3 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 12/27/19
"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 Friday's FanDuel main slate.
Trae Young ($10,400) - Typically a player at this price (almost $2,000 more than the next guard) in a matchup against the best defensive team in the league would not be an ideal spend-up option. Add in the fact that his Atlanta Hawks are 11.0-point underdogs at home, and the blowout potential for Young makes it even less appealing.
But point guards against the Milwaukee Bucks are a more attractive proposition than at first glance, as the Bucks rank only 16th in the league in FanDuel points allowed to the position and this matchup is a pace up spot for the Hawks, who are projected to score three more points than their season average.
Not much more needs to be said about Trae Young at this point. He has the highest usage on the slate, averages 1.4 fantasy points per minute, and is averaging over 57 FanDuel points per game in his last four. We have seen Young have 50-fantasy-point games this year against the Utah Jazz, Denver Nuggets, and Toronto Raptors, all tough defensive matchups. For a player of Young's ability, we should not fear this matchup or the price, particularly in tournaments.
Derrick Jones Jr. ($4,100) - It's not often we will have the opportunity to roster a player with Jones' combination of high minutes and low price. Jones is averaging 30 minutes per game over his last seven, as Justise Winslow is perpetually on the injury report. As long as that trend continues, Jones will remain a strong value option, particularly this close to the minimum FanDuel salary.
Since he put up a dud on December 8th against the Chicago Bulls, Jones has averaged 26 FanDuel points per game, easily crossing the 5x value threshold based on his current salary. In fact, Jones has scored 8.7 FanDuel points per game above his seasonal average in the last two weeks as he has been taking minutes away from both Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro.
Steven Adams ($6,400) - FanDuel pricing on Friday makes it very difficult to pivot away from Joel Embiid as he is once again priced way too low at $9,500. But for a cheap alternative, there is no better environment than the matchup Adams and the Oklahoma City Thunder will have tonight.
Even if Adams wasn't averaging more than 35 FanDuel points over the last two weeks (on the season he averages fewer than 31 per game), the smart move would be to play him in the best possible matchup for centers. The Charlotte Hornets allow the most FanDuel points per game to centers this season and have the fourth worst rebounding rate in the league. Adams averages the fourth most touches in the paint per game among all centers this year, and he converts 63% of his opportunities in that area. Adams also is top 10 in rebound percentage among centers this year.
All signs points to a massive output tonight for a player like Adams who lives in the paint. If you need the salary savings off of Embiid, Adams is an exceptional alternative.