We have another huge Wednesday slate, and at this point in the season, it’s imperative to understand the situation every team is in. Without knowing what a team is currently trying to accomplish, it’s going to be very difficult to figure out how minutes are going to be distributed. The Atlanta Hawks trolled the DFS universe by resting no one last night, but then promptly played all five starters 23 minutes while four bench players played 24 minutes. That’s the sort of thing that can happen with a team that has nothing to play for and is looking ahead to the playoffs.
Today, when I list my FanDuel picks, I’m going to add in some analysis regarding why I think a particular player is a good play with respect to what their team is trying to accomplish. Good luck tonight.
Reggie Jackson, Detroit Pistons, $8600 – Jackson was limited to 22 minutes last night due to an illness, but still managed to post 31.3 points on FanDuel. Assuming we see reports that he’s feeling better and ready to go tonight, you should continue to target him heavily. He’s underpriced right now, and given Detroit still has an outside shot at the playoffs, and Charlotte is one of the teams they’re chasing, if Jackson plays, there’s no reason to think he won’t continue to see the same workload. His role is solidified, and we know it’s not going to change, especially with Greg Monroe out.
Trey Burke, Utah Jazz, $5700 – There are many good plays at point guard, but I like to focus on players that have a ton of upside relative to their price. Burke fits the bill, and he’ll likely pick up a few extra minutes with Rodney Hood out. Burke is Utah’s best option off the bench, and he’ll continue to be relied upon heavily, especially if Derrick Favors misses another game. Denver is a favorable matchup, and I think Burke is a solid play in both cash games and GPPs.
Joe Johnson, Brooklyn Nets, $5600 – I don’t think it’s possible to feel 100% comfortable rostering Iso Joe, but after a long string of horrible performances, Johnson has posted three straight outings of at least 33 fantasy points. For his price, that’s a terrific return. Brooklyn certainly has reason to keep playing him heavy minutes. They’re currently half of a game ahead of Boston, and one and a half games ahead of Indiana for the 8th seed in the East. They face the pitiful Knicks tomorrow, but I don’t think Hollins will take any chances by resting or limiting his players.
Johnson is trending upward, and his resurgence comes at a perfect time as his price hasn’t moved, and he draws an extremely favorable matchup. The Knicks don’t defend any position well (or at all), and shooting guard is no exception. Expect the production to continue tonight, and you should be locking in Johnson as a cheap option with upside.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Detroit Pistons, $5300 – The Pistons need help if they want to make the playoffs, but it all starts with actually winning games. With Greg Monroe out, KCP is playing heavy minutes, and taking a bunch of shots. He doesn’t do much else, but he’s scored at least 25 fantasy points in four of his last five, and with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist out, the Hornets are not at all a matchup to shy away from. MKG anchors the defense, and with Jeff Taylor in there instead, they’re just not very good. Expect another 25 point outing from KCP, and know that he does offer the occasional 35-40 point fantasy game if he gets hot shooting.
Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs, $8100 – San Antonio is on the second leg of a back-to-back, but they should have no trouble with Orlando. There’s a good chance the old guys will be limited, but given the Spurs have yet to clinch a playoff berth, they can’t be taking any chances. Expect Leonard, who played 38 minutes in a comfortable win in Miami, to continue to play heavy minutes and carry this team into the playoffs. He’s hitting 40 fantasy points on a regular basis, and there’s no reason to think that trend will end in a favorable matchup with Orlando.
Chase Budinger, Minnesota Timberwolves, $5100 – Budinger will continue to provide quality outings as long as the injury situation remains favorable. The only player we have to worry about is Kevin Martin. He’s currently questionable, while the usual suspects are either out or doubtful. Minnesota is playing for ping pong balls, and there’s simply no reason to play Martin and risk making his hamstring injury worse. I expect him to sit, which means Budinger is in line for another 30+ minutes and 25-30 fantasy points.
Ryan Kelly, Los Angeles Lakers, $4300 – The Lakers continue to provide an excellent source of cap relief, and Kelly is still underpriced for a guy that’s logging this many minutes. He’s easily exceeded value in four of his last five games while his down game was in a tough matchup in Toronto. A date with the Pelicans frontcourt is certainly unenviable, but it’s hard not to give a long look to a guy who is playing well over 30 minutes, has 30+ point upside, and is priced this low. Byron Scott seems to content to pile minutes on Kelly at the expense of Carlos Boozer, Jordan Hill, and Ed Davis, so keep rolling him out there until we’re given reason to think something has changed.
Trevor Booker, Utah Jazz, $4000 – This pick is contingent on the status of Derrick Favors. If Favors is out, Booker becomes a very easy value play against the defensively inept Denver frontcourt. He posted a huge line against a similarly terrible Minnesota frontcourt, and with a safe floor and extremely high upside relative to his price, Booker becomes a top play if he finds himself drawing a third straight start. If Favors plays, you can safely ignore Booker and look to one of the options listed in the additional plays.
Brook Lopez, Brooklyn Nets, $8200 – Considering price, Lopez is my top option at the center position today. He’s posting elite fantasy totals, and his price still hasn’t caught up. Tonight, he faces a Knicks team that can’t defend anyone, and certainly doesn’t have an answer for Lopez. He’ll score at will tonight, post another huge line, and we’ll just have to hope the Knicks manage to keep the game close enough that Lopez needs to play the fourth quarter. The Nets need to keep winning games, as their lead over the other teams jockeying for that final spot in the East is very slim, so there’s no need to worry about any sort of minutes limitations unless the game really gets out of hand.
Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz, $8700 – It’s hard to recommend going the cheap route at center due to the lack of value options and how much I like some of the top options. Gobert has a terrific matchup with the weak, undersized Denver frontcourt, and he should have no trouble finishing in the 35-40 point range while offering upside to about 50. I like Lopez more because he’s slightly cheaper and he’s a scorer, but if Derrick Favors is out again, Gobert has a chance to pull down a ton of rebounds, block several shots, and, if he can get a few more shots off, post a monster stat line.