This article is part of our FanDuel NBA series.
We have the usual star-studded five-game Christmas Day slate on tap Wednesday, which tips off at Noon Eastern and carries us through a late-night finale between the Pelicans and Nuggets in Denver. Injuries do put a blemish on the slate to an extent, but there are still plenty of big names taking the floor and options across the salary spectrum.
As usual, we'll proceed to break down the positional outlook below, along with possible chalk plays and some likely under-owned bargains that could help you round out your lineups with a couple of superstars.
Before delving into the slate, a reminder that FanDuel has reverted to its previous format of NOT dropping the lowest scoring in lineups after a one-year experiment with that feature. Therefore, it will be important to be prudent with each selection, as each player's total will count toward your final score.
Without further ado, let's take a more comprehensive look at Wednesday's slate!
Here's a closer look at the two games with the highest projected totals on Wednesday's slate:
Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors (Projected total: 226.5 points)
The Rockets are once again a part of the game that's projected to rack up the highest combined score on the slate. Houston is the most prolific road team in the NBA (120.8 PPG) and face a Golden State squad allowing 113.3 points per contest. The Rockets' defense has been generous in its own right (116.2 points per road game allowed), so both the star pieces and some of the complementary options could all generate solid fantasy-point-per-dollar value in what should be one of the fastest-paced games of the day.
Los Angeles Clippers at Los Angeles Lakers (Projected total: 221.5 points)
Both LeBron James (ribs) and Anthony Davis (knee) are probable for this contest, and if they suit up as expected, both teams will essentially be at full strength. The Clippers are a slightly higher-scoring team than the Lakers and both squads play above-average defense, so it remains to be seen if this total will be approximated. These two teams combined for 214 points the first time they met Opening Night.
PG: Point guard kicks off what is a well-stocked group of positions Wednesday. Russell Westbrook and Kyle Lowry kick things off up top, while Ben Simmons, Jamal Murray and Kemba Walker are a fine trio of mid-tier options. Then, there's value well below the $4K range, with the 76ers' Trey Burke all the way down at minimum price.
SG: James Harden, Jrue Holiday and D'Angelo Russell top off the player pool here at two-guard, and all three are involved in games with high scoring expectations. The mid-tier is only slightly affected by Norman Powell's absence with a shoulder injury, and the sub-$5K level includes viable options such as JJ Redick, Josh Hart, Gary Harris and Damion Lee.
SF: We have Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James (ribs) up top, and even with Pascal Siakam (groin) out of action, there's an impressive group of options directly below that includes Brandon Ingram, Paul George, Tobias Harris and Jaylen Brown. That's just the mid-tier, and the sub-$6K range brings additional value in the form of OG Anunoby, Alec Burks and Danuel House Jr.
PF: Power forward is among the deepest positions Wednesday. The only injury designations are a pair of probable tags on Anthony Davis (knee) and Kyle Kuzma (ankle). Otherwise, there's something for every budget, as there's even multiple sub-$4K tournament value plays in the form of Marquese Chriss, Jerami Grant and Chris Boucher.
C: You don't have to break the bank to get an elite center Wednesday, as Joel Embiid ($9,900) and Nikola Jokic ($9,400) are arguably priced very reasonably relative to upside. So, too, is Clint Capela ($8,700), who rounds out the top trio. There's a precipitous drop down to Montrezl Harrell ($5,500) at that point, but he kicks off a value tier that includes a host of appealing selections (Brook Lopez, Enes Kanter, Dwight Howard, JaVale McGee).
Notable Injury Situations to Monitor
NOTE: Injury reporting is especially fluid in the NBA, where the status of multiple players can change during the course of a day. Therefore, although the following serves as a foundation for the latest injury report as of the time the article is written (usually late morning Eastern time), check back throughout the course of the day with RotoWire for the latest news regarding the status of all players on that night's slate.
LeBron James, LAL
James is considered probable with a thoracic muscle strain. James missed Sunday's game against the Nuggets, so he'll be on a full five days of rest if he takes the floor as expected.
Anthony Davis, LAL
Davis is considered probable with a knee injury that caused him to briefly exit Sunday's game against the Nuggets. Davis returned to the contest and is expected to take the floor against the Clippers.
Kyle Kuzma, LAL
Kuzma is considered probable with an ankle injury.
Gordon Hayward, BOS
Hayward is considered probable with a foot injury.
Marcus Smart, BOS
Smart will miss a seventh consecutive game with an infection in both eyes. Jaylen Brown should draw another start at shooting guard.
Kevon Looney, GSW
Looney is out Wednesday with an abdomen injury. Omari Spellman could see some extra minutes in the center rotation.
Glenn Robinson III, GSW
Robinson is considered probable with the right ankle sprain that cost him Monday's game against the Timberwolves.
Notable Long-Term Injuries/Absences: Gerald Green, HOU; Eric Gordon, HOU; Matisse Thybulle, PHI; Zion Williamson, NOP; Darius Miller, NOP; Marc Gasol, TOR; Norman Powell, TOR; Pascal Siakam, TOR; Stanley Johnson, TOR; Stephen Curry, GSW; Klay Thompson, GSW; Robert Williams III, BOS
We have three players with five-figures salaries on Christmas Day – James Harden ($11,700), Giannis Antetokounmpo ($11,200) and Anthony Davis ($10,700). We also have several attractive options in the $9K range, including an underpriced LeBron James ($9,800) and the always dynamic Russell Westbrook ($9,600).
Positional scarcity doesn't give any one of those players priority over the rest, but the matchups for Harden and Westbrook are particularly appealing against a defensively vulnerable Golden State team. Yet, with the Rockets 11-point favorites as of Wednesday morning, there is blowout risk attached. Davis, James and Kawhi Leonard ($9,000) may offer the best combinations of price and game environment.
With all of the Christmas Day games nationally televised, the spotlight shines even brighter than usual on the big names. James Harden, LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Giannis Antetokounmpo are among the elite that could see their ownership even higher than on a "normal" ledger. The multiple key injuries in Toronto should also continue to lead to a boost in popularity for the likes of Serge Ibaka, Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet.
As usual, I've also compiled a list of some sub-$6K value plays that should carry a fair share of ownership due to savings, enhanced roles due to injuries, or both.
Key and Likely Underowned Values
Monte Morris, DEN vs. NO ($3,900)
Morris never seems to carry an inordinate amount of ownership, as he undeniably has some volatility to his production. The third-year guard has three tallies of more than 20 FanDuel points over his last eight contests, but he's also scored 6.7 to 12.7 FanDuel points in four others over that span. However, Morris' one prior encounter with the Pelicans was a successful one, as he posted 21.0 FanDuel points on the strength of a nine-point, eight assist effort back on Oct. 31. The Pels also come in surrendering 47.1 FanDuel points per game to point guards, as well as the second-highest offensive efficiency rating (47.9), highest overall shooting percentage (48.5) and three-point percentage (39.0) to opposing second units.
Marquese Chriss, GSW vs. HOU ($3,700)
Chriss has seen periods of solid ownership this season, but some fairly drastic swings in his production recently could well keep him a bit under the radar Wednesday. Chriss has interspersed impressive performances of 25.5, 43.1 and 38.0 FanDuel points with tallies of 7.0, 10.0 and 12.0 over his last seven games, offering a glimpse at his inconsistency. However, those ceiling games corroborate his upside as a possible large-field tournament play as part of one of the teams playing in the game with the highest projected total on the slate. Chriss could also benefit from Kevon Looney's absence due to an abdomen injury Wednesday, and he'll be facing a Rockets squad allowing the fifth-highest offensive efficiency rating (46.6) and second-most rebounds (18.2) per game to opposing second-unit players.
Other Likely Underowned Value Play To Consider: Jerami Grant, DEN vs. NO ($3,900)
Other likely higher-owned value plays to consider:
Alec Burks ($5,700); Montrezl Harrell ($5,500); Lou Williams ($5,100); Paul Millsap ($5,000); Brook Lopez ($4,900); P.J. Tucker ($4,800); Enes Kanter ($4,600); Damion Lee ($4,400); Rondae Hollis-Jefferson ($4,100); Chris Boucher ($3,900)