5 FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 11/4/19
"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.
Damian Lillard ($10,300) - With Russell Westbrook off the table tonight, I think paying up for Lillard over Kyrie Irving ($9,700) will be somewhat contrarian. If you can swing the $600, the under-the-hood metrics show that your roster won't sacrifice production, despite Irving's early season reputation as the first, last, and everything of the Brooklyn Nets' offense.
The Portland Trail Blazers are tied with the Nets at a 106 Pace, both landing in the top 10 in the league. Lillard's usage rate and fantasy points per minute are both slightly lower than Irving, but on Lillard's side of the ledger is the fact that he plays four more minutes per game than Irving.
Lillard is on an absolute tear right now, scoring more than 51 FanDuel points in four of his last five games, averaging over 38 minutes per game. The Golden State Warriors are running out a G League lineup this week, so they should provide little resistance to Lillard and the Blazers. The game being in Golden State should allow it to stay somewhat close, though, assuring Lillard receives his full allotment of minutes.
Bonus fact: D'Angelo Russell has the worst defensive rating among all guards with at least 25 minutes per game. Just more fuel to the Lillard fire.
Josh Richardson ($6,100) - As the Philadelphia 76ers look to survive one more game without Joel Embiid (suspension), they will continue to search for ways to fill the 32% usage gap left behind by their big man. Richardson has been up to the task all season, and the matchup tonight pushes him into elite territory. On a night where there will be mile-high ownership on James Harden and D'Angelo Russell, any pivot off those -- especially a cheap pivot -- will immediately differentiate lineups.
Richardson has been asked to play almost 34 minutes per game this season, and he has responded with at least 30 FanDuel points in three of his five games, including 32 on Saturday with Embiid out. On the season, the Phoenix Suns allow 24 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 three-pointers per game to the small forward position, according to FantasyPros.
Many will be looking to Rockets/Grizzlies and Nets/Pelicans as high-paced games, but the Sixers/Suns game should not be overlooked. Both teams rank in the top 12 in pace through the first two weeks of the season, and the game features a small one-point spread.
Taurean Prince ($4,800) - As mentioned above, the battle between the New Orleans Pelicans and the Brooklyn Nets pits two teams in the top 10 in pace against one another, which should resemble the game the Nets played against the Houston Rockets with 239 total points. As the masses flock to Kyrie Irving, Jrue Holiday, and Brandon Ingram, don't forget about the value plays in this game, including Prince, who continues to log minutes and fill the stat sheet.
Projected to be numberFire's top value play at the position, Prince contributes not only scoring but defensive statistics on a nightly basis. Tonight, he will be asked to guard Ingram, the Pelicans player with the highest usage rate on the team, opening up ample opportunities for rebounds, steals and blocks. On the offensive end, Prince has been a nice compliment to Irving, where he ranks in the top 15 in offensive rating among forwards this season.
Eric Paschall ($5,800) - The minutes and usage have to go somewhere, right? With Draymond Green sidelined again, Paschall should be asked to handle another 30-plus minutes on Monday. D'Angelo Russell can't take every shot and get every rebound, so Paschall will be needed to step up as a major contributor.
In those opportunities, he has excelled. Minutes equal money with Paschall, as he is averaging more than one fantasy point per minute every game he plays more than 30 minutes. In his first game without Green on Saturday, Paschall had a massive 30.7% usage rate. Russell will eat into some of that opportunity, but Paschall should carry the load in the frontcourt for the Golden State Warriors tonight.
Jonas Valanciunas ($5,700) - The Houston Rockets have struggled defensively all over the court this season, but they been especially horrendous against opposing frontcourts. Despite reputationally strong defender P.J. Tucker and rim protector Clint Capela, the Rockets are bottom-12 in FanDuel points allowed to both power forwards and centers.
With Jaren Jackson Jr. looking extremely unlikely to play this game, Valanciunas should have the paint to operate all to himself. He already averages the second-highest usage rate among centers on the slate and is averaging 1.29 fantasy points per minute. If he can reach 26-28 minutes tonight, 35 FanDuel points and 7x value is certainly within reach. At a price cheaper than DeAndre Jordan and Aron Baynes, the lengthy Lithuanian should have no problem reaching value tonight.
Keyser Soze of the Night
Devin Booker ($8,500) - I am usually very hesitant to put such usage monsters in the Keyser Soze slot, especially players who can produce at the level of Booker, but the numbers lead me this way tonight.
Not only is Josh Richardson a top-10 defender by defensive rating among all guards, the Philadelphia 76ers rank in the top 10 in both team defensive rating and FanDuel points allowed to the shooting guard position. The Sixers have been incredibly stingy defending two-guards, allowing only 16.68 points per game and 1.27 three-pointers per game. Booker has the talent to overcome this matchup, but it will be a tough hill to climb.