ATL De'Andre Hunter (knee) - OUT
CHA Terry Rozier (ankle) - QUESTIONABLE
If Rozier misses, production should flow to the starters, and Malik Monk ($3,700) would likely be in line for a start. I'll also outline a favorite in this spot later.
MIA Tyler Herro (neck) - QUESTIONABLE
MIA Goran Dragic (groin) - QUESTIONABLE
MIA Andre Iguodala (neck) - QUESTIONABLE
MIA Gabe Vincent (knee) - QUESTIONABLE
Although Jimmy Butler ($8,700) is back on the court, key players on the roster are still saddled with injury designations. It's too early to say whether any of these players will shed these tags, so any action in Miami should be limited to Butler and Bam Adebayo ($9,100) until we know more.
CHI Wendell Carter (quad) - OUT
CHI Otto Porter (back) - QUESTIONABLE
This situation continues to be beneficial for Thaddeus Young ($5,100), but with Porter questionable, we should add Chandler Hutchison ($3,500) as a potential source of production, but ONLY if Porter sits.
MIN Naz Reid (wrist) - QUESTIONABLE
MIN Juancho Hernangomez (COVID-19) - QUESTIONABLE
Jarred Vanderbilt ($5,500) stands to gain the most if both of these players are out. Vanderbilt has already distinguished himself as a good placeholder for Karl-Anthony Towns, but the load would increase for him if Reid sits again.
NOR Steven Adams (calf) - QUESTIONABLE
Jaxson Hayes ($3,600) would garner the start if Adams can't make it, but pivoting to the other starters is probably a better move than relying on Hayes.
PHO Devin Booker (hamstring) QUESTIONABLE
This tag could be removed later today, but it's more likely that Booker will sit again. In this scenario, rely on the starters.
MEM Jonas Valanciunas (COVID-19) - OUT
While Xavier Tillman ($5,100) was expected to be the guy in this spot, Gorgui Dieng ($4,600) had a better game and looked like the better option in their win against the Spurs. If Tillman can stay out of foul trouble, he still has the most upside.
Don't let the questionable tag fool you. Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,600) is going to play. He's in a great spot against Portland's sub-par defense, and I think the Bucks' recent struggles give a Giannis endorsement even more credibility as he tries to will his team to a much-needed W. Right now is a good spot to mention a solid approach for today's slate. Power forward and center is where you want to spend up tonight. There are too many value angles at small forward and shooting guard to consider, so take the two PF and single center slots and go to town. For that reason, Nikola Jokic ($10,900) stands out as one of my favorite elite plays against the Pistons, who won't be able to offer much resistance. Jokic should be able to decimate former teammate Mason Plumlee inside, and despite the back-to-back, I will have a lot of Jokic in my lineups.
Some elite guys I am not as high on are Luka Doncic ($10,700) and Zach LaVine ($9,000). Luka is simply not getting enough help from his supporting cast, and with Porzinigis back to full health, Doncic will be too expensive tonight. LaVine and the rest of the Bulls will have to suffer the syrupy-slow tempo of the Knicks, making it difficult for LaVine to hit a value-beating number.
I'm fine with the other options in the elite range, but I'm probably going to have less of Damian Lillard ($10,000) and Trae Young ($10,400) due to my previous declaration about spending up with big men. Making that call definitely puts Anthony Davis ($10,300) against the Hawks on the radar as a reliable play. Taking LeBron James ($10,400) makes it more difficult to make calls for guys like Jokic. Small forward is a spot to spend down.
Andre Drummond, CLE ($8,800) vs. MIN
Drummond looks like a man among boys recently, and I see no reason why he won't lay the hammer down on Minnesota for the second time in as many days. He destroyed the T-Wolves with 25 points and 22 rebounds, and despite the back-to-back, Drummond emerges as a great pivot for Jokic if you need the cash.
Zion Williamson, NOR ($8,300) vs. SAC
As we continue the spend-up theme in the frontcourt, Williamson is still at a great salary relative to his production. I also don't have a problem with Brandon Ingram ($8,000) for slightly less against the Kings. To diversify, it's generally best not to stack them, but this is a night where I would say it isn't out of the question. Both men have a day of rest behind them, and they should fare well at home against the Kings, who will be playing their fourth straight game on the road.
Ja Morant, MEM ($7,800) @ SAS
It's tough to go against Morant in a second straight game against the Spurs. His salary is way too low for his upside, and I think we can overlook his total two days ago because the game got out of hand early, and Morant's services were no longer needed. If the Spurs can adjust and keep this game a bit closer, 40 FDFP is very doable for the sophomore, who has all the tools for a breakout season ahead of him.
Gordon Hayward, CHA ($7,600) @ MIA
I wish we could get another position eligibility for Hayward, but we know FanDuel doesn't do that. Due to a need to spend less at small forward, it's hard to fit Hayward in, but he had the ability to crush value at this salary level, which has slid to below $8k in recent days. These two teams have yet to meet, so we don't know how he'll square up, but we have reliable metrics about his immense upside. He's beaten 5x value at this salary 11 times this season.
VALUE PLAYS ($6,667 and under)
LaMelo Ball, CHA ($6,300) @ MIA
With Terry Rozier questionable, it's time for a coming-out party for Ball. It's not exactly accurate to name it that way since we've already seen how explosive he can be when given the opportunity. Rozier's potential absence is exactly the spot you are looking for when targeting Ball. I wish his salary was just a bit lower, but I still like his chances against Miami, which has backcourt question marks tonight.
Darius Garland, CLE ($5,300) vs. MIN
Cleveland is in a great spot against Minnesota, and Garland's minutes remain steady after returning to the starting lineup. At this low salary, beating 5x value is probable. Although I gave Sexton a nod above, Garland is an equally impressive playmaker that you can get for less money if necessary.
I've ranked this trio in order of production reliability, but at least one of these guys will reap the benefits of De'Andre Hunter's absence, and he may be gone for an extended period. I have a hunch that Reddish could be the guy who hits the highest total in this particular matchup, but Huerter has beaten value more times overall. Gallinari is the punt play of the group.
Cameron Johnson, PHO ($4,400) @ DAL
Johnson is not someone I would normally depend on, but he fits the bill in the lineup construction strategy I'm going with tonight. He did absolutely nothing in the first game of this set against Dallas, so you have to hope for a turnaround and many more shooting attempts from downtown. Breaking 20 FDFP is all he needs to be relevant, but it all depends on how many times he can heave the ball up. He's not very productive elsewhere.
Because of the slate's size, there are almost too many value plays to mention, so I've compiled an additional list in order of preference.
SF Will Barton, DEN ($4,000) vs. DET
PG Theo Maledon, OKC ($4,300) vs. HOU
PG Lonzo Ball, NOR ($5,700) vs. SAC
SF Luguentz Dort, OKC ($4,400) vs, HOU
PF PJ Washington, CHA ($6,200) @ MIA