3 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 1/22/20
"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.
Trae Young ($10,200) - The midrange seems to be the sweet spot for points guards tonight in terms of projected ownership. Floor generals like Kemba Walker ($6,800), Malcolm Brogdon ($6,700), and potential one-man-show Derrick Rose ($7,000) all project to have fantasy-friendly matchups tonight, and they allow for roster construction to include high-priced centers and shooting guards in stellar matchups. A tough defensive matchup against the Los Angeles Clippers doesn't seem like the path we would want to take.
The environment tonight, however, is not one that we should fear for Young. Three of the top five players in defensive rating should be out tonight for the Clippers (Patrick Beverley, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George), and Beverly, the would-be primary defender on Young, is a top-eight guard in the entire league in defensive rating. The implied totals and spread for this game scream competitive shootout. It comes in with the second-highest total on the slate (233) and one of the smallest spreads (The Clippers are only -4 favorites).
I don't need to sell you on Young's offensive abilities. He continues to put up massive scores, including more than 50 FanDuel points in five of his last eight games, and has the second-highest usage rate on this slate. Play him with confidence while others fade.
Marvin Bagley III ($5,100) - If Andre Drummond ends up missing this game tonight, the Detroit Pistons are going to be exceptionally thin on the frontcourt, benefiting Bagley who enters tonight with a price about $2,000 too low for the role he is playing on the Sacramento Kings. The Pistons already give up the sixth-most FanDuel points to the position, and if they are forced to rely on Sekou Doumbouya and Christian Wood all night, it sets up well for Bagley who is on the ascent.
In the starting lineup since returning from injury, Bagley has scored at least 30 FanDuel points in three of four games. Even if he only reaches his seasonal average of 27.1 FanDuel points, he easily crosses the 5x threshold for value. Our projections, in fact, have Bagley and Michael Porter Jr. neck and neck for top power forward points per dollar play tonight. Porter will be the uber-chalk tonight with the Denver Nuggets depleted lineup and coming off a monster game, so a pivot to Bagley seems like a logical tournament move to make.
Rudy Gobert ($10,000) - It looks as though Karl-Anthony Towns will be the expensive center chalk tonight in his elite matchup with the Chicago Bulls and whatever fourth-string center they throw out there tonight. But at $400 less and in the last game of the night, don't overlook Gobert who is averaging 10 more FanDuel points per game over his last five (51) than his seasonal average (41.2). Gobert has a double-double in seven straight games, supplemented by 15 blocks over those seven games. What's most amazing about Gobert is he racks up fantastic FanDuel scores every single night with the same usage rate as Brook Lopez. He contributes in so many areas, it's difficult for any opponent to find a way to keep him out of the boxscore.
The Golden State Warriors are a desirable matchup for any opposing center, falling just a touch below the elite center matchups. The Warriors allow 54.5 FanDuel points per game to the position, including 17 rebounds and more than 2.6 blocks per game, perfectly suited for Gobert.