This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
Welcome back, everyone! It's that time of year again, and I'll be serving up all the FanDuel DFs goodies four times a week this year. We begin our journey to Value Town with an 11 -game slate. Let's get right to it!
CHA (-2) vs. IND O/U: 224
CHI (-5) @ DET O/U: 218.5
NYK (-1.5) vs. BOS O/U: 218
TOR (-3) vs. WAS O/U: 220.5
MEM (-7.5) vs. CLE O/U: 216
MIN (-5.5) vs. HOU O/U: 229
PHI (-3) @ NOR O/U: 225.5
SAS (-6) vs. ORL O/U: 213.5
UTA (-12.5) vs. OKC O/U: 221.5
PHO (-6) vs. DEN O/U: 223
POR (-5) vs. SAC O/U: 233
The Grizzlies are running a considerable rotation, and eight guys are getting 20 minutes or more per game. If the preseason is any indication, Memphis is a place to fade the big names and find value in the supporting cast. The Celtics-Knicks game is another game I'm not too keen on. Conversely, I see a lot to like in the nightcap, with the Kings being the best contrarian option. I also expect some favorable numbers from Philly as they travel to the Big Easy to begin the season.
INJURIES TO MONITOR
This list will be a little longer than usual to give a clear picture of who is sidelined to begin the season.
IND Caris LeVert (back) - OUT
IND T.J. Warren (foot) - OUT
IND Justin Holiday (ankle) - QUESTIONABLE
IND Jeremy Lamb (wrist) - QUESTIONABLE
IND Kelan Martin (hamstring) - OUT
The Pacers will be short-handed to begin the season as LeVert will miss at least four more games, and Warren has no timetable for a return at present. While the Pacers will be anchored by Sabonis, Turner, and Brogdon, we should see a good dose of T.J. McConnell ($6,200) and Chris Duarte ($4,500) providing some backcourt relief amidst the injuries. If Holiday and Lamb play, they could emerge as great contrarian options.
CHI Coby White (shoulder) - OUT
White will be out until November, but given the addition of Lonzo Ball into the new-look Bulls offense, it's doubtful that White will make much of a fantasy impact when he returns.
DET Cade Cunningham (ankle) - OUT
The rookie's debut could come at any day, most likely this week. Josh Jackson ($5,200) will start the season at the two, and the duo should platoon at the position until Cunningham is cleared for a full workload.
BOS Jaylen Brown (COVID-19 Protocols) - QUESTIONABLE
BOS Al Horford (COVID-19 Protocols) - OUT
Keep an eye on this later in the day as a negative test from Brown could clear him for active duty. If he can't make it, we may see what Josh Richardson ($4,100) can do with his new team. Horford will remain out for the next week, but it seems that Robert Williams ($6,300) has the starting job locked up for now.
NYK Nerlens Noel (knee) - QUESTIONABLE
WAS Rui Hachimura (COVID-19 Protocols) - OUT
WAS Thomas Bryant (knee) -OUT
WAS Cassius Winston (knee) - OUT
While Hachimura and Winston should be back next week, Bryant may be out until December. Daniel Gafford ($5,500) is poised to cement his role at the five in the meantime.
TOR Pascal Siakam (shoulder) - OUT
TOR Chris Boucher (finger) - QUESTIONABLE
TOR Yuta Watanabe (calf) - OUT
CLE Dean Wade (ankle) - QUESTIONABLE
CLE Dylan Windler (hip) - OUT
Neither of these injuries will negatively affect Cleveland's rotation.
HOU John Wall (non-injury) - OUT
HOU Danuel House (personal) - QUESTIONABLE
We may have seen John Wall's last game in a Rockets jersey, but it's still too soon to say. House is out due to the birth of his child. If he is out, expect Daniel Theis ($5,200) and Jae'Sean Tate ($5,300) to contend for frontcourt minutes.
PHI Ben Simmons (suspension) - OUT
The Ben Simmons drama continues. Doc Rivers kicked him out of practice for conduct detrimental to the team, but you have to assume Simmons isn't too thrilled o be trapped with a coach who questioned his talent at the end of last season. While this plays out, Tyrese Maxey ($4,600) will start and make his claim on a regular backcourt gig.
NOP Zion Williamson (foot) - OUT
There's no timetable for Zion yet, but Naji Marshall ($3,900) appears to have the inside track to start in his absence.
ORL Markelle Fultz (knee) - OUT
ORL Michael Carter-Williams (undisclosed) - OUT
ORL Chuma Okeke (hip) -OUT
The first two tags aren't especially relevant, but new faces will affect Orlando's rotation in the frontcourt this season. When Okeke returns, he will have to contend with Moritz Wagner ($4,400) and Franz Wagner ($3,500) as well as Mo Bamba ($5,300), who seems prepared for a much more significant role.
DEN Jamal Murray (knee) - OUT
Murray is months away from a return, and a healthy Will Barton (44,200) will likely join Monte Morris ($4,700) in the backcourt to begin the season. We should also see a good dose of Facundo Campazzo ($4,700) again as well.
As usual, I will consider players 'elite' from the top of the pool down to $9,000 and make recommendations accordingly.
As one might expect, the 11-game slate provides a lot to offer in this category, but my favorite call in this range is Joel Embiid ($11,000). He'll be understandably tough to fade against a Pelicans front that will be without Zion Williamson's services. Embiid has a shoddy history opposite Jonas Valaniunas, but he did put up a double-double against him in the bubble. Moving down the docket, Bradley Beal ($9,400) sticks out as a great value against the Raptors. He averaged 40 FP over two games against Toronto last season. My third-favorite option among the elites is Domantas Sabonis ($9,700), who faces Charlotte's typically soft frontcourt.
Also consider: Damian Lillard, POR ($10,000) vs. SAC
EXPECTED CHALK AND CORE TARGETS
LaMelo Ball, CHA ($7,600) vs. IND
Considering all the hype surrounding Ball this season, he comes in at a compelling price. The Pacers are hurting in the backcourt, and the Hornets could pull off a W if Ball is draining the majority of his shots. He almost pulled off a triple-double in the preseason. If he can come anywhere close to that, 5x value should be a cinch for him tonight.
De'Aaron Fox, SAC ($8,500) @ POR
Some could view Fox as too expensive, but it's his price that could drive his rostership down on this slate. Fox was up to his usual tricks in the preseason and seemed dialed in from beyond the arc and as a ball distributor. He's coming off a career season, and although he could still improve from the charity stripe, he should excel overall against a Portland backcourt that's more focused on scoring than defense.
Anthony Edwards, MIN ($7,600) vs., HOU
Fortunes look bleak for the Rockets once again this season, but the Timberwolves are improving with each quality addition to their roster. Edwards was a centerpiece of the rebuilding effort, and the former Georgia standout has made a splash in the league with highlight video-worthy plays all last season. His preseason numbers seem to imply a fast start out of the gate.
Tobias Harris, PHI ($7,200) @ NOR
Like Ball, this number seems a little low for Harris, who has been the most consistent performer for the Sixers over the past two seasons. Harris is stellar on both sides of the ball, and he was a key factor in limiting Brandon Ingram in their sole meeting last season. With Zion Williamson sidelined, Harris should join Embiid for a favorable evening.
Like last year, value plays are defined as players who should beat their value at salaries below the FanDuel minimum price of $6,667. You'll usually find a lot of these values in the injury section as well.
Spencer Dinwiddie, WAS ($6,500) @ TOR
It's unlikely that you'll see Dinwiddie at this price point for much longer. He finally has a starting gig all his own, thanks to Russell Westbrook's departure, and we should see big things from him as he takes over the point guard duties for the Wizards. As his minutes ramp up into the 30s, we should see increases from his preseason numbers, which were excellent despite averaging a little over 20 minutes per game.
Kevin Porter, HOU ($6,100) @ MIN
Who's going to provide the offense for Houston this season? You can rely on Christian Wood, but after Eric Gordon, there isn't a dependable option unless you buy into Porter. Although he didn't arrive until mid-March, he was a bit of a fantasy darling to end that month, and despite a season-ending injury and a slight slump in the late Spring, he looks like a bonafide candidate to put up numbers in Houston. He's underpriced for now and worth the stash. Jalen Green ($5,500) is also worth consideration.
Derrick White, SAS ($5,500) vs. ORL
Last year was an injury-laden disappointment for White, but he was firing on all cylinders when healthy. He appears to be 100 percent going to the regular season, and big things should be in the offing for the Colorado product. The Magic are a bit banged up and lack sufficient defensive support in the backcourt, so both White and Dejounte Murray could find themselves in favorable territory Wednesday.
Kyle Kuzma, WAS ($4,700) @ TOR
Kuzma is my early-season pick for Most Improved Player. After toiling on the bench in LA, he gets an opportunity for a more prominent role with a new team. When Kuzma had the opportunity for extended playing time with the Lakers, he almost always stepped up to the challenge after early growing pains. He's filled out those considerable gaps in his play that plagued him early on, and he has a chance to silence the critics in his new surroundings.