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Yahoo DFS Basketball: Wednesday Picks

Alex Rikleen

Rikleen writes the NBA column "Numbers Game," which decodes the math that underpins fantasy basketball. A certified math teacher, Rikleen decided the field of education pays too well, so he left it for writing. He is a Boston College graduate living in Delaware.

Like real-life basketball, playoff DFS differs in important ways from the regular season. The end-of-bench players often see shifts in roles, and personnel matchups take on increased significance. Every night features a small slate of games, so the scores needed to win fantasy contests drop.

Regardless of those differences, there is still value in identifying team-wide trends. Since the All-Star break, the Wizards and Rockets have been below-average defenses, with the Wizards ranking in the bottom four per-possession. The Warriors and Hawks, alternatively, ranked in the top five in the same category. The Rockets and Warriors were the fastest paced playoff teams during the regular season.

GUARDS

Damian Lillard, POR at GS ($46):
On a fundamental level, the Warriors are a better team than the Trail Blazers. In many ways, this matchup follows a script familiar in March NCAA games: chippy underdogs are a decent paper matchup verse the blueblood Duke/Kansas/etc. The little guys keep the the big dogs honest for the first 15-25 minutes, but eventually the superior talent and a near-professional conditioning program results in a predictable ending. Each team read their lines perfectly in Game 1, when the Blazers hung around until the Warriors pulled away early in the fourth. One key feature of this familiar tale: as the big boys start to pull away, the underdogs turn to their star point guard/sharpshooter to try to shoot their way back into contention. In the fourth quarter Sunday, Lillard and C.J. McCollum combined for 62 percent of the team’s scoring, including attempting every shot during the final 1:38. Lillard scored at least 40 fantasy points in 14 of his last 15 appearances – and with the low scoring slate, that floor alone might be enough to profit.

Andre Iguodala, GS vs. POR ($14): The discount guard field is very weak Wednesday, so the bar for a recommendation has to lower. Iguodala scored only 10.4 fantasy points in Game 1, but he did play 33 minutes. He is a critical contributor for the Warriors, as his versatility allows them to shift between big and small lineups without many of the sacrifices each strategy typically requires. During the 2016 playoffs, Iguodala averaged 32.0 minutes per game, after playing only 26.6 during the regular season. That increased court time is likely to continue in these playoffs, as was already shown in the first game. Though it didn’t lead to a lot of fantasy production last time, Iguodala averaged 20.1 fantasy points in just 26.3 minutes per game during the regular season.

Other suggestions: Patrick Beverley, HOU vs. OKC ($17); Dennis Schroder, ATL at WAS ($30); Eric Gordon, HOU vs. OKC ($14); Kent Bazemore, ATL at WAS ($10)

Guard to Avoid

Russell Westbrook, OKC at HOU ($65):
Betting against Westbrook never feels smart, but winning in DFS is not about gut instinct. His salary is just so high. It is literally the highest salary Yahoo has given to any player all season – and Yahoo’s pricing algorithm already puts a hefty cost on elite players compared to other host sites. On top of that, Patrick Beverley is a very good defender, and he will continue to shadow Westbrook. I’d bet against Beverley holding Westbrook below 27 percent shooting from the field every game, but this price is so high that even if Westbrook had shot 70 percent from the field in Game 1, he still would not have profited (assuming the rest of his stats stayed the same).

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FORWARDS

Kevin Durant, GS vs. POR ($50):
This is a win-by-default pick. Only five forwards cost more than $20, and four of those five have scored fewer than 20 fantasy points in half of their last four games. The fifth is Durant. If you want to spend money on a forward Wednesday, he is the only option. He’s improved over his first four games since a February knee injury, and his last three games have all been above 40 fantasy points, which may be all that is needed given the likelihood of low-scoring contests.

Evan Turner, POR at GS ($11): Turner started and played 36 minutes during Game 1, including the final nine minutes. Jusuf Nurkic is not returning for Game 2, and McCollum and Allen Crabbe are both beat up (they are probable to play) meaning Turner won’t lose any minutes due to changes in personnel. Turner’s versatility is a major asset against the Warriors, who feature several players that can shift easily across multiple positions. The last time he played more than 24 minutes and did not profit on this salary was back on Nov. 4 when he still managed 9.9 fantasy points. With such a heavy load, and a cost near the minimum, Turner is one of the best values available.

Other suggestions: Kelly Oubre, WAS vs. ATL ($10); Maurice Harkless, POR at GS ($11); Markieff Morris, WAS vs ATL ($19)

Forward to Avoid

Paul Millsap, ATL at WAS ($36):
Millsap has scored fewer than 20 fantasy points in two of his past four games. However, that actually paints an unfairly rosy picture of Millsap, who has only twice scored more than his cost in his past nine games. During that span, his averages have decreased in points, rebounds, assists and threes. In Game 1, despite playing 34 minutes, he contributed almost nothing outside of his 19 points, leading to only 18.9 fantasy points.

CENTER

Noah Vonleh, POR at GS ($10):
Vonleh has seen an increased role since Jusuf Nurkic (leg) got hurt at the end of March. He has moved into the starting lineup, and though his minutes were cut back some in Game 1, he is still a good value for his minimum salary. He scored at least 20 fantasy points in each of the final four games of the regular season, including one game where he played only 23 minutes – the same amount he saw in Game 1.

Other suggestions: Clint Capela, HOU vs. OKC ($17); Marcin Gortat, WAS vs. ATL ($17)

Center to Avoid

No one.
There is no center to avoid Wednesday. First, there are very few available options. The two centers to be most concerned about – Steven Adams and Enes Kanter – are likely to benefit from strategic adjustments following the Thunder’s nasty Game 1 defeat. The Thunder were destroyed on the boards, getting out-rebounded 56-41, and Adams and Kanter did not play together for any meaningful stretch.
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.