3 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 11/22/19
"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 Friday's FanDuel main slate.
Jimmy Butler ($9,700) - With Bradley Beal sitting right there at $100 more in the best game environment of the night, who is really going to roster Butler in a tougher matchup with a total 17 points lower? You're certainly not wrong to lock in Beal tonight, but you won't regret rostering Butler, either.
Since his torrid start, Butler's rebounding rate has dipped somewhat (although still a career high), but that has been counter-balanced by his astronomical assist rate (31.3%). In context, that is the same rate as Ben Simmons and only slightly less than Russell Westbrook this season. Butler is serving as the de facto point guard while Justise Winslow is on the shelf, and the Miami Heat roll through a revolving door of other options at the position.
I also don't put it past Butler to draw on some extra motivation in a revenge game in Chicago tonight where he spent the first six years of his career. At more than 48 FanDuel points in three of his last four games, Butler has the potential to 5x even at his highest salary of the year.
Richaun Holmes ($6,500) - Minutes equal money in NBA DFS. Isn't that what the touts say? Well, if that's the case, Holmes is a player you must have at only $6,500 on Friday's slate. With the Sacramento Kings committed to a significant role for Holmes, he has played fewer than 29 minutes once his past seven games.
On Friday night, he faces a Brooklyn Nets team that continues to allow more than 61 FanDuel points per game to the center position (where Holmes will play), fourth-worst in the league. The Nets as a team are merely mediocre, ranking 18th in the league in defensive rating, but it's just that Jarrett Allen is so bad -- bottom-10 defensively among all centers -- that he drags down the team to a lowly rank at the position.
Producing at a one fantasy point per minute rate, Holmes has the opportunity to excel as long as the minutes continue.
Joel Embiid ($10,100) - I predict a lot of movement tonight towards centers such as Thomas Bryant, Rudy Gobert, and Andre Drummond -- all players in great spots that fall in various price ranges lower than Embiid. To pivot away from that chalk, I'm looking towards The Process in a matchup that is better than it looks on paper.
This isn't your father's San Antonio Spurs anymore. The Spurs rank 28th in the league in defensive rating this season, largely contributing to their 5-10 record. Both LaMarcus Aldridge and Jakob Poeltl rank in the bottom-12 of all centers for individual defensive rating this season. With the Spurs recently giving Poetl more minutes, it looks like an opportunity for Joel Embiid and his 32.5% usage and 1.57 fantasy points per minute to explode.
Keyser Soze of the Night
Everyone on the Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets - This game has the lowest total of the night by several points (206.5) and features two teams ranked in the bottom-12 in pace and the top-12 in defensive rating, steal percentage, and opponents' points off turnovers, points in the paint, and effective field goal percentage. Basically, this is going to be a defensive slugfest that even stars like Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, and Nikola Jokic may not be able to overcome.
On 10-game slates, it is always helpful to to find opportunities to reduce your player pool so as not to get overexposed to the wrong plays. This matchup is one I will be crossing off my list completely.