3 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 1/24/20
"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 Friday's FanDuel main slate.
Ricky Rubio ($5,700) - We are going to attempt to do better than the last round of recommendations, when I had two of my three picks ruled out within a couple hours of publishing it. I'm confident each of these names will play tonight, but with Rubio, it's more about will he actually play well or give us more disappointment like Wednesday night when he scored only 13.9 FanDuel points in 22 minutes. Rubio did get a price drop of $400 since that dud of a performance, so we can potentially reap the benefits of the public being off of Rubio after he let them down.
As long as the San Antonio Spurs keep playing defense like they have through their first 43 games, we can continue to target them at all levels. The Spurs rank 23rd in overall team defensive rating and rank 26th in FanDuel points allowed to point guards, including forcing the second fewest turnovers to the position. Wherefore art thou, Kawhi Leonard? To make matters worse for Coach Pop and crew, the Phoenix Suns play at the 10th fastest pace in the league, potentially leading to a few extra possessions.
I'm not at all concerned about one lackluster performance from Rubio. He hadn't played fewer than 32 minutes since January 1, and he still puts up 38 FanDuel points per game and has the highest assist rate among all guards with at least 20 minutes per game. Our projections -- predictably -- have Rubio as the top point-per-dollar play on the night as his price tag is at least $1,000 too low.
Brandon Ingram ($8,600) - While everyone else drools over the 17 straight points from Zion Williamson in his debut on Wednesday, DFS players shouldn't forget that was just a gift from the basketball gods and a clear outlier offensive performance considering he topped out at 18 minutes and likely won't be much higher tonight. Let the box score watchers go all in on Zion while the smart tournament play is to stick with the New Orleans Pelicans' season-long offensive stud in Ingram.
Even playing with Zion on Wednesday, Ingram had a 36.2% usage rate in that game, higher than his already elite 28.8% clip for the season. Ingram received a small price drop but still enters the slate as the highest-priced small forward, something that might keep owners away as they gravitate toward expensive centers and guards. I'm also not scared off by a matchup with the depleted Denver Nuggets. The Pelicans are implied to score two more points per game than their seasonal average tonight and are actually slight favorites at home.
There may come a time when Ingram beings to defer more to Zion and loses some offensive opportunity. The public might think that time is now, especially after Zion's highlights have been on repeat since Wednesday night. But the smart play is to know that this remains Ingram's team, even if for just a short while longer.
Clint Capela ($7,900) - Once again it looks like the chalk at center will be a stars-or-scrubs approach tonight, with plenty of elite plays up top with Andre Drummond, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Nikola Jokic as well as value plays who should provide plenty of salary relief like Dewayne Dedmon ($3,900), Myles Turner ($5,000), and Marc Gasol. But Capela is just way too cheap for the matchup he has tonight versus the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Timberwolves, even with Towns, rank only 24th in rebound rate, allowing the second most rebounds per game to their opponents. Also aligned with Capela's strengths, the Timberwolves give up 5.4 blocks per game, ninth most in the league. On the defensive end, Minnesota continues to struggle with big men, allowing 54.7 points per game in the paint over their last three games, fourth most in the NBA. Take these liabilities for Minnesota and mix it with a superb game environment -- the highest projected total (234.5) and two top-seven teams in pace -- and this game should provide plenty of offensive firepower and opportunity for a player like Capela.