Saturday presents seven games in the NBA, and compared to other DFS slates over the course of the season, this one isn’t totally filled with superstar players to pay up for. Meanwhile, injuries aren’t slowing down so make sure to monitor the news throughout the day.
Fred VanVleet will remain out for the Raptors, but it looks like Kyle Lowry has a shot to return to action. He’s listed as questionable with his foot injury. There is a chance his minutes are limited, Lowry could be worth the chance, especially with VanVleet out. With VanVleet off the floor this season, Lowry is sporting a 25.1% usage rate and 26% assist rate, while averaging 1.14 fantasy points per minute. He also leads the Raptors in transition points per game (4.3) and faces a Cavaliers defense that is surrendering fourth-most points per game off the play type on the season (20.8). Gary Trent, meanwhile, is struggling of late, shooting 6-of-29 from the field over the last two games. However, the minutes and opportunity will be there for him with VanVleet sidelined and the price is still fair. Pascal Siakam should remain a safe option with an attainable ceiling, as he is sporting a 27% usage rate with VanVleet and Lowry off the floor this season. Finally, Chris Boucher is coming off an insane game (38 points, 19 rebounds) and he’s now logged 33 and 36 minutes over the last two games. The price has come up and the minutes have fluctuated over the course of the season, but he is still in play in tournaments against a Cavaliers team that is allowing the fifth-most points per possession (1.21) to opposing roll men out of the pick and roll. Boucher, meanwhile, is averaging 4.1 points per game off the play type, good for the 10th-most in the NBA.
Cleveland, meanwhile, will once again remain without Larry Nance and Jarrett Allen in the frontcourt. We saw Kevin Love go for 18 points and 11 rebounds in just 23 minutes last game, despite hardly playing in the fourth quarter. In 135 minutes with both Allen and Nance off the floor this season, Love is sporting a 25% usage rate and 33% rebounding rate so if he can get to 27-30 minutes in what should be a closer game, he could smash his $6,100 price tag. Toronto is also coughing up the third-most spot-up points per game on the year (34.0), making this a good spot for Love. Collin Sexton, meanwhile, has now scored at least 20 real points in nine of his last 10 games and has provided a solid floor, though he isn’t a priority since he’s priced at his ceiling.
Lakers @ Nets preview
BKN -10.5, total: 221.5
Kevin Durant made his long-awaited return the other night and didn’t miss a beat, scoring 17 points on perfect shooting in 19 minutes. I imagine he’ll be limited again Saturday, making him a risky option at $9,100, though with James Harden still out, we know what the ceiling is if Durant can play even 25-27 minutes, let alone 30-plus. Of course, even at his elevated price tag, you can go back to Kyrie Irving, who is sporting a 32% usage rate with Harden off the floor this season. However, with Durant back in the lineup, no one else on this Brooklyn team is really on my radar.
For the Lakers, I am intrigued by Andre Drummond here. He returned from a three-game absence on Thursday and scored nearly 39 fantasy points in 27 minutes. Drummond saw 21 rebounding chances in that game and should continue to dominate the glass until Anthony Davis and LeBron James are ready to return to action. Facing a Brooklyn team that ranks 28th against rebounders and 24th against skilled centers on the season, per our advanced DvP tool, Drummond could really thrive in this spot. The Nets are also allowing the most points per game to the post in the NBA (7.4). I also like Dennis Schroder at $7,000 on DK, who is averaging the fourth-most touches per game over the last 15 outings (92.9), while he’s also averaging 7.2 minutes of possession per game during that stretch. The Nets also rank 25th against primary ball handlers, according to advanced DVP. Meanwhile, if Kyle Kuzma is once again sidelined, Wesley Matthews could become a value option at $3,400. He played 28 minutes in Kuzma’s absence last game.
Kings @ Jazz preview
UTA -12, total: 231.5
Jordan Clarkson missed Utah’s last game with an ankle injury and is listed as doubtful to play here. Joe Ingles will soak up more minutes off the bench and logged 35 minutes last game, putting him firmly in play again here, especially against a poor Kings defense. This is also a terrific matchup for Donovan Mitchell, facing a Sacramento team that ranks 29th against dimers, 30th against primary ball handlers, 30th against scorers and 28th against crafty finishers. Sacramento is also allowing the seventh-most points per game to opposing ball handlers out of the pick and roll (20.4), while Mitchell’s 10.7 points per game off the play type are good for the fifth-most in the NBA. Finally, Rudy Gobert is still a strong option at $8,000 on DK, especially against a Kings team that is allowing the second-most points per game off putbacks (7.0). Gobert, meanwhile, is averaging 3.3 putback points per game, the fifth-most in basketball.
For the Kings, De'Aaron Fox is an intriguing GPP play. He shouldn’t be too popular, and the Jazz are quietly allowing the second-most points per game to opposing ball handlers out of the pick and roll (21.9). Fox, meanwhile, is averaging just over 10 points per game off the play type this season. Buddy Hield also has a ceiling at his $5,800 price tag but no one else really stands out as must-plays from Sacramento.
76ers @ Thunder preview
PHI -11, total: 217.5
Joel Embiid aggravated his knee injury Friday night and could miss Saturday’s game. If he plays, he is a fantastic option, facing an Oklahoma City team that is surrendering the fifth-most points per possession (1.01) and fourth-highest field goal percentage (53%) to the post this season, while Embiid leads the NBA in post-up points (9.8) and possessions (9.2) per game. If he sits, Dwight Howard obviously gets a bump, as he is sporting a massive 47% rebounding rate with Embiid off the floor this season, while averaging 1.17 fantasy points per minute in the split. Meanwhile, Tobias Harris and Ben Simmons become much more enticing fantasy options if Embiid sits. Harris’ usage rate jumps up by nearly four percent with Embiid off the floor, putting him at a strong 28% mark over the course of the season.
For the Thunder, Moses Brown definitely gets a bump if Embiid sits, as foul trouble is less of an issue. Embiid is drawing a foul on 20.9% of his shot attempts this season, one of the higher marks in the league. Meanwhile, Jaylen Hoard could be a decent value option at just $4000 on DK. He should play 25-30 minutes for the rebuilding Thunder.
Rockets @ Warriors preview
GSW -9, total: 227
This is a good spot for Stephen Curry to keep it going. He’s scored at least 50 fantasy points in each of his last five games and Houston doesn’t have anyone to slow him down. I also like Kelly Oubre, who is playing huge minutes right now, at $6,200 on DraftKings. This is also a good matchup for Draymond Green but at $7,100, his ceiling is a bit capped if he doesn’t record a triple-double, which is certainly possible, but his field goal attempts have just been so low all year long.
I have some GPP interest in Christian Wood, who has seen his price come down a bit as of late. Golden State is coughing up the most putback points per game on the year (7.4), while the Warriors also rank just 21st against skilled centers on the season, per advanced DVP. Meanwhile, after resting on Friday, John Wall will be back in the lineup tonight and is perfectly in play at $7,900. The Warriors play at the second-highest pace in basketball, which bodes well for Wall, who is averaging nearly four points per game in transition on the season.
Pistons @ Trail Blazers preview
POR -11.5, total: 225.5
Jusuf Nurkic has already been ruled out for Portland, which gives Enes Kanter a bump. His price has come all the way down to $5,900, which is very, very intriguing and almost makes him one of the top plays on the board on this slate. With Nurkic off the court this season, Kanter is sporting an absurd 44% rebounding rate, while averaging 1.14 fantasy points per minute. I also really like the price tags on both Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum in this spot. The Pistons are surrendering the sixth-most points per possession (0.98) and seventh-highest field goal percentage (43.2%) off isolation this season. That bodes well for Lillard, who ranks fourth in the NBA in isolation points per game (5.1) and McCollum, who is right behind him, averaging 4.3 such points per game, good for the eighth-most in basketball.
Mason Plumlee is questionable for Detroit. If he sits, we could go back to Isaiah Stewart, who drew the start last game and recorded his first career double-double (16 points, 13 rebounds). Stewart is sporting a 30% rebounding rate with Plumlee off the floor this season and he’ll facilitate a little bit, too, collecting four assists in that last game. Jerami Grant, meanwhile, is going to remain sidelined for the Pistons, which opens up some more opportunities for Josh Jackson. The problem, however, is that Detroit is running a fairly deep rotation right now, especially with Killian Hayes back. Cory Joseph played 32 minutes last game and produced, scoring over 40 fantasy points against his former team. However, if someone else from this backcourt has the hot hand, the Pistons could ride with them, making anyone from this backcourt pretty risky.
Wizards @ Suns preview
PHX -12, total: 228
The Wizards are coming off the front end of a back-to-back, which results in a questionable tag for Bradley Beal. If he is ruled out, you know what to do by now: Play Russell Westbrook, who averaged well over 100 touches per game in Beal’s recent five-game absence. And with Beal off the floor this season, Westbrook’s usage rate is hovering right around the 37% mark, while also posting a 30% rebounding rate and 29% assist rate. Raul Neto could also be worth a look if Beal is ruled out.
This is a massive pace-up spot for Phoenix, as they face a Washington team that leads the NBA in pace. Chris Paul and Devin Booker are very strong plays here, especially since both have now been priced down a bit. Washington ranks 27th against primary ball handlers on the season, while also ranking 25th against crafty finishers and 21st against scorers. Booker is also averaging 5.3 transition points per game on the year (eighth-most), while the Wizards are allowing 20.8 transition points per game, good for the fourth-most in basketball. I also think Mikal Bridges is very sneaky here, as he is sporting a 26% frequency rate in transition, one of the highest marks among all qualified players this season. Finally, Deandre Ayton is still viable at a reasonable $6,700 price tag. Washington ranks 25th against rim protectors and 24th against rebounders on the season.
Adam Pfeifer has been covering fantasy football, baseball and basketball since 2012. He has been featured in the Football Diehards fantasy magazine for four years now, while also making multiple appearances on Sirius XM Fantasy. You can follow him on Twitter @APfeifer24.