3 NBA FanDuel Tournament Plays to Target on 2/3/20
"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 Monday's FanDuel main slate.
Bradley Beal ($10,100) - There is value tonight all over both guard positions. Starting with chalky Spencer Dinwiddie at ($7,100) down to Reggie Jackson ($4,500) and Brad Wanamaker ($4,100), guard will likely be the place where owners spend down to jam in the elite mid-range forward plays such as Jayson Tatum ($7,900) and Kristaps Porzingis ($8,000) and expensive centers such as Andre Drummond ($9,700), Karl-Anthony Towns ($10,000), Joel Embiid ($8,800), and Deandre Ayton ($8,300).
This type of roster construction will likely leave Beal with lower than usual ownership, creating a perfect opportunity to pounce on a player with unprecedented usage and a perfect matchup.
Despite whispers that the Washington Wizards might start to shut down Beal this season, the opposite has been true lately. Beal has played at least 33 minutes in six of his last seven games and is averaging 53.1 FanDuel points in that stretch. There are only two players on the slate with a higher usage than Beal -- Trae Young (if he plays) and Kawhi Leonard (see below) -- and this unending usage has somehow led to Beal averaging 24% more FanDuel points in his last five games than his seasonal average.
Mix this usage in with an elite game environment (slate-high 234 implied total) and the Golden State Warriors' defensive liabilities (they allow the third-most FanDuel points to the shooting guard position), and you have a player who is well worth his steep price tag on this slate.
Kawhi Leonard ($10,100) - With all of the injuries on both teams, a Porzingis-Tatum power forward combo is going to be very popular tonight. Jamming both of them in your lineup leaves you with an average of $6,300 left per player, an easy number in which to maneuver because of all the guard value.
With this in mind, very few will likely be able to stomach a $10,100 price tag, but Kawhi's production has actually been better than Beal in his most recent stretch of games. In the Los Angeles Clippers' last nine games, Kawhi has put up 58.3 FanDuel points per night, playing even better than his slate-topping 1.53 fantasy points per minute.
A narrative-filled matchup against his old team, the San Antonio Spurs, should provide smooth sailing for Leonard, especially with Paul George still on a minutes limit in the short term. Against small forwards (Leonard's natural position), the Spurs allow the fifth-most FanDuel points and now have fallen to 21st in overall defensive rating. In what should be another high-scoring affair (227.5 total, second highest tonight), Leonard should be able to outscore all others at his position and compile the ancillary statistics that will help him reach 5x value even at his high price.
Myles Turner ($5,100) - Based on the predicted chalk roster construction above, going cheap at center will certainly be the low-owned play tonight. Turner has been a model of inconsistency recently -- scoring between 6.9 and 55.3 FanDuel points over his last nine games -- but that's just the type of player we are looking for with tournament upside.
After missing two games recently, what was most encouraging in his first game back against the New York Knicks is that he played 33 minutes in a game where the Indiana Pacers were essentially at full strength. If he can get anything close to 30 minutes tonight against the undermanned Dallas Mavericks, we could be looking at a strong point-per-dollar option. Our projections back up this idea, as we predict he will play 29 minutes and be the second-best point-per-dollar play at the center position tonight.
Despite being a strong defender, the Mavericks have not shown a commitment to playing Willie Cauley-Stein consistent minutes. He has played only 48 minutes in his six games with the team. That leaves only Porzingis and Maxi Kleber as their primary frontcourt defenders tonight, with Kleber (the better defender) likely looking to contain Domantas Sabonis. Without Dwight Powell and with a limited Cauley, the Mavericks have given up the sixth-most points in the paint over their last three games, an area where Turner converts 64.2% of his attempts (compared with 45.1% overall this season).
At just $5,100, you don't need much to reach value tonight, and Turner provides the type of leverage needed to spend up where others are spending down tonight.