This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
We have a solid seven-game Saturday night slate on tap, giving us what many might consider an ideal number of choices with respect to cash games and tournaments. We do have a couple of big names on the injury report Saturday, and a number of very interesting salaries that could allow you to fit in multiple high-priced studs in your lineups. There's also a nice selection of projected high-scoring games to choose players from, making it an attractive ledger overall.
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:
Houston Rockets at Phoenix Suns (Projected total: 235.5 points)
The Rockets are in their customary spot as one of the participants in the game with the highest projected total on the slate. Houston is scoring 119.6 points per game while Phoenix checks in right behind them at 116.4 per contest, so the total is right on in terms of those averages. The first meeting between these two this season finished with a combined total of 224 points, and with both teams at near full health, a similar or greater total isn't out of the question here.
Washington Wizards at Philadelphia 76ers (Projected total: 230.5 points)
The Wizards are another team frequently associated with elevated totals, considering they allow an NBA-high 121.8 points per game and play at the fourth-highest pace as well (107.7 possessions per game). These two teams combined for 232 points the first time they met this season, but expectations could be a bit lower this time around with the Wizards down multiple players in their frontcourt. Additionally, it's worth noting the 76ers allow the fewest points per game of any team on its home court (100.6 PPG).
Minnesota Timberwolves at Portland Trail Blazers (Projected total: 229.5 points)
These two squads rank bottom-10 in points allowed per game (MIN, 117.3 PPG; POR, 113.7 PPG), while the T-Wolves also check in playing at the second-highest pace (108.0 possessions per game). The uncertain status of Karl-Anthony Towns (knee) does naturally hang over this game and Minnesota's offensive expectations, however, so that will naturally be something to monitor throughout the day. All the key pieces from both sides would naturally be in play in this game, and the remaining members of the Timberwolves' starting five would see a significant usage bump if Towns were to miss a third straight game.
PG: Other than Eric Bledsoe's ongoing absence, point guard is in fine shape personnel-wise Saturday. Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard and Ben Simmons are a fine trio up top, and a solid mid-tier (Ricky Rubio, De'Aaron Fox, Dejounte Murray) gives way to a very strong value level that includes Patrick Beverley, Ish Smith, Patty Mills and George Hill.
SG: James Harden and Bradley Beal kick us off at the top of the two-guard pool, and until we get to the Bogdan Bogdanovic and Wesley Matthews at the sub-$5K level, we have no injuries to be concerned with. The mid-tier is particularly strong, as Andrew Wiggins (who could see another big usage bump if Karl-Anthony Towns misses with his knee injury), Devin Booker, C.J. McCollum, DeMar DeRozan and Buddy Hield are all priced between $6,700 and $7,800.
SF: Giannis Antetokounmpo does carry an injury designation but is considered probable, so the two notable injuries we seemingly need to be concerned with here are the knee issues for Carmelo Anthony and Luke Kennard. There are some potentially solid value plays here as well with Kelly Oubre ($5,900), Marcus Morris ($5,200), Harrison Barnes ($4,500) and Markieff Morris ($4,300) all sporting prices they could well outpace.
PF: Blake Griffin's potential absence and the confirmed one for Rui Hachimura thin out our choices here just a bit, but there's still a strong duo up top (Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge), a solid mid-tier (Julius Randle, Al Horford, Lauri Markkanen, Jaren Jackson, Jr., Davis Bertans) and a slew of bargain-priced players with surprising salaries (Richaun Holmes-$5.1K/ Nemanja Bjelica- $4.8K/Marvin Bagley- $4.7K/Dario Saric- $4.5K)
C: Even if Towns misses, Joel Embiid, Clint Capela, Andre Drummond and Hassan Whiteside make up a very strong quartet up top, while a possible Deandre Ayton (ankle) absence in the mid-tier is offset by the presence of options such as Jonas Valanciunas, Montrezl Harrell and Mitchell Robinson. Injuries could also lead to a very strong value tier, with Aron Baynes ($4,500), Gorgui Dieng ($4,400) and Ian Mahinmi ($4,300) all poised to potentially benefit in this regard.
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.
Antetokounmpo is probable for Saturday's game due to back soreness. Antetokunmpo is fully expected to play, but in the event he has a setback, Ersan Ilyasova would draw a start at power forward in his stead.
Karl-Anthony Towns, MIN
Towns is likely to be listed as questionable at best for Saturday's game with his knee injury after missing Friday's contest. Gorgui Dieng, Noah Vonleh and Jordan Bell would likely split the workload at center again should Towns miss.
Carmelo Anthony, POR
Anthony is likely to be considered questionable at best for Saturday's game due to a knee contusion that forced him from Friday's contest against the Magic. Mario Hezonja and Anthony Tolliver would share power forward duties should Anthony miss.
Wesley Matthews, MIL
Matthews is doubtful for Saturday's game due to a thigh contusion. Sterling Brown and Donte DiVincenzo would likely split minutes at shooting guard should Matthews miss as expected, with Pat Connaughton also potentially seeing run off the bench.
Zach LaVine, CHI
LaCine is considered probable for Saturday's game with a shin contusion.
Wendell Carter Jr., CHI
Carter is probable for Saturday's game with abdomen and tailbone injuries.
Ryan Arcidiacono, CHI
Arcidiacono is probable for Saturday's game with elbow soreness.
Luke Kennard, DET
Kennard is likely to be questionable at best for Saturday's contest with the knee injury that cost him Friday's game. Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and Langston Galloway would likely split the time at shooting guard again if Kennard misses.
Blake Griffin, DET
Griffin is likely to be considered questionable at best for Saturday's game with a knee injury. Markieff Morris will likely draw the start at power forward in Griffin's stead.
Christian Wood, DET
Wood will not play in Saturday's game with a bone bruise. Thon Maker will be in for extra minutes off the bench as a result.
Bogdan Bogdanovic, SAC
Bogdanovic is likely to be considered questionable at best for Saturday's game with an ankle injury after missing Friday's game. Justin James and Yogi Ferrell are likely to fill in if Bogdanovic misses again.
Trevor Ariza, SAC
Ariza will likely be considered questionable at best for Saturday's game due to personal reasons. Justin James would be the likeliest beneficiary of a second straight Ariza absence by garnering plenty of backup small forward minutes.
JaMychal Green, LAC
Green is considered questionable for Saturday's game with a back injury. Patrick Patterson would continue logging backup power forward minutes should Green miss.
Deandre Ayton, PHO
Ayton is likely to be considered questionable at best for Saturday's game with the ankle injury that cost him Friday's contest. Frank Kaminsky and Aron Baynes would be the beneficiaries of another Ayton absence.
Nassir Little, POR
Little is likely to be considered questionable for Saturday's game with the back injury that's already cost him four contests. With Carmelo Anthony (knee) also questionable, Mario Hezonja and Anthony Tolliver could be headed for heavy minutes at power forward Saturday.
Notable Long-Term Injuries/Absences: Eric Bledsoe, MIL; Gerald Green, HOU; Eric Gordon, HOU; Otto Porter, Jr., CHI; Chandler Hutchison, CHI; Andre Iguodala, MEM; Wayne Ellington, NYK; Reggie Bullock, NYK; Jusuf Nurkic, POR; Zach Collins, POR; Rodney Hood, POR; Jake Layman, MIN; Thomas Bryant, WAS; Moritz Wagner, WAS; C.J. Miles, WAS; Jordan McRae, WAS; Rui Hachimura, WAS
We have a total of four players with five-figure salaries on the slate in Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,300), James Harden ($11,100), Karl-Anthony Towns ($10,200) and Joel Embiid ($10,000). While Towns could miss with a knee injury, the other three players should be very popular in particularly favorable matchups. In the $9K range, Russell Westbrook ($9,200) could prove to be one of the top bargains of the night at his price while facing a vulnerable Suns squad. Additionally, Andre Drummond ($9,600) could be in for another night of expansive usage if Blake Griffin (knee) misses another game and, if so, he'll enjoy that extra responsibility while facing a Bulls team that sports the second-lowest rebounding rate (47.5 percent) in the league.
There could be a number of ways the chalk hits Saturday, as there appear to be multiple potentially mispriced Sacramento Kings (Richaun Holmes, $5.1K; Nemanja Bjelica, $4.8K; Marvin Bagley III, $4.7K, Harrison Barnes, $4.5K). There are also other possible bargains such as Lou Williams ($5.1K), Aron Baynes ($4.4K) and Gorgui Dieng ($4.4K), with the latter two potentially heading for starting roles due to injury. On the higher-end side of things, the Rockets duo of Russell Westbrook and James Harden should see plenty of clicks as usual, while the 76ers' main pieces should all carry a bit of elevated ownership while playing the frequently targeted Wizards.
As usual, I've also compiled a list of some sub-$6K value plays (including some already mentioned) that should carry a fair share of ownership due to savings, enhanced roles due to injuries, or both.
Key and Likely Underowned Values
Thaddeus Young, CHI at DET ($4,200)
Young is never really highly owned on a slate of this size, but he's a consistently reliable sub-$5K veteran that has the ability to outpace his current salary. He's scored over 20 FanDuel points in four of his last five games, including one 40-plus tally during that span, offering a glimpse at his upside. Young is consistently seeing over 20 minutes per contest as well and will face a Pistons squad ranked in the bottom half of the league in offensive efficiency allowed to opposing benches (43.0) and to power forwards specifically (25.9). What's more, Detroit is yielding the fourth-most FanDuel points per game (54.9) to power forwards over the last five contests, with Blake Griffin's knee issues, which are likely to keep him out again Saturday, thinning out the position for the Pistons.
Elie Okobo, PHO vs. HOU ($3,500)
Okobo appears to be carving out a larger role in the backcourt rotation for the Suns, having logged between 15 and 24 minutes in his last four games. He's encouragingly upped his production over that of the prior contest in each of those games, topping out at 26.2 FanDuel points versus the Thunder on Friday, his second straight game with more than 20. The second-year guard will be part of the game with the highest projected score of the night, and at minimum price and with what should be low ownership, he's an appealing large-field tournament play versus a Rockets squad allowing the fifth-highest offensive efficiency rating to second units (46.9) and 49.9 FanDuel points per game to point guards over the last 10.
Other Likely Underowned Value Play to Consider: Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, DET vs. CHI ($3,500)
Other likely higher-owned value plays to consider: Kelly Oubre Jr. ($5,900); Tomas Satoransky ($5,700); Brandon Clarke ($5,600); Jeff Teague ($5,400); Kris Dunn ($5,300); Richaun Holmes ($5,100); Lou Williams ($5,100); Josh Richardson ($5,000); Dillon Brooks ($4,900); Marvin Bagley III ($4,700); Harrison Barnes ($4,500); Dario Saric ($4,500)