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FantasyDraft NBA: Saturday Values

Juan Carlos Blanco

Winner of the FSWA 2016 Newcomer of the Year Award, Juan Carlos Blanco has been playing fantasy sports for close to 20 years and covers NBA, MLB, and the NFL for Rotowire.com, including serving as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' beat writer. He has previously written for KFFL.com and remains an avid season-long and daily fantasy player in multiple sports.

Saturday night brings us an action-packed seven-game slate that helps us hone in a bit more on elite players but also still leaves us with plenty of mid-tier and value options to consider. Injuries have opened up some starting opportunities for players whose prices still havenít caught up with their new roles, an ideal situation for tournament play in particular. Without further ado, letís analyze who some of the top targets at each price level are.

GUARD

Ben Simmons, PHI vs. GS ($17,600): Thereís seemingly nothing that Simmons canít do -- and do very well -- on the court, which has led to an outstanding start to his career and an average of 45.87 fantasy points over his first 14 games. That figure has been built on five 40-plus outings and another six of 50 or more, including a season-high 57.25 against the Lakers in his most recent contest. The Warriors have been relatively solid against point guards, but theyíve allowed a robust 46.1 fantasy points per game to the position over the last 10, while Simmons is averaging 1.26 fantasy points per minute and is averaging just under 35 minutes per contest.

Kyrie Irving, BOS at ATL ($15,300): Irving had somewhat of a slow start against the Warriors his last time out, but his late surge was pivotal to the Celtics keeping their winning streak alive and him scoring a solid 35.25 fantasy points on the night. Heíll be in a highly favorable matchup Saturday which could well allow him to match or exceed that number, considering the Hawks have allowed 50.2 fantasy points per game to point guards, including 58.5 over the last five, second highest in the NBA over that span. They also check in as a bottom five squad in points allowed per game (25.1) to the position on the season, while Irving has scored 32.00 fantasy points or more in all but one non-injury game thus far. Furthermore, itís worth noting that Irving averaged 33.8 points, 7.0 assists, 1.5 rebounds and 1.3 steals across 38.3 minutes in four games versus this same Hawks backcourt last season when he was with the Cavs.

Raul Neto, UTA at ORL ($6,100): Ricky Rubio (Achilles) could well miss another game Saturday, which would put Neto squarely in play at a price just $100 above minimum. The young point guard stepped up with a season-high 32.25 fantasy points in 19 minutes against the Nets on Friday in Rubioís stead, and even if he comes off the bench again Saturday, he doesnít need a massive return to justify his minuscule price. The matchup against the Magic also helps his cause, as theyíve allowed 49.8 fantasy points per game to point guards on the season -- including the fourth most (53.0) fantasy points over the last 10 -- and also rank in the bottom five or 10 in multiple categories against the position on the season.


FORWARD/CENTER

Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL at DAL ($19,500): Joel Embiid sits right alongside Antetokounmpo at the top of the forward/center list with an identical price, but his cost has risen by over $4K after his jaw-dropping effort against the Lakers on Wednesday. While heís worthy of consideration, Antetokounmpo has paid off this type of price tag more often this season and could well find his way to strong value again Saturday against a generally vulnerable Mavericks frontcourt. Heís averaging 56.28 fantasy points per game and has scored between 55.75 and 61.50 fantasy points in four of his last five contests, and heíll come in fresh after having last taken the court Wednesday. Meanwhile his primary defender, Dirk Nowitzki, will be on the second game of a back-to-back.

Marc Gasol, MEM vs. HOU ($14,600): Gasol provided a glimpse of what his ceiling might be while Mike Conley (Achilles) remains out of action when he scored 70.75 fantasy points against the Pacers on Wednesday. Those numbers arenít to be expected every time out, naturally, but Gasol will undoubtedly see a spike in production overall. He sports a 27.7 percent usage rate with Conley off the floor, while his fantasy points per minute jump from 1.18 to 1.23 under those circumstances. Gasol already turned in solid efforts of 31.25 and 30.75 fantasy points against the Rockets in his two prior meetings with them this season, and those numbers should see a nice bump Saturday.

Ryan Anderson, HOU at MEM ($8,600): Anderson makes for a bargain play on the other side of the Rockets-Grizzlies tilt, considering his matchup and prior games against Memphis this season. Anderson has scored 37.25 and 25.50 fantasy points in that pair of contests, and heís coming off a 33.50 fantasy-point effort versus the Suns his last time out as well. Memphis has had no answer for fours all season, allowing the most fantasy points (50.3) and rebounds (14.6) per game to the position along with a 47.0 percent success rate from the field. Anderson can be hard to trust for cash games at times, but his four games with 30 fantasy points or more always keeps him in play for tournaments.

UTILITY

Jusuf Nurkic, POR vs. SAC ($12,700): For those looking to have some rebounding equity and double-double potential at the utility spot while on a tighter budget, John Henson ($9,300) makes for a viable tournament-only pivot against a Mavs defense thatís been vulnerable to centers. However, Nurkic draws a premium matchup himself, as the Kings have allowed the fourth most fantasy points (42.5) per game to centers, along with the second most rebounds (14.0), third most assists (2.9) and most steals (1.8). Theyíve generally looked disinterested overall, while Nurkic has shown some nice GPP upside with four games over 40 fantasy points. Despite the presence of the high-usage backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, heís managed to average 28.70 fantasy points per game overall, and could be in for one of his higher-usage contests Saturday.

Mario Chalmers, MEM vs. HOU ($7,800): As alluded to earlier, Conley is out for the time being, and Chalmers gets first crack at the starting point guard job in his stead. Heís scored 29.25 and 21.50 fantasy points in extended action the past two games and, despite the tough matchup against Chris Paul on Saturday, a salary that does not yet reflect his current starting role certainly puts him squarely in play. A return of between 22-25 fantasy points would allow Chalmers to offer a solid 3x return on his cost, a range that heís already proven capable of reaching in seven games this season, most of them in a bench role.

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.