3 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 12/16/19
"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 Monday's FanDuel main slate.
Kyle Lowry ($8,700) - I predict a large amount of the guard ownership for tonight is going to be all the way at the top (James Harden -- $12,400) or all the way at the bottom (Jalen Brunson -- $3,700). The contrarian option is going to be just about anybody in between. Both Harden and Brunson find themselves in great spots tonight, but Lowry's matchup plus opportunity should not be overlooked.
Lowry still leads all points guards on the slate in minutes per game at 37.3, and he has averaged 36 FanDuel points per game since returning from injury. Despite the Toronto Raptors being 12.5-point favorites against the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight, the matchup is appealing for a point guard of Lowry's pedigree. Lowry is top 15 in the NBA in assist ratio, and the Cavaliers allow the most assists per game to the point guard position (9.65). This is just one category that contributes to Cleveland allowing the second-most FanDuel points to point guards this season. Both Collin Sexton and Darius Garland are bottom-12 guards in defensive rating this season, so if Fred VanVleet misses again or is limited, Lowry will have the opportunity to feast against those two poor defenders.
Kristaps Porzingis ($8,800) - As mentioned above, ownership should flock to Brunson with Luka Doncic out for a few weeks, but it will likely be The Unicorn who will lead the Dallas Mavericks in usage during that time. Porzingis is already fifth among all power forwards in usage on this slate (24.6%), and he has the opportunity to move that into elite levels over the Mavericks' next eight games or so. You may recall that in 2017-2018, Porzingis had his only elite usage rate season (31%), which led to 22 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 2 three-pointers per game.
He already has a couple 40-plus-point games over his last two contests and now gets to face a Milwaukee Bucks team that allows the most three-pointers (3.21), sixth-most rebounds (12.37), and fourth-most assists (4.03) per game to opposing power forwards. A mano-a-mano matchup with Giannis Antetokounmpo doesn't seem appealing on paper, but Porzingis has a diverse set of skills on both ends of the floor that should serve him well tonight.
Hassan Whiteside ($9,500) - Blocks and rebounds. Those are a major part of Whiteside's game that gives him a big edge in tonight's matchup with the Phoenix Suns. The Suns allow almost 17 rebounds and more than 2 blocks per game to opposing centers. In fact, the Suns allow more defensive rebounds to their opponents than any team in the league, further making the case for the opportunity for Whiteside to pad his fantasy totals.
Whiteside has also been getting it done on the offensive end lately. He averages 20.6 points per game over his last five games and has increased his fantasy points per game almost 9 points to 47.2 over that span. The Suns allow opposing centers to shoot 47.3% from the field, sixth-worst in the league, and have no real answer for Whiteside's presence tonight.
Keyser Soze of the Night
Zach LaVine ($7,900) - Lavine has averaged 40 FanDuel points per game over his last four, but that streak has a real chance of coming to an end tonight in a tough road matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Thunder are one of the stingiest teams in the league against two guards, allowing only 37.62 FanDuel points to the position per game including only 19 total points per game. Primarily responsible for this is Dennis Schroder, who is putting up his best defensive rating since his rookie season and ranks top five in defensive rating among all guards with at least 25 minutes per game. Lavine is also battling a nagging shoulder injury, so while he is probable tonight, he has posted a field goal percentage of 40% or worse in four of his last six contests. The combination of factors working against Lavine tonight has me staying away.