It’s another busy Wednesday in the NBA, with nine games on the docket. Let this column be the starting point for your DFS lineups, and put the finishing touches on them with our NBA Lineup Optimizer. If all goes according to plan, you’ll end your night with a winning lineup.
Kemba Walker, vs. Pelicans (FD: $8,400, DK: $8,000)
Projected Points: FD: 40.36, DK 41.28
The Hornets have really struggled this season, but Walker continues to be at the top of his game with a 27.3% usage rate that ranks inside the top 30 in the league. He’s excelled in the month of January, averaging 22.2 points, 3.3 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 1.6 steals and 2.7 three-pointers in nine games. Both the Hornets and the Pelicans are in the top-nine in the league in pace of play, so Walker should have plenty of opportunities to stuff the stat sheet Wednesday.
Dennis Smith Jr., vs. Rockets (FD: $6,600, DK: $6,500)
Projected Points: FD: 31.15, DK: 32.13
Smith is averaging 28 minutes per game in his rookie season, but has played at least 31 minutes in each of his last six games. He’s cashed in with the additional playing time, averaging 20.2 points, 3.7 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.5 steals over that stretch. The Mavericks are going to need all the scoring they can get from Smith if they are going to keep up with the Rockets, who play at the eighth-fastest pace (101.2 possessions per game) in the league. At this reasonable price, he carries excellent upside.
DeMar DeRozan, at Hawks (FD: $8,800, DK: $8,300)
Projected Points: FD: 43.16, DK: 43.71
DeRozan is having another stellar season for the Raptors, in large part due to a 30.1% usage rate that ranks inside the top 15 in the league. He’s expanded his shooting range this season, averaging a career-high 1.1 three-pointers per game. While his scoring ability is off the charts, he’s also looking to get his teammates involved more than in previous seasons, averaging 5.0 assists per game. The Hawks defense is tied for the eighth-most points allowed per game (107.5) in the league, leaving DeRozan primed for another valuable performance Wednesday.
Andrew Wiggins, at Trail Blazers (FD: $6,100, DK: $6,900)
Projected Points: FD: 30.84, DK: 31.17
The Timberwolves have been without Jimmy Butler (knee) for the last two games, opening up a huge role in the offense for Wiggins. The Kansas product is averaging 15.9 shot attempts per game this season, but took at least 21 shots and scored at least 29 points in both games with Butler sidelined. If Butler can’t play again Wednesday, Wiggins could be one of the best value plays for the evening. Even if Butler does play, Wiggins is still priced low enough to warrant consideration.
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T.J. Warren, at Pacers (FD: $7,100, DK: $7,000)
Projected Points: FD: 35.5, DK: 34.86
The Suns’ offense is very much a two-headed monster made up of Warren and Devin Booker. Booker has a 30.9% usage rate, while Warren’s sits at a healthy 26.1%. The next closest player is Josh Jackson at 23.9%. Volume is important for Warren because he’s not a good three-point shooter, averaging just 0.3 threes per game. There aren’t a ton of great small forward options Wednesday, especially on FanDuel. Warren’s usage rate gives him the foundation necessary to fill it up, making hi one of the better dollar-for-dollar plays at the position on Wednesday.
Harrison Barnes, vs. Rockets (FD: $7,100, DK: $6,700)
Projected Points: FD: 31.29, DK: 31.96
Barnes gets a ton of playing time due to the Mavericks lack of depth, averaging 35 minutes per game for the second straight season. Not only is he one of their best offensive players, but he has also been strong on the glass, averaging a career-high 6.8 rebounds per game. Barnes’s offense is just as important as Dennis Smith Jr.’s in this matchup. With the potential for additional scoring opportunities based on the Rockets pace of play, Barnes is more attractive than usual.
Ben Simmons, vs. Bulls (FD: $8,700, DK: $7,600)
Projected Points: FD: 44.79, DK: 44.12
After providing excellent all-around production to start the season, Simmons hasn’t been as valuable lately. He’s averaging 16.3 points, 7.9 rebounds and 7.2 assists on the season overall, but just 14.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 5.7 assists through seven games in January. One reason for his decline in production is that he is only averaging 30 minutes per game in January after averaging at least 35 minutes in each of the previous three months. The Sixers will be without T.J. McConnell (personal) on Wednesday, which should open up some extra ball-handling duties and playing time for Simmons. Considering Simmons torched the Bulls for a triple-double in their first meeting this season, he has a high ceiling for this game.
Lauri Markkanen, at Sixers (FD: $6,700, DK: $6,700)
Projected Points: FD: 30.43, DK: 30.76
Markkanen has wasted no time making a name for himself in his rookie season, starting all 44 games he has played in for the Bulls. His season could have played out very differently if it weren’t for the fight between Bobby Portis and Nikola Mirotic that forced him into the starting lineup, so the Bulls might be perversely happy that the fracas took place. Not only has the Arizona product been lethal from behind the arc, but he’s also averaging a solid 7.7 rebounds per game. Markkanen will likely have plenty of opportunities to be productive again Wednesday against the Sixers, who play at the second-fastest pace (102.8) in the league.
Joel Embiid, vs. Bulls (FD: $11,000, DK: $9,700)
Projected Points: FD: 50.48, DK: 52.46
This could get ugly for the Bulls. After getting destroyed by DeMarcus Cousins on Monday, they have to face another elite center in Embiid on Wednesday. Embiid’s 33.2% usage rate ranks third highest in the league, just ahead of Cousins’s 32.4%. The Bulls don’t have much size up front outside of Robin Lopez, so slowing down Embiid won’t be an easy task. He’ll eat up a significant portion of your budget, but Embiid has one of the highest upsides at any position Wednesday.
Clint Capela, at Mavericks (FD: $7,800, DK: $6,600)
Projected Points: FD: 34.97, DK: 35.64
The Rockets have a lot of talent on their roster, but they don’t have much quality size up front outside of Capela. He’s able to keep up with the team’s fast pace and has excelled in the pick-and-roll, often being left open while teams try to slow down Chris Paul and James Harden. He has been extremely efficient as a result, averaging career-highs in points (14.5), rebounds (10.7) and blocks (1.7) despite only playing 26 minutes per game. With the extreme lack of talent the Mavericks have at the center position, Capela has the potential to provide value at a reasonable price Wednesday.