NBA DFS Breakdown: Is Bradley Beal a must-play?
NBA DFS Breakdown: Is Bradley Beal a must-play?

This article is part of our NBA DFS Breakdown series.

Wednesday features a 10-game slate with plenty of star talent, with the likes of Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Joel Embiid all taking the court. Pricing and scoring work differently across DFS sites, but I'll be using FanDuel's pricing and the NBA's official points format to discuss the slate.

Warriors (-11.0) at Cavaliers

Over/Under: 218.5
Injuries:
GS: Draymond Green (toe) out; Damian Jones (pectoral) out; DeMarcus Cousins (Achilles) out
CLE: Kevin Love (toe) out;Sam Dekker (ankle) out; Ante Zizic (knee) out; David Nwaba (knee) out; J.R. Smith (coach's decision) out
Cash Plays: Kevin Durant ($10,800); Tristan Thompson ($7,700)
GPP Plays: Kevon Looney ($4,800); Collin Sexton ($4,800)

The blowout potential here is real, but I'd still trust Kevin Durant to get me 40 fantasy points in three quarters against Cleveland. He won't be as potent now that Steph Curry has returned from a groin injury, but Durant is still averaging 49.8 fantasy points with Curry available.

With Damian Jones (pectoral) out for "a long time", the Warriors need to address the center position. During Golden State's first outing without Jones on Monday against Atlanta, Kevon Looney played 29 minutes -- much higher than the 18.9 minutes per game he was seeing with Jones available. For a riskier GPP option, but that should net much lower ownership rates, Jordan Bell is just $3,800. He saw 19 minutes Monday, and he's averaging .95 fantasy points per minute.

The state of the Cavaliers is best summed up by me suggesting Tristan Thompson as a cash play, which often indicates a team's most reliable player. He's stepped up in the absence of Kevin Love and is on pace to match his career high in scoring (11.7) and set highs in rebounds (11.5), assists (2.0) and steals (0.9). Overall, with Love sidelined, Thompson is averaging a team-high 32.3 fantasy points.

Five Cavaliers players fall between $4,800 and $5,800 on Fanduel. Each feels as inconsistent as the other, so I'll go to the cheapest option, Collin Sexton. He posted a less-than-ideal 34.6 total fantasy points since George Hill returned to the lineup two games ago. But he's remained relatively aggressive, taking 28 shots. I expect ownership rates to be low for Sexton as a result of Hill's return. I also still think it may be worth the risk at $4,800 to see if he can reach the upside of 30-plus fantasy points that we know he has.

Nuggets (-5.5) at Magic

Over/Under: 206.5
Injuries:
DEN: Will Barton (groin) out; Gary Harris (hip) out; Isaiah Thomas (hip) out; Michael Porter Jr. (back) out; Jarred Vanderbilt (foot) out
ORL: Timofey Mozgov (knee) out
Cash Plays: Nikola Jokic ($9,400); Nikola Vucevic ($9,500)
GPP Plays: Paul Millsap ($6,800); Terrence Ross ($5,500)

Seeing Nikola Vucevic (44.5 fantasy points per game) and Nikola Jokic (43.0 FP), two of the most potent offensive centers in the league, go against each other will be fun to watch. Neither of them are known for their defensive abilities, so the two may be trading buckets all night. If I had to pick one, I'd go with Vucevic. He has less upside than Jokic, but his floor has been higher all season.

Paul Millsap came back to Earth on Monday, posting 20.1 fantasy points against the Raptors after a string of five games in which he averaged 40.3 FP. His matchup figures to be easier Wednesday, as he'll be up against the likes of Aaron Gordon and maybe Jonathan Isaac, rather than the defensive whirlwind of Kawhi Leonard, Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby. Millsap's upside of 40-plus FP is tough to ignore at $6,800.

Both Aaron Gordon and Terrence Ross are fair GPP options, but I worry about Gordon facing the tough individual defense of Millsap. Meanwhile, Ross will probably be guarded on the wing by some combination of Torrey Craig, Malik Beasley and Juancho Hernangomez. Ross has played well lately, posting at least 25.7 FP in each of the past five contests. He also has five outings of at least 30 FP on the season. At $5,500, an underwhelming Ross performance shouldn't tank your team, either.

Wizards (-4.0) at Hawks

Over/Under: 231.5
Injuries:
WAS: Dwight Howard (lower body) out; John Wall (personal) out
ATL: Taurean Prince (ankle) out; Omari Spellman (hip) probable Alex Poythress (ankle) out; Jaylen Adams (undisclosed) questionable
Cash Plays: Bradley Beal ($7,100); John Collins ($7,400)
GPP Plays: Bradley Beal ($9,400); Tomas Satoransky ($3,800); Jeremy Lin ($5,500)

Wall was scratched early Wednesday for the birth of his first child, which will mark the point guard's first absence of the season. As a result, Bradley Beal is a strong candidate to pick up extra ballhandling duties, though is already seeing 35.2 minutes per game. When Wall missed 29 straight games last season, Beal averaged 21.3 points, 5.9 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.3 steals (everything but points being higher than his current season averages). Considering he won't see a massive bump in workload, Beal is more suited for cash games, though is a worthwhile GPP option as well.

An option on Washington with more room to exceed value is Tomas Satoransky. In that same 29-game stretch last year, Satoransky averaged 9.8 points, 5.7 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.1 steals in 29.2 minutes. He's seen just 15.7 minutes per tilt this year, hence why his price is near minimum. I hesitate to call anyone a complete lock for GPPs, but Satoransky is about as close as you can get.

Now fully healthy, John Collins is averaging 32.1 FP over his past six games and has even racked up a total of 76.9 FP over the past two contests. With Dwight Howard out of the picture for the Wizards, Collins will be going up against a relatively small frontcourt and should be in a position to succeed on both sides of the ball.

Unexpectedly, Jeremy Lin has been the biggest beneficiary when Taurean Prince is out. He sees a bump of 11.0 fantasy points when Prince is unavailable, averaging 31.9 FP in those games. Ideally, his price would be lower, as it doesn't leave a lot of wiggle-room. But it can still pay off nicely, especially if ownership rates are relatively low, which is always on the table given the 10-game slate and both teams generally frustrating fantasy owners.

Thunder (-6.5) at Nets

Over/Under: 220.5
Injuries:
OKC: Andre Roberson (kneecap) out; Hamidou Diallo (ankle) questionable
BKN: Caris LeVert (foot) out; Joe Harris (hip) questionable; Treveon Graham (hamstring) out
Cash Plays: Russell Westbrook ($11,000); Spencer Dinwiddie ($6,000)
GPP Plays: Paul George ($8,300); D'Angelo Russell ($8,100)

Russell Westbrook, like any superstar-caliber player, makes for a fine GPP play considering a historic night always feels within reach. That said, his staggering price makes him a better option for cash games in most cases. He's averaging 51.1 fantasy points on the season and has yet to dip below 35.2 FP in any contest.

The Nets are a walking GPP option, but Spencer Dinwiddie brings some consistency to the mix. He's averaging 34.2 fantasy points in 11 games without Caris LeVert. And while he's struggled lately, shooting 39.6 percent from the field over the past four games, he's still averaging 24.4 fantasy points during this recent stretch, which is relatively close to value on a $6,000 price.
The Thunder are frustrating from a GPP perspective. OKC's top three players (Westbrook, Paul George and Steven Adams) always seem to hover around their averages and really only get hot when one of them misses time. Unless you want to take a big risk like Dennis Schroder ($5,900), Jerami Grant ($5,000) or Nerlens Noel ($4,800), George may simply be your best option. His upside is clearly greater with Westbrook out, but George is still posting 49.9 fantasy points per contest when Westbrook sees the floor. That feels like a steal at $8,300.

Since LeVert went down, D'Angelo Russell has averaged 42.5 fantasy points, though his price sits at just $8,100 due to up-and-down play. In those 11 games, he's posted below 30 fantasy points three times and over 50 FP three times. Deploying Russell on Wednesday may end up being a bit contrarian considering the Thunder possess the league's fourth-best defense. But if you want a player around $8,000 who has upside of 55-60 FP (a solid strategy when constructing a GPP lineup), it's hard to ignore Russell.

Mavericks at Pelicans (-6.5)

Over/Under: 227.5
Injuries:
DAL: Dirk Nowitzki (ankle) out
NOR: Nikola Mirotic (illness) questionable; Elfrid Payton (finger) out
Cash Plays: Luka Doncic ($7,200); Anthony Davis ($12,800)
GPP Plays: Dennis Smith Jr. ($5,900); Jrue Holiday ($9,600); Julius Randle ($7,000)

Luka Doncic does not feel like a rookie. He's averaging 33.4 fantasy points and has dipped below 29.0 FP on just three occasions, giving him one of the highest floors in the $7,000 range. With the Pelicans playing at the third-fastest pace in the league, Doncic feels like even more of a lock for around 30 FP in this matchup.

Anthony Davis has been putting up MVP-caliber numbers all season, averaging 61.3 fantasy points on the back of 28.0 points, 13.0 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.7 blocks and 1.6 steals. Going up against Deandre Jordan isn't an ideal matchup, but Davis has dipped below 50 FP in only three tilts this season. I'm going to keep assuming he hits that mark almost every night.

I struggle to find players on the Mavericks that I like to deploy in GPPs. Everybody feels a few hundred dollars overpriced. Regardless, I think Dennis Smith Jr. could pay dividends. As mentioned before, the Mavericks will be paced-up by the Pelicans, which is always worth considering. He's also reached 30 fantasy points on 10 occasions -- a solid amount given his $5,900 price tag.

I try to only suggest two players per team, but I had to make an exception for the Pelicans because of Nikola Mirotic being questionable. In the three games that Mirotic has been sidelined for, Jrue Holiday averages 64.4 FP and Julius Randle averages 47.2 FP. If Mirotic doesn't suit up, you can lock in the duo of Holiday and Randle and feel good about it. It'll be chalky, but might just be too good to pass up.

Pistons at Bucks (-8.5)

Over/Under: 227.5
Injuries:
DET: Reggie Bullock (ankle) out; Henry Ellenson (nose) questionable
MIL: Ersan Ilyasova (concussion) doubtful; John Henson (wrist) out
Cash Plays: Blake Griffin ($9,000); Giannis Antetokounmpo ($12,700)
GPP Plays: Andre Drummond ($9,300); Eric Bledsoe ($7,200)

Blake Griffin (20th in usage rate) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (sixth in usage rate) have been cash game options all season, with both being crucial to the way their respective teams function. The Greek Freak has been on a tear lately, averaging 31.8 points, 14.5 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.2 blocks (66.2 FP). Griffin hasn't been as dominant, but is still averaging 24.8 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.4 assists across his past eight games, and he hasn't dipped below 31.1 in any game during that stretch.

Andre Drummond and Eric Bledsoe always come into play as GPP options, like Griffin and Antetokounmpo are always cash options. Drummond has reached 50 fantasy 10 games, plus has a game of 71.5 FP under his belt against the Rockets this season. Bledsoe is missing the extremity of Drummond's upside, but still has six outings of 40-plus FP. The more you pay for GPP options, the riskier they become, so conservative owners may want to opt for Bledsoe over Drummond.

Hornets at Timberwolves (-4.5)

Over/Under: 220.5
Injuries:
CHA: Cody Zeller (ribs) questionable; Marvin Williams (shoulder) out
MIN: Jerryd Bayless (knee) questionable
Cash Plays: Kemba Walker ($9,000); Robert Covington ($7,000)
GPP Plays: Tony Parker ($3,800); Karl-Anthony Towns ($9,600)

The Hornets continue to lean on Kemba Walker, evidenced by his 31.3 percent usage rate, which is 11th in the league. That gives him a high floor as a fantasy player, and Walker has accumulated fewer than 35 fantasy points just four times. For the Wolves, Robert Covington has been a huge asset since being traded to the team. He's averaging 34.4 FP with Minnesota and has dipped below 30 FP in just three of those 10 appearances. Both players represent enticing cash game options.

With Marvin Williams out, there may be a rush to roster Miles Bridges ($5,300), who racked up 33.1 FP when Williams played just 10 minutes Sunday against the Pelicans. But I have concerns that $5,300 is too much for Bridges. He's averaging only .87 FP per minute, meaning that if he gets 29 minutes again, he should be expected to get around 25 FP. That's alright for the price, but not exciting, especially since Bridges has put up his fair share of duds. He's seen at least 25 minutes in six games this year, but has surpassed just 25 FP just twice in those settings.

It might be worth the risk to pivot to Tony Parker, who checks in near minimum salary. He has four games of 30-plus FP this season, and none of those games occurred with Kemba Walker or Malik Monk sidelined. In a setting like FanDuel where your lowest score gets dropped, Parker can represent a punt play, but with some upside to make up for a bad performance from one of your higher-priced options.

76ers at Raptors (-6.5)

Over/Under: 229.0
Injuries:
PHI: Markelle Fultz (shoulder) out; Justin Patton (foot) out; Zhaire Smith (foot) out
TOR: Norman Powell (shoulder) out
Cash Plays: Joel Embiid ($10,700); Kawhi Leonard ($9,800)
GPP Plays: Ben Simmons ($8,900); Kyle Lowry ($8,000)

Both of these squads' players are cemented in their roles, making it tough to find GPP options, but a breeze to locate cash plays. Joel Embiid is averaging 52.6 fantasy points and has fallen below 40 FP just three times, while Kawhi Leonard is at 44.8 FP and has fallen below 35 FP just twice. Embiid checks in third in the league in usage (32.4 percent) while Leonard is 18th (29.5 percent).

Ben Simmons also makes for a solid cash option as a money-saver, and he's fallen below 30 FP just three times, one of which was due to injury. But his price feels right for some GPP upside relative to his talent level. The sophomore has posted four 50-plus FP performances, including games of 64.0 FP and 64.3 FP.

Fantasy owners in DFS and season-long leagues alike are probably frustrated with Kyle Lowry's recent play. He's averaging only 30.5 FP over the past 13 games, which makes him essentially unplayable as a cash option at $8,000. It hasn't been for a lack of shot attempts, however. The problem has been Lowry's conversion rate, which is at 38.4 percent during this stretch. Plus, he taking 5.8 threes per game and knocking them down at just 30.7 percent over the past 13. Lowry will bounce back sometime, and maybe Wednesday is the night. We know he can rack up fantasy points, as he's surpassed 50 FP on three occasions. Ultimately, his struggles should create a low-ownership opportunity for an All-Star Caliber player, which is always something to consider when constructing a GPP lineup.

Clippers at Grizzlies (-2.0)

Over/Under: 210.5
Injuries:
LAC: Luc Mbah a Moute (knee) out; Jerome Robinson (foot) out
MEM: Joakim Noah (coach's decision) questionable; Chandler Parsons (knee) out; Dillon Brooks (knee) out
Cash Plays: Montrezl Harrell ($7,400); Marc Gasol ($10,200)
GPP Plays: Montrezl Harrell ($7,400); Jaren Jackson Jr. ($7,600)

I'll start with Montrezl Harrell, since I think he's a strong play in both cash games and GPPs. Monday, he dipped below 30 fantasy points for the first time in exactly a month, which is an absurd stat for someone priced at $7,400. Since Nov. 5, Harrell is averaging 38.0 FP -- again, very high given the price -- and has crossed 40 FP seven times on the year. He also has a season-high of 59.7 FP, which he achieved against the Hawks. It's difficult to ignore him regardless of format, even with the less-than-ideal matchup against a strong Grizzlies frontcourt.

Similar to Harrell, Marc Gasol most recently had one of his worst games in a long time, posting only 26.3 FP against the 76ers on Sunday. Prior to that, he had not dipped below 35 FP since Nov. 16, and he's dipped below 30 FP just four times, with only two of those coming since the start of November. The Clippers' defensive strength is in its backcourt, which may lead to the Grizzlies leaning on Gasol more than usual offensively.

Jaren Jackson Jr. would be a nightly cash option, but foul trouble has been a problem for the rookie, as he's averaging 4.7 fouls over the past six games and 4.0 on the season. But he's been excellent when seeing extended run, recording 38.6 fantasy points per game when he gets 30-plus minutes. As far as upside is concerned, Jackson has six games with at least 40 fantasy points and a season-high of 51.2 FP against the Kings.

Spurs at Lakers (-8.5)

Over/Under: 224.5
Injuries:
SAN: Dejounte Murray (knee) out for season; Pau Gasol (foot) out; Lonnie Walker IV (knee) questionable
LAL: Rajon Rondo (hand) out; Alex Caruso (ankle) out
Cash Plays: LeBron James ($10,700)
GPP Plays: DeMar DeRozan ($8,400); Kyle Kuzma ($7,000)

The Spurs are in a bad place right now, sitting at 11-13 with a minus-4.2 margin of victory. Only the Suns are below them in the Western Conference standings, and only six teams have a worse margin of victory. Looking through each player on the Spurs, it's difficult to find any sort of consistency, any sort of high floor, any sort of guaranteed minutes. In the state the team is currently in, especially with a coach like Gregg Popovich who will pull his starters at a moment's notice, I can't recommend putting faith in any Spurs player in cash formats.

The Lakers aren't exactly smashing expectations either, but LeBron James has one of the highest fantasy floors in the league. He's dipped below 40 FP just seven times and below 35 FP just twice. Not to minimize the importance of matchups, but playing LeBron in cash games every night in DFS and building a team around him is a viable strategy.

In the same way I feel uncomfortable recommending any Spurs players for cash games, I struggle to find anyone to faithfully deploy in GPPs from the Lakers. You can go LeBron if you want -- the upside is obvious -- but everyone else on Los Angeles is working through how to mesh with him. That's evidenced by four Lakers players falling between $6,300 and $7,000, but none of them averaging more than 30.6 FP.

With all that in mind, you can't completely rule anyone out for GPPs, as is the nature of the format. So I would choose Kyle Kuzma if I was determined to have a Laker aside from LeBron in a GPP lineup. You're looking for about 35 FP from him, which he's reached just four times this season, though does have two games of 40-plus FP. It's difficult to even bank on low ownership rates for the Lakers considering the overall popularity of the team.

On the other side, I like DeMar DeRozan for GPPs from the Spurs. He may be averaging only 34.7 FP over the past four games, but has posted 50-plus FP on seven occasions and his season high of 63.6 FP came against the Lakers. He wouldn't be my first choice, but could see low ownership rates in a good matchup due to subpar play lately.

The author(s) of this article may play in daily fantasy contests including – but not limited to – games that they have provided recommendations or advice on in this article. In the course of playing in these games using their personal accounts, it's possible that they will use players in their lineups or other strategies that differ from the recommendations they have provided above. The recommendations in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of RotoWire.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alex Barutha
Alex writes primarily about the NBA for RotoWire. His work has appeared on CBS Sports, Bleacher Report and other sites. He enjoys both year-long and daily fantasy. Vince Carter and Alex both first dunked during their respective sophomore years of high school.
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