This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
We go from one extreme to the other in terms of slate size Saturday, as the main ledger only has four games on it after an 11-game schedule Friday. Fortunately, we're very light on notable short-term injuries, which certainly helps with only eight teams in action and several big names still amid multi-game absences.
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One less appealing aspect of Saturday's schedule is that three of the four games carry spreads of 6.5 points or higher. While heavy favorites have certainly gotten a lot more than they bargained for on plenty of occasions already this season, it's still a less-than-ideal circumstance from a DFS perspective. Nevertheless, there's some optimism to be gleaned from the fact three of the contests have projected totals between 232 and 240 points as of early Saturday.
Injury Situations to Monitor
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Luka Doncic, DAL (ankle): PROBABLE
Doncic is fully expected to play and fill his usual ultra-high usage role as Dallas' linchpin.
Andrew Wiggins, GSW (illness): PROBABLE
Wiggins is expected to return from a 15-game absence, which was mainly due to an adductor injury but also included a non-COVID illness over the last week or so. If Wiggins immediately reenters the starting five, it's expected to affect the minutes of Donte DiVincenzo and Anthony Lamb most directly.
Other notable injuries:
Zion Williamson, NOP (hamstring): OUT
Anthony Davis, LAL (foot): OUT
Stephen Curry, GSW (shoulder): OUT
Brandon Ingram, NOP (toe): OUT
Collin Sexton, UTA (hamstring): OUT
Lonnie Walker, LAL (knee): OUT
We have three players with five-figure salaries that have a chance to play on Saturday's slate – Luka Doncic ($12,500), LeBron James ($11,400) and Domantas Sabonis ($10,300).
Doncic dipped to 34.3 FD points against the Celtics on Thursday, but that was in a blowout scenario for Boston and still impressively came over just 31 minutes. He naturally carries a virtually limitless ceiling, most recently demonstrating as much by scoring 64.4 to 105 FD points in the four games immediately prior.
James scored 43.2 FD points across 32 minutes against the Hawks in his return after a one-game absence Friday, and he'd scored 70.5 and 65.2 FD points in the two games prior. He should have another chance to add to his impressive recent run against a Kings defense that ranks 27th in defensive efficiency.
Sabonis has scored 43.8 to 54.5 FD points in his last four contests, and he's eclipsed 50 FD points on seven occasions in the last 10 games overall.
Other likely chalk plays include:
Lauri Markkanen, UTA ($9,000)
Markkanen has proven the ability to deliver the production of a five-figure-salary player, as he did in his most recent game when he scored a career-high 49 points on his way to 63.1 FD points versus the Rockets on Thursday.
DeMar DeRozan, CHI ($9,000)
DeRozan has been under 40 FD points in his last two games, but he scored 67.6 FD points three games ago and should be very popular on a small slate.
CJ McCollum, NOP ($8,700)
McCollum has scored 41.2 and 47.2 FD points in his last two games, and he sports a 30.4 percent usage rate with an average of 41.4 FD points per 36 minutes without Zion Williamson on the floor this season.
De'Aaron Fox, SAC ($8,600)
Fox has scored over 50 FD points in two of his last five games and posted 43.5 in his most recent contest, which should keep him highly rostered against a vulnerable Lakers squad.
Jordan Poole, GSW ($8,400)
Poole has put up 36 to 49 FD points in his last three games and is facing a Magic squad that's been vulnerable to point guards all season.
Jarred Vanderbilt, UTA at CHI ($5,900)
Vanderbilt draws a premium matchup against a Bulls squad that's been highly vulnerable to power forwards all season. Chicago is allowing an NBA-high offensive efficiency rating to fours (30.0) and 54.5 FD points per game to the position in the last seven contests. Vanderbilt has scored 26.3 to 31.8 FD points in four of the last five games, a stretch during which he's shooting an impressive 57.1 percent. The big man has also delivered over 5x return on his current salary on 12 occasions this season, and conditions could certainly be right for him to serve as a viable value play again Saturday.
Naji Marshall, NOP at DAL ($5,200)
Marshall has scored 26.4 and 41.3 FD points in his last two games, the second total coming in the first game of Zion Williamson's current absence due to a hamstring injury. The young big is now averaging 29.4 FD points per 36 minutes without his teammate on the floor, and he's now facing a Mavericks squad that he shot 6-for-9 against in his previous meeting with this season. Dallas is also conceding the third-highest offensive efficiency rating to power forwards (29.3) and the fourth-most FD points per game to the position in the last seven (54.9).
Keegan Murray, SAC at LAL ($5,100)
Murray is averaging a solid 23.9 FD points in his last four games, a stretch during which he's shooting a blistering 47.1 percent from three-point range. Murray has scored 25.5 and 26.9 FD points in his last two contests specifically, and he just put up 30.1 against the Lakers on Dec. 21 in a game he went an outstanding 6-for-12 from behind the arc. The Lakers check in allowing the ninth-highest offensive efficiency rating to power forwards (27.4) as well, along with the fourth-most FD points per game to the position on the season (47.0). Los Angeles also allows the fifth-most rebounds per home contest (54.4), furthering Murray's case at a salary he's already delivered at least a 5x return on in 10 games.