3 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 1/31/20
"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.
Kyle Lowry ($7,100) - What we have tonight with Lowry is an opportunity to roster him at his lowest price of the season coming off a seven-game average of 18.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and 1.7 steals. I don't understand the price decrease, but I will certainly take it. As all eyes tonight will be on guards with penthouse prices like Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Damian Lillard, and Kyrie Irving or outhouse prices like Jalen Brunson, Monte Morris, and Tomas Satoransky, targeting Lowry in the mid-range will likely be an under-the-radar move.
With all of their injuries, the Detroit Pistons have struggled recently, now allowing opponents to make 47.5% of their shots, fourth worst in the league. They also allow opponents to make their three-pointers at the fifth highest rate in the league. As you can imagine, Lowry has adapted his game to the new three-point revolution, as he is averaging a career high 8.3 three point attempts per game. Another way to consider it is to look at where Lowry's points come from. Just five years ago, 48% of all Lowry's points came via the two-point shot. This year, that number is down to 31%. His increase in three-point attempts aligns perfectly with the Pistons' weakness tonight.
Combine the favorable scoring opportunities with his elite 30% assist rate and 37 minutes per game, and we have a steal of a player at only $7,100 tonight.
Jarrett Allen ($6,300) - Allen is another player who is simply too cheap for his matchup tonight. As has been discussed many times in this space, the Chicago Bulls turn into feeble little creatures when facing opposing frontcourts. The Bulls now allow the most FanDuel points to the power forward position and fourth most points to centers. They are dead last in the league in rebound rate (tied with the Washington Wizards, never a place you want to be), leaving the door wide open for Allen to smash tonight if the opportunity presents itself.
With DeAndre Jordan out with injury, Allen took advantage of all the increased usage that was offered. Looking past one speed bump in a dud against the New York Knicks, Allen averaged 30 minutes, 12.1 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks over his last six games. It is unclear exactly how the minutes distribution will work going forward with Jordan healthy again, but if Allen can get at least 28 of the 48 center minutes tonight for the Nets, the door will be wide open for him to smash past his projections of 11 points, 10 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks.
Nikola Jokic ($9,800) - With all of the frontcourt bodies missing tonight for the Pistons, it only makes sense that Andre Drummond will be the chalk center play of the night. Drummond averages 48.4 FanDuel points per game his last five and is $200 cheaper. So why would anyone pivot to Jokic over Avocado Drummond? Simple: Jokic is simply thriving in the offensive system forced upon him with the loss of Jamal Murray and the decision to give Michael Porter Jr. more minutes.
As you can see in this piece on the Nuggets' offense, Jokic and Porter are forming an elite offensive duo whenever they are on the floor together. When they share the floor, they have an offensive rating of 129.5 and post a +10.8 net rating, which puts them in the 94th percentile for all offensive lineups. Without Murray in the lineup, Denver has experimented with different ball-handling responsibilities, but it has forced Jokic back into the role of distributor as well as scorer, and he is lapping the rest of the center field in terms of assist rate this season.
Jokic doesn't have the easiest matchup tonight against the Milwaukee Bucks -- likely lowering ownership -- but with the highest positional usage on the slate and his 52.3 fantasy points averaged over the last two weeks, the volume and efficiency easily trump any matchup problems.