3 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 1/8/20
"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 Wednesday's FanDuel main slate.
Luka Doncic ($11,500) - It's Beard night across the DFS landscape tonight, as James Harden ($11,200) looks to dominate the Atlanta Hawks in a stellar matchup without Russell Westbrook in his way. Every cash game and single entry GPP lineup is going to feature Harden as its spend up player, so the clear differentiation is to pay a few hundred dollars more for another superstar also missing his ball-dominant sidekick.
Kristaps Porzingis is once again out for the Dallas Mavericks in their matchup with the Denver Nuggets tonight, which means very good things are in store for Doncic. There will be much written today across the industry about Harden's usage with Westbrook off the floor, but Doncic -- who already gives us 36% usage every night -- gets a usage bump to almost 40% when Porzingis is off the floor, including an additional five points and two rebounds per game. A matchup with the Nuggets is no easy task, as they allow the eighth-fewest points to point guards this season, but Denver will be without Will Barton tonight. Barton is their top individual defender by defensive rating this season, and is top 10 among all guards who have played at least 30 minutes per night.
Harden is going to get his tonight, certainly. But Doncic is the highest fantasy points per minute player on the slate and plays his fast-paced game with a tight three-point spread.
Bam Adebayo ($8,400) - The Miami Heat face a tough test tonight against the Indiana Pacers, but Adebayo's path to smashing may be easier than others if Domantas Sabonis is to miss the game. He is currently questionable with a knee injury, and his absence would mean a huge defensive hole to fill for the Pacers, as Sabonis is top 10 in defensive rating among all forwards with at least 25 minutes per night.
Adebayo has not played fewer than 34 minutes in any of his last seven games and is averaging 15.7 points, 11.0 rebounds, and even 4.0 assists during that time. His fantasy points per minute now have reached a mark of 1.14, and for the first time in his career, he is right on the cusp of 20% usage. The strong lean will be to play John Collins tonight for $1,000 less, but our projections have Adebayo outscoring Collins by more than two points tonight.
Enes Kanter ($5,300) - Should Daniel Theis miss the game tonight, Kanter is going to automatically become a must play as a cheap, productive center who should see at least 28 minutes against the San Antonio Spurs. This isn't your father's Spurs team, either. They rank only 20th in overall team defensive rating this season, including 20th in opponents' field goal percentage. The Spurs give up the eighth-most defensive rebounds per contest, setting up Kanter for a massive night on the glass. Kanter ranks 10th among all centers with at least 15 minutes per game with a 25.4% defensive rebound percentage.
Only a minutes limit has stood in the way of Kanter being a dominant nightly force in DFS. Among bench players, he averages the highest fantasy points per minute on the slate (1.29), and he has four double-doubles in his past seven games despite only playing 20 minutes per contest in that time. In his last 10 games, no other center has increased his percentage of FanDuel points per game more from their seasonal average. If we somehow can get close to 30 minutes tonight, Kanter should be able to help you forget about chalky Clint Capela.