5 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 11/1/19
"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 Friday's FanDuel main slate.
Malcolm Brogdon ($9,200) - I expect we see truly massive ownership on Friday towards D'Angelo Russell (without Stephen Curry), Russell Westbrook, or Kyrie Irving in the defense-isn't-invited contest between the Houston Rockets and Brooklyn Nets. The forgotten man on Friday night will likely be Brogdon, who is quickly rising up the ranks of the most consistent and productive DFS assets. He stands apart as a high-ceiling pivot against a Cleveland Cavaliers team that's allowing 22 points and 9.9 assists per game to the position.
Only Westbrook and Irving average more fantasy points per minute than Brogdon (1.44), and the Indiana Pacers' new floor general is fourth among all point guards at 34.4 minutes per game, ahead of the aforementioned Westbrook and Irving.
Caris LeVert ($6,800) - As mentioned above, we have our first game of the season with a total north of 240. It is absolutely imperative to get a piece of this game wherever possible. In basketball, there is being contrarian, and then there is being too contrarian. Fading this contest altogether is asking for disaster.
The right kind of contrarian means rostering a player like LeVert, while everyone else focuses on Westbrook, Irving, James Harden, and Spencer Dinwiddie. LeVert averages more than 33 minutes per game while carrying a strong 26.2% usage rate, even with Irving in town. The Rockets have dropped to 29th in overall defensive rating, and both teams rank in the top-eight in pace in the early season. You're going to want some exposure to this track meet, and clicking on LeVert's name is a play that offers a 25-point floor but a 45-point ceiling, all for under $7,000.
LeBron James ($10,800) - Once again, small forward is an uninspiring fantasy wasteland on FanDuel. Basically, there is Giannis Antetokounmpo and Lebron, and then there are the cheap plays. Antetokounmpo is certainly the safer play with massive upside, but James is right on his heels as he leads the Los Angeles Lakers (without Rajon Rondo) on the floor.
James is averaging 23.3 points per game and an unreal 50% assist rate in more than 33 minutes per game as the floor general in the early going. Even with the addition of Anthony Davis, James has maintained his place among the elite fantasy pieces in the league. He remains in the top-12 of fantasy points per minute at 1.38. If this game can stay relatively close and James gets a full 36 minutes, we will likely see James throw up a 50 fantasy point performance.
LaMarcus Aldridge ($8,500) - The matchup for Aldridge on Friday really intrigues me and is one that will likely fly under the radar, with the masses flocking to Anthony Davis against the Dallas Mavericks, and Domantas Sabonis without Myles Turner in his way.
We know about the injuries that have overtaken the Golden State Warriors roster, with Draymond Green being the last man standing from the dynasty. What is disappointing to see beyond the injuries is that the Warriors rank last in the league in defensive rating after being in the top third of the league last year. At a micro-level, Green as an individual defender now ranks fourth-worst among qualified forwards. Apart from one dud against the Los Angeles Clippers, Aldridge continues to pump out consistent, productive box scores and is projected to score the third-most FanDuel points among power forwards tonight, according to numberFire's metrics.
Rudy Gobert ($8,300) - I was suprised to open up our projections for the center position and see Rudy Gobert only a few points shy of the projections for Andre Drummond. Drummond has been a man on fire without Blake Griffin, and while that should continue on Friday, digging into Gobert's matchup tells the tale of why he should also be considered a top center on the slate.
Perhaps not surprisingly, given their record, the Sacramento Kings are allowing the fourth-most FanDuel points to the center position through five games, including one contest against the Utah Jazz. Gobert actually tallied his worst game of the season against this team last Saturday, but it was a game where he was limited to 25 minutes, had turnover problems, committed three early fouls, and the Jazz won by more than 30 points. Assuming a tighter game environment on Friday, Gobert should have no problem asserting his will against Dewayne Dedmon and the Kings' frontcourt. In his career against the Kings, Gobert averages a double-double with more than two blocks per game.
Keyser Soze of the Night
De'Aaron Fox ($8,500) - Somehow, in the year 2019, there are two NBA teams averaging less than 100 points per game. The Kings are one of them, at 98.6 per game through their first five contests. Even the New York Knicks are averaging more than 100 points per game. The Kings have dealt with a number of injuries to start the season, but a large portion of their drop from 114 points per game in 2018-2019 to 98 per game this year is their disturbingly slower pace. The Kings finished the year third in pace last season, but under new coach Luke Walton, find themselves in 22nd to start the season. Whatever game plan Walton is establishing is not taking advantage of Fox and backcourt mate Buddy Hield, and has led to an 0-5 start.
Things don't get much easier against the Utah Jazz on Friday. Even at home, the Kings are 5.5 point underdogs as they match up against the team with the best defensive rating in the league. Expect another tough night for Fox and his crew.