This article is part of our DraftKings NBA series.
BKN (-10) vs. CLE, O/U: 224.5
BOS vs. PHI (-5.5), O/U: 222
DAL vs. IND (-1), O/U: 218.5
DET vs. ATL (5.5), O/U: 221
MIA vs TOR (-4), O/U: 222
ORL (-4) vs. MIN, O/U: 216.5
PHX (-5.5) vs. HOU, O/U: 218.5
MEM vs. POR (-1.5), O/U: 221
SA vs. GS (-1), O/U: 227.5
SAC vs. LAC (-10.5), O/U: 231.5
Wednesday's Draftkings NBA slate tips off at 7:00 p.m. EST and includes 10 games. First of all, Kevin Huerter has a $9,500 salary. This is clearly a mistake. Don't play him tonight unless you feel like paying the rake for everyone else. Kyrie Irving will return to Cleveland tonight in his first game since the Nets acquired James Harden. Karl-Anthony Towns, Jayson Tatum, Jimmy Butler and Jonas Valanciunas are all out due to COVID-19 while CJ McCollum and John Wall are out injured. A host of key players are questionable so it will be important to monitor news before lock and give yourself some flexibility for news that comes after lock.
The MEM-POR matchup is one I will be targeting. There is cheap value on both sides while Ja Morant is very affordable and Damian Lillard is playing without McCollum. The game is projected to be close and it tips off at 10:00 p.m. EST, providing flexibility to late-swap if unexpected value opens up.
The BKN-CLE game could be one to fade. The Cavs might have Collin Sexton and Darius Garland back while the Nets will be playing with Harden, Durant and Irving for the first time this season. Not to mention, the game has a 10 point spread and a blowout is definitely in play. The whole situation is just too unpredictable for my liking, especially when we have 10 games to choose from.
Injuries to Monitor
Karl-Anthony Towns (COVID-19): OUT
Towns is set to miss extended time after testing positive. Naz Reid ($4,800) will start in his place.
Jayson Tatum (COVID-19): OUT
It's possible that Tatum returns on Friday. Grant Williams ($3,600) will likely start in his place tonight.
CJ McCollum (foot): OUT
McCollum was diagnosed with a hairline fracture in his left foot and will miss at least the next four weeks. Rodney Hood ($3,800) will start at shooting guard tonight.
Jimmy Butler (COVID-19): OUT
Butler will miss his fifth consecutive game. Kendrick Nunn ($4,000) will continue to see increased run.
John Wall (knee): OUT
Wall will miss his fourth consecutive game tonight. Eric Gordon ($5,500) will likely start in his place.
Myles Turner (hand): QUESTIONABLE
Turner is considered day-to-day after missing Sunday's game. If he sits again tonight, the Pacers will go small and give more minutes to Doug McDermott ($4,700), TJ McConnell ($3,800) and Edmond Sumner ($3,800).
Tyler Herro (neck): QUESTIONABLE
Herro has missed the past two games due to neck spasms. Goran Dragic ($5,700) has been starting in his place.
Collin Sexton (ankle): QUESTIONABLE
Sexton has missed the last five games but returned to practice on Monday. If he can't go tonight, Damyean Dotson ($5,200) would get another start.
Jonas Valanciunas (COVID-19): OUT
Valanciunas could return on Friday. Xavier Tillman ($3,500) will likely start again tonight.
Andrew Wiggins (knee): QUESTIONABLE
Wiggins apparently picked up the injury on Monday. If he can't go tonight, Damian Lee ($3,400) and Kent Bazemore ($3,200) would be in line for more minutes.
Jusuf Nurkic (wrist): OUT
Nurkic will be re-evaluated in six weeks. Enes Kanter ($6,300) will get another start at center.
Darius Garland (shoulder): QUESTIONABLE
Garland hasn't played since Jan. 2 but did return to practice on Monday. If he doesn't play tonight, Damyean Dotson ($5,200) would be in line for another start.
James Harden ($10,900), Luka Doncic ($10,700), Kevin Durant ($10,500) and Damian Lillard ($10,400) are the four players with five-figure salaries on tonight's slate. Let's start by addressing Harden and Durant. Both have been in great form but it's reasonable to assume that the return of Kyrie Irving will have a negative impact on their usage and production. With so many players to choose from on a 10 game slate, I'm fine with fading both. Doncic is coming off a disappointing game on Monday but in the four games since Kristaps Porzingis returned, he has had nights of 87.5 and 77.75 DK points. If you were worried that Porzingis would negatively affect Doncic, that hasn't been and won't be the case. Lillard has a five-figure salary for the first time this season, due in part to CJ McCollum being out injured. We've seen Lillard have big ceiling games when McCollum has missed time in the past and they can come on any night. He's always in play in these spots.
Stephen Curry ($9,700), Kevin Huerter ($9,500), Trae Young ($9,300), Paul George ($9,100), Ben Simmons ($9,100) and Kyrie Irving ($9,000) round out the guards in the 9K range. Kawhi Leonard ($9,400) is the lone player in that range who only has forward eligibility. I will always like Curry when he's priced under 10K and playing in a game that's projected to be competitive. Young is coming off back-to-back 50+ DK point outings and has a salary that's still very affordable. I'm not usually a narrative guy, but Kyrie going back to Cleveland in his first game with the new-look Nets has to be in consideration. Of the bunch, my picks would be Curry and Young.
Andre Drummond ($9,900), Domantas Sabonis ($9,800) and Joel Embiid ($9,600) are the elite options at center. Drummond had a massive 33 point, 22 rebound night on Friday that saw him score a season-high 74.75 DK points. The Cavs are big underdogs and I won't be playing Harden or Durant so he doesn't make much sense tonight. Sabonis could be playing without the questionable Myles Turner in the lineup tonight and that would be favorable. He makes sense as a run back in lineups that contain Doncic. Embiid missed Saturday's game due to knee soreness but is ready to play tonight and from a raw points perspective, he has the highest ceiling.
NOTE: On a 10 game slate without clear-cut cheap value, it's difficult to project chalk before we get news. Often times, there won't any true chalk when you have 20 teams playing and so many players to choose from. By the time lock roles around, the cheapest value with the highest point per dollar projections is where the chalk will be. Players that I highlight in the value picks section often end up chalky while players I highlight here in the expected chalk section become value picks.
Ja Morant ($7,300)
Morant has played 31 and 34 minutes in two games since returning from injury. Routinely priced in the mid 8K range before his injury, it's only a matter of time before we see his salary increase. He's in a good spot tonight, playing against Portland in one of the late games so I'd expect him to be relatively popular in most contests.
Enes Kanter ($6,300)
Kanter will start again for the injured Jusuf Nurkic. He has 50+ fantasy point upside whenever he gets significant minutes and we already saw that on Saturday. It doesn't hurt that Memphis will also be without Jonas Valanciunas. I like Kanter in all formats tonight and I'd expect other people will too.
Xavier Tillman ($3,500)
Tillman played 29 minutes in his first start of the season on Monday. He has scored at least 25 DK points in three consecutive games. With such an affordable salary and Jonas Valanciunas ruled out, it's hard not to like him tonight.
Rodney Hood ($3,800)
Hood started in place of the injured CJ McCollum and put up 28 DK points in 25 minutes. $3,800 is still appealing for a starting guard playing in a favorable matchup that also happens to be a late game.
Karl-Anthony Towns and Juancho Hernangomez are out, meaning Reid and Vanderbilt will start in their places. Both guys are averaging more than a fantasy point per minute for the season and they should each see significant run tonight.
Eric Gordon ($5,500)
Gordon played a season-high 34 minutes and even saw some run at point guard on Monday. With John Wall still out, the Rockets will count on him again tonight and his salary is still very affordable.
Goran Dragic ($5,700)
This is contingent on the status of Tyler Herro, who is listed as questionable. Dragic started in his place the last two games and saw season-highs for minutes. He's actually seen a drop in salary and would be very appealing should Herro have to sit out again.
Jaylen Brown ($8,700)
With Jayson Tatum still out, Brown will get all the usage he can handle tonight and the matchup with the Sixers should be competitive.
Nikola Vucevic ($8,600)
It's a bit puzzling to see his salary here after he was priced at $9,500 on Saturday and put up a season-high 69.5 DK points. It's not like it was a one-off either as he had back-to-back games of 50+ earlier in the week. He could get overlooked tonight on a slate that features an array of elite spend-up options.