3 NBA Fanduel Tournament Plays to Target on 12/23/19
"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 look at lower-owned plays that help you gain leverage against the competition.
Let's look at plays for Monday's FanDuel main slate.
D'Angelo Russell ($8,300) - It's been easy to forget about Russell lately. The Warriors are banged up and generally terrible. Russell has missed more than 10 games due to injury. But lost in all that dysfunction is the fact that Russell still owns the fifth-highest usage among all guards with at least 25 minutes per game, and has scored more than 41 FanDuel points in three of his past five games -- including 32 FanDuel points in Utah, one of the toughest environments in the NBA.
On Monday, Russell will face a Minnesota Timberwolves team that allows the fifth-most points to the point guard position, including the third-most points scored by opposing point guards per game (26.41). Considering Russell's 31% usage and the fact that the Golden State Warriors get a 12-spot bump in tempo against Minnesota, it would be hard to find a better spot for the Warriors guards, especially considering the lack of alternative healthy offensive weapons there.
Richaun Holmes ($5,400) - There is a surprising lack of superstar forwards despite this being an 11-game slate on Monday, so one of your four forward spots will likely be a spend-down to allow more flexibility for the star guards and centers available. Allow me to introduce you to Mr. Holmes for your consideration, who hosts the Houston Rockets, creating a perfect environment for pace and possessions.
Holmes' FanDuel points have increased in each of the last five games, as he continues to receive consistent minutes in the mid- to high-20's. His offensive contributions are also beginning to develop, as his past two games have produced two of only five times this season that he has accumulated at least 18 points. In a matchup against the Rockets on Monday, the Sacramento Kings walk into a 26-spot pace bump, and Holmes will be asked to not only guard Clint Capela but also protect the rim against James Harden and Russell Westbrook.
At just $5,400, anything above Holmes' seasonal average of 30 FanDuel points is just free money, and he has a great opportunity to get there on Monday.
Hassan Whiteside ($9,000) - It's time to start giving Whiteside proper credit for the incredible season he has put together so far. This has been his most productive stretch of games in his entire career, and he is now averaging over 50 FanDuel points per game over his last nine contests. So even with an inflated price of $9,000 (still only fifth-highest at the position), there is plenty of room for Whiteside to hit 5x value.
Hosting the New Orleans Pelicans at home on Monday, the Portland Trail Blazers are projected to score the second-most points on the slate (over 117). Portland also gets a slight pace bump against New Orleans and matches up against a Pelicans team that ranks 27th in overall defensive rating. With the projected up and down pace of this game, and no one playing consistent minutes at center for the Pelicans, the door is wide open for Whiteside to continue his hot streak.