5 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 11/8/19
"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.
Markelle Fultz ($5,000) - Fultz is a lot like the proliferation of the Christmas season we are seeing all around us right now. We wish we had more time to decide whether we are ready for it, and we didn't really ask for it to be here, but in the end, we know we have to accept it as a part of our lives.
Fultz being moved into the starting lineup ahead of D.J. Augustin is best for the Orlando Magic, and at least we get the opportunity to take advantage against the new-look, up-tempo Memphis Grizzlies.
Still in the top five in pace in 2019-2020, the Grizzlies haven't quite figured out how to translate this new style into defense, as they rank 20th in defensive rating as a team and allow the fourth-most FanDuel points per game to the point guard position. Fultz is consistently seeing around 24 minutes per game and has finally seen his usage creep over 20%. In addition to this being a contrarian way to unlock the high-priced studs on the slate, only two projected starting point guards have lower price tags than Fultz.
It's not often you see a player projected to be in the top 10 in both fantasy points and points per dollar on a slate, but when you combine VanVleet's opportunity -- position-leading 37 minutes per game -- with a price tag under $7,000, it creates a must-have for tournament lineups. The Pelicans allow shooting guards to average more than 24 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and three three-pointers per game, but that's expected for a team defense ranked second-worst in the league.
JaKarr Sampson ($3,800) - This is a pure price play, assumes Myles Turner continues to sit on Friday and Sampson is inserted in the starting frontcourt (along with Domantas Sabonis) at a bargain basement price.
Fortunately, Sampson qualifies at every DFS player's least favorite position (although he would start for the Indiana Pacers at power forward) and is projected by our models to the best point-per-dollar play at the position. With Turner and Jeremy Lamb on the shelf tonight, there is 38.6% of usage potentially up for grabs against a Detroit Pistons team ranked in the bottom 10 of FanDuel points allowed to power forwards.
Anthony Davis ($11,200) - There may still be some sense of sticker shock at a $11,200 price tag, but Davis is at his lowest price of the season after he "busted" as the chalk play on Wednesday against the Chicago Bulls. Even in Davis' worst game of the season, he scored 37 FanDuel points and averaged 1.19 fantasy points per minute.
At 31.8%, Davis still has a top six usage rate on the slate, even with LeBron James in the midst of a resurgence. I don't need to sell you on Davis' offensive skill set. But also working in Davis' favor is the fact that the Miami Heat have decided that Meyers Leonard playing defense is a a good idea for their team. Leonard ranked in the bottom 10 of defensive rating among centers last season, and he plays 21 minutes per game for a team allowing more than 97 fantasy points per game to the power forward and center positions.
Hassan Whiteside ($7,800) - This weekend, I think I am going to go get a "Play Your Centers Against Brooklyn" tattoo. I believe in it that much. If saving more than $3,000 off of the big three (Karl-Anthony Towns, Joel Embiid, Andre Drummond) doesn't appeal to you, perhaps the fact that the Brooklyn Nets allow more than 70 FanDuel points per game to the position does.
Whiteside finally crossed the 28-minute mark in his last two games, and not surprisingly, both ended with 40-plus FanDuel points. If he can reach 28 minutes tonight, I'm calling my shot that Whiteside tallies his first 50-fantasy-point game of the season.
Keyser Soze of the Night
Khris Middleton ($6,600) - This game presents an incredibly interesting experiment. What happens when a matchup includes a team that is ranked first in offensive rating and third in pace (Milwaukee Bucks) faces off against a team sitting second in defensive rating and 29th in pace (Utah Jazz)?
I am sure Giannis Antetokounmpo will do his normal freak things and demolish the Jazz, but when Middleton runs into Joe Ingles and Bojan Bogdanovic, he is not likely to find his normal offensive rhythm. Both forwards rank in the top 15 in defensive rating for the position and have provided complementary lockdown defense alongside Rudy Gobert and Mike Conley. When we get the results of this experiment tonight, I predict we will see Middleton struggle.