This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
We have a nine-game slate on tap Wednesday night, offering us plenty of choices with which to differentiate in tournaments and build truly sharp cash game lineups that have solid floors across the board. An 18-team ledger such as this certainly allows for plenty of flexibility in terms of lineup construction and different potentially high-scoring games to choose from. Then, despite some injuries to big names, there are still plenty of explosive elite players on the slate, giving you multiple paths to tournament-winning upside.
As usual, we'll proceed to break down the positional outlook below, along with possible chalk plays and some likely under-owned bargains that could help you round out your lineups with a couple of superstars.
Before delving into the slate, a reminder that FanDuel has reverted to its previous format of NOT dropping the lowest scoring in lineups after a one-year experiment with that feature. Therefore, it will be important to be prudent with each selection, as each player's total will count toward your final score.
Without further ado, let's take a more comprehensive look at Wednesday's slate!
Here's a closer look at the three games with the highest elevated totals on Wednesday's slate:
New Orleans Pelicans at Minnesota Timberwolves (Projected total: 231.5 points)
Both teams have played at ultra-fast paces and given up/scored plenty of points all season long, so their participation in the game with the highest-projected total of the slate isn't surprising in the least. The possible absence of Karl-Anthony Towns (knee) does temper expectations just a bit for the moment, but there are still a plethora of high-upside pieces (Jrue Holiday, Brandon Ingram, Andrew Wiggins) on both sides to keep the scoreboard humming should Towns miss.
Chicago Bulls at Washington Wizards (Projected total: 230.5 points)
The Wizards' pace and defensive deficiencies always bump up the offensive expectations of the opposition, and such is the case here again against a Bulls team that has some talented pieces, but that hasn't yet proven capable of putting up points on a night-to-night basis. Zach LaVine could be in a premium spot in this matchup, and several other big names on both sides (Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter, Bradley Beal, Davis Bertans) are also going to be poised to contribute heavily to the elevated total for this contest.
Golden State Warriors at Portland Trail Blazers (Projected total: 221.5 points)
This total would naturally be much higher were the Warriors the beneficiaries of a fully healthy roster, but it still checks in just about the coveted 220-point threshold we like to see for DFS purposes. Golden State is actually healthier than it's been in a while (factoring out the long-term injuries of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson) and has D'Angelo Russell with multiple games under his belt following his thumb injury. The Blazers naturally pack plenty of firepower in their starting five as well, with Damian Lillard and Hassan Whiteside in especially attractive positional matchups Wednesday.
PG: Luka Doncic's ankle injury is the only situation that sullies our player pool here, as there is otherwise a clean bill of health for all the key names. Damian Lillard, Ben Simmons and Chris Paul make up our top three choices, while there are appealing choices all the way down into the high-$3K range for tournaments in the form of Coby White ($4,000), Monte Morris ($3,900) and Tyus Jones ($3,800).
SG: Bradley Beal and Jimmy Butler are an excellent way to start up top at two-guard, and even if Fred VanVleet (knee) misses another contest, the mid-tier is stocked with a host of formidable options that includes Andrew Wiggins, D'Angelo Russell and C.J. McCollum. Then, there are strong value options all the way into the sub-$4K range here as well.
SF We don't have to break the bank here to gain access to potentially elite production Wednesday, as Pascal Siakam ($8,700) checks in as the most expensive option, while Brandon Ingram checks in several hundred below at $8,100. The mid-tier also has plenty of attractive options that include Gordon Hayward, Danilo Gallinari, Jaylen Brown and Carmelo Anthony, and there's potential large-field tournament value down into the $4K level with likes of Dorian Finney-Smith and Cedi Osman.
PF: Bam Adebayo ($9,500) and Kristaps Porzingis ($8,900) – the latter primed for plenty of usage with Luka Doncic (ankle) on the shelf – start us off up top, but the player pool is diluted to an uncertain degree with Blake Griffin (knee) and Jayson Tatum (illness) uncertain for Wednesday and both Rui Hachimura (groin) and P.J. Washington (finger) out. However, there are still some solid options down into the $3.7K level, where Marvin Williams is in for minutes that far exceed his current price.
C: Center has a couple of big question marks in the form of Karl-Anthony Towns (knee) and Andre Drummond (eye), but the latter is considered probable for Wednesday's contest. Even if Towns were to miss, there's still plenty of star power in form of Nikola Jokic, Hassan Whiteside, Drummond and Joel Embiid, while a strong mid-tier survives the absences of both Thomas Bryant (foot) and Moritz Wagner (ankle). There's also value down to the $4K level, including the Wizards' Ian Mahinmi ($4,300) in what should be an expanded starting opportunity with Washington completely depleted in its frontcourt.
Notable Injury Situations to Monitor
Andre Drummond, DET
Drummond is expected to play in Wednesday's game after an eye infection cost him the last two contests.
Blake Griffin, DET
Griffin is expected to play in Wednesday's game after a knee injury cost him Monday's contest versus the Wizards. Markieff Morris would draw another start in Griffin's place should the latter have a setback.
Karl-Anthony Towns, MIN
Towns is questionable for Wednesday's game with a right knee sprain. If he were to ultimately miss, Gorgui Dieng and Jordan Bell would be the primary candidates to handle the bulk of minutes at center, and the expected usage of all other members of the Timberwolves' starting five would bump up significantly.
Rui Hachimura, WAS
Fred VanVleet, TOR
VanVleet is considered doubtful for Wednesday's game due to a knee bruise. Norman Powell would continue filling in for VanVleet at shooting guard should he miss again.
Marcus Smart, BOS
Smart will remain out for Wednesday's game with an eye injury. Brad Wanamaker should see extra run in the guard rotation as a result.
Jayson Tatum, BOS
Tatum is considered questionable for Wednesday's game with an illness. Semi Ojeleye would be in line for a potential start at power forward should Tatum miss.
JJ Redick, NOP
Redick is likely to be considered questionable at best for Wednesday's game with the groin soreness that cost him Tuesday's contest against the Nets. Nickeil Alexander-Walker would likely draw a start at shooting guard in Redick's place should the veteran miss.
Moritz Wagner, WAS
Wagner has been ruled out for Wednesday's game due to an ankle injury. Ian Mahinmi sets up for another start in his stead and should see significant minutes with Thomas Bryant (foot) also out of action.
Grayson Allen, MEM
Zach LaVine, CHI
LaVine is considered probable for Wednesday's game with a shin contusion and an illness.
Wendell Carter Jr., CHI
Carter is considered probable for Wednesday's game with back and abdomen issues.
Ryan Arcidiacono, CHI
Aricdiacono is considered probable for Wednesday's game with right elbow soreness.
Justise Winslow, MIA
James Johnson, MIA
Johnson will not play in Wednesday's game due to personal reasons. Kelly Olynyk should continue seeing extra minutes as a result.
Derrick Jones Jr., MIA
Jones is questionable for Monday's game due to a migraine. Duncan Robinson would likely be in for even more run as the starting small forward should Jones miss.
Nassir Little, POR
Little is probable for Wednesday's game with a back injury.
Mario Hezonja, POR
Kevin Porter Jr., CLE
Porter is questionable for Wednesday's game with left shoulder soreness. An absence from Porter would likely equate to extra opportunity for Alfonzo McKinnie as a backup small forward.
Nicolas Batum, CHA
Batum is probable for Wednesday's game with a hand injury.
Paul Millsap, DEN
Millsap is considered a game-time call for Wednesday's game due to the quadriceps injury that's already cost him two games. Jerami Grant would draw another start at power forward in Millsap's stead in the event of another absence.
Notable Long-Term Injuries/Absences: Luka Doncic, DAL; Zion Williamson, NOP; Stephen Curry, GSW; Klay Thompson, GSW; Goran Dragic, MIA; Dion Waiters, MIA; Andre Roberson, OKC; Hamidou Diallo, OKC; C.J. Miles, WAS; Thomas Bryant, WAS; Jordan McRae, WAS; Zach Collins, POR; Jusuf Nurkic, POR; Rodney Hood, POR; Otto Porter Jr., CHI; Chandler Hutchison, CHI; Andre Iguodala, MEM; Darius Miller, NOP; Stanley Johnson, TOR; P.J. Washington, CHA
Karl-Anthony Towns ($10,800) is the highest-priced player on the slate but carries a questionable designation, while Luka Doncic ($10,500) remains out of action with his ankle injury. Those players are the only five-figure salary options on the slate, so you won't necessarily have to create an unbalanced "stars and scrubs" lineup to gain access to some of the highest scores on the slate.
Of other high-upside options in the $9K/high $8K range, Hassan Whiteside ($9,400) and Kristaps Porzingis ($8,900) could ultimately prove underpriced for their output, especially considering how much more involved Porzingis was in his first game without Doncic in the lineup.
With 18 teams in action, we should see ownership spread out fairly well. One major ownership magnet (Luka Doncic) is out of action, while other typically extremely popular options like James Harden, LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Giannis Antetokounmpo are off the slate altogether. Kristaps Porzingis is one elite-level player that should be the subject of plenty of attention from the field considering his alpha role in the Mavericks' attack with Doncic out.
With respect to value-level chalk stemming from mispricing or injury-related opportunity, I've compiled a list of such names as usual and placed them at the bottom of the following section.
Key and Likely Underowned Values
Kent Bazemore, POR vs. GS ($4,900):
Bazemore is currently holding down the starting small forward job with Rodney Hood (Achilles) out for the season, but the results have been mixed over his first four games with the first unit. Bazemore does have tallies of 20.0 and 27.1 FanDuel points in two of those contests, but just 9.6 and 14.6 in the other pair of games during that stint. However, the Warriors are certainly a matchup that could help facilitate one of Bazemore's better efforts, considering they've allowed 46.0 percent shooting to the position, including 37.9 percent from three-point range. Bazemore has struggled mightily with his efficiency from in front of the arc this season (career-worst 34.7 percent shooting), but he's been solid from three-point range (34.0 percent) and should have enough opportunity Wednesday to provide a strong return at what should be low ownership overall.
Denzel Valentine, CHI at WAS ($4,200):
Valentine has mostly offered solid but unspectacular production in a role that typically offers him minutes in the mid-teens to low 20s, but he does have the ability for the occasional spike in his numbers. Valentine proved as much on two recent occasions, accruing 38.1 and 23.3 FanDuel points against the Hawks and Clippers, respectively. He gets what's arguably the most coveted matchup for DFS purposes at the moment, the Wizards, on Wednesday. Washington has allowed the second-highest offensive efficiency rating (27.2) to small forwards, as well as the third-highest shooting percentage (48.2) to the position. Additionally, Washington is surrendering the second-highest shooting percentage (48.5) and sixth-highest offensive efficiency rating (46.7) to opposing bench players, furthering Valentine's case at his very reasonable price.
Damion Lee, GS at POR ($3,900):
Lee has scored 24.6 and 27.5 FanDuel points in his last two games, with the most recent a start against the Kings on Sunday night. The third-year pro could well slot into the starting two-guard role again Wednesday given his most recent success, and if so, he'll be in very good position to outpace a salary that doesn't come close to matching that level of opportunity. The Trail Blazers have allowed 49.8 FanDuel points per game to shooting guards for the season, and Lee should log a workload of at least 30 minutes in what should be a fast-paced affair that also carries the third-highest projected scoring total of the night. Moreover, his sub-$4K price is a rarity for a starter and will certainly give you plenty of flexibility elsewhere in your lineup.
Other likely higher-owned value plays to consider: Norman Powell ($5,900); Davis Bertans ($5,900); Dennis Schroder ($5,800); Tomas Satoransky ($5,700); Luke Kennard ($5,700); Dillon Brooks ($5,200); OG Anunoby ($4,900); Jaxson Hayes ($4,700); Ian Mahinmi ($4,300); Malik Monk ($3,800); Marvin Williams ($3,700)