This article is part of our Daily Games Cheat Sheet series.
Wondering if you should trust my advice? Check out my latest Trust Tracker blog post analyzing how my recommendations from last Thursday's games fared.
Defenses to Avoid
Boston Celtics at Philadephia 76ers: The 76ers have lost their last four contests by an average of almost 28 points per game, and that includes losing to the Rockets by only one. The 76ers have been losing by so much so early that opponents are pulling their starters. In their three major blowouts, the Raptors starters played 121 minutes, Mavericks starters played 120 minutes, and Spurs starters played 102 minutes. The Mavericks, who have the oldest and most stable starting lineup of those three teams and have won five games by more than 15 already this season, are averaging more than 140 starter minutes per night. Granted, these three 76ers blowouts were all to likely playoff teams, which the Celtics are not. But the 76ers are on such a cold streak that I hesitate to use any starter against them.
New York Knicks at Minnesota Timberwolves: The numbers are less drastic, but the same principle applies to the Timberwolves without Thaddeus Young. And Ricky Rubio. And now Nikola Pekovic. They have lost five straight, the closest of which was a nine-point loss to the Magic. Their starting lineup for Wednesday will probably feature two 19-year-old rookies, two second-year big men under 25, and Kevin Martin. As much as the Knicks have struggled so far, how can they not run away with this one? I'm not willing to invest 20 percent of my nightly salary cap on Carmelo Anthony when I'm afraid he'll spend most of the fourth quarter resting. I'd also think twice before investing in a starter whose production depends on getting a lot of court time. In other words, J.R. Smith.
Offenses to Use
Phoenix Suns at Detroit Pistons: One of my favorite statistics is opponent three-point field goal percentage. It's no coincidence that seven of the league's 10 worst scoring defenses are also in the bottom 10 for opponent three-point field goal percentage. In today's analytics driven NBA, the enemy's three-ball is a great tool for assessing the quality of a team's defensive scheme. Teams that cover, help, rotate, and switch with cohesion are better positioned to disrupt catch-and-shoot threes. The Suns rank sixth worst here.
Not only are the Suns defensively poor, but the Pistons pose major matchup problems for them. The Suns' hodge-podge of Alex Len, Miles Plumlee, and the Morris Twins are no match for the Piston's Andre Drummond, Greg Monroe, and Josh Smith. The Suns' three-headed guard monster of Eric Bledsoe, Isaiah Thomas, and Goran Dragic are the good kind of frightening on offense, but the bad king of frightening on defense. DraftKings ranks the Suns 22nd and 25th against opposing point guards and shooting guard, respectively.
Teams on a Back-to-Back Set
First game of a back-to-back: Los Angeles Clippers
Second game of a back-to-back: Los Angeles Lakers, Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks, Oklahoma City Thunder
DraftKings.com DAILY PLAYER RECOMMENDATIONS
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Patrick Beverley, HOU (vs LAL), PG, ($5,000): As much as I value the significance of opponent three-point field goal percentage (see above) for assessing a team defense, I value it even more when looking at the fantasy opportunity for a three-point shooter. The Lakers are third worst in the league at defending the three-point shot, and Beverley is averaging more than two made treys per game. And as bad as the Lakers defense is, I'm not overly worried about a blowout – the Rockets as a team have gone cold, only scoring 88, 69, and 93 in their last three games.
A.J. Price, IND (vs CHA), PG, ($3,000): DraftKings has not yet adjusted to the new normal in Indianapolis. Price has played between 18-25 minutes in each of the last five games for the Pacers. His worst line: seven points, two rebounds, two assists, one steal, and 15 fantasy points. His best: 21 points, three rebounds, two assists, one steal, and 30.25 fantasy points. He's averaging 22.3 points per game over his last five games. J.R. Smith, who costs $5,400 tonight, is averaging 22.2 per game this season.
J.J. Barea, DAL (at WAS), PG, ($3,200): If Devin Harris (ankle) misses Wednesday's game, then Barea would border on must-use territory. Even with Harris healthy Barea has played 20 minutes per night over the last three games. Barea's fantasy value is very closely tied to his usage – he averages 1.1 fantasy points per minute (very good) with a very low nightly points-per-minute variance (even better). And Barea is being used a lot, compared to other players with similar salaries.
Other suggestions: Brandon Jennings, DET (vs PHO), PG, ($7,300)
Evan Fournier, ORL (vs LAC), SG, ($5,200):Victor Oladipo has been back for three games. So how has it impacted Evan Fournier? Well, in the three games before Oladipo's return, Fournier averaged 36 minutes per game. In the three games since, he has averaged 35 minutes. Fournier has scored 24 or more fantasy points in six of his last seven outings, and a matchup against Jamal Crawford is whatever the opposite of scary is.
Other suggestions: Eric Bledsoe, PHO (at DET), SG, ($6,600), Iman Shumpert, NYK, ($3,900)
Khris Middleton, MIL (at BKN), SF, ($3,200): Middleton started Tuesday, played 33 minutes, and grabbed daily players 27.25 points. Whether he starts again Wednesday is not necessary for him to earn his keep at this low price point. Middleton was already averaging roughly the workload of a fifth starter, just over 24 minutes per game, and earning nearly as many fantasy points as minutes played each night. He's not quite at Barea's level of per-minute productivity, but he's close.
Other suggestions: Tobias Harris, ORL (vs LAC), SF, ($7,300)
Darrell Arthur, DEN (vs OKC), PF, ($3,300): Arthur double-doubled in the win against the Cavaliers last time out, which will put him on a lot of daily players' radars. While no one should be looking for 36.75 fantasy points in consecutive games, Arthur has earned some increased expectations. He's scored double digits in six of his last seven, totalling 16 or more fantasy points in each. The lone exception was almost two weeks ago, when Arthur played only five minutes. But Arthur's role in the Nuggets rotation is more stabilized now, especially after Monday's big win.
Other suggestions: Anthony Bennett, MIN (vs NY), PF, ($3,000)
Alex Len, PHO (at DET), C, ($3,100): Len has averaged 27.5 minutes over his last two games, and scored more than 28 fantasy points in both. His DraftKings salary is still based on the 11 minutes per game he was averaging over his previous four. Like with Price, above, his salary has not yet adjusted to his new usage.
Vitor Faverani (knee)
Marcus Smart (ankle)
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (foot)
Gary Neal (concussion)
Jeff Taylor (non-injury)
Matthew Dellavedova (knee)
Raymond Felton (suspension)
Jodie Meeks (back)
Terrence Jones (leg)
C.J. Watson (foot)
David West (ankle)
George Hill (knee)
Paul George (leg)
Chris Douglas-Roberts (Achilles)
Wayne Ellington (personal)
Ryan Kelly (hamstring)
Steve Nash (back)
Julius Randle (leg)
Nick Calathes (suspension)
Damien Inglis (foot)
Johnny O'Bryant (knee)
Ricky Rubio (ankle)
Thaddeus Young (personal)
Nikola Pekovic (wrist)
Ronny Turiaf (hip)
Andrea Bargnani (hamstring)
Jose Calderon (calf)
Cleanthony Early (knee)
Kevin Durant (foot)
Russell Westbrook (hand)
Mitch McGary (foot)
Perry Jones (knee)
Andre Roberson (foot)
Aaron Gordon (foot)
Devyn Marble (shoulder)
Kyle O'Quinn (ankle)
Joel Embiid (foot)
Jason Richardson (foot)
Patty Mills (shoulder)
Tiago Splitter (calf)
Bradley Beal (wrist)
Martell Webster (back)
P.J. Hairston (ankle) is doubtful for Wednesday's game.
Shawn Marion (foot) is probable for Wednesday's game.
Devin Harris (leg) is questionable for Wednesday's game.
J.J. Hickson (rest) is a game-time decision for Wednesday's game.
Rodney Stuckey (foot) is probable for Wednesday's game.
C.J. Miles (calf) is doubtful for Wednesday's game.
Luol Deng (wrist) is a game-time decision for Wednesday's game.
Justin Hamilton (hip) is a game-time decision for Wednesday's game.
Josh McRoberts (foot) is a game-time decision for Wednesday's game.
Dwyane Wade (hamstring) is a game-time decision for Wednesday's game.
Larry Sanders (thigh) is questionable for Wednesday's game.
Carmelo Anthony (knee) is probable for Wednesday's game. He has been playing through soreness, but he has not yet missed a game.
Grant Jerrett (ankle) is a game-time decision for Wednesday's game.
P.J. Tucker's (coach decision) status for Wednesday's game remains unclear. He sat out Monday's game due to an internal violation of team rules.
Marco Belinelli (groin) is doubtful for Wednesday's game.
James Johnson (ankle) is officially still listed as a game-time decision, but that is only due to a lack of a more recent official update. He is unlikely to play Wednesday.