This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
Wednesday's four-game slate is going to be quite the puzzle from the DFS perspective, as it will be challenging to project minutes or even which players will see the floor at all due to injuries. As such, value could carry the day, and honing on the right nucleus of second-unit players may be key to taking down some tournaments. Luckily we've gotten a hint of what backups are likely to see expanded opportunity in the absence of some of their teammates in some recent games, which can help clarify the picture somewhat.
We'll proceed to examine the key injuries for the day below and will also break down the positional outlook, before reviewing possible chalk plays and some likely under-the-radar 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.
The combination of teams having their postseason seedings locked up and a host of key injuries and corresponding uncertainty regarding both availability and minutes sees all four games on the slate lacking projected totals as of early Wednesday morning.
The next-best measure we can lean on is point spreads, and at this point, the contest with the closest number is the Heat-Thunder clash, which sees the Thunder favored by 3.5 points. All three other games have spreads of 5.5 points or greater, and those may well expand once more definitive information is gleaned on player availability.
PG: With Russell Westbrook expected to miss and Malcolm Brogdon potentially sitting out as well, Chris Paul, Kyle Lowry and Jamal Murray would be some of the top options at the position. There's also plenty of sub-$6K value.
SG: The expected availability of James Harden and Paul George shores up the top end of the position nicely. Jimmy Butler, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Fred VanVleet make for excellent second-tier options and offer solid depth even if Victor Oladipo (ankle) takes a seat.
SF: The position could get thin in a hurry if Tobias Harris (ankle) and Danilo Gallinari (ankle) join T.J. Warren (foot) as part of the group of sidelined players. Pascal Siakam would still make for a solid upper-tier play, and a strong array of sub-$5K values that will be covered further in the article also helps with options.
PF: You won't have to spend above $8K to get any player at the four, with Michael Porter and Bam Adebayo leading the way up top. There are plenty of injury question marks below them, however (covered in the next section), so it may be either pay up or dive into the sub-$5K bargain bin at power forward Wednesday.
C: The injuries to Joel Embiid, Myles Turner and Steven Adams – coupled with the confirmed longer-term absences of Montrezl Harrell (personal) and Domantas Sabonis (foot) – make center one of the thinnest positions. Nikola Jokic is the one full healthy elite option, and after that point, all other viable choices reside in the sub-$5K range (many are covered/listed in the final value plays section)
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.
Returning from injury: Eric Gordon, HOU (ankle)
Russell Westbrook, HOU (rest)
Westbrook is expected to be rested against the Pacers. Austin Rivers, who turned in 41 points two games ago against the Kings, should draw the start at point guard.
James Harden, HOU (rest) *expected to play*
Harden is expected to play against the Pacers after being rested for the first game of a back-to-back Tuesday against the Spurs.
Paul George, LAC (rest) *expected to play*
George is expected to play against the Nuggets after being rested for the Clippers' last game against the Nets on Sunday.
Malcolm Brogdon, IND (neck)
T.J. Warren, IND (foot)
Warren will not play against the Rockets due to a sore foot. Justin Holiday could potentially see a spot start at small forward.
Myles Turner, IND (neck)
Turner is considered questionable to play against the Rockets due to neck soreness. Goga Bitadze would be in for extra minutes should Turner sit.
Victor Oladipo, IND (ankle)
Joel Embiid, PHI (ankle)
Embiid is likely to be listed as no better than questionable with the ankle injury that cost him Tuesday's game against the Suns. Mike Scott, Norvel Pelle and Kyle O'Quinn would all be likely to benefit if Embiid sits again.
Tobias Harris, PHI (ankle)
Harris is likely to be listed as no better than questionable with the ankle injury that cost him Tuesday's game against the Suns. Alec Burks, Glenn Robinson and Matisse Thybulle would likely be the biggest direct beneficiaries if Harris misses another game.
Al Horford, PHI (knee)
Horford is likely to be no better than questionable with the knee injury that kept him out of Tuesday's game against the Suns. Mike Scott would likely draw another spot start at power forward should Horford sit again.
Danuel House, HOU (toe)
House is likely to be listed as no better than questionable after missing Tuesday's game against the Spurs, but the Rockets are expected to get starting small forward Eric Gordon back from the ankle injury that's kept him out of all of Houston's seeding games to date.
Serge Ibaka, TOR (knee)
Ibaka is questionable with the right knee bruise that cost him Monday's game against the Bucks. Chris Boucher, who scored a career-high 25 points in Ibaka's stead versus Milwaukee, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson would both benefit if the veteran big misses a second straight game.
Kendrick Nunn, MIA (personal)
Nunn is expected to be available to play against the Thunder after completing the required quarantining period following his brief exit from the bubble.
Kelly Olynyk, MIA (thumb)
Olynyk is considered probable to face the Thunder due to a bruised right thumb.
Patrick Beverley, LAC (calf)
Beverley will not play against the Nuggets, which should afford Reggie Jackson a start at point guard.
Landry Shamet, LAC (foot)
Steven Adams, OKC (leg)
Adams is likely to be listed as questionable at best with the leg injury that already cost him three games. Mike Muscala could be in for another start should both Adams and Nerlens Noel (ankle) be unavailable.
Nerlens Noel, OKC (ankle)
Noel is likely to be listed as questionable at best with the ankle injury that's already cost him two games.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, OKC (calf)
Gilgeous-Alexander may be listed as no better than questionable with the calf injury that cost him Monday's game against the Suns.
Danilo Gallinari, OKC (ankle)
Gallinari is likely to be listed as no better than questionable with the ankle injury that kept him out of Monday's game against the Suns. Darius Bazley would likely draw another spot start at power forward if Galliinari sits out.
Gary Harris, DEN (hip)
Harris will remain out against the Clippers, which should continue to afford Torrey Craig the starting role at shooting guard.
Will Barton, DEN (knee)
Barton will remain out against the Clippers. Michael Porter will continue to start at small forward in his place.
Jerami Grant, DEN (knee)
As already mentioned, Westbrook and Embiid are likely to be out of the equation Wednesday, which leaves us with James Harden ($10.8K) as the only five-figure player on the slate and Kawhi Leonard ($8.7K), Nikola Jokic ($8.5K), Jimmy Butler ($7.9K) and Michael Porter ($7.9K) as others capable of delivering elite-level production.
It's difficult to know for certain who'll see a full complement of minutes, but Harden (without Westbrook), Butler and Porter are likely candidates from that group to see a solid workload.
Chalk will particularly interesting Wednesday due to all the injury question marks and coaches likely erring on the side of caution with many of their banged-up players. Therefore, besides the usual "expected" chalk of James Harden, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Nikola Jokic, there should be a particularly high volume of value, injury-influenced chalk.
As usual, I've identified several sub-$6K players that could be highly rostered – many due to potential absences of teammates – and listed them below the next section. That list is especially extensive for today's slate, as I expected many players with modest salaries to potentially see big minutes.
Aaron Holiday, IND at HOU ($4,000)
Holiday is one second-unit player that looks destined for plenty of extra opportunity under any circumstance Wednesday. With both Brogdon and Oladipo questionable as alluded to earlier – plus Warren already confirmed out and Myles Turner possibly also sitting – the second-year guard may see a significant bump in usage. The fact the fast-paced and sometimes defensively challenged Rockets are the opponent only helps Holiday's case, and it's worth noting he's scored 21.8 to 38.0 FD points in four of six bubble games. The Rockets also check in ranked in the bottom half of the league in offensive efficiency rating (47.9) allowed to backcourts.
Mason Plumlee, DEN vs. LAC ($4,000)
Plumlee has quietly been providing strong fantasy returns in mostly limited minutes during seeding games, as he's scored over 20 FD points in three of his past four games. The big man has logged over 20 minutes in two of those games, but even when his minutes have been in the high teens, he's often offered solid returns on his current salary this season. The Clippers have also allowed the fourth-most rebounds (15.3) and 51.1 percent shooting to centers, bolstering Plumlee's case at a salary he's provided a 5x or better return on in 26 games this season.
Raul Neto, PHI vs. TOR ($3,500)
Neto racked up 28.4 FD points off the bench against the Suns on Monday, and with multiple 76ers starters potentially out of action again Wednesday, he could feel the residual effect of the absences again in the form of extended minutes. Neto comes with some risk considering he had logged three straight DNPs before Monday's breakout. However, he carries a minimum salary, shouldn't be overly popular by any stretch and could see extended run again behind Shake Milton if Alec Burks shifts over to shooting guard or small forward as a result of another Tobias Harris absence.
Popular value plays to consider: Ivica Zubac, LAC ($5,900); Goran Dragic, MIA ($5,500); Austin Rivers, HOU ($5,500); Josh Richardson, PHI ($5,200); Norman Powell, TOR ($5,100); Darius Bazley, OKC ($4,800); Chris Boucher, TOR ($4,600); Duncan Robinson, MIA ($4,200); Alec Burks, PHI ($4,200); Eric Gordon, HOU ($4,100); Reggie Jackson, LAC ($3,800); Mike Scott, PHI ($3,700); Kyle O'Quinn, PHI ($3,500)