5 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 11/25/19
"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.
Malcolm Brogdon ($8,500) - There will likely be a little bit of out-of-sight, out-of-mind with Brogdon, who has missed the past three games with a back issue. However, he enters the lineup tonight in a matchup that should allow him to step right back into the elite production we saw before the injury.
For the Grizzlies, Ja Morant's offense as a rookie this season has been a revelation. Truly amazing. His defense? Not so much. Among guards with at least 25 minutes per game, Morant ranks 50th out of 85 qualifiers in defensive rating. Unfortunately for the Memphis Grizzlies, backup Tyus Jones is significantly worse than Morant in his 20 minutes per contest - three points per 100 possessions worse, to be exact. Playing at home and getting a nice little bump in pace certainly doesn't hurt the idea that Brogdon should be able to pick up right where he left off with his 1.28 fantasy points per minute.
Andrew Wiggins ($8,400) - We don't have our usual big hitters at shooting guard tonight, so it looks to me like a mid-range play kind of day. There are 14 options tonight between $6,500 and $8,700, so determining the right leverage play is important but not critical when we have a roster pool this large.
Considering he was averaging 52.8 FanDuel points in his five games before his recent three-game absence, Wiggins scoring 32 and 35 points since returning seems like somewhat of a letdown. A matchup with the Atlanta Hawks should help get him back on track tonight. Not only are the Hawks generally bad defensively, but they are also specifically bad in a way that suits Wiggins' game this year. So far, Wiggins attempts 6.8 three-pointers per night, two more than his career-high set last year. The Hawks, on the other hand, allow the fifth-most three-pointers made per game on the season, and rank 20th in opponents' three-point percentage.
Taurean Prince ($5,400) - Prince is the definition of a tournament play. His FanDuel point totals this season range from 8 to 48, and you can rarely predict what you are going to get from the Brooklyn Nets forward each night.
I don't just like the matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers for Prince just because it is a strong one for small forwards and power forwards (even though it is), but rather because so much usage from the Cavaliers flows through Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson. Both have at least a 20% usage rate on the season. Prince's earns his value not just by scoring, but with rebounds, steals, and blocks - sort of like a Robert Covington with better offensive touch. With Kyrie Irving still on the shelf, Prince's contributions on both ends of the floor will be an essential part of the Nets' game plan.
Still, Jackson does have a long way to go as a defender against NBA power forwards. He ranks bottom-12 among all forwards with at least 25 minutes per game with a 114.6 defensive rating, the same number as Cody Zeller and Jabari Parker, to name some comparables. Sabonis is about as consistent as it gets, scoring less than 34 FanDuel points only once in his last 11 games, and his 1.25 fantasy points per minute is third at his position on this slate.
Hassan Whiteside ($8,100) - I will admit, it is awfully hard to scroll past Karl-Anthony Towns and lock in another center tonight. The Atlanta Hawks, Towns' opponent, are bottom-12 in just about every category against centers, including three-pointers allowed, which is where Towns likes to camp out these days. But if you are looking for cheaper differentiation, Whiteside fits the profile in a stellar matchup of his own.
At first glance, the matchup might not look appealing, as the Chicago Bulls are a respectable 13th in defensive rating, but in the micro matchup against big men, the Bulls have struggled mightily. They allow almost 62 FanDuel points per game to the position (29th in the league), including 23 points, 18 rebounds, and almost 4 blocks per game. The Bulls rank 26th in the league in rebounding percentage, including 21st in opponents' offensive rebound percentage -- meaning they are just failing at keeping their opponents off the glass for second-chance points. Including an eight-spot bump in pace, this matchup seems tailor-made for Whiteside to excel.
Keyser Soze of the Night
Dejounte Murray ($6,700) - Even if he does start tonight, this is not the direction to go with so many other viable point guard options on this giant slate. Murray, a stat sheet filler in the early part of the season, has fallen from grace as well as out of the starting lineup. Even when he was in the starting lineup, his minutes were not secure. He has only topped 25 minutes twice this season as Coach Popovich continues with a point guard turnstile of Murray, Derrick White, Patty Mills, and Bryn Forbes.
The Los Angeles Lakers continue to be a top-five team in overall defense and have now descended to a bottom-10 team in pace this season. For a player averaging only 23.5 fantasy points over the last two weeks, your money is best spent elsewhere.