5 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 11/18/19
"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 ($9,800) - I am just as big a fan of Luka Doncic and Russell Westbrook as anyone tonight, but why does Lillard continue to get overlooked each and very slate? According to numberFire's tracking, Lillard had 8.7% and 5.5% ownership on his last two slates -- you know, right after he had just put up 49 and 70 FanDuel points.
No player in the league averages more minutes per game than Lillard (38.6), and only two guards average more fantasy points per game (48.7). Add in a 30% usage rate and an eight-spot pace bump for the Portland Trail Blazers tonight against the Houston Rockets, and you get a situation where you must roster Lillard. This isn't complicated.
Fred VanVleet ($7,800) - Right on Lillard's heels in terms of most minutes per game? VanVleet and his 35.8 minutes per contest on the season. Averaging one fantasy point per minute, I don't see how a case can be made to fade VanVleet at this price tag with those massive minutes, 22% usage, and no Kyle Lowry. The Charlotte Hornets also rank 23rd defensively this season, contributing to the Toronto Raptors having the sixth-highest implied total on the night.
James Harden is likely to have the highest raw projections for the position tonight, but he is almost $5,000 more than VanVleet. With $5,000 of savings, a lineup could upgrade from Kemba Walker to Doncic and from Paul George to Giannis Antetokounmpo, for example. Or just roster both Harden and VanVleet and enjoy the GOAT shooting guard roster construction.
Nicolas Batum ($3,600) - Upon his return from injury, Batum was immediately inserted back into the rotation in a significant way. In a move that surprised me because of the apparent youth movement happening with the Charlotte Hornets, Batum played 29 minutes and scored 27 FanDuel points on Saturday.
If we can get anything close to that at $3,600, you're looking at 8x value in one of the coveted small forward spots. There are three priority spend ups at the position tonight (Giannis Antetokounmpo, Paul George, and Pascal Siakam), and a great way to be able to afford one is to drop all the way down to the bottom with Batum in the other slot. As an added bonus, the Toronto Raptors allow the second-most FanDuel points to the position this season.
Julius Randle ($8,100) - With Kawhi Leonard and Domantas Sabonis both questionable with injuries tonight, that leaves my power forward player pool on FanDuel at Randle, Jayson Tatum, and Kevin Love on the high end. With all three priced within $200 of each other, it will be tough to predict ownership, though both Tatum and Love outpace Randle in fantasy points per game, therefore likely making their way to more rosters.
Both Love (against the New York Knicks) and Tatum (against the Phoenix Suns) have seemingly easy matchups tonight, but it's Randle (against the Cleveland Cavaliers) facing the team that has allowed the most FanDuel points per game to the position this season. Randle also ranks top-12 in rebound percentage among forwards this season and matches up against a Cavaliers team that only ranks 18th in that category.
Rudy Gobert ($9,000) - With Karl-Anthony Towns staring at massive usage (and ownership) tonight with Andrew Wiggins sidelined, why not pivot to his opposing center who excels on the defensive side of the ball? Over the last two weeks, Gobert averages 46.4 fantasy points per game to Towns' 52.5 and comes with nearly a $3,000 price decrease. Gobert has been even better over his last five, averaging 36 minutes and 47.3 FanDuel as he has reverted back into the rebounding, shot-blocking maniac that won him back to back defensive player of the year awards.
Towns is, to put it kindly, not a good defender. He ranks 23rd among all eligible centers for defensive rating -- Gobert ranks fourth, for perspective. In terms of points per dollar for your center play, Gobert looks like the choice between the two.
Keyser Soze of the Night
Eric Bledsoe ($7,900) - Has Bledsoe been playing well lately? Yes. He has at least 41 FanDuel points in four of his last six games, but DFS players familiar with NBA know that Bledsoe can be maddeningly inconsistent. Tonight we catch Bledsoe at his highest price of the season matched up against what has been, surprisingly, the toughest defense for points guards -- the Chicago Bulls.
Both Kris Dunn and Coby White rank inside the top 30 among all NBA guards (minimum of 20 minutes) for defensive rating this season. The Bulls as a team have also improved defensively. Last season, they ranked 25th in defensive rating, but this year they have climbed to number 14. Bledsoe is seeing increased usage and minutes with Khris Middleton unavailable, so the volume certainly works in his favor. However, Giannis Antetokounmpo should be the primary beneficiary of Middleton's absence tonight, as the Bulls rank 29th in FanDuel points allowed to power forwards.