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Yahoo DFS Basketball: Wednesday Picks

Alex Rikleen

Rikleen writes the NBA column "Numbers Game," which decodes the math that underpins fantasy basketball. A certified math teacher, Rikleen decided the field of education pays too well, so he left it for writing. He is a Boston College graduate living in Delaware.

Five of the league’s most favorable fantasy opponents take action Wednesday: the Nets, Trail Blazers, Lakers, Rockets and Suns. Two of those teams, the Lakers and Rockets, play each other in Houston. Based only on the last 10 games, the Cavaliers warrant inclusion in that list, but I think they’ve turned the corner on their rotten streak and will return to being the slightly-better-than-average defense that they were before this slump. For those less convinced than I, the Cavs are also in action.


Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL vs. POR ($50):
Antetokounmpo has one of the highest floors in the league – he has only one game with fewer than 33 fantasy points and only four under 42. On one of his “bad” nights, he represents only a small shortfall on 25 percent of your salary cap, a margin that can be easy to make up. But facing the Trail Blazers, I expect him to have a good night, as they are one of the worst defenses in the league, and they also allow the fifth-most rebounds per game – Antetokounmpo averaged 10.3 rebounds per game over the past four games, and 8.7 this season.

Jameer Nelson, DEN at BKN ($10): It’s always nice to play the Nets, as they have both the worst defense and the fastest pace in the league over the past 10 games. It is also nice to start a player who averages almost twice as many fantasy points as they cost in salary dollars, which applies to Nelson, who is averaging 19.5 fantasy points per game on the season. He has the profile of a high-risk, high-reward player except his salary is so low that the risk level is very modest. Three times in his last nine games he has scored fewer than 10 fantasy points, despite playing a respectable 18-20 minutes in all three. In the other six games, however, he has scored at least 25.

Other suggestions: Lou Williams, LAL at HOU ($22); Deron Williams, DAL vs. SAC ($16); Tim Hardaway, ATL vs. MIA ($10)

Guard to Avoid

Chris Paul, LAC vs GS ($43):
The Warriors' defense has found itself again, and after a rough start they have reclaimed a top-two position in terms of opponent points per possession and opponent field goal percentage. Paul rarely returns value on this salary, as he has reached 46 fantasy points only six times this season.

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LeBron James, CLE at NY ($54):
Remember that time Phil Jackson referred to James’ associates as a “posse?” Well, James remembers. And angry, motivated LeBron is easily the most dangerous version. When James has something more than basketball on the line, stay out of his way. Celtics fans remember “Game Six,” when James scored 45 points and grabbed 15 rebounds, publicly declaring the end of the Paul Pierce-Kevin Garnett title window, as well as the “LeBron isn’t clutch” narrative that was once so commonplace. More recently, fans of any team remember James averaging 36.3 points, 11.7 rebounds, and 9.7 assists per game over the last three games of the NBA Finals, willing his Cavaliers to victory over the greatest regular season team of all time. I don’t care what he costs, or what he has done in recent games, Wednesday will be a “LeBron’s on a mission” game, and, historically, that is good news for his fantasy owners.

Sam Dekker, HOU vs. LAL ($10): Dekker is coming off a weak five-point, four-rebound, 10.3-fantasy-point performance Monday against Boston. It was the first time in four games when he was held under 26 minutes. Yet, with the game on the line late, Dekker was on the court. In his three appearances before the Celtics, he averaged 24.9 fantasy points, 27 minutes, 12.7 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.3 threes per game. Additionally, I want a piece of this Rockets-Lakers game – with two of the worst defenses in the league on the floor, I expect a high scoring affair.

Other suggestions: Jeremy Lamb, CHA vs. DET ($10); Channing Frye, CLE at NY ($11)

Forward to Avoid

Carmelo Anthony, NY vs. CLE ($35):
The matchup against a LeBron-on-a-mission is scary enough that I’d want to stay away from Anthony for that reason alone. There are, however, some other reasons, too. It’s been three weeks since Anthony strung together back-to-back games of 30+ fantasy points, or 21+ points. On the odd nights when he does profit, which have happened only three times in that period, he can post a nice one. If you think the Cavaliers' defense are still slumping – and I don’t – then Anthony could make a decent contrarian play in a tournament, but the ratio of good nights to bad is far too low for my taste.


DeAndre Jordan, LAC vs. GS ($25):
Jordan has generally outperformed his salary this season – only four times this season has he scored fewer fantasy points than his current cost. He has also played well against the Warriors recently, averaging 13.8 points and 16.0 rebounds per game in four appearances last season. Though it could be a coincidence of small sample size, even Jordan’s free throw percentage improved against the Warriors – he shot 50.0 percent against them versus 43.0 for the season.

John Henson, MIL vs. POR ($12): Henson’s scored 14.2 fantasy points in his worst game since Nov. 10, and that was on Nov. 10. He has played at least 20 minutes in eight of his last nine games, including each of the last six straight. His salary is so low that he doesn’t need to do much to be worthwhile. In his last five games, he has scored at least 20 fantasy points every night and averaged 13.4 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per outing. As mentioned above, the Blazers are a very favorable fantasy opponent.

Other suggestions: Mike Muscala, ATL vs. MIA ($10); Brook Lopez, BKN vs. DEN ($27); Nik Vucevic, ORL vs. BOS ($24)

Center to Avoid

Dwight Howard, ATL vs MIA ($31):
There are two parts to this “avoid” recommendation: the first is that Wednesday’s center crop looks strong – Alex Len and Howard are the only two non-minimum salary players that I have much objection to. So even though I don’t have major objections to Howard, he came in second in a two-horse race. The second part is that Howard's salary is still too high – it’s come down a little from earlier in the season, but it still needs to be lower. Even before his recent poor performances, Howard’s fantasy points only rarely dipped into the 40s – Al Horford, another center who costs $31 on Wednesday, has reached that mark the same number of times as Howard, in half as many games. Two of Howard’s last three performances have been downright bad, and a matchup against Hassan Whiteside is not ideal for breaking out of a rut.
The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire.