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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.

Believe it or not, the best defense in action Wednesday is the 76ers, as they are the only defense ranked in the top seven over the past 10 days. That’s bad news for the Knicks, whose offense is struggling. The only other top 10 defense is the Thunder, who face the Grizzlies in what looks to be a highly competitive matchup. The Celtics have been winning games, but it their defense has struggled, giving a boost to all Wizards players.


Isaiah Thomas, BOS vs. WAS ($42):
This recommendation is more based on situation than strict numbers, though there are some good math-y reasons to like Thomas, too. Both of these teams are playing the second night of a back-to-back – the Celtics were in Toronto on Tuesday, while the Wizards were at home. The Celtics lost a close game after leading for most of the second half. The Wizards won despite trailing most of the night. I think that the return home helps the Celtics, and the shoulda-had-that energy drives the always emotional Thomas past a weary and lesser Wizards squad. The Wizards are a tough matchup for a guard, but I think the outside factors favor Thomas. The fact that he is on an insane 11-game run, averaging 32.3 points, 6.4 assists, and 3.8 threes per game doesn’t hurt my confidence here, either.

Brandon Jennings, NY at PHI ($11): Jennings is a risky play Wednesday, but if things break right, he could be a major hit. He saw extra minutes Monday with Derrick Rose mysteriously absent, and he went off for 20 points and 36 fantasy points. Rose is back and likely starting Wednesday, but that doesn’t mean he’ll play his full complement of minutes. Jennings has been inconsistent with Rose in the lineup – on New Year’s Eve, Jennings played 41 minutes and scored 50 fantasy points, but five days later saw only five minutes and 0.7 fantasy points. Rose was healthy and active for both. Big risk, big potential reward, but he is probably only worth using in GPP tournaments.

Other suggestions: Zach LaVine, MIN vs. HOU ($27); Evan Fournier, ORL at LAC ($22)

Guard to Avoid

Marcus Smart, BOS vs. WAS ($18):
I’m still skeptical of “Marcus Smart, double-digit scorer.” His assists, rebounds and steals ensure his floor is close to break-even, but his ability to profit in DFS is based on scoring. He’s reached double-digit points in six of his last 10, and has at least 27 points in all six of those games. In the other four games, however, his he has ranged from 14.2 to 21.2 fantasy points. Throughout the season, that pattern has held basically true – both in terms of frequency of scoring at least 10 points, and how that has affected his fantasy production. Considering the need for Smart to score to provide value, the concerns raised in the Thomas paragraph above are more worrisome – namely that he is playing the second night of a back-to-back and that the Wizards are a tough matchup for a guard.

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Gorgui Dieng, MIN vs. HOU ($21):
The Rockets are playing great since the loss of Clint Capela (leg) forced a shift in their rotation. However, their defense has taken a major hit, and they’ve fallen into the bottom third of the league in opponent points per possession since he went down. Their rebounding has also deteriorated, as they have gone from elite to below average. In other words, while they are winning games, they’ve also become a very favorable fantasy opponent, especially for rebound-reliant forwards like Dieng, who is averaging 12.0 points and 8.4 rebounds per game over his last five. Before Monday, he had scored at least 23 fantasy points in seven straight, and 10 of 11. I also like grabbing players the day after a slightly down game, since other managers are more likely to be spooked, maximizing my comparative benefit (assuming the player is an otherwise good pick, of course).

Al-Farouq Aminu, POR vs. CLE ($13): I don’t love the matchup against the Cavaliers, but that’s about the only thing not to like here. Aminu’s price is dirt cheap, despite scoring at least 17 fantasy points in each of his last eight, and at least 28 in each of his last four. He’s averaging 10.8 points and 10.3 rebounds over the last four, plus his usual dabbling in assists, steals, blocks and threes. He’s only scored fewer fantasy points than his salary twice since the start of December.

Other suggestions: Kevin Love, CLE at POR ($40); Trevor Ariza, HOU at MIN ($24); Robert Covington, PHI vs. NY ($20)

Forward to Avoid

Kristaps Porzingis, NY at PHI ($35):
Porzingis is a tough player to guard, but Joel Embiid and Nerlens Noel have the length, speed and athleticism to cause him serious problems. They are the engine driving the 76ers recent defensive success – well, mostly Embiid, but Noel’s recently increased role in the rotation is also helping. There is no reason to think he’ll again be held to a measly nine points, as he was Monday, but Porzingis doesn’t look primed for a big bounce-back game, either.


DeAndre Jordan, LAC vs. ORL ($25):
Jordan has become my fantasy security blanket. It’s been weeks since he was active and out of my lineup, as his price is inexcusably low. The last time he scored fewer than 25 fantasy points in a game? Christmas, when he only reached 24. Before that, we have to look all the way back to mid-November. Put differently, in the past two months, he has profited every time he took the floor, with only two exceptions.

Montrezl Harrell, HOU at MIN ($15): The primary beneficiary of the Capela injury has been Harrell. After spending more than a month as a minimum salary fantasy afterthought, Harrell became a 25-plus minutes per night staple. He’s riding consecutive 30-fantasy-point performances, and has scored fewer than 19 fantasy points just once since Capela’s injury.

Other suggestions: Steven Adams, OKC vs. MEM ($21); Nerlens Noel, PHI vs. NY ($14)

Center to Avoid

Tristan Thompson, CLE at POR ($18):
Thompson’s not terrible, but he’s the highest-priced center that I definitely wouldn’t use – all the higher priced guys are ones I’d consider if Jordan and Harrell were late scratches. I’m nervous about any Cavaliers role player until we have a few games worth of evidence about how the Kyle Korver trade will impact the rotation and distribution of shot attempts. Thompson can be counted on for a solid supply of rebounds, but, like Smart above, he needs to score to have legitimate fantasy value. Even a slight decrease from Thompson’s 4.8 field goal attempts per game could severely hinder his ability to profit at this price. It may turn out that Korver’s addition helps or has no impact on Thompson, but his margin for error is small, and I won’t invest in him until I know for certain.
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.