3 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 1/6/20
"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.
Trae Young ($9,100) - Young's minutes, usage, and offensive rating are well documented but -- while they are elite -- aren't what make him attractive tonight from a tournament perspective. Young has not been this cheap on FanDuel in almost a month, as a tough matchup against the Denver Nuggets is clearly being baked into the price tonight. At $2,500 cheaper than Luka Doncic, give me the salary flexibiliy while still being able to roster a player with 35 minutes per night, 37.2% usage, and 46 FanDuel points per game on the season.
Removing the game against the Milwaukee Bucks when Young left due to injury, he has averaged an astounding 55 FanDuel points per game in his last six, including tough matchups at Boston and at home against Indiana and Utah. Young has transformed into one of a handful of players who are truly matchup proof at this point, and he has already torched the Nuggets for a season-high 68 FanDuel points in November. If John Collins misses again tonight, look for Young to have even more opportunity than usual, further justifying his place in your player pool.
Maxi Kleber ($5,900) - Making the most of his opportunity with Kristaps Porzingis out of the lineup, Kleber has put up averages of 33 minutes and 32.5 FanDuel points per game over his last three. In fact, Kleber is a top-15 forward in offensive rating since the end of December. He now gets another opportunity to showcase his talents in a matchup against the Chicago Bulls, who allow the most FanDuel points per game to the power forward position and will be ultra thin at the position without Lauri Markkanen for this game.
With a price that still has not crossed the $6,000 barrier, he makes for a much more appealing option in terms of matchup, minutes, and potential usage than other power forwards in that price range such as Derrick Favors ($6,500) against the Jazz and PJ Washington ($5,500) against the Pacers.
Rudy Gobert ($8,300) - There is certainly no shortage of strong center options on tonight's slate, but with the two Nikolas (Jokic and Vucevic) in such good spots at only slightly higher prices, I can't see much ownership flowing towards Gobert.
The reigning Defensive Player of the Year has several things working in his favor tonight, making him a logical pivot at only $8,300. His matchup with the New Orleans Pelicans gives him a solid leap in pace, as the Pelicans rank 7th while the Jazz are just 19th. The Pelicans also rank 26th in overall defensive rating, including allowing 21 points, 15 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game to the center position. Over his last eight games, Gobert is averaging 42.5 FanDuel points per contest, and he continues to benefit from Mike Conley's absence and his usage being distributed across the rest of the lineup.
Bonus Centers: Don't sleep on Myles Turner ($5,900 against the Charlotte Hornets) and Enes Kanter ($5,400 against the Washington Wizards) as cheap centers in smash spots who would allow roster construction to fit in Trae Young, Luka Doncic or Giannis Antetokounmpo.