to-backs.
We should see a pretty even distribution of ownership Saturday due to the nine games we have to choose from. I'll cover the expected value chalk plays underneath the following section as usual, with those names usually comprised of players pushed into expanded roles due to injury or those whose recent production simply outpaces their current price.
As far as the perennially popular plays, I would expect the Lakers stars to continue to see plenty of ownership. Additionally, Giannis Antetokounmpo ($12,300) is once again the highest-priced player but is the only one of the four most expensive not playing on a back-to-back, so he should see plenty of clicks as well. Pascal Siakam ($9,400) may also find his way into even more lineups than usual, considering his matchup against the Hawks, his two full days of rest coming in, and the fact he offers upside north of 50 fantasy points at his reasonable price.
Key and Likely Underowned Values
Thaddeus Young, CHI at CHA ($4,600):
With so much value available on Saturday's ledger, Young is a pretty surefire bet to fly pretty low on the radar for most. However, the veteran big man enjoys a consistent role in the Bulls' frontcourt rotation (22.4 minutes per game) and has rather quietly eclipsed 20 FanDuel points in two of his last three contests. He's accomplished the feat on nine occasions overall thus far this season, including against this same Hornets squad on Opening Night, when he accumulated 25.6 FanDuel points on the strength of a 17-point effort. The matchup remains just as appealing, as Charlotte comes in allowing the third-most FanDuel points per game to power forwards (51.1), and is also ranked in the bottom 10 in points (25.1) and rebounds (12.8) per contest surrendered to the position.
Rajon Rondo, LAL at MEM ($4,400):
Rondo is going to be one of the more rested Lakers on the second night of a back-to-back on Saturday, considering he was ejected after just 18 minutes on the floor Friday versus the Thunder. He should be back on the floor against a Grizzlies squad that has allowed the seventh-most FanDuel points per game to point guards (52.7). Rondo has eclipsed 20 FanDuel points in three of the four games he'd played prior to Friday's early exit, and he was sitting at a solid 19.2 when he got the hook against OKC. His name value would typically garner high ownership on a smaller slate, but the fact we're dealing with nine games and Rondo is still a bit off the radar for some due to the late start to his season could make it possible to have to share him with a relatively low number of other DFS players Saturday.
Cedi Osman, CLE vs. POR ($3,700):
Speaking of potentially obscure salary savers, Osman fits the bill Saturday. The young wing hasn't exactly endeared himself to the DFS community this season with some inconsistency, but that volatility in his play is definitely factored into his near-minimum price. And, Osman still carries the same ceiling as last season, as he's coming off a 29.3 FanDuel-points showing Friday night versus the Mavs and has eclipsed 20 FanDuel points on six other occasions this season as well. His biggest issue has been a drop in usage (7.9 attempts per game, compared to 11.1 last season in just three minutes more per contest), but considering he'll be involved in a game with one of the highest projected totals of the night and the Trail Blazers come in yielding the ninth-most FanDuel points per game to small forwards over the last five (57.5), he's certainly worth of larger-field tournament consideration.
Other likely much higher-owned value plays to consider: Marc Gasol ($5,700); Khem Birch ($5,700); Collin Sexton ($5,500); Derrick Rose ($5,500); Goran Dragic ($5,500); Norman Powell ($5,400); De'Andre Hunter ($5,400); Luke Kennard ($5,400); Brandon Clarke ($5,300); Chris Boucher ($5,100); JJ Redick ($5,000); Kenrich Williams ($4,800); Carmelo Anthony ($4,700); Malik Monk ($4,700); Terence Davis ($4,600); Rodney Hood ($4,300); E'Twaun Moore ($4,300); Skal Labissiere ($4,200); Kent Bazemore ($4,200); Langston Galloway ($4,200); Bruce Brown ($4,100); Aaron Holiday ($4,000); Nicolo Melli ($4,000); Wes Iwundu ($3,500); Mo Bamba ($3,500)