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

This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.

We have a standard six-game slate Saturday night, one that makes up for what it may lack in sheer size with some expected explosive game environments. We also have plenty of superstars in action for a mid-sized ledger, so those looking to pay up for some elite upside will have choices at their disposal. The injury report is light as well, which affords us strong depth at each position.

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!

Slate Overview

Here's a closer look at the three games with the highest projected total on Saturday's slate:

Dallas Mavericks at Atlanta Hawks (Projected total: 240.5 points)

At this point in the season, the presence of the Hawks in the game with the highest projected total doesn't require much explanation. Atlanta continues to bleed plenty of points (119.0 per contest, second most in NBA) and play at a breakneck pace (107.7 possessions per game, third most). Meanwhile, the Mavericks are the highest-scoring road team in the league (118.1 PPG) and lit up the Hawks for 123 points in their one prior meeting this season on Feb. 1. De'Andre Hunter will miss the game for the hosts, but otherwise, both teams will have all of their key pieces healthy and rested.

Houston Rockets at Utah Jazz (Projected total: 232.5 points)

Although the Jazz continue to have one of the best defenses in the league statistically, especially at home. Utah has been involved in some shootouts this season. That includes two prior games against Houston, which have finished with totals of 243 and 227 points, respectively. The Rockets also come in averaging 117.8 points per road game, but they're also allowing almost as much (117.0 PPG) when traveling. For its part, Utah is averaging a solid 111.3 points per game at home, and 114.3 per contest overall in their last three. It's also worth noting the Rockets will bring a big bump in pace to the Jazz, as Houston is averaging a brisk 107.4 possessions per game.

Philadelphia 76ers at Milwaukee Bucks (Projected total: 226.5 points)

The 76ers and Bucks already combined for one high-scoring affair this season (230 points on Christmas Day) and Milwaukee comes into Saturday's game averaging the most points of any team on its home floor (121.5). The Bucks also happen to play at the NBA's fastest pace (108.2 possessions per game), which should raise offensive expectations and opportunities for the much more deliberate 76ers (102.7 possessions per contest). Philadelphia does have an impressive defense, but it's worth noting they've been markedly more generous on the road (110.5 PPG) than at home (101.9 PPG).

Positional Breakdown

As the relatively sparse injury report listed below this section will indicate, all positions should be in relatively good shape Saturday. Point guard will certainly benefit from the expected returns of Ben Simmons (back) and Mike Conley (rest), and both Luka Doncic and Trae Young could prove to be excellent choices for those paying up, considering they'll face one another in the game with the highest projected total of the night. Shooting guard essentially enjoys a clean bill of health, and in addition to the prolific James Harden up top, it features a couple of potential bargains in Donovan Mitchell ($6.9K) and Caris LeVert ($6.2K) in the mid-tier range.

Small forward has the potential absence of Eric Gordon (lower leg) and the confirmed ones of De'Andre Hunter (personal), Chandler Hutchison (shoulder) and Denzel Valentine (hamstring) in the sub-$5K range, but otherwise, it also has plenty of options. There's also significant price drop-off from top choice Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11.3K) to next most expensive option Tobias Harris ($6.3K). At power forward, there are no health concerns outside of Luke Kornet (doubtful-ankle) and a deep field that includes a Bam Adebayo-Kristaps Porzingis duo up top that could prove to be some of the more rewarding expensive plays of the night at $9.1K and $9K, respectively.

Finally, center is also free of long-term injuries and sees just Clint Capela (heel) among its walking wounded. It's also a position that has a couple of potentially sneaky large-field tournament value options in Aron Baynes ($3.9K) and Bismack Biyombo ($3.8K).

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.

Returning from Load Management Day: Mike Conley, UTA

Ben Simmons, PHI

Simmons is probable with the back tightness that cost him Thursday's game.

De'Andre Hunter, ATL

Hunter is out due to personal reasons. Cam Reddish figures to be the biggest beneficiary of his absence.

DeAndre' Bembry, ATL

Bembry is doubtful due to abdominal pain.

Meyers Leonard, MIA

Leonard remains out due to an ankle injury.

Tyler Herro, MIA

Herro remains out due to a foot injury.

Alfonzo McKinnie, CLE

McKinnie will not play due to a foot injury.

Luke Kornet, CHI

Kornet is doubtful due to an ankle injury. Daniel Gafford and Cristiano Felicio project to handle center duties in Kornet's absence.

Kyle Korver, MIL

Korver is likely to be listed no better than questionable with a back injury.

Eric Gordon, HOU

Gordon is likely to be listed as no better than questionable with the lower leg injury that cost him Thursday's game.

Chandler Hutchison, CHI

Hutchison will be out due to a shoulder injury.

Denzel Valentine, CHI

Valentine will not play due to a hamstring injury.

Notable Longer-Term Injuries/Absences: Kyrie Irving, BKN; Clint Capela, ATL; Skal Labissiere, ATL; Lauri Markkanen, CHI; Otto Porter, CHI; Kris Dunn, CHI; Frank Kaminsky, PHO

Elite Players

We have six games and a corresponding number of players with five-figure salaries Saturday – Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11.3K), James Harden ($11.1K), Russell Westbrook ($10.3K), Trae Young ($10.2K), Joel Embiid ($10.1K) and Luka Doncic ($10K).

Of that group, both Young and Doncic could be especially worth the investment in a likely shootout between their two squads. Then, consider Antetokounmpo decimated the 76ers the most recent time he saw them this season, exploding for a 36-point, 20-rebound effort on Feb. 6. Harden and Westbrook are in a theoretically tough matchup versus the Jazz, but each has already exploded for well over 50 FanDuel points against Utah in a game this season.

Expected Chalk

We have a relatively modest six-game slate but not an inordinate amount of key injuries, which should keep chalk more or less restricted to players that would already carry a high degree of popularity. In terms of offensive environments that should help lead to plenty of chalk, the Mavericks-Hawks game will undoubtedly be the prime example. Elite options Luka Doncic and Trae Young should see a bump in the already extensive amount of clicks they normally receive. Meanwhile, Ben Simmons' expected return from his back issues should flatten ownership out on the likes of teammates Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid.

As customary, I've also put together a specific list of sub-$6K value plays that should find themselves in plenty of lineups – some due to injury situations on their respective teams – and have included those below the next section.

Key and Likely Underowned Values

Kendrick Nunn, MIA vs. CLE ($4,000)

Nunn has more or less fallen out of favor with the DFS community recently, as he's scored under 20 FanDuel points in six of his last nine games, a stretch that dates back to Jan. 22. That downturn has led to a nice price drop for the rookie, who remains the Heat's starting point guard despite his slump. Nunn's ownership should be modest Saturday in light of the circumstances, but the stage could be set for a nice resurgent effort. The Cavaliers come in allowing the second-highest offensive efficiency rating (29.3) to point guards, and they're tied with the Wizards for the highest shooting percentage (47.5) allowed to the position. Cleveland is also allowing the most FanDuel points per game to point guards (47.6), and Nunn exploited their weaknesses to the tune of 45 FanDuel points the one previous time he faced them this season.

Dorian Finney-Smith, DAL at ATL ($4,000)

Finney-Smith has been far from spectacular lately, which should certainly keep his ownership modest Saturday. However, the versatile wing could make for a rewarding large-field tournament play based on his matchup, as Dallas is visiting the fast-paced and defensively vulnerable Hawks. Atlanta has been a sieve across the board this season, but they've been particularly poor defending the small forward position. The Hawks are surrendering the highest offensive efficiency rating (28.3), shooting percentage (47.3) and three-point percentage (40.7) to threes, along with the most rebounds (9.1), assists (4.6), steals (2.1) and blocks (1.2) to the position. That's led to Atlanta surrendering the second-most FanDuel points per game (41.3) to SFs, and while Finney-Smith has scored less than 20 FanDuel points in four of the last six, it's worth noting he's met or exceeded the threshold on 28 occasions this season.

Cameron Johnson, PHO at CHI ($3,800)

Johnson is another player likely to slide under the radar Saturday. Yet, he too is locked into a matchup that could allow him to outpace his modest salary. The rookie is enjoying a solid season overall and will come into Saturday's game having scored 16.2 to 23.9 FanDuel points in his last four games. Johnson has scored 20 or more FanDuel points in 11 games overall on the campaign, and he draws a premium matchup Saturday against a Bulls team that checks in with the third-lowest rebounding rate (48.0 percent) in the NBA and that's allowed the fourth-highest offensive efficiency rating (27.4) to power forwards. The Bulls also surrendering the seventh-highest offensive efficiency to opposing second units (45.1) and second highest in the paint (60.9), furthering Johnson's case at just $300 away from minimum.

Other likely lower-owned value plays to consider: Aron Baynes, PHO at CHI ($3,900); Shaquille Harrison, CHI vs. PHO ($3,800); Bismack Biyombo, CHA vs. BKN ($3,800); Daniel Gafford, CHI vs. PHO ($3,700)

Other likely higher-owned value plays to consider: Mike Conley, UTA ($5,800); Thaddeus Young, CHI ($5,700); Bojan Bogdanovic, UTA ($5,600); Tim Hardaway, DAL ($5,600); DeAndre Jordan, BKN ($5,500); Tomas Satoransky, CHI ($5,400); Jordan Clarkson, UTA ($5,300); Cody Zeller, CHA ($5,000); Goran Dragic, MIA ($4,900); Jae Crowder, MIA ($4,600); Cam Reddish, ATL ($4,400); Cristiano Felicio, CHI ($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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