This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
We have a robust 11-game slate on tap Wednesday night, so we're faced with plenty of choices to make at each position. The good news is that there are solid candidates all across the pricing scale to consider, and with so many teams in action, even the numerous injuries in play can't truly dilute the player pool to a concerning level.
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 elevated totals on Wednesday's slate:
New Orleans Pelicans at Milwaukee Bucks (Projected total: 235.5 points)
As usual, the high-octane Bucks are involved in a game with one of the night's highest projected totals. Milwaukee checks off the primary statistical boxes for an offensive explosion each time it takes the floor – highest average points per game (120.5) and third-fastest pace (108.5 possessions per game). Whenever they're up against an opponent as defensively vulnerable as the Pelicans – New Orleans is allowing the second-most points per game (119.5), including the second most on the road (122.5) – the expectation climbs even further.
Memphis Grizzlies at Phoenix Suns (Projected total: 231.5 points)
The current Grizzlies are a defensive shell of their predecessors, while the Suns are also one of the more vulnerable defensive squads in the league. Therefore, it's no surprise to see a meeting between the two carrying the second-highest projected total on the ledger. Memphis (116.3 PPG allowed) and Phoenix (114.0 PPG allowed) are both giving up plenty of scoring while playing at top-10 paces, making all the major pieces on both squads, Ja Morant, Jonas Valanciunas, Devin Booker and Kelly Oubre Jr. in particular, especially appealing.
Houston Rockets at Cleveland Cavaliers (Projected total: 228.5 points)
The Rockets are another team always closely associated with high offensive expectation, as they, too, boast the potent cocktail of elite scorers and an ultra-accelerated pace. Houston is currently averaging the second-most points per game (120.4) while playing at the league's fastest pace (109.2 possessions per game), and they're also giving up 117.8 points per road contest. Then, the Cavs are yielding 113.0 points per game themselves, setting the stage for plenty of opportunities for numerous pieces on both teams to enjoy big nights, especially if Cleveland manages to keep this home game competitive deep into the fourth quarter.
PG: We have a trio of major confirmed absences in the form of Kyrie Irving (shoulder) De'Aaron Fox (ankle) and Mike Conley (hamstring) at point guard, but otherwise, we have the type of robust selection we'd expect from such a large slate. Russell Westbrook is a fine way to start up top, while there is potential value to be had all the way into the high-$3K range.
SG: James Harden, D'Angelo Russell and Devin Booker get us off to a fine start up top, while Zach LaVine (back) carries a probable designation, leaving Fred VanVleet (knee) and Marcus Smart (eye) as the two notable two-guards with a legitimate questionable status. Otherwise, we're in good shape all the way into the low $4K range.
SF: Not only is small forward stacked top to bottom, it's also nearly completely free of major injuries except for the long-term absence of Otto Porter Jr. (foot). Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James sit atop the pool, and the mid-tier is especially formidable with the likes of Kelly Oubre Jr., Jonathan Isaac, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward and Danilo Gallinari, among others, priced from $7,200 on down.
PF: Anthony Davis carries his usual probable designation due to shoulder soreness, but otherwise, we're in fairly strong shape here, especially with Kawhi Leonard returning from a load management day and Marvin Bagley III expected to make his return from a thumb injury. There's value into the high $3K range, which is preceded by a strong mid-tier.
C: Except for Nikola Vucevic's long-term ankle injury, the health front doesn't look bad at center Wednesday. The two other notable names sporting injury designations, Wendell Carter Jr. and Aron Baynes, are both probable with an illness and a calf injury, respectively. Otherwise, we have a player pool with the formidable duo of Karl-Anthony Towns and Clint Capela up top, followed by an impressive mid-tier that includes Jonas Valanciunas, Rudy Gobert, Montrezl Harrell, Steven Adams and Tristan Thompson, and value into the high $3K range with Enes Kanter.
Notable Injury Situations to Monitor
Returning from Load Management Day: Kawhi Leonard, LAC
UPDATE: Giannis Antetokounmpo is now ruled out for the Bucks for rest purposes.
Anthony Davis, LAL
Davis is considered probable for Wednesday's game with the shoulder soreness he's been dealing with for some time.
Rajon Rondo, LAL
Kyle Kuzma, LAL
Kuzma is considered probable for Wednesday's game with an ankle injury.
Marcus Smart, BOS
Robert Williams III, BOS
Austin Rivers, HOU
Rivers is out for Wednesday's game due to an illness. Chris Clemons could see some extra minutes as a backup point guard as a result.
Tyson Chandler, HOU
JaMychal Green, LAC
Fred VanVleet, TOR
VanVleet is questionable for Wednesday's game due to the knee bruise that cost him Monday's contest. Norman Powell would fill in at shooting guard should VanVleet miss.
Nicolas Batum, CHA
Batum is expected to miss Wednesday's game with a hand injury. Dwayne Bacon could be the primary beneficiary of Batum's absence by seeing some extra minutes as a backup small forward.
Marvin Williams, CHA
Williams will not play Wednesday due to a knee injury. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist would be the likely beneficiary of some extra minutes as the backup power forward.
Iman Shumpert, BKN
Shumpert is questionable for Wednesday's game due to a knee injury. David Nwaba would likely see extra minutes as a backup wing should Shumpert miss.
Mike Conley UTA
Conley will not play in Wednesday's game due to his lingering hamstring injury. Donovan Mitchell is expected to handle the point guard position again in his stead, while Joe Ingles and Royce O'Neale are expected to remain in the starting five as a result of the shuffling.
Jeff Teague, MIN
Teague is considered a game-time decision for Wednesday's contest due to an ankle injury. Shabazz Napier will handle backup point guard minutes if Teague can't suit up.
Kyle Anderson, MEM
Anderson is probable for Wednesday's game with a heel injury.
Aron Baynes, PHO
Baynes is considered probable for Wednesday's game with a calf injury.
Derrick Favors, NOP
Marvin Bagley III, SAC
Bagley is expected to return Wednesday from the thumb fracture that sidelined him since the season opener. The big man may be on some sort of minutes restriction, but his active status would likely push Nemanja Bjelica back into a reserve role.
Eric Paschall, GSW
Coby White, CHI
White is considered probable for Wednesday's game with a hamstring injury.
Zach LaVine, CHI
LaVine is considered probable for Wednesday's game with back and shoulder injuries.
Wendell Carter Jr., CHI
Carter is considered probable for Wednesday's game despite dealing with an illness and both thumb and back injuries.
Denzel Valentine, CHI
Valentine is considered probable for Wednesday's game with an ankle injury.
Ryan Arcidiacono, CHI
Arcidiacono is considered probable for Wednesday's game with an elbow injury.
Brandon Clarke, MEM
Clarke is considered probable to return from a four-game absence due to a hip injury Wednesday. He should slide back into primary backup minutes at power forward behind Jaren Jackson Jr.
Grayson Allen, MEM
Allen is ruled out for Wednesday's game with an ankle injury. Marko Guduric should soak up extra backup shooting guard minutes due to Allen's absence.
Cameron Johnson, PHO
Johnson is probable for Wednesday's game with a hip injury.
Mikal Bridges, PHO
Bridges is probable for Wednesday's game due to a finger injury.
Bogdan Bogdanovic, SAC
Bogdanovic is considered probable for Wednesday's game due to a knee injury.
Cory Joseph, SAC
Joseph is considered probable for Wednesday's game due to a back injury.
Terrance Ferguson, OKC
Ferguson is out for Wednesday's game due to his ongoing hip injury. Abdel Nader is expected to start at shooting guard in his place once again
Notable Long-Term Injuries/Absences: Deandre Ayton, PHO; Kyrie Irving, BKN; Caris LeVert, BKN; Zion Williamson, NOP; Nikola Vucevic, ORL; John Collins, ATL; Stephen Curry, GSW; Klay Thompson, GSW; Al-Farouq Aminu, ORL; Eric Gordon, HOU; Gerald Green, HOU; Otto Porter Jr., CHI; Chandler Hutchison, CHI; Andre Iguodala, MEM; De'Aaron Fox, SAC; Victor Oladipo, IND; Hamidou Diallo, OKC; Andre Roberson, OKC; Jake Layman, MIN; Wilson Chandler, BKN; Stanley Johnson, TOR; Patrick McCaw, TOR; Landry Shamet, LAC; Rodney McGruder, LAC
UPDATE: Giannis Antetokounmpo is now ruled out for the Bucks due to rest.
We have six players boasting five-figure salaries on Wednesday's 11-game slate – James Harden ($12,200), Giannis Antetokounmpo ($12,000), Anthony Davis ($11,800), Karl-Anthony Towns ($11,100), LeBron James ($10,900) and Russell Westbrook ($10,400). Then, Harden, Antetokounmpo and Westbrook are all involved in the games with the top three highest-projected totals for the night.
Neither positional scarcity nor injuries elsewhere on their team dictates taking any one of these mega-stars over the other, but the aforementioned trio does hold extra appeal due to the offensive expectations in their games. As far as potential caveats with that elite group, it's worth noting both Davis and James are in a tough matchup versus an Orlando team that's been one of the better defensive squads this season and plays at a very deliberate pace.
The 22-team ledger practically ensures ownership should be fairly spread out Wednesday. Even the elite group just covered should see their popularity diluted by virtue of the fact there are so many choices. In terms of players that offer nearly as much ceiling as those five-figure options but are priced much lower and therefore likely to be popular, Devin Booker ($8,700), Pascal Siakam ($8,700), Donovan Mitchell ($8,100) and Devonte' Graham ($7,700) are a quartet that fit the bill.
As customary, I've also highlighted a number of potentially popular value plays under $6K below the next section that are worthy of consideration.
Key and Likely Underowned Values
Danuel House Jr., HOU at CLE ($4,800):
A combination of a recent multi-game absence due to injury and some rather ordinary production since returning are likely to make House a relatively underowned option on the big slate. However, the talented wing certainly carries more upside than his price implies, as he's already flashed a ceiling north of 30 FanDuel points on multiple occasions this season. The Rockets are also part of the game with the third-highest projected total of the night, and the Cavaliers check in allowing the fifth-most FanDuel points per game to small forwards (51.0). They're also surrendering 46.8 percent shooting to the position, including 38.8 percent from three-point range, while House comes in draining an eye-popping 42.6 percent of his attempts from distance.
Daniel Theis, BOS at IND ($4,300):
Theis never carries an inordinate amount of ownership on a large slate, and the fact his recent production has been all over the place (5.8 to 31.0 FanDuel points in his last seven games) is also likely to scare many off. However, consider the big man will find himself in a premium matchup Wednesday against a Pacers squad that's allowed the most FanDuel points per game to centers (44.3) on the season, as well as the fourth-highest offensive efficiency rating (33.0) to the position. Theis has repeatedly flashed a ceiling north of 20 FanDuel points this season and has one 40-fantasy-point-tally, so the ability to blow away his current salary under the right circumstances is certainly there.
Ersan Ilyasova, MIL vs. NOP ($3,800): *UPDATE: With Giannis Antetokounmpo (rest) now ruled out for the Bucks, Ilyasova is no longer projected to have low ownership. Consider Ilaysova's teammate D.J. Wilson ($3,600) as a good pivot if you're looking to differentiate.
If you're feeling particularly bold Wednesday and playing in very large-field tournaments, the Knicks' Bobby Portis ($3,800) is another player in this price range likely to draw microscopic ownership. Ilyasova will likely be a bit more popular than the struggling Knick, but it won't be by much with such a large slate. The floor-spacing veteran has also been a bit more consistent and has scored over 20 FanDuel points in three straight games while serving as the unquestioned backup at power forward with Dragan Bender (ankle) not available to siphon any minutes. The Bucks and Pelicans project to engage in one of the fastest-paced games of the night, while New Orleans checks in allowing the fourth-highest offensive efficiency rating (27.9) to power forwards. Moreover, the Pels also yield the second highest offensive efficiency rating (48.9) to opposing second units, as well as the highest three-point percentage (40.6) to bench players.
Other likely higher-owned value plays to consider:
Norman Powell ($5,600); Larry Nance Jr. ($5,500); Garrett Temple ($5,500); Serge Ibaka ($5,400): Miles Bridges ($5,100); De'Andre Hunter ($5,100); Joe Ingles ($5,000); Cody Zeller ($4,700); Kevin Huerter ($4,400); Bismack Biyombo ($3,900); Enes Kanter ($3,800)