Saturday’s NBA slate features an unusually high 13 games. We’ll have plenty of stars to roster, so bargain plays will be essential tonight. The main injury news to watch for includes: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Karl-Anthony Towns, Bradley Beal, Lauri Markkanen, Clint Capela, LeBron James, Malcolm Brogdon, Marcus Smart, De’Aaron Fox, Jabari Parker and Alex Len. In this column, I generally set $6000 FD/$5000 DK as the bargain threshold, and I try to indicate when I think a position is particularly well-suited--or not--to using the cheap plays given the landscape of the particular slate. DraftKings’ pricing is notably sharper than FanDuel’s tonight, so I tried to provide a couple extra options to consider where it was feasible. Tonight’s slate tips at 7:05 pm EST.
Elfrid Payton, New York Knicks at Washington ($5600 FD, $6500 DK)
If you’re looking for stability and consistency with upside in the high bargain range, look at Payton. He’s filling the stat sheet nightly, and even when he doesn’t shoot well, as against the Wizards earlier this week, he can pull off a 30-plus fantasy point night. Expect more of the same tonight.
Aaron Holiday, Indiana Pacers at New Orleans ($4700 FD, $5700 DK)
While Brogdon is out, Holiday is going to be a popular and worthwhile value option. When the game is against New Orleans, the fifth-best overall fantasy matchup and best PG matchup in the league, he’s a no-brainer. Unfortunately, DraftKings’ pricing is a bit sharp for this huge slate, but he’s still worth it in this game.
Lonzo Ball, New Orleans Pelicans vs. Indiana ($4900 FD, $5200 DK)
Ball should be considered for GPP lineups only, but there are a couple encouraging reasons to do so. First, he’s scored double-digit points in four of his last five games. Second, he’s played over 35 minutes in two of those, including 36 minutes in a win over Denver on Christmas. He’s a consistently good rebounder (for a guard) and has multi-steal upside.
Also consider: Cory Joseph, Sacramento Kings vs. Phoenix ($3600 FD, $3900 DK), Colin Sexton, Cleveland Cavaliers at Minnesota ($5600 FD, $ ?DK)
Delon Wright, Dallas Mavericks at Golden State ($4500 FD, $4100 DK)
I may be turning into a big Wright fan. Or maybe I’m just a fan of the matchup. Without key starters in the lineup, the Warriors have been a very fantasy-friendly matchup for opposing guards. Even though they’re on a four-game win streak, there is still room for fantasy success (and I bet the streak ends tonight). Dallas leads the league in offensive efficiency, and although of course Luka Doncic is the guard you really want, Wright is the one you can afford. He’s averaging over three steals per game over the last five games, and unlike other SGs, pads his stats with multiple rebounds and assists every night.
Gary Payton II, Washington Wizards vs. New York ($4600 FD, $5600 DK)
Now it’s only been two games, but Payton is looking like the player the Wizards need. His value (and ownership) probably goes up if Bradley Beal misses tonight’s game, but even with Beal on the court, he’s been an excellent source of every stat: 10 PPG, 8 RPG, 5 APG, 3.5 SPG, 1 BPG. It’s crazy, but Washington is still down several guys and Payton is making a better case for 30 MPG than most of them made while healthy this year.
Buddy Hield, Sacramento Kings vs. Phoenix ($5700 FD, $6200 DK)
I like Hield a moderate amount anyway, but if Fox misses tonight’s game, I think it’s likelier that his usage (and production) go up than Joseph’s (or Bogdan Bogdanovic at a similar salary). We had a long spell of missing Fox earlier this season and Joseph was not the answer. Rather, Hield was on fire, averaging closer to 40 fantasy points per game with several 50-plus games. Phoenix is a good overall matchup, and an especially good guard matchup. Look for Hield to perhaps double his recent production levels if Fox is out.
Also consider: Allen Crabbe, Atlanta Hawks at Chicago ($3500 FD, $3100 DK), Bruce Brown, Detroit Pistons ($4700 FD, $4900 DK), Jeremy Lamb, Indiana Pacers at New Orleans ($5000 FD, $4900 DK), R.J. Barrett, New York Knicks at Washington ($5400 FD, $5900 DK)
Marcus Morris, New York Knicks at Washington ($5200 FD, $6000 DK)
It looks like a game off did Morris and his Achilles some good, as he had a terrific effort Thursday night in Brooklyn. It’s hard to not pick on Washington tonight, but I don’t want to overload with Knicks, so choose between Payton and Morris depending on where you’re looking to save or spend.
Glenn Robinson III, Golden State Warriors vs. Dallas ($4600 FD, $5000 DK)
The Warriors needed to find answers and Robinson has been stepping up lately. Aside from an ankle injury that kept him out of action last Monday, he’s played about 30 MPG, scoring in double-digit points and supplying a few much-needed peripherals. It’s not easy to find this many minutes for this price, and this should be one of the higher scoring games of the night.
Also consider: Cam Reddish, Atlanta Hawks at Chicago ($4000 FD, $3900 DK), DeAndre’ Bembry, Atlanta Hawks at Chicago ($3500 FD, $3100 DK)
Chris Boucher, Toronto Raptors at Boston ($5100 FD, $5000 DK)
Boucher was the best of the bigs in Toronto on Christmas, scoring 24 points on the strength of his free-throw shooting and his drives to the hoop. He added a couple blocks and six rebounds to his final line of 37 fantasy points. Not bad vs. the Celtics. The Raptors will be looking to revenge that loss tonight, and considering Boucher was one of the bright spots on Wednesday, I’d expect to see him playing a prominent role off the bench once again. There are other options for the Raptors (OG Anunoby and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson in addition to Serge Ibaka), however, so I can’t trust Boucher in my cash game lineup.
Jonathan Williams, Washington Wizards vs. New York ($4800 FD, $4200 DK)
Is Williams the new Payton? He’s also a recent call-up for Washington, who had a stellar debut with 24 fantasy points. As long as the entire Wizards frontcourt except Ian Mahinmi is hurt, I’d expect to see Williams contributing. He stepped into 33 minutes in his first game Thursday night; expect the same kind of usage tonight in an even better PF matchup with the Knicks (fourth-best).
Bruno Fernando, Atlanta Hawks at Chicago ($3500 FD, $3000 DK)
If Alex Len and Jabari Parker are out tonight, consider Fernando a desperation salary-saver who could get you between 15-20 fantasy points in the absolute best PF/C matchup for fantasy. Alternatively, Damian Jones (same salary but C-eligible) would be in for some additional court time as well.
Also consider: Wendell Carter, Chicago Bulls vs. Atlanta ($5600 FD, $6000 DK)
Aron Baynes, Phoenix Suns vs. Sacramento ($4100 FD, $5100 DK)
You know the drill here; with Deandre Ayton out, Baynes will start and come frustratingly close to a double-double for about 20ish fantasy points. If his is the salary that fits into an otherwise solid lineup, go for it. There’s nothing special about the matchup or his talent that would make me force him in tonight but he’s a fine option for the price.