This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
We have a big 11-game pre-Christmas Eve slate on tap, giving us 22 teams to construct our lineups with. There are a few big names on the injury report as well, which offers the potential for several modestly priced options to enter our roster construction process. And as is often the case with this many games, we have the benefit of several games with elevated totals that could certainly help generate some strong DFS production.
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.
Here's a closer look at the three games with the highest elevated totals:
Houston Rockets at Sacramento Kings (Projected total: 230.0 points)
The Rockets make their customary appearance as one of the participants in a game with an elevated total. In this case, it's the game with the highest expectation of the night, as the Houston juggernaut heads into Sacramento. The Kings are allowing a respectable 105.6 points per home game, but the Rockets check in averaging an NBA-high 121.3 points per road contest, and their Big Three of James Harden, Russell Westbrook and Clint Capela is naturally very much in play.
New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Trail Blazers (Projected total: 229.5 points)
Carmelo Anthony remains questionable for the Trail Blazers with a knee injury, but that doesn't really lower the expectation here by much. Portland still carries plenty of offensive firepower with its star backcourt and Hassan Whiteside down low, while the Pelicans come in allowing 119.7 points per away game. Portland scores 115.7 per home contest and will see a slight bump in pace against a Pels squad averaging the third-most possessions per game (107.9).
Atlanta Hawks at Cleveland Cavaliers (Projected total: 229.5 points)
The Hawks carry the potent combination of a team that plays fast (107.6 possessions per game, including 109.1 per away game) and that's highly inefficient on defense (NBA-high 125.1 points allowed per away game). The Cavaliers are only modestly better (113.4 PPG allowed), so this game does have the potential to turn into a track meet, as the oddsmakers clearly expect. Trae Young carries elite expectations in this spot against a Cleveland team that's struggled mightily to contain point guards all season, and the return of John Collins from his suspension also boosts Atlanta's overall potential.
PG: We're in fine shape at point guard, as the combination of a big slate and a near-clean bill of health gives us choices for every budget. Trae Young, Russell Westbrook and Damian Lillard are an excellent trio to consider if paying up, and all three players are part of the games with the three highest projected totals of the night. There's also a strong mid-tier and value all the way down into the high-$3K range.
SG: It's an equally favorable situation at shooting guard, with James Harden and Bradley Beal helming the position, and a fully stocked mid-tier level that includes the likes of D'Angelo Russell, Jrue Holiday, Donovan Mitchell and Andrew Wiggins. You can also find viable large-field tournament plays right down to the $4K price point, where Ben McLemore and Langston Galloway sit.
SF: Even with such a big slate, we don't have any truly elite options at small forward with Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James getting the night off. Brandon Ingram comes close at the top with a price of $8,700, however, and you can save salary all the way into the high $3K range with the likes of Justin Holiday and Trevor Ariza.
PF: Davis Bertans' and Rui Hachimura's confirmed absences with quadriceps and hip injuries, respectively, and the possible ones for Blake Griffin (illness) and Domantas Sabonis (hip) thin choices out just a bit, but there's still plenty of strong options available across the salary scale. Bam Adebayo and Serge Ibaka head up a strong top tier alongside Sabonis, while there's value to consider all the way into the high $3K range with Chris Boucher ($3,900) in for plenty of minutes due to Toronto's frontcourt injuries.
C: Another possible absence for Karl-Anthony Towns (knee) potentially takes away the top option at the position, but the likes of Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic, Andre Drummond and Hassan Whiteside are still available if you want to pay up. There are cumulatively fewer choices here than other positions as you work your way down the player pool due to injury, but you can potentially find large-field tournament value as low as minimum price with the Heat's Kelly Olynyk and Meyers Leonard both priced down for a matchup against the Jazz.
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.
Karl-Anthony Towns, MIN
Clint Capela, HOU
Capela is considered probable with a heel bruise.
Joel Embiid, PHI
Embiid is questionable for Monday's game due to illness. Kyle O'Quinn and Al Horford could both put in time at center if Embiid sits, while the usage of all other members of the 76ers' starting five would naturally bump up as well.
Carmelo Anthony, POR
Anthony is considered questionable due to the knee issue that cost him Saturday's contest versus the Timberwolves. Mario Hezonja and Anthony Tolliver would share power forward duties should Anthony sit again.
Domantas Sabonis, IND
Sabonis is considered questionable with hip soreness. He is reportedly optimistic about playing, but if he fails to suit up, Doug McDermott and T.J. Leaf would likely be the beneficiaries of time at power forward.
Jeremy Lamb, IND
Lamb is likely to be listed as questionable at best with the groin injury that's cost him the past two games. Justin Holiday and Aaron Holiday would be the likely beneficiaries at two guard should Lamb be out again.
Davis Bertans, WAS
Bertans will not play due to a quadriceps injury. Admiral Schofield is likely to draw the start at power forward in a decimated Wizards frontcourt.
Jonas Valanciunas, MEM
Valanciunas is questionable with a foot injury that cost him Saturday's contest against the Kings. Jaren Jackson Jr. would likely shift over to center again if Valanciunas were to miss a second straight game.
Ricky Rubio, PHO
Rubio is considered questionable with the illness that knocked him out of Saturday's contest against the Rockets. Elie Okobo would likely be in for another start at point guard should Rubio sit again.
Dario Saric, PHO
Saric is probable with a leg injury.
Frank Kaminsky, PHO
Kaminsky is probable with a knee injury.
Deandre Ayton, PHO
Ayton will not play due to his ankle injury. Aron Baynes will draw another start at center in Ayton's place.
Evan Turner, ATL
Turner is considered questionable with a hamstring injury. De'Andre Hunter would be a potential beneficiary of extra minutes as a backup small forward if Turner were sidelined.
Larry Nance Jr., CLE
Nance is questionable with left knee soreness. Alfonzo McKinnie would slot in for extra minutes as a backup power forward if Nance sits.
Raul Neto, PHI
Neto is considered probable due to illness.
Glenn Robinson III, GSW
Robinson is considered questionable due to a right ankle sprain. Eric Paschall, questionable in his own right with a knee injury, would be in line to replace Robinson at small forward should the latter sit, while Jacob Evans appears set for extra minutes as well if either player is sidelined.
Eric Paschall, GSW
Zach LaVine, CHI
Lavine is considered probable with a shoulder strain.
Wendell Carter Jr., CHI
Carter is probable with an abdomen injury.
Ryan Arcidiacono, CHI
Arcidiacono is probable with elbow soreness.
Carter-Williams is out with a shoulder injury. Terrence Ross would be the beneficiary of some extra minutes at backup shooting guard.
Blake Griffin, DET
Griffin is questionable due to an illness. Markieff Morris will likely draw the start at power forward in Griffin's stead if the latter sits again.
Derrick Rose, DET
Rose will likely be considered questionable after resting his sore knee for Saturday's contest against the Bulls. Tim Frazier and Langston Galloway would be potential beneficiaries of extra backup point guard minutes if Rose were to sit.
Bogdan Bogdanovic, SAC
Deandre Ayton, PHO
Notable Long-Term Injuries/Absences: 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; Matisse Thybulle, PHI; Justise Winslow, MIA; Dion Waiters, MIA; Mike Conley, UTA; Al-Farouq Aminu, ORL; Zion Williamson, NOP; Darius Miller, NOP; Christian Wood, DET; Marc Gasol, TOR; Norman Powell, TOR; Pascal Siakam, TOR; Stanley Johnson, TOR; Stephen Curry, GSW; Klay Thompson, GSW
Despite 22 teams being in action Monday, we have only three players with five-figures salaries in James Harden ($12,000), Karl-Anthony Towns ($10,300) and Trae Young ($10,300). On top of that, Towns is questionable with his knee injury, leaving an even shallower selection up top if you deem him too risky to use. The $9K range does help prop up the top shelf, however, as Joel Embiid ($9,700), Russell Westbrook ($9,600), Nikola Jokic ($9,500), Andre Drummond ($9,400), Bradley Beal ($9,400), Damian Lillard ($9,300) and Hassan Whiteside ($9,000) can all make for fine choices (NOTE: Embiid is also questionable with an illness).
Positional scarcity doesn't give any one of those players priority over the rest with such a large slate, but it's worth noting Beal may be even more valuable than usual due to the mile-long list of absences for the Wizards and a solid matchup against the Knicks. Drummond also would hold a bit of extra appeal if Blake Griffin sits out another game, as would Lillard if Carmelo Anthony misses a second straight contest with a knee issue.
We certainly have enough choices Monday to help keep ownership levels under control, although the biggest names on the slate should remain as popular as they usually are. As just alluded to, Beal, Lillard and Drummond could be a bit more coveted than usual due to the injury scenarios on their respective teams, and Ben Simmons and Al Horford would also see heavier ownership if Embiid were to sit.
Key and Likely Underowned Values
T.J. Warren, IND vs. TOR ($4,800)
Warren would typically be too prominent a name to fall under the "likely underowned" banner, but he's frequently frustrated anyone rostering him with sub-standard production lately. However, he's still provided enough glimpses of the upside he carries when his shooting is on to make him worthy of consideration for tournaments Monday. The veteran wing has over 30 FanDuel points in two of his last three games, but he also has tallies of between 13.8 and 19.2 in three other contests over his last five, with a pair of single-digit scoring tallies included in that sample. He draws a solid matchup with which to get back on the right track, considering the Raptors check in allowing 46.9 FanDuel points per game to small forwards for the season, along with 36.3 percent shooting from behind the arc to the position.
Kevin Knox II, NYK vs. WAS ($4,000)
Knox is locked into a solid backup wing role that's affording him a minimum of 20 minutes per contest lately, and he checks into Monday's game with a pair of tallies of more than 30 FanDuel points in his last three games. However, it's what Knox has done in his eight other contests over the last 10 – namely, score no more than 16.6 FanDuel points in those games – that likely will keep his ownership relatively low. A matchup against a decimated Wizards squad could certainly coax better production out of him, as Washington comes in allowing an elevated 47.2 percent shooting to small forwards, along with 47.3 FanDuel points per game to the position. What's more, Washington is surrendering the ninth-highest offensive efficiency rating (45.2) to opposing second-unit players, along with the second-highest shooting percentage (47.9).
Anzejs Pasecniks, WAS at NYK ($4,000)
Pasecniks has been the beneficiary of extra opportunity in the last three games due to a Wizards frontcourt that's been completely gutted by injury. It gets worse for a Washington team already missing its top two centers (Thomas Bryant, Moritz Wagner) with foot and ankle injuries and its top two power forwards (Rui Hachimura, Davis Bertans) with groin and quadriceps issues Monday, leaving Pasecniks to potentially log heavy playing time at the five. He's scored 18.1 and 14.9 FanDuel points, respectively, in two of his first three games, and the Knicks come in with a bottom-10 ranking in offensive efficiency rating (45.6) allowed to opposing benches, along with the fifth-most rebounds (17.6) per contest to second units as well. Given that he's seen over 20 minutes in two of his first three contests, Pasecniks could certainly make for a solid low-ownership option that will allow you to spend up elsewhere.
Other likely higher-owned value plays to consider: Alec Burks ($5,600); Collin Sexton ($5,600); Jeff Teague ($5,500); RJ Barrett ($5,500); Marcus Morris ($5,200); Elfrid Payton ($5,200): Jabari Parker ($4,700); Harrison Barnes ($4,700); Ish Smith ($4,500); Gorgui Dieng ($4,300); Derrick White ($4,000); Rondae Hollis-Jefferson ($4,000); Rudy Gay ($4,000); Chris Boucher ($3,900)