This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
After a tantalizing two-game teaser of an Opening Night slate Tuesday, we get the first jumbo-sized ledger of the new season Wednesday with 11 games on the docket.
As is the case with the dawning of each campaign, we'll see plenty of new faces in new places, including the Brooklyn debut of Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker taking the reins of Irving's old point guard spot in Boston, Al Horford and Josh Richardson donning their new 76ers uniforms in the regular season for the first time, and Kristaps Porzingis taking the floor for his first regular-season game action since February 6, 2018.
Before delving into our DFS overview of the big Wednesday schedule, a reminder that FanDuel is reverting to its previous format of NOT dropping the lowest scoring in lineups after a one-season 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 get a feel for what Wednesday holds for us from the DFS perspective!
As could be expected with a slate as large as Wednesday's, we have multiple games projected to be particularly high scoring. Specifically, FanDuel Sportsbook has four games projected to exceed 220 total points, including one over 230. Let's take a quick glance at each:
Sacramento Kings at Phoenix Suns (Projected total: 234.5 points)
It's certainly no surprise that two teams known for putting on track meets have the highest projected total of the slate. Sacramento and Phoenix averaged 106.6 and 104.9 possessions per game last season, respectively, and the last three games their 2018-19 season series finished with totals of 221, 226 and 227 points.
Minnesota Timberwolves at Brooklyn Nets (Projected total: 225.5 points)
These squads both scored and gave up plenty of points last season. Minnesota allowed 116.2 per road contest while scoring 112.5 per game overall, while Brooklyn surrendered 111.8 per home tilt and put up 113.7 at Barclays Center. Both pushed the pace as well with 106.0 possessions per game for the Nets and 104.4 for the T-Wolves, each figure ranking in the top half of the league. The two teams continue to pack plenty of offensive firepower, setting this up as one of the most potentially rewarding contests for DFS purposes Wednesday.
Oklahoma City Thunder at Utah Jazz (Projected total: 223 points)
An interesting total, given that the Jazz allowed just 104.4 points per home game last season and the Thunder no longer have Russell Westbrook and Paul George on board. Nevertheless, each team has some solid new offensive blood, with OKC having picked up Chris Paul and Danilo Gallinari, and Utah countering with Mike Conley and Bojan Bogdanovic.
Washington Wizards at Dallas Mavericks (Projected total: 221.5 points)
The Wizards averaged the ninth-most possessions per game (105.9) last season, and these two clubs produced combined totals of 219 and 254 points on the two occasions they got together during the 2018-19 campaign. Bradley Beal, Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis can generate plenty of offense between themselves, and both clubs have solid complementary pieces that can help supplement their efforts.
Even with the 76ers' Ben Simmons carrying an injury designation due to a back issue, the point guard position is stacked Wednesday with multiple All-Stars such as Doncic, Damian Lillard, Irving and Walker taking the floor. The same applies to shooting guard and center, while power forward has a bit less star power with the Pistons' Blake Griffin sitting out with hamstring and knee injuries.
As will often be the case on slates in which both LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard are absent, small forward is the position that can arguably be considered the scarcest Wednesday. There are still some rock-solid veterans such as Danilo Gallinari and Tobias Harris at the top of the pool, but the position doesn't quite have the overall depth of the other spots. That's especially true when getting into sub-$5K plays, where the value options are less certain in production and playing time than at the other four positions.
Injury Situations to Monitor
Blake Griffin, DET: As of Wednesday morning, Griffin represents the biggest confirmed absence of the slate. Without Blake on the floor last season, Andre Drummond averaged an impressive 50.6 FanDuel points per game, and he could certainly be one of the biggest beneficiaries once again Wednesday. Markieff Morris would slide into Griffin's starting power forward role if he's able to overcome his lower back tightness. Thon Maker would be the next man up should Morris also sit.
Ben Simmons, PHI: As also referenced earlier, the Sixers' Simmons has been dealing with a back issue himself, but he's been practicing without restriction and is therefore expected to play.
Reggie Jackson, DET: Jackson is considered probable for Wednesday's game versus the Pacers due to a back injury. Newcomer Derrick Rose would slide into Jackson's starting point guard role if the latter suffered a setback.
Wendell Carter, CHI: Carter is questionable to face the Hornets due to a thumb sprain. If he were to miss, a combination of rookie Daniel Gafford, Luke Kornet and Cristiano Felicio would presumably all have a hand in manning center duties. It's also worth noting both Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen saw slight boosts to 39.3 and 38.1 FanDuel points per game, respectively, last season with Carter off the floor.
Mitchell Robinson, NYK: The Knicks' starting center is dealing with an ankle sprain and is questionable to face the Spurs. A Robinson absence could mean significant opportunity for Bobby Portis as his direct fill-in, as well as Julius Randle at power forward. Both players offer excellent offensive upside, with Portis also boasting a three-point dimension to his game. Moreover, both would also be in for an even heavier workload if Taj Gibson (calf) also was forced to sit.
UPDATE: Robinson has been ruled out for Wednesday's game.
Dwight Powell, DAL: Powell will miss each of the Mavericks' first two games, at minimum, due to a hamstring injury. Maxi Kleber, who averaged 6.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.0 assist and 1.1 blocks across 71 games last season, is expected to slide in as the starting center against the Wizards on Wednesday. Kleber averaged 27.3 FanDuel points per game with Powell off the floor last season, and Porzingis could also see some extra rebounding opportunities down low with Powell out.
Dion Waiters, MIA: Waiters has been suspended for the opener for conduct detrimental to the team, leaving talented rookie Tyler Herro as the likely starter at shooting guard versus the Grizzlies on Wednesday. Herro began impressing in summer league play and hasn't come up for air yet, putting together a strong exhibition slate as well while mounting a serious challenge for the top job at two-guard.
C.J. Miles and Troy Brown, WAS: Both players have been ruled out with foot and calf injuries, respectively. That leaves the starting small forward spot open for second-year wing Isaac Bonga, who brings limited experience after having averaged 5.5 minutes over 22 games last season with the Lakers. The bigger beneficiary of this pair of absences might be rookie Rui Hachimura, who's already slated for big minutes at power forward and has the long-distance prowess to make up for what Miles is capable of bringing to the table in that regard.
There's no shortage of big-name studs with an 11-game slate, but we'll start by looking at the position we've already labeled as one of the thornier ones Wednesday, namely, small forward. Despite tough matchups for both, investing in the likes of Danilo Gallinari ($7,500) and Tobias Harris ($7,400) offers you some dependable floor and solid upside. Otto Porter, Jr. ($6,800) also comes at a nice discount and likely has a path of lesser resistance in his matchup against the Hornets.
The next position where paying up could be prudent is shooting guard. While there's solid depth at the two overall Wednesday, Bradley Beal ($9,800) and Devin Booker ($9,000) shape up as especially appealing given the projected totals and pace of their respective games, not to mention their typically massive usage rates. Zach LaVine ($8,000) will also have a highly favorable matchup versus a Hornets team he shot 40.0 percent from three-point range against over three games last season.
Power forward is the third position where investing some heavier dollars could protect you from the uncertainty found on the cheaper end of the spectrum. With Griffin out of the equation, LaMarcus Aldridge ($8,500), Julius Randle ($8,100), Marvin Bagley ($8,000) and Kristaps Porzingis ($7,700) boast the right combination of matchup and game environment to make them worthy investments.
Naturally, there will be no shortage of high-priced names that jump out at the power forward and center spots. Those plays are worth paying up for based on raw upside as well, but the ones just discussed represent options at positions where there's less overall quality to choose from Wednesday.
Given injuries are naturally not as plentiful on Opening Night as they will be as the season unfolds, there's not a great deal of expected chalk stemming from the confirmed/potential absences Wednesday. Drummond could certainly see an uptick in what would likely already be a solid amount of ownership due to the boost he sees in Griffin's absence.
Tyler Herro ($3,600) could also be popular value option at shooting guard while filling in for the suspended Waiters. Herro has generated a fair amount of buzz with his play up to this point and naturally opens up plenty elsewhere in lineups due to his near-minimum salary.
Otherwise, Joel Embiid ($11,200) and Luka Doncic ($9,900) should see the combination of their distinguished fantasy reputations and matchups lead to robust ownership. Irving should also draw plenty of interest in his Nets debut, as should Karl-Anthony Towns ($11,000) in that same contest.
Bobby Portis, NYK at SA ($5,100): Portis will likely see a boost in ownership in the event Robinson is announced as out. However, if that doesn't come to pass and Portis simply operates in his usual second-unit role, he likely flies much more under the radar. Portis is highly capable of outproducing his current price tag and averaged 27.9 FanDuel points per game last season with the Bulls and Wizards. The matchup against the Spurs isn't ideal, but a role off the bench for Portis would up his chances of avoiding LaMarcus Aldridge down low and likely still result in a solid amount of minutes.
D.J. Augustin, ORL vs. CLE ($4,800): Augustin typically carries low ownership even on more modestly sized slates, never mind on an 11-game ledger like Wednesday's. Yet, the veteran point guard not only averaged a solid 23.1 FanDuel points per game last season, he also put up 15.3 points (on 56.0 percent shooting, including 44.4 percent from three-point range) 5.3 assists, 3.0 rebounds and 1.3 steals across 27.3 minutes over three games against the Cavaliers. Cleveland struggled to defend point guards all last season and will once again roll out Collin Sexton at the one, paving a potential path for Augustin to outperform his salary.
Dwayne Bacon, CHA vs. CHI ($3,600): Bacon is going to likely draw very modest ownership yet is set to draw the start at two-guard against the Bulls. The third-year wing demonstrated significant improvement as a shooter in his sophomore campaign, draining 47.5 percent of his attempts from the field, including 43.7 percent of his tries from behind the arc. With a much less potent offensive weapon now at point guard in Terry Rozier, Bacon could certainly see an uptick in production across the board, especially in a starting role. Given the Bulls' defensive issues last season defending opposing backcourts, Bacon is an enticing value play in a game with a projected 219.5-point total.
Shabazz Napier, MIN at BKN ($3,500): Starting point guard Jeff Teague saw only 30.1 minutes per game in an injury-plagued season last year, and the T-Wolves could be cautious with how much they ask him to take on, especially considering he's never been a heavy workload-type of player. Napier is a proven commodity who needed only 17.6 minutes per contest last season to average 9.4 points, 2.6 assists and 1.8 rebounds for the Nets. He gets a crack at his former teammates Wednesday in what could be an 18-to-20-minute allotment off the bench, and he represents minimum-risk exposure to a game with the second-highest projected total of the night.