3 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 1/14/20

Despite a difficult matchup against the Mavs, D'Angelo Russell can thrive tonight due to his sky-high usage rate. Who else could fly under the radar?

"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 Tuesday's FanDuel main slate.


D'Angelo Russell ($7,300) - Truthfully, I'm not sure what more needs to be said. It's D'Angelo Russell bobblehead night.

For some real analysis, we need only look at Russell's opportunity when he is on the floor. When the Golden State Warriors do let him suit up, he is gobbling up a 31.5% usage rate, putting him in Bradley Beal and LeBron James territory. The recent time away didn't seem to hurt Russell as he jumped right back in with 46.4 FanDuel points against the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday. In his six games before the recent injury, he was putting up 42 FanDuel points per contest, including 46.8 against this same Dallas Mavericks team.

Make no mistake -- the Mavericks are tough against opposing guards, ranking in the top 10 for fewest points allowed to both guard spots, but Russell dominates the ball at such a high rate that his volume will usually overcome any difficult matchup. For only $7,300 tonight, I am all in.


Julius Randle ($7,700) - Speaking of high usage rates, Randle is second only to Kawhi Leonard tonight in highest usage among power forwards. Randle is a lot like the LOST episode "The Constant." When everything else around the team is going off the rails -- the coach is being fired, the star rookie can't make up his mind if he wants to try or not, the team record is 11-29 -- Randle is the one constant DFS players can look to for consistent production.

In his last eight games, Randle averages a touch more than 43 FanDuel points per game, and he enters tonight with a surprisingly strong matchup versus the Milwaukee Bucks. Somehow with Giannis Antetokounmpo as their power forward, the Bucks are one of the 10 worst teams in points, rebounds, assists, and three-pointers allowed to the position. The spread in this game is worrisome, as the New York Knicks are 16.5-point underdogs, but for as long as the Knicks remain in the game, Randle should be the primary option for a team desperate for offensive firepower. The Knicks are in a massive pace-up spot running against the Bucks, so that should lead to extra possessions before garbage time hits.


Montrezl Harrell ($6,600) - Harrell has certainly earned the steep drop in price he has seen since November. A price hovering in the mid-6,000s this month is a far cry from when he was consistently crossing $8,000 earlier in the season. In Harrell's last 11 games, he has scored fewer than 30 FanDuel points six times and has one double-double since December 1.

However, he has shown signs of life more recently, averaging almost 38 FanDuel points per game in his last five. In fact, he is racking up FanDuel points at a 10% higher clip in his last five games than his entire season average, and he hasn't seen less than 27 minutes in any of those games.

Against the Cleveland Cavaliers, Harrell matches up with a team that allows the sixth-most FanDuel points to the center position and ranks 29th in overall team defensive rating. We know Tristan Thompson and Kevin Love are competent offensive forces and rebounders, but they both rank in the bottom 10 for defensive rating among all forwards with at least 25 minutes per game. The stage is set for Harrell's heater to continue tonight.