This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
We have a slew of back-to-backs on Wednesday, which will be quite common with our condensed schedule. While it's too soon to know how liberal teams will be with resting players, we'll do our best to navigate those uncertain waters on this six-game slate.
MEM @ BOS (-8) O/U: OTB
ATL @ BKN (-7) O/U: 239.5
MIL @ MIA (+6) O/U: OTB
CHA @ DAL (-8) O/U: 223.5
LAL @ SAS (+4.0) O/U: 229.5
POR @ LAC (-2.0) O/U: OTB
With all of the confusion in Memphis, I identify some value on both sides of the ball in that matchup, and I also ended up with a lot of exposure to the Lakers-Spurs game. My exposure to the Clippers depends a lot on Kawhi Leonard's status tonight, and it will also affect any attention I give to Portland. The only game I strayed from was the Bucks-Heat game, and that's mostly due to the lack of a true pivot for Butler if he is out. Milwaukee selections are fine, but the back-to-back is a little concerning for guys like Middleton and Holiday.
LeBron James (ankle) - QUESTIONABLE
Although James played through the pain last night, the back-to-back and the lingering injury might lead to a rest day for LeBron. If this were to occur, the resulting five starters would all get a positive boost, and I'd put in the gas with Dennis Schroder ($6,100).
Ja Morant (ankle) - OUT
In future articles, this will be an ongoing injury that won't receive a mention unless there's a significant change in usage for a particular player. The first man up is Tyus Jones ($5,800) as Morant's replacement. We'll monitor this on a game-by-game basis.
Kawhi Leonard (mouth) - QUESTIONABLE
No word yet on Leonard's status after missing Tuesday's game, but right now, it looks like he's out again. I will give the keys of the offense to Paul George ($7,600), set it, and forget it if Kawhi sits.
Jimmy Butler (ankle) - QUESTIONABLE
Butler missed Tuesday's game, and his status for Wednesday is still in question. Unfortunately, no single player distinguished themselves as his replacement on Thursday. It wouldn't be accurate anyway due to the 47-point blowout they received from the Bucks.
ELITE PLAYERS ($9,000-plus)
Luka Doncic ($11,400) tops today's list, and he looks like a universal lock against Charlotte. He's the best of the 10k-plus options, out-projecting Giannis Antetokounmpo, James and Anthony Davis. I assume that both Kevin Durant ($9,500) and Kyrie Irving ($9,400) will be active after a night off, and they are both excellent options against the Hawks.
We typically feature many players above $6,667 in this section, but the offerings between this number and $9,000 are few and far between, so we will be dipping into the value area a bit more in the chalk category.
Jaylen Brown, BOS ($8,000) vs. MEM
Brown's exemplary play to begin the season gets a small boost against the Grizzlies, who will need to find their footing after the sudden loss of Ja Morant. He is such an influential force, and his absence will undoubtedly result in some difficulties, especially in ball distribution. I expect a solid defensive game from Brown, and some successful pick-and-rolls should result in a few assists for the prolific scorer.
Dillon Brooks, MEM ($6,700) @ BOS
There's no question that the Grizzlies will need some quality ball from Brooks while Ja Morant is out. He can step out of the wing and provide additional support, as he's just as comfortable at the top of the key as he is inside. Everyone will need to pitch in to stay competitive, but Brooks has beaten 5x value in every game this season, and he sports one of the highest usage rates on the team.
Montrezl Harrell, LAL ($5,800) @ SAS
Harrell's metrics aren't great so far, but we lack value at center, and we may finally see some opportunity against LaMarcus Aldridge tonight. Aldridge has also struggled in the first week, and I think it's easy to forget how explosive Harrell can be when called upon. The Lakers seem dead-set on giving Marc Gasol every opportunity to take this job and run, but Harrell has always managed to come off the bench and perform at a high level. Any center that shares the stage with Anthony Davis is likely to have some bad games, but I'll take a flier on Harrell in order to pay up for other positions.
Keldon Johnson, SAS ($5,800) vs. LAL
Although he faces stiff competition against the Lakers, it's a chance for Johnson to prove himself in the most hostile conditions imaginable. Arguably the biggest waiver wire pickup before the Morant injury, Johnson has yet to go below 5.8x value this season. He's making plays all over the court, and many believe we're only starting to see the player's potential. Of course, FanDuel locks him into the SF position, but he can just as easily swing into the backcourt, which he'll continue to do often until Derrick White returns. Things might get a bit crowded when White comes back, but I think Lonnie Walker has far more to lose in that scenario. For now, I remain a big fan.
Bogdan Bogdanovic, ATL ($5,400) @ BKN
How about the 3-0 Hawks? Although I'd like to see better usage numbers for Bogdan, they've given him the green light for long-range target practice. He went 5-of-7 from beyond the arc in the win against Detroit, and that's the sweet spot of upside we're looking for when we lean his way. He's making enough shots elsewhere and registering in some ancillary categories, so he isn't necessarily a boom-bust candidate when his shot isn't humming. I would upgrade him to a must-have pick if Danilo Gallinari (foot) is out or limited.
Bismack Biyombo, CHA ($4,600) @ DAL
While we are on the subject of budget centers, let's talk about Biyombo against the Mavericks. Cody Zeller's injury has opened up an opportunity for him, and he's beaten value twice in two starts. Granted, that's relatively easy to do at this salary when you're getting starter's minutes, but he looked good against the Nets (although Irving and Durant weren't around). It may only be a matter of time before the Hornets dig deeper into their bench or the G-League to see what they have at the position, but Biyombo's got the job and is producing well relative to his salary.
Grayson Allen, MEM ($3,600) @ BOS *PUNT*
There's one bias I can't shake, and it's rooted deep in my childhood. I've been conditioned to hate Duke. That's not an uncommon bias by any means, but it's especially true in the Carolinas where I grew up. Just the sight of Allen on slates makes me cringe as I cheerfully scroll past him. Alas, I am a slave to the numbers, and I have a hunch that Morant's absence will spell increased opportunity for Allen. He started in the preseason when the team elected to go small against Minnesota, and Boston is precisely the kind of team where they can use the same approach. I also expect Tyus Jones to struggle a bit and that Dillon Brooks will be overworked. I put the word PUNT there for a reason – it's a stretch, but if you want to make room for one more elite, I'd risk this route.