5 FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 10/28/19
"One cannot be betrayed if one has no people."
- Kobayashi (The Usual Suspects)
When it's time to start building DFS tournament lineups, especially for NBA tournaments, the fundamental choice to make is whether or not to buy into the chalk plays of the slate. More than any other sport, the popular plays in NBA are popular for a reason. Where we often get into trouble in tournaments, however, is when we begin to blindly trust a slate's chalk.
This regular piece will focus on tournaments looking through the lens of the projected chalk plays -- the usual suspects -- of that night's games. The Usual DFSuspects, if you will. In an attempt to understand the context of the slate, we will also uncover a Keyzer Soze of the night -- a player that looks helpful on the surface but is not what he appears as we dig deeper.
Let's look at plays for each position on Monday's FanDuel main slate.
Mike Conley ($7,500) - I don't think it is breaking news to believe that a lot of ownership tonight will be gravitating towards Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul in dueling revenge game narratives. Let those owners have their fun -- research has recently shown that star players actually perform slightly worse in "homecoming" games. Plenty of managers will want to pivot tonight and will likely flock to the mano a mano battle between Trae Young and Ben Simmons.
But if you want a way-off-the-board play tonight, Mike Conley at only $7,500 has a stellar matchup with a price $2,000-$3,000 below the studs.
In one of the more unusual pieces of analytics in the early season, Conley has the fifth-highest usage rate among point guards tonight but has the stone cold worst fantasy points per minute rate. One of these things can't continue. Conley, shooting 23.7% on the young season and averaging a career-high 2.7 turnovers, is simply a small sample size victim. Conley's usage is higher than any of his 12 seasons in Memphis, which is encouraging considering he is playing alongside Donovan Mitchell.
Against defenders Tyler Johnson and Jevon Carter (assuming Ricky Rubio is out), Conley has a path to not only continue his high usage but finally regress back to the strong fantasy points we are used to seeing. Our models project Conley at 47.2 FanDuel points, second highest among all point guards.
DeMar DeRozan ($7,900) - With elite scorers such as James Harden, Devin Booker, Zach LaVine and Mitchell on the slate tonight, DeMar DeRozan is being overlooked but remains an elite option at the shooting guard position. After a rough first game against the Knicks, DeRozan erupted for 43 FanDuel points against the Wizards and faces an equally appealing matchup tonight against the Portland Trail Blazers.
On a San Antonio Spurs team that no longer commands the spotlight the way they once did, basketball fans tend to forget how elite DeRozan is on offense. Among guards with at least 30 minutes per game, DeRozan ranks eighth in offensive rating and gets to compete at home against a Blazers team that has allowed the third-most fantasy points to the shooting guard position.
The Spurs have the fourth-highest implied team total on the night, and with a 26.7% usage rate, DeRozan should have no problem matching the 39 FanDuel points our models project.
Kent Bazemore ($5,300) - Both Kent Bazemore and Rodney Hood ($4,000) rate as strong value options on the night, especially considering Zach Collins' injury on Sunday. Once Collins went out of the game, Bazemore never exited, and finished with a season high 30.5 minutes. Without Collins, the Blazers may decide to go with a smaller lineup, particularly in the fourth quarter. The Spurs, tonight's opponent, closed their latest game with Dejounte Murray, Bryn Forbes, DeRozan, Rudy Gay, and LaMarcus Aldridge on the floor, something the Blazers could with a Lillard-McCollum-Hood-Bazemore-Whiteside closing group.
Bazemore, who runs the second unit when Lillard and McCollum are out of the game, is projected for 24.3 fantasy points tonight in only 28 minutes, just shy of the coveted 5x value, and has room for a higher ceiling if his minutes continue to increase.
PJ Washington ($6,000) - The Charlotte Hornets really have discovered something with PJ Washington, their first round draft pick last spring. Immediately inserted into the starting lineup, Washington is paying dividends to the tune of 15.0 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.0 three pointers, 1.0 steal, and 1.0 block per game -- all equaling 26.7 FanDuel points per contest.
At only $6,000 on Monday, our projections believe Washington puts up a strong 30.8 FanDuel points against a Los Angeles Clippers team that is playing outstanding basketball but having trouble defending power forwards.
The Clippers have given up the sixth-most points to the power forward position as both Patrick Patterson and Montrezl Harrell rank in the bottom 25 of all forwards in defensive rating this season. As a strong mid-range pivot off of the high-priced Lauri Markkanen and Julius Randle, Washington offers a solid 0.78 points per minute with 32-minute upside.
Andre Drummond ($10,300) - With Joel Embiid looking likely to play, we once again have three elite centers with high price tags vying for our attention. As long as Blake Griffin remains sidelined, I will continue to roll out Andre Drummond, who ranks in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive rebound percentage, and currently has career highs in usage, true shooting percentage, and player efficiency rating.
The Indiana Pacers, despite the presence of Myles Turner, don't offer much resistance. The Pacers have allowed the third-most fantasy points to centers through the first week. Our models project that trend will continue as they project Drummond to lead the position in minutes, rebounds, and steals on Monday night -- all leading to more than 48 FanDuel points.
Keyser Soze of the Night
Devin Booker ($9,100) - This will be the toughest test of the season for usage monster Devin Booker, as the Utah Jazz are currently first in defensive rating early in the season, and Donovan Mitchell has the third-highest individual defensive rating among guards with at least 25 minutes per game. At 28% usage, Booker currently has his lowest number rate his rookie season, mainly due to the emergence of Kelly Oubre, who has played like a superstar through three games. With a low 106.5 implied team total, all signs point to a lackluster night for the Suns offense.