This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
We have a nine-game slate Wednesday night, one that doesn't have an inordinate number of games with high projected totals, but that does have a trio with 230-point-plus expectations. Those contests help make up for other likely much lower-scoring games on the ledger. Then, while there are some big names trending toward sitting out due to injury, but there's also a big potential return in the form of Damian Lillard (groin).
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 projected totals on Wednesday's slate:
Washington Wizards at Portland Trail Blazers (Projected total: 241.5 points)
The two team names on the marquee tell you all you need to know about why this game carries the highest projected total of the night. The Wizards are allowing the most points per game of any road team (123.6 PPG), while the Blazers check in allowing the fourth most (115.2) of any team on its home court. Washington also continues to play at a top-10 pace (107 possessions per contest). These two teams combined for 225 points the first time they played, and with Washington in better health than it was at that point and Damian Lillard potentially returning from his groin injury, this game could well live up to expectations.
New Orleans Pelicans at Dallas Mavericks (Projected total: 238.5 points)
The Pelicans are coming off a track meet with the Timberwolves on Tuesday night, so there could be fatigue issues in play in the second half. However, New Orleans has plenty of youth in its starting five, so it certainly be nowhere near as big a factor as it would be for a veteran team. Dallas has put up between 118 and 130 points the first three times it's faced the Pels this season, and one of those meetings finished with a combined total of 239 points. The Mavs also get back Kristaps Porzingis from a rest day Wednesday, while New Orleans has allowed 116.7 points per road game, two factors that support the notion of a high-scoring affair.
Chicago Bulls at Minnesota Timberwolves (Projected total: 229.0 points)
The T-Wolves are coming off that aforementioned fast-paced win against the Pelicans on Tuesday, so they, too, could be subject to some tired legs. However, they'll be on their home floor and are averaging an impressive 118.3 points scored over their last three games as their many new pieces start to play with more chemistry. Meanwhile, the Bulls have allowed 112.4 points per road contest, and the two squads combined for 227 points the first time they met. One big caveat here is the fact Chicago will be without Zach LaVine due to a quadriceps injury, which could naturally be a big hit to their offensive potential.
Point guard has some big names out of action (Kemba Walker, Derrick Rose) and a potential one that could also be sitting out in Damian Lillard (groin), who is attempting to come back for Wednesday's game. Otherwise, the position is well stocked with such a big slate, with a particularly solid mid-tier that includes Malcolm Brogdon, Chris Paul and Spencer Dinwiddie.
Shooting guard also has a couple of notable walking wounded, as Zach LaVine (quad) is out and Victor Oladipo (knee) is questionable. However, just as with PG, there are plenty of strong options available (Bradley Beal, CJ McCollum, D'Angelo Russell) if you're paying up, and solid value well into the $4K range.
Small forward can't escape the injury bug either, as the Celtics duo of Jaylen Brown (hamstring) and Gordon Hayward (knee) are both questionable at best after being limited in Tuesday's loss to the Nets. The rest of the position does have a clean bill of health, however, and there is also plenty of value to be had here into the high $3K range.
Power forward has uncertainty in the form of Jayson Tatum's (illness) questionable status, but Christian Wood and Aaron Gordon are both probable with foot and knee injuries, respectively. Jaren Jackson (knee) and Brandon Clarke (quadriceps) are the long-term injuries of the group, but the position could get a boost if Lauri Markkanen (pelvis) is able to make his return Wednesday.
Finally, center will be missing Andre Drummond (calf) and Karl-Anthony Towns (wrist), while Mitchell Robinson (hamstring) and Tristan Thompson (knee) shape up as important game-time decisions, with Thompson potentially an excellent value play if he's able to suit up. The rest of player pool looks to be in good health, and there are still options across every point on the pricing scale despite the two big-name injuries up top.
Notable Injury Situations to Monitor
NOTE: Injury reporting is especially fluid in the NBA, where the status of multiple players can change during the course of a day. Therefore, although the following serves as a foundation for the latest injury report as of the time the article is written (usually late morning Eastern time), check back throughout the course of the day with RotoWire for the latest news regarding the status of all players on that night's slate.
Damian Lillard, POR
Lillard is considered questionable to return from his groin injury Wednesday. Were he to return, the role of Gary Trent should shrink, while the usage of C.J. McCollum and Hassan Whiteside should particularly see a hit.
Jayson Tatum, BOS
Tatum is a game-time decision to illness.
Kemba Walker, BOS
Walker will sit out Wednesday's game for rest on his knee.
Jaylen Brown, BOS
Brown is likely to be a game-time decision due to the hamstring he injured in Tuesday's game.
Gordon Hayward, BOS
Hayward is a game-time decision due to the knee soreness that limited him in Tuesday's game.
Zach LaVine, CHI
LaVine is out due to a quadriceps injury.
Darius Garland, CLE
Garland will not play due to a groin injury.
Andre Drummond, CLE
Drummond will remain out due to a calf injury.
Tristan Thompson, CLE
Thompson is questionable due to a knee injury. He'll be in for a spot start if he's able to suit up, with Andre Drummond (calf) out due to a calf injury.
Victor Oladipo, IND
Oladipo is questionable due to a knee injury.
George Hill, MIL
Hill is probable with a groin injury.
Kyle Korver, MIL
Korver remains out with a back injury.
Christian Wood, DET
Wood is probable due to a foot sprain.
Brandon Knight, DET
Knight is questionable due to a strained right quadriceps.
Sekou Doumbouya, DET
Doumbouya is probable with a leg injury.
Thon Maker, DET
Maker is probable with an ankle injury.
Bruce Brown, DET
Brown is doubtful due to a knee injury.
Garrett Temple, BKN
Temple is out due to an ankle sprain.
Aaron Gordon, ORL
Gordon is probable with a knee injury.
Gary Clark, ORL
Clark is questionable due to a knee injury.
Reggie Bullock, NYK
Bullock is likely to be listed as questionable due to an illness.
Kevin Knox, NYK
Knox is questionable due to a leg bruise.
Mitchell Robinson, NYK
Robinson is questionable due to a hamstring injury.
Dennis Smith, NYK
Smith will remain out due to a concussion.
Chandler Hutchison, CHI
Hutchison is likely to be listed no better than questionable due to a shoulder injury.
Seth Curry, DAL
Curry is questionable due to a back injury.
Jalen Brunson, DAL
Brunson is considered questionable because of a shoulder injury.
J.J. Barea, DAL
Barea is questionable due to an ankle injury.
Ish Smith, WAS
Smith is doubtful due to hamstring tightness.
Notable Longer-Term Injuries/Absences: Karl-Anthony Towns, MIN; Luke Kornet, CHI; Jusuf Nurkic, POR; Zach Collins, POR; Justise Winslow, MEM; Jaren Jackson, MEM; Brandon Clarke, MEM; Grayson Allen, MEM; Dante Exum, CLE; Alfonzo McKinnie, CLE; Al-Farouq Aminu, ORL; Tyler Herro, MIA; Meyers Leonard, MIA; JJ Redick, NOP; Kenrich Williams, NOP; Darius Bazley, OKC; Andre Roberson, OKC; Evan Turner, MIN
Despite the fact there's 18 teams in action Wednesday, we have just three players priced above $10K. That group consists of Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11.6K), Luka Doncic ($10.4K) and Bradley Beal ($10.3K). Although none are must-haves based on positional scarcity alone, it's worth noting both Doncic and Beal are involved in the games with the two highest-projected totals of the night, which enhances their already massive appeal.
Outside of the five-figure range, we have an interesting case in Kristaps Porzingis ($9.4K), who returns from a rest day and has an appealing matchup versus the Pelicans, but who also has a healthy Luka Doncic back on the floor with him. Hassan Whiteside ($9.5K) is in the same boat if Damian Lillard (groin) returns to action, but the big man is still very tempting in his matchup against the woeful Wizards defense.
Depending on how some of the injuries that are still up in the air pan out, we could see some corresponding heavy chalk on certain teams Wednesday.
The Celtics would be Exhibit A if both Jayson Tatum and Gordon Hayward join Kemba Walker on the bench.The likes of C.J. McCollum and Hassan Whiteside should also see plenty of clicks if Damian Lillard is unsuccessful in his bid to return from a groin injury. Then, over in Chicago, look for higher ownership than usual on the rest of the Bulls' starting five with Zach LaVine (quadriceps) sitting, especially on Coby White ($6.3K), who could prove to be one of the best fantasy-point-per-dollar plays of the night.
Naturally, the usual big names should also remain very popular independent of any injury situations, although with the large slate, ownership should still be flatter than it would be otherwise.
As customary, I've also put together a specific list of sub-$6K value plays that should find themselves in plenty of lineups – some due to injury situations on their respective teams – and have included those below the next section.
Key and Likely Underowned Values
Wendell Carter, CHI at MIN ($4,000)
Although multiple Bulls should see elevated ownership Wednesday with Zach LaVine (quadriceps) out of action, Carter may not necessarily be one of them. The young big is just two games into his return from a lengthy absence due to an ankle injury and produced a serviceable but unspectacular 16.8 FanDuel points across 23 minutes versus the Mavericks in his second game Tuesday. However, the team has announced Carter's minutes will continue to bump up Wednesday, and he'll face a prime matchup against the Timberwolves. Minnesota is allowing the fourth-highest offensive efficiency rating (33.8) to centers on the campaign, including the fifth-highest shooting percentage (56.5) to the position, and comes in ranked 20th in rebounding percentage (49.1). Carter has also proven capable of obliterating his current salary on multiple occasions this season, eclipsing 25 FanDuel points in 22 of 39 games, a sample that includes 16 tallies over 30 FanDuel points.
Anfernee Simons, POR vs. WAS ($3,700)
Damian Lillard (groin) stands a chance of returning Wednesday, but Simons shouldn't really see much of a change in role if he does. The second-year guard didn't draw any starts with Lillard out, instead logging his usual high-teens/low-20s minutes. Simons has eclipsed 20 FanDuel points on two occasions over his last seven games, so he isn't exactly going to drive much ownership. However, he's demonstrated some nice upside for his current salary this season, eclipsing 22 FanDuel points on 13 occasions, with only two of those performances coming in a starting role. While Simons is still primarily best deployed in larger-field tournaments due to the fluctuation in his production, it bears noting the Wizards come in allowing the fifth-highest offensive efficiency rating (45.8) to opposing second units, along with the second-highest shooting percentage (47.6) to bench players. Washington has also been extremely vulnerable to point guards, yielding league-high or top-10 figures in offensive efficiency (29.7), shooting percentage (48.2), three-point shooting percentage (39.4), points (26.9), rebounds (6.5), assists (9.0) and steals (2.0) to the position.
Gary Payton, WAS at POR ($3,500)
Ish Smith (hamstring) is considered doubtful for Wednesday's game, and his very likely absence will leave Payton as the backup to starter Shabazz Napier at point guard. The Wizards-Blazers tilt has the highest projected total of the night, and at minimum price, Payton could prove to be an excellent low-owned, cost-savings piece for large-field tournaments if he sees Smith's typical allotment of minutes in the low 20s. Payton's level of opportunity in Washington has fluctuated considerably since he joined the team Dec. 23, but he does have 10 tallies of between 17.9 and 46.7 FanDuel points in 26 games with the team, with both a 31.5-point performance and the high end of that range having come in games where he was on the second unit. The Trail Blazers are the other reason why Payton could be worth a flier at minimum price, as Portland has been even poorer against second-unit players than Washington, allowing the third-highest offensive efficiency rating (47.5) to benches, including the fifth-highest three-point percentage (37.2). What's more, the same holds true for their defense against point guards specifically, where their troubles include the second-most FanDuel points allowed per game to the position (45.8).
Other likely lower-owned value play to consider: Taurean Prince, BKN vs. MEM ($4,000)
Other likely higher-owned value plays to consider: Evan Fournier, ORL ($5,900); Danilo Gallinari, OKC ($5,900); Thaddeus Young, CHI ($5,900); Tim Hardaway, DAL ($5,800); Daniel Theis, BOS ($5,700); Larry Nance, CLE ($5,400); Brook Lopez, MIL ($5,400); Malik Beasley, MIN ($5,300); Tomas Satoransky, CHI ($5,300); Bojan Bogdanovic, UTA ($5,300): Carmelo Anthony, POR ($5,200); Jarrett Allen, BKN ($5,100); Juancho Hernangomez, MIN ($4,900); Davis Bertans, WAS ($4,900); James Johnson, MIN ($4,900); Rui Hachimura, WAS ($4,900); Otto Porter, CHI ($4,500); Naz Reid, MIN ($4,500); Josh Okogie, MIN ($4,200); Thomas Bryant, WAS ($4,000)