This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
Although there are still two more games on the schedule Thursday, Wednesday night brings us the NBA's unofficial send-off before the All-Star break, as a whopping 22 teams will be in action. Needless to say, this will give us an abundance of choices at every position, even as the injury report still has some big names on it. However, there are still plenty of elite options to pay up for – including a potentially returning Luka Doncic – and no shortage of value plays to help fit those expensive players in.
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 on Wednesday's slate with the highest projected totals as of Wednesday morning:
Portland Trail Blazers at Memphis Grizzlies (Projected total: 235.5 points)
Two squads ranked in the top half of the league in scoring and bottom 10 in points allowed are unsurprisingly the participants in what is currently projected as the highest-scoring game of the night. The pace should be off the charts here as well, as Memphis is averaging the seventh-most possessions per game (106.6), while Portland checks in with the 11th most (104.7 per contest). It's also worth noting the Blazers come in with the fourth-worst defensive efficiency rating (1.102), and that they're one of the weaker teams at defending point guards and centers, positions two of Memphis' most explosive players (Ja Morant, Jonas Valanciunas) reside.
Atlanta Hawks at Cleveland Cavaliers (Projected total: 234.0 points)
It's fitting the Hawks and Cavaliers slide in just behind the Trail Blazers-Grizzlies showdown in terms of projected totals, as they represent two more squads that have facilitated plenty of production for the opposition this season. These two squads combined for 239 points the first time they met this season, and they come in allowing the second most (Atlanta-118.8) and sixth most (Cleveland- 115.2) points per game. What's more, Atlanta will bring a significant bump in pace for the Cavaliers, as the Hawks are averaging the fourth-most possessions per game (107.7), while Cleveland is only averaging 102.3 per contest.
Washington Wizards at New York Knicks (Projected total: 228.5 points)
The Wizards don't take a back seat to any team when it comes to defensive struggles, as they're allowing the most points per game (120.3) and have the worst defensive efficiency rating (1.127) of any team by a considerable margin. Washington combines that sieve-like play with the sixth-fastest pace (106.8), making for a combustible recipe that generates plenty of offense. The two teams already combined for 236 points in one of their two meetings this season, and although New York has often struggled to keep up its end of the bargain in terms of points, it's worth noting they have 139- and 135-point tallies over their last four games.
Point guard is in remarkably good health for such a large slate, especially if Luka Doncic (ankle) is able to get back into action. That would leave Kyrie Irving (knee) as the one big name that's certain to miss, while Mike Conley (illness) will be a game-time decision. Trae Young ($10.1K) checks in as the most expensive option at the position, but even at his five-figure price, he could represent very strong fantasy-point-per-dollar value in a premium matchup against the Cavaliers.
With no five-figure players and a completely clean bill of health as far as short-term injuries go, shooting guard is in outstanding shape Wednesday. Bradley Beal checks in as the most expensive option at $9.6K, so there are plenty of options for those who want to secure two safe plays at the position. Khris Middleton ($7.2K) could also prove to be one of the best values of the night with Giannis Antetokounmpo (personal) out again.
Small forward will once again be sans Antetokounmpo and Will Barton (knee), but otherwise, this is another position that's in fine shape Wednesday. LeBron James ($10K) has seen a $500 price drop from Monday and is the most expensive healthy option, and there's strong value to be had all the way down into the high $3K range (Cameron Johnson, Derrick Jones).
Power forward sees Anthony Davis carrying a probable tag due to a finger injury, but Kevin Love (Achilles) and Serge Ibaka (illness) appear to be legitimately questionable. Even if that pair of players misses, there are still plenty of options across the salary spectrum, and as with small forward, viable value down into the high $4K range (Maxi Kleber).
The iffy status of Deandre Ayton (ankle) and ongoing absences of Clint Capela (heel) and Marc Gasol (hamstring) serve as blemishes, but center is still in strong shape overall due to the depth the size of the slate affords. There are a trio of five-figure players up top in Karl-Anthony Towns, Nikola Jokic and Andre Drummond, and all three could be worth their salaries and then some Wednesday. Nikola Vucevic ($9.4K) and Jonas Valanciunas ($7.4K) could both be bargains at their salaries and matchups.
Notable Injury Situations to Monitor
NOTE: Injury reporting is especially fluid in the NBA, where the status of multiple players can change during the course of a day. Therefore, although the following serves as a foundation for the latest injury report as of the time the article is written (usually late morning Eastern time), check back throughout the course of the day with RotoWire for the latest news regarding the status of all players on that night's slate.
Clint Capela, ATL
Capela remains out with a heel injury, leaving Dewayne Dedmon to continue logging starts at center.
Luka Doncic, DAL
Doncic has said he expects to play Wednesday, but he is officially listed as questionable with the ankle injury that's cost him the last seven games.
Kyrie Irving, BKN
Irving remains out due to an MCL sprain.
Anthony Davis, LAL
Davis is probable due to a finger sprain.
Kevin Love, CLE
Love is questionable due to an Achilles injury.
De'Andre Hunter, ATL
Hunter is probable with an ankle injury.
DeAndre' Bembry, ATL
Bembry is listed as questionable at best due to a hand injury.
Kyle Korver, MIL
Korver will remain out due to a back injury.
George Hill, MIL
Hill remains out due to a hamstring injury.
Serge Ibaka, TOR
Ibaka is questionable due to an illness.
Delon Wright, DAL
Wright is probable with ankle injury.
Kevon Looney, GSW
Looney is questionable due to a hip injury.
Maurice Harkless, NYK
Harkless is probable due to an illness.
Mitchell Robinson, NYK
Robinson is probable due to an illness.
Damyean Dotson, NYK
Dotson is probable due to an illness.
Allonzo Trier, NYK
Trier is probable due to an illness.
Cody Martin, CHA
Martin will not play due to a concussion.
Tyler Herro, MIA
Herro will be out due to a foot injury.
Meyers Leonard, MIA
Leonard is out due to an ankle injury.
Deandre Ayton, PHO
Ayton is considered questionable due to ankle soreness.
Mike Conley, UTA
Conley is considered questionable due to an illness.
Omari Spellman, MIN
Spellman is projected to remain out due to a team decision.
Evan Turner, MIN
Turner is likely to be held out as he and the team reportedly discuss a buyout.
Nassir Little, POR
Little is likely to be considered questionable at best with an ankle injury.
Mario Hezonja POR
Hezonja is likely to be considered questionable at best with an ankle injury.
Jabari Parker, SAC
Parker is considered questionable due to the shoulder injury that's kept him sidelined since Jan. 3.
Will Barton, DEN
Barton will not play due to knee inflammation.
Michael Porter, DEN
Porter will not play due to an ankle injury.
PJ Dozier, DEN
Dozier is probable with a hip contusion.
Aron Baynes, PHO
Baynes will remain out due to a hip injury.
Dario Saric, PHO
Saric is out due to an ankle injury.
Derrick Rose, DET
Rose is listed probable with a hip injury.
Mykhailiuk is listed probable with a hip injury.
Notable Longer-Term Injuries/Absences: Stephen Curry, GSW; Klay Thompson, GSW; Jusuf Nurkic, POR; Zach Collins, POR; Richaun Holmes, SAC; Marvin Bagley, SAC; Alex Len, SAC; Thomas Bryant, WAS; Mason Plumlee, DEN; Luke Kennard, DET; Norman Powell, TOR; Marc Gasol, TOR; Frank Kaminsky, PHO; Jonathan Isaac, ORL; Al-Farouq Aminu, ORL; D.J. Augustin, ORL; Skal Labissiere, ATL; Jake Layman, MIN; Dewan Hernandez, TOR; Ante Zizic, CLE; Grayson Allen, MEM; Justise Winslow, MEM
With so many teams in action, it's little surprise we have seven players with five-figure salaries on Wednesday's slate. Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11.4K) is out of the equation, as he'll miss a second straight game. However, the rest of the group – Anthony Davis ($10.4K), Nikola Jokic ($10.3K), Karl-Anthony Towns ($10.3K), Andre Drummond ($10.2K), Trae Young ($10.1K) and LeBron James ($10K) are all at full health, with Drummond and Young locked into especially appealing matchups.
Then, the $9K range is also worth plenty of attention Wednesday, as Luka Doncic ($9.7K) is underpriced in his potential return from a seven-game absence due to an ankle injury, while Damian Lillard ($9.6K) could also offer a strong return on his price against the Grizzlies in what's projected as the highest-scoring game of the night.
Chalk will be a very relative term Wednesday due to the size of the slate, but there are still a couple of spots where ownership could certainly spike. The most obvious is likely in Milwaukee, where both Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe should be highly popular due to the absence of Giannis Antetokounmpo (personal). Kristaps Porzingis would also likely continue to see plenty of clicks if Luka Donic (ankle) were to suffer a setback and sit out an eighth straight game. Then, in addition to their usual level of popularity, the likes of Trae Young and Damian Lillard could have even more robust ownership because of their respective matchups/game environments.
As customary, I've also put together a specific list of sub-$6K value plays that should find themselves in plenty of lineups – some due to injury situations on their respective teams – and have included those below the next section.
Key and Likely Underowned Values
De'Anthony Melton, MEM vs. POR ($4,700)
Melton is enjoying a solid season overall in the Grizzlies' backcourt rotation, but some recent hiccups are likely to keep his ownership down on such a large slate. The young guard has four single-digit scoring performances in his last five games, but he's still managed to score 32.3 and 25.9 FanDuel points in two contests over that sample, respectively. Melton has exceeded 30 FanDuel points on six occasions this season, and he's scored between 20.1 and 29.5 in 17 other games. Therefore, his ability to outpace his current salary is amply proven, and he'll be facing a Trail Blazers squad that's allowed the fourth-highest offensive efficiency rating (28.5) to point guards, including the highest three-point percentage (39.7) to the position. Portland is also yielding the fifth-highest offensive efficiency rating to opposing second units (46.9), upping Melton's prospects in what projects to be one of the highest-scoring games of the night.
Jeff Teague, ATL at CLE ($4,300)
Teague has frequently been productive from a fantasy perspective since his return to Atlanta, scoring between 23.6 and 38.2 FanDuel points in six of 13 games. However, he's had just enough fluctuation in his production to likely keep his ownership very modest on an 11-game slate. Teague's matchup is the kind that could certainly lead to one of his better performances as well, as the Cavaliers check in allowing the highest offensive efficiency rating (48.4) to opposing second units, and they're tied with the Hornets for the highest shooting percentage (47.9) surrendered to bench players. Cleveland has been just as bad versus point guards specifically, yielding the second-highest offensive efficiency rating (29.5), highest shooting percentage (48.0) and most FanDuel points per game (47.3) to the position.
James Johnson, MIN vs. CHA ($4,300)
Johnson has encouragingly seen 28 and 20 minutes in his first two games in Minnesota, respectively, and he's parlayed those opportunities into tallies of 32.1 and 17.9 FanDuel points. However, after a mostly uneventful earlier portion of the season in Miami – a period during which he dealt with injuries and was also frequently left out of the rotation – Johnson is hardly at the forefront of DFS players' minds, especially on such an expansive slate. That could make him an excellent under-the-radar play for large-field tournaments in particularly Wednesday, considering the Hornets have allowed the second-highest offensive efficiency rating (48.2) and three-point shooting percentage (37.6) to second units, while also tying with the Cavaliers for highest shooting percentage (47.9) surrendered. What's more, Charlotte has been inept against power forwards all season, allowing the third-most FanDuel points (40.7) per game to PFs. Meanwhile, Johnson is an above-average floor-spacer and comes into Wednesday's game with a career-high 39.2 percent success rate from behind the arc.
Other likely lower-owned value plays to consider: Brandon Clarke, MEM vs. POR ($4,500); Cameron Johnson, PHO vs. GS ($3,800); Wayne Ellington, NY at WAS ($4,000); Bobby Portis, NY at WAS ($3,700); Taj Gibson, NY at WAS ($3,500)
Other likely higher-owned value plays to consider: Ricky Rubio, PHO ($5,900); Marquese Chriss, GSW ($5,800); Davis Bertans, WAS ($5,700); Markelle Fultz, ORL ($5,700); DeAndre Jordan, BKN ($5,600); Brook Lopez, MIL ($5,600); Dewayne Dedmon, ATL at CLE ($5,400); Jae Crowder, MIA ($5,300); Tim Hardaway, DAL ($5,100); Rui Hachimura, WAS ($5,000); Kevin Huerter, CLE ($4,900); Damion Lee, GSW ($4,900); Dwight Howard, LAL ($4,500); Kevin Porter, CLE ($4,400); Ersan Ilyasova ($4,100)