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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.

Wednesday’s slate includes a gigantic 14 games – everyone plays except the Wizards and Bulls. Not only are there tons of quality options, but several recent trades and injuries mean that no single players are likely to appear on the majority of lineups.

With the larger slates, picking players from high scoring games becomes a bit more important than usual. Las Vegas projects the Heat-Rockets, Bucks-Nets and Knicks-Thunder games to be the three highest-scoring. Lines are not yet out for the Timberwolves-Nuggets game, but I anticipate that game will end up with the highest over-under of the night. The Warriors-Kings and Suns-Lakers games have also not been announced, but are likely to be relatively high. The Mavericks-Pistons have the lowest over-under.

Over the last 10 games, the Nuggets, Clippers, Suns and Timberwolves' defenses have all been dreadful. All four are allowing more points per possession during this stretch than any team has allowed during any single month this season. The Spurs' defense, on the other hand, remains head-and-shoulders above the competition with the most efficient defense of 2017.


Russell Westbrook, OKC vs. NY ($62):
I’ve repeatedly harped on the fact that, over the course of the season, the top-priced players don’t give a great rate of return. But this is daily, and the situation looks ripe for Westbrook to dominate. First, this game is projected to be one of the highest scoring, and he’s facing a Knicks squad that rebounds below 50 percent and allowed the sixth-most points per possession over the past 10 games. Second, he’s playing his last game before the All-Star break, at home, coming off one of his worst games of the season. An emotional player like Westbrook will want to rebound with a vengeance. Finally, due to prices and matchups, most of the guards who cost over $30 look unappealing, and by comparison, Westbrook’s situation looks even more favorable.

Jameer Nelson, DEN vs. MIN ($15): Nelson has three straight games with more than 35 fantasy points, and five straight playing at least 31 minutes. He has taken over as starting point guard since Emmanuel Mudiay started having back problems in late January, even starting during the three games Mudiay played before sitting out again. Mudiay has not been very good this season, and in many ways has regressed from what he showed as a rookie, so even if he does return Wednesday, Nelson would still have significant value at this price. This might be the highest scoring game, as not only are both defenses terrible, but both offenses rank in the top seven for points per possession over the last 10 games.

Other suggestions: Lou Williams, LAL at PHO ($21); Tony Allen, MEM vs. NO ($10); Marcus Smart, BOS vs. PHI ($16)

Guard to Avoid

Damian Lillard, POR at UTA ($43):
Lillard has been incredibly consistent lately, scoring between 33 and 49 fantasy points in every game for the past month. That means his floor is high, but also that his ceiling is pretty low. On a jam-packed night like this, he might need to reach into the low-to-mid 50s to earn a profit on this salary, and he hasn’t reached that high since before Christmas. He faces a Jazz team that runs at the slowest pace in the league and whose defense is only bested by the Spurs; that is not the recipe for Lillard cooking up his best game in two months.

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Andrew Wiggins, MIN at DEN ($33):
Assuming Wiggins’ pride recovers enough from the damage LeBron James inflicted Tuesday, he’s got a dream matchup and the chance to continue an impressive hot streak. Wiggins has scored at least 20 points in 14 straights games, and during this streak, he is averaging 38.1 minutes, 26.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists per outing. He has four straight games of at least 40 fantasy points, three of which were against respectable defenses. Wiggins attempts 5.9 shots inside of five feet per game, the 14th-highest total in the league for a non-big man, while the Nuggets allow the fifth-highest field goal percentage on shots inside five feet.

Frank Kaminsky, CHA at TOR ($15): Kaminsky is expected to start Wednesday, which would mark his fifth start in six games. During each of the previous four starts, he has played at least 32 minutes, scored at least 12 points, made at least one three and grabbed at least one steal. His value has increased since the Hornets swapped Roy Hibbert and Spencer Hawes for Miles Plumlee. Meanwhile, Plumlee (calf) and Cody Zeller (quadriceps) are both expected to miss Wednesday’s game.

Other suggestions: Dario Saric, PHI at BOS ($13); Andre Iguodala, GS vs. SAC ($10); Larry Nance, LAL at PHO ($10)

Forward to Avoid

Mason Plumlee, DEN vs MIN ($23):
Plumlee is expected to make his Nuggets debut Wednesday after practicing with the team Tuesday, but there is no indication of how many minutes he will play. He is entering a much more crowded frontcourt in Denver than the one he left in Portland, so it seems improbable that he’ll approach the 28.1 minutes per game he was averaging as a Trail Blazer. His price, however, still reflects the larger role he had, not the uncertain and likely lesser role he is about to have. There is no reason to take this risk with so many other options available – there are too many ways it can go poorly, and not enough ways that it could end positively. Jusuf Nurkic, the center Plumlee was traded for, is another player to avoid Wednesday.


Rudy Gobert, UTA vs. POR ($30):
I’m not sure which scenario is better for Gobert: spending lots of time matching up against backup power forwards playing out of position at center or spending lots of time facing off against an actual center who is brand new to the team, cannot possibly have a functioning familiarity with his own team’s defensive schemes, and is in the midst of a pretty bad season. The good news for Gobert is that it doesn’t matter, because he’ll get a little bit of both. The Trail Blazers traded their starting center, Mason Plumlee, and acquired a struggling Jusuf Nurkic, who makes his team debut Wednesday. The Blazers' other centers, Meyers Leonard and Ed Davis, can be fairly described as PF/Cs, but I’ve always felt both are better suited to power forward. Gobert has scored at least 30 fantasy points in nine straight, a solid feat for this price.

Kelly Olynyk, BOS vs. PHI ($10): Jahlil Okafor has travelled with the 76ers for Wednesday’s game, after staying home for their game in Charlotte on Monday. With Joel Embiid (knee) out, the 76ers are a favorable matchup. If Okafor plays, they become even more favorable – when Okafor plays, 76ers opponents have on offensive rating of 114.3, whereas when he sits, it falls to 105.9. Whether or not Okafor sees the floor, however, Olynyk is dramatically outplaying this paltry salary, averaging 13.8 points per game over his last five, which is enough to earn a profit even before adding in his 6.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.4 threes. Bonus “target the 76ers” stats that didn’t fit into the flow at the start of this paragraph: they have the worst rebounding percentage in the league over their last 10 games, and the third-fastest pace.

Other suggestions: Nerlens Noel*, PHI at BOS ($13); Dirk Nowitzki, DAL at DET, $16

* If Okafor is out

Center to Avoid

Anthony Davis, NO at MEM ($52):
Two great defensive centers face off Wednesday as Davis goes against Marc Gasol. While it should make for entertaining viewing, the two damage each other in fantasy. Davis, who costs $18 more than Gasol, is the higher risk and has more to lose. He has a high floor, posting 10 straight games with at least 40 fantasy points, but a giant slate like Wednesday’s requires high ceilings, and against Gasol, Davis will have difficulty reaching the 60 or so fantasy points he’ll need to keep lineups competitive. Additionally, this game is projected to have one of the lowest scoring totals of the night.
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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.